There are some things that a human being can experience which have the power to literally change them! Trauma is one of them.
Severe, or prolonged trauma can have the effect of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). And even beyond this there is chronic trauma with debilitating effects, which I have experienced, along with others. This kind of trauma is with you constantly. It does not take a vacation; it does not leave the house; it does not sleep. It is with you when you wake and with you in your dreams. Because it is in your mind.
Do you understand “trauma”? Do you empathize with, or have compassion for, those with PTSD who are permanently “different” because of it? If you have “suffered greatly” and allowed the Holy Spirit to enter into that suffering, then you have found hope and comfort; hope and comfort which you can extend to others. On the other hand, if you have not allowed the Holy Spirit to touch your suffering then you may very well be “hard and bitter,” having nothing to offer.
So here is my story: At ten years old I noticed an anxiety which centered around anything which I deemed important to me. And this “important thing” (object, or person) had to be protected. Protected from harm, damage, interference, abuse, overuse, rain, falls, drops, cold, heat, “use” in general, etc. Depending upon whether it was an “important object,” which then it could not lose its perfection, or if it were an “important relationship” it could not leave me. In other words, if it had an emotional connection to me it “had to be” protected. By age sixteen I was controlled by Obsessive, Compulsive, Disorder (OCD). Meaning I had very “intrusive, unwanted, irrational fears” which compelled me to perform routines or rituals in order to tell my brain that things were “okay”, but this had to be repeated over and over. By my late twenties, exactly 1998, my life fell apart. My first marriage, my relationship with my children, my job, my church friends, everything. I lost everything. How? The Bible. You see, my mind was already great at “critical analysis” of things, including the Word of God. I had been a street evangelist for years already. Ministering in the streets and restaurants and loved God and the Word of God. My wife and I had a Bible study group in our home. But one night that all ended. Though I had struggled with “Biblical doubts” regarding the inerrancy of the scriptures for years here and there, I would always come out of it. But this night was different. This night I had gotten ahold of a scholarly theological book which taught me something I had never known or heard of before regarding the Bible. And that one piece of information led me down a path of fourteen years of research. Fourteen years of daily research. When I was awake, I was thinking about it, processing the information, trying to find peace, to find relief from the doubts, which multiplied. The scriptures became “terrifying” to open because what if I found another passage to doubt (side note: after the first couple of years of this happening continually, because I would eventually find the answer to one or two questions or doubts, I would find a small window of peace which would ebb and flow until the next doubt arose). And I never knew what passage of scripture would awaken the panic of doubt again. All this was more confirmation to me that God was not “secure” because His Word was fallible. And a God who allowed imperfections in His Word was not sovereign, or reliable. So, I fell asleep every night by medication and depression. And I awoke every morning with the overwhelming trauma of another day of being stuck in my head and the insecurity that “God had died.” You see, that one thing which I did not have an answer to, which brought into question the inerrancy of scripture, consumed me. And due to the nature of the question, it branched out into a multitude of questions regarding the inerrancy of scripture. And you must understand something. Because I was a highly insecure individual due to my past anxieties already, therefore, once I found Jesus, I found a deep sense of comfort and security. I found hope, purpose, and love. Yet, amid the peace I would still have these times where questions or doubts would arise here and there, but always get resolved. But this time it was different. I went to Pastors; I went to Christian counselors. But neither the Pastors nor the Counselors had even dealt with my question. They had never even investigated it. I could not believe it. They did not know this information. And they did not have an answer. I was lost! And as the days went on, more doubts came. I could not find anyone who could answer my questions. So, after one year of continuous torment day and night (as mentioned above). Having come to the conclusion that I was on my own and without God anymore. And that was unbearable! So, I left my faith (desperately trying to numb how much I missed Jesus, being my first love!) I wept and wept, begging for Him to answer my doubts so I could just “live” again. I went back to the only thing I knew before becoming a Christian. I went back to drugs, smoking, alcohol, and porn. But all this would just temporarily cover some of the pain. I forgot how to love people. I lost the ability to listen or pay attention. I was “dead in despair” and my wife left, I lost my joy of playing