Monday, April 16, 2018

Trials And Spiritual Growth

Trauma is a word we hear often. Traumatized, traumatization, traumatic all forms of a word that originally intended to mean a wound on the outside of the body, an external injury but now often used to indicate a psychological shock, wound of the heart and soul caused by some horrible experience.

A diocesan bulletin reminds the readers of the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds that we are exposed to in our lives. In Korea where we have serious accidents happening and leaving many people with scars that take time to heal. Trauma is a word we use frequently.  Incidents that cause trauma are diverse: natural disasters (floods, and earthquakes),  war, fire, physical assault, torture, sexual assault,  automobile accidents etc. Trauma often causes mental symptoms: anxiety, phobias, depression, alcohol and drug dependence, but fortunately, most of it disappears over time.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that may follow some horrible event, experiencing,  or witnessing it.  It is a long-lasting post-traumatic stress disorder and may need professional help. The Korean Neuropsychiatric Association recommends those who have been traumatized communicate with others, talk about their emotions, rest, do not rely on alcohol, harmful medicines and take care of their bodies and minds.

Pain is normal and to use all the natural means available to find peace is the search for healing. This has always been a part of our society. However, it is true that many who go through horrible experiences are able to go on with their lives without serious problems: shown to be true for certain nations who have experienced war but without the PTSD.

In the Bible, we have examples of those who have been traumatized: Saul traumatized others but was himself traumatized by the many atrocities he experienced and caused. We are often told the spirit of God left him. David the warrior king also experienced many horrible things and was not left untouched. St. Ignatius of Loyola may very well have experienced PTSD from his experience of war. We are all possible victims of PTSD.

Spirituality is the way of seeing life that acknowledges God presence here and now. His love accepted and responded to makes all the difference. God always makes the first steps towards us and not us to God. This is a truth often forgotten or not understood. Some believe we are not necessarily programmed to be unwilling victims. In the past, we often heard what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Certainly true if one believes in God and has a mature spirituality. Growth can be a result of the stress if we believe in its possibility.