Dobermans and pork roll

 

 

 

 

church behind of bare trees

Photo by Johan Bos on Pexels.com

The serene village, in the central Pennsylvania mountains, quivered with traumatizing affects. The small white chapel, in the community that did not even have a cross road, sat with a silent presence as members were faced with an emotional challenge. The challenge was to examine how each one would respond to the heart-wrenching drama that occurred in a family home, just three doors down from the sanctuary entrance.

A brother and sister, friends of mine in school, were left reeling and alone one afternoon. Their father had come home from work early and found their mother, his wife, in bed with another man. I am not sure why he had a gun on his person, but he did. In his shock he shot and killed both his wife and the man she entertained.

 

adult affection bed closeness

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I do not remember many of the details that circulated around the community communication line, or what was seen in the newspaper surrounding the critical incident, I was only sixteen at the time, but I do remember how I felt. My feelings were dipping in several categories of sadness, confusion and frustration. A compelling courage forced my back up straight and my chin to rise to the challenge of caring for those in need.

My friends were not orphaned or fatherless per se, but circumstances left them in a position that should have qualified them for the care.

Sitting here now, I feel like the attention of the situation fell to me. Not so much in a nurturing, team work care, but with conflict in the question of how we as the church community should respond in this horrific, godless situation. In the lack of knowing how to respond, the church activities continued on without deviation from the normal functions. It was natural for me to care about my friends, but caution was administered in strong doses from church leadership to “not become too personally involved”.
This family was not church goers and were known for being a bit on the rowdy side. Did the man not get what he deserved? I was heart-sick. Why did not the ‘talk’ surround the possibility that this man loved his wife and was grief-stricken to conduct such an act? I did not think to condone his actions, but to understand them. I was sure that God would forgive him, could we not show this man some grace and mercy; At the very least-help his children? This was not their doing or sin. They were caught in the consequences of their father’s rage.
My parents were gracious with me. I was the one that brought home stray teenagers versus pets. My father, I know, was concerned for my safety, yet supported my endeavors. Starting in my teens he would respond, “I do not understand but I respect your conviction” as I would immerse myself into the lives of those in our community that others feared to acknowledge. As rural farmers, we did not have much ourselves, but my parents helped put forth whatever items of food I deemed necessary to give away and the use of the car to do so.
This situation was no different. I loaded several boxes of food and items into the 1975 tan, Chevy -Impala and drove the back-mountain roads to my friend’s home. I pulled into the driveway and felt secluded amongst the towering trees. The single level home seemed dark and quiet. Tentatively I got out of the car and headed to the trunk to gather a box of farm fresh produce and butchered meats. Leaving the trunk open for my second box, I rounded the left side of the car in line with the front door to the home. With the trunk open I did not see the two Doberman Pincher dogs approaching from the back side of the house.

animal dog pet dangerous

Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

 

The deduction of my racing thoughts and high adrenalin rush concluded that throwing the ten-pound roll of pork across the breadth of the car hood would seduce the dogs to the meat, giving me time to get in the house door that was being open by my friend.

I entered the dining-room, low ceilings and a musky wooded scent enveloped my senses supporting a sullen mood. I sat on the long wooden bench at the table across from my friends. I listened to the account that brought us all to this point. She relayed the account as though she was recalling a show she saw on television. What does one say when encountering such a sensitive, volatile and heart-twisting tale in the reality of a fifteen and sixteen-year old youth? They lost both their parents in a single hour; One to death, the other to prison.

Forty years-ago situations such as this were rare. The Department of Child and Family Services allowed the youth to stay in their own home with their eighteen-year old brother. The community shook their head in confusion and disbelief, however, I cannot recall any effort on the part of the community to collaborate for their continued care. This could have been in part of ignorance crossing some cultural lines, belief that the [world] system was responsible or the belief that you do not intrude in the lives of others.

Privacy of the “goings on” in our home and that of other homes has been enshrined in walls of steel and privacy laws that permit horrific actions, with secrets of traumatic and life-threatening behaviors.

Today, in this 21st century, the ‘out’ of following governing HIPPA standards allows for us to hold our hands up in mock release of responsibility, but morally are we released?

Domestic Violence has reached long arms of turmoil that no longer can be hidden or ignored inside the church sanctuary. In 2015, while the world was watching the news of the mass shooting inside a church in South Carolina, other small town churches were about to face their own trauma. (https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/charleston-south-carolina-church-shooting/ )

“Mass casualty equals four or more persons.
This does not count in domestic violence situations.
There are more mass casualties from domestic violence in America than from terrorism.”
Melissa Jeltzen 09/12/2017 Huffington Post

In my own personal life, I had several friends around the country who were experiencing the drama of family mental health situations in their home congregations the same time as the South Carolina shooting. A dear friend and her family attended a church that I once fellowshipped at. Both loved the Lord and had testimony of God’s great faithfulness in their lives. The husband wrestled with mental illness that caused self-harm behaviors. After several hospitalization due to suicide attempts, his action on a specific morning while his wife was away, was successful. Their special-needs daughter, enthusiastic to play with her friend, ran into the room where her father hung limp.

The mind image of that event still catches my breath today. Well-meaning people proclaimed the strength of the Lord and rote Biblical promises to encourage and hold my dear friend up. In reality they barred her behind a door of denial to her grief and real human emotion. In trying to be strong for her, she had to become strong in-face for them. The mind of a person left in such a situation does not just deal with the loss of a loved one, but: racks their brain in guilt wondering what could have been done different to prevent such finality; hides under a load of shame; or rages that others did not believe the severity of her family’s situation. Fear and hypervigilance over-flow her love-cup that prevents her from trusting her true self in reciprocal relationship with others in the church community.

Another friend, a leader in her church, was forced to deal with a domestic violence situation that ended in mass murder and suicide. The leadership stepped-up to give safety to this young mother and her daughters within the church resources. Unfortunately, the husband and father found a way to carry out his plan. With deep distraught this congregation reached out to counseling resources to help them process and grieve for their healing.

When situations like this present themselves among our communities, the affect reaches further in the pews then is realized. When the congregant is not given the opportunity to process, grieve and heal together additional emotional hurt cements the original pain.

The ‘Nimby’ (Not in my back yard) attitude is still prevalent today. Lack of understanding mental health and brain functions in stressful and dire situations can result in devastating blows of deadly outcomes; Even in the church! If we confess to being family, then these situations are not single incidents for the one directly involved. Sin crouches at every church door. If not, then what kind of church are we? We can pretend that the life of others that worship with us do not affect us, but, we should be close enough to each other that they do.

We can pretend that the lives of others that worship with us do not affect us,
but, we should be close enough to each other that they do.