with my children, which I lived for doing before. I loved them so much! But I could no longer interact. I stopped talking about the Bible with them, and our relationship has been deeply affected, even to this day (with my oldest children). I left the Church after no one understood me, nor could they answer my questions. After a couple of years of daily struggle to hold onto something of God and battling back and forth daily just trying to find hope (because the drugs, alcohol, and porn stopped working and I just missed my Lord!). I went back to church and kept “trying” to find some answers in the scriptures and from a men’s Bible/recovery group. And this went on …until 2003 when I met my second wife. We started talking about the Bible when we met, and I would bring her some of my questions and suddenly she would say something a certain way and I would go “oh” I had never thought of that. All I knew is that being around her I felt comfort and I could process some of my doubts. So, we got married and then began a fourteen-year journey of research together. Actually, my research started in 1998, but it just led to more questions and doubts. But from 2003 till 2017 there were great ups and great downs. About three times I had ended back at the bottom of despair “almost.” But then I would pick up the Bible and go to work again, finding the latest information to study and research. The years of research ended up creating a great physical and digital library of “theological/scholarly” material. I had spent thousands of dollars over the years collecting “helps” to find out the history of the Bible from the archeology, the manuscript evidence, the various groups of manuscripts, the history of the Bible and its “story,” the pseudepigrapha, apocrypha, dead sea scrolls, intertestamental times, and everything I could learn about how we got the Bible we got! It was a very, very, very long journey! And I am so thankful for the internet. Because before it became well known, nobody knew how to answer me. Now, all of it’s on the internet! My wife worked tirelessly for hours, totaling years of research while I would try to sleep and get up and go to work in the morning. Anyway, at the end of it all I had the answers to my doubts and questions. And my faith was restored, but also sure and solid! And I finally concluded that God had designed and ordained the scriptures in our Bible. But why did I have to go through this HELL?
He took my weakness, my OCD, and my “foothold of doubt” which had just been hiding under a thin layer of faith before all this erupted, and He allowed the devil to sift me. The Lord allowed me to overturn every rock of fear and doubt, no matter the pain, regarding HIM and His Word. Because if I had not gone through that then I would have forever just lived a lukewarm, surface Christianity, purposeless life. I would have gone to Church, read the Bible some, but none of it would have impacted my life, my family, or anyone else in the world. And Satan would have continued to use my fear and doubts against me whenever I had “success” as a Christian (I say this because it happened a couple times in 2012 and 2014 and it was terrifying!). Anyway, through all this I have helped many Christians answer some of the most difficult questions regarding the Bible! I have written tons of things regarding the Christian faith and the scriptures which have come directly from the Holy Spirit during these times of research. And I have had the privilege of coming alongside and empathizing with both homeless and non-homeless individuals who struggle deeply! I have had the privilege of counseling, encouraging, and teaching many regarding both the ways of God and the Word of God. In fact, the Lord called me in 2016 as a mouthpiece to speak into the Body-of-Christ. To prophecy, to announce beforehand, to warn, to comfort, to strengthen … and to prepare the Church for what is ahead. Plus, I went to school in 2018 for a degree in Religion: Christian Counseling and Apologetics (the defense of the faith). And I have an awesome wife! And we have a blessed relationship with each other and our daughter! We all love the Lord!
However, God never took away my brain chemistry. Instead, He chose to turn it upside down for His glory. I still have that “critical/analytical” mind. And I still live every day with a pattern and rigid routine. Except, it is a routine I love. And it is a gift. The Lord has given me a “routine of rest” in Him and with Him. And my “analytical mind” is able to assess a situation, process it, and discern what is at the root, what is going on behind the scenes, and what is the outcome. I see things before they come to fruition, just when they are a tiny “seed.”
Another however, because of the intense stress I experienced day after day for so many years my body is shot! My nerves are so fragile that any small stress causes my body and brain to stop working. I lose all strength and shut down. I don’t detach from reality, I just stop “functioning” and become weak. But God is gracious. And He is fully aware of this. He knows how I am made; therefore, He has removed all responsibility from my life, literally. He simply took it. I am not positive if others experience this, but I know He deeply desires for His children to give Him the reins completely! I don’t take care of anything anymore, He does.