Trauma + The Church: Practical Practices

In my last post, I wrote on why the Church is often hesitant to talk about trauma. Frankly, we fear what we do not understand (Nelson Mandela quote?) and therefore we make assumptions about identifying and managing trauma. For centuries, the Church has not been immune to human suffering. People have endured many public battles that we have witnessed. You may be someone who has endured public trauma; however, the past traumas (and current private ones) are the ones that can hurt just as bad. How will the Church respond when people have been internally bleeding in regards to their silent traumas?

I would like to offer you some practical practices in dealing with trauma. These practices are not rocket science and I am not a doctor. Please consult a medical professional if your condition is leading you to thoughts of self-harm or harming others.

Journaling: Everyone has a LOVE/HATE relationship with journaling. Journaling is a great exercise for trauma because it is not as invasive as someone seeing a therapist. The neat aspect of journaling is you can physically see your progress in your own handwriting. I encourage you to handwrite in a journal. At some point, you may need to burn parts of the journal (or all of it) due to life changes, privacy issues, or if the Redcoats are coming.

Get the Anger Out: Everyone’s trauma at some point has made them angry. Identify what or who has made you perturbed. Now, go do something with that anger. Ideas: chop some wood, lift some weights, play a sport, run, etc. DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL. If you need to complete home renovations and have demo work to do, then you have picked a great time to release your anger. The issue with angry is we usually bottle is up inside or we are not kind to other people with our words. Own your angry and show it that you are the boss!

Be Proactive: If there is anything that the human race has mastered over the years, it is the subtle art of procrastination. When we procrastinate and put things off, we are inviting more stress into our lives. Instead of waiting until Monday, plan on Friday for the next week. Planning more in advance should alleviate the stress and anxiety many people feel on Sundays. Planning should include your work tasks as well as things around your home. Additionally, make sure to include things that you NEED to do and WANT to do. You need to get things done but you also need a life.

Check the Voices: Take some time to evaluate where you are hearing advice from. Make sure you know the difference between advice (surface level) and wisdom (heart/mind/soul level). Do you watch alot of news and how do you feel afterwards? When you make decisions, which people in your life do you turn to? Get into the Bible and read (or listen) to gain more clarity for your life. Start small.

In our next post, we will address assumptions that we make about trauma.


Trauma + The Church: Why It is Not Talked About

Today, I begin a series of blog posts entitled: “Trauma and The Church.” The focus on trauma and its effect on people has been picking up serious traction in the mental health field. Trauma is no longer a category on a service plan; it is a focal point that cannot be ignored with ALL people–whether they are in mental health services or not. The topic of trauma has now trickled into the spiritual/ministry/Church world. The only nice thing about the COVID-19 pandemic is it made us start doing new ministry OUTSIDE of the church walls and it unraveled how we deal with trauma.

Please note: I am not a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. I spent 10 years working in mental health in a variety of positions. I have ministry experience and education. I believe it is time for the Church to start embracing the impact of trauma on our people. My views are opinions and not necessary perfect and pretty.

I believe that trauma is not talked about in the Church for several reasons:

  • We are scared of it. Everyone has been through something traumatic–Christians are no different. The reason I believe we don’t talk about it in churches is we are scared and uneducated about it. Too often than not, we defer problems to a lack of faith, needing to pray more, or evil. While all of these things could hinder our spiritual growth, they are not the go-to answer when someone is struggling.
  • Generational Differences. Every generation has its ups and downs. Some generations have different views on traumatic events. Their philosophy is: if we don’t talk about it, then it never happened. Some generations have been more receptive to getting dialogue going about trauma. Most people in our churches can not agree on Bible translations. The same can hold true for our views on managing trauma.
  • It exposes our own trauma. When we do not think of the effects of trauma on others–especially in the Church, we are avoiding our own woundedness. If we enter into that person’s suffering with them, our wounds may open up a little bit and bleed. This is where we must aim on being rooted in Christ so we can be healers who address others’ wounds.

In our next Trauma + The Church, we will discuss spiritual practices that can help you with trauma.