“One in five American adults has been a victim or witness to events that traumatized them in just the past 10 years, “ according to a recent Barna Group study. That number can probably be adjusted up for the last two years with COVID and unrest in society. Barna Research lists the most common causes of trauma: 1. Death of a loved one, 2. Betrayal by someone you trust, 3. Domestic violence, 4. Physical abuse, 5. Sexual abuse, 6. Watching someone die or be abused, 7. Near death experience or significant injury, 8. Major financial setback, 9. Job loss and 10. Divorce.
Trying to cope with COVID has added another layer of trauma to life. This article will not be an exhaustive study of this subject. Rather the attempt will be made to address some specific means to successfully navigate trauma and help those who are suffering from it.
Trauma by its very definition alters the way we live and how we approach life. It is life changing. Trauma shakes life. Two approaches that make all the difference are the following. First, connect to the Lord who is not shaking and will not be shaken. Isaiah 12:2,
“ Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
When the Lord is our salvation we place our trust in Him. He longs to be our salvation daily and in the situations we face. He delivers us through the trauma not always from it. When I learned to swim my instructor taught me how to swim by staying in the water not how to get out of the water. Often we want God to take us “out of the water of trauma.” Rather, God most often keeps us in the “water of trauma” but teaches us how to “keep our head above water” and then “to swim”. We may feel at first like all we are doing is treading water but we are not drowning. Your early attempts at “swimming” through the trauma will be tough but stay at it. God will teach you how to “swim”. He teaches as we trust in Him. So often we don’t want to trust anyone even ourselves. Trauma has taught us not to trust anything. Trusting in the Lord will relieve us from the agony of fear. The Lord becomes our strength and song. He provides the energy to live not just survive. He gives us “a song”. We don’t have to make up one ourselves. My swimming instructors would teach me the strokes but stayed beside me to make sure I didn’t sink. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He stays beside us and teaches us each “stroke”. He will get us moving through the trauma if we will listen to Him.
How do we help folks in trauma? Listen to them! Listen to their lives and their words. The Lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. We often think our words make all the difference. They don’t. Rather, learning to listen well is a great help. This requires our body language communicates we are listening. Summarizing back to people what they have said communicates we have listened. Second, we must patiently commit to go the distance with them. We provide a steady presence when they are shaking. Trauma is not something a person quickly gets over. The times frames they need us and the amount of time they need us will not be convenient. But we must patiently walk the journey with them. Our presence powerfully says, “You are not alone in what you are going through.” That makes a great difference.
May the Lord bless as you either journey through trauma or walk with someone who is on that journey.