How I get a book is a story I like telling. In this case, when we did “family debriefing” with Compass Ministries last month, I met Roni Lacuesta the Executive Director. He gave me a couple of strong recommendations, and one of them was to read this book.
So, even though I’m currently unemployed, and have no income, I decided to buy the book anyway. Proverbs says to “Buy the truth and don’t sell it,” and “in all your getting, get wisdom” and how wisdom and insight and understanding should be the chief pursuits in life.
The book lists 5 authors: James G. Friesen, E. James Wilder, Anne M. Bierling, Rick Koepcke, and Maribeth Poole. It’s a book written by a group of psychologists and mental health workers from an organization called Shepherd’s House in California. It’s part of a group of resources they call “Life Model.”
The authors are trying to present a vision of how Christian community, specifically churches, can be a indispensable contribution to the recovery of trauma.
In the beginning of the book, they talk about the two major kinds of trauma, bad events happening to someone, and good experiences withheld from someone, and how each uniquely cripples a person’s development. They describe what attributes a person should exhibit in the various stages of maturity and what it looks like when their body grows beyond their maturity.
They also take the time to describe how the two major different types of trauma affect that process of maturity and how expensive and time-consuming it is to bring healing to someone through individual counselling. I appreciated how honest they were in discussing the shortcomings of that model of therapy. It’s not to be discarded, it’s just not sufficient to the task. They plainly state that what’s needed is the power of God and the involvement of key roles in the community, namely spiritual fathers, mothers and brothers and sisters.
It’s compelling. I could see how this would be appealing to all kinds of people, those who are suffering the affects of trauma, and those who have a soft heart. Certainly, it’s obvious, our expectation that involvement in church to be a healing and life-giving experience should go without saying.
Sadly, it’s not common. And, the authors faithfully point out that often our leaders exhibit immaturity themselves. It’s impossible to model maturity if you’re not mature. And, it’s hard to give what you haven’t received.
One of the most helpful things I did early on in ministry was attend the “Rapid Response Chaplain Training” offered by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It gave me some tools and insight into trauma, shock and how to be the hands and feet and presence of Jesus in those situations. I found it very helpful and adopted that posture often in my interactions with people as a pastor over the years.
If you haven’t done something like that, this book would be a great resource to you, as it does a good job of introducing the broad outlines of what to expect. What I found valuable is the explanation of trauma and the time given to detailing the attributes of maturity. It gave me yet another lens of compassionately viewing myself and the people around me.
I’m curious if you have read this book? Or, been to a church that tried to implement it? Or, been involved with Shepherd’s House. If so, I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences either through the comments or a direct message.