Words of Hope: The Power of Story
My friend reached out to tell me about a new form of Christian counseling that involves writing out a traumatic story and walking through that story with a trained facilitator in a small group setting. The process is profound, with evidence of people experiencing dramatic breakthroughs. Research continues to amaze scientists as we learn increasingly more how trauma lodges in our bodies affecting not only our emotional and relational wellbeing, but also how this unresolved trauma manifests itself in our physical health. Unforgiveness is directly connected to higher levels of heart disease. Anxiety is directly correlated with higher levels of pancreatic cancer.
Our unhealed trauma affects our lives in very profound ways. Dad understood the power of storytelling beginning with his time in Christian ministry. As he told his story of pain and suffering in church settings, his stories of shame and heartache had less hold on his life.
A student I know is in a PhD leadership program and is working on a project to identify the major dates of trauma in her family’s history—the loss of a baby, the suffering of a divorce, a known moment of past abuse. This calendar informs her generations about key dates her family line experienced significant trauma. She writes that she can see in her family’s history so many negative collective events around the dates of August 8th including a DUI, a few deaths, escalated family tension. What about this date had such a negative impact? No one knew the story until her research discovered this was the date many years ago a beloved young son who had been removed forcibly to a government boarding school was found dead at the school at the age of nine. The parents had no body to mourn, a deep sense of sorrow and injustice, and no way to process the trauma.
DNA research has shown trauma can be passed down the generational line causing more confusion and madness as the stories of the trauma are lost and forgotten. Why do I feel so sad on this day, and I don’t know why?
Learning to process our traumatic experiences both generationally, and those we face ourselves, helps us allow God to bring healing to lives, wisdom to our decisions, insights into our struggles, and clarity in our way forward.
God reveals deep and hidden things, He knows what lies in the darkness and light dwells with Him. – Daniel 2:22