By Elaine Alvarez
The year 2020 has been somewhat of a traumatic year for many people. For me, the year only heightened the anxiety levels I already struggled with and I found myself becoming paralyzed with fear of leaving home each passing day.
But I know that God said He is not a God of fear.
I discovered Trauma REBOOT as I was scrolling through my email, as I typically do most days. I had learned about REBOOT Recovery programs from a church message that promoted the course for military men and women and their families or loved ones who serve as caregivers. I was excited to see Trauma REBOOT, a new course offered for people who have experienced any type of trauma.
I joined a virtual Trauma REBOOT course for 12 weeks on Zoom and here is what I learned:
I am not broken, only wounded. Wounds can heal when proper steps toward healing are taken.
My relationship with God taught me that my wounds are not foreign to Him. He created me and He knows every emotion, thought, and behavior I have ever experienced in this life. Through this class, I gave myself permission to feel things, even the negative things. REBOOT taught me how to get honest with my feelings and name my wounds. I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t struggling when the struggle was so real.
God doesn’t necessarily take away our trials. But He always joins us in them.
During our REBOOT course, we talked about how God was with Daniel in the lion’s den, He was with Job when he lost everything, and He was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fire. We were reminded that Jesus’ friend Lazarus died from his illness and Jesus was left on the cross. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Trauma REBOOT helped me establish foundations of security, belonging and purpose.
Trauma can close us off to trusting others and tends to cause us to lose our basic foundation of trust that is required to function in life. Foundations for security, belonging and purpose start to become established as we journey through healing of our pain in this life. Having these as foundational building blocks have helped me to do things like exercise, pursue hobbies of drawing, puzzles, and painting but more importantly, to be content and at peace no matter the situation and helps me to feel more hopeful for positive change.
The pandemic triggered several memories of childhood medical issues, feelings of rejection by peers and the loneliness of growing up with mental health issues present in the lives of my sister, dad and mom. Satan would like us to believe that we are the only ones with life struggles and that belief does not let us share openly or honestly. That, in turn, can keep us from growing deeper in authentic friendships. The enemy likes to keep us relating to others on superficial levels.
God has helped me to begin turning my traumatic experiences into something positive.
It is a fact that when we go through trauma, we are changed. The change from trauma does not have to be a negative one. Trauma REBOOT helped me to stop pushing my feelings aside. To be truly authentic can be challenging, but God sees and understands every feeling I have and is my source of support and help. REBOOT taught me to take my honesty and my vulnerability, which God never judges, and begin to learn to trust others enough to open up and let go of my defense mechanisms. When I trust God and make wise choices as to who to allow into my life, God reveals how much people do have in common with one another and He blesses me with a great support group of friends that will never stop being thankful for.
I learned how God can take my life situations and use them to support someone else undergoing similar situations and circumstances. After walking through my own diagnosis of Lupus and learning to stabilize my markers, I have been able to support someone else who was recently diagnosed. Also, the fact that I have walked with my family members who live with mental health issues helps me to serve as a group facilitator for my local National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) group.
Healing happens in community.
We find healing and hope when we find a safe group of friends who will affirm us, accept us, and lovingly challenge us to move forward into growth and stability. Our friends become our lifeline of support. With the friends and family God gives us for support, in time we begin to experience healing. Through Trauma REBOOT, I learned that the key is to stay connected with friends and family no matter how different the connection might be from what you have been accustomed to. It’s okay to step out of your comfort zones to do something different.
Throughout the year, I have connected with more friends through varying communication methods than ever before (Zoom, text, phone calls and emails.). Without these levels of support, things could have looked worse. I am glad that God continues to give me strength and courage to try new things that will bring me healing in this life.
My five year vision…
Trauma REBOOT challenged me to write out my five year vision for my life.
In five years I see myself healed of my thyroid issues and helping others experience wellness and healing. I imagine myself in a home I will get to buy now that I have overcome poor financial choices and now living within my means and giving fully back to God that which He blesses me with. I can see myself making the most of the home He will bless me with and inviting friends and family over for meals, times of fun fellowship and Bible study.
I also see myself bringing Trauma REBOOT class to Fresno and helping others learn to heal from trauma.
I also am hopeful I will get to travel and meet some of my new friends from class in person. Perhaps at a reunion of other Trauma REBOOT students!
If I had not taken this class, I would have had a higher likelihood of continuing to feel afraid, rejected and lost with constant anxiety and intrusive thoughts of the COVID pandemic impact. Through Trauma REBOT, I have learned that throughout every trial in life, God offers us restoration and redemption from our pain on any given day when we allow Him to.