Jeremiah refers to trouble with his people the Israelites saying, “I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief. (8:21) Paul encourages us “Don’t pretend to love others. Really love them”. He gives instructions on how we are to treat people in Romans 12. We might do well to remind ourselves what Love is (I Corinthians 13). Love has nothing to do with what we want or need in the moment/situation, but, has everything to do with what the other person needs.
I fear individuals that proclaim themselves as family in the faith-community, toss a roll of bologna across the width of a barrier, the very thing [we] have to offer is used to combat perceived personal harm. The gift is brought to the situation, yet, gets diverted to what seems like the potential harm of the moment versus focused on the intended root need.

What gift do you have to offer? Will you throw it aside to divert attention elsewhere, or will you present the gift for the intended purpose? How will you respond when trauma comes to your church?

Teaching Note: The most crucial need in the times of critical incidents is a silent presence; Someone to take care of the physical needs and safety concerns. Think of how you may respond if you were the person going through the current situation. If someone is speaking rote passages of truth you already know but your emotions are reeling with conflicting thoughts and feelings, would you melt into the words of truth or would you brace yourself to get through the moments message and deny your emotional need? When you are facing someone going through a crisis, do your words speak for THEIR need or for your need because you are not sure what else to do or say?

Studies have shown that persons who are allowed the freedom to feel and express their thoughts, and emotions while others care-give in physical and safety needs tend to move on to a new normal and healing. Others that get stuck in the emotion and feel unsafe (not feeling heard or able to trust themselves to be real) with those around them tend to develop mental and emotional challenges.
Be a silent presence unless invited for counsel.

Secondly:  How does [this] critical incident for a church member affect others within the body. Others are affected in ways others may not be aware.  Encourage leadership in your fellowship to promote and make provision for healing opportunities to all who are affected. (corporately, group or individually as deemed appropriate)

Advertisements

Trauma: part two

Trauma Research paper: Continued

Liberty University

2015

Trauma responses and related difficulties:

Responses and other difficulties of trauma are indications of internal or external stimuli that triggers the body or brain memory to a previous experience that was painful, to the point of diminished global functioning. These responses influence every area contending within the environment, relational, safety, and health of the traumatized person and others in proximity to the traumatizing responses. Most of us have heard the saying, “hurt people, hurt people” (unknown) and shrug off the behaviors of those demonstrating a foul disposition.

The related difficulties that bury deep within the psyche and spirit fight resulting in either life or death. Daniel described it this way, “I was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.” (7:15 KJV) These troubles instill a distorted attachment to other people, diminish sense of safety, and develop mental health disorders.
“Fearfully and wonderfully we were created in the womb of our mothers,” (Psalms 139) and He, “God, delivered us from the womb and taught us to trust while at our mother’s breasts.” (Psalms 22:9) Theories on attachment and attunement describe the incredible attachment and attunement between the mother and child in the formative years of development. Attending to the cries for hunger, care and comfort teach the infant that the mother can be trusted. The nurturing of the mother teaches the baby how to self-regulate and downloads information from her brain to the baby’s (imprinting) during feeding time where eye contact is evidenced. Attunement creates a strong bond in the relationship.

The spirit of a man mediates between his body and his soul, yet interchangeably, the spirit, soul and body influence each other. When one of the three is out of balance negative demonstration occurs in all three. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalms 42:11)
Scientific discovery informs us that trauma reconstructs the brain functions in how it processes and communicates information. For a developing brain of a child experiencing trauma, the brain may discontinue (emotional) growth at the time of trauma resulting in an emotional age freeze in functioning throughout life. The brain disconnect or rewiring precipitates trauma responses and other related difficulties.
When this deep connection of attunement has not been established, the child’s overall development, ability to express emotions and development of healthy relationships have been aborted. “Symptoms of disorganized attachments could include an aversion to touch, control issues of defiance, disobedience and argumentative to ‘win’ at all costs, anger problems, having difficulty showing genuine care and affection towards others and an underdeveloped conscience.” (Smith, Saisen, Segal 2014)
Characteristics of distorted relationships with other people often resemble the inhibited person that is withdrawn from relationships, is emotionally detached and denies comfort. This individual is often extremely aware of surroundings but shows no reaction or response. When other people try to build relationship they are ignored, pushed away or experience aggression from the traumatized person. The disinhibited person prefers to get attention and comfort from strangers over those who are part of their family. This person will communicate through behavior that the significant others in their life (parents) are mean, abusive or neglectful, controlling strangers to get what they (traumatized person) want by inducing pity. This person is dependent to the point of learned helplessness, acts younger than their age and presents with acute anxiety. Lack of trust causes this person to be in control of every encounter they have.
Self-sufficiency is the key to this persons thinking. Traumatic events, even those beyond anyone’s control, have secured the fate; Primary care-givers, persons in community positions, and protective authorities have failed the self-administered test of the traumatized. Even the all-powerful God did not come through as expected or hoped.

Confidence in others to protect, shelter and comfort has been smashed against the cliffs falling into the drowning sea of bitterness. Safety has been reduced to a figment of proclaimed imagination, imposed reality too harsh to comprehend. Paranoia crouches at each corner of the impending threat. Fear is the culprit that has captured the mind throwing sanity into the gulf of powerlessness.

Love is reduced to shreds of unnatural, repulsive, harsh responses, of unreciprocated affections.

The absence of T.R.U.S.T.; True relationships united (in) strength together, is a gaping hole. When trauma affects the mind, will and emotions and the promise of God’s word is not applied, mental health disorders consume the very life of a person. God promises that He will not “give us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7)

 
The debate continues, illness or sin?

What about illness because of (effects of) sin? Dictionary.com defines illness as an unhealthy condition, (restricting or modifying) indisposition, (unwillingness) sickness (malady-chronic disorder) and wickedness (distressingly severe, troublesome or dangerous).Sin is referred to offending against a principle, a transgression or willful and deliberate violation.

Trauma makes lasting impressions on the brain functions and on the mind, thought, functioning and comprehension. The decision making in this dysfunctional state tend to be defensively willful, restricting counsel, distressingly negative, inviting danger, and counterintuitive to the natural order of life giving principles. The resistance in accepting help is based on belief, motivation, attitude and coping styles associated with the current cognitive and neurological functioning of the traumatized brain.

