In Your Language

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Trauma's silver lining...

(My definitions)

Trauma = living life without faith in God and involuntarily experiencing pain or loss that could not be predicted or avoided.

Blessing = being at a point of need or pain and getting some relief from the hands and feet of God (our neighbors, family, friends, even strangers).

History = something that will never change, un-editable, contributes to present fears or pain.

Adoption = Giving the blessing of commitment to a person who has a history that includes trauma (abandonment).


I have my own trauma and I've encountered many other people who've experience trauma. My inclination (hopefully other people's also) is to want to reach out and help and to bless those in need. Part me of thinks of it as a challenge to make them forget about their past and it never seems to work. Have you noticed this too?

Okay, to be real- I don't actively tell people to get over it and I don't tell them to forget. But something about the way I assess my effectiveness is how much they dwell on this trauma; if they dwell a lot, perhaps I'm not doing a good enough job of ministering to their needs, perhaps I'm not blessing them the way they need.

Let's think of some blessings that don't actually make the wounds/trauma evaporate:

Adoption =  Of course, the orphan "needs" to be adopted to a better life (than the orphanage, not always to be compared with the family of origin).  But this is not a ceremony that lops off the fact that the child was abandoned and now, without a voice or choice of their own, go home with whoever went through the adoption process and wanted a child of similar age, gender, and temperament. Like it or not, by the time an adoptive parent receives their child, this will be the 3rd set of guardians for this child and the 3rd or more (depending on how many foster homes the child has gone through) moves for a child who has been traumatized. Those realities don't even delve into the visceral experience the child has seared in their chemistry, brains and hearts of feeling unloved and discarded. Outside of remarriages, people don't conventionally experience such disturbances in their lives.

Stepparents/Blended Families = It doesn't matter how honky dory the lego family is or how awesome the "step" parent is, the reality is that none of it was requested by the children. Their biological parents are irreplaceable and they trying to be placated by a "fill in" parent. Sure this parent may take care of the children well, but who would ever ask for such a complicated family life? At best, we could call this a mixed blessing.

Faith = Faith doesn't turn your life into a dry erase illustration and give you the ability to erase the parts you don't want to carry around with you. It doesn't change the past and it usually doesn't change the way people treat you or think about you. Faith is a vertical blessing between you and God. But the best part of faith is that God will minister to you in exactly the way you need (and that you never knew you needed).

All that said to bring you the idea that after such life changing traumas like international adoption in my case, there is nothing that you can heal unless you are the person that created the trauma. There has to be an understanding and acceptance of the person as a collective of experiences that the only way to honor them is to hold their hand through their bouts of fear and grief. It's that gesture of being present with the hurt person that IS the silver lining to the pain. Humans have this natural desire to have matching likes and experiences; pain gives people an opportunity to bond together. I believe that the best reward of helping people is the blessings we receive from God for doing his work.

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