Earlier today, I read Michael’s post “On Leaving My First Love” and found similarities between where he was years ago and where I find myself now. In it, he speaks of his life’s difficulties, arguing with God, and finally coming to a place of surrender. I am somewhere between pulling myself up by my bootstraps while trying to kinda sorta trust God and giving up completely on everything.

This is the comment I left on his blog (unedited):

“Damn dude. I’ve been sitting trying to figure out why I felt tempted to leave God again; this may be part of the reason why. I fell out of love with God when my heart turned bitter. Like you, I still believe in Him, still throw myself into the throes of theology to ease my weary heart, but I don’t trust Him. I haven’t done what Peter told us to do: “set apart the Messiah as Lord in your heart…” 4 years of trauma-induced C-PTSD, mental illness, life stresses… “Trust me,” God says. How can I when my life isn’t going anywhere? I’m trying and praying and hoping for His Word to match my life and… silence. Struggle after struggle, night terror after night terror. What’s the point?”

It is so easy to chalk this up to just “a lack of faith” and go on about my day, but there is so much more to it than that. Or, that’s what I like to think. I just got off the phone with Michael; we talked for an hour and a half about the depression and doubt he experienced when his sister died by suicide several years ago. We also discussed my own spiritual walk and why I feel so disconnected from everything, especially God.

Faith used to be so simple. God says something, I believe it, and that’s it. Any uncertainties I had about the Bible (why would God destroy everything with water?) or the world (why would a good God send people to hell?) was brushed under the rug with the unspoken understanding that God was wiser than I was and in control of everything, so surely, there was no logical reason to question Him…

And then, trauma hit. And with it, an ocean of doubts and questions:

Why didn’t you stop it from happening?

Did you let me go through this just to teach me a lesson or as a medium for someone else’s healing? What kind of sick bastard are you?

Am I damaged goods because of this?

How are you going to heal me from this tragedy? Is healing even possible?

As the months went on and I started experiencing symptoms of PTSD, more questions and doubts emerged, especially after rounds of dealing with well-meaning Christians:

They tell me to “speak those things that be not as though they were” and “God will use this for your good” but I just had the worse panic attack of my life so far. Are you punishing me?

Is my faith weak or nonexistent for not believing you’ll heal me when the hallucinations of my abuser are more real, more constant than your supposedly loving touch?

Are you listening? Do you even care?

It got to the point where my heart just broke because I couldn’t see how a good God could not only allow this to happen but then just sit back and watch the aftermath unfold with not even so much as a whisper of recognition in response. “So, this is who you truly are,” my heart concluded. My anger turned to silent apathy.


I told Michael tonight that my heart was dead and that I missed the days of my youth when faith was blind, easy, and I repressed my intellectual side, as it is way easier to relax on the back of Christian theology and apologetics than sit in the lap of God and let Him hold me or whatever. I told him that in looking at God through the lenses of trauma, I was having trouble trusting God’s love, sovereignty, and ultimate plan. His response shook me.

“…Of course, you don’t believe God loves you. Your heart’s broken.”

I interjected. “My heart is dead, Michael.”

He responded. “Your heart’s not dead. Your heart is broken. If your heart was dead, you wouldn’t feel the pain you currently do… God has to be control of everything, otherwise suffering would make no sense… I know a lot of people think that God created them for a specific purpose, to fill some ministry or evangelical hole, or to use them and their suffering for someone else’s benefit, but that’s not why we were created. God created you because He wanted to have a relationship with you—and He was excited about it!—that’s the sole reason…”

I contemplated what he said. “The sole reason God created you was for a relationship, just you and Him.” Somehow that made me feel one thing: betrayed.

For the majority of my life, it’s been said to me, either directly or indirectly, that the reason for my existence was to bring God glory AND… There was always something attached to that whether it was “bring God glory AND be a light for someone else” “…AND be involved in ministry” “…AND learn lessons through pain without complaining or losing your faith…” the list goes on. I feel like if someone had sat me down and told me this earlier in my life, I could have saved years of legalistic behavior and religious performance and jumping through hoops in vain attempts to make people like me or appear “spiritually strong” when I was dead inside.

