Have you ever found yourself in a crisis? A moment in time where everything is going wrong and you don’t know what to do. There are many people who suffer from an ongoing crisis in their mind. Anxiety over what could be or fear of what’s to come. Unfortunately, that is the reality for many of us.
For me, I grew up in an environment where there was constant crime, death, and poverty. As a child, you get used to the constant chaos. Your mind prepares for the worst outcome. Death is a reality you constantly and consistently see. If you read the works of Brene Brown and Dr. Caroline Leaf, you learn about patterns in the brain and how trauma or constant chaos can affect your brain. When I look back at my childhood, I see how trauma affects the current way I think.
One story that sticks out to me is from a time when my sister was a child just hitting her pre-teen years. She and her friends would play in the backyard by the alley, chasing each other into the evening hours. That summer night my family decided to take us and the neighborhood kids and walk to our church down the road. When we came back, we learned there had been a shooting in the alley. All of the kids were safe because they had been at church that night.
This was a reality in a lot of the many locations I lived as a child because unnecessary death and injury were daily occurrences everyone in the area was living in “survival” mode. For many people, there are not only childhood memories but also present-day conditions causing them to live in “survival” mode. This can lead your brain to create patterns that cause you to react in certain situations (neuroplasticity is the biological term for your brain creating new patterns). As I’ve gotten older, I have seen in my own life how my childhood has caused me to react in situations that I am currently in.
It can be difficult for me because I am white with blonde hair and blue eyes. I’ve been stereotyped as someone who couldn’t possibly understand issues in the inner city or trauma because of the color of my skin. My family also loves the country and hiking, so when people meet me they automatically make assumptions. In the last two years I have started learning to not make assumptions about other people’s reactions. That has been my new journey.
There comes a time in life where we can no longer play the “victim” to our trauma, past, or anything that is holding us back from who God wants us to be. It is OK to need healing and need a safe space to sit and process life. I have my Master’s in Social Work and believe God uses a myriad of ways to heal people – whether that be through medication, counseling, or divine healing. God meets you where you are. I’ve learned a new pattern in my life: to be more assertive in communicating my own needs and also assuming everything is going to escalate.
Previously, because of the work I’ve done and my childhood, there was a need for me to de – escalate a lot of people around me. It was necessary for me to calm or shut down my emotions to calm down other people and stop crises from happening. A common theme for me became shutting down my emotions to allow other people to thrive. It was also a necessary skill to survive when people’s emotions went from 0 – 100 in the environments I was in.
Recently, God has shown me that it is important to find a balance between people in crisis and people in stability. You should always be partnering with God to bring up people in crisis, but those closest to you should be able to regulate themselves emotionally. I have found a better balance in that, which has allowed me to recreate new brain patterns. I am learning to have calm and rational discussions about why I am removing myself from a situation or even changing heavy trauma jobs to protect my own growth.
Are there areas of your life that God is asking you to recreate new patterns and find rhythms of healing? We can’t change our past, but we can partner with God in our healing. This may involve setting boundaries with friends or removing yourself from a toxic situation. It may mean removing yourself from a job that is adding too much anxiety. There may even be a relocation needed, so you can focus on who God wants you to become.
One of my favorite verses is John 10:10, “The devil comes to steal, kill, & destroy; but I have come to bring life abundantly.” God is never asking us to stay in atmospheres that steal, kill, & destroy. Rather He calls us to partner in finding rhythms of healing. Something I find beauty in is that we are always on a healing journey with Jesus. We are clay being constantly reshaped by our maker. Maybe you have been scarred recently and believe you are beyond hope. God can mold that experience into a beautiful Sculpture in your life. Don’t be afraid to find rhythms of healing, because I promise you that through Jesus there is always hope.
I also want to encourage you to reflect back on God’s grace through your life in the moment of crisis. When I look back on the story I shared earlier I see God’s grace. It was a traumatic moment, but I think how God protected everyone. If people knew the areas where I’ve lived, they would be amazed that I was never personally attacked or hurt. Many around me were, but I learned to see how God divinely protected me in an area where people were physically, mentally, and emotionally scarred.
There is a price to pay mentally and relationally when you constantly witness others’ traumas I can now look back and see that God protected me. If you want to see God’s grace, look at how you have overcome those traumatic moments. When a negative story or incident comes to mind, feel the moment and sit in it. Then, look for the ways God’s grace has shown through. It’s only when you do sit in those moments and feel how they felt that you can move forward into your future.
Today I have learned, for myself, to find balance. There is an older gentleman in my life at church who has been like a grandfather to me. He was in the military at a young age and he witnessed unspeakable things. This man told me that when he retired he chose a new path. He chose to intentionally seek out and find the good things in life. This man wanted to follow Philippians 4:9, “Whatsoever things are lovely and pure; think on these things.”
It reminds me of the author Bob Goff who wrote the book Love Does. He quit his law career to seek out and tell the stories of people finding purpose in their life to bring joy others. After hearing these stories, I was inspired to look for the flowers in the storm. As you find rhythms of healing, my prayer for you is that you would seek out new opportunities to fill your heart with joy, peace, and God’s love.
Alycia Johnson is a daughter, sister, and friend to many. She is the new media manager for Wonderfully Made. Alycia is currently the Editor – In – Chief at Tirzah Ministries and co – founder of Tirzah Place: A Home for Teenage Mothers. As the daughter of teenage parents, she spends her time advocating for strengthening families and giving parents the tools to break generational cycles. Her passion in life is for women to know their value and carry out their personal God – given callings.
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