When Spiritual Trauma Leaves You Lost

Growing up, I heard the word "lost" all the time. That word was used to describe anyone who wasn't living according to the standards we had been taught were required. It was literally the worst term one could use to describe someone else. You wanted to avoid that word at all costs. I never liked using it to describe myself - ever - for that reason. 

But I couldn't find another term that summed up how I'd felt for the last year.

So, I'll say it. 

I was lost. 

Trying to climb out of a religious net you were so tangled in is exhausting... and takes forever! Intentional work. Retraining your brain. Healing your heart. It's a lot.

Top that off with trying to find "your place" again... man! Highs and lows like you've never seen. You're thrilled to be out of a circle of fallacious judgment and limitations. Yet, struggle to find where you fit now. You feel out of place everywhere. Nothing feels comfortable or familiar... because nothing is. You're filled with new excitement for a limitless future but have no idea how to mold that excitement into something that fulfills you.

Then try to fill your gaps with new people... welcoming anyone and everyone... only to realize that's not always the best idea. Sure, you get acquainted with some pretty amazing people, but you also invite people struggling with their own negativity and toxicity in. Drama occurs. Wounds are inflicted. Eyes are opened. Choosing to remain quiet when so much can be said takes a strength that is hard to maintain. Weaving in and out of lies and truths and opinions and facts will leave you mentally tired in a way I can't even describe. I didn't know how to get out of it all. How do you avoid the same traps in the future? Guard your emotions? Protect your heart? 

When you focus on those kinds of things, it can smother you with a fog so thick you can't see at all which path to take. You stumble down this road, stagger down that one, and fall flat on your face more times than you want to admit. Each time you stand back up you feel more dazed and confused than the time before until you're ready to throw up your hands and quit. 

Been there?

We were. I'll say it with zero shame. 

We lost who we were. We were angry, frustrated, over it all. Impatient, irritable, and just plain done. While I'm glad we finally felt the release to address what we didn't deserve, I wish we had been in a better place while handling those things. Do I regret ties cut? No, because I have good reason and needed to break free from some toxic behaviors. Still, we were blundering about in the dark, fighting the air, wearing ourselves out, and still unsure of what to do with our lives. 

We were trying to figure it all out ourselves. Convinced we couldn't count on anyone. 

We'd lost faith- in friendships, work ethics, honesty, shallow commitments, family, churches, even our own goals and efforts. I'm not playing- one hit after another left us nearly dead. 


Something clicked with me. While so many things in my past were screwed up, unnecessary, harmful, and ostracizing, the foundation laid for me was solid. How do you get back to that - solely that - when there's so much crap you have to prune, trim, and cut down to even recognize it? Do you know how hard it is to move past a deeply implanted fear when trying to discern the actual truth for your life?

I had forgotten one important thing. 

I didn't have to do all that work alone. I just needed to ask for help... from the one who was always willing. 

I had to relearn how to lean on another again. I needed that peace, direction, and consistent joy even in the midst of pain. 

I'd let myself believe that we were abandoned and unseen. Forgotten and uncared for. Completely disregarded by a Savior I had spent my life loving. I actually said out loud once, "It would be easier to not even believe in God, because then life wouldn't hurt as much." I truly felt like he was sitting up there oblivious to - or unbothered by - how hard we had been fighting just to keep breathing.

Then, somehow, at some point over the last week or so, something clicked. I realized that in the midst of losing my faith in so many people and things, I had lost my faith in Jesus. I still believed in him. I still thought he was great. But I'd let myself forget just who he is and how he is. I had convinced myself that he didn't really care about our hearts, the unfair circumstances we've had to face, or the missing "home" we'd felt for many years. 

We visited with some long-time friends over the weekend and The Chosen series was brought up. That led to us discussing events from our past and present... and even hopes for our future. That conversation cleared out a lot of the thorny branches that had held me hostage for a while. I was able to take a few steps forward again. It removed a lot of the brush spiritual trauma had left behind.

 Over the next few days, I decided to watch another episode. Which one did I land on?

The account of the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda. (If you don't know what I'm referring to, you can google it and find something about this story or read John 5:1-15.) A man who had been forgotten and abandoned by people who could have been there for him. A man hurting and broken. Crawling and scraping at a chance for positive change. Dealt an unfair hand. Desperately waiting for his miracle... for 38 long years. 

In this show, Jonathan Roumie portrays Jesus in the way I truly believe he was/is. When he approached the man, there was so much love and compassion in his eyes. You could see the hurt he felt when he recounted with him the years of waiting and struggle. The acknowledgement. The desire to heal. The joy to restore. 

In that moment, I broke. 

I know it's a tv show, but it's based off of an account I believe with all my heart is true. And I saw me in that man, and I felt Jesus assuring me that he knew where I'd been, too. He hurt with me. He saw. He understood. He cared. And he was there to lift me back up to my feet. 

Is my life all better now? No. 

And also, yes. 

Some of the same situations are there, sure. But there is a peace and comfort again, knowing that things will start to work out a little more smoothly since I'm giving him full control. And even if they never change or go away, I know that I'll be taken care of and thrive just the same. I don't have to try to figure everything and everyone out. I don't have to care about unhealthy drama or give thought to words from toxic people. I don't have to carry guilt for being human sometimes. I don't have to work so hard to "get it." Just trust. Relinquish the weight of it all to him. It really is that simple. 

I know so many of us come from troubled backgrounds... a lot of unhealthy religious ties, too. While I believe it's good to draw attention to the aspects of those things that are harmful, let's not forget there's a ton of good news to be shared, too. Life is so hard. Be someone who empathizes and assures people they're not crazy for doubting or struggling... and who also reminds them why they don't have to all the time. 

I know not everyone gets this. Some find it foolish or annoying. But I've experienced so much over the course of my life already, and trusting Jesus really is the only thing that's brought me deep peace. I know how stressed and upset and hopeless I'd been feeling for too long. I'd let people and things, situations and memories, and my own insecurities get in my way of seeing him clearly for much too long. 

I was lost. 

lost- 1) unable to find one's way; not knowing one's whereabouts. 2) denoting something that has been taken away or cannot be recovered. 3) an event in which a defeat has been sustained.

1) He is the way and he leads me, so I'm good. ✔

2) He restores my soul and all that was stolen from me, so I'm good. ✔

3) He overcame the world and all victory belongs to him, so I'm good. ✔

Lost? Not anymore. 

found- 1) having been discovered by chance or unexpectedly. 2) equipped; supplied.

That's more like it. 

He found me... and through Him I've been equipped with hope and life and strength and security and so much peace and joy. 

Thank you so much to the friends in my life that were there... When the crying was ugly and the doubt was smothering. When the anger was boiling over and the fear was blinding. Thanks for truly listening. Checking in. For allowing me to be raw and human without judgement. And for taking time to gently remind me that he was still taking care of me even when I couldn't see it. I'm so grateful you took time to swing at life's overgrowth over and over again on our behalf... because of you my foundation became visible again. 

If I may, let me remind you to take time out of your busyness and reach out to your people. You have no idea what they're facing when they're alone or what they so desperately need. Whether they open up to you or not, knowing they're thought of and cared for helps lift a lot of the burden off their shoulders. 

You matter more than you realize.