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Fallen Soldiers March®

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Fallen Soldiers March®

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A 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit Dedicated to
Providing Biblical Counseling,
Service Dogs, and Veteran Advocacy

Trauma Redeemed by Warren Lamb, Marine SGT Combat Veteran, Certified Biblical Counselor

Trauma Redeemed by Warren Lamb, Marine SGT Combat Veteran, Certified Biblical Counselor

TRAUMA REDEEMED

“Trauma occurs when a person’s ability to deal effectively with a crisis is overwhelmed. It can happen to anyone at any time, and it has nothing at all to do with character.”

These are the words I often open my talks on PTSD and CPTSD with. One of the most intense and debilitating whole-person dilemmas a person can experience is PTSD and its complicated cousin, CPTSD. It really does develop into a Humpty-Dumpty-esque story where a great trauma has invaded a person’s life, shattering their world, their assumptions, their sense of safety, even their sense of good and their ability to find balance and make sense of the world.

It is a silent scream no one seems to hear. The trauma of our past won’t leave us alone no matter how we run from it, medicate it, try to deny it, try to distract it with busyness and other things that drain our energy and divert our thoughts.

Our hearts and faith can feel incredibly weak at times—like they could give out at any moment. Hopelessness and helplessness can be so overwhelming that, if there were a way to quit without quitting life, we would take it. Sadly, however, many PTSD and CPTSD sufferers do quit. (We lose an American service member to completed suicide every 65 minutes. Ft. Hood, Texas experiences an average of one suicide every month and has for years.)

 

As a biblical counselor whose specialty is trauma—including abuse—, one of the most exciting things I discovered is that these battles do not constitute a “disorder.” In fact, the way our fight-flight-freeze defenses are working is actually exactly the way God designed them to work. They are simply in a state of temporary “malfunction.”

You see, our brains and our bodies are supposed to react this way to danger. What ends up happening is that, through no fault of our own, we get “stuck” in survival mode. I lived that way for decades and didn’t know what was wrong with me.

Look down through the list of standard symptoms that make up the aftereffects of severe trauma, and you will see what my life looked like every day. Not every day was as bad as every other, but there were enough of them that I had to figure out what to do about it. 

Nobody is born with these troubles. They develop as a result of significant or severe trauma. The brain, the body, and the emotions become co-conspirators in keeping us trapped in super-survival mode.

A little of my story might help at this point. I was raised in a military family by a raging and violently abusive father, stability and safety were foreign to my life. Perfectionism and an odd mix of arrogance and self-loathing kept me on the edge of exploding 24/7.

Losing my temper and injuring someone in the last ten minutes of my senior year of high school brought me face-to-face with a picture of myself that was ugly and horrifying. I needed to be somewhere I could learn to control my temper and put my ability to do violence to work. 

In 1974, the United States was still involved in Southeast Asia. Being from a military family on both sides, entering the military seemed like a natural choice. Plus, it would keep me out of jail. I raised my hand and swore the oath of the United States Marine Corps on a Monday afternoon and was on an airplane the next morning, headed to MCRD San Diego.

My make-up at the time gave me a “never-quit” attitude. I already had a skill-set that made me well-suited for Marine life. Having grown up with the kind of father I did prepared me well for the boot camp experience of the mid-70s. I felt right at home.

Over the next several years, I found a certain level of balance, a kind of “fit,” as a Recon Marine. My hyper-vigilance and wariness made perfect sense serving as a scout-sniper. My ability to do violence well made me a respected member of a small community. It felt like “family.”

The problem was, what served me well in combat didn’t serve me well at all when we were in other environments. A hair-trigger temper and an unwillingness to “own” my stuff made every-day life a walk along the edge of a razor blade.

Marines help one of their wounded in Afghanistan in 2010. By Brennan Linsley/AP Images.

Then a disastrous knee injury ended my career as a Marine. I was devastated. Going back “home” seemed out of the question. My family had already had enough of me. I needed to make some decisions, and fast.

