I am a Christian and I have PTSD

I am a Christian. Jesus became my Lord and Savior back in 2008. I love the LORD. He has blessed my life in more ways than I can count. I have a deeply personal, and ever growing relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. My faith is far stronger and more complete than it has ever been. I know that it will grow stronger and fuller still every day. I trust the LORD with my life, my heart, and all the darkest parts of me. I do not doubt His love for me. I find peace and security in the knowledge that I am His beloved daughter. I know with all my soul that Jesus died for all my sins, and when I die I get to spend eternity with my triune God.

 And I have PTSD.

What that means is that I cannot go anywhere by myself currently. I have to have someone go with me to the store, to the doctor, and even to Church. I have to take medication to control my night terrors. I am unable to travel with my husband to visit his family because I cannot handle an airport much less a plane. When I meet you for the first time, no matter the amount of time I spend with you, when you walk away I will not remember what you look like. It takes me a long time to remember people’s faces, and sometimes I never do. I will recognize you when I see you, but if you are not in my sight I couldn’t describe you. Sometimes a smell, a sound, a person can trigger me into hallucinating my abuse right then and there. I can’t look at tightie whities, not even on the TV. There are many other ways I can tell you how this affects my life, but I think you get the idea.

So why am I telling you this? Jesus says that His strength is shown through my weakness. This is part of my testimony. As I have been walking through this disorder with the Lord I have come to a very frustrating, and ultimately painful, realization …many well meaning Christians believe these two facts cannot coexist in my life. I have been told if only I had more faith, or if my relationship with Jesus were stronger, or that if I work hard enough I can overcome/defeat/move past/beat my PTSD. Essentially that somehow my PTSD is a sign that my relationship with the LORD is somehow deficient. Or worse yet some are convinced that the LORD has promised to ‘fix’ my PTSD while I am alive here on earth. And since I am not ‘fixed’ I am somehow not enough of ‘fill in the blank’ (trusting, loving, faithful, believing, devoted, etc.).

I have no doubt that other Christians who suffer from depression, bipolar-ism, or even some physical ailment are treated the same way. I know that when I talk about my PTSD some people are uncomfortable. I am told I shouldn’t talk about it, or that I just need to forget it. Like somehow my suffering should be kept a secret, or very private at the very least. Some people actually believe that if you become a Christian your life will be perfectly fixed and blessed and filled with rainbows. They completely over look the fact that they worship a man who was brutally flogged and publicly murdered.

These last two years have been incredibly hard for me. For a while I bought into the belief that if I were somehow just more that the LORD would take away my PTSD. That my PTSD was a testament of how I was failing at being a good, strong Christian woman. I should be ashamed of having this disorder. I should I hide it away, not talk about, and generally act as if it weren’t there. Who is that helping though? It certainly wasn’t helping me.

I get that it can make people uncomfortable, and what God has been showing me is that this is really how the Church is failing those who are suffering. God calls us to weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn. As Christians we shouldn’t shy away from those who are suffering, but we should get down into the pit with those people and help carry them through it. The Bible repeatedly tells us to gather together, to live life, and help those around us. But how many people are suffering alone, in silence, because their suffering makes us uncomfortable?

And I am done. I am done feeling embarrassed. I am done feeling ashamed. I am done keeping silent. My silence won’t reach into the lives of other people who are suffering from PTSD to help them. My silence will not lead other people to Jesus.

My faith isn’t a cure for PTSD. A relationship with Jesus is not some magical genie wishing star of goodness that will make life painless. What my faith does give me is comfort. I do not have to go through this alone. My faith gives me peace in knowing that my mess cannot affect my position in God’s family. My faith frees me of being responsible for my salvation. My redemption does not hinge on my abilities or my deficiencies. My faith means that I can curl up into a ball and cry, knowing that Lord catches each tear and holds me until I am done. My faith gives me a deeper and untouchable joy …even in my darkest moments …because I know I am loved. I know that one day it will be made perfect when I see my Savior face to face.

And I am finally becoming okay with that. So, yes, I am a Christian and I have PTSD. I struggle with simple day to day tasks, but God still loves me. I am no longer looking and praying for a way to fix this or make it go away. Instead I am praying for the strength to talk about the struggle, to reach the lives of those who do not yet believe. My PTSD does make me weak, it makes me fragile. But God is strong. When I am falling apart His light and love shines through all the cracked places. And if non-believers never see the cracks or the rubble of my life, they will also never see the love and light of Christ shining through.