I’ve always wondered why I felt like my head was about to explode with thoughts that were in a cloud of smoke after the church leadership crap I went through over the years. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I read a quote in a book about “church trauma” – and that’s when a light went on and I had an “A Ha” moment. I believe people who experience some kind of church trauma have various experiences, reactions and symptoms.
I have experienced a severe, negative, almost allergic reaction to inflexible doctrine and outright abuse of spiritual power. Internally my symptoms were exposed to unlimited moments of withdrawal from all things religious, failure to believe in anything, depression, anxiety, anger, grief, loss of identity, despair, moral confusion, and, most notably, the loss of desire and an inability to darken the door of a place of worship. Physically my symptoms were ongoing episodes that varied from time to time with cold sweats, sleep disturbances, heart palpitations and increased blood pressure.
“Church trauma” can be defined as a very deep and tricky wound inflicted on (people) by the very institution of healing, the church, which did not live up to its own calling and which – an almost devilish scheme – has badly hurt those whose (gifts and) ministries it needed most.”- Houses that Change the World, Wolfgang Simson
For many years my church experiences always left a lasting effect as if I was involved in a head on collision with a train wreck of pain and hurt leaving me with spiritual whiplash, broken bones, bruises, welts and lacerations. It has left me feeling alone and scared and suffering. It has left me with a boatload of internal and external symptoms every time I tried to express my feelings about the hurt to persons of spiritual authority and their response was telling me it’s all in my head and would go away if I just had more faith and fight. It has been difficult to walk into a church.
As I envision myself walking into a church I envision myself walking into my own prison and locking door behind me. Maybe that’s not you or maybe you share the same experience and find yourself taking the long way on the highway to avoid the sight of a church building or even standing in the pulpit. But lately I have felt “stuck” and I didn’t know how to move forward and my motivation was gone and I didn’t know how to get it back! It’s like the church stole the “soul” of my life through the pain and mistreatment.
So, I started to do some refection, research and began to blog my journey and findings. I plan to write more about the effects of church trauma (that I am discovering) and also how to experience healing. My prayer is that hopefully one day I WILL be able to help others, no matter what level of church trauma has affected them.