There are seasons in life that are expected to be full of joy. For example:
- When your high school sweetheart gets on one knee and asks you to marry him.
- When you vow to spend the rest of your life with your proclaimed soulmate.
- When you finally receive a positive pregnancy test after years of trying or after a miscarriage.
- When you become a parent for the first time and enter the unknown journey of parenthood.
- When you finally land your dream job after years of hard work and sacrifices.
These are all huge milestones in life – ones that our society often labels as seasons of expected bliss. However, in every season of life, people are often overcome with turbulence and unexpected trauma and roadblocks on their journey of expected bliss. Old wounds can resurface and begin to cloud your vision.
Tips for Dealing with Unexpected Trauma
Sometimes our elevated expectations weigh us down like rocks in a river; unable to deal with the obstacles that come our way, sinking, and overcome with the pressure that overtakes it. We become weighed down by unexpected emotions, lofty expectations, and the desire to appear to have it all together.
1. Even the most beautiful seasons of life bring uncertainties and trials.
The key to embracing any chapter in life is to realize that there is no perfectly written chapter. Every story is full of twists and turns, unrealistic expectations, and unexpected obstacles. Sometimes new engagements and marriages bring out unknown trauma, past hurts, and re-open old wounds.
Growing a family can bring about an identity crisis, a traumatic birth experience, postpartum depression, a season of financial crisis and uncertainty, or it becomes a tough time for spouses to connect.
The first step toward embracing trials in every phase of life is not to compare your story to someone else’s highlight reel. Most people share how amazing it was to plan their wedding, buy their first home together, find out they were expecting their first child, and adjust to being responsible for a tiny human being.
It is amazing to bring a precious life into the world. It is also okay if you struggle to find joy in a traumatic birth experience or still grieve the loss of a miscarriage that came before your precious baby. It is incredible to marry the love of your life and buy your first home together. It is also okay if you face difficult conversations about finances and do not feel those butterflies in your stomach every single day.
It is wonderful when you finally land your dream job. It is also okay if it brings a difficult transition or if you feel a little disappointed once you finally saw your dreams come to fruition. Life is not about chasing perfection, it is about trusting God with your life, your plans, your feelings, and your emotions. It is about moving forward, finding healing, and trying to live a more authentic lifestyle.
“Every season is one of becoming, but not always one of blooming. Be gracious with your ever-evolving self.” — B. Oakman
2. Have someone in whom you can confide.
One of the biggest mistakes our emotions allow us to make is to bottle up everything we are feeling. Suddenly, we feel like a soda can that has been violently shaken before it is opened, ready to spew our unwanted emotions and feelings all over the place, uncertain of how to navigate a sense of normalcy and connectedness.
We often do not want to admit that effective communication in marriage can be difficult, that our sex life is not exactly what we hoped it would be, that we need help when we are drowning in around-the-clock newborn feeds and postpartum anxiety or depression, or to admit the mistakes of our past to someone new because we fear being loved in return.
We may not want to admit that our dream job might not have fulfilled us like we hoped it would, that a day that was supposed to be total bliss left us feeling a bit numb and uncertain of what the future holds. We might not want to ask if it is “normal” to feel both joy and sadness at the start of an exciting and hopeful new chapter.
The truth is, we all need authenticity in our relationships. Relationships that are filled with genuine love and acceptance are the ones that get into the practical details of who you are.
It needs to be a place where you are free to admit your struggles, where you are free to ask for help, and where you can pray together, cry together, and call on our Savior together.
These are the relationships that will help you stand when your legs are weak from defeat, which will help you trek through the muddy waters in different seasons of life and will encourage you when you need it the most and dance in the rain when it feels like the last thing you want to do.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” — Alan W. Watts
Confide in your spouse. Confide in your counselor. Confide in your best friend. You will need one another through the blissful and unexpected seasons of life.
3. Offer yourself grace.
“Be aware of what season you are in and give yourself the grace to be there.” — Kristen Dalton
Whether you are dealing with a new trauma, old trauma wounds have reopened and feel like they are oozing, or you are navigating a difficult season of life – offer yourself grace. Permit yourself to heal. Take time to soak up Scripture, journal, and take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Confide in your spouse.
Spend quality time with the people you love and take time to listen to your heart. Give yourself permission to laugh and cry, even if it is only for five minutes. Schedule your first counseling session or begin attending again if you stopped. Counseling can be helpful in the now, regardless of whether old trauma has resurfaced, or you are in the wake of a new season of life that is throwing curveballs at you.
Seasons change and trauma has diverse ways of affecting you and rehashing old feelings and memories. It might catch you off guard in ways that you do not expect – everyone’s past affects them differently. Do not let the guilt of lingering hurts hold you back from living in the now.
Do not let unrealistic expectations steal your joy and remove your gaze in the season of life you are in right now. Do not let comparison become a thief in your life – your story can be a remarkable one; regardless of the turbulence you encounter along the way.
Scriptures to remember in seasons of change
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. – Hebrews 6:19
In one hand he holds deep caves and caverns, in the other hand grasps the high mountains. – Psalm 95:4
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. – Psalm 90:2
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. – 1 John 5:14
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:19
If you or someone you know has experienced some unexpected trauma, I would love the chance to walk you through how to understand it, manage it, and heal from it. We all deserve a chance to rekindle our joy and freedom despite what harsh traumas we may experience.
“Exhausted”, Courtesy of 1388843, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Floating on the Wind”, Courtesy of Pexels, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “A Hand Up”, Courtesy of sasint, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Sunbeams”, Courtesy of Kareni, Pixabay.com, CC0 License