[ The following is information I have gathered from the Internet regarding people who experience some sort of “trauma” resulting in a “stress” (or church) disorder. Hopefully the following resource will shed additional light on Post Traumatic Church Disorder. ]
It is so hard for the modern western leader to admit he / she may have such a deep wound. Another name for this wound is "shell-shock." During WWI, General Haigh had over 300 British and Commonwealth soldiers shot for cowardice - and it is now believed many were simply suffering from shell shock. During WWII many British fliers were labeled LMF. They "Lacked Moral Fiber" and were dishonored in that manor.
You see, especially in North America – with strong icons like John Wayne and Babe Ruth - suffering from crippling emotional wounding is simply not acceptable. Unfortunately much of the church feels the same way.
Thankfully, the Father of us all, the great El-Shaddai (God Almighty)
, has a totally different viewpoint.
Many in our modern western society just can't bear to believe you can be wounded emotionally or spiritually. It's simply un-American.
When we think of a Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder we often think of war and terrorism. But in recent years it has been concluded that prolonged stress of certain kinds (bullying) can have a cumulative effect and impact you as much as one life and death threat in wartime. In other words, it is possible for a church goer to suffer Post Traumatic Church Disorder
Bullying can be thrust upon you by the denominational leadership, church board, leading members involved in power struggles, your mate, fellow pastors, or you, yourself, can bring this pressure on others if you are in authority in some manner.
Legalistic churches and cults are famous for bullying followers as amethod of control. When this happens, an entire culture that is unhealthy develops, sometimes on a worldwide basis if the denomination is large enough. Both leaders and lay-members become wounded in such churches.
For so many of us who have been abused in this manner (bullying), rejection is how our heart reads it. The great irony is, Christianity is the one true religion that should underscore unconditional love from a caring deity. Yet, the church, itself, can be one of the most destructive organizations to the human spirit.
With a war victim suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the shock of what one human being can do to another plays a major factor. There is a total disillusionment with life, people and purpose. With the church leader suffering from PTCD, there is the nearly unbelievable shock of being treated in a certain manner by people claiming to be children of God. In both cases, the sensory bombardment is a reality that seems too harsh to accept. For the war victim, it is man's willingness to destroy life in a very cheap manner. For the church leader, it is the reality of the church's or denomination's carnality and willingness to play politics.
The bottom line in both cases is - real life is too shocking.
“I never dreamed it would or could be this way. I just want to go numb and block it out.”
In Part One I listed some of the symptoms of PTCD. Here I will list some reactions and symptoms often associated with being bullied, specifically.Fatigue with symptoms of or similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
An anger of injustice stimulated to an excessive degree (sometimes but improperly attracting the words "manic" instead of motivated, "obsessive" instead of focused, and "angry" instead of "passionate", especially from those with something to fear)
An overwhelming desire for acknowledgment, understanding, recognition and validation of their experience
A simultaneous and paradoxical unwillingness to talk about the bullying
A lack of desire for revenge, but a strong motivation for justice
A tendency to oscillate between conciliation (forgiveness) and anger (revenge) with objectivity being the main casualty
Extreme fragility, where formerly the person was of a strong, stable character
Numbness, both physical (toes, fingertips, and lips) and emotional (inability to feel love and joy)
Hyper awareness and an acute sense of time passing, seasons changing, and distances traveled
An enhanced environmental awareness, often on a planetary scale
A constant feeling that one has to justify everything one says and does
Some of the above may apply to you or someone you know. What should our response be? How, as believers, should we handle this psychological, emotional and spiritual wound? It is deep, and life changing. You will never be the same again, but what should we do? What is the answer? How do we heal? How do we go on?
[ The following commentary and encouragement was also gathered online. I am including it as I personally prepare to write about healing in Part Four - the final part of this series. ]How did God work with His people in times of great stress? Elijah talked suicidal. For forty days he walked around the desert in a very bad attitude. During the whole 40 day period God never utter one word of condemnation to Elijah. In due time, God showed Elijah that a demonstration of power like the one given at the mountain to Moses and the children, or the one at Mt. Carmel, wound never change a heart in Israel. It would be the flow of His grace in the form of a still small voice to the very heart of Elijah that would heal Elijah and send him on his way.
Power reveals who the true God is, but it does not reveal much about God himself. Knowing God deeply and personally is everything, including the road back to sanity from spiritual wounding. The Father gives us no formulas to follow to be healed. He gives us Himself. It is His grace, His blood covenant love, flowing into us that will heal us and get us back to sanity and sound mind and heart. It was God's grace, not great wind and lightening shows that healed Elijah.
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were fried to a crisp. They were burnt-out completely and deeply disillusioned. There was no more purpose to life from their viewpoint. As they walked, Jesus came along side, and in an act of grace befriended them and opened they minds and hearts to a new perspective. They came to "know" Jesus like never before. Coming to really "know" Jesus is an enormus act of healing for many problems. Like these two disciples on the road of life, we have met many who live in their own world of belief. They have a distorted gospel and strong opinions about issues that don't require strong opinions. "Religion" has taken over much of Christianity in the western world today. It is not surprising we have an epidemic of disillusionment in the American church today.
According to the Christian World Encyclopedia as many as 16 million people world wide walk out of the church each year! The church loves talking about the 19 million new converts it obtains each year, but I hear little concern regarding the millions that walk out shaking their heads in fatigue and dismay.
Let me say to those of you in deep pain right now. First, above all else, and in spite of all evidence, Father God has NOT forsaken you. He is with you, and He will bring you through this. Second, you will be healed by His grace, and end up knowing Him better than ever. That's a fact, whether you can believe it now or not, it will happen.