The thing that surprises people about my new book, Beads of Healing: Prayer, Trauma, and Spiritual Healing, is that it’s a love story. It’s the story of how God’s deep love carried me through trauma and pain, along the journey of healing, and to a place of complete peace. It’s my true story. Granted, it didn’t feel like a love story for a long time.
As the survivor of childhood trauma, I spent most of my life feeling separated from God’s love. I felt as if God had abandoned me in my time of greatest need, then left me alone to deal with the fallout. I struggled with fear, depression, anxiety, and shame. And while I was involved in the church, I also struggled with prayer.
On the surface, I didn’t know what to say or how to go about praying, but deep down, I believe I just didn’t trust God. I certainly didn’t believe God loved me. Though years of therapy helped me address my trauma symptoms, I was never able to get past certain issues. It felt like I was continually running into a wall when it came to my healing. After decades of this I reached a point where I was sick of being afraid and depressed. I began praying a desperate prayer for peace.
In 2012 I enrolled in a two-year spiritual formation program, thinking it would help me explore my calling. Little did I know, this was the answer to my desperate pleas for peace. The program was – first and foremost – about being still and listening to God. It was in the stillness that I began to express emotions that surfaced for the first time since the trauma. I grieved and raged and questioned and cried out. The wall came tumbling down.
In the space between my tears and words, I heard something new. I heard God’s voice telling me that God had never abandoned me in my time of greatest need. Indeed, God had been right there with me, helping me to endure a traumatic situation, then carrying me as I struggled to endure the aftermath. And God had been with me during all those years of therapy and desperate cries for peace. And God was here now. Because God offers a love that was, and is, and will continue to be deep and wide, merciful and healing.
This love story is not only mine. It may be yours, too. It may be that you, too, have experienced pain or trauma. It may be that you have struggled to heal, holding questions and conversations and pain that could only be addressed by God. Because, it turns out, we may deal with the physical and emotional elements of healing, but we often neglect the spiritual. Yet as spiritual beings, we need to address the spiritual effects of pain in order to heal fully. In this way, we will know – really KNOW – of God’s deep love for us. And we will recognize the love story that is our life.
Guest Author Kristen Vincent
Kristen E. Vincent is an award-winning author, speaker, and artisan whose passion is spiritual
formation. She travels frequently to lead retreats and workshops. Kristen is a graduate of Duke
Divinity School and The Academy for Spiritual Formation (#34). She lives in Atlanta, Georgia,
with her husband, Max, a United Methodist pastor, and their son, Matthew. Kristen loves words,
the mountains, gatherings on her porch, and dark chocolate.
Kristen is graciously giving away a copy of her new book and a set of her prayer beads to one reader. Leave a comment to enter the giveaway.
*Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.
**Bead images courtesy of prayerworksstudio.com**