When You’re Navigating Childhood Trauma as an Adult

Guest Post by Hope Vitale

 

{Due to the delicate balance of childhood events where family members are either in denial or coming to terms with what happened, our next blogger is using a pseudonym. She’s a Christian author, speaker, and blogger in many circles, whose traumatic past has recently re-surfaced. Part of her healing process has been from writing and photography. She shares her story as an encouragement to others who may be in similar situations. Hope will be available in the comment sections and offline, for more conversations.}

 

 

My mother’s words slammed into my heart. Their effects reverberated through me.

 

“I finally remember what happened,” she said, “and it wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought. God really protected you.”

 

As we thought?

 

Why is this coming up so casually as we drive down a freeway with my younger daughters in the seats behind us?

 

It had been months since we’d stood in front of the house where the boy had taken my innocence. Since the unexplainable panic attacks after purchasing a ticket to a wedding in the city with the playhouse, its scratchy floor, and the tree branches out the window that comforted me each time it happened.

 

She’d stood with me as I wept that day, screamed and swore with me at the appalling truth. Prayed for me. Right there in front of the house where it had happened.

 

And now, this? Couched in God words?

 

I said nothing, just focused on the road ahead. Breathing through shock, I crumbled inward, whispered from deep inside, “God, is this true?”

 

Because when people say words couched in religious terms they weigh more. They profoundly enliven our souls or they rip the rug right out from beneath them.

 

If I’d responded right then, the rug might have slid from under me. But because of wisdom that must have been injected by God into this heart, I said nothing. I was too busy struggling with whether the words were true—or even partly true. With wondering what may have motivated them in the first place.

 

What light could I shine on the words to know what to keep and what to let slip off my heart without even regarding it? That hinged on the other issue: her motivation.

 

She is my mother.

 

I can only imagine the whirlwind of emotions in her heart as memories of abuse make their way out of locked internal closets where I’ve kept them all those years. How can a mother endure her grown daughter’s suffering? How can she trust God who allowed it? Could she have done anything to prevent it, or prevent it’s happening more than once? As a mom of daughters myself, the idea of anyone hurting my daughters like I experienced boils rage (and fear!) so hot inside I could slam my fist through a wall.

 

lauries oct 28 post

 

The more I asked the questions and sat quiet in the wave of shock, the more I saw it: she’s grieving. She loves me. She needs closure. She needs to do her own business with God—to reconcile his goodness and love for her daughter with the reality that he’d permitted the abuse to happen.

 

Neither of us will ever know why. But both of us have seen so much of God’s goodness in decades since then that we can’t stay angry at him forever.

 

She had to say what she said for her own healing.

 

It busted up my heart for her to say the words. There’s a rift, and I don’t know what God will do to repair it. Empathizing with her in the car took the edge off my anger and sense of being abandoned to heal from the abuse without her. It gave me the strength to choose forgiveness—to enact the spiritual contract that released her (and me) from letting that moment imprison us.

 

I can’t tell you where this will end up. I don’t know how much I will be able to let her back into all the tender places in my heart.

 

But I do know it wasn’t God who said those words in the car. It was a person like me, frail flesh hurting in this broken world. A person I love much. So I choose to trust God to protect and hold us both as we grapple and heal.

 

I will choose to look to God in me who is bigger than any of it. God who is love and light, who we can hold onto as the Giver of good gifts, even if it’s only holding on by a thread and holding our tongue long enough to let his Spirit assure us again.

 

 

For more conversations on dealing with hurtful words and painful pasts, you can also click here.

 

_________________________________________________

 

IMG_3128Hope Vitale lives in a household of girls with her husband, making their home somewhere out west. In addition to being a mother and wife, her work days are spent as speaker, author, blogger, and hobby photographer, capturing the ordinary beauty around her. On occasion she meets with other writers, attends writing conferences and retreats, and has a passion for others to be made whole through Christ.

Like Lice & a Fine-Tooth Comb, Let’s Pull Out Condemnation from the Hairs of (True) Conviction

{By Tammy Hendricksmeyer}

 

“The meaning of our lives is not dependent on what we make of it but of what he (God) is making of us.” Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways–Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live

 

After years of running away from myself, of trying to be this or that or the other, of chasing happiness over contentment, I am here. Stepping into who God created me to be.

 

I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be intentional in our gratitude of sharing life (and words) with each other.

 

There are brave souls, far and wide. Yet how often do we play safe? Hold often do we hold back for fear, or pride, or cynicism, or insecurity, or the whatever? In withholding, we not only withdraw the blessing from others, but from our selves as well.

