In my last post I asked where negative thoughts about our God design come from and credited the enemy of our souls whose purpose is to tarnish God’s truth with lies.
Today, I’ll explore trauma, an area where we become especially vulnerable to enemy lies.
In another recent post I made the disclaimer that even though I’ve spent a lot of time exploring Scripture, I am not a theologian. Today’s Disclaimer: Even though I’ve had a fair amount of training in the matter of trauma, I am neither a psychologist nor physician. My comments about trauma and the brain are not presented from the perspective of an expert but related to how trauma can impact our stories.
David, the psalmist, marveled at his God-design.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar…
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
(Psalm 139: 1, 2,13 & 14 NIV)
Probably, the brain is the most “wonderfully complex” aspect of our God-design.
Trauma impacts at least three parts of the human brain: the amygdala, the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex (Note: an online search of trauma and the brain will provide additional insights and research.)
A simple definition of trauma is: a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
We hear a lot about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how soldiers returning from war often return with scars of PTSD. As I think back to my younger growing-up years, I have recognized symptoms of PTSD impacting my dad who served heroically during the final brutal years of WW II.
Hearing war stories may cause us to minimize the trauma in our own stories, but I believe trauma is worth considering, praying about and inviting God to reveal to us those thoughts God already “perceives from afar.”
A trauma that tarnished truth is a piece of my story.
Until my 40’s, I was terrified of cats, particularly skinny, short-haired felines! Honestly, my phobia (an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.) was right down embarrassing!
I became most acutely aware of it one afternoon while working in my kitchen. I glanced up from the sink to see a young cat affixed on all fours to our screen door. For a moment, I felt convinced I was about to lose my mind. It was following this incident I began praying earnestly about the situation.
After all, I reminded God, I’m a relatively well-educated, psychologically sound woman, and I know fearing a silly cat doesn’t make a lick of sense.
I imagined the nexus of my terror was related to some childhood event and discussed it once again with my mother. Sorting through memory files, Mom told me she recalled an event when I was around two years old and slept in a bedroom that was surrounded with screened-in windows. One night, she said, my screams woke the entire household. After that night, she recalled, I threw a fit every time they put me to bed until finally, my crib was moved to another room. “I wonder,” Mom mused, “if you woke up and saw a cat clinging to a screen.”
The only words I can use to describe my reaction to Mom’s story is that I felt quite literally like a window of awareness opened in my brain. I became aware of a skinny, short-haired cat splayed on my little-girl bedroom window screen.
The trauma trapped there for over 40 years was released. My fear of cats was gone. Since that day, my reaction to cats has not been that of a terrified two-year old.
Now, lest any of you reading this post considers offering me one of your kitties, please don’t. I’m allergic to cats, and no part of me is a cat lover. (Apologies to my many cat-loving friends!)
My cat phobia is a simple illustration of the way trauma becomes locked in the brain. Professional therapy is helpful in unlocking serious traumas. Prior to beginning therapy and throughout the process, I’d recommend praying, acknowledging God knows your every thought, loves you more than you can imagine and cares about every detail of your life. Even a silly fear of skinny cats!
I hope my story encourages you to consider how a traumatic event may be the source of an elusive, perplexing fear.
Blessings on every chapter in your story…
- Definitions are from online dictionary powered by Oxford Dictionaries ↑