Life can be painful. We were never promised a pain-free existence. Traumatic events happen to us and hurt us, often deeply. It’s unavoidable. Not that I enjoy and sign up for pain, but when it comes, as it will, I shouldn’t disassociate myself from it.
Often we disassociate from areas in us that cause pain. To be asked to make friends with our trauma seems almost profane. Yet when we can integrate and accept our traumatic events as happening to us, and hence a part of our story, there is liberty.
Our Life Story
Life events make up my story—the good, the bad and the ugly. I am my story and my story reveals who I am. How I respond to my story discloses my character in the moment, like a footprint in the sand. But if I resist what I don’t like about my life, then I become cemented to it rather than free from it. Yes, I become frozen – not growing, never learning, and left never to emerge victorious. If I attempt to disconnect from those areas I don’t particularly like, I’m just robbing myself of their purpose. To separate myself from my happenings as if they didn’t exist is to resist their benefit.
I hung out with men last week and we spoke about our past, the present and our future. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t wince at some of their choices and the events they’ve lived through. But my past is what makes up my story—the gift of my life. To attempt to separate myself from these traumas only holds me imprisoned to them. Acceptance, on the other hand, is liberty.
Acceptance is humbling while resistance is pride. It takes great courage to embrace life as it has come. And it takes supernatural humility to receive it as reality. Only I will know if I’ve done this work because it’s a deeply hidden dealing that manifests externally only later.
Hamlet’s Life Story
William Shakespeare grappled with this dilemma beautifully in his play Hamlet. I have been awestruck at his presentation of the crisis of whether to be or not to be! My conclusion is that to avoid being true to yourself is to diminish your experience of Life and the one Who gave it to you.
“To be, or not to be- that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep-
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die- to sleep.
To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.”
Our Life Story in God’s Hand
Ultimately, it’s only by taking God’s sovereign hand that you can make peace with life. He’s the only one who can give you the acceptance of the life He’s given you. While humanity attempts to cope with trauma by using the fuzzy math of forgetfulness, sovereignty is the only peace and wholeness.
Of course I can almost hear your retort: “If this is so, and God’s will is irresistible, why does God blame men for what they do?” But the question really is this: “Who are you, a man, to make any such reply to God?” When a craftsman makes anything he doesn’t expect it to turn round and say, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ The potter, for instance, is always assumed to have complete control over the clay, making with one part of the lump a lovely vase, and with another a pipe for sewage. Can we not assume that God has the same control over human clay?
Romans 9:20-21 Phillips