Grace, trauma, mindfulness, and humility…


I share office space with one of the wisest women I know. Her spiritual maturity vastly surpasses my own. We do therapy very differently. And that’s a beautiful thing. But sometimes my stuff meets hers, or hers meets mine, and I have to rethink some things.

I am a huge fan of mindfulness in therapy and in life. It has made a huge difference for me and for many of my clients. Most times I teach it minus all spirituality as to be sensitive to my clients individual beliefs and needs. But when it comes to my own way of mindfulness…she said something to me that will not let go.

“You know Steph, mindfulness is great, and I use elements of it all the time, but here’s the thing. What happens when we fail ourselves? When despite our best efforts we can’t breath? Or we can’t ground ourselves with the environment because we are in the midst of tremendous grief or a horrendous flashback? Trauma can be overwhelming. It often is. And that’s where we need the power of God…of the Holy Spirit flowing through us. So I’m all for mindfulness, but it must be centered with Jesus.”

I’ve let this simmer a few days and sitting in church this morning a definition of trauma plopped itself in my brain:

“A traumatic event or situation creates psychological trauma when it overwhelms the individual’s ability to cope, and leaves that person fearing death, annihilation, mutilation, or psychosis. The individual may feel emotionally, cognitively, and physically overwhelmed. The circumstances of the event commonly include abuse of power, betrayal of trust, entrapment, helplessness, pain, confusion, and/or loss.”

By very definition, she was spot on. Yes mindfulness is an amazing tool for healing from trauma. The research is profound. And for those who do not ascribe to Christianity – it often works fairly well. But for those of us that do, what a huge disservice we are doing if we limit mindfulness to our own ability to center and access strength.

The sermon today was about pride and how Satan uses it. It had a large scale collision with my word for the year – grace.

“And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:6-8 NLT

Your loyalty is divided between God and the world…

It’s hard to be a therapist sometimes. I embrace theory. I love research. But it’s not everything. So often research centers itself on the world. And in my practice I vacillate to be ethical and meet my clients exactly where they are. But in my own life, and my Christian clients lives, there is room for so much more.

Pride says I can pull on my own strength, my own resources, humans around me, and my coping skills to get through an incredibly difficult time…and it will pass. And more than likely it will. But trauma again – by it’s very nature – surpasses ones abilities to cope. It’s what makes trauma traumatic. And in my own life God is hammering me over the head with grace harder and stronger because He knows I have knowledge of His divine power but have refused to access it. And it pains Him.

Maybe it’s out of fear that He won’t be enough. That I will be disappointed. I’m not really sure. But I do know this…

I wanted strength for the year. I wanted power. I wanted overcomer. Which are all good things…but I was focused on pulling them from inside myself.

Thank God He sat on me like a ton of bricks and said no. I believe He is telling me I will have these things, but not until I humble myself and stop relying on my strength, and the strength of those around me, and choose Him.

Relentlessly recklessly choose Him. Over and over again choose Him.

Because when I do, He will wrap me in His grace and unending power. He loves me too much to let me rely on anything but the best. But perfection. His power is made perfect in weakness. And all the mindfulness in the world may not heal trauma, but God will. He is the Prince of Peace. He will never fail.


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