 

Last year, I came across a website on spiritual warfare. So I read. And I read. And I clicked to the next article and the next, because spiritual truth captivated me by what I knew to be true for myself as well.

 

Spiritual warfare can be many things, even a paper-thin difference between condemnation and conviction. On the one hand, condemnation throws grenades in our battlefield minds. And hunkering beside us in our foxholes, deception pretends to be our battle-buddy, a spy in our ranks. The enemy’s message seeps into our conscience (or soul) in a slow, poisonous vapor.

 

Even though we know, intellectually, that the enemy stands as our most vehement accuser, we do not really know it. He comes to us on his belly, low and hidden.

 

Condemnation remains subtle or not so subtle, even unrecognizable at times, as the enemy deceives even the root of the lie. We rush head long into it, turning ourselves in as guilty, unworthy prisoners of war before anyone in our lives has a chance to sentence us. See, we imagine everyone is condemning us, every day.

 

On the other hand, there’s true conviction. It’s the shovel that digs us up, weeping with sorrowful repentance, and sets us free. Our captive minds are released. Our heart skips in childish abandon. Even in our deliverance, we never give up the good way of dying to self, of taking up our cross. In fact, we gladly wrap our arms around the wooden beam we once held in our eye and carry it to our Golgotha’s. Our lowly state is but an afterthought as our twinkling eyes are brightened in His gaze.

 

IMG_0757

 

“Before God can fill us with Himself, we must first be emptied of ourselves.” AW Tozer, Keys to the Deeper Life

 

But there is another way, a sore way of our sorrowful convictions which spirals beyond Godliness and turns into condemnation, where self-loathing consumes us. We berate ourselves and mentally whip our souls. We become murderers of the Self, never allowing our new life to emerge, the crime scene repeated over and over again. Our God-given gifts and talents are buried inside the tomb of the old man. Condemnation demands from us, “Murder, murder, murder!” But if we listened closely or not so closely, we’d feel the enemy’s withering breath on our earlobe.

 

Oh how the enemy loves it. Condemnation sticks it to us, our volatile thought life dragging us away from our new life in Christ.

 

However, we are made in His image. It’s no wonder the enemy seeks to destroy us. And for those in Christ, we bear the marks of ones called according to His purpose. We are written on His hands, worth as much as the precious Son we’ve made Lord of our lives, because His Spirit has now made a Home. We are a temple. We’ve stepped inside the torn curtain. We became vessels ready to be filled with His glory.

 

“Almost all Christians want to be full of the Spirit. Only a few want to be filled with the Spirit.” AW Tozer, Keys to the Deeper Life

 

We need more than Jesus stickers and scripture verses on t-shirts. We need more than a Jesus ticket stub and crosses hanging off our bracelets. We need to be empowered by the Spiritual life. We can be humble without denying what He’s given us. Our gifts and talents are continually at risk of sabotage, because they are God’s.

 

Condemnation wants to bury us inside our self and deny others the opportunity to see God’s handiwork. But we can be intentional. We can recognize spiritual warfare when it arrives. We can discern conviction and humility from condemnation and self-hatred. We can be empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can choose to not be afraid for ourselves, but instead, step into who God has made us to be.

 

And we can rise up in His truth.

 

_________________________________________________

 

{In October, I’m contemplating what it means to be Empowered by the Spiritual Life, in a 31 day series. I will consider how we go about such a life, what it could look like, why we need it, what fears it brings up, where my spiritual journey has taken me, and attempt to re-invigorate our valleys and deserts in search of more of God’s Holy Spirit. What are some things you’ve learned? Was there a time you experienced a shift in your spiritual life? What caused it? Was there a time the Bible finally made sense to you, like your eyes were opened?}

 

_________________________________________________

 

Copy of Copy of Copy (2) of DSC_0183Tammy has discovered writing is the rawest, scariest, frustratingly glorious, rewarding, and essential way to process life. She’s a renaissance woman who’s scattered pigeons at Notre Dame, swam the coral reefs of Okinawa, scaled fortresses in Nuremburg, viewed the Eiffel Tower safely from the ground, and occasionally drives an old John Deere tractor in tim-buck-two. She’s a fighter for others to see their redemptive purpose, beauty, worth, and connection to a supernatural God. She’s the Founder and Curator for Outside The City Gates where she’s also a Co-Conspirator with a team of other writers. Her faith journey is found on her personal blog, or connect with her on  Facebook and Twitter.

%d bloggers like this: