In the aftermath of Christ’s crucifixion, the disciples gathered in the Upper Room and wondered what they should do next. They were traumatized by the events that led up to and resulted in the death of Jesus and didn’t know where to turn.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit.”
— John 20: 19-21
It was only through the Peace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit that the disciples were able to get past their fear and begin their new ministry spreading the Good News of Christ’s resurrection.
The goal of The Upper Room PTSD Support Group is to provide trauma survivors with the same safe space that the Apostles had following their own trauma and pray for the Holy Spirit to help us move forward along our healing journey.
The first words Jesus spoke when He appeared to His Apostles in the Upper Room after His resurrection was “Peace be with you.” Christ knew that his disciples couldn’t begin to do His work on earth before their fears were eased and troubled minds quieted. Neither can we begin the work of putting the pieces back together ourselves until we quiet our minds and let the Peace of Christ bubble up within us like a spring through the power of the Holy Spirit. By praying to God and trusting that He will help us in our recovery, there is always hope—even when our own strength may fail us.
The unconscious mind seems to do things on its own timetable—regardless of what we might consciously desire—and it can be frustrating beyond belief. We must ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of patience to help us endure the challenges set before us and help us to understand and appreciate the lessons being taught to us on this journey of healing.
Positive Choices—Making positive choices to affect your recovery is key when dealing with PTSD, and the most crucial is seeking professional help. Most of us lack the coping skills to deal with our trauma on our own. So much of PTSD makes us feel like we have no control. Our brains are wired to protect us from danger, both during a traumatic event and in its wake. The unconscious mind doesn’t deal in details—it works in generalities. It doesn’t care if you’re a soldier or office worker, old or young, rich or poor. It has a job to do. Turning off those protection mechanisms isn’t as simple as flipping a switch, nor is there a solution that will work for everyone. But choosing to seek help, to face the things that haunt you, and to arm yourself with information about PTSD so you can better understand the things you experience puts the control back in your hands, and can be the difference between being a victim and a survivor.
Staying positive—There will be flashbacks. There will be “setbacks.” Understand and accept that these moments are part of the healing process, not a sign that you’re moving backwards. In fact, healing does not mean these things go away—it means we learn how to cope with them. The trauma we endured is part of our life story now. What happens next is completely up to us. Depression is a very real—and perfectly normal—part of dealing with PTSD. You’re allowed to be depressed, but wallowing in it isn’t going to do anybody any good. It’s very easy to fall into a downward spiral if you don’t admit to yourself and others that you need help. Be completely open about what you experienced and the complex emotions surrounding your trauma. Choose to focus on the “what next’s,” not on the “why me’s” or “what-if’s” that may never be answerable. Yes, evil exists in the world, and some of us may have seen it firsthand. But God has a plan for each of us, and sometimes in the midst of our suffering it’s difficult to see.