The primary mental disorder identified from trauma is, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Anger, shame and guilt are contributing factors in cognitive behaviors and “attitudes about life events as outside of their control or as potential threats.” (Briere, Scott. 2015 p27) These behaviors shadow every aspect of this individual’s life patterns. Intrusive memory, dissociative reactions, physiological reactions, inability to experience positive emotion, an altered state of reality and declining memory destroy interpersonal relationships, along with functioning in society. (Briere, Scott. 2015)

Limited cognitive ability dictates the level of comprehension of spiritual matters regarding self- directive, deferring to God, collaborating with God and eventually, surrender to God. (Roehlkepartain, King, Wagener, Benson. 2006)

People are encouraged to renew their mind daily in the promises of God. The mind is where the battle field rages for our spiritual state. Romans (1:28) shows us, “even as they did not retain God in their knowledge (mind), God gave them over to a debased mind.”

The effects of a traumatized brain weaken the resolve to trust in a God they cannot see, especially when those who are entrusted for their care were not able to prevent or protect from the critical incident that cause traumatizing episodes, lack of trust and painful interventions. With each experience of trauma, or development marker in a person’s life, a nagging thought digs to the depth of conscious reasoning, “Where was God when this happened to me?” (Maltby 2012 p 310) The anguish presented with this question may cause a traumatized individual to seek out counsel or help from another person.
Treatment options
The primary goal of treatment is healing; a healing that allows for the opportunity to grow, develop and be strengthened for any future crisis. (Hoff, Hallisey, Hoff 2009) Healing comes in the form of acknowledgement, (to recognize the existence of truth) confession, (to own or admit as true, to reveal) and repentance (deep sorrow for wrong doing, regret). James instructs the sick (ailing, deeply affected, mentally, morally or emotionally deranged) to, “confess your faults (in a dilemma, imperfection) one to another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” (5:16 KJV) This healing comes from treatment modalities that consist of crisis counseling, psychotherapy and spiritual interventions.
Crisis counseling is the immediate care and love to minister to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of a person at the time of a critical incident. This act of compassion is a mandate to every disciple of Christ. Assessment of physical injury and the need for safety are the primary tasks of ministry. A constant presence during the initial stage of assessment and grief are critical to help the person gain a level of normalcy in their own ability to function, especially with self-care skills.

According to Young, (2007)

“A crisis counselor is a healing bridge from unspeakable pain to hope which helps the victim to look evil in the eyes and recognize sanity in human form. The counselor points to hope for a future and is a sanctuary for the hurting.”

Silent suffering bottles up intense feelings that lead to resentment and stress in the body. These feelings need to find a way out. “Mary McCambridge” (Cisney, Ellers 2007) If crisis work does not help the victim regain functioning to the level prior to the incident, Psychotherapy will be a needed intervention.

 “Effective therapy almost always consists of a variety of interventions

and theoretical models.” (Briere, Scott 2015)

Therapeutic models consist of talk therapy, group therapy, psychological education, behavioral intervention therapy, neurobiological intervention, desensitization exercises, and pharmacology trials and administration. Continued biological research reveals new information for the development of more treatment options. (Briere, Scott 2015) These therapies help to find the root issue of the impending outcomes of trauma or at the least, bring a reduction in the manifestations of damaging behaviors while trying to “weigh the relative contributions of reality and fantasy.” (Everstine, Everstine 2006. p.120)

Although secular therapy continues to research for a cure,

A cure will not be conclusive without a holistic approach.

This not only includes the spiritual but requires a strong spiritual base.

Research has proved that the brain comes alive and calms the nervous system when there is an act of worship or prayer. (Brooks 2014) Many believe that trauma is impossible to heal as evidenced by the lack of many that do not reach a strong faith in spiritual growth. According to Feldman (2014) moral and spiritual development are not possible until cognitive (mental processes of perception, memory, judgment and reasoning) development has reached its potential.
“The prayer of faith shall save the sick,” according to James 5:15, “and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven.” Faith is confidence or trust in another’s ability that is not based on proof. (dictionary.com) Faith, however, exercises the process of perception in the judgment of (past) positive memory which is strengthened with the reasoning that a similar outcome will emerge. The spiritual outcome that promotes healing is the anticipated fulfillment of God’s promises to walk with and comfort us in the trials of this earthly world. And though God does not endorse the pain and trauma, He is able to take what was meant for evil and bring growth in life’s encounters (Genesis 50) through the power of His strength in our life. God’s thoughts for human kind is peace to give a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)
Healthy relationships are the glue that build trust and reciprocal interactions with others. The strength in these relationship helps to keep each other in balance when life challenges taunt and thrash to take our focus off the abundant life that is freely given to all who believe in Jesus the Christ and His redemptive work at Calvary. (John 10:10) When trauma shakes people to the core, man has the opportunity and choice to run for the counsel of many where there is safety, or be swallowed up in grief which leads to destruction. (Proverbs 11:14)
When destructive patterns and behaviors have had the opportunity to take root in the life of a person, rage, hatred and bitterness fester into an abscess of infection. The only way to bring healing is reconciliation in the relationship that was damaged. The way to reconciliation is to admit any offense, disclose and confront areas of non-truth and surrender to all truth relinquishing rights of vengeance for the healing of forgiveness. (Herbst 2008)
Closing
Trauma, the Greek word that means wound, “is more than a state of crisis. It is a normal reaction to abnormal events that overwhelm a person’s ability to adapt to life.” (Wright 2011 p189) The treatment timing and modalities impact the level of emotional and mental trauma which could produce growth and opportunity to live or the continuous cycle of a hamster on a wheel getting nowhere, on a slippery slope to personal destruction.

Jesus said,

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 KJV)

Will you know how to respond or make a referral when trauma comes to your church?

Training NOTE: In the United States, crisis programs are available to help make a determination in the severity of a potential mental health crisis. If the person you are involved with has a known mental health condition or medication management with a primary doctor, please do not ‘counsel’ the person with your own understanding.

Many have the misperception that admitting a person to a psychiatric hospital for medication can happen at the request of family or suggestion of another doctor or community agency. This is far from the truth. Persons have to meet some severe criteria regarding mental health safety to self and others. Concerns of severe psychosis that endangers the person or verbal threats against self or others NEED to be taken seriously with outside intervention.

Please research the crisis program in your area to know what is available. Many programs will come to the location of the person to conduct an evaluation to access the level of danger and potential intervention. This team will be able to ascertain the needed intervention  level and take any liability off of you and your ministry if you cooperate and follow the suggested course of action. This team does not have the authority to hospitalize but where deemed necessary, will direct the person to the local Emergency room for further evaluation, prepare written documentation for future clarification. This team will also help intervene/advocate for the persons mental health needs if the local authorities are involved.

