Responding to Trauma

Image from traumahealingpa.com

In my last post, I talked about what it means to be a trauma survivor and how difficult trauma can be to heal. Today, I’m going to enumerate the ways in which the Church can respond to trauma survivors to help them find healing.

Before I delve in, let me be clear: This is a common problem. Most pastors would be absolutely gobsmacked to know how many trauma survivors fill their churches every Sunday. Current estimates put the incidence of child molestation at 1 in 3 for girls and 1 in 10 for boys. That means in a congregation of 100 people, 5 men and 17 women are likely child sex abuse survivors. And that figure doesn’t begin to include survivors of other types of trauma, such as rape, assault, mental and emotional abuse, neglect, war, abandonment and accident.

If the Church wants to get serious about helping survivors, this is what is needed: Continue reading

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Understanding Trauma

Image from The Low Down Blog

Because of a sexual predator’s recent article in Christianity Today‘s Leadership Journal (which has since been removed, hallelujah!), an important conversation has been taking place online about trauma survivors and the Church’s poor response to them. Some bloggers have suggested that church leaders should be educated on what survivors experience and compassionate ways in which they can reach out to help them. To this end, being a survivor myself, I’m going to share what I’ve learned. Because it’s really important. Continue reading

Choose Grace

Just at the moment when I think I can’t possibly sink to a new level of brokenness, I find it. Remember when I said that my dark night of the soul was leading me to a new intimacy with Christ? I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve either gone completely spiritually deaf, or he’s just not speaking to me. Not even “Just heal.”

I saw my counselor the other day and told him that I might be too broken to heal at this point. He assured me that I had a long way to fall before reaching that particular abyss.

Oh, goody.

I’m going to be honest. Most days, I don’t want to read my Bible. Church is boring me to tears. I get more peace from listening to Coldplay’s “The Scientist” than the latest worship song. And if one more person tells me to “forget the past” or “choose joy” or “listen to this awesome sermon I heard,” I might just strangle them with my cross necklace.

Maybe that’s a bit extreme. But what to do? Nothing seems able to break through this darkness, and my spirit screams in frustration.

I have no other option. I must choose grace. Continue reading

A Meditation on Job

Yup, that’s right. I’m writing about suffering. Again. But with tomorrow being Palm Sunday and Easter right around the corner, it seems appropriate this time.

I’ve been meditating on the Book of Job lately. I mean, really turning it over in my head. We all know the story: Job was a really righteous man. To prove the depth of his devotion, God allowed Satan to destroy everything Job owned. Job continued to worship and, in the end, God blessed him with twice as much as he had before.

It’s a wonderful story, according to my faith tradition. Yeah, Job suffered. A lot. He lost everything. It was terrible. But then he got it all back in a double portion! Just for being faithful! Yay! Let’s celebrate God’s goodness!

Simple, right?

I wish. Continue reading

My Message to the Church: Let People Suffer

Image from radiolive.co.nz

Once upon a time…for a long time…I hated the Psalms. Their only purpose seemed to reinforce the idea that suffering was quick and trivial; with a little effort, one could scrounge up some joy by simply believing that God would eventually sweep in and solve all your problems. For someone who, at the time, was considering suicide, the Psalms only served to worsen my guilt over my inability to “get over” my pain.

And then I realized I was reading them the wrong way. Continue reading