It’s time to take off the trauma backpack.
“Finally brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11
When I was younger, my family and I used to go bushwalking and camping. We did lots of different bushwalks in forests, along rivers, up mountains, and through valleys. I remember the day before the bushwalk, Dad would tell us to get our backpack ready for the next day. We had to pack a spare change of clothes, our lunch, lot of water, a hat and sunscreen. My backpack was full, and when I put it on the next day, it was heavy! For the first few hours of the bushwalk, I could feel the weight of the backpack and it almost felt like it was weighing me down, but when we stopped for lunch and I ate my food and had a drink, the backpack got lighter, and it was much easier to carry on the way back. I remember getting back to the car after the bushwalk and finally taking off the backpack and feeling so much relief. It was like a burden had been lifted off me.
Sometimes we don’t realize it, but throughout our lives and when we go through difficult things, its easy to put on a “backpack” full of hurt, pain, rejection, unforgiveness and resentment, and keep carrying it throughout our lives.
It might be because someone hurt you and hasn’t apologized, maybe you unfairly lost your job, maybe you went through an unexpected loss of a loved one, maybe you got divorced, or went bankrupt, or made mistakes that you can’t seem to forget.
Its easy to sometimes push these events, traumas and memories to the side, so that we can get on with our lives. But the trauma doesn't actually go away. It can seep out into other areas of our lives, without us realizing it. Its easy to fill up our lives with distractions like TV, sport, food, friends, work, busyness and not face the issues. A lot of people live their lives in the cycle of busyness so they won't have to face their past.
I heard a story of a pastor that had a church in New York City at the time of the September 9/11 terrorist attacks. He said that after the event people were in shock and everyone was doing everything they could to survive and help each other. He said 2 years after the attacks was when he started to notice people in his congregation coming to terms with the trauma, loss, heartache, pain and grief they had been feeling. He said they it took them 2 years to come to terms with what had happened, and they finally started to unload their “trauma backpacks”.
What are you carrying around in your backpack today?
Hurt? Pain? Unforgiveness? Resentment? Memories? Trauma?
If we aren’t aware of what we are carrying around in our backpack, we don’t realize how heavy it really is.
Unless we have to courage to take off our backpack and look and see what we have been carrying, we will carry the load of it, and it will weight us down.
How do we unpack and process trauma?
There are different ways to do this and it is different for everyone.
Some people find it helpful to engage with a counsellor who has experience in the area you need help in.
For some, journaling and getting your emotions, memories and thoughts on paper can be helpful. Other people like to process things by thinking about them and spending time in nature or a quiet place to help them process their thoughts.
Sometimes just being about to open up to someone and talk it through is one of the best things that we can do.
Building a support system of people around you as get healing and move forward, can also be helpful.
One of the most important things that I did when I first began my journey of healing was to reconnect with God and to experience his love for me.
Knowing we are loved by God and secure in him, creates a safe place for us to be vulnerable with him. As we open up to God and allow him to show us where we need restoration, then the process of healing and moving forward can begin.
He is our loving Father and knows everything we have been through. He has been with us in every moment, and has seen what we have been through. He wants to heal us, and restore what we feel like we have lost. He wants to bring healing to painful memories. He will show us who we need to forgive and how we need to do it.
“God heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds” Psalm 147:3
If we are prepared to take off our backpack and face our past, God already has a way through for us. He has grace, peace, strength and joy for you as you face your past. He wants you to be able to let go of your past, so that you can step in the purpose and plans he has in the future for you. You don’t need to carry that “trauma backpack” anymore. Its too heavy and you weren’t designed to carry it.
God made you to carry a backpack of hope.
He made you to carry a backpack full of his promises and truth for you. He made you to carry a backpack full of testimonies of what he has done to share with others.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future” Jeremiah 29:11
Many times God will use what we have been through to help someone else.
One of the most powerful things we can do is to share our stories of healing with others. First of all, we give glory to God for what he has done and we point others to him. Our triumphs and victories can give others hope and encourage them to take steps forward. When you know that someone else has gone through difficult times and come out stronger, it gives us all courage to walk forward and be brave in things that we are facing.
He wants to heal and restore us, and to use our experiences to share with others and encourage them. When we have the perspective that God wants to use what you are going through now, to help someone else one day, it gives us a sense of purpose as you go through the healing process.
Are you prepared to take a look back at your past and take off your “trauma backpack”? Are you willing to work through the pain? Are you committed to the process of letting things go, forgiving and getting healing? I know it can seem a bit overwhelming, and you will need to be patient with the process, as it might take some time. But is you look ahead to the person you want to become, do you want to be someone who is carrying a heavy backpack full of pain, hurt and rejection? Or would you like to be a person who carries a backpack of hope, joy and a testimony of God’s healing power and his grace?
You can spend energy or carrying that “trauma backpack” for your life, or you can take some time and get the healing and restoration you need and spend your energy on your future.
Today, take some time to ask God if you are carrying around a "trauma backpack". Spend some time thinking about if there is anything you need to let go of. Reflect and write down some of the things that have happened in the last few years of your life. Ask God to take you on a journey forward of healing and restoration. Ask him if there's anyone you need to forgive.
Its time to take off that heavy backpack of things from your past, and put on a backpack of God's HOPE, peace and joy.