This week, join Megan Rivera as she talks about PTSD: the good, the bad, and the ugly… and God’s faithfulness through it all.
PTSD: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
by Megan Rivera
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear PTSD?
What comes to my mind is a veteran from 2001 to today—someone who fought in the wars following 9/11. Even though it seems like a newer concept, PTSD has been around for a very long time and affects civilians and the military alike.
Now I see that PTSD has always been a part of my life in one way or another. My grandfather was really more like my dad than a grandfather. He served in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic; he was airborne all the way and achieved 99 jumps! My grandpa accomplished so much in his military career, but inside, he continued to fight the internal struggle he was facing. He was always a hardworking, generous, and loving man, but he did turn to alcohol for what probably seemed like temporary comfort and relief. Thankfully, he was able to overcome his addiction.
It wasn’t until 1980 that the American Psychiatric Association added PTSD to the DSM-III. It breaks my heart to think about all military members that suffered in silence throughout previous generations.
Or, worse yet, how many military members were brushed off and ignored when they did show signs of needing help?
Living with PTSD
My husband and I both live with PTSD. His is from military service, and mine is from a traumatic event in my past. While I cannot relate to what my grandfather encountered that caused the PTSD, I know what it’s like to want that escape.
When the event occurred, I wasn’t walking with the Lord, and I turned to the world for comfort. In that dark season, I turned to drugs and alcohol. I was hardly ever sober, which just led to more mistakes.
Thankfully, God rescued me from that season and addiction. He did so mercifully before I realized how bad the addiction had gotten.
After talking with a counselor, I realized I sometimes try to control things beyond my control because I am triggered. I have to take a step back and breathe and know that God is sovereign, and He was with me then, and He is with me now. His grace is always sufficient!
Supporting someone with PTSD
My husband’s life with PTSD has always looked different from mine because he was already saved and never turned to this world for an outlet. To see my husband walk through the episodes, he has a night and day difference from any experience with PTSD I had from myself or seeing others in the past. When he first started experiencing symptoms, it would happen at night. This got to the point where he couldn’t sleep, sometimes for days.
He found that Scripture and prayer were the only effective tool to combat the crippling anxiety he would feel. I looked for a Bible verse that I could pray over him. I printed it out and posted it on the wall next to the bed. A spiritual mentor of ours prayed with us, and she recommended that he read Ephesians 6, which describes the Armor of God, and focus on the helmet of salvation. That did bring him relief, and since then, we have listened to the audio Bible throughout the night. Ultimately, he turns to the Lord to get through one day at a time because he knows God is the only true answer to overcome our feelings.
How could something like PTSD be good? While no one would wish for it or want others to go through it, Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Are you called? Are you a child of God? Then that means that whatever struggle comes into our life, God will use it for good!
Through struggling with PTSD personally, we have the opportunity to help other friends and family
- by giving them advice when asked
- pointing them to Scriptures that helped us
- telling our testimony
- praying for and believing in freedom for them
Living with PTSD isn’t easy. It affects not only your mood or behavior but also your decision-making.
It is estimated that 3 in every 50 American adults will have PTSD at some point in their lives. Of people dealing with PTSD, veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide. If you or someone you know are struggling with this, contact someone immediately! (Here is the number for the veteran crisis line.)
Finding a Christian therapist/counselor can be so helpful because not only can they help you on the medical side, but since they share your foundational beliefs, that will be the lens they use to help you overcome and can pray for you too.
PTSD can affect all aspects of your life.
It can interfere with relationships and any roles that you may occupy.
Those closest to you will see and be a part of your process, which can sometimes be hurtful. Being humble and open with your immediate family and friends helps keep communication open and helps them understand what you’re going through.
Do not forget; we are not meant to do life alone!
Besides a counselor, having a spiritual mentor, support group, or friend that you can trust is so important because no one can fight alone.
The Word is our Sword
Finally, the word of God is our sword.
My husband and I have truly witnessed what Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” These are some of the Bible verses that we have leaned heavily on during our walk with PTSD.
- “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
- “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you can test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
- “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:6
- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
- “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
I encourage you to write these on notecards and stick them up in your home. Study them. Memorize them.
Make remembering God’s truth a fundamental part of your life.
Prayer for PTSD
Lord, I thank You that you never leave us nor forsake us. You promise us that you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast on You. Thank You for the armor we have as described in Ephesians 6, so we can be ready for spiritual battles we face. Thank You for salvation and making us new. When anxious thoughts come, help us to take them captive. In situations that start to feel overwhelming or trigger PTSD, we pray that we would submit to You at that moment because when we are weak, You are strong. Thank You for being Jehovah Shalom(The Lord is Our Peace). Thank You for Your mercy that is new every morning. God be glorified in every situation. Amen!
Notes and Resources
- Click here to see our Month of the Military Child Resource.
- Click here to see our Women’s History Month Resource List.
- Click here to see our Heart Healthy Relationship Resource List.
- Click here to see our Women’s Empowerment Resource List.
- Check out this post if you want a reminder of what our Faith Full Friday series is all about.