 

 

References
Briere, J.N., Scott, C. (2015). Principles of trauma therapy: A guide to symptoms, evaluation, and treatment. DSM-5 update. (2ed ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Brooks, J. (2014). Moral development vs spiritual development. American Association of
Christian Counseling. Retrieved from http://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=/webapps/blackboard/execute/courseMain?course_id=_84344_1
Cisney, J., Ellers, K. (2007). Lost grievers: Helping people through unrecognized losses.
American Association of Christian Counseling. Retrieved from Liberty University
Everstine, D.S., Everstine, L. (2006). Strategic interventions for people in crisis, trauma, and
Disaster. (revised ed.). New York, NY: Routledge
Feldman, R. (2014). Development across the life span. (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
Education Inc.
Herbst, D. (2008). Relational healing journal. Lewisburg, PA: Bethesda Publishing. This
information can be retrieved from http://www.bfsf.org
Hoff, L.A., Hallisey, J., Hoff, M. (2009). People in crisis: Clinical and diversity perspectives.
(6th ed.). NewYork, NY: Routledge
Kanel, K. (2007). A guide to crisis intervention. (3ed ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Maltby, L.E., Hall, T.W. (2012). Trauma, attachment and spirituality: A case study. Journal of
Psychology and Theology, 40(4), 302-312. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1319455318?accountid=12085
Riegler, G.R., Reigler, B.R. (2008). Cognitive psychology: Applying the science of the mind.
(2ed ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc
Roehlkepartain, E.C., King, P.E., Wagener, L., Benson, P.L. (2006). The handbook of spiritual
development in children and adolescents. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Smith, M., Saisan, J., Segal, J. (December 2014). Attachment Issues and Reactive Attachment
Disorder: Symptoms, Treatment, and Hope for Children with Insecure Attachment. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/secure-attachment/attachment-issues-and-reactive-attachment-disorders.htm
World Health Organization (WHO). Injuries and violence: the facts. Geneva, Switzerland:

WHO; 2010. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/injury/global/
Wright, H.N. (2011). The complete guide to crisis and trauma counseling. (updated &
expanded).Bloomington, MN : Bethany House Publishing
Young, T. (2007). Responding to rape and sexual assault. American Association of Christian
Counseling. Retrieved from http://learnliberty.edu/webapps/portal

