In my years of ambulance service as an Emergency Medical Technician, I viewed trauma as physical injury. We assessed trauma with the acronym DCAP-BTLS+: Deformities, Contusions, Abrasions, Punctures/Penetrations, Burns, Tenderness, Lacerations, and Swelling + Crepitus, Paradoxical Motion, and Jugular Vein Distension. Trauma could be seen, felt, and even heard; it was physical.
So, you might imagine how I “recoiled” a bit when folks started speaking of mental trauma. From my perspective, trauma that couldn’t be seen, felt, or heard wasn’t trauma; it might be real, but it had to be something other than trauma.
However, I could not have been more wrong. I have come to learn, and now believe, that trauma is anything that hurts, leaves scars, alters life as we know it; and to be properly addressed, it must be acknowledged. Even when the hurt is mental, the scars psychological, the alterations emotional the trauma is no less real than DCAP-BTLS+ physical trauma.'
Since March of 2020, we all have experienced the traumas of pandemic, politics, climate change, civil unrest, racial disparity, natural disaster, and loss; along with the unique and personal traumas known only to us. To many and varying degrees our sense of well-being, control, understanding, future, and optimism has been challenged by the traumas of our times. Even if we can’t find or fit words to describe it, we feel it, we know it, and it is real.
In acknowledging our trauma, and the trauma of others, we shine the light of truth and hope into all that hurts. By acknowledging our trauma, we begin to see and acknowledge the hurt and scars of those who have carried trauma born depression, anxiety, and pain for years.
As disciples of Jesus, we follow one who not only acknowledges the pain and suffering of all trauma, he enters in and makes them his own; bringing healing and hope to all. He acknowledges the humanity, value, and worth of each person. He expresses compassion for the suffering of all people. He restores individuals to community. He shows the dignity deserved by those created in the image of God.
In this season of celebration and joy, we remember and acknowledge the suffering in us and around us. It is to the suffering world that God gives the gift of Jesus. Indeed Jesus takes on, for himself, the trauma of a sinful, fallen, and broken world and brings hope, and life, to all.God in Christ Jesus welcomes us into the light of healing and hope.
Nothing under heaven or on earth will ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. As we make our way to the manger and the Christmas celebration, may we cling to the Christ who rescues us and makes us his own. May the God of incarnation be with you and bless you, and fill you with healing, health, and hope.
"Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30