Do you find it hard to fully trust God for all your needs in life? Did you have a traumatic childhood that makes trusting God as a loving provider hard? This post describes ten ways to overcome the barriers that come from a traumatic childhood so you can receive every good thing that God wants for you. It is time to start receiving the fullness of God’s love and provision for you.
How a Traumatic Childhood Affects our Relationship with God
Childhood experiences, especially our early relationships with our parents or guardians, shape much of how we see the world as adults. This includes our relationship with God. A childhood shaped by chaos, pain or trauma breaks the part of a child’s heart that is built for trust. If the trauma comes from one’s parents or guardians, the damage is very deep.
The trauma may have been the sudden loss of a parent, some form of abuse, bullying, or it may have been a very authoritarian or unloving authority figure in our life.
God’s design is for children to be raised in environments where they feel safe, loved and valued. He wanted us in homes where we could easily learn to trust and where we could understand unconditional love. Such positive early experience would model for us what our relationship with God would be like.
When such an environment doesn’t exist for a young child, they grow up with trust issues. They are often insecure with low self-esteem. Children who come from traumatic backgrounds often wonder if they should bother God with their requests. They prefer to try and get their needs met by themselves. Depending on others for help is often frightening for such children. It is not uncommon to become a workaholic striving to prove self-worth. Sadly, many wonder if God really loves them due to feelings of unworthiness.
A fellow Christian blogger I follow, Alice Mills over at Poema Chronicles, recently wrote an excellent post which describes in more detail how abuse can damage one’s faith. The post title is “Six Ways Abuse Damages Your Faith”. Please take a read here
An Orphan Spirit
Christian evangelist and author Leif Hetland describes the state a child who suffers trauma in childhood as an ‘orphan spirit’. The orphan spirit doesn’t believe it is really fully part of the family of God. Orphans often feel unworthy and less than. Those with an orphan spirit feel like God could not possibly want to take care of them with His extravagant love. People with an orphan heart expect little from God and ask for little. They often settle into lives that are way below the full potential God has called them into. They may trust God for salvation, but nothing more.
You can read more about this in his book “Healing the Orphan Spirit“. Click on the picture of the book below to buy now.
How Common is Traumatic Childhood?
A recent article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal said that 32% of all Canadians have experienced abuse as children. The statistics are similar in the United States. So that means 1 out of every 3 people you may see at church may have a broken heart from childhood that hinders them from being everything God intended in the Kingdom of God.
For sexual abuse specifically, in North America, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys (likely more since boys tend to underreport) have been sexually abused by the time they reach age 18.
Since many childhood traumas are covered in a thick veil of secrecy, it is common for those affected to believe they are the only one in the world with these types of challenges. Not so, it is sadly very common and you are not alone in trying to overcome a traumatic childhood. There are many other Christian believers struggling with these issues.
How to Overcome the Trauma and Start Trusting God More:
First, I do not want to underestimate that it may bring up a lot of emotions revisiting any childhood trauma. I also want to acknowledge, the enemy had up to 18 years of your childhood to build up negative mental strongholds from trauma. Sometimes it takes a significant amount of time to break down the strongholds and replace them with God’s truth.
Please be merciful to yourself if this is hard and it takes more time than you expected. Also, if the emotions are overwhelming consider speaking with a Christian counsellor. It is tough work, but the freedom you will gain is worth it.
So here are ten steps to take to start overcoming the trauma and start trusting God more.
1-Find Someone you Trust and Tell them What Happened
Unfortunately, some types of childhood trauma are accompanied by lies and secrecy. The problem with any negative emotion you experience unless you process it and release it, it keeps coming back in different forms. For example, the terror of something that happened in childhood may keep coming back as unexplained panic attacks in adulthood. The beginning of healing is to find a trustworthy person, preferably someone trained in Christian counselling such as a pastor or Christian therapist and tell them. If you have no access to such a counsellor, then a wise and discreet friend can help. This starts to bring the darkness associated with trauma into the light.
2-Grieve and Release Emotions
Talking about what happened will be emotional. Be prepared to cry. You may need to acknowledge the terror or sadness you have been carrying. Acknowledge those emotions and by doing so release them. Acknowledge sin was done to you. Grieve the loss of whatever you lost as a child. It is ok to show mercy to that little child inside of you and to grieve with him or her.
This is a big part of healing whatever trauma happened as a child. Bitterness and unforgiveness will keep you tied to the past.
Remember that whoever hurt you was likely the product of many painful experiences in their own childhood. You can acknowledge the sin happened but still forgive the other person.
