Recovering Identity After Trauma

Recovering Identity After Trauma

Written on 11/13/2019
Jessica Bergman

Written by Jessica Bergman

Identity. It begins from the moment we’re conceived. Then rapidly forms as we enter the world. So much of who we are becoming begins with the quality of nurturing we receive. 

Whether good or bad.

Enter: Trauma. Loss. Grief. Fear. 

A dark spot on our natural development. We don’t get to choose how we are affected. We just are. And our identity must digest the changes.

Sometimes the spot is all-encompassing. Ever-changing. Sometimes pushed beneath the surface. Often times it can be hard to know who you are apart from the trauma. So, who are we after trauma, and who has the final say? Us, an abuser, or the traumatic event? 

Yet, as God’s chosen people, sealed with the promise of Christ’s blood, it’s time we took the power of identity back and taught our youth to do the same. So, who are we?

First, who is God?

God is respect

[you could indent this paragraph instead of using quotation marks if you prefer] “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).

God is peace.

[you could indent this paragraph instead of using quotation marks if you prefer] “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

God is consistency.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Let those words resonate with you a moment. Respect. Peace. Consistency. Often, these fundamental truths God intends for us are taken away. How do we help each other get them back?

Let’s start with respect. 

To respect someone is to acknowledge them. To show with your actions and follow-up that you see them. On a deeper level, that you hear them, you value them, and you care enough to try and understand them. 

Respect means I trust you. Not being naive, but rather entrusting someone to do what they say they’ll do. To use the skills, you call out and affirm them to accomplish a purpose. Most times, trauma blocks any thoughts of having potential. So, having a leader call out that potential can be very significant.

Next: Peace. Safety. 

Trauma doesn’t ask for an invitation to speak through flashbacks or panic attacks. Love your youth by creating a safe, accepting environment. Be their go-to people. Somewhere to belong. A place where minorities are comfortable and loved. Somewhere that encourages sharing struggles and experiences, even when trauma is hard to listen to. 

Consistency.

Consistency is often a distant thought for those who have experienced trauma. It might take days, weeks, even years to reach someone. But when you show up regularly, God shows up too. Keep showing up. Again and again. 

Show up as God shows up. As compassion. As love. Without judgment – no fixing. Consistently be who you are, and so let others be who they are. No strings attached. God can define our identity if we let Him. He not only defines, but transforms. And He loves us with our stains. With all our dark spots. As we are. 

What a tremendous love our Father has lavished on us. Let’s do the same.