Emotional HealthHealingRecovery 4 minutes to read

Healing is hard. Trauma stinks. Yet, it is one of the many commonalities that we share with others. I wish it wasn’t. I wish we learned during the “mountain top” experiences, but instead we learn when the proverbial heat is turned up. Which makes sense, I guess, because we are more malleable as we come to the end of our own resources and must depend more on our Creator. In the valleys of life, I inevitably ask the same question: Can I do this, Lord? This just seems too hard. Fortunately for me and for you, God is a God of order, and I have discovered an “order of operations” that helps me survive the storms of life. 

Can I share it with you? 

I will use Psalm 23 (in the New Living Translation) as a sort of road map for illustrative purposes using the acronym SAFE.

Stop

Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” 

My first survival tactic is to stop, slow down, and get still. Psalms 46:10 says to “Be still, and know that I am God.” The word “still” in the original language is “raphah,” which means to let go or let drop, which conveys the idea of surrender. When I am triggered, my first inclination is to speed up and find a way out. Raphah reminds me that God knows what is happening and has the answers that are better than any pseudo-solution that I could come up with! 

In addition, verses 2 and 3–“He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.”–reminds me that God wants me to rest so he can refresh me and renew my strength.

Accept

Psalm 23:4, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and staff protect and comfort me.” 

Denying, minimizing, and striving will not remove me from my situation or pain. When I practice acceptance, anxiety decreases because I am not wasting energy and resources trying to squirm out of God’s hand. My prayer sounds something like this [deep breath]: “Father, I don’t like this but I won’t fear – not because I am so smart, strong, or wise, but because You are with me. Thank you for your rod of protection and correction, and your staff of guidance. Please help me to be aware of your very real presence at this time.” 

During dark times, the uncomfortable emotions and sensations can feel unbearable. When this happens, rather than distract myself or numb out from it, I try to sit with the discomfort and mindfully ask when I have experienced this before to help me to understand what might be going on underneath it. Oftentimes, the Lord will pop a memory into my brain of when I felt like this before. Usually, it is a childhood memory that points to the origin of a wound. This information helps, because I can grieve and process the pain and loss from that time, allowing my resilient brain to kick in and I begin to heal. 

For example, I have always felt anxiety around authority. As I sat with it, the Lord reminded me of the first time I was screamed at, which was by a boss, over something that I did not do. It was a powerful wound because I had never been yelled at before. At that realization, I was able to grieve for the 16-year-old me, comfort myself, and move on in resilience and peace.

Feast

Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.” 

Why does God prepare a table for us where the enemy is? In his book, Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table,” Louie Giglio states that the enemy is always trying to convince us that we’re not sitting at God’s table of blessing, and if he convinces us of his lies, we’ve just invited him to sit down next to us and given him power. This battle is in our minds in the form of thoughts. 

My challenge (and yours) is to feast at God’s table of presence and blessings and fix our thoughts on Him instead of the enemy. God has set the table for you, prepared the meal, and is sitting at it with you. If that wasn’t enough, verse 5 tells us that he pours oil on us, signifying His Spirit, and overflows us with blessings! What better place is there to be?

Encourage

Psalm 23:6, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” 

While my current circumstances may not seem like they reflect God’s goodness and mercy, He uses our pain in the present with purpose for our future. In God, nothing is wasted. This verse is an encouragement to me, as it reminds me that the God Who sees everything is pursuing me and won’t let go. Because God has His Hand on me, I can encourage myself that my circumstances will not overtake me.


If you’re reading this, you have likely experienced trauma in one form or another. Please know that healing is a process, and you won’t get it right every time. Whether you do or not, God is always there to pick you up and love you through it. My prayer is that you will find comfort and help with the SAFE process, reach out to others who are hurting and healing, and remember that God is with you, in you, and for you!

The views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and do not reflect an official position of Pure Desire Ministries, except where expressly stated.

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Eileen Fagan

Eileen is part of the Pure Desire clinical team and a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT). She enjoys listening to people’s stories and helping them connect the dots between their life experiences, feelings, thoughts, and actions. She works mostly with clients who have experienced trauma. Since trauma affects the whole person—spirit, body, mind, will, soul, and emotions—Eileen provides a holistic approach to treatment.

1 Comment

  1. jacob jones

    Thank you for this, I have been slowly piecing this together for myself for some time not as eloquently but it works when I remember to use it. It’s helped a lot.

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