Archive | July, 2016

Be Not Afraid – A word to those hurt by the church

26 Jul

This article is part of a series that I have written on PTCD called Post Traumatic Church Disorder.  If you want to read the series, please search on the site using the abbreviation – PTCD.

 

This is the most repeated commandment in the Bible.  It was spoken to Joshua as he was about to enter the promise land.  It was spoken by the angel to Mary as God’s plan was revealed to her.  It was spoken to the disciples in the midst of the storm.

A commandment that we as frail humans need to hear.  Maybe because a relationship with God is built upon faith, and fractured by fear.

FEAR from Flickr via Wylio

© 2011 amboo who?, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Fear has always come between humans and God.

It was fear that drove Adam and Eve to hide in the garden.  It was fear that caused the disciples to scatter.  It is fear that drives us to endless diversions to escape the reality of our world.

When it comes to PTCD, we are frozen by fear.  We fear those who claim spiritual authority.  We fear the Bible because of how it had been used against us.  We fear anything that reflects our past trauma as it may subject us to flashbacks that return us to our place of abuse.

God commands us to not fear.  Fear is instinctual when faced with the unknown. 

As a child, I awoke from a late afternoon nap to find myself alone in a dark house.  Muffled voices emerged from somewhere outside the house.  A fire blazed in the darkness.  I became afraid, and did what any normal child would do.

I grabbed a flyswatter and ran to the front porch.  (Okay, so maybe I wasn’t quite normal.)

Once there, I huddled down in the darkness waiting for something to happen.  Something bad.  Apparently something – that I could overcome with my tightly-gripped flyswatter.

In my fear, I didn’t see any other options.

I could have turned on some lights.  I could have pushed away fear to realize that the spooky house was still my home.  I could have overcome my emotions to realize that the voices were strangely familiar.

In the midst of your fear, there are other options.

You may not see them.  You may need someone to see them for you.  You may need someone to talk you through them.  You may need someone to hold your hand.

Faith from Flickr via Wylio

© 2012 Eric Eberhard, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

These options require faith.

In the darkness, I can reach for a light.  In my panic, I may recognize the voice.  In my isolation, I can find those who care.  I can exchange my frozen fetal position into a bold, running embrace.

For this is the life of faith.

Be Strong and Courage.  Do Not Be Afraid for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you will go.                                                                                                                                                  Joshua 1:9

Why Traditional Manhood Is Killing Us – Article from The Huffington Post

21 Jul

by Mark Greene, blogger at The Good Men Project

2015-09-02-1441232571-6174157-why3

Enforcing traditional manhood as the only acceptable path for men is called living in the Man Box. Charlie Glickman does a great job of explaining the Man Box here.

The rules of the Man Box go something like this:

  1. Real men don’t show their emotions (anger, yes, but little else).
  2. Real men are always confident. They make all the decisions.
  3. Real men are providers not caregivers.
  4. Real men are heterosexual and sexually dominant.
  5. Real men continuously talk and play sports.
  6. Real men are never handicapped, disabled or unemployed.

And so on. Whatever else they are, “real men” never do anything that might appear as feminine. And that’s the biggest tragedy of all.

Click HERE to read full story via Huffington Post.

21 Sentences NOT to Say to a Sexual Abuse Survivor

12 Jul

men-887501_1280Author, blogger, and speaker Mary DeMuth recently released a helpful, practical guide for ministering to individuals affected by sexual abuse. The title: 21 sentences not to say to a sexual abuse survivor.

Many of us have friends who have experienced sexual abuse to one extent or another. It’s talked about in the news media. It’s carried around in the hearts of women and men at our churches, schools, and workplaces. Yet, when it comes up? We don’t know what to say. So, all too often, we say things that — while well-intentioned — might be hurtful.

“My intention in writing these,” writes DeMuth, “is not to shame those who want to help, or make them walk on eggshells. Instead it’s to help friends and family members of victims best love and understand the sexual abuse recovery journey.”

