When Trauma Comes Knocking
Joy in life comes not from trying to control your circumstances but by being ready to respond with God’s heart in whatever happens to you.
When people ask us what we have in mind for 2023, part of me laughs inside. We rarely get to live according to our plans; life is too chaotic for that. Tragedy, relational breakdowns, trauma, or even an unexpected need can kick all your hopes and plans to the curb. Then what do you do? Do you hide in your anger frustrated that life didn’t go your way, or do you lean into Jesus and find the Way he will guide you through the darkness?
When last year started, Sara was already in a desperate fight for her life when a childhood trauma she didn’t even know was exploding to the surface like a re-awakened volcano. I, completely unaware, was working on a new book as well as traveling again after COVID had subsided. Through a shocking set of circumstances last April, I discovered my wife was in real trouble. At that moment, everything came crashing down around me, and only one thing mattered—seeing how Jesus wanted to rescue my wife and follow his lead in whatever he wanted from me. If Jesus had not been in that mess with me, I don’t know how I would have survived it. His insights and peace in the face of such great despair, rescued us and brought incredible healing to Sara’s heart.
Admittedly, it was a very narrow road filled with pain for both of us. That’s why I was so blindsided a few months later when Sara told me that she wanted to share her trauma story publicly. In her struggle and desperation, hearing other people’s stories had been a lifeline to her and she wanted to be that voice of encouragement to others. And, wow, has that ever happened, not just in the podcasts but in hundreds of conversations during our RV trip around the U.S. and continuing in emails and phone conversations!
I’m still unsure what direction God has for us in years to come, but part of it will be helping people deal with trauma. It’s been so encouraging to see how others have come to recognize the signs of trauma in their own reactions, or in the life of someone they love.
Here is a sample of the overwhelming feedback we’ve had:
I listened with painful tears as the Redeeming Love podcasts began. This is as real as a God journey gets. It will help so many traumatized people by validating their pain and directing them to a loving Father who is in them and will help them walk through it. (Australia)
I recently went through a situation with someone that was confusing and frustrating for me. However, I took into account that the person’s behavior could be linked to trauma, which turned out to be the case. If you and Sara had never shared your stories, I probably would have gotten angry and gotten into a fight with them. Instead, I tried to give the person space, keep an open mind, and take them seriously. This helped bring healing. I think that a lot of symptoms of trauma came up because I was no longer an obstacle. (unknown)
I really want you to know those podcasts cracked me open, and something landed deeper in my heart toward my parents through your personal story. You helped me grieve with God for what happened to my mom and dad, and to gain a clearer understanding of them as humans doing the absolute best they can. What magnificent love is available to us, through each other, from God, forever and ever amends! Wowza. (Oklahoma)
I was molested by my dad’s best friend starting at age 15. It makes me nauseous to even type that. I have thought I had dealt with it, but only through you two sharing these stories did I realize that I’ve only shoved it down. I’m realizing how much all of this has affected my actions and reactions to things and people, and my relationship with Father. (Texas)
I still meet some old friends who have no idea what happened to us last year. We hadn’t seen them and they hadn’t been following my blog or podcasts. While I don’t expect all my friends to stay up with my personal life, there is no way for them to understand my journey now without appreciating what Jesus walked me through last year. Sara and I learned so much, and it changed us so much that we stand in a very different space than we did a year ago. None of it was in our plans, though all of it is now part of our story.
Sara and I often wondered on our trip whether or not we had retired. It’s a joke since in many ways I retired almost thirty years ago in that I have been free to do the things I love to do—write, podcast, sit with God about the pain in the world, and hang out with people exploring their life in Jesus. That was even more true when we resigned our salary at Lifestream two years ago so we have no obligation there. I’m unsure what I’ll write next, but Kyle and I have already discussed where The God Journey might travel this year. There is so much we want to unpack together about what Jesus doing in our lives and how we can interact with our listeners. Stay tuned, and if you haven’t been listening for a while you might want to re-engage. I have a feeling this next year is going to take us down some very different roads that will help you learn to live more deeply in Father’s revelation.
Sara has some shoulder surgery scheduled next week so we’ll be laid up here for a bit, but she wanted to continue the conversations about trauma that we had on our trip. We don’t have an agenda, just a desire to interact informally with those who are dealing with trauma in themselves or someone they love. We are going to have some occasional Zoom sessions to see where those conversations might go. They are going to be small, each limited to only twelve people, though we’ll try to have enough of them to eventually include all who would like to join us. We are not experts at trauma, just a couple who have survived it and have a sense of how Jesus can lead people through it. We do know this: There is no grief so deep that God cannot share it with you and walk you through it to a greater glory and there is no trauma so entrenched that God cannot root it out and break its hold on you. Join us if want to to ask some questions about what we shared on the Redeeming Love podcasts or to explore your own struggles with trauma. You do not have to listen to the podcasts to join us, but it would certainly be helpful.
Our first Wrestling with Trauma conversation will be held this Saturday, January 14, at 11:00 am PST. You’ll have to do the math to figure out what that might be in your time zone. Like the Jake Colsen Book Club, we’ll be moving these around to different times to help accommodate people in different parts of the world. If you’d like to join us this week, please email me for the Zoom link. We’ll be limiting it to the first twelve who request a link, but don’t worry, we will have more. These are not teaching sessions, nor will they build on each other. Each will be a conversation to serve those who join us.
And for those who are interested in the next Jake Colsen Book Club, we will hold the next discussion on my book, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, the following Saturday, January 21 at 1:30 pm. This one will be on chapter 7, When You Dig a Hole For Yourself, You Have to Throw the Dirt on Someone. This chapter deals with how religious performance destroys relationships by making them competitive rather than living inside Jesus’s love for others. You can also email me if you’d like a link for that or you can listen live (or after) as we stream it on my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page.
I’m excited about what 2023 might hold, and all the more, because I have no idea what will come my way. I do, however, have a relationship with Jesus that I know is real enough to carry me through the darkest places.
Sara and I want nothing more than to help you find that reality in your own journey.