Inside Trauma

1 Samuel 23:19-21 (NLT)
But now the men of Ziph went to Saul in Gibeah and betrayed David to him. “We know where David is hiding,” they said. “He is in strongholds of Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, which is in the southern part of Jeshimon. Come on down whenever you’re ready, O king, and we will catch him and hand him over to you!”
“The Lord bless you,” Saul said. “At last someone is concerned about me!”

Saul is the poster-child for the victim mentality.

But sometimes, so am I.

The scripture above caught my attention first thing this morning. King Saul was chasing David down like a dog and the good ‘ol boys at Ziph were ready to hand David over. It all started when David killed Golaith, really. Sure, Saul was more than happy to send this unknown, wet-behind-the-ears shepherd boy to face Goliath, but he wasn’t prepared for the love his own people would have for David.

No matter how humbly David served or fought or followed commands, Saul was coming unglued. He rages and throws stuff (like spears at people’s heads!) and sinks into depression. He sees David as his enemy and becomes obsessed with something beyond his reach. After all, even if Saul had been able to kill David, he would still be Saul. Changing his circumstances wouldn’t change him.

Perception is everything. The filter we view life through is critical.

This past weekend we had Michael Jr. as a guest at our church. He is a comedian and a Christian. Seriously funny and yet in the midst of laughing there were such poignant moments. Stealing my breath because in the midst of funny I wasn’t looking for revelation. Here are my big take-aways as he shared his story and made me laugh way too loud:

Once, outside of his church with the Pastor, they were looking at a row of trees and noticing one was much shorter than the others. The  gardener came over and starting hammering against the trunk. When they asked what in the world he was doing, the guy said, trauma will make it grow. Instantly, my heart absorbed the piercing arrow of truth. A truth we do not like to hear or agree with or even contemplate. Even though disregarding it doesn’t change or prevent it. The question, Michael asked, is when you face trauma are you going to grow bitter or grow bigger?

See, I might have lived my whole life the “victim.” But I can share, with a smile on my face, that now I don’t resent the traumas that made me grow. And I can say, at the risk of ruffling feathers, I don’t even mind if it was in-fact well within His power to circumvent them and He didn’t.

Because that is the truth. He could have and He didn’t.

God’s perspective is one of destiny and purpose and growing within me a healed heart that recognizes the fragility of other broken hearts. I’m telling you guys I’m happy to have been one of the short trees, because when it’s all said and done I’m not a victim. My life is not in the hands of humans who will disappoint me, fail me, threaten me or try to undo me. My life is in His hands.

Remember this verse? How what the devil means for our destruction God means for our good?

That sounds good on Sundays. We sing about how He makes all things work together for our good. But we have a fine-tuned doctrinal problem with it Monday through Saturday. Because if trauma comes, or our day-to-day lives bring unmet needs, we feel we’ve been slighted in the cosmos. If God is good then why do I have to face hurt, confusion, disappointment, betrayal, lack, abuse or even minor irritations?

Because we are little trees and this is our chance, real life is our directive, to grow big in discovering Him.

I’m not writing to convince you or talk you into embracing the underpinnings of purpose in your pain. I’m writing because this is the fruit that has grown from my own life. My own desperate need.

See, there is nothing I would trade for knowing Him this way. No ease that could compare to the way my helplessness made me reach out for Him. The presence of Jesus is the healing oil…the sap…the substance of recovery for every injured heart.

You know what growing big inside your trauma will do?

It will make you stop for another injured person. Even when you don’t want to…when it’s inconvenient…when you know it will be draining…when you are exhausted yourself. Your experience with hurt and Healer makes you stop because you know that someone stopped for you.

You know what else growing big inside your trauma will do?

It will reveal your gift. Your purpose. Your passion. A tangible understanding of fractured living opens your heart to sharing what He gives you. The cracks and holes in your story become the places
where His love and healing flow to others.

But we can’t live as victims. We can’t live in Saul-like bondage, with a filter that views everything and everyone as how they are relating to us. If they are thinking of us…meeting our expectations…stroking our damaged pride or making up for suffered wrongs.

Michael Jr. told us how he started out on stage with the aim to get laughs. Which makes sense because He is a comedian! But check this out…God impressed upon Michael’s heart not to go on stage to get laughs, but to give laughs.

Amazing to me. Touched me.

Once his perspective changed, it seems as though his comedy took on the properties of ministry. He visits prisons, homeless shelters, children’s homes, and churches as well as comedy clubs, etc. He’s not there to “get,” he’s there to “give.”

Everything about our lives…everything…changes when our perspective begins to grow. When our small, me-centered filter comes apart and we see traumatized little trees everywhere that need what we have. We don’t have to live like Saul, obsessed with our territory of happiness. We can grow strong…we can bloom…we can submit our little lives to the bigness of Jesus.

Oh, how happily I live with a few scuffs and bends in my trunk. The tell-tale signs of a woman learning to grow bigger, not bitter.

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