Talking about forgiveness ….
My blog post a few days ago was about the intellectual concept of forgiveness. But there’s much more to forgiveness than merely what we “think” about or “decide” to do. When bad things happen to us, our whole being, including our body, is affected. This, in turn, affects how we relate to ourselves and to each other. It’s not my goal to beat people over the head and be judgmental about telling people they should “forgive” or “just move on”. That is not helpful. My goal is to help people reach an authentic state of peace. For a person who has been the victim of trauma, this can be challenging.
Cutting edge research shows that people who are victimized by violence need treatment for more than their physical wounds. They need help in rewriting the story of their lives in a way that gives coherence and meaning.
The following video illustrates the “Snail Model” of trauma healing, as taught by the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. The Snail Model is so named because it describes a spiraling model where conflict begets more conflict, in a circular fashion, unless some intervention can break the cycle and cause the circle to change shape into a spiral towards healing. In other words, it is a model for breaking the cycle of conflict, basically providing a roadmap for people who have experienced painful events in their lives to see a process by which they may be healed, not just physically but mentally and spiritually. A printable illustration by Olga Botcharova can be found HERE.
If you are suffering from the effects of violence, or if you know someone who is, I encourage you to print this and share it with the person who is affected.
Sometimes even just seeing a model like this will result in an “aha” moment. The person will see where they are on the cycle and gain insight that will help them heal. Not everyone needs (or has the luxury of engaging in) therapy with a caring and trusted counselor. But regardless of whether the mental and spiritual wounds from trauma is small or large, it can help a person just to know that what they are experiencing is normal, that they are not alone.
Panic, anger, sleeplessness, fantasies of revenge — these are not signs of insanity, they are normal. And there IS a path to healing. It may be slow, it may be challenging. But a person who has been victimized by crime, by war, by a terrible auto accident, can walk that path to healing. No matter what the physical wounds, a person who has experienced trauma can can achieve spiritual and mental peace so that they can sleep at night and feel right with the world.
No matter what your circumstances, I want to assure you, there IS HOPE for peace.
This is a particular issue not just with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also for anyone who has been affected by crime or violence. Even, perhaps, in our own families. Whether this model may apply to you, or to someone you know, please be aware of it and be ready to share the hope, and the help, when the time comes.
I hope you find this video helpful. If you do, please leave a comment to share how it helped you.