She was referring to the research that has discovered that in order to climb the red stair case from the reptilian brain to the top floor of clarity of thought, the neocortex. one needs emotional stability and connection. Few of us have experienced the unconditional love and security from human relationships to make it through this level to the next steps which explains why as therapists our first challenge is to create a space of connection and safety (unconditional love) with out clients who are often caught in trauma. In order to move up the stairs we all need to feel love of others, safety, and trust in the process.
She also wondered what it was about the word "forgiveness" that would help us push through. Forgiveness has connotations of God. What does God have to do with trauma?
If you remember when I was about to join a support group of parents of murdered children, I was told to lose that offensive "forgiveness" word which I was willing to do because I did not think it appropriate that I impose my views about anything on anyone - especially on such a vulnerable group already targeted with unrealistic expectations.
So I was surprised when after joining this group, they themselves were obsessed with questions about God. Mainly how could a God who claims to be good and loving create a world of such crushing, obviously devastating evil as the murder of an innocent child?
These were not intellectual, social or even theological questions. These were basic survival questions. You have to realize that to a parent of a murdered child - the explanation that God is not evil but allows evil in this world - does not cut it. Any one who "allows" evil to happen is complicit in the crime. If God is truly all powerful and allows it to happen he is worse than the murderer - like the mother who allows the father to abuse the children is often hated even more than the father.
As one of the leaders of the support group, my role was to identify an issue and bring in an expert to address the topic. With the group's permission I brought in a theologian-type person who chose to lead us into a discussion on the book, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," by Harold Kushner, an international bestseller first published in 1981. I had not known about this book - and was delighted that it was well received by the group.
Kushner says, "God can not be thought to be at once omnipotent and perfectly good. If we say that he is omnipotent, that his sovereignty is complete, that all events that occur are willed by him; then it follows that he is responsible for the actual world, which is partly evil, and, accordingly, that he is not perfectly good. If we begin at the other end, and say God is perfectly good, then we must deny that he is omnipotent."
Kushner dares to introduce a limited God but good God. We wanted goodness!
If Kushner is right, it then the begs the question - how did such a powerful God who had the ability to create such an amazing world become limited by his goodness?
“When we reach the limits of our own strength, and courage, something unexpected happens. We find reinforcement coming from a source outside of ourselves. And in the knowledge that we are not alone, that God is on our side, we manage to go on.” Harold Kushner