Disclaimer: In the testimony previous to this one, I gave prominent mention to spiritual warfare and demonic oppression or attack. However, I am not suggesting a 'one-size-fits' all solution for P.T.S.D. sufferers. As a former sufferer of P.T.S.D., I know that healing of mind and spirit is multi-faceted and is not at all simplistic, predictive, or formulatic.
of Dreams - God Heals Trauma
P.T.S.D. - Part 2 - Injury and Recovery
Before I begin, I would like to say that people experience healing in many different ways. It could be by prayer, dreams or visions, or talking to people. Talking to people is a big one, as long as they are helpful to your condition and not harmful. It was tragic that I had to stop talking to people for as long as I did for my own protection. This began because the first people I spoke to who, people whom I should have been able to trust, were not only ignorant in the way they handled my report, but surprisingly inappropriate and blameful, even though they had living evidence (a confession) that my case was true. Their 'anti'-support caused such extreme destruction in my young life that I do not have the space to tell here. Forgiveness did not make the spiritual injuries go away at all:
Prov. 18:14 A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?
As I briefly covered in PTSD part 1, I became suicidal for a short time at only 19 years old. The suicidal urges came suddenly and forcefully, with absolutely no clue on my part that I was even depressed. My only explanation for this as far as my feelings at the time, was that I had been in a state of emotional "shock" and numbness for the first year or so after the condemning 'counseling' I received, and once out of that, I became suicidal. Anyhow the amazing thing about this part of the story is that God intervened by giving another 19 year old a 'word of knowledge' and this rescued me from death. This one person's obedience to the Lord's leading, and subsequent caring ministry and time spent with me, helped to begin to reverse the damage .
After that, there was no denying I needed help and could have used it. I am quite certain I would have been cooperative with any Christian counseling or therapy if anyone who knew my condition offered it or suggested a safe place for me to go, but there was also the matter of cost. In no way could I afford it. In fact I was below poverty level.
Over-all, I found that people's statements of unbelief or condemnation are huge hindrances to the Lord's work. To battle that along with the original problem can be overwhelming indeed, and I only survived it by the grace of God. As the years went on, I did reach out upon occasion, but always with great trepidation and care. I did not need to get suicidal again, and I knew I needed to protect my faith. I understood that if I joined others in either their unbelief or their condemnation, I would likely succumb to despair and die. My health, mental and physical, seemed quite fragile and strained at times.
I decided that I wanted God's first best and not His second best. I decided that God was big enough to do anything (Luke 18:27), and that my 'anything' (healing and wholeness), was not beyond His reach or against His purposes. After this, I had to "stand firm".
Because this is a diary of dreams, I am not detailing the many things that the Lord did while I was awake. Usually these things happened the few times I was prayed over, over the years. I want to mention this so the reader knows that by no means did all things happen apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit through a few others. It was always I who asked for prayer, after praying and seeking guidance from God as to what to do. Most of the time, those whom I asked for prayer from did not know the extent of my needs or source of my problem. In this way I protected myself from further condemnation or unbelief from people I did not know.
I have found that both horrendous traumas or long-standing situations of abuse have a mental and emotional effect that reach into the subconscience. Since we dream on a subconscience level, God can reach us there through a dream too. Many Christians have felt attacked by demons in dreams, but the devil is not the only author of 'reaching' us during our sleep. In fact, I dare say the devil is just treading on God's territory. After all, God started speaking/ministering to people in dreams long ago.
This dream below was given by the Lord to help me face the fact that I was far worse off than I was, and that it would take longer than I thought to recover. I had not had flashbacks or other symptoms for awhile, and briefly thought I was 'cured' and would be okay. However, I did not even know what I was cured from. I did not know at the time that I had PTSD.
The Dream of The Injured
In about 1987, I asked the Lord why did He not use me more. The prophetic gift and really every other gift, was gone, it seemed. The Lord answered by sending me someone who said he had a vision for me about "the Word burning like fire in your heart, and it will come forth..."Postscript: Inadequate or harmful 'pastors'
Later when I asked again, the Lord directly told me "I do not use wounded soldiers." This brought up a lot of feelings. I complained to Him that it wasn't my fault that I was so wounded, and I've done everything I know to do. What more did He want of me? I didn't want people in the church to know details because after all, two of my friends fell away when they knew very little. Why then should I risk injuring other people's faith by telling them MORE?
Eventually the Lord had quite a few things to say about some of my decisions and behavior. For one thing, he pointed out to me that I was faking my smiles and hiding my pain around Christians especially, which was a form of hypocrisy. I was "acting" (like the Pharisees would) and He wanted me to stop that (it took some effort). I did continue to smile around my children and do happy things with them even though I did not feel like it, so they could be protected as much as possible from knowing the results of depression.
The Lord then began to teach me about the value of being so quiet-- and that there really was none. He brought to my mind the fact that I was protecting myself really, from having to think about it. This was because I was afraid that I might either become suicidal again, have more flashbacks, or at least become so depressed I could not function and take care of my children.
Still, I had no solution to my dilemma. How do you confront something that might send you over the edge? Usually it is possible with a support system, I learned later, but I had never had that. Nor could I expect any, I thought, because both society and church situations at large provided none.
