The Beauty of Trauma
Holy Is the Day: Living in the Gift of the Present
August 26, 2013
192 pp., $12.75
How do we stand "new" when we are broken? When we are bent, blown, burned . . . what comes to our surface? I am moved by [a] praise song at church. . . . My soul responds to the plea to God: "Break my heart for what breaks yours." I want to be made into his image, but I fear getting burned.
[The pain and turbulence that attended the] birth of my twins, this crucible-moment in my marriage, cracked both my husband and me open so wide and set in motion a change so radical as to reorient our entire lives. Together, our shared trauma brought to the surface other traumas, some long buried, some oh so hard to even speak—surfaced them and purged them and [smoothed away] the impurities. This process, the trusting, deepened our faith and gave us a newly won perspective, a brighter, clearer vision. Most of all, it gave us a greater conviction of the absolute restoration to come.
There are times in life, as death and near-death show us most poignantly, when you finally fully realize that you can't take anything with you. Not even a slender power bar. Not even credentials, or knowledge, or feeling. And that is when you are laid the most bare so he can do the most work. As Brennan Manning states, "It is only the reality of death that is powerful enough to quicken people out of the sluggishness of everyday life and into an active search for what life is really about." . . .
Trauma teaches you that life is precious. The very here and now is precious, insofar as it is melting back toward its original dignity and glory: being made in the image of God. Our hesitation to live it to the fullest in God blemishes the gift with "impurities," including, as the metaphysical poets often named it, "the sin of fear." This sin of fear prevents us from accepting grace's full payment for our refinement. When we "burn for God" we realize that life, which can otherwise seem a string of random, transient, and meaningless moments, is actually momentous in God's eternal economy. As a result, we come to fully see that others' lives are precious too.
Put another way, in the hands of the faithful and exacting silversmith, we appreciate. We grow in value and we grow in thanks. Gratitude and worth are interlinked in worship and praise, in the purpose of our lives and the reason for our being. G. K. Chesterton declares, "I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." In the final act of redemption, God offers his very death to help us see the Real. And in doing so, we enter a whole new life currency: a redeemed silver, electric and eternal, the aliveness of righteousness and oneness with him that is the opposite of deadness in sin and isolation from him.
Taken from Holy Is the Day by Carolyn A. Weber. Copyright © 2013 by Carolyn A. Weber. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com.