Trauma is an emotional response to a deeply disturbing or distressing experience that we struggle to integrate back into our lives. And while we don’t usually talk about Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness as a traumatic event, here are just a few things Jesus faces these days in the wilderness.
-He has no access to food or water in a brutal and unrelenting physical environment.
-He faces severe emotional manipulation and abuse.
-He is completely isolated from anyone who can offer support.
-He does not know if he’s going to survive.
-He must have experienced serious fear, anxiety, and depression
Dr. Shelly Rambo, a professor of theology at Boston University, describes in a recent Christian Century article that “trauma marks a ‘new normal’ [in our lives] in that there is no possibility of returning to who [we] were before. A radical break has occurred between the old self and the new one.” She goes on to say, that “knowing something about trauma should change the shape of Christian ministry,” especially if we more often paid attention to three important lessons of trauma studies:
The past is not in the past.
The body remembers.
The wounds do not simply go away.
This Lent, we will examine together the various traumas that many of us have faced: migration, war, domestic violence, emotional abuse, divorce and separation, and much more. And together, we will learn ways to build resilience as we face these traumas with integrity and honesty. We will also discuss the collective work of changing systems that produce many of these traumas in the first place. Journey with us these forty days.