I’ve been traveling a lot lately. And in my travels I’ve met many people harmed by some form of Christianity. Some by my own denomination. Yet all the people I’ve met still seek something greater than themselves: The earth, other gods, nature, other ways of believing in something. But God, the God I proclaim, seems absent.
I too, know this sense of God’s absence. I felt it in the depths of trauma’s aftermath. I feel it now as I write these words. What I’ve learned though is that fatigue, anger, and stress impact my daily sense of God. And experts tell us that the experience of prolonged spiritual absence is a symptom of unhealed trauma. Healing and self-care uncover our innate spiritual selves. Yet not necessarily back to the pews of our past. But back to something–named or unnamed.
God, are you always with us? Even when we cannot feel your presence. See you in nature, animals, other people? Even when we cannot trust you? Or believe in your presence anywhere? Hold us in hope for the return of our spiritual selves. Amen.
RECENT ARTICLES & UPCOMING EVENTS
Recognizing the Hidden Suffering of Addiction, Faith+Lead.
Devotional in Rise & Shine: 2022-2023 Devotion Book. ELCA School and Learning Centers.
Around October 1: Tara Eastman and I talk on her podcast, Holy Shenanigans.
October 2: Guest worship leader and preacher at Trinity Lutheran Church in Tipton, Iowa
October 4: Book Club with St. Mark Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa
October 9: Guest worship leader and preacher at Trinity Lutheran Church in Tipton, Iowa
October 22: “Trauma-Informed Worship” with Faith+Lead. (10-12–Online Only)
October 23: Guest worship leader and preacher at Trinity Lutheran Church in Tipton, Iowa
October 30: Guest worship leader and preacher at Trinity Lutheran Church in Tipton, Iowa
November 1: “Spiritual Care for Trauma” with Faith+Lead. (10-11:30–Online only)
November 8: “Spiritual Care for Trauma” with Faith+Lead. 10-11:30–Online only)
November 15: “Spiritual Care for Trauma” with Faith+Lead. (10-11:30–Online only)
November 29: “Spiritual Care for Trauma” with Faith+Lead. (10-11:30–Online only)
December: Essay (print/online) in Sundays and Seasons: Guide to Worship Planning, Year A 2023 (Augsburg Fortress)
INVITE JENNIFER TO SPEAK
If your organization, church, podcast, conference, library, or literary festival is interested in inviting me to speak, preach, or lead a workshop, please click here: Invite Jennifer to Speak.
From an early draft of my book.
The minute I laid down I knew something was wrong
For days I felt tired. Tired to the bone. Slogging through my days. Achy as if coming down with something.
School was in session. Is Paul bringing home the latest bug?
Sure, I was working out more if only to save my skeleton. But my new regime began weeks ago. Really! My body should be used to all these weights and prolonged walks by now!
Yes, I was writing all the time. For work. For me. For seminary. Lower arms feeling a bit stiff at the end of each day. But that’s to be expected, isn’t it?
But I also felt edgy. Tense. So tense I couldn’t break out of it no matter what I did. Then I started having headaches. Really bad headaches accompanied by nausea. Happened at church one Sunday morning. Left worship to ask around for some acetaminophen. “What’s wrong?” a friend wondered.
“I’ve been reading the Old Testament book of Amos all morning for seminary. I think I have Amos head.”
“Well, I’m glad we have a name for it,” she replied.
At noon I laid down to nap. Too tired to go on. Study more. Write more. Take care of more bills, schedule more appointments, wash more dishes, do more laundry.
In bed my body spoke to me. Nervousness rushed everywhere within me. Agitation kept me from stillness. Even though this felt different, I breathed like I would in an anxiety attack. Long deep breaths in through my nose. Blown out through my mouth in steady pulses. Rhythm bringing in hope. Pushing out pain.
It worked, sort of. But not completely.
So, I waited. Breathing taking the edge off for a time. Never forever. Forever requiring deep healing for this stuff to cease residing in my body, any body. Is this a relapse? Or is it the next layer of pain ready for healing?
Checked my calendar. Another EMDR session in a few days. Healers and healing on their way.
THE VALUE OF NEWSLETTERS & REVIEWS
Being an author, especially a spiritual author, means also being my own marketing director. And I admit I have all sorts of feelings about being tied to the social media self-promotion cycle. Yet there has always been a business side to writing. So here’s what publishers, book sellers, and writers know about getting books into readers hands, eyes, and hearts:
NEWSLETTERS: The more people on an author’s newsletter email list, the more the author sells their books. You can be on my newsletter list by simply following my blog. To do so, press the SUBSCRIBE button on the upper left side of this page.
WHAT I AM READING
I’ve never been much of a fan of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) person. Tony, my late husband and trauma therapist, was not either. We both felt professionally that its effects were not long term nor reached for root causes. When it comes to trauma recovery, many of the primary researchers agree. Why? Because CBT is about the mind, not the body. And trauma infects our entire selves. Yes, I use some CBT methods at times but as an adjunctive method and not for my deep, long lasting healing needs.
Medical doctor and author Paul Conti agrees. He writes, “The idea that we can simply get over difficult things that happened to us in the past is far more common than it should be, and in my opinion, some cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques (CBT) perpetuate this notion.” (71)
Read his book for an insider view of how the medical treatment of trauma often goes wrong.
September Newsletter, 2022: All rights reserved by the author.