A friend of mine has written about her experience as a pastor’s wife and youth worker. Having gone through several painful experiences–“normal” church drama and then way beyond normal–at the hands of other church leaders, she details her current “church PTSD” that kicks in now when considering going to church
What if I WANT the community and the bumping up against different people with different opinions, but I CAN’T, I mean physically CAN’T go? I have usually discovered in life that if I have a feeling, I’m not the only one. So it makes me think there must be others out there like me.
What do I mean by “physically unable”? I shake, I cry uncontrollably, my skin crawls, I am unable to speak. It’s pretty difficult to be a part of a community, broken or not, with all of that going on.
Honestly, I have something akin to a PTSD (not to take away from anyone who actually has full-blown PTSD) when it comes to church. When I hear people talking in Christian catch phrases I want to run away. This is the language of the culture of people who persecuted and bullied my family and me. If you speak their language, you must be one of them, too. So I stay away.
Having worked with a large number of current and former pastors and families, this reaction is sadly not unique. So, it begs the question: What might be the root of this “church PTSD” (by the way, I think some of these features sound just like PTSD so we may not need the quotes)?
My friend hits the nail on the head: we accept meanness in the church because we fear disrupting our own safety and security.
there is a culture of acceptance in the church today that allows for people to be treated terribly under the umbrella of it being what is “best for the church”. I would imagine that if a teacher was abusing children in the toddler department or if there were drunken parties going on at youth group there would be some type of outrage, as there should be. But somehow just plain being “mean” doesn’t garner any type of outrage. “It’s not ideal, but we are fallen people, after all, so you can’t expect anything better.”
Read her full post over at Scot McKnight’s blog here. Consider what one thing you might do to stand up to those who put down others rather than image Christ in sacrificing for the weaker party.