Terms of endearment: Terms of destruction

woman dark eye spooky

 “Open terms of endearment could be heard, witnessed and experienced a decade ago when a parent or family member was addressing someone that was cherished.  A sense of belonging, intimacy and protection was felt and believed from experiential knowledge from such endearments” (Scholl, 2006).  Research presented will show that psychologists found conclusive evidence pointing to inherent memory that triggers past traumatic experiences causing severe reactions of an individual when trauma triggers are present.  What once may have been a word of cherished endearment may now be a term of destruction. Terms of endearment should be saved and protected within a safe family environment where there are no secrets.  The whole family knows the name, origin of the term and context in which it will be used.  What was once held in high esteem and attachment has been contaminated by other motivations.  To comprehend how words of tender meaning become destructive, a comprehensive view of definitions, research  showing how terms of endearment can be triggers to traumatic events and the staggering results of statistics showing trauma and abuse, will demonstrate the need for refraining the use of these terms.
The encouragement to refrain from the use of terms of endearment has been met with strong opposition.  Many refuse to accept the society ills of abuse.  Persons in the medical and educational community argue that it is not possible to remember all patients/student’s names.  In the general public people are offended when asked to abstain from endearing terms with children they do not know.  Others in the faith community argue that, “The poor person/child needs love.”  Or, “Oh, I just have to love on this child/person.”  This statement is selfish in motivation to fill the need for the one with the strong emotion to love, not the child/person with whom the endearment is focused on.  “A child/person that has experienced trauma finds that their worst enemy is the well-meaning person that does not have all the facts” (Scholl, 2006). Yes, a person/child does need love and endearments; however, those expressions have therapeutic value towards healing when the primary caregiver uses such terms in a safe and healing environment to enhance attachment and rebuild the ability to trust.  (Thomas 1997).
A person will use terms of endearment with the intent to engage in conversation or greeting, especially with a child.  Children are taught not to talk with strangers.  When someone addresses a child with a term of endearment, without a prior relationship, confusion is experienced for a child in not knowing how or if they should respond. This interchange is out of the need and desire of the initiator and does not meet a need in the recipient.   There is lack of intimacy within a relationship. 
            Intimacy is when two people are in a safe relationship where reciprocal behavior is exchanged between the persons.  There is a sense of security to allow this other person to, Into Me See (transparent enough for the other person to see the real me).  Terms of endearment are an expression to relay the message of being cherished.  “To cherish is to hold dear: feel or show affection for: Nurture.  To keep or cultivate (to prepare for raising); to foster growth of: to improve by care and affection. (A feeling or emotion; a tender attachment) To harbor in the mind deeply and resolute with what you are hearing. (Bold: steady) (Webster 2003).
            “When a person experiences a stressful event that causes emotional and physical effects of trauma, the reactions to this stress are often brief; however, when this event threatens a life or severe injury occurs (whether the victim or the witness to the event) the effects are more damaging causing reactionary symptoms” (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 1999).  A well-meaning person sees an adorable child cups the cheeks commenting, “Oh, I just want to eat you up!” can cause severe reaction in this child who has prior events of another person grabbing the shoulder/ face area declaring,” I am going to beat you up.”
 “A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma” (Grohol 2008).  A lady at the church social is loud and vibrant with an armful of love to give.  This lady’s emotions are touched by the new foster child in attendance.  To show her understanding of love, this lady welcomes the child, “Oh honey, we are so glad you are here.”  The fragrance of this lady’s perfume is the same as the child’s aunt who no longer could keep the child.  The feelings of rejection resurface reminding the child of why she is no longer with her parent.  The tone of pity throws this child back to the moment of her trauma.
Memory is the ability of the brain to store, retain, and subsequently recall information” (Science Daily).  The last time a particular child was lured by, “Sweet heart, come here.  I have something for you,” the special attention was not a treat.  The daycare worker using this same phrase, while following the daily routing of snacks does not understand why the child will not come.  The coaxing to participate reinforces the recalled memory embedding a belief that the worker is not safe.  Danger is near.
“Memories are a result from combining incoming information with previous experiencing.” (Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner pg 206).  A child walks into your home seeing you and your spouse by the Christmas tree in the corner.  She is asked to sit on the brown plaid sofa, suddenly she goes numb.  The memory of another time is evoked and the emotions of that memory become too strong to handle.  What should be a joyous occasion becomes unconscious unawareness to the occasion.  “These experiences come from a common theme of sensory stimuli, producing just as intense feelings in the present as it did during the original trauma”        ( Triggers & Flashbacks).
“Our strongest and most vivid human memories are usually associated with strong emotional events.  These events are associated with extreme fear, love and rage” (University of Queensland 2008).  A comforting sense of awe sweeps over me during a thunderstorm.  Thunderstorms are a reminder of sitting on the back porch soaking in the care and wonder of the storm with my father.  For my friend, she is terrified.  Her father would have them sit in the stair well until the storm was over.  In life experiences, I am the one that faces the storm head on.  She hides till it is over.  The strong tie to these memories transfer into our real-life experiences dictating a behavioral response that is associated by these extreme emotions.
 “Evoked memories and emotions intertwine with what you are hearing, seeing and smelling, making your perception of an event and therefore your experience of that event unique.” (Schacter, Gilbert, Wenger pg 124).   For the one who heard the term of endearment, sweet heart, terror was instilled.  The fragrant perfume reinforces rejection from past memories of parental abandonment.  The brown sofa triggers memory of violence with a vow, “never see” what is happening again.  The thunderstorm brings peace or drives into hiding.  For each of these persons, their experience is unique from any other person, drawing their own conclusions about these stimuli’s.
Sensory information from the external world is received by the central nervous system.  The central nervous system has several branch systems that connect to the brain, body’s organs and muscles.  The Somatic Nervous System conveys information throughout the central nervous system.  Humans have control over this system and use it to perceive, think and coordinate their behaviors.  The Sympathetic System (in the central nervous system) controls the organs to take action and flee the situation or fight it.” (Schacter, Gilbert, Wenger pg 87-88).  A child is in a doctor’s office during a routine exam. The nurse walks in and calls the child sweetheart.  The child’s muscles tense, a head-ache starts and the child’s behavior is starting to deregulate.  Unaware to the medical staff, this child had been someone’s special little sweet heart.  Being another person’s sweetheart had resulted in a trip to the doctor.  The smells of the medical office brings back the feelings of pain. On the way home from the doctor the child lies down on the seat of the vehicle, trying to shut out the memory.  The parent arrives home just in time for this child to run to the restroom and discard any earlier food consumption of the day.    The term of endearment, the smells of the medical office link this external experience with the internal world along with the perceptions and belief transferred to,” This nurse is not safe for me to be around she will hurt me too.”   The intent and motive of this medical personnel was not to cause harm; however, for this child every encounter out of home where specific terms of endearment are used reinforces the past trauma.  The nausea feeling and headache results in major eating disorder and lack of weight gain, for this particular child.  This is destruction to life.
When other motives get in the way of these cherished words of endearment there is confusion to the individual with whom the terms are used. This looks more like, “You are my special little….We have a secret. Don’t tell anyone.”   The context of this motivation is to cover up a form of abuse.  When a child has been programmed to keep “the secret” panic arises when the child is address by this same term by another person.  The question may arise, “Does this person know the secret?  I will be in trouble.”  Or,” Can I trust this person or do I have to be their special little…also?” (Scholl 06)
When a child has done a disapproving act, the tone and phrase, “Now sweetheart_____” demeans and belittles a child- it tears them down.   “Oh Honey” gives the tone of pity.  (Scholl 06) “Pity causes one to feel they are regretted; beyond ones (adults) control, distressing emotion, a disappointment (Webster 2003).   Although a child fights for control, they do not feel safe unless the adult can and does remain in respected position of control (Thomas 1997).  Most of these usages depicts having authority over, manipulation, control and the suggestion that the child is in some form of trouble.  It suggests having ownership of.  The symptoms of destruction come from inward personal conflict resulting in outward behaviors from past abuse.  Abuse comes in the form of physical, emotional, sexual and mental, most accompanied by a form of verbal abuse.
According to research and studies, statistics are staggering windows into the epidemic proportions of abuse in our culture.  In a Domestic Violence Overview: “Around the world at least one woman in ever three has been beaten or abused in her lifetime.  Physical violence is estimated to occur in 4 to 6 million intimate relationships each year in the United States. Up to 35% of women and 22% of men presenting to the emergency department have experienced domestic violence.” (Newton 2009).
According to the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 12 years old.  7% of girls and 3% boys in grades 5-8 have been sexually abused.  In 1995 the local child protective services identified 126,000 children who were victims of substantial abuse.  Of these, 75% were girls and 30% were children between the ages of 4-7 years old.  Juvenile sexual assault victims know their attackers.  34.2% of attackers were family members. 58% were acquaintances and only 7% were strangers (RAINN 2009).  According to this research family members are the main offenders of abuse. These same offenders warn children about dangers in talking with strangers.  Imagine the fear and uncertainty whe, a stranger attempts to engage a child in greeting or conversation.  The adult with whom the child should be protected by may be the very one performing the abuse. Do not doubt that a child feels unsafe by a stranger using same terms of endearment that are used by their offenders.
If you know a person, address them by their name.  The name is theirs and shows respect for who they are.  If you do not know a child, a smile of greeting is sufficient.  The definitions, research of memory that shows how terms of endearment can be triggers to traumatic events and the staggering results of statistics showing trauma and abuse, demonstrate the need for refraining the use of terms of endearment.
 These overwhelming statistics show devastation and destruction within the family unit where terms of endearment should be used to nurture and protect.  An adult in the community who uses these same terms will enhance the destruction on the mind of this individual, producing results of mistrust and possibly severe mental health issues.  Life and healing will be void. Words producing trauma triggers bring destruction.  The worst enemy of a traumatized child/person is the well-meaning person who does not have all the facts especially in the choice to engage conversation by using a term of endearment.  Terms of endearment should be saved and protected within a safe family environment.
References
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatr (1999). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. . No.70, Retrieved 04/02/09 from http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/posttraumatic_stress_disorder_ptsd
Grohol, J., What is a Trigger. (2008, July). Retrieved 4/2/09. http://psychcentral.com/lib/2008/what-is-a-trigger/
Newton,C.J. Domestic Violence: An overview. (2/20/09). Mental Health Journal. Published Find Counseling.com 
Abuse Statistics. Retrieved (4/21/09). http://www.rainn.org 
Schacter,D., Gilbert,D., Wenger, D. (2009) New York NY. Worth Publishing.
Scholl,K. (2006) Terms of Endearment Terms of Destruction. Lancaster Pennsylvania.
Thomas, Nancy. (1997). Love is Not Enough.
Triggers & Flashbacks. Retrieved 4/2/09 from http://www.ualberta.ca/~uasac/Triggers.htm
University of Queensland (2008, October 29). New Understanding Of How We Remember
Traumatic Events. Science Daily. Retrieved April 2, 2009. from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/0810281028103111.htm
Retrieved 4/2/09 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/article/m/memory.htm
Webster, M. (2003). Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh Edition. Massachusetts.Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

 

Note: Written 5/25/2009 Liberty University by Kaylene Scholl Henderson

 

 

 

 

 

Hummingbird Crisis

humming bird

Photo by Lynn Nash on Pexels.com

 

A humming bird was in crisis today as it got caught inside my sun-drenched living room skylight. My husband and I enjoy watching this little fellow perform his acrobatics and feeding rituals from our dining room double window. This window is central to most of our viewing of the gorgeous North Georgia mountain grandeur that we call home. Around the corner from his feeder is my back deck which houses two sets of French doors with skylights running along the interior of the ceiling. Around the perimeter of the deck we have strategically located another hummingbird feeder that sets the traffic control pattern of birds in flight to refrain from dangerous situations and leaving their intended environment.

