Lent Week Four: Trauma

By Rachel Douglass

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

From now on, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

The river behind my eyelids ran free when I read the headline, “Mass Shooting at Mosques in New Zealand”. It was past midnight at the time, and maybe because that is much later than I usually stay up or because my week has already felt much longer than I wanted, I couldn’t hold back the memories. The sirens that pierced the air, and the helicopters that hovered over us. Texting and calling our friends and roommates, to find out where they were and if they were safe. Gripping the hands of complete strangers, in prayer, because we needed to know that we were not alone. I still have the Seattle Times newspaper with the headline, “Seattle Pacific University Shootings”.

I hold a special kind of disdain for my symptoms that come from trauma. In my worse moments, I crave to know who I might have been if these things hadn’t happened to me. I wonder, in my depressive episodes, how my thoughts and feeling might have felt less heavy, less overwhelming. In a panic attack, I wonder at how I might have been more competent and in control, had things been different. I am afraid that the image of God can be worn off me by these things. As if I was created by God at some point in the past and ever since then life has worn like sandpaper on my soul, making me less and less a resemblance of the image of God.

“Creation is an act of love and it is perpetual. At each moment our existence is God’s love for us." - Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

Simone Weil asks me to think of this differently. Creation, for her, is a continual process. We are created by God in perpetuity, and if this is true, it means there are no moments where God stops crafting us into a new creation. Violence cannot separate us from the Holy Spirit’s creative presence, not matter how long it happens or how long it stays with us afterwards. The God of the cross, and the Spirit who raised him, are not timid in the face of trauma.

I find comfort in remembering that God’s imagination is much different than ours. I see myself as awkward, fearful, and like I need to hide my trauma and how it continues to affect me to be worthy of the love of God and my neighbors, but this is not true. I am embedded in the love of God, just as I am; anxiety, depression, trauma, chronic illnesses, and all. I believe that the fact that we exist signifies that God loves us. Every heartbeat proclaims God’s love for us; every breath a liturgy working to bring our goodness to life. Even if that heart is racing from a memory you wish you could forget, and your breath is shallow in a panic. There is no discord in us so awful that God cannot make harmony from it. There is nothing that can be done to us in this life that disqualifies us from the new creation God is already making.

In pondering her own pain, Simone Weil concludes, “…we must not wish for the disappearance of any of our troubles, but grace to transform them.” Redemption, making something good and beautiful out of terrible things, is God’s act of defiance against our sinful, hateful world. We are co-creators in this work. Every little act of love we give to a world that is violent to us is an act of redemption. It is not anything less than holy.

Creator of the world and all that is good- we know that all that you make is good and that you hate nothing that you have made. Thank you for having an imagination that is wider, deeper, and more vibrant than ours. We pray you send your Holy Spirit to be with us in our acts of everyday resistance; bring us peace in our trouble, anger in our apathy, and may you continue to empower us in stewarding your new creation. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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