Looking at life, and God, through the lens of trauma is hard. Even when sunshine greets you in the early morning like a long-forgotten friend, you still hold, in the back of your mind, thoughts of escape and every day becomes a survival game where you’re just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. When every day is survival of the fittest and you’re trying to do what you can to move forward, while secretly hoping for a sign that God is actually for you, making the concept of “God is in control” into the background music of a chaotic soundtrack of life is daunting. I guess what I’m trying to say is that even with God being in control and aware of everything that happens, and allowing certain experiences to be had as a part of His unknown will, some things just don’t work out. Death still happens. Toxic environments still exist. People still silently suffer from debilitating depression and anxiety. God owes no one anything and that’s a hard reality to come to terms with, whether you’ve been traumatized or not.

I want to believe. Help my unbelief, Lord.

    6 replies to "Viewing God Through the Lens of Trauma"

    • Erin

      I’m very sorry to hear of your struggles. I think almost every Christian has had issues or anger or felt disconnect from God sometime during struggles. I told my mother that when my fiance was killed in a motorcycle accident (we had broken up a month before it happened), that I was so desperate in grief that I turned to God immediately, needing something to soothe me, but for the first time in a long while it felt like He wasn’t there. It took days before I didn’t feel the disconnect. It made me realize, after being able to calm down and stop panicking, that what happened wasn’t that I left, but the disconnect was I was so overwhelmed that I was numbed and shutting myself down. I needed and reached and didn’t even realize, but it was like my heart was numb and my soul was coated with a grief that kept me cut off in a way. This passed, but it is hard. It’s hard to understand and when we ache and have dark times, that is when we seek God the most for relief, for help, for soothing. Sometimes I have found immediate and the only relief from God during these dark times, and other times there seems to be a delay or a wait.

      I don’t have many wise words or powerful insights that will suddenly light a lightbulb in your mind or provide unexpected comfort. I just wanted to say I sympathize, God really is always there and does love you, that the walk in life is hard (but harder by far without our Creator). I also hope that just the act of writing this blog post down and going into detail was therapeutic for you.

      • Lydia Harris

        Thank you, Erin. I appreciate your comment. This struggle is one that is ongoing and maybe it’ll never end this side of Heaven. Sigh. The struggle is real. I don’t know how to stop being numb. But you’re right, writing this blog post was therapeutic for me. Blessings dear! XO

        • Erin

          I’m so glad it helps you with this blog. I have found, as have many, that God uses people in our lives in all sorts of ways as another connection and as one of the main ways to draw us to Him, provide insights and comforts. I pray that your struggle lessens and do hope it goes away. If it does not, I hope it becomes easier to bear and that it at least lifts. (Hugs)

    • Glory

      Hi! Reading this post made me feel as though I had written it myself because I could relate to it so much.The questions,the sorrow ect.Ive been on a bad season that has lasted so long and Ive seen people go through dark valleys around me but right now almost all of them are in happier seasons.I have lost my first love for God and bitterness feels like an old friend.

      I want to thank you for your honesty in sharing this. When I fnished reading it I paused and thought about it for a moment then I felt like reading psalm 40. I reccomend it.The psalms are my go to book in the bible. Its sometimes the only book that brings comfort. While reading them Im reminded that God loves me even though its sometimes hard to believe. But Ive earned that in tough seasons remembering the truth is a lifeline. I pray your numbness lessens over time and things get better.Lastly I want to share a resource that has helped me focus a bit during this frustrating season. Its the encouraging writings of Ashley Morgan Jackson https://instagram.co/ashley.morgan.jackson .She speaks with raw honesty about her trials and grief and her faith and its helped me soften my heart when I just feel like giving up.She reminds me of His love.I hope it helps. Blessings

      • Lydia Harris

        I’m glad that what I wrote resonated with you. And thank you for your thoughtful comment!

        I’m still in this weird place, can’t break free seemingly but one step at a time, right? We’ll see what happens. The dark night of my soul can’t last forever.

    • Rachel

      It’s like I wrote this myself. You asked all the same questions of God that i have been asking. I’m feeling the same way too, just bitter and dead inside. I’ve just finally gotten separated from my abusive husband. I pretty much either feel numb or angry. Everything hurts if I allow myself to think about it but i don’t know how to heal from any of it. I’m so hopelessly angry at God. Where the hell was he? It’s not as if I didn’t scream for help for years? How can I possibly trust him after his silence in such evil for so long? How can I believe he gives a damn about me after sitting back and watching all the abuse and never stepping in? No one seems to have any real answers to any of these questions. I dont see a way for anything to be repaired. I feel like I’ve been walking this whole thing out alone and risking more abuse and trauma trying to get out of it. Where the fuck is God and why won’t he stand up for what’s right? Or maybe he doesn’t cause he doesn’t owe me anything? I’m so massively confused and heartbroken beyond belief.

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