To heal or not: How to choose life over death after trauma

i’m desperate for healing. i liken my healing journey to that of a lost person in the desert. i’m stumbling and walking with no water in the heat of the sun for days on end, only broken by the few moments my mind creates a mirage of something pleasurable, such as a water hole. water is our life source on this physical planet, but my spirit needs a different type of water hole. my mirage is something different.

my mirage is centered around one word. hope. let’s all face it. walking the road of trauma can feel like we are being badly beaten with no shelter in site. we long for the sheer seconds of feeling like it’s almost over. as a kid in elementary school i hated gym. okay- i still hate gym but that’s besides the point. i remember vividly the pain i would feel when each year i’d have to run or walk a mile. i knew i’d always be the last one to finish. i start off running thinking, this year is going to be different. i’m going to run this entire mile! but no sooner than running 1/4 of it did my body remind me that i wasn’t cut out for this.

after having the same group of people pass me up 3 times, i’d all but given up. i still have 2 laps to go. i walked with my head hung low in embarrassment. my gym teacher would do his best to encourage me, but it all seemed pointless. i’d convince myself i’d never be able to run a mile. after i’d done that, i would come up with all the reasons running a mile wasn’t important to my success in life.

i debate the unimportant issues for the remainder of my time. on the fourth lap though, something would change in me. i started to see the end in sight and though i’d wait until a few yards away from the finish line, my feet started to pick up pace and my heart finally got back into the game. i’d finish my mile walk in a full run. my gym teacher would congratulate me and finally it was over. until next year . . .

i still haven’t run a mile in a decent time. i’ve given up all hope of running. instead, i tire myself out by exercising my brain. trust me, what i lack in physical exertion i make up for in mental stimulation. i run laps around myself constantly inside my head. this has led to some of my greatest downfalls and also garnered me some of my greatest strengths.

i’ve been struggling for years to overcome the effects of the abuse in my childhood. i’ve given up several times and found all the same excuses i did when i was running/walking the mile in school.

it’s incredibly easy to find a reason to not do something. with a single thought i can talk myself out of pretty much anything, including lifelong dreams and goals. a single thought multiplied by several single thoughts instantly transforms into a string of thoughts which converts into a thought pattern which, believe it or not, nestles itself into our brain so our brain physically remembers the path it needs to take.

after years of thinking negatively, my brain is a well oiled machine, if you will, for transferring those negative thoughts. it’s easier for me to say, i’m a terrible writer than to say that i’m a decent writer.  see, even in my example i can’t give myself credit. it’s like my brain physically can’t pass the positive thought to my hand so i won’t stop typing.

recently i heard a piece of the gospel that blew my mind. it wasn’t so much the words but the meaning of the words when they were put together that almost brought me to tears.

john 5 (NLT)

afterward Jesus returned to jerusalem for one of the jewish holy days. inside the city, near the sheep gate, was the pool of bethesda,[a] with five covered porches. crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches.[b] one of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. when Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, He asked him, “would you like to get well?”

“i can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for i have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! …

at first glance this verse meant nothing to me other than another example of Jesus healing on a day He shouldn’t be. reading it now there are still areas that confuse me, but here’s what i want you to pay attention to. throughout the new testament we don’t really see Jesus asking someone if they want to be healed. we see Him praising the woman who was hemorrhaging for years for using her faith to be healed. we see Him heal the blind, cure leprosy, and even bring someone back from physical death.

this is the first time we see Him ask someone what they feel about getting well.

i’ll be honest, people have asked me that question several times throughout my short life thus far. i’ve even had a friend tell me i couldn’t use the rape card my whole life, as if it were some VIP card i could take out whenever i wanted to have a fun night. i hated this question. it made my blood boil. it felt like such an inconsiderate question from really ignorant people.

i’m not the only one who has felt this way when being asked this question in relation to their life. after robin william’s passed more and more people spoke up about depression and the arguments about nature v. nurture ensued. all over people were saying, “don’t tell me to just be happy! it’s not like i’m choosing to be sad all the time! i can’t control it!”

boy oh boy. . . don’t i know the feeling. here’s what i have realized since finally seeing this piece of scripture.

Jesus wasn’t asking a question geared towards seeing a physical response. Jesus was asking a question of the heart. He spoke to the heart of the matter, if you will. though this man physically couldn’t get to the water, he mentally wanted it. his heart and his mind screamed yes! because of this, Jesus healed him.

don’t get me wrong. i’m in no way saying you aren’t healed because you don’t want it. but . . .  in a way i am. . . being healed often times doesn’t look the way we want it to. trauma impacts our physical bodies as well as our spiritual. happiness is a state of mind, not a circumstance. when we decide to pursue happiness rather than accept sadness, things begin to change. we force our brain to create pathways for positive thoughts too! we begin to see the bright side of things despite the storm we’re stuck in.

when i was struggling with thoughts of suicide i couldn’t fathom a day without the darkness over my life. it would hit me like a freight train some days and i would just collapse on the floor and raise my white flag and scream, “i give!” thinking that would end the pain. but it didn’t, only more pain came. the longer i laid on the floor waiting for death to take me, the more pain i encountered.

you see, i didn’t want to die. i don’t believe anyone truly longs to die. i believe we long for suffering to stop. we have this false idea that suffering can only end when we are in heaven. we decide that in order to be in heaven we much physically put ourselves there by bringing on an earthly death.

but that isn’t the case! in my last post [here] i talked about choosing God. in this post the message is choosing life. we must choose to live according to God’s desires, not the world’s. this doesn’t mean there won’t be bad days. this doesn’t mean that we won’t experience heartbreak and trauma. but when i choose to see God for who He is and see myself as His, i begin to use the armor he has provided for me.

i can evade the fiery arrows from my enemy. i can “get up and be healed!” like the lame man. i AM the lame man. YOU are the lame man. we all ARE the lame man. when we choose to be healed, our spirit is healed. it’s that quick! it now becomes a battle of flesh verses the spirit. who are you going to let lead your life?

let Jesus speak to your heart today. be honest with where you are at. ask yourself, “do you really want to be healed?” and if you do, ask yourself if you are expecting to be healed in a certain manner rather than just expecting God to show up. God showed up for me and He continues to do so in the most magical ways.

i can see i’m nearing the end of my mile run/walk. i suppose i should start running. will you join me?

what are some things you do to see things more positively despite experiencing trauma? sound off!

1 Comment

  1. speechless at its pure genius. Thank you for writing. I mean it, from one trauma “survivor” to another — THANK YOU. You are a gift from above.

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