During my research on Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (specifically related to war veterans), I discovered that treatment usually consists of two things: medication and therapy (counselling). Although Post Traumatic Church
Disorder (PTCD) is the result of a very different kind of trauma than PTSD, the symptoms and reactions are very similar. On the other hand, I do not think the treatment for Post Traumatic Church Disorder can be the same.
Please hear me. People will require medication and therapy of all sorts, for all sorts of health related issues. I am NOT questioning treatment methods that include drugs or counselling. In fact, during the initial stages of my personal experience with "church trauma" I participated in multiple counselling sessions that were effective, encouraging and helped me heal. You may
need to talk with a professional counsellor or therapist about your PTCD experiences. I would highly recommend it. For me, it was life-giving.
I also know a few people that are being helped significantly (for depression specifically) through the use of daily medication, prescribed by their doctor. Although I do not like to take medications personally (because I prefer alternative medicine using natural supplements, etc.) I know that people can have positive experiences taking medications that improve chemical imbalances, etc.
So, for this final post on what I have labelled Post Traumatic Church Disorder, it is important that we dialogue about healing. In many ways I have not fully recovered from the "church trauma" I experienced at the hands of my former denomination, but I HAVE taken SIGNIFICANT steps toward healing and restoration.
And because there are so many variables when it comes to how "you" (or someone you know) has been hurt by the church, there are equally various solutions for helping someone heal. So even though I will share some very important steps I've taken towards healing, you may have taken other steps that I want you to share in the comments of this blog.PRAYER.
Sounds so simple, doesn't it. But asking someone to PRAY FOR YOU is so important. I have been amazed at how much relief I've experienced through a simple prayer prayed by a trusted friend. (And I'll talk about the importance of TRUST in a moment.)CONFESSION.
"Okay Paul, now you're boring me!" Yeah, I know. Again... simple. And confession goes hand-in-hand with prayer.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. [ James 5:16 ]
If you read the context
of that verse you will notice that it related to sick, or WEAK people! The AMPLIFIED VERSION
says it this way...
Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart].
During my journey God "tricked" me into a confession session. Have you ever had God do that? I didn't want to "go" there. I just wanted to complain about how bad I had been hurt. But instead, God wanted to CLEAN ME UP FIRST so that I could be ready to not only be HEALED and RESTORED, but then to give it away to others. And he brought me to a person that embraced me COMPLETELY and UNCONDITIONALLY that I was able to "spill my guts" with. It was a very significant part of the healing process for me and included breaking soul ties, renouncing generational curses, etc.[ If you have never heard of these things I would encourage you to do some research of your own. You can start by visiting Cleansing Stream, which is the minister that helped me considerably. ]FORGIVENESS.
You must deal with unforgiveness, offense
and bitterness toward the people that hurt you. I remember VIVIDLY the morning that I released forgiveness (in prayer) toward the church leaders that hurt me. What a weight off my shoulders! What a relief! Releasing forgiveness is just as much for YOU as it is for the person who hurt you. Often God will ask you to reconcile with the person, or forgive them in person, but more often God simply wants you to deal with the unforgiveness, offense and bitterness that is being stored in your heart.
SIDE NOTE: you DO NOT have to continue in relationship with people that have hurt you. You can effectively release forgiveness to them while deciding NOT to associate with them ever again. Disconnecting yourself from the church that hurt you is usually part of the healing process, EVEN IF you have forgiven them. There is NO PRESSURE to go back into fellowship with the church or leaders that hurt you.
Wow, there is so much to say, but let me conclude by talking a bit about TRUST
You do not OWE anything
to anyone. No explanations, nothing.
Stop trusting in man!
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
[ Psalms 118:8
]NOWHERE in the Bible will you find God telling you to trust in people. That's because people MAY fail you. People MAY betray your confidence. Even good, well-intentioned, "Godly" people. (Been there. Happened to me.)
Regardless, God uses
people to help us heal. And we need people that can support us, pray for us and be a sounding board for us. So ask God to bring one or two trustworthy
people to you. And when you "trust" them with your vulnerable life and pain, know that they MAY fail you. Know that they MAY betray you. But in the end of it all, GOD WILL BE THE STRENGTH OF YOUR LIFE! [ Psalm 28:8
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." [ Jeremiah 29:11 ]