Scripture describes God’s Word as alive and powerful. Sharper than a two-edged sword, it is dynamic to distinguish the nuances between soul and spirit. It is discerning enough to denote what emerges from our spirit that is made new when we confess Christ as Lord and Savior.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12, NIV
As believers in Christ, our soul is in the process of being continually transformed. Hearing and following the Bible’s teaching reshapes minds, intellects, imagination, and memory. It is also thought to impact emotions, realigning our feelings, affections, and will to mirror the Father’s heart.
The spirit, born anew at the time of our salvation in Christ, requires sanctification – simply meaning that our faith in Jesus has set us apart to be righteous, through a relationship with a Holy God. As we yield to the Word of Christ, we conform to His image, growing to become more like Jesus.
Over time, the Holy Spirit produces increased devotion in us, transforming us from the inside. This not only reshapes the landscape of our thoughts and how we interpret emotions, but also reorders our behaviors and habits, reflecting a new person and life in Christ.
Understanding that we are a work “in process” helps us to navigate our spiritual, mental, and emotional health with wisdom, grace, and joy. It may help us to realize that many of our reactions to things we experience are rooted in the mind and body – a self still in transformation.
Trauma finds its home in our hearts, filtered through negative thoughts and limiting beliefs. It also maintains an untenable silence when we deny or deflect pain. Instead of tending to our emotional wounds, giving a voice and a space for our grief, we avoid pain with addictions and perfectionism. We defer to serving others or are demanding or harsh with them. We experience trauma in our bodies as chronic stress.
Shame is trauma’s agent in that it manipulates our reality by distorting our thoughts and emotions through accusation, blame, and condemnation. In other words, the narratives that we hold for ourselves are distorted in shame. We believe the worst about ourselves and others. We hurt ourselves when we permit shame messages to occupy space in our mind, body, and heart.
Instead of releasing the dark and heavy emotions, letting go of the lies about us and our justifications of others, we cling to resentment, brokenness, and bitterness. We allow hatred to distort our vision, no longer seeing ourselves or others through the lens of the Savior who created and saved us.
We are battling a real enemy. In every way that he can, Satan works against us to steal, kill, and destroy our value, peace, and freedom. Often, he operates through the traumatic encounters that have shaped our lives at critical points in our childhood, youth, or other vulnerable moments in life. Satan lies to us about our worth, the worth of others, and our identity.
This is the work of the same adversary who initiated an assault on humanity after he abdicated his position in Heaven. In Eden, he approached Eve as a serpent and tempted her to sin. Similarly, the adversary preys on our vulnerabilities; he doesn’t play fair, waiting until we’ve healed our trauma(s) or had a chance to grieve and process our losses. He plants false suggestions, and in response, we surrender to these and sin.
Instead of turning from these lies, we stay stuck in our emotional pain and unhelpful thoughts. The Bible refers to such intrusive thoughts as vain imaginations. These thoughts foster low self-worth and self-judgment, altering our actions to align more with the enemy than with God.
Our response to trauma doesn’t always present as emotional pain: often it manifests as disorders, addictions, and unhelpful traits. When we seek to avoid emotional vulnerability and hide our shame, we often reject the safe human connections that might serve to heal the wounded areas within.
Fueled by the fear of shame – our inadequacy, worthlessness and grief – we distance ourselves from others to prevent further injury. While there may be individuals who desire to be part of our lives, including our inner world, we sabotage the opportunities for connection and healing. We isolate ourselves, keeping others out. While it might buffer us from being hurt by others, it also inhibits the ability to form healthy, life-giving relationships that have the power to heal.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16, NIV
When seeds of shame grow viral, they explode into a tangle of vines that tether us to the past and to lies. No longer do we address thoughts to bring them under subjection to God, but we permit them to overpower us. These wrap themselves around our minds in triggers and flashbacks. These invade our sleep in the form of nightmares and recurring dreams. The past’s pain is still present, but we don’t have to suffer with it as we walk into our future.
Under normal circumstances, our physical systems will always fight to survive. Likewise, the mind seeks to make sense of chaos and attempts to repair itself. Due to traumatic association, we often avoid handling the part of our soul that hurts. Therefore, sometimes the place where we have pain is the very place where we deny its presence – blocking ourselves from both the hurt, and from the healing and freedom that awaits.
God, as our Creator, has issued commands to us that lead to life and health if we keep them. He is committed to watching over us: ensuring that we heal with proper care and loving attention.
We can receive power from the Holy Spirit to provide a healing balm for pain’s familiar sting. The mind envelops itself in darkness, obscuring memory and developing defenses to protect it from intrusion, flashbacks, and triggering thoughts. Yet, even in its wrestling, the spirit is on the relentless quest for peace and alignment with God. When our desire for the freedom that is ours in Christ becomes greater than the fear of confronting trauma and shame, it is then that we encounter what Jesus has made available to us.
Next steps to overcome trauma.
Wherever you are in your personal experience with trauma and shame, remember that you have a God who deeply loves you. Even now, the Holy Spirit is cheering you forward as you consider the need for counsel. Embrace those nudges, lean into the pain. Healing and freedom await you.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
While the soul is something that only God can heal, He often works through a professional counselor. If this resonates with you, please browse through our directory or call our office for more information. Help is available.
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