Trauma affects us in different ways at different times. And so does redemption.
Its been almost 20 years since I was raped, and almost 10 since I broke the silence and actually gave a voice to what happened to me.
Throughout that time there have been highs, lows, and everything in between. I was once under the impression that if I “processed” through my pain in therapy I would be miraculously and instantaneously healed. And when I wasn’t, I was disappointed. I wanted to swallow a magical pill of survivorship that would forever grant me peace. But that’s not realistic. Healing is a process. A lifetime process. And that’s okay.
My friend Twilla illustrates this process in something she calls trauma rings. We have an experience, we find a measure of resolution and healing, followed by peace and rest. Then life happens, the experience is triggered again, and we discover a deeper or different place that needs to be healed. We work through it, move on, and take another break. The process continues ring after ring throughout different developmental and circumstantial phases of our life.
I’ve experienced the activation of these rings lately. Watching my daughter experience some of her own trials resparked memories of my own. It was tough and I had to work through yet another layer.
But I am discovering another part of this ring thing…and that is the idea of the redemption ring.
When I first told my story, I was in a deep state of depression. I wasn’t suicidal, but I was desperate for the overwhelming hurt that came with processing trauma to stop. I remember lying on the floor sobbing, barely able to breath, and begging God to take the pain away.
And in that moment, He spoke to me.
He gave me vision of something beautiful. Vision of helping others who had been sexually assaulted or abused. He rejoiced over me with singing and told me I no longer had to be afraid. That the pain would eventually lessen, and I would find peace and rest in Him. It was my first sweet taste of redemption.
Over the next several years I would be redeemed in different times and different ways. At first, I found freedom by sharing my story in writing. I began writing a blog which God grew into opportunities to speak at women’s conferences, write a devotion about my experience for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and a guest post for Incourage.me. And it felt amazing.
Then I led a support group for survivors of sexual abuse. I felt so empowered.
And then there was a long lull. My writing waned, I was in a job that I didn’t feel purposeful about, and for a few years I just felt stuck. But it was in this stuck time that God was preparing me for something even greater.
Over the past year I have been able to start a private practice. And I don’t even know how to describe what I feel or what it means to be able to help others in this way. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than sitting with a hurting soul, giving them space to share their story, and loving them through the healing process. Letting me walk alongside hearts that are hurting is the greatest gift God could have ever given to me. And I want to do it forever. It’s a huge part of why I am here. It’s brings me life. It’s my redemption, and it’s only because of God that I am free.
Psalm 111:9 says, “He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name.”
His redemption is our everything. It has to be. Because trauma happens. And it’s rough and painful and everything about life that is just wrong. But so does deliverance. And when the waters part and we realize we are no longer slaves to fear, but indeed beautifully broken children of God…it changes things. We are finally free.
And if you like this post…you TOTALLY need to listen to this song…