Trauma and the Soil of the Soul

I’ve been considering changing the name of my blog. I’ve thought up a few serious titles, but the one I like best is “But I Digress…Again.”

So, this blog entry is a digression from my series on soul soil prep, and yet it is directly related. That, and I really needed to work out what happened yesterday morning in my Sunday school class and I had other things I wanted to discuss in therapy this afternoon. Don’t you feel privileged?

Storyteller Sarah is a great preacher. I think a lot about how much children in churches like my old church miss out on not being able to learn from someone as in love with God’s word and with such a huge heart for the least of these. Instead they sit and listen to a male elder who may not even know how to speak to children, or even like to teach or have that gifting.

But I digress…sort of, as you will see.

Yesterday she told us the story of Martha and Mary, and Jesus’ visit to them. Obviously, she didn’t have time to get into the reason Mary ought to have been helping Martha. So, as we discussed it in my class, I thought I should explain the reason Martha assumed Mary should be helping her. I told them why Jesus was so radical, and what people in those days thought (a bit) about women.

Then I shared that there are still a lot of people like that now. I didn’t plan to spend any more time on this subject, but I added that there are some people who didn’t even think women should be police officers (John Piper) because they have authority over men.

And that’s when the dam burst.

One of the kids in the class, whose mother I know was abused by her husband, started in on her story of the female police officer who came to arrest her dad.

I can’t get into it right now. I’m still too upset (and I haven’t had a chance to talk with her mom). The other kids in the class got an earful. Understanding that a trauma victim needs to talk, I get why she just rambled on with all the details of the story until I could finally get a word in edgewise and tell her she could talk to me about it after class. I felt bad, but at the same time, I didn’t want to traumatize the other kids in the class, most of whom have no idea abuse exists.

As I’ve mulled this incident over in my head the past 24 hours, I have become increasingly frustrated with the conservative leaders, such as James Dobson, who tell women that they have to remain married to their abusive spouse. Dobson claims to care about children, he claims to want to help lead them to Jesus. He’s obviously self-deceived about how to prepare the soil of the child’s soul.

Trauma does not prepare the soul for Christ, watching your mother (or father) being abused does not open a child’s heart to Christ, especially when the abuser is in the church. The majority of these children will see Christianity as a lie. They will see it as something used as an excuse to hurt people. They will believe that Christians are all hypocrites. And they will see that the church cares nothing for the victim, only for propriety.

Propriety is the real reason Christians demand abuse victims remain silent. It’s the reason you’re never going to see someone like me speaking in front of a church, telling people the truth. That sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do to save your marriage. That there are people who have so completely sold themselves out to evil that you MUST get away from them, flee with your children while their souls are still intact.

I wish I’d done that. I wish I’d understood about the preparation of the soil of the soul when Farmer Boy was little. How different things would be for him.

But I bought into the lie I’d been taught from childhood, that the husband was the most important, that I had to put him first above my children, that if I didn’t serve him completely, even to the neglect of my children, that I would be responsible for the destruction of my marriage, and that alone was the reason children suffered. Divorce was the only reason a child would walk away from the faith.

Zelena knew all this before we were married. We attended the same church, we grew up under the same teachings, we listened to the same preaching on the radio. All of this he knew. Which, of course, made me the absolute perfect victim for him. Just as all women who grow up under this teaching, whether older women, like Ruth Tucker, middle-aged women, like myself, or young women, like, well, all the Duggar daughters and wives, are.

So long as the church continues to elevate the perpetrator, the abuser, the adulterer, the addict, by reaching out with the right hand of fellowship, while demanding the victim do the same, children will grow up believing that Christianity is a lie, and they will walk away.

Folks, the days when society demanded that people remain in the church regardless are long gone (thank God). We can no longer expect the children of our churches to remain after they leave home, unless we show them that Christianity is real.

And telling my friend, whose husband abused her in front of her children, to reconcile at any level with him is not going to accomplish that. If my friend’s husband returns, and the church were to demand they get back together, the cycle would begin again. And this beautiful little girl in my class will turn and walk away from Christ believing Him evil.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. iwillbloom says:

    Wow. Speechless. Coming from a situation where I’ve been exposed to hateful levels of victim blaming, I know how complex talking about abuse can be, in terms of dealing with your own trauma and trying to limit the possibilities of new traumas growing on top of existing ones (when you try to speak out in an atmosphere when that’s not acceptable). Your words are power. And as Einstein noted, it’s evil not to speak out against real truths. However much more pain that will cause you and however inconvenient it might be for others.

    1. sarasamomx5 says:

      I find it to be both helpful and hurtful. When I talk about things I find both release and pain. Overall, I believe it is better. I always recall a line from Crocodile Dundee where the title character finds paid therapy odd. He asks why if the person in therapy hasn’t any “mates” (friends) and says that where he’s from, when you have a problem, you talk to your friends about it, then you don’t have as much of a problem anymore. 🙂 I’m always saddened that those of us in the church can’t deal with the problems of others.

      1. iwillbloom says:

        Yes: my aversion to the Christian faith began, as a child in a C of E school witnessing the *truly awful* Christian ladies being decidedly un-Christian to all and sundry….it’s taken me 35+ years to get to a stage where I want to understand the actual teachings of the Christian faith a little better…..

      2. sarasamomx5 says:

        I hear that a lot. I wish the church would take it more to heart. If I might suggest beginning with Jesus’ words. Starting from Christ and working out is probably what saved my faith.

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