God of the Trauma
I don’t remember the walk through the hospital — I was on autopilot, parking in the parking garage, taking the elevators to the hospital lobby, and then walking through the doors to the Emergency Department (backward to the way most people do it). Everything about this was backward.
“I’m suicidal,” I said to the lady behind the desk.
A nurse came over and took my pulse. “Are you on drugs,” she asked. My heart was racing because wouldn’t yours be, too, after panicking the whole way through?
And in that moment, I never felt so alone. Despite the crowd of faces around me, the ubiquitous ambiance caused by the humdrum of the hospital — heart monitors and pagers, codes, and alarms — loneliness is a powerful thing.
I still feel alone in a room full of faces. Disassociation: existing, but slightly to the left, feeling numb when feeling everything.
I’ve come so far since walking into the ER the first time, farther than I ever expected. Healing more than I ever anticipated.
I don’t know if the trauma I went through was “worth it.” But I do know this: my doubt doesn’t negate my faith. And I’ve been blessed with a therapist who happens to be a Christian, whose path overlaps with mine in multiple ways.
In our session yesterday, I talked about the hurt I’ve experienced from growing up in the church, trying to reconcile the trauma with what I heard every Sunday. We unpacked the hurt and the pain; we unpacked the questions I have about my faith — how can God? Why does God? What does God?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
I have no idea if the pain was worth it: the years of starving myself to make the part of myself they touched smaller; the years of self-harm to get rid of the skin that they touched; the years of feeling nothing because feeling nothing has to be better than feeling everything.
Can anything good come from this?
I’m learning now that blocking painful emotions and feeling nothing is the most dangerous thing. Numbness guides me towards trees. And in order to ‘heal’ in the way that I want to, I need to feel. Jesus didn’t shy away from painful emotions. Even if those painful emotions left him crying out on the cross alone and forgotten.
Sometimes I feel forgotten by God. On my dark days when I can’t remember what the Son of Hope looks like. On the days when the question of “why” is the only thought running through my head, but I’ve learned that if I dwell on the “why,” the “because” will never show up.
I’ve learned that I do not suffer alone. Sometimes in the midst of your own struggle, it’s easy to forget that you’re not alone. That you’re not struggling by yourself. That other people get it. I let myself move from hurting to self-pity and back again, spiraling from all the nobody could ever understand how much I’m hurting thoughts.
But then God reminds me. The truth is: we’re not alone in our pain. I’m not alone in my pain.
I have met people with amazing stories who have overcome some powerful things — drug addiction, rape, suicide attempts, abusive relationships. I met people that night in the emergency room that have impacted my life in more ways than they’ll ever know: God has a way of showing up in the middle of our mess. Even Jesus understands my pain, and He’s right there mourning with me, hurting with me, rejoicing with me.
I don’t have to justify to anyone why I still believe in God. All I have to do is tell them my story because, through it all, despite my curiosity on how they can, people have stuck by my side through it all. For me, God’s found through the love of others. Imperfect human love for a hurting person illustrates the unconditional love of God for one of his children. All this despite my doubt.
And I’m still trying to figure out where my purpose lies in all of this, what plans God has for my life. But I do know this: He can salvage good from even the evilest things in our lives. He can bring hope into hopeless places and healing into the broken places. And he loves me more than my support team loves me. When I feel like I don’t deserve their love, their support, their words of encouragement during the hard times, how much more don’t I deserve the love of God?
Yet he loves me anyway.
I’m continuously reminded that people deciding to love me isn’t up to me — it’s not a choice I can make. All I can do is allow myself to be loved by them, to let them see the ugliness, the darkness, the real, the raw I don’t want to be here me, the me who struggles to stay alive but really, really wants to keep fighting.
But they haven’t left.
God hasn’t left despite the times he feels so far away, despite my doubt.
Not my will, but Yours be done.