Say out loud that you forgive, pray to God to help you to forgive fully. Forgiveness doesn’t always mean full reconciliation. If there is a danger with the person who hurt you apply wisdom guided by prayer.
Forgiveness is an act of the will-deciding to no longer hold the other person responsible to you to make amends. It also means praying for good things for that person. The decision to forgive can happen instantly. The ability to get over all the emotions that are there when you think of that person may take time and prayer. Ask God for help-He will empower you to fully forgive.
4-Start Spending More Time with Loving Christian Mentors
God blessed me greatly to marry into a very loving and Godly Christian family. My husband was blessed with a relatively high functioning family, and if you met him you will see what it looks like to have unwavering trust in God. It is not surprising for me he has such trust in God after meeting his parents.
God blessed me to be loved by them (my husband and parents-in-law) unconditionally. I am experiencing unconditional love as they all pray for me daily. I am being loved, mentored, edified and encouraged daily. It does your soul such healing good to be around people you can trust and who love you. Pray and ask God to start sending you loving Christian mentors. If you cannot find one, consider a Christian counsellor. They can edify you and rebuild trust too.
5-Renew your Mind with a Topic study on the Love of God
All that happens with childhood trauma is the work of the enemy to rob you of your intimacy with God as a beloved son or daughter. The enemy builds up strongholds in your mind-lies that you believe about yourself, God and others.
One way to tear down these wrong mindsets is to develop a discipline of renewing your mind with the truth in the word of God. Consider doing a topical Bible study on the love of God or on your identity as a child of God.
Don’t just read it but consider biblically meditating. Reviewing a verse verbally over and over again to really set it into your brain.
I have a post on biblical meditation here which may be helpful to you getting starting with meditating on scripture.
6-Make Sure to Connect with God in the Way You are Naturally Wired
Did you know there are 9 spiritual styles that believers fall into for their preferred way to connect to God? This is outlined in the book by Gary Thomas called Sacred Pathways. For example, some people feel closest to God when they are in nature, and others feel closest when they are serving others. I have a post on how to go deeper with God by knowing your spiritual style here. Knowing how you naturally feel closer to God and making time for that every day will open you up for more intimacy with God.
7-Pray for God to show you how to Trust Him More
My beautiful mother-in-law recommended starting out with seeking and depending on God for small things more often. That will build your ability to start trusting Him for bigger things. Pray daily that God would build your ability to trust Him more.
When you ask God for something, expect good things from Him. Think of someone, even a pet, that you love dearly. You know how you shower love on that person or pet? How you have good things in store for them? The love that God has for you is 10 billion times more intense.
Keep a journal of what you pray for and how God showed you his trustworthiness. Revisit this journal often to review what you are learning and experiencing.
8-Bask in the Presence of God
Get alone with God in a place you will not be disturbed. Put on your favorite worship music and just start praising God. Imagine God the Father with His arms around you holding you and comforting you during this time. Just rest in His presence with a worshipful attitude and practice this often. This will help with intimacy with God.
9-Actively start loving others
Look for ways to start serving and loving other people. Even small kindnesses count for a lot. Be intentional in your morning prayer time in seeking God for a specific person to focus on blessing every day. When you are flowing in giving love it opens you up to receiving more love too.
10-Be around a Friendly Dog
Most dogs love unconditionally. They know how to show love to any type of person. This is why they are often used as therapy pets. Just watching a friendly dog be unconditionally loving can be an encouraging reminder of all the beautiful ways God provided for us to receive his love. I admit I am an unabashed dog lover, but for me, I find when a puppy comes up and just starts loving me I thank God for creating such vehicles of intense love in the world. I always feel loved being near a friendly dog. If you are not a dog lover, then consider going outside in nature to behold the intense beauty of God’s creation. It is another reminder of how God designed things to show us His love and delight us.
This post has described 10 ways people with traumatic childhoods can begin to trust God more. Breaking down mental strongholds of lies and renewing your mind with the truth from God’s word are the major themes of recovery. The book, Healing the Orphan Heart by Leif Hetland was recommended.
If you are interested in doing a book study with me on this in November 2018, please click the button earlier in the article (purple button) to sign up.
Please Let Me Know
Have you struggled to trust God because of childhood trauma? What has worked well for you in overcoming this struggle? If you have another book which has helped you heal in this area, please let me know by leaving a comment below. For anyone who really needs this post, please know that I have prayed that God would heal you of childhood trauma so you can enter into the fullness of His love.
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