Out of Exile: Day Fifteen – Personal Trauma

Over the last few days I’ve looked at the losses that land us in exile.  I looked at invalidation and then limited choices.  Today I want to look at the losses involved in personal trauma.

In his book, A Grace Disguised, Jerry Sittser tells the story of how three members of his family were taken in one tragic car accident. This is what he said about loss after experiencing his own:

We live life as if it were a motion picture. Loss turns life into a snapshot. The movement stops; everything freezes. We find ourselves looking at picture albums to remember the motion picture of our lives that once was but can no longer be.   

Loss turns life into a snapshot. That’s an interesting analogy. Lenore Terr, author of Too Scared to Cry, uses another film analogy:

The memory of trauma is shot with higher intensity light than is ordinary memory. And the film doesn’t seem to disintegrate with the usual half-life of ordinary film. Only the best lenses are used, lenses that will pick up every last detail, every line,   every wrinkle, and every fleck. There is more detail picked up during traumatic events than one would expect from the naked eye under ordinary circumstances.

That’s what happened with Sittser. His life was moving along fine, like a motion picture, until the car crash. Then he was handed a snapshot of loss to always remind him of what once was but can no longer be.

He comments on how anger relates to loss:

Anger is simply another way of deflecting the pain, holding it off, fighting back at it. But the pain of loss is unrelenting. It stalks and chases until it catches us. It is as persistent as wind on the prairies, as constant as cold in the Antarctic, as erosive as a spring flood. 

Maybe that has happened to you. Trauma can mean the death of a loved one, the loss of your job/ministry, the end of a marriage, a miscarriage, or any kind of life altering setback. Remember it’s not just the loss that sends you into exile. It’s the secondary losses associated with the loss. 

Many people live with the unrealistic belief that they live in an impervious bubble that protects them. Other people are subject to the cruelties of life. Not them. 

So what are some of the secondary losses of trauma?  One of the biggest losses is the sudden realization that life is not safe and predictable; you have no control. You are vulnerable to the whims of nature and the choices other people make.  

Many people live with the unrealistic belief that they live in an impervious bubble that protects them. Other people are subject to the cruelties of life. Not them. When trauma strikes, that bubble bursts and it can send a person reeling. Not only is there a loss of a sense of safety and control but often a loss of faith. Why would God let this to happen?

What kind of snapshots have you been holding in your hand that have kept you in an emotional exile? Leave a comment below. And please share this on Facebook.

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One thought on “Out of Exile: Day Fifteen – Personal Trauma

  1. Lisa

    When I read your paragraph: ” Maybe that has happened to you. Trauma can mean the death of a loved one, the loss of your job/ministry, the end of a marriage, a miscarriage, or any kind of life altering setback. Remember it’s not just the loss that sends you into exile. It’s the secondary losses associated with the loss.” I first thought replace that “or” with an “and” and you came close to describing one of my most difficult times spiritually.

    The accumulation of loss rapidly became what felt like a “tragic comedy”-no more crying cuz I was outta tears all I could do was laugh at how ridiculous this life had become. Secondary loss was realizing how vulnerable I felt. The God bubble had burst, the hedge of protection was down and I was wondering from what direction would come the next assault.

    It was a moment at the kitchen sink doing dishes when I said, “Screw you fear and death. Love is casting you out, courage is rising, faith is following and I’m not giving up.” And that is when we were given a breather. I was also studying Job at that time. I was counting my blessings that I wasn’t on a pile of ash scraping boils off, my kids hadn’t died either and I served a God who could resurrect all the deadness back to life again with a double blessing. I kept asking Him to make all things new-including me!

    The snapshots I had been holding onto were in fact lies. Lies like: God doesn’t care, or generational curses have power over me or that God is able but not willing for me. I had been buying the devil’s postcards from this crazy tripping journey out in the desert. Getting a handle on who I am in Christ centered and grounded me once again. Returning to my first love and maintaining an intimate relationship with the Lord is the fruit from that “stripping the vine time”.

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