“PTSD from Katrina kicking in, smells that you can never imagine. Every house has lost everything including at least 2 cars. Y’all pray for Louisiana!!!
When I saw this Facebook status posted alongside a photo of piled up debris, I knew I wasn’t the only one sliding backwards.
For so many affected by the recent floods in the Baton Rouge/Lafayette area, this current cataclysmic event is a flashback to the aftermath of some other natural disaster experienced or overwhelming sense of loss incurred. Whether it is the smell of sweltering garbage, the reality of all of your belongings stacked in a heap on the curb in front of your house, the loss of a loved one to the raging flood waters or possible even a beloved pet, the triggers all point to the same underlying issue.
TRAUMA – an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident or natural disaster. A traumatic event or situation creates psychological trauma when it overwhelms the individual’s ability to cope.
Would it be surprising to know that the above list didn’t do it for me? Rather, it was the process of saving the people and the water recovery that sent me reeling backwards. The scenes of boats racing over the water, men in life jackets intent on rescue and helicopters overhead that pulled me to a painful place. The scenes were so familiar and carried a past so stressful that it felt like a smoldering piece of metal piercing my heart every time I saw a picture.
Physical symptoms of distress began to manifest as tears trickled down my cheeks while out for a walk, I noticed myself upset and unsettled in the evenings when it was time to relax and I began waking up in the wee hours of the morning because my mind was racing with thoughts. The third time I confessed to David, “I feel like tears are filling my ears and a bulge of emotions is blocking my throat.” I knew I needed to stop with the activity and devote some time to myself.
It was then, in the stillness of assessing what was messing with my head and in turn twisting my heart that a light was shown on what I was going through. I realized something happening in my current environment was causing me to look backwards, to revisit, to relive, to revive an extraordinarily painful time in my life.
Oh, and I was guilty of “going there” and walking in defeat for a few days. I withdrew from helping with relief efforts out of sheer self-protection. I sought refuge from the chaos by seeking calm environments. Honestly, being in the disarray of recovery mixed me up mentally. As well, reopened an emotional wound I would rather leave untouched. My empathy overflowed at the overwhelming sense of loss that so many are experiencing to the point I couldn’t concentrate. I know what it feels like to have your life turned upside down and scattered like a 10,000 piece puzzle.
Truly, being amidst the shambles was causing me to stumble.
(I wish I could say it isn’t so, that I’m stronger than that, that I can handle any situation that comes my way. Instead, I’m realizing I can’t. Nor, am I called, too. )
So, in an effort to find my way out of the slimy pit that I sunk into, I began to pay attention to myself and worked to mentally challenge the triggers. I made a concerted effort to turn off the memories that possessed the potential to wreck my well-being. As I used the tools in my trauma toolbox to help me cope, room was made in my mind to remember what served to save me during my personal season of trauma.
Yes, during that time God showed up in miraculous ways on numerous days, but it was His Word that carried me through the tedious times. When fear, anxiety, stress, and uncertainty arose (symptoms of PTSS) I recited, chanted, sung, wrote, read and clung to God’s written word, knowing that through it He shares His wisdom with us, that He teaches us the perspective He wants us to adopt and that He states the promises we can trust in.
The longer I sat, the more grateful I became for the time and foresight to regain my composure. As I rested, a sense of urgency swelled inside of me to reread the scriptures that were earmarked with a sticky note in Samantha’s Bible. The ones that I had repeated over and over, the ones I read then implemented in my own life, the ones I trusted in, the ones that encouraged me to take another step and the ones that promised a fruitful future after profound loss.
Ahhhh, rest, renewal and reassurance soothed my heart. Words that served to revive me before where breathing life into me again. Text that brought dominion and order over this world were doing it again. Passages that promised God’s presence and offered hope were pouring into my spirit again.
Yes, God’s Word had gotten me through a season of personal trauma. And, it was doing it again!
I invite you to journey with me over the next few weeks as I share ten scriptures that serve to sustain me. Along, with how, when, where and why they work for me. Whether it is past or present circumstances doesn’t make a difference. What is important to remember is God’s Word is living and actionable in all situations and it works!
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
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