Confronting the Demons, Making Peace With the Past

Confronting the Demons, Making Peace With the PastRape. Childhood molestation. Combat.

The pain and the confusion run deep. Maybe you are overcome with tears. Maybe the pain is so deep you can’t even feel it enough to cry. Maybe there is nothing but a chasm of agony with no words. Maybe you feel nothing at all.

You don’t look. You can’t bear to.

In recovery, we’re told we need to examine our past, and not just to look, but to dissect it—to pull things apart and look squarely at what’s beneath the surface. We are assured this is the path to healing. But for victims and survivors of trauma, it’s nothing less than terrifying. They bite their lip, push through life and try to forget; drugs, alcohol, food, sex or porn as needed.

For many of us, it was the trauma, or the recollection of it, that caused us to seek a high. Whatever our drug of choice, we wanted something so we wouldn’t see, feel or remember; anything to take the pain away.

The kind of deep dissection that recovery asks of us feels almost violent. The fear and even terror, is understandable. To look is to invite the demons of hell. The shame comes flooding in. We turn away.

Hear this: it’s going to hurt, but not forever.

Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. Isaiah 61:7

In order to get well, to heal, to know joy, we have to undergo a “surgery.” Like a cancer, this experience of trauma, and all of its pain, shame and terror, has to be “cut out.” The cutting is painful, but it is also life-giving and life-saving. The temporary injury leads to lifetime healing.

Most importantly, you are not alone. In fact, you’ll find yourself in good company. You walk this path of recovery with many battle-weary soldiers. It’s not uncommon for addicts to carry with them the skeletons of abuse, the terror of war and other past traumas. Ask around. You’ll find someone who knows what you’re going through, and who has lived to tell the tale.

In this process of confronting your demons, your fellowship is holding you up. But most importantly, you walk through the valley of the shadow of death with God. Fear no evil, this is for your ultimate good. Stand before God and experience the forgiving and restoring power of Christ. Whatever was done to you, he aches for it. Whatever you did, he forgives it.

There are a few truths we have to come to terms with if we’re going to make it in this life. One is that the world is impossibly broken, and broken people do unspeakable things to other people, and they become broken too. This is the reality of the world we live in. This is not to minimize or dismiss an experience of trauma. It is to affirm that in this world, sin runs rampant.

But just as there is darkness, there is light. And though you experience pain, frustration, futility and brokenness now, it won’t always be this way. Nothing is out of God’s control. He holds you in the palm of his hand. You are safe and it is time to heal and be free.

The book of Revelation makes a promise we can hold onto.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

We don’t know when this will happen, but knowing that God knows, that he has planned redemption and freedom and wholeness, somehow helps. It allows us to confront the trauma with hope, not despair. It allows us the right to feel whatever we feel—sad, angry, lost—and know that these feelings are not the last word on our lives.

We gain the hope and comfort that there is something more. And while it may be a long time before we experience heaven, there is healing and redemption that can happen immediately. He will wipe your tears now. The old order of things, the cycle of shame and addiction that has held you captive, can pass away.

With God at your side and your fellowship behind you, you have all you need to confront the darkness that is so frightening and debilitating. You are safe; the Light shines before you.