Post Traumatic Church Disorder

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When I told you I was strong, and would not let someone break me, I didn’t mean it as a challenge…
Kat Church

I had never heard of Post Traumatic Church Disorder until recently, although I had often described my feelings about church as a kind of post traumatic stress disorder. I have since read several articles on the subject. Mostly they are from people who have gone through it or are continuing to go through it.

I am one of those people who are going through it. It was about a year ago that I told the church board that I was resigning my position as youth and children’s pastor. I simply told them that I needed a break, though I did not go into details about why. My wife and I simply wanted to walk away and not leave hurt feelings behind, but somehow that did not happen.

That last day I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I wanted to find freedom from religion. I wanted to begin to heal, but I wanted nothing to do with church. I still loved God, but could care less if I stepped into a church building ever again. Some people thought I lost my faith. In a sense they were right. I did lose my faith in the church, but never in God and not in all of God’s followers.

I still struggle with church. I want to be involved with people who reach out to others, yet I expect them all to hurt me. I long for a church that is deeply loving, but I expect that to be on the surface only. Whenever something good happens, I expect something bad to happen. At times I’m even afraid to share what I think about a subject because I’m afraid of getting shot down, simply because I don’t agree with the majority perspective.

I also thought that I’d be safe being myself on facebook, but I was wrong there. “Christians” (and I use that word loosely here) like those at the churches I’d been at seemed to flock to some things I’d post just to make sure I knew I was going to hell simply because I didn’t still believe exactly like they did.

Seldom, whether on facebook or at church do these types of Christians use love, instead they choose to condemn something or someone. Sad that they can’t see how UnChristlike that is and how it hurts so many people. But of course those people who are hurt like me are the problem. We have lost our faith (don’t believe the exact same as they do), we caused the problem (even though in our case we didn’t cause people to ignore us in a time of need), we are the mean ones (because we think people should be nice), we are the ones that won’t listen (because we think it’s OK to disagree or have another view).

I don’t know what it will take for these types of “Christians” to realize what they do, but I can’t help them. All I can do is take care of myself.

Recovery from hurt takes a long time. Especially when it comes from those that you care about and expect more out of. I guess I expected too much out of the church and those that claim to follow Christ. I wonder if I should lower my expectations, but I don’t think so, instead I need to be the Christ I want the world to see. The real Christ. The one of love and acceptance that he was and is and will always be. The only problem with that is that Jesus wasn’t accepted by the religious people and if I’m like him then they will simply continue to attack me.

Sometimes I wonder if he was actually happy to be nailed to the cross. Maybe that was easier than putting up with the religious “do it only our way” people of his day. That is the same type of people that “crucify” people today.

Someday I’ll be beyond these hurts, but it will take a while. So be patient as I try learning to trust again.

 

For those dealing with PTCD there are groups on Facebook designed to help you.  Just type in Post traumatic church disorder and you should find it.  Hope you can heal and heal soon.

 

Here are some articles on Post traumatic Church disorder. Google it and you’ll find a lot more, Maybe it’s becoming an epidemic.
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/14/my-take-5-ways-to-survive-post-traumatic-church-syndrome/
http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/is-post-traumatic-church-syndrome-real.html
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2014/03/its-called-post-traumatic-church-syndrome-and-yes-its-real/

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The Best Present is Forgiveness

grudge

The most important thing that I learned in growing up is that forgiveness is something that, when you do it, you free yourself to move on.
Tyler Perry

I learned that too, Tyler.  Let me explain.  My family influenced me very much because of our problems.  We don’t generally like to talk about our problems.  That’s the problem.  Several members of my family have gotten mad at others and instead of working it out they just cut them out of their life.  Sometimes it is forever.  One example of this was a grandparent got mad at my aunt because of the person my aunt wanted to marry.  My grandparent died never working that out.  Never seeing their grandchildren.   At my grandparents deaths we sneaked our aunt in to see the bodies because everyone was afraid of being cut off from the family.  Eventually after this grandparent died my aunt and uncles and all of us cousins were able to see each other again.  I was in my twenties.  We missed so much time, family gatherings, sleep-overs, birthdays etc… Simply because of one person’s grudge.

This seems to be the way that my family wants to deal with issues.  I have had 3 siblings follow this line of thinking and cut other family members out of their lives, without seemingly any effort to fix or heal the situations.  Some of these I know on a personal basis.  I also have cousins with similar problems.  It is sad when this may be a legacy that we leave to the next generations.

Because of these problems, I was determined to not be like that. There was no way I was going to cause that kind of pain to others.   I started accepting everyone no matter what they were like because I know what it is like to be shunned by people I dearly love.  Any time that there is a disagreement I work hard to make whatever it is right.  I learned to love people unconditionally at all costs, no matter what issues that person had.  I am not perfect in my love for others, but I dearly try.

The hateful grudges my family seems to hold on to dearly will not find a place in my life.  Nor do I believe that it should hold a place in anyone’s life.  Coming from a Christian home I hold on to the numerous and unending verses about loving one another and ask, why can’t we truly love?  I don’t have the answer.  All I can do is love and hope that one day those that I love will love me back.

I know that I am not the only one that has these kinds of families.  No matter what we do to mend the wounds it doesn’t seem to do any good.  We get frustrated and depressed.  We have sleepless nights, we cry, no matter how long it has been.  We wonder if the other party even cares.  Do they even think about us?  What will it take to bring us back together?  Is there anything?  For my family it took my grandparents death, but it still didn’t stop us from continuing the same actions.  Will we ever learn?

If you are one that has been cut out of someone’s life, keep trying, there is always hope that things will change.  If we stop then grudge, division and hate have won.  If you are the one holding the grudge, ask yourself if it is really worth it, because it probably isn’t.  Life is too short to hold on to the anger that seems to be running your life.  It’s okay to disagree.  It isn’t okay to mistreat.  There are people out there that love you and want you in their life.  They want forgiveness and reconciliation.  Hopefully, as much as you want it.

It’s the holiday season.  Hanukkah is about miracles, Kwanzaa is about family and community unity (among other things) and Christmas is about love.  What part does a grudge have in any of those?  The best present someone can get or give is forgiveness.  Let go of those things that hurt one another and hold on to Love.