I love siting at my dining room table to write. This allows me to capture the dance of sunlight on the tree leaves, watch the growth of my herb gardens and, with one back doors open, to hear the bird songs, or the sounds of an approaching storm. Today was no different. I was reviewing some of my writings and noted in my mind the sound of what I assumed was another bee or horse fly hitting against the sky light.

I have this agreement with such insects that, as long as they stay away from me, and get out of the house before I close the doors for the evening, they will be spared; otherwise, I will discard of them. Today the noise was distracting me, so I went to get a drink and snack in the kitchen. There were several flying insects at the windows in the kitchen area and in my feelings of their nuisance I grab the swatter to end the current distracting noises. I turned to get back to my self-appointed designation at the dining room table, noting that in the well of the skylight, a small blob of black sat with fanned feathers. The hummingbird was inside.

My mind raced as I was trying to calculate how much time may have passed since first hearing this captured creature’s distress. I recalled the video we watched just a few weeks ago that explained the feeding needs of the humming bird due to it rapid heart beat burning energy in comparison to it’s size. I do not remember all the exact information, but, I did remember that they need to feed every 15 minutes during the day to survive. These components put me into crisis care mode. This poor baby needed to eat, NOW!

I ran to get the feeder from the back porch in hopes that he would come down from his partial captivity to eat. His focus remained on the light in the window and not the fact that he could still get away. He was out of his own environment and not able to access the sugary syrup that would sustain his life. I cooed and pleaded verbally with the little fellow amongst inter-mitten pleas for God to show the baby how to get to freedom. I did not doubt that God could direct my little bird, but the frantic attempts to fly resulting in hitting the wall-sides confirmed a need of intervention from me. The only way to reach him was to use some form of long handle apparatus to help swoop him towards the open door and his freedom. Freedom would allow him to move towards the needed sustenance.

First, I grabbed my straw-woven broom from the hall closet. The handle was not long enough to reach the window well. I was concerned that the broom would be to harsh and hard damaging the delicate body and feathers. In the return of the broom I spotted the large, soft, dusting ball with extended handle. Extending the handle to its fullest capacity, I slowly tried to put the ball above the bird to prevent it from going to the upper corners guiding it closer to the bottom of the window and out the open door. I was sure once it got out the door it would automatically go for its food.

The little mite got stuck in the dust-ball so I carefully brought the extended handle down. Before getting to the open door, the exhausted bird fell onto the floor beneath a closed door. His limp body lay with his beak jetted up to the door preventing my opening the door for release. I brought the food container towards his sword-like beak, but he was too worn to move. I dumped some red liquid nourishment on the floor hoping he would not have to work to hard to get some.

The little body slumped-over and I was sure this poor baby was going to die right in my house with freedom not even an inch away. I grabbed a pair of soft socks off the sofa for my hands to protect us both. I could not get a grasp of this tiny life. The body and beak combined were not even the length of my palm. Again, I used the dusting ball. Sheltered in the embrace of the soft blue tentacles of the ball, I was able to carry him to his feeder. Once positioned so that his beak would insert the fake flower that provided the life-sustaining fluid, I was visibly able to see evidence of swallowing. Little eye lids fluttered, and the sun revealed the green flecks and golden hues of the coat he wore. I tried to get him dislodged and standing on his own. The body just lay on the feeder with legs curled up. Patiently I stood supporting the body as I watched the slow intake of food.

After a few short minutes I went forward with my hand to ensure that he was not ensnared in the very thing that brought him to freedom. With a flash, he was gone. This moment does not guarantee that I will see this tender life form again. I may not know if the experience has traumatized him to the point of no return, or if his legs were damaged preventing full function or if he had just enough food to fly to a resting place to die.

I never experienced this form of rescue before. Other than a few details about the bird, I really did not have the proper training or tools to meet this crisis need without potential harm. The little I did know, eating every 15 minutes, could have caused panic in me to do whatever necessary to save “the poor thing”. My desire to, “do no harm” trumped my reaction into planned strategy of assessing and accessing my resources.

My heart is sadden when I think about the young fragile hummingbird that is caught in the window-well of the church sanctuary that casts forth the Son-beams of the Father. The tender heart that wrestles with mental-health dynamics craves the light and love of acceptance; To belong without prejudices and misperceptions of the group they try to invade. Well-meaning people know enough that this person needs fed, and, in zeal, put forth their own understanding and perceptions of how this person needs rescued from their ‘demons’.

Without proper training and tools this individual may be guided into the corner depths of the church steeple, away from life sustaining care. Verbal opinions of “trusting or faith” in God for healing or descriptions of alternative approaches to healing may be a bonging echo hitting against the inner top of the bell cymbal in the tower. The affect has the potential of a dizzying stumble into traumatizing crisis.

This manifested crisis response will probably be exhibited in the home or other family function area; An area where parishioners may never dare to go, confirming the erratic or trauma responses from family or close friends. Diminished behaviors are see not trusting in God enough. There is no understanding that certain organic processes tap into mental function areas that provoke certain negative behaviors.

Declarations of ‘being available’ if ever anything is needed fall flat when the real need is not identified and acknowledged. Certain boundary areas, like my extended handle dust-ball, need established to help engulf this individual, bringing to safety. The reality of past experiences may cause this devastated individual to cower in defeat at your feet, too weak to utilize the help presented in front of them. There are times that the person is so weak that they are literally unable to accept the offer of help and may need carried and positioned to get the sustenance they need to give them strength.

Personally, handling the situation alone could destroy any chance of getting this wounded soul to the life-giving nourishment. Worse yet is false promises of good intentions. I hate to confess my shattered expectations for follow through, in expressed integration, of those who have a standing in the already confirmed group and the one desperate to be viewed normal.

On more than one occasion, across several congregations, I witnessed heart wrenching rejection of a client, as we walked through a park or food court at the mall. In wide open-view, members of a declaring group, would be fellowshipping in fun and laughter. My breath still catches and my heart stings. Invitations had gone forth to bring the group to the one desiring to share in reciprocal relationship, yet the invitation would go without acknowledgement of its existence.

