A story of secondary trauma

What does secondary trauma look like up close and personal? Read Stina’s story of her experiences in Kakuma Refugee camp and its effects on the rest of her life. I especially like the ending. After questioning God’s goodness and justice in the world, she is uncomfortable reading the trauma stories in the Bible to her 3-year old daughter. She tries the Jesus Storybook, which puts a happy explanation on each one, but finally accepts the raw stories. She writes,

But I am learning to sit with the gritty dissonance. I know I am not isolated in my grief because the Bible tells me so. Biblical characters all suffer from the torn fabric of this fallen world and their stories encompass the human experience. There is no glossing over humanity; people are ragged and wounded and mean. Yet God loves them, uses them, works through them. It’s a narrative in which the symptoms of my brief secondary trauma don’t feel out of place.

The Bible is the untidy story of my people. It beguiles, it discomforts, it disturbs. But it also promises me God’s goodness and faithfulness; it gives me the Sermon on the Mount and the love-breathed words of Jesus. It’s my story—all of it—and, as Saint Peter tells Jesus, “Lord, you have the words of eternal life. To whom else shall I turn?”

So I keep reading the Bible to my daughter, knowing that the trauma-laced stories belong to us. I want her to know them when she comes face-to-face with the evils of this world. I hope she finds, even when grief blinds her, that she is bound up in the greater narrative arc of God’s people, that she is loved by God and belongs to God, that terrible things may happen for no apparent reason, that faith requires only a mustard seed of trust. I hope she never stops looking for meaning. I hope she finds light out there in the fog.


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