Across the table, my friend fidgeted her fingers with her napkin. “Things are really unraveling for me right now.” She glanced up at me with bloodshot eyes. “When Covid hit, it’s like my world came crashing in,” she paused again, looked cautiously over her shoulder, took a deep breath, then continued. “Then when all the political events happened,” she shook her head slowly. “It just felt like justice will never come, that evil will always win.”
Whether you agree with my friend’s assessment or not, is not the point. This is…people are scared, especially those who have experienced the worst of abuse. And honestly, I’ve wondered the same thing over the years… “Will justice never come? Will evil always win?”
The conversation I had with this friend was one of several that I’ve had since Covid hit. Over the last several months our enemy has ramped up his fear tactics to play us all.
Fear has been the ultimate dictator – the bully pushing us all towards places we have not wanted to go.
For the survivors who are learning to overcome, it can be especially difficult to navigate, because you have those experiences in your background that automatically trigger responses that are hard to control.
I know many people who are super well-meaning, many “believers” or “Christians”, who try to offer advice, thinking that this is a thought-based issue. “Just change your thoughts and everything will be just fine”, or worse yet, “You have opened the door for the enemy by sinning in your thoughts.” (Just a slight dose of religious condemnation there.)
Our thoughts do greatly affect us, and certainly, we can “sin” by thinking thoughts that are not lining up to God’s word.
Yet, for someone who has been traumatized, in many cases over and over by intentional, repetitive abuse, those trauma responses are on automatic drive.
For instance, if someone still approaches me from my back and touches me, I will automatically throw an elbow back and go into fight mode. I don’t think about throwing a punch. I just do it automatically.
Another example is when military veterans hear a gunshot. They don’t think about hitting the ground in terror, they just do, because they have been trained to by their experiences with trauma.
I’m no counseling guru or specialist. I just know from experience the guilt, condemnation, and frustration that is so easily laid on you when other people don’t understand a trauma abuse survivor like those with PSTD or CPSTD.
The enemy desires nothing more than to tear our lives up with fear. He is the master of it, and he uses media, government, family, pastors, whoever is willing to agree with his lies to intimidate us.
He attempts to deceive us, separating us through judgement of others, who might just be like my friends who have been terrified of the current events.
So, what do you do? For me, I listen, I offer comfort, I care about that person with compassion sitting across the table from me, because I may have not walked their exact path, but I’ve had those times where I’ve felt I’ve been melting inside, where I don’t have the capacity in that moment to think clearly or really think at all, where I’m just acting out of survival mode.
Thankfully, I don’t go there often. I just don’t live in that perpetual state of hiding, of running away, of terror anymore. But many, many do. Even those who have a relationship with the Lord Jesus. Why? Because there are areas of their heart, their memories, their experiences where they are still stuck in the trauma, where they have not experienced the true love of Christ.
The Word says, “Don’t be overcome by evil. Overcome evil with good.” It also says, “Fear has to do with judgment. Perfect love casts out all fear.” Perfect love sounds pretty good to me.
SO, I encounter PERFECT LOVE by encountering the true Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Heavenly Father, who I call Papa. I do that by spending time with them (the three in one), asking Them to show Themselves to me, reading the Word, and being in relationship with others on that same journey.
Then I point others to that intimate relationship. I do my best to love others as He loves me. That’s the antidote to fear. LOVE. True Love. A true love I’ve only begun to understand or comprehend myself.
Keep your eyes and heart open to those around you who are hurting, who just need a hug. ( I know I said, “a hug” in a social distancing, masked world. How dare I?) Yet, sometimes we do need that hug, that contact with another person who can point us to the Lord Jesus.
By the way, you can show compassion with a mask on from a distance. You can hug with your words, your tone, your body language, or your caring act.
Maybe you are the one terrified. The real Lord Jesus is love, He does care, He hasn’t left you nor will He, and He can deliver you from the darkest of places. Take a deep breath. Invite Him in. He will come. Even in suffering and pain, He will come and comfort you and show you the way out.
In this topsy turvy world, we will experience pain. We will experience trouble. But take heart, for Christ has overcome the world, and His love is stronger than death itself. He already broke the power of sin, death, fear when He sacrificed His all for us. We are all in the process of receiving the fullness of that if we have said yes to Him. One day, we will fully walk in freedom. Until that day comes, let us pursue LOVE as we overcome the enemy and all His devices of fear.
One of my favorite sayings is from Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis. “Courage, Dear Heart,” Aslan speaks over Lucy as He prepares her to face off with the enemy. Can you hear the great Lion of the Tribe of Judah speaking over you today? “Take courage, child. Love wins.”