I had one relative, also a Marine, who opened his home to me and tried to help me adapt to civilian life. I was a wreck. Listless, drinking, fighting, couldn’t sleep—you know the drill. What scared me the most was that I started to recognize that I was becoming exactly like my father— something I swore I would never do!

I knew I couldn’t live like this and that I had to do something with my life. And I had to figure out. So, I decided to pursue a degree in clinical psychology to figure out a few vital things: Why am I such a mess? What do I do about it? And, how do I keep from becoming my father?

After five years as a clinical psychologist, it was apparent that psychology was not living up to its promises. No matter what I learned, who I sought out, and what I tried, the core problems were never addressed. All we ever dealt with was the symptoms. 

Married, little children, and here I am falling into being the same mean sob my father was—and I hated it! I was desperate to find a solution, to do whatever I had to do to not become my father.

I got invited to a Christian parenting class by a fellow who had served as a SEAL. We were kindred spirits, of a sort. He “got” me. So, I went. I  walked out of that class more hopeless and angrier than I had ever been. I knew nothing about how to parent my children in a way that would not duplicate the way I was raised.

Over the next several months, the people at that church loved me in ways I had never experienced before, even when I was unlovable. They were accepting when I was hard, kind when I was difficult, and always kept pointing me back to the Lord. Eventually, I surrendered my life to Christ.

Soon after, God made it clear that He had made me a warrior for a reason, and that I was to be a warrior of His Word. I pursued undergraduate and graduate studies in Bible and theology, and all the while God had me ministering to people who had been traumatized by life. He then introduced me to the world of biblical counseling, and I’ve never looked back.

God declares in His Word that he has provided everything we need regarding life and faith (2 Peter 1:3). He promises that His Word provides us everything we need for teaching and training men and women to be faithful followers of Christ (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And His Word tells us that it is through the renewing of our minds with His Word that we experience heart, soul, and life transformation (Romans 12:2).

Since those days over thirty years ago, God has used me to serve survivors of severe trauma of all sorts. When my son—a fellow Marine— was struggling with his own aftereffects of war, it was the Word of God and the walking-alongside of a fellow believer that provided him with the tools and hope that the psychologists at Walter Reed could not.

See, biblical counseling is come-alongside discipleship. It is a partnering together to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) in real and practical ways. (Interestingly, the word here carries the picture of two people, shoulder-to-shoulder, lifting together from underneath). It is the fleshing-out of one-anothering ministry that is described throughout the New Testament for how we, the Body of Christ, and to manifest our own in-Christ lives.

There are more and more men and women in the biblical counseling world—many of whom are former active-duty military and first responders themselves—who are becoming ever better equipped to provide the kind of soul-care that wasn’t really available when I first became a believer.

The journey to healing and wholeness isn’t a quick and easy one. It is a process, not an event. But, because every man, woman, and child who has ever lived is created in the image of God and has inherent dignity and worth because of it, everyone who suffers and struggles with the aftereffects of trauma—especially combat trauma—is worth the investment of time and energy to gain the freedom Christ died to give us.

And as we approach Christmas, the day we mark as the day when the Prince of Heaven came to be one of us,  to take on  human flesh and be subjected to every aspect of life that we are subjected to—for good or for ill—let us remember that, no matter what your story is, He gets it!

He knows what it’s like to be completely vulnerable to the evil of humankind. He knows what it’s like to have no one but God to depend on. And He knows what it’s like to be betrayed, abandoned, abused, and subjected to torture and death.

My anchor verses, the verses of Scripture that I carry with me and remind myself of every day are found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

May God bring you hope and comfort wherever you are and whatever your struggles. Know that you do not have to hump these hills alone. There are more and more of us who are willing and able to lift-from underneath with you to help you become the healthy and vibrant son or daughter of God he created you to be.

Yours in the Master’s Service,

Pastor Warren Lamb
Marine SGT Combat Veteran, Certified Biblical Counselor & Fallen Soldiers March Board Advisor
 

Warren Lamb is part of the Fallen Soldiers March Advisory Board, CLICK HERE to view his profile.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2018 at 9:51 am and is filed under Featured, Newsletter. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.



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