I think of the example of Jesus in the book of Mathew in the Bible. Jesus modeled going to the home of those He knew would benefit from the healing balm of relationship. (Matthew 9:9, Luke 19:5) I have even heard pastors declare from the pulpit, “Do not worry, we are not going to come to your house,” or “We do not get involved if there is (continual) crisis situations going on in your home.” O MY GOD! Come to our rescue (Psalms 59:1, Ps 7:1,) Give us the courage to love the way you love.

Jesus went to the people in their time of crisis need. He did not react in crisis mode, rearranging his momentary commitments, but, He did go. He cried with his friends, He prayed and encouraged those suffering in a loss, and he met their basic human needs (food).

I am curious to think back and see when the shift in thinking morphed from taking a loaf of bread to a neighbor, a card was sent in the mail, or a drop by for a cup of coffee, sometimes just to keep a connection. The paradigm shift thought had become: If they really need help let them come and ask, people want their privacy, there are programs in the community that can meet that need. The priority of ‘my’ time needs to be used elsewhere, has become our belief.

Persons who are in a time of crisis or who wrestle with mental health may not know what they need, in the moment. Many are fearful of large groups or being away from the safety of their own home. Trust is often an issue.  Small steps learning to trust can come through one-on-one or small group interaction in the persons home, sharing a hobby or meal together and a heart to learn and grow together in a mutual relationship. The ability to see and accept the value of the other person and what they can contribute to the relationship is paramount. Yes, there is vulnerability in relationship but there is also safety.

Safety equates: the freedom to be who you are without limitations, expectations and judgement; a place to belong; a place to give-back; a place to explore new-ideas and thoughts; a place to be accountable, and a place to love and be loved. Group involvement helps bring a balanced experience and safety-net in exploring and accessing resources for the one in need.

How will your (inner) group respond, when trauma is evident in your church?

 

Note: I have witnessed some great mentor models of team supports in churches that help those in places of great need emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually and financially. Persons with more intense and comprehensive situations can be draining on one individual to carry. A team effort makes the experience richer and specialized for specific components of need. It brings the person into a family.

Another thought is for a representative from the faith-community to be present and involved with any systems of care team that support the person through mental health or other community initiatives. This allows those that desire to help in the faith community understand the scope of need and potential treatment methods to be unified in approach versus combative views that may cause the person with mental health issues to become more confused and digress in their recovery.

Out of the boat


Today I am reminiscent of 30 years ago. I was barely in my 20’s and God gave me the opportunity to run a children’s home for children that were infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. My life boat of natural supports rocked as the waves of fear, questions, prejudice and anger splashed against the sides, at times, as high as a tidal wave determined to flip me over and sink my cause.  The shame, focus, and declaration of rights for anyone, where AIDS was concerned, tore at all sides, splintering my boat to shreds causing me to ‘get out of the boat’ and walk on water.

I never thought of it that way until this moment. The walking on water. But she did. I say she because when I look back at the memories of yesteryear, it is though I am remembering a book that captured my full attention and absorbed into my very being; yet, I wonder, who was that young woman? Who dares to step out of the boat and ride against the tidal waves of societies woes? Who has the strength and tenacity to ‘take the hand of Jesus’ and not look back, or down, or around at the chaos threatening to declare death. Death, it is such a harsh and final word and the journey to it’s very door sometimes even beyond harsh. O death, where is your sting?

The sting of (a) death, a loss, is more than the end of breathing in the breath of life, it is about life changing to a new normal due to a critical incident that prevents one from continuing down the path they already started. Changing course to follow the adventure requires willingness to go against the status quo, sitting in the corner of a community function or understanding that noone else understand the life you now partake. All that is left is the hand of Jesus holding you up and the eyes of Jesus beckoning you forward.

I was asked if I would take in a toddler from a neighboring state who was abandoned at birth. The child was headed to his second birthday and had never been out of the hospital. His prognosis was less than 2-3 months to live against the struggle of AIDS.  You would have thought that the nasal cannula was distributing adrenaline instead of oxygen from the sight of this little man jumping and weaving around furniture with a fifty-foot oxygen cord in tow. Huge brown eyes sparkled as though he was keeping a secret and dimples hid under the cheek tape holding his life-line in place. He was the fifth child now in my care.

I had brought trauma and drama with me into the church fellowship. Sunday mornings I would arrive at church with my brood in a precarious procession up the hill to the front door. This was the third faith community I attempted to call home, and home is what it was. Our new family members pitched in to assist in areas that they could. One of the children’s mother accompanied us…in what was the last year of her life. Although it was summer extra blankets were needed along with folding lawn chair for her comfort. Diaper bags, oxygen tank, strollers and other child paraphernalia found its way to the needed area going into church and then back to the car at the end of service.

The weekly mother and children swim at a parishioner’s home was no exception. Me and mine were welcome with open arms to participate. As my little guy became more alive and healthy, the mother of the other children was fading away. Young singles in my small group would come do (their own) laundry and stay with the children to give me a chance to grocery shop, or just get out for the evening. Checks showed up in the mail the exact amount to cover unexpected expenses. It was not unusual to arrive in a full kitchen first thing in the morning with more food and supplies than we could handle and somehow a children’s clothing store started leaving boxes of new clothes on the front porch.

By summer’s end doctors were in awe of the life that flowed in the veins of my young charge. No longer were dimples hidden nor oxygen tubing flowing through my home.  With exuberant joy he created new adventures with boyhood charm. One of the volunteers in my home assumed his care, as I was not prepared to parent him longer than summer. By the end of the year, the young mother was skeletal in physic, fading each new day. The bond of relationship with others in our church body helped to walk this young woman into a loving and forgiving relationship with her creator and those she was about to leave on this earth. On New Year’s Eve a few of us were present with her as others sang to her through the phone, “Bind us together with love and chords that cannot be broken” ushering her through the gates of heaven.

Will you join the song either by getting out of the boat bringing the trauma to your fellowship, or, will you put your hands to the plow and help when trauma comes to your church?

Be the difference

I was reminded the other day of the children’s song and hand motion;

“Here’s the church, here’s the steeple,

open the door and see all the people.”

What picture comes to mind when we envision the people inside the building? As persons inside the building we talk about the church as being a hospital for the sick and hurting to come for healing, but really, does our minds eye imagine ourselves as ailing, weak, poor and dying? I would venture to say that the picture is one of people who are well dressed, smiling families, and self-sufficient declaring “All is well” or “God is good.”

