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  • Writer's pictureRenikko Bivens

The Hollow Eyes of Trauma

I once knew a lady with hollow eyes. She would veer off into catatonic stupors. The alcohol, the pills, and the crack were nothing on their own, but the synergistic effect she experienced from combining them was enough to satisfy her temporary desire to escape reality. She was always chasing a high because that was the only way she knew how to cope with the thoughts that continued to torment her day in and day out.


Her entire childhood was riddled with the pain of unwanted touches. He did more than violate and take her body; he tore a hole in her soul so large that it caused her to lose touch with the world. She became a professional at dissociating in the moment because, although she couldn't physically escape the torture, there was a mental space she could retreat to. In that place, she could pretend that what was happening was just a dream.


Her therapist told her that these were classic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that her dissociation was one of the tell-tale signs. However, the place was too familiar for her to abandon. This place had been her sanctuary for so many years. When she couldn't find solace in drugs, she would vanish in plain sight, always bearing hollow eyes.


Black woman with dreadlocks and wearing glasses,
Hollow Eyes

When individuals like this enter a church, there is only a limited amount of time for the church to respond. This is why wisdom and discernment are needed in the body of Christ. This is why compassion must be shown at all times because you never know who will walk through the doors. When a person's soul has been severely damaged, the last thing the body of Christ should do is inflict further harm on that individual. In the counseling world, we use the term "non-maleficence" (DO NO HARM).


The hollow eyes of trauma stare back at us from the shadows. They are the eyes of individuals who have experienced pain, abuse, and neglect. They are the eyes of those who have lost hope. But the hollow eyes of trauma are not the only story. There is also the story of healing. The Story of Hope. The Story of Redemption.


The church can play a vital role in this narrative. We can be a place where the hollow eyes of trauma are filled with light. We can be a place where hope is restored. We can be a place where redemption is found.


Let us open our doors to those who are hurting. Let's offer them a safe place to heal. Let us show them the love of Christ. Let us be the church that they need.






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