Triggers: From Negative Triggers to Positive Indicators – How to Reframe Your Responses with Bible Journaling

A smell.

A word.

A room.

Any number of events and experiences can trigger us. Suddenly, our minds flood with emotions, thoughts, and memories. Triggers often bring about strong feelings. Even as you are reading these words, you may be feeling uncomfortable, as your negative triggers are starting to fill your mind.

That word, trigger, has flooded our culture. Some use that term to justify their bad behavior and inappropriate responses to situations. 

He yelled because he was triggered.

She ran away because she was triggered.

Today, I want to reframe our response to the word “trigger.” God’s Word is clear.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8, NASB

If we hold tight to God’s words, I wonder what our triggered moments might look like. 

The Negative Impact of Triggers

I was talking with someone not too long ago, and one could say that the words spoken to me were trigger words. Due to some past relationships, I struggle with passive-aggressive tones, especially when I feel like the purpose of a passive-aggressive tone is manipulative. During this particular conversation, the passive aggression was thick.

I felt my blood begin to get hot. 

My heart rate quickened. 

I was triggered.

In this moment, recognizing what I was experiencing required a great deal of self-discipline and self-control.

God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7, ESV

In this moment, I was thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit, as scripture flashed through my mind. Instead of reacting in anger, I let the other person speak without feeling the need to respond. As trusted the Holy Spirit, I demonstrated power and self-control. My response demonstrated peace and calm, instead of the reaction my adrenaline was trying to exert.

Triggers as Positive Indicators

In that moment, I used the signs of my body’s reaction, as an opportunity to lean into Truth. 

Here’s the thing: triggers do not have to result in us reacting. Triggers can merely be signs for us to lean harder in the other direction – lean toward Truth.

Of course, I realize those words are easy to put on the page, but in the heat of the moment, they are harder to follow.

Reframing Triggers Through Bible Journaling

This is where Bible journaling has ministered to me in so many ways! Through Bible journaling, hand lettering, scripture writing, and verse mapping, I have truly learned to meditate on scripture.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11, ESV

During my time in God’s Word each day, I love to find nuggets of truth and put them in my handwriting. Sometimes I simply choose to write the scripture, but other times, I love to be more fancy in my writing or creating. Either way, physically writing Truth helps me to do just what Psalm 119:11 says.

Internalizing Truth is essential to overcoming triggers. I am not sure that Jesus was “triggered” by Satan in the desert, but he was certainly ready to reframe Satan’s lies with Truth. As Satan tempted him with food and power (see Matthew 4:1-11), Jesus was equipped with the Truth of scripture.  

A Path to Growth

Please don’t read these words, and believe a bit of positive thinking is the answer. God’s Word is not a pep talk. It is not just a little dose of positivity. The scriptures are alive and active. They are powerful. They are life-changing. However, they will not do much good if we leave them inside a nice, leather-bound book.

Knowing God’s Word, journaling it, sharing it, and talking about it is essential to growth. It is essential to be able to reframe triggers. 

As I consider my growth journey, I found last year hard. I also found last year to be beautiful. I spent more time in God’s Word last year than I had in the previous year. I spent more time journaling, not necessarily creatively journaling, but journaling nonetheless. And this is the secret: when you journal as you read God’s Word, God’s Word no longer resides just in that leather-bound Bible, it begins to take residence in your heart. 

The story in the Bible becomes your story. 

The letters and words in the Bible begin to take shape in your journal, your heart, and your life. 

And that is where triggers stop being triggers, and they start becoming signals that remind you…

…by the power of the Holy Spirit, you were created to love, demonstrate self-control, and delight in the Lord your God.

As you consider your triggers, their impact, and how to reframe them, may the Lord grow you. If you have never journaled before, I invite you to stick around this year and explore journaling through this blog. Try something new this year, but most importantly, lean into God’s Word. Let its power transform you.

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3 responses to “Triggers: From Negative Triggers to Positive Indicators – How to Reframe Your Responses with Bible Journaling”

  1. Rhonda Masterson Avatar
    Rhonda Masterson

    This is so good and full of Truth! I took notes

  2. Melissa Avatar

    I love how you captured such truth about our responsibility in regards to triggers and God’s Word! So lovely ❤️

    1. Tyra Harnishfeger Avatar

      Thank you for your kind words!

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