The reality is fragile glass souls are hiding behind false façades of dense walls denying translucent behaviors. In attempts to conceal our own weakness and need we deny the evident pain in those around us. The churchgoer has turned a blind eye to the deep needs of those they call family as a result of defiance to the command of confessing our sins one to another. (James 5:16) Fear of rejection, denial of truth, unbelief and the grip of un forgiveness threatens to cripple the one destined to be whole. To recognize the splinter in our neighbor’s eye requires us to acknowledge the beam in our own that is evident for all to see.
God has called us to walk in faith together encouraging each other while it is called today (Hebrews 10:25). The commission has been declared to freely give to others the hope and healing of that which we have been given (Matthew 10:8). How then can this be accomplished unless we come in unity together as disciples of Christ that become all things to all people without compromising the character of Christ?
Daily society is bombarded with the reality that the joy and peace of Christ is vacant in the soul of the person wandering aimlessly, large pupil blank stare, flinching at the potential physical connection from another person. For ages the challenge from the pulpit has been to go out into all the world and preach the gospel, but, what happens when someone does invite the (world)masses inside the carefully designed building and the crafted program? What then do we do with those who do not fit into the neat little box of order that has been crafted? How do we respond to the one that dared to step out of the comfort zones to make a difference?

Can we in good consciousness ignore the woes of the world that threaten to spill into the fantasy that misuses (lead others to believe that there is no hardship for the believer) the phrase “God is good, all the time”? Will we continue to barricade full entrance into the sanctuary with the door ajar only allowing the seeker to remain on the front porch with a partial view of what is sacred on the inside?
The world challenges to “make a difference” in helping the world be a better place. I challenge the church to “BE THE DIFFERENCE.” Anyone can show kindness and charity, but only those yielded to the Holy Spirit will have the power of Christ dwelt among them to BE THE DIFFERENCE! It is this difference of Christ’s love that brings everlasting hope and healing.

Scripture instructs us to give first to the household of faith. The world will know how we love by how we treat each other whom we call brother. It is our protective care and service to those among us that will draw in the seeker. The seeker is looking for genuine, transparent people who can testify to God’s strength, in spite of personal weakness, and a love that cares enough to tell the truth.

Phil Yancey, in his book ‘What’s so amazing about grace’ commented that, “The worse a person felt about herself, the more likely she saw Jesus as a refuge.” He then goes on to ask, What happened that these same people do not feel welcome among Christ followers? (Yancey, Phil. (1997). What’s so amazing about grace? pg 11.Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan)

The church family continues to sit around the table of fellowship, diverting eye contact so as not to see the pain that has been silenced by the delusion from words of, “I’m good!”  The flip-side behavior reveals persons holding eye contact to dare the other person to discount the declaration of, “I’m good!” By default, we continue to live a lie by our silence. We forgo the balm of healing that comes from sharing our burdens one with another.

The church has lack of (organized in-house) resources for her hurting members and the community cannot meet the spiritual component that 9 out-of 10 people search for when trying to cope with fear, trauma and disaster.

Will true love and care be evident, “When trauma comes to your church?”

 

Trauma effects: Example in the faith-community

Crisis is defined as the perception of a critical incident that produces subjective distress causing the person the inability to cope and function at their normal levels of performance. Crisis can serve as an opportunity to learn and grow, however if the person is not able to work through and regain normal functioning the probability of a crisis cycle may develop causing emotional and mental health dis regulation.

(Kanel 2007)

Loss is at the heart of every trauma and crisis. (Wright 2011) Loss is a death that causes one to have to readjust to their original way of living creating a new normal. The death can come in the form of a physical death, debilitating health functioning, loss of a relationship, death of a dream or idea, loss of a community or social status and position. With each of these, additional unrecognizable losses join the list of suffering that requires a grieving process. (Cisney, Ellers 2007). This grieving process or lack thereof exposes trauma effects.
The brain was created in an amazing and profound way causing the specific body organs to function and behave according to the messages that are relayed to that particular body part. Cognitive brain functions (mental process that induces behavior) takes each life experience through the lens of the five-sense stimuli creating an interpretation of meaning known as the perception. When new experiences are happening, our brain retrieves information that was previously organized and filed from a similar situation, influencing how a person acts or reacts to the current circumstance. This process is usually outside of the conscious awareness of the individual. Therefore, stimuli from outside sources trigger an internal warning bell (the traumatized brain) causing a response of learned behavior. (Riegler, Riegler 2008) The consequence or result of this learned behavior causes physical bodily symptoms, manifestations of wrong thought processing or interpretation of external stimuli, and spiritual soul wounds.
The body’s memory has the capacity to observe, measure and repeat behavioral responses. The frequency of a particular outcome, to a perceived reality, reinforces the belief system that an exact consequence follows the certain stimuli, therefor calling for the same precise behavioral/bodily response. Psychology researcher Sir Frederick Bartlett defines memory as, “a reconstructive process rather than a reproductive one…Guided by schemata, generalized knowledge structures about events and situations that are constructed based on past experiences.”(Riegler, Riegler. 2008. P.13)
The term “sweet heart” has won the young girl unwanted affections from a person in the past. In the new Foster home the church family smothers the child with what they believe to be love in affection calling the child sweet heart. Although the person is different and the location is not the same, the term of sweet heart causes the young child to reconstruct the scene while her body starts to react to the thought of the unwanted attention she anticipates is coming. Real physical pain penetrates her body as she runs to the lavatory to discard the content that has risen-up to her mouth. The next time the family prepares to return to church psychosomatic symptoms will explode and declare war in the mind.
The initial trauma is being relived and the child’s cognitive mental processing steps up to bat. The invitation to return to church has set off unguarded dynamite manifesting deliberate offensive behavior toward the host. Survival is the name of her game, yet at the expense of self-destruction. The perception of her last visit experience, in which she revealed evidence of real physical pain, has added church as another unsafe place to be.
The child’s mind has now reinforced the intention of pain with the term of endearment which produces intense mental and emotional turmoil. The perception screams that those who exhibit what they term love cannot be trusted therefore they must be avoided at every opportunity. This new wound cuts deep to the inner soul while blocks are added to reinforce the wall of safety, solidifying the destructive patterns of isolation.
The soul or spirit of a person encompasses their mind, emotions and will. The encoding of life experiences inflames the belief system surrounds a particular situation. Those beliefs stir up emotions which put the will into gear affecting behaviors. “If the infected soul is not healed it will die from fear and unforgiving hatred. ” (Herbst 2008)
The motivating vow of the will locks in the defense mechanism to strengthen the belief system. The belief, “I am not safe at church.” Pure unadulterated care has been turned into the war zone. For the young child who now declares that church (and therefor God) is not safe, “love provokes an army of strong holds. (Scholl-Henderson, 2007) Exposures of true love are now a trigger that reinforces the lie, people are not safe. The more others try to prove their love and care is real, the more the traumatized brain digs deeper and manifest volatile destructions on themselves or others to try to prove that their lie is real.

How will you respond, “When trauma comes to church?”