Friday, June 17, 2011
Why link a saint like Paul with a process like PTSD?
An obvious question that any religious person would raise. The issue is not merely “truth,” or “reality” in some abstract sense, really. For the individual who feels as if trapped in a bottle, the need is to set the suffering from the post traumatic in the broadest possible context.
Equally obviously, Paul’s life journey is a marvelous tale from this unique perspective. The stricken young Saul fallen on the wayside, the sheer wellness of the person expressed in the letter to the Romans, on to that final long struggle in chains demonstrating such renewable determination to live out his wholeness. Viewed from the perspective of process some passages in his early letters that are questionable to many fall into place.
There is a strong utilitarian argument that also appeals to me as a pastoral counselor. We lack role models in the recovery from PTSD. We have more than adequate demonstrations of bar flopping and throwing up one’s hands in desperation. Saul’s healing, his evolving into the greatness of Paul, shows process: and process is what you and I have access to when it comes to healing. Paul is a good one to consider when a person is really in need of getting your life from here to there.
As much as this thought, is the larger summons to reach out. We have too often ignored occasions to search out the secretive victims of trauma within the congregations, even as we have struggled with the public eruptions of needs. Trauma often comes in massive strokes; the TV cameramen and women often risking their lives to help us know. We of the Church do raise funds, give a great deal - God be praised - but who does not recognize the shortfall – and secret shame and guilt - right among us?
This shortfall we can address in the local church in the proven way of group process, our discussion groups, our support groups. Every congregation has those privately yearning for healing, every broader community have those needing an invitation to participate in an on-going search for wellness.
We hope our up-coming book will help fill such a need. We have been looking this week at the first proposed book cover, the last draft is already being entered.