Going to a trained therapist who is a Believer rather than to a Biblical counselor made a dramatic difference for me. A Biblical counselor hasn’t been trained in the medical aspect of trauma. Addressing only the “sinful” aspect of trauma is harmful. Both are needed. I’ve spent most of my life only addressing my “response to the sin against me,” left me stuck in the guilt/repentance cycle. Getting a diagnosis from a therapist helped me address the psychological and physical aspects of my trauma.
We started with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), talking about my memories. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions caused by verbalizing those memories. It took some time for me to accept that I wasn’t responsible for what happened to the little girl I was at the time. The trauma had left me with a belief that I was a burden, unworthy of being loved. It shaped my view of myself and how I believed others viewed me. I became the typical example of a teenager who had been abused and traumatized as a child – rebellious, promiscuous, suicidal, etc. I believe that if God had not intervened when I was 16 years old I would not be alive today. He really did give life to my soul. I really was a new, different person. My life made a drastic change that has lasted for over 40 years.
However, no one knew about the brokenness deep inside me. I wasn’t even aware of it most of the time. It only appeared at times that pressure triggered the emotions of my trauma, and I had no control over it. Being taught that we are sinners undeserving of God’s love or mercy fed into my dysfunctional thinking of never being good enough. The environment of approved and disapproved behavior was very familiar to me, so felt comfortable on some level. These things kept me from seeing and addressing the effects of trauma that would play out in my adult life. Pastors and friends were well-meaning and I know they were doing their best to help me but didn’t know how. I believe that was because there was a fear of anything psychological being “secular,” therefore against God.
I began learning to love my self. In order to do that I had to differentiate between “self” as sin nature and “self” as the person God created in His image. That was a novel concept for me.