Reflections on Compassion and Trauma

This blog has been good for me. 

It helped me to legitimize my recent Seminary/church experience as being traumatic for me.

Maybe, it wouldn’t have been traumatic for someone that is not me. With a different personal history. Someone less idealistic. Not as passionate. 

But I’m me. So, yeah. There you have it. 

We live in a culture that emphasizes the value of the experiential. Pop psychology talks much about our “feelings”. But for those that have lived through traumatic experiences, our reactions are about so much more than just “feelings”. Trauma hijacks our brains. Human beings are so adequately wired for survival that, when triggered, our biological systems take control and prepare us to do whatever it takes to survive. This manifests in hyperarousal, intellectual tunnel vision, and “feels” like our world may just be coming to an end. 

We can theorize, psychologize and wax philosophical about the experience of trauma, but for the traumatized, none of this helps keep our worlds turning. 

Only the compassionate response of others (or our compassionate response to ourselves) can do any good here. Our brains perceive a threat to our survival. We crave safety, but often respond in such a way as to thwart such luxuries. In effect, we often illicit the exact opposite of the response that we seek. Compassion sees the traumatized as being more than the sum of their neurological activity. Compassion deems the panicked, angry, anxious human being in front of us as being worthy of our time and attention. It sees the person in crisis, and longs to comfort them. 

I wanted to work with others on developing a Theology of Trauma during my time at Seminary. God willing, someday I will.

But we don’t need new theologies in order to be compassionate. 

We just need to get past our own egos. How about, instead of pretending to be enlightened, or saviors, or heroes, we just try to be better friends?

My compassion for others cannot be about me, my own image,  or it stops being compassionate. You’d think that 2,000 years of Christian tradition would have figured this out by now… But, noooo… We are still too busy bickering over doctrine to be bothered with the actual practice of what Jesus Christ taught us to do. 

::sigh::

Well, I’m over it. 

Seriously. 

I’ve got the rest of my life to be living here… I’m not going to define myself by struggles. I’d much prefer to be defined by my personal victories. I know it may not have looked like it from the outside, but my goal here has been to process this in a way that gleans wisdom from my experience so that my greatest anguish leads to my greatest victory. Being able to walk away from this with a stronger sense of self, a more compassionate worldview, and a deeper relationship with my God is a win.

I’m winning!!!

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4 thoughts on “Reflections on Compassion and Trauma

  1. Love this post!- I would echo everything you’ve said, and agree you’re most definitely a winner. Hi five girlfriend! 🙋💜

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re awesome. I love the strength of your voice, and you put up intelligent arguments too-which is a winning combination. Woot woot to you 😆🙋🙌💪💜

        Liked by 1 person

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