Mental Warfare: How to Overcome Psychological Trauma
Bad things happen to good people all the time. Sadly, it seems like in today’s age this is happening more and more often. Has anyone told you that you are a good person lately? Please be assured that you are. The fact that you are reading this piece is because you are trying to battle the mental warfare of psychological trauma.
I can hear you on the other side asking, “Why me?” and “Why am I experiencing this?” And I’m with you on this one. Why you? No one deserves to be mistreated or abused in any way, especially mentally.
You were created to be in God’s image according to Genesis 1:26-28. Think about how we would describe God…Powerful? All-knowing? Loving? These are some of the first attributes that come to mind when would describe him. Well, if we are made in His image, shouldn’t we show similar characteristics?
You may respond “But I’m not God” and that’s true. None of us are God. We are however made in God’s image. If the Scriptures are still true, then we all must look in the mirror and wonder why we sell ourselves short. This is the truth, but we entertain the lies more often. That’s the true challenge in my honest opinion.
The biggest challenge for us is to reframe our thinking so that we don’t believe those distorted thoughts. There’s an incredible passage in Romans 12:2 “we are transformed by renewing our minds”. It blows my mind that we can alter our thinking! Yes, you can alter the way you think which will then change you from the inside out. For us to change our thinking we must do some work and train ourselves so that we can have a renewed focus.
Jesus went through a traumatic experience in his life, and it was recorded in Matthew 14. In the middle of this gospel, his cousin, John the Baptist is tragically beheaded by an evil ruler at the time: “John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.” In verse 13, the Scripture says, “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”
The verse says that Jesus takes time to be alone and the verse stops right there. I love that the Bible leaves it to our imagination on what happened. Take time to read that verse and put yourself in his shoes. What would you be doing? The Bible doesn’t make it easy for us to read what Jesus did, but the word of God allows us to ponder what he may have been doing.
If you didn’t catch it, the word is reframing our mind right there. God wants us to think. I don’t like thinking too much myself, but I know that this mental warfare is a real thing. It’s easier for us to veg out in front of the television. It’s simple to move on to the next thing and try to forget our past hurt.
But we need to see the example of Jesus and how he took the time to think. Reframing our mindset will help us to change our pattern of thinking into a healthier approach to life. That’s the decision we must make today – the decision to reframe the way we think.
Jesus doesn’t stop there. We continue reading on in Matthew 14:15 that after his time of mourning and praying, Jesus meets with a crowd and he is moved to compassion when he sees the needs of the people. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
The word “compassion” in Greek means for your “innermost part to be moved”. Though Jesus is sad about losing a loved one, in one night He pulls himself together enough to start helping others the next day. He didn’t take a shortcut nor was he absent from feeling pain. Jesus suffered and knew how to deal with it. He took the night to pray, process, and grieve.
He did not stop there though. Many others would have but not him. He allowed his heart and mind to start thinking about others and how he could help. Have you ever heard of the phrase “Hurt people, hurt people”? I’m here to tell you that Jesus’ case, “hurt people, help people.”
This compassion started on the inside and was a catalyst for Jesus to help others. This empowerment helped Jesus overcome his grief. I don’t think it resolved everything for Jesus at that time, but it was enough for him to get through the day.
Let’s shift the focus to you. How are you doing with your thought patterns? Are you feeling overwhelmed and faint with hopelessness? People have indeed hurt us, and we need to process that. So, the question remains, who are we talking to? How are we going to get help? Are we going to remain in this rut or are we going to do something about it?
It’s time for us to take back our minds and not lend them to these negative thoughts from our past to control us. Some forms of psychological trauma include verbal abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, racism, etc. These leave an imprint in our minds that is hard to forget.
There are many more, but these are some that stand out in 2021. Some may more emotional than others, and others may be more physical than others. Whether something physical happened or not is not the point. The point is that if it degrades our minds, then you can bet it is probably a form of psychological trauma that has shaped our brains.
Our minds are so powerful that if you think long and hard enough you may be able to convince your body to the point of having somatic symptoms. These symptoms will break your body down. Instead of using it to break us down, let us use our minds to build us up as we move forward. Our minds can fight these demons away so that we can be free.
Jesus was no stranger to mental suffering. He was accused and abused by those who hated him, but his mind was free to the point that it helped him overcome all those obstacles. Jesus set an example of how to deal with mental and emotional pain. He wasn’t physically suffering but he suffered for the loss he had. We must act and take small steps so that we can also succeed.
In the rest of chapter 14 in the gospel of Matthew, we see three examples of something important to which we should pay attention. Jesus feeds 5,000 families with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. He then works with Peter to walk on water which must’ve been a remarkable sight. Peter doesn’t last long on the water but before he falls Jesus states that he had little faith.
The fact that Peter walked on water with little faith is something mind-blowing to me because I would think you would need a stratosphere type of faith. Not so with Jesus, however. Even when we doubt and take some steps, he can make us “walk on water.” Lastly, when Jesus lands at his next destination, many people approach him and touch the edge of his cloak to get healed.
What surprises me is that the people didn’t have to even touch him physically! They didn’t have to hold his hand; they didn’t need to hug him or have him touch their foreheads to show some form of connection. They must’ve had so much reverence for him that in those times that wasn’t considered permissible – perhaps because it would’ve been disrespectful.
Even so, many barely grabbed a part of his cloak and were healed because of their small faith. I’m sure by now you can figure it out. The constant denominator in these three examples is that we only need to have small faith for God to work. Many times, we feel we need to be perfectly healed to live life, or that we must “get over” something to function.
The way I read it, this seems contrary to widely held belief. Jesus was hurt and was able to serve others despite his mental and emotional pain. We can do the same. Despite the hurt, we can help others. What small step of faith can you take today? We can call someone and ask for help. We can start journaling. We can set up a therapy appointment. We can go to the beach to pray.
We don’t have to do something enormous. We don’t need to recover before helping even fully someone else out. Do you think Jesus was one hundred percent resolved after his cousin was murdered? I don’t think so. But what he did was profound. He was able to serve as he was healing himself. Your faith doesn’t have to something astronomical. It doesn’t have to be out of this world. It can be something small.
If we do a tiny bit every day, we can take major leaps in our lives. This is how you and I can overcome our mental warfare. We can overcome our psychological trauma. We see the example of Jesus and it makes sense! So, if it’s good enough for Jesus then it should be good enough for us. Decide to something small today and get help. You will be victorious. I leave you with this Scripture to inspire you:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:4-9
Christian Counseling for Psychological Trauma
If you would like additional help and support regarding how to overcome psychological trauma, I invite you to contact me or one of the other counselors in the counselor directory to schedule an appointment. It would be my honor to serve you in this capacity.
“Caged”, Courtesy of Christopher Windus, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Drowning”, Courtesy of Nikko Macaspac, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Disequilibrium”, Courtesy of Joshua Fuller, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Walking Down the Road”, Courtesy of Emma Simpson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License