Monday, September 14, 2009

Trauma Happens*

It happens to good people. It happens to not-so-good people. And when it does, it seems our human nature to cry, “Why me?” “Why this?” “Why now?” Or as a good niece of mine recently wrote, “I need some extra help in trying to remember that God doesn’t hate me.”

The short answer to the good and the not-so-good, alike, is that God loves His children. Yet doubts take wing in the wake of trauma, especially for those who are trying to do and to be good—doubts that must be as old as Adam and Eve. What must they have felt to lose two sons in a single day—the younger to murder by the elder, and that eldest, to a life of wandering and exile?

So why, in the witness of the ages—in the trauma stories and déjà vu of millions of souls—do traumatic events seem so irreconcilable to our expectations of life and God? And why is the second trauma—the ensuing, protracted mental and spiritual anguish—so consuming? Why must the mind relive, regurgitate, rehash, and endlessly re-envision all that could/should have been, if only …; All that might not have been, except for …?

Is it because we refuse the witness of the ages? The witness that trauma happens—somewhere, in every moment, in every social and economic class—even to good people. Maybe, especially to good people. Read Biblical Job, but be wary of his friends! God’s criticism of them (Job 42:7) seems but to reiterate the chasm between His ways and ours; His thoughts and ours (Isaiah 55:9).

Those of us who kick and bang at God’s door (this writer being a prime specimen) seem merely to exacerbate our trials and tribulations, because we insist on fashioning God in an image of our own expectation—an expectation where a loving God gives good things and protects from bad things (good and bad being from our point of view). Where trauma, suffering, and injustice cannot be good things. Where an all powerful, omniscient God would prevent trauma and tragedy, especially to His God-fearing children.

So back to the witness of life: It is that trauma happens. It has happened. It will continue to happen—even to good people. Even to God’s beloved prophets. Christ, Himself, said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

So perhaps it is not the initial trauma that is the most traumatic. Perhaps it is the torturous disconnect between the God we want/expect/demand/ envision and the God we get. The God we get has witnessed in story upon story, event upon event that, in this world, trauma happens—to the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the rich, the poor. We don’t want to hear this. We don’t want to experience this. We don’t want the uncertainty of sacrificing the “good” life for His good will and finding His will not so good for our mortal expectations.

We don’t want the mind-numbing God-confusion that tortured Biblical Job (Job 10:15). We don’t want to give up the God we espouse for the God who manifests; for the God who is too often silent, or perhaps worse, who answers at last, as He did Job, with a list of mind-boggling questions (Job 38-41). And for those who espouse The Law of Attraction, one needs to ask: Why all these traumatic events in the lives of apostles and prophets, saints and sages, teachers and truth-seekers?[1]

Perhaps, it all comes down to this: A test of trust—whether WE can be trusted to choose God, truth, light, peace, justice, mercy, integrity, forgiveness, benevolence, virtue, faith, hope, charity, repentance, and so forth, out of pure intelligence, awareness, commitment, or endurance, when all around us there seems every reason—every justification, every passion and pressure—not to. And where, in this world of opposites, every deception abounds.

If we can be so trusted in the worst of times, maybe then, the light will dawn and we will come to know the full measure of our creation.

[1] The First Law of Attraction: The devil is more obessesed with persons who are striving to do and be good than with persons who are not. \\ SMS~Ref: Adam & Eve; Biblical Job; Jesus in the Wilderness; CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, etc., etc., etc.

*(1st posted Jan. 14, 2009 on