Jesus and PTSD
I grew up knowing a gentle and religiously framed Jesus. You know the guy, humble and meek, dying for the sins of the world. He was a savior, a friend and confidant, a kindhearted man who identified with the needs of the poor. When you know Jesus like that, it becomes the focus of your heart to emulate that behavior. I wanted to be like Jesus, but the Jesus I knew was a Catholic Jesus. He was pious and said all the right Catholic things and behaved just like a Catholic. Those were my humble beginnings.
I also grew up in a house of fear. I was afraid to go Hell, afraid of my parents, afraid of failing at school, afraid of pretty much everything in my life. There was one occasion where I saw my father holding my mother hostage in the bathroom after one of their arguments. He had a small hand gun and was threatening to shoot my mother and himself. I remember my mother punching through the garage window and having to go get stitches in her hand. There was a lot of blood.
Dad was a Methodist
I had Jesus and PTSD. There were times I would tap my toes in my shoes over and over again, counting, “1, 2, 3” over and over again. I had no idea that this was a compulsive behavior I had developed due to the anxiety that had manifested itself in my life. My father and mother both drank, though mother would go through spurts of calling him the alcoholic and would tell him that he needed to quit. This was often when she had the strength to stop. I don’t think she realized that the old guilt and condemnation approach of her Catholic upbringing didn’t work on a Methodist guy.
Diagnosing the Past
I believe my father struggled with depression and so did my mother. They both struggled with substances. My younger brother’s first drag of a marijuana cigarette was one he had stolen out of our mother’s purse. My mother had borderline personality disorder. She was narcissistic and the whole world revolved around her.
Mom is Still Living
My father passed away but mom is still alive. I have no relationship with her now but I’m healthier for it. When I went into the mental health field, I had no idea how revealing it would be. Diagnosing people every day and understanding depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, has exposed the chaos that was my life as a child.
Nice Jesus, Mean God
I met Jesus as a child, and he was a friend to me that would “stick closer than a brother”. Jesus was the one I talked to when I was afraid of God sending me to Hell like mother said he would. Jesus was the one I prayed to while I was sitting on the stairs in the middle of the night waiting for my drunk father to come home. This Jesus consoled me when I had no one else to talk to. I loved Jesus.
When I turned eighteen, my parents had divorced and I headed to the Army to be a Military Police Officer. I got married within a year, got pregnant and got discharged to live with my new husband in Virginia. My son was a baby when I found myself struggling in my own marriage. It wasn’t drugs or alcohol that plagued us but infidelity and my husband’s own struggle with depression.
I Broke his Keyboard
My husband often retreated to video games, and he wouldn’t work or go to school during those times. We lived with his parents, and they tried so hard to reach their son, even sending us to therapy but nothing helped. I remember being so frustrated at one point that I broke his Commodore 64 keyboard while begging him to just go for a walk with myself and his son. I just couldn’t reach him.
The Light of Religion
When things were difficult and I caught my husband cheating in his parents home, I almost went into a Nunnery because I wanted so desperately to find Jesus again. I felt like I was losing everything. That was the first time I stepped into a non-denominational church. I was instantly hooked. My husband was not, and we divorced within seven years of our tumultuous marriage. I dove into God, losing my only son in the process.
Devoted to Religion
The next ten years I devoted to the church and everything they did. I worked in every ministry at different times. Then, a friend invited me to go to Africa, and I was again, hooked. I would spend the next twenty years going back and forth to Africa and preaching in larger and larger platforms. The climb up the Christian non-denominational ladder was challenging, but I was doing it. I worked up from preaching to small churches to speaking to crowds in the thousands.
What of the PTSD?
Oh, the PTSD was there, it was “the devil” or “Satan”. When I had thoughts, that I would later in life learn were intrusive from anxiety, I would rebuke the devil. My coping skill back then was worship and I would get “alone with God”, sing for a while and cry it out when I needed a release of the anxiety.
Who Are We?
When I worship, there is a point where I connect with the divine. Where it feels as though all of my fears are flowing out of me and is replaced by love and peace. With the PTSD at bay, or the devil, I was able to get through the anxiety and make it until the next build up. The point is, no matter how I addressed it, I was able to achieve relief. If something works, then we shouldn’t speak ill of it. Who are we to question someone’s faith in crystals to soothe their soul?
Faith Doesn’t Always Look Like Our Faith
Who are we to look at the process of someone else’s life of faith? Cases exist of healing from “the miracle water of Lourdes”. I know of a woman who had six months to live. This caused a profound reassessment of her life as she realized she had always lived for others and was very unhappy. She decided to take off and travel the world. In doing so, she also began to heal.
What Box is Your God in?
Who are we to question a faith that appeared so selfish as to put themselves first? When I was blaming my PTSD on the devil, I succeeded, even in my ignorance. There are people in this world that take an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God and wrap that God in religion. The Muslim’s, Christian’s, and other religions will place their creator in a box wrapped with rules and regulations.
Faith is faith
Regardless of what we believe, our originator alone knows the motives of our soul. Jesus told us not to judge and there was a reason for that command. If we stop judging, we can start loving. Our boundaries can flex outside of our religious intolerance to embrace others. If someone can only see God through their religious screen, then we can accept that and love them unconditionally. That means not trying to convert them to our way of thinking.
Kimberly is an ordained minister who was a senior pastor and involved in ministry for over thirty years. She lived in Africa and traveled extensively in the United States and abroad, hosting conferences to groups in the thousands. She left organized religion to pursue a life of faith and faithfulness.
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Check out this recent blog by clicking here.
You can find her on Facebook where she posts under “PK Langley”