noun: trauma; plural noun: traumata; plural noun: traumas
1. a deeply distressing or disturbing experience
◦emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may be associated with physical shock and sometimes leads to long-term neurosis.
Trauma is an interesting term. Because my trauma occurred when I was such a young age, it became a part of my normal vocabulary early on. The definition never occurred to me I just understood that at some point what I experienced qualified as a trauma, at least in the eyes of my doctors. Growing up in church there was rarely a gathering void of the statement, “If I look back over my life!” or “has God ever bought you through anything?” Honestly, at 5 I didn’t think I had much to review but the reality was that I had already psychologically normalized my trauma to “cope”. My environment severely lacked individuals with the visible proof of trauma survival but worship service would quickly and consistently prove that everyone in my vicinity survived something (no matter what the proof concluded). The altitude and intensity of the praises I witnessed was a consistent reminder that even if I couldn’t visibly ascertain the extent of the trauma each individual faced, they were living through something worth rendering praise to Abba.
Throughout my development in that environment, the significance of my situation developed definitive clarity. In the view hindsights lense, while emotionally scarring at times, having visible proof of my trauma not only saved my life it became the manifestation of my testimony. Why was it emotionally scarring? People weren’t the most nice or kind when inquiring about my unique appearance. Ideally, I’d receive the most compassion and tenderness from adults who existed for decades longer than me. Ideally, in their time on Earth, living through hardships, and having more time to learn and apply their understanding of Christ, adults would have been more emotionally intelligent when addressing a child about a obvious disability. At that age I didn’t yet understand that I was already healed from my trauma and my various mobility and stability apparatuses were merely the indication that I wasn’t ashamed to lean on assistance to arrive at my destinations. Very early on in life my mother taught me to honor what God placed in my Ark and as a result I treasure God’s miracles in my life. Unfortunately, that isn’t everyone’s perspective.
God instructed Moses to build the Ark of the Covenant to signify that His presence was with them (Exodus 25:10). Within the Ark there were 3 miracles: Aaron’s rod that blossomed which represented the divine selection of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 17), the Golden pot of manna representing God’s provision in the wilderness, and the 10 commandment tablets representing God’s protection and instruction in the wilderness. Even when Joshua began leading, as long as the Israelites kept the Ark they were safe and victory was assured (Joshua 3, Joshua 6, 1 Samuel 4). The Arc was meant to be treated with the ultimate honor and care because it was the physical visible manifestation of the miracles God performed and proof of the love He has for his people.
It took a while for me to learn that most broken people had the least visible evidence of their trauma. It took a while for me to learn that even though I was physically paralyzed most of the individuals I would encounter throughout my lifetime were emotionally and spiritually paralyzed. Completely willing to LOOK functional externally while internally and quite literally being nonfunctional and immobile. Spiritually attrified from lack of use over long periods of time. There was an extreme benefit in understanding that scars weren’t a sign of weakness but a sign that I’d already reached the destination of survival. Not only was each word I uttered or step I took a manifestation of God’s glory and power but, they were also I step or word closer I took to THRIVING.
I honor my Ark! There are so many miracles that God has performed over the course of my life, He deserves my honor, love, praise, and commitment forever. My moments of suffering, no matter how intense the experience, never awards me a license to shift the lens and depth of focus from God’s goodness to my victimization. With maturity, I find comfort in each affliction as that of a decorated war hero after a battle, understanding that my survival is equally as indicative of my strength as being chosen to fight. Weak warriors aren’t recruited to wage integral wars.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil 4:8