In order to better help and not hurt others, we hope you’ll check out the article.

Click HERE to read the 21 Sentences compiled by Mary DeMuth

What do you think? Is there anything you would add? How could you use this awareness (and NOT use these sentences!) in your day-to-day life?

When Church Hurts

7 Jul

This story was written by Julia Powers, our new blog manager here at EA Resources, and was originally published by the blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. Julia has written in this story, as well as at her own blog, about the issue of Post-Traumatic Church Disorder (PTCD), which we have been discussing here in recent months.


church_pew.resizedSeveral years ago, I didn’t want to go to church ever again. Yet several weeks ago, I started an internship at a church. I can’t help but wonder: How on earth can a person go from wounded by church to working at a church?

Leaving Jesus?

When I was 16, a few well-liked pastors at my church—including my youth pastor—were very suddenly and mysteriously laid off. The abrupt leadership changes, accompanied by changes in worship and preaching styles, led many families to leave the church en masse. A sense of shock set in for many of us youth as a veritable spiritual safe haven was pulled out from under our already-wary adolescent feet.

The biggest issue, though, was lies from leaders. Church leaders denied problems and discouraged questions, reminding us to “respect our elders.” They started threatening individuals not to leave, even informing me that “Jesus has a plan for this church, so if you leave you’re leaving Jesus.”

Guess I’m leaving Jesus, I thought.

But leaving Jesus, it turns out, isn’t that simple. Because Jesus is the very embodiment of truth, he is able to speak more powerfully than lies, threats, or any other church hurts we experience. “If you continue in my word,” he says in John 8:31-32, “you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Click HERE to continue reading.

In short, the path Julia describes for moving forward when church hurts:

  1. Remaining a disciple of Jesus Christ to the best of your ability through prayer, Bible study, service to others, and sharing life with others — whether or not that looks like being a member of any particular church.
  2. Regaining trust in churchgoers and church leaders through one-on-one or small group meetings, conversations, counseling, or whatever works for you.
  3. Returning to church at your own pace, allowing yourself hearty doses of discernment, patience, and hope.

“A Shrink and a Pastor Walk Into a Bar”: A Church’s Conversation on Mental Health

5 Jul

13442682_10206164233134420_6170693830157814465_oThroughout the month of June, one Dallas church was spending each Monday evening having important conversations in a local bar. The annual event, Theology Live, featured a challenging topic this year: God and our bodies, including discussions on infertility and adoption, the meaning of life, mental health, and death.

While each of those topics need to be talked about more, including in the church, let’s take a particular look at this church’s discussion of mental health — a topic that men, perhaps even more so than women, struggle to talk about openly.

Click HERE to listen to full audio of the talk “A Shrink and a Pastor Walk Into a Bar” or full audio of the Q&A session.

A few practical takeaways from the Q&A session:

Q: How do I support a family member who struggles with an addiction or other behavioral health issue?

Dr. Lee Spencer, psychiatrist: “To make meaningful change, they have to want to change a little bit. They’ve gotta at least see some consequences that are outweighing the benefits of [their behavior].” “With family members, pointing them in ways, in directions of people that can help is often the most important piece. But to get there, you gotta have them at least willing to accept the fact that what they’re doing is not in their best interest.”

Q: “What’s the difference between empathy, sympathy, and compassion?”

Ryan Waller, pastor: Sympathy says, “I’m sorry you’re experiencing that.” Empathy says “I’m gonna put myself in your shoes and try to see the world as you see it.” Compassion says “I’m gonna feel sympathetic, feel empathetic, and do something about it. And compassion is what I feel like Christianity calls us to do.”

Closing remarks: “The reason we wanted to talk about this is to remind everyone that there’s deep, deep hope. If  you are anxious or you are depressed I can say to you, as an individual, that I’m a person who has experienced some of that and has also experienced an incredible growth and healing. I think through the power of Jesus Christ there’s nothing that can’t be redeemed. So, I hope you feel hopeful. I hope you feel filled with life. And I thank you for being here.”   

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