I am not alone in my feelings of stress over first responder trauma. I am optimistic that being a part of this course will help bring healing. THE GATEWAYS OF TRAUMA
My current symptoms are connected to past trauma that has happened to me as well as past decisions I’ve made. My soul may be wounded.
The stress and trauma that I experience can either harm me or strengthen me, and which way it goes depends on the choices I make. Think about someone you care about – someone you really want to help. Would you punch them, kick them, chase them, exhaust them with hard work, burden them, and yell at them? Of course not.
Being passive about stress and trauma will not bring about healing. I will avoid and abandon damaging choices and will get intentional about making healing choices. Firstline can't heal anybody. Our main goal at Firstline is to help first responders heal from duty-related stress and trauma. But we can’t do it. Firstline can’t heal anybody. What we can do is connect the hurting with the Healer.
Anger can either be constructive or destructive. It's important for me to understand the triggers that launch my anger and to stick to a plan to help control how I respond. If you’ve ever been in the military, you probably know that anger is one of the only acceptable emotions for a service member to display while on duty. Anger is considered a good thing, something you may need to tap into in order to accomplish a challenging mission.
Loss is an unavoidable part of life, especially life as a first responder. But when loss occurs, I will look for God's sovereign plans, trust that He is in control, and engage my emotional responses through a healthy grieving process. You are called a “first responder” because you are the first.
If left unchecked, loss can lead to grief, grief can lead to depression, and depression can eventually lead to suicide. But God can help me out of the valley to a place of stability and strength, where I can then help others become free from depression and avoid suicide. During last week’s session, we talked about loss and grief.
There are two types of guilt: true guilt and false guilt. When I am truly guilty of doing wrong, God's conviction will lead me to confession and repentance. And when I am trapped by the shame and pain of false guilt, God's truth will set me free. Law enforcement officers are immersed in issues of guilt and innocence on a daily basis. The constant drumbeat of distinguishing between right and wrong is woven into the very fabric of their everyday lives. “Who’s the perp? Who’s the victim? Did this guy break the law or not? Who needs to go to jail?”
There is no healing to be found in the endless cycle of sin–confess–sin–confess. Instead, I find true freedom when I fully embrace God's forgiveness, forgive others who have harmed me, and forgive myself. Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, bringing an end to slavery in the South. However, there are countless stories of slaves remaining in captivity even after being declared legally free. If you stop and think about it, many people live like that today. God has declared our freedom, but we often carry on our lives as if we’re still shackled and enslaved. It’s pretty amazing that no matter how bad we mess things up, God still offers his forgiveness to those who believe in Him.
Satan tries to define my identity in ways that are false and destructive. But God knows who I really am. I will listen to God's truth and reject Satan's lies. What’s the first question we ask when we meet someone new? “So, what do you do?” We always ask about the person’s occupation, right? Based on the answer to that question, we think we can draw conclusions about who the person is. It’s popular to think that what you do determines who you are. And it’s true that what you do may give someone a small slice of insight about who you are. But only a slice. It doesn’t paint the full picture. You are not just your occupation.