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  • Writer's pictureJen Weaver

Twelve things my Savior taught me while healing from church trauma

There are two periods in my life when religious trauma and hurt at church overshadowed everything else — but my Savior has superseded them all.

Christ Divine by Jorge Cocco

To be clear, I'm coming from the viewpoint that religious trauma and hurt at church are not the same thing. I see hurt at church as the result of flawed interactions between imperfect people. I see religious trauma as the result of repeated coercion, mistreatment, and/or abuse. Trauma has a lasting impact on the brain, whereas hurt can be more easily resolved with a change of heart or perspective. For me, the two became linked when typical imperfect interactions began triggering out of control responses. Sometimes I'd think, What is wrong with me? My friends and family thought it too.

Eventually, God pointed me to a thought:

"I can help you, but you can't ignore this anymore."

For the next year, I felt my Savior helping me understand what was at the root of my compulsions -- a long period of religious trauma in my youth. Now three years into my new normal, I am grateful everyday for how my Savior has helped me understand the past and my worth. He has set me free.

Twelve Things My Savior Taught me While Healing From Church Trauma

My reactions and situational anxiety at church are symptoms of a deeper problem. Something is broken and needs to heal.

I can come "boldly to the throne of God" with questions about what I'm experiencing.

I must stop compulsively trying to "fix" or prevent conflict at church. This is not the real problem or true source of my anxiety and fear.

I can be inquisitive and curious about negative feelings, rather than try to numb, fix, or run from them. What would God have me understand?

The shame I feel comes from those who shamed me, not God.

The fear I feel comes from the connections my mind is constantly making between past abuse and current imperfect situations.

The anxiety I feel is a sign that I'm ready for change. My soul's not comfortable with unhealthy thinking anymore. It's time to shed that skin.

Yoking myself to my capable Savior lightens my load as I wait for permanent change. Sometimes while pulling the load together, I picture Him saying to me, "See that hill? YOU are getting stronger. We are going to do this again."

Facing past experiences in EMDR therapy with my Savior at my side, untethers me from shame, fear, and thinking patterns cemented within long ago.

False ideas about God are fading as I continue developing my personal relationship with Him. People and experiences from the past are losing their power.

My Savior shows me His ways and new patterns begin to take root. My reactions to situations that remind me of the past aren't the same. I practice setting boundaries. I'm experiencing the miracle of change!

My identity is no longer that of "victim," it's that I'm redeemed! I think about My Savior's attributes daily, and how He has empowered me and set me free.

In short, how I healed:

  • STOP numbing, fixing & running from feelings

  • FACE trauma in EMDR therapy

  • VISUALIZE my Savior at my side

  • PRACTICE new ways of thinking and behavior

  • SET BOUNDARIES with those who use blame, shame, or pain

  • FOCUS on Jesus Christ’s attributes - how can He empower me?

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