Hello, I’m Brenda, and I have a message for Christians with PTSD.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:6 – 7 that he had a “thorn in his flesh.” Nowhere does he tell us what that thorn is.
Over the years many people have debated what it was – whether it was a mental or a physical illness. Regardless, it helps us understand that we aren’t alone when we have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or any other type of illness.
Of course, resting in this knowledge is only one of the tips you should remember if you’re one of the many Christians with PTSD. There are others also available to help you with your daily walk.
And if your faith is being tested, too, try these 10 things.
Christians with PTSD need to take care of their health.
When you have PTSD, more than likely you have heightened physiological and psychological activation. This results in things like hypervigilance, hyper-alertness, flashbacks, and night terrors that can range from low to severe in intensity.
Anyone who has comorbid health issues will find that they may be negatively impacted by PTSD. This is especially true when you’ve been diagnosed with cardiovascular, autoimmune, musculoskeletal, digestive, chronic pain, and respiratory disorders.
Taking care of these health issues isn’t only important for the sake of your physical health, but also for your mental health. This is because when any one of the 5 aspects of your health (physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual) is out of line, then it’s bound to affect another aspect of your health.
Learn about how to set balanced goals for growth the way Jesus did.
So, by treating your physical health conditions you’ll be in a better place to work with your therapist to make sense of your trauma, learn skills to better handle your negative thoughts and feelings, reconnect with people you care about, and not only set, but also achieve goals for the various aspects of your life (e.g. work or school, social, spiritual). When you aren’t feeling well you won’t be up to doing this.
Realize that your mental isn’t a sin or something to be ashamed of.
Many times we hear from Christians and the church how depression is a sin and that we shouldn’t be taking medication for our PTSD. This is quite unfortunate because it doesn’t help anyone. It only creates anger and animosity in the body of Christ.
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Over the years many people have studied brain scans of people and Christians with PTSD compared to people who have “normal” brains. In these scans it’s been seen that there are some rather significant differences in brain structure. These account for why you cannot function the way others do.
It’s as if you have a traumatic brain injury, not a mental illness (which is what people oftentimes classify PTSD as).
This type of understanding is important and needs to be had by many different people today – both inside and outside of the church.
They need to realize that when they say things like “If you only trusted God you wouldn’t refer to this as my PTSD… You’d be healed…” they’re doing more harm than good.
Unfortunately, while we’re dealing with many things already, it’s up to us to be warriors and guide people towards this understanding.
Stop living your life to please others and start living to please God and yourself.
Sometimes you may find it easier to listen to other people than to stand up for yourself and your own personal boundaries. It is unfortunate when this happens.
Letting people take advantage of you and run all over your boundaries will actually do more harm than good. However, it’s understandable why you may be doing this. When you’ve been abused you sometimes learn to simply take it in hopes that it’ll stop. After all, the one thing you want more than anything is to end the abuse.
This oftentimes creates a fear cycle in your own mind. Overcoming this fear cycle is never easy, but you must learn to break through it. You must learn to set boundaries and maintain them. This is honoring to both yourself and God when you choose to do this.
Of course, it’s not going to be easy in the beginning, but with some work and continued effort, you can make it happen, and when it does you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good it feels.
Start being kind to Christians with PTSD and other trials – including yourself.
Even those who aren’t Christians will tell you that they feel better when they help others. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do, as long as you choose to do something.
There are a lot of volunteer opportunities available (e.g. working with the homeless, helping at a food bank, sending physical items to places requesting donations, going on prayer walks).
Learn how to make blessings bags for the homeless.
Although you may not understand why this activity would brighten your mood or make you feel good about yourself, there’s great joy to be had here. For Christians, this is because time and money never truly belonged to us but to God and we’re here to share them with those in need.
Of course, you can’t overlook being kind to yourself too. There are many great self-care tips here, including:
- Take some time to journal. Whether you bullet journal, Bible journal, or write your feelings out in prose or poetry, it will help you release your feelings, so they don’t sit and fester inside of you.
- Art therapy is another great blessing because it gives you a creative outlet. This is another great way to release your pent-up feelings, especially if you’re not into writing them out.
- Candles and aromatherapy can truly change your mood – taking you from festering to freeing when other things don’t seem to work for you. They’re also great to add to your journaling and art therapy for this very reason.
- Stress toys for therapy oftentimes help to make it easier for you to talk about the hard feelings that surround your trauma.
Discover how to love yourself as much as you love your neighbor.
It’s time for you to stop running from God.
Recovering from trauma can be quite tiring because of all the thoughts that are swirling around in your head. Sometimes these thoughts will cause you to want to run, but you must always remember that you can’t run from God.
Instead, once you choose to give your life to Him, you must also choose to live for Him. One step you will want to take in living for Him is to get baptized – an external sign of your commitment to God so you’ll have a stronger desire to end the tug of war relationship that so many people with PTSD tend to have with Him.
Fortunately, God is a gentleman. Instead, He’ll let you hit the wall and come to the realization that you can’t live life without Him, on your own accord. Once you do so and commit to His way of living, He’ll help you overcome any addiction you may struggle with.
This is important for people with PTSD to understand because oftentimes we’re likely to fall way to addiction whether this be drugs, alcohol, porn, food, or anything else. With God your whole life will be transformed, and these addictions can be laid aside once and for all.
Final Words for Christians with PTSD
Now that you know you’re not alone and there are things that you can do to help yourself, I encourage you to step out in faith.
God has a special plan for your life, and He is there with you to see it through. While you may not know what it is yet, it’s there and only you can fulfill it because He made you uniquely you.
Embrace His plan and enjoy the life He created you to live.
Go here if you feel off-course in your life.
About the Author
Brenda Marie Hoffman is a PTSD warrior. Having been through years of abuse herself (trauma including childhood abuse followed by domestic violence involving sexual abuse), she is now working as a Christian life coach for women who suffer from PTSD. Her goal is to enable them to take better care of themselves so they can experience God’s love and live out His calling on their lives. You can learn more about her on her website v.
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