What I learned about fear and trauma
Fear can rob us of living if we allow it to do that. Our lives are like a seed buried deep within the soil. For some water activates germination, for others it is fire and heat. In our family, an explosion took place in the form of an armed robbery. What was meant for harm ended up becoming something beautiful, who would’ve thought? And I learned a few lessons along the way that I will share with you in this post.
Four years ago to the day, my daughter Emily and I were in an armed robbery in our home. Tied up with medals on ribbons, I lay on top of my daughter directing the men in balaclavas to find what they were looking for in our home. In the blink of an eye, my perspective on safety, on rest, fear and joy changed. The journey to healing began with one small step at a time. How long does it take to heal from trauma? It’s different for everyone, but this much I do know – it takes time. You cannot rush it.
Fear’s goal is to paralyze us
Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. For my family and I, it was an armed robbery in the early hours of the morning while the world was still cloaked in darkness. These are some of the lessons I have learned along the way.
We don’t heal by giving fear power, but in walking in faith and love.
Fear has one goal, that is to paralyze humankind in whatever form it may take. For some, it is fear of violence, for others fear of failure, rejection, illness, or phobias. Fear seeks to take you out, to cripple you from living fully alive. But God has another plan. He came to give us a spirit of power and love. Love truly ushers in healing from fear. Knowing we are loved, that we belong and that we are safe in love’s arms, kickstarts healing.
We don’t heal in withdrawing, but in offering thankfulness.
When we think about ourselves and the wrongs done to us, we tend to move into victim mode. But, when we turn our eyes and heart into being thankful, it can lift us out of the pit of despair. Thankfulness is key to healing, to joy and a motivation to step out of the dark place. Thankfulness can help heal you from trauma.
We don’t heal in living with unforgiveness but in forgiving.
Forgiveness is a powerful force. It sets the captives free. My family and I chose to forgive those men. It doesn’t mean that we condone what happened, but we decided to walk in the freedom that forgiveness releases. I can forgive others because I have been forgiven, not easy, but so necessary.
We don’t heal in isolation but in community.
Community is a gift. Just after the armed robbery, our family and friends flooded our home with gifts, prayers, their presence, and tender love. They cleaned up the mess left behind by the robbers; they cooked for us, they played card games with us while we waited for my husband to arrive home from Zimbabwe. Our community helped us heal.
We don’t heal in a moment but over time.
Patience is something that can be cultivated. Healing in our souls isn’t always instant. And so, the journey to living fully healed from the trauma took more time than I imagined it would. From counseling to resting, to exercising hard, I think I did it all. But taking time to heal isn’t so bad. I learned to take the pressure off myself to have it all together and allowed the healing to permeate my body, soul, and spirit.
We don’t heal by pretending, but in walking in the truth.
Pretending is a lie that we tend to believe. We cannot heal when we wear masks. It’s vital to walk in truth, and most of all, be honest with ourselves and those we love about where we are. Learning to live with vulnerability and honesty is a gift that you can give to yourself. Try it out; you might be surprised at the outcome.
In an excerpt from a blog post I wrote shortly after the armed robbery, I reflected on the following; These are the effects of fear that I have either experienced or seen manifest around me:
“Fear is an illusion, but the danger is real. It manifests in different ways in our minds, emotions, and bodies. A spirit of fear can stop you from living, and by that, I mean really living. It inhibits you from risking, from laughing and giving yourself to something or someone. Fear can make you sick. Lack of sleep suppresses your immune system and your mind’s ability to function at its peak level. Fear can rule your life and isolate you from those that love you. You start to shut down and not allow them into specific areas, or to support you as you should.”
Identity also helps us heal from trauma.
Just after the armed robbery, I struggled with fear in such a debilitating way that it challenged my every waking and sleeping moment. A helpful exercise I did was to create a personal list of who I am in Christ based on Scripture and His word to me. I wrote it out and read it and reread until it started to sink in. Knowing who we are can contribute towards walking fully healed.
The following is a portion of the one I crafted: “I am accepted; I am God’s child. I am a member of Christ’s body and am complete in Christ. I am secure and free from condemnation. God will work all things for my good in all circumstances. I am hidden with Christ in God. I am a citizen of heaven. I am God’s temple and His workmanship. I can approach God with freedom and confidence. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I am loved.”
Finally, I am thankful that I can walk free from fear. When I feel it knocking at the door of my mind, I bolt it firmly shut and say, ‘no entry.’ Faith can answer with a resounding, “You are not welcome here. Love, power, and a sound mind reside here, not you.” Let the seeds of hope and purpose emerge out of the ashes.
Please share this post with anyone you think might need some encouragement today. Do you have a story of how you overcame fear? Please share it with me. I’d love to hear from you.