Shame Off You: How God’s Love Lifts the Guilt of Trauma

The gospel message redeemed my childhood pain.

Over the last several years, the abuse crisis has brought the phrase trauma informed into our sanctuaries and homes. Pastors and layleaders are learning to understand trauma alongside the victims in their midst. Families and friends are doing it too. But what does awareness actually mean, and where does it start?

In my experience, those who’ve experienced injury often struggle with realizing something simple: It’s not my fault.

As a pastor, I’ve had many conversations with congregants who’ve been subjected to various kinds of serious abuse. Somehow in the process, they’ve internalized responsibility for the mistreatment. Women who’ve been exploited by powerful men feel they’re somehow to blame and are often too afraid to speak up due to fear and shame. Young adults reeling from years of sexual exploitation turn in on themselves, only deepening their wounds.

That’s the agonizing truth about suffering: Not only do we carry the pain of being hurt, but we often bear the internal condemnation as well.

In a broken world, trauma—and the attending shame—will continue to be with us. But, by the grace of God, it doesn’t have to consume us. It can be redeemed. For all its strangeness, that is the good news of the gospel.

I’ve discovered that good news in my own life journey.

When I was growing up, my family was very wealthy. Our wealth, however, was notmeasured in padded bank accounts, large homes, or expensive cars. In fact, we were quite poor as far as money was concerned. Our wealth was measured in joy, love, and warmth.

For several years, our family was on public assistance to help make ends meet. Back then, government funds were not put on a debit card. Instead, …

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