Finding a God in Trauma Recovery

Nov 13, 2022

Many of us know the popular allegory of the footprints in the sand. Walking on a beach, a man notices there are sometimes two sets of footprints. When he asks Jesus why sometimes he only sees one set of footprints, Jesus replies: “That is when I carried you.” 

No matter who we are, there are always moments in life that we look back on and say, “How did I get through that?” Whatever the situation, you can usually find that during those moments of difficulty, someone helped you through. 

Every one of us is on our own journey in life, and we have to make a go of it ourselves. It is easy to think that we have only ourselves to rely on, but life experience probably tells you that is not true.

Enduring traumatic events can cause us to question a lot of things, not the least of which is our spirituality. Overcoming difficult times carries a physical and mental cost that brings us to our breaking points. 

In those times and after, it can become difficult to see a light beyond our own in the dark tunnel. We feel as though it is only by our own strength we can and have overcome. We may even question why we are put through that turmoil. 

Like the man on the beach, when we look back, we see one set of footprints. Whether it is family, friends, your counselors, your recovery team, or a higher power, that is when you were carried.

Reconnecting With Spirituality in Treatment and Recovery

The reason someone enters treatment for alcohol or substance use is because they have realized they alone are powerless against this burden. That person knows that something is wrong and there is nothing we can do about it. They need help. 

The first of the Twelve Steps is making that admission. This plan is the proven foundational approach to substance use therapy used for over 70 years by the Alcoholics Anonymous organization and its affiliates. 

Devised by the combined ideas and vision of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, the Twelve Steps and Four Absolutes are grounded in the basis that no person can conquer addiction alone. We need help, and that begins with a higher power. 

Many people who come to seek treatment for substance abuse have questioned their spiritual beliefs. Some may be agnostic or atheist, but whether your higher power is the love of others, respect for oneself, or God, it is vital to your continued success in recovery. 

Spiritual awakening is the twelfth and final step. It is the time when you recognize that the higher power you feel has been there all along. As alumni, you may have already experienced this connection.

Trauma and Spirituality

Research studies show that the experience of trauma can have an enormous impact on one’s spiritual devotion. Sometimes, experiencing terrible circumstances can strengthen spiritual bonds, but other times it can make them weaker. 

One of the ways spirituality deeply affects trauma, and vice versa, is that spirituality is the way we make meaning out of our circumstances. 

When we experience an event outside of our control, like the death of a loved one, the way we feel about it can be skewed. We might start to question why such an event would occur and place responsibility on God or ourselves. 

The reality is that sometimes bad things just happen, and it really is not anyone’s fault. Dealing with the aftermath of trauma is hard. We want to assign blame, but what we actually need to know is that focusing on spirituality can help us to overcome grief. 

Instead of finding meaning in our trauma, sometimes it is better to make meaning out of it. It may be hard, but the way we respond to upsetting events affects our response. We can refocus and repurpose our lives in the face of our bereavement and achieve a better and long-lasting connection with our spiritual selves.

Getting Back What You Lost Sight Of

As we just discussed, when we fight with our spirituality, we look to place blame on someone or something for our struggle. We call this the Punishing God Reappraisal, placing blame on God and subsequently questioning our spiritual beliefs. 

Sometimes we do this because we see the world as malevolent, acting in cruel ways with no rhyme or reason, and question the omnipotence of a higher power. It is a type of spiritual discontent, a feeling that God has abandoned us. 

However, viewing the world through this lens can be to our detriment. In fact, research shows that it may lead to dismissing current threats by placing the impetus of negative consequences on a false spiritual struggle. 

Experiencing setbacks does not mean we have to give up our faith, though. It means we can acknowledge that, no matter how bad it is, we got through it. However you believe it may have happened, when our strength failed, we made it through. 

Bad things may come upon us, but we can find our faith again. We know there will always be trauma in this world, but the people looking out for us, spiritual and earthly, would not do us harm.

Finding Your Spiritual Center

Change is possible, no matter who you are. Our spirits may have cracks in them, but they are never broken. 

No matter what journey life has taken you on, no matter the physical or spiritual cost, you are valuable. Reconnecting with yourself can help you to reconnect with your spiritual power. With that, even the darkest of circumstances can be overcome.

Going through the trauma of substance use can deeply impact your spiritual and religious beliefs. You may have even felt so alone that you believed you could leave God or your higher power behind. However, since seeking treatment, you know you aren’t alone anymore – and you never will be again. Your treatment team and alumni brotherhood will always be there for you. Fate has brought together a new family for you to keep you on the straight and narrow. Your journey is unique, both physically and spiritually. No matter the hopelessness you feel, your belief in a higher power can help you fight to overcome the worst of circumstances. Call the Renaissance Ranch alumni team today at (801) 308-8898.