Suffering Well…Through Childhood Trauma

Suffering Well…Through Childhood Trauma

a reflection by Heather N.

Suffering. It is unavoidable. It is tethered to the human experience. Suffering looks different for each individual, but it is inevitable.

For me, suffering looks like severe childhood trauma; it looks like a dysfunctional and emotionally abusive relationship; it looks like a physical expression of pain from an imploding emotional state.

For you, maybe suffering is so much bigger, or not as intense, but to each person their suffering is excruciating and no one can take that reality from them. 
Through decades of suffering, I have held on to an image of a little girl hiding behind a couch while violence unfolded on the other side… and sitting beside her, crouched down, was Jesus.

God with us.

I am not sure when or where I saw this depiction of Jesus but I know I was young and it has traveled with me.

God with me. In the darkness, in the chaos, in the brokenness. God with me.

Does this look like me being so unfazed by suffering because I am “not of this world” and have no cares? No.

Does it look like me being joyful in every small situation even though I feel terrible? No.

Does it look like a faith everyone might look up to? No.

It looks messy, it feels scary, it is chaotic. But through it all, I hear the constant mantra: “God with me.” God with me when I scream at Him and say why? God with me when I sob uncontrollably. God with me when I might not do it the way society thinks I should. That’s what suffering with Jesus looks like. Unexplainable grace. Unimaginable presence. God is not afraid of the ugly, the broken, the cries, or the messy. In fact, he runs to it, to hold us through it, to show us the possibility of the restoration that can come.

Suffering well with Jesus is just suffering knowing we are with Jesus.

Sometimes the brokenness in this world tries to strip all hope, what I have learned is that I need to continue to remind my body, my mind, and my spirit with the mantra God is with me. 
God gave us everything we need to bring restoration and to grow through suffering. We were created to restore. Our cells, our very being, restores. God gave us the ability to create restoration in our being, mentally, physically, spiritually. Restoration is a beautiful balance of vulnerability and determination, of softening and rising above, of being held and standing tall. Suffering well requires our partnership to mend and bring restoration from the brokenness. 
Through my suffering I have learned that God is with us, right here, right now. He is calling us to work with Him in restoration – not through perfection or by prescription – but by inhabiting the truth that He is with us.


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