Eventually, shortly after we moved out of Michigan to Virginia, the Lord began to address it again. He began at the very basics. He spoke to me while in church one day, "You do not trust anyone." "Yeah," I said, "Do you blame me? I'm trying. Isn't trust a choice?" The Lord answered: "The ability to trust is given into every man's soul. Everyone has it when they are born. Yours has been stolen from you. Broken. You no longer have the ability to trust. Until I heal and restore what came from Me in the first place, you have no ability to choose to trust."
At this, I began to weep uncontrollably. I immediately 'went to the altar' to ask for prayer from the elders/people around me. They were a little surprised that I asked for this but they prayed over me without preaching at me about it, which was appreciated. I did feel a change inside at the time.
Afterwards I had a dream. It was very brief yet stunning. In it I saw a room full of women. They were all adults, but were different ages. They were different races too. It was a pitiful scene. They all had different injuries. Some needed immediate attention because they had head injuries. Others were moaning in pain as they held their injured part, such as an eye or a broken arm. Some were trying to limp and not making it very far. Others were only slightly injured. But none of these women were getting any treatment at all.
Even though there were none of the typical 'Biblical' symbols or activities in the dream that said it was from the Lord, I knew that it was when I woke up. I knew that the dream was about me (This is not to say that the dream did not have two meanings. I know they often do). It was about my state of internal injury. This was the extent of the injuries to my soul, spirit, and mind. The next day the Lord showed me a picture of myself trying to walk as He spoke to me, "Why are you so hard on yourself for not being able to walk? Don't you know that you have more than a broken leg? Don't you know that you have been missing a leg? It was amputated! You don't even have crutches, yet are trying to walk!"
In retrospect, the "crutches" probably referred to the fact that I needed a support system just to be able to 'walk around'. Certainly this dream caused me to take my 'condition' more seriously, by showing me how severe my condition was, metaphorically speaking. It also reminded me that as I was expecting too much of myself (I leaned toward over-responsibility rather than irresponsibility) It was only a few months later that I learned what to call these difficulties I now had. I was watching a brief T.V. condition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (P. T. S. D.) of Vietnam Vets. I had every one of the symptoms described! (It was about a decade later when physicians and psychiatrists began to realize that people other than war veterans can suffer P.T.S.D. after traumatic assaults)
I am a nurse by secular training. I knew that the more an informed patient is involved or cooperative with their recovery, the better their recovery is. This does not mean, however, that they are expected to recover completely on their own with no help at all though..
For instance, some years later, I had another dream which rather graphically depicted myself in a hospital bed, very ill, pressing the call button, and being ignored by other Christians on the bottom floor of the building. This dream reflected the fact that I had asked for help in times past, and had gotten none. indicated to me not only the The Lord continued to show me that the healing issues were not just about abuse but were about neglect, too. This included spiritual abuse and spiritual neglect too (meaning, those who say they are reliable, helpful, people, but who really are in it just for the money and status, and do not want to devote any actual time or care--especially for the sake of the poor or less influential)
It was most difficult to continue to call out for help whenever I could muster the courage, and by and large get none. However, because of many factors that cannot be detailed here, I slowly did get better in these dreams where I was a 'patient'. Eventually the 'image' of myself became whole. For the final dream I had which depicted the 'hospital patient' theme, see The Trampled Harvest, which is published for the injured in the Body of Christ.
I want to make it clear that when I began to have severe symptoms of P.T.S.D. again I contacted our church pastor (I.C.) at the time.. My husband and I talked to him at our home. He gave me the standard advise to pray, read the Bible, and just forgive. This is a pat answer and I knew it when he gave it. It assumes that a distressed person is not already doing those things. I was, of course, already doing these things, and/or had done them long ago.
Such statements are often the emotional equivalent of telling someone "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," (James 2:15-16). If we really don't know what to say or do then we should admit to that and try to find someone who does. Especially if we think of ourselves as pastors or elders.
I knew not to speak to this pastor again and my instincts were right. I consider myself rather fortunate to have had little contact with him. He was a liar on a few occasions (verified by myself and others) and he took advantage of his position in his church. Church members were quite angry when they discovered that he or his wife never bothered to visit me, or tell others of my condition, after I was home ill for a few months after the birth of my third daughter. This pastor was our neighbor too, living only a few doors down! Apparently angry that church members found out about this fact, this pastor called me up, yelled at me, and attempted (unsuccessfully) to bully me over the phone. At about this time my husband and I left this church for the prison fellowship ministry I already mentioned in an earlier part of this series.
In any case, over the years, this much is clear: I kept underestimating the effects that church abuse had upon me. I simply thought I had more dramatic or pressing things to concern myself with, but the Lord disagreed. Because of that, He kept revisiting the issue whether I wanted to or not, and sometimes this happened in dreams.
I realize that some people may lack confidence that the Lord will give them specific direction for help, but I believe He most certainly will give some direction if we ask, and I have found that these directions will be irrespective of title or perceived 'position' in the religious community. If we are overwhelmed and not confident that we can hear the Holy Spirit, which was the case for me too at times, there are many ways of evaluating a person or persons who may minister to you. These might be their knowledge of Scripture or acts (not necessarily words) of love, testimony and wisdom by hard experience, or more purposeful self-training or formal education. No matter what, though, they must care. A paid position in a church or other job description does not guarantee this.
My next testimony, P.T.S.D.
part 3, discusses the role that suppressed anger played in my
dissociative and depression difficulties.
This is how we know
who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone
who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who
does not love his brother. This is the message you heard from the beginning:
We should love one another. (1 John 3:10-11 NIV)
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