MY POST-TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE
Ever experienced trauma?
What was your post-traumatic experience like?
A few days ago, just before I started procrastinating, I experienced a traumatic rupture of my tympanic membrane. In simpler terms, I burst my eardrum. If you guessed with what, you must have been wrong. It was with "cotton bud" buddies (it's not ear-bud by the way; in fact it's safer to call it "eye-bud". You grab, right?).
The consequent noise in the ear (a.k.a tinnitus) sounded like "My son, why hast thou forsaken my teachings?" Unlike in Saul's experience, this voice was very familiar. It was that of a prominent professor and ENT surgeon in my school. I also couldn't sneeze or yawn comfortably and I had to stay away from earpiece for a while (this pained me the most).
Throwback to the months in ENT posting: We were warned severally about the dangers of inserting cotton bud and similar objects in our ears, in a bid to ‘clean’ them.
The protective effects of wax against ear infections and the harmfulness of such objects, hard and soft alike, could not have come up more frequently in class and clinic discussions. So I knew that teaching wasn't for me when the incident occurred. Plus we all know how difficult it is to dispose of habits, no thanks to a certain roomie of mine.
Fast forward to recovery:
I couldn't even control the change in mentality and a firm resolve to quit 'budding'. More importantly, I saw more clearly the attitudinal transformation that follows traumatic experiences in general, which is why I decided to write this.
Post trauma, we very often go through some mind-changing retreats where our thoughts become conformed to certain standards and usually counter those that predisposed to the negative experience.
With the pain, anguish, fear and other related emotions, comes an awareness of our gross vulnerability and soon we become advocates to either promote or discourage practices concerning the incident.
Let me relate this to one scenario in the Gospel that is so glaring.
Along the highway towards Damascus, a diligent young man on a very ambitious assignment crash-landed from his horse and lost his sight. If we were to gamble on whether or not you know the rest of the story, I'd stake all I have.
In response to the strange voice he heard, this young man,Saul, asked, "Who are you Lord?" Not sure he foresaw it, but that question became to Saul what an infinite loop meant in computer language, one that iterated for the rest of his life. He subsequently grew into an advocate of the Gospel, something he vehemently fought against in his 'pre-traumatic’ life, and was led to write the syllabus for the body of Christ. He became an ardent God-chaser, one that hungrily sought to know more of God that at a point in his glorious walk with God, he paraphrased his earlier question to, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection..." (Philippians 3:10), a rather humbling statement to the body of Christ then and even now.
It would not be a surprise if Paul revealed how often he recalled that experience or even visited the spot (which was more or less a monument for his faith) maybe to say a prayer, reaffirm his commitment or just to think back and laugh at his spiritless self battling the Almighty. In all of the reminiscence, one thing that would surely prevail is God's Word to him that faithful afternoon that triggered his response.
So please, permit me to paraphrase the initial question I asked.
“What is the basis for your post-traumatic response?” Could it be anger, fear, desperation, the need for speed, or my most preferred - God's Word?
Whatever it is, please ensure God approves of it because, like Paul, you might keep responding for the rest of your life and God forbid your responses ain't right with God. Here's a little advice from James:1.2-5(GNB):
"My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all."
I clearly understand a ruptured eardrum is nowhere near the list of unpleasant experiences judging from severity. Think of murder, rape, a broken relationship, failed business, bankruptcy; the list remains inexhaustible. These are numerous setbacks but our God, our Ebenezer, is more qualified for the task of healing than the wisest of our thoughts, imaginations and conclusions.
Just hang on and start/keep responding as God would have you do.
Stay blessed and stay safe.
Medicine and Surgery