Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Survivor's Guide to Holiday Trauma

Holiday trauma comes in all fashions and all forms. Maybe it's eating Gramma's mincemeat pie. She means well, but heavens to betsy, spare us all! Or maybe it's the family arguing over the fact you spent twenty dollars more on sister-in-law #2's present and sister-in-law spent less on brother #4's present and now the "fair is fair" pendulum is swinging erratically and Christmas is ruined. Perhaps it's the empty chair at the dining table where Dad used to sit, lead the family in prayer, and then keep the conversation moving to safe places with his boisterous laugh and infectious grin. The empty seat reminds us of aching gaps, loss, and in the end ... trauma.

Or maybe it's looking up from your quiet, introverted reading corner because family gatherings scare the extrovert right out of you, and seeing your two-year-old son stumbling from the bedroom with a seven centimeter gash across his forehead, split to the skull bone, and spending the next six hours in an out-of-state Emergency Room as they call in a plast
ic surgeon to administer no less than forty stitches.

And your prayer in the SUV speeding 98 mph down the freeway is: "Lord, help me to be content when you take my boy Home with you."

Being convinced of your child's certain death as you watch his body go limp, his eyes roll to the back of his head and his breathing all but still...trauma.

So how do we survive holiday trauma? The kind that comes in minor forms of gag-worthy food to the moment you remember your child is simply on loan from God and His to take back at any moment?

I have a theory.

My daughter nailed it the other day. After she recovered from the trauma of feeling personally responsible for her brother's accident and returned home from Gramma's two days later to crash on the floor for four hours after vomiting away her stress.

"Mommy, we need to read the Bible."

And she did.
In the corner.
By the Christmas tree lights.
The paraphrased, four-year-old, I-can't-really-read version.

It went something like this:

"And God said we are all supposed to obey. Even if we don't want to. Because it is good to obey. It makes Jesus happy. So we shouldn't whine any more. And we shouldn't pitch a fit. God said to be obey. So that is what we all should do."

I'll eliminate Kokomo Jo's more hellfire and damnation addition that if we don't we'll all go to hell. She still has some to learn about Jesus' saving grace in light of our sin. ;)

But she is right. In the trauma. In the emotional angst, In that secret moment you steal away to cry. In that tongue biting moment you refrain from giving you brother-in-law what-for. In the moment you wonder if your child will ever laugh again...

We obey. Because that is what we all should do. Because it is good. And the safest place to be.

Obedience in the sorry.
Obedience in the trauma.

Because Daddy loves you this holiday season...and He's got this.

What's your holiday trauma that you need to surrender this Christmas?


  1. While I would never wish the kind of trauma you experienced this Thanksgiving on anyone, especially not my sister, I'm glad you are processing it and learning something beautiful in that process. Our sermon Sunday was about how, in these tests, the devil's goal isn't that we die of cancer or lose our children or ache from the loss of our family member, it's to steal our soul. Focusing on Jesus and staying obedient to Him in the trauma is amazing. Proud of you and KJ, sister!

    1. AMEN!!! beautiful insight from your sermon on Sunday! WOW!!

  2. Yes, I agree with your daughter! Reading the Bible gets me through! I have other good coping skills to get me through the trauma, but the Bible is the best!

  3. Praying is the first (ok 2nd, after panic/dispair) way I begin to cope with trauma of all kinds

    1. awwwww!!! here's to making it our first reaction, huh? ;)

  4. Kids have a sweet innocent way about them. My four year old granddaughter comes out with thoughts and insights that I never would have thought about. Things she learns in church. She was supposed to be taking a nap yesterday but came in the living room worried about something she did in pre-school that she wasn't supposed to. I told her it was good that she came and told me and that God always forgives when we ask and not to worry anymore about it.

    1. THAT is precious!! I love seeing the Holy Spirit at work in little one's hearts.

  5. Aww, Jaime - thanks for that reminder!! Your post made me cry - visualizing sweet little Cole's injuries and pain, the stress of not knowing the outcome, the memories of my own past family traumas - and then I smiled, gotta love that Chloe and God's lesson through a beautiful little girl!!

    Praying Cole is recovering even better than expected and that neither he nor Chloe have any further trauma from the accident!! Hugs to you!!

  6. There are no words when you see that trauma, in your child, in front of you and don't know the outcome. I have had a few heart stopping moments and the only assurance is to pray hard and keep on praying. Your daughter is amazingly wise in that - read the Bible. I love this post and it's simple reminder! (You will still be "recovering" years from now - every time you remember it.) It's where our gray hairs come from. :)

  7. Is THAT why I had to start dyeing my hair?!?!?!?

  8. It is hard when you see your child like this. May first reaction is to panic, then i hae to give it to Lord. He is in control of every detail of life which is amazing. I'm thankful for that and that He teaches me to cling to Him through it all. But I love what Susan P said at the end. Too funny. :)

  9. Ah, I miss the days of precious talk of little people, though I do get it some at work. Thanks for sharing, especially your daughter's reminders to be obedient. :) And poor little guy, just love him to pieces! ;(


Hey friend! Please leave a comment, no lurking allowed ;)