Divorce, Grief, LEARNING JOURNEYS, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

JESUS LISTENED TO WOMEN ABUSED BY THE PATRIARCHIAL SYSTEM

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WOMEN HE REDEEMED

Jesus must have known and understood the abuse, lack of value and respect as well as the generational trauma that women had to endure, that was the result of the old system when he sought out the women whose stories are told in the New Testament. In his book “The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels, “ Frank Viola gives voice to these women’s stories from their perspective of living in the cultural context of that time. Although the stories have been fictionalized the context was thoroughly researched.

THE ADULTRESS

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The woman ‘caught’ in adultery, had a back story too. Abused by her husband she was vulnerable to the plans of others. Nowhere do we hear of the man, because Jesus knew this was a ‘set-up’ job to trip him up. When you read this story, do you take then words at face value and not think about the person behind the words? Everyone has a back story, but women’s voices were silenced in the system they lived in, and they were vulnerable to the abuse of others.

THE SINFUL WOMAN

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“The ‘sinful woman (prostitute)’ who had entered into Simon the Pharisee’s house uninvited, while he was entertaining Jesus. She stood behind Jesus and broke open her alabaster jar of perfume anointing him, and with her tears and hair washed Jesus’ feet. What was her back story? As a rejected, abused, or single woman she had little choice in earning her living, but Jesus never condemned her he used her as an example of love and compassion to the hard-hearted, legalist Pharisees who had not washed his feet when he entered their house. When do we hold the shield of propriety and the Law as a shield to prevent people from encountering Jesus?

THE SAMARITAN WOMAN

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The Samaritan woman was yet another example of how a woman who had had unfortunate marital experiences was forced into further difficulties by the patriarchal system, that used women for their own ends. In using her back story Jesus was able to not only redeem her but use her to bring others to Him, a missionary to the Samaritans. Even his disciples were aghast that he should be sitting talking to a Samaritan woman alone. Jesus was willing to risk his reputation in front of his best friends to bring redemption to this woman.

THE WOMAN WITH THE ISSUE OF BLOOD

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The woman with blood issues fell afoul of the purification laws that kept her isolated from others and in a poor and weak state of health. Her desperation led her to reach out to touch this Jesus she had heard about to help her when she was untouchable by anyone else in her society. I was so touched at the compassion of Jesus for this woman who was desperate. So many women live in desperate situations, which force them to act in ways that they would not need too if the laws and the judgements of others had compassion for their situation and helped them instead of isolating them.

MARY OF BETHANY

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Mary of Bethany’s story opened me to a completely new perspective on her. I had always considered her to be the ‘saint’ in the story as I had been told it. Her backstory was one of poor self-image and comparison to her siblings. Martha, her older sister was blessed with the gift of hospitality, as was her late mother. Lazarus, her brother, was a handsome and gregarious young man, and her father a man full of faith and goodness whom Jesus had healed of leprosy. Mary never felt she was enough, she felt an outsider, a thinker, the different one, only fit to mull over matters of the heart, with no gifts or talents that were useful or apparent. She broke convention sitting at Jesus feet as a woman, yet Jesus commended her as he could read her heart and knew she was near the Kingdom he was teaching the others about. She later generously used up her jar of spikenard perfume to anoint Jesus and was accused of being ‘wasteful’ by one of the disciples. For someone who had found their self-worth restored by Jesus, that was very hurtful.

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The different backstories on each of these women, that have been researched and brought into context of the times they were living in, although fictionalized still point to the very character of God and Jesus as being a supporter of the widows, the orphans, the aliens, oppressed and underprivileged. These women if they lived today would still more than likely be marginalized because of the systems that kept them in their circumstances, often play out into lives of women today. What systems can you think of that would affect these women today? Do you know of any women who have been unjustly treated because of their circumstances or the things that have been done to them? How can we be like Jesus to them?

These women if they had lived today would still more than likely be marginalized because of the systems that kept them in their circumstances, often play out into the lives of women today”

I have really enjoyed reading these books and listening to the sermons that have highlighted God’s compassionate redeeming love for abused and marginalized women. I have written reviews for both the books I have researched, if you wanted to read them for yourself. “Women of the Bible Speak Out” by Marlo Schalesky and “The Day I Met Jesus” by Frank Viola and Mary DeMuth.  The Sermons can be found on YouTube Christ City Church.

If you have not yet read the first part of this story it can be found here Jesus Listened to Women

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Divorce, Grief, LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, LEARNING JOURNEYS, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

JESUS LISTENED TO THE WOMEN’S VOICES OF THOSE IN HIS GENEALOGY

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The sermon series run in our church during Advent highlighted the women in Jesus’ genealogy.  This is probably the first time I have heard these women being honored as part of Jesus genealogy. As I sat and listened to their stories, I wondered why I had not heard their point of view before. As an explorer of ideas and concepts, it struck me that preachers were generally male, the times the stories were written in were times of the patriarchal order and systems when women were not considered important other than to be breeders of children to carry on the male line. Being barren was the worst fate to befall a woman in those days. Women’s voices in general had been shut down or downplayed. Yet they carried the inner scars in the cells in their bodies and carried their generational trauma forward to the next generation.

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I then read a book on five women’s encounters with Jesus where their stories were told. Tears filled my eyes as I read of the compassion, lack of judgement and redemption for each of these women. At the same time, I felt He was redeeming the stories of the women in his genealogy, healing the generational trauma in their bodies, hearts, minds, and spirits. Jesus heard their cries for someone to listen to their story.

I will give a brief outline to the stories of the women in Jesus’ genealogy in this blog post and the stories of the five women that Jesus brought wholeness to in the following blog post as I want you to have time to think about these women and their back stories, how you viewed them in the past and what you may feel about them now you have viewed them from a different perspective.

BEFORE JESUS WAS BORN – HIS GENEALOGY

Tamar

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Tamar was a Canaanite woman that Judah married to first one son then another. When both sons died without progeny, Judah did not do what was demanded of him by the same custom as he married his sons to Tamar, to marry her to another son or find her a husband. She felt rejected and discarded, and her dignity stripped when Judah told her to go to her parents’ house and live as a widow. She used her own initiative with the only possibility open to her, that of a prostitute. Judah went to the prostitute and slept with her. The child born from that encounter was Perez, part of the genealogy of Jesus. I have never heard a sermon explain why Judah went to a prostitute! But he said, “She is more righteous than I,” eventually giving her the recognition that he should have done at first. Read the laws in Deuteronomy 25:5 and 26:12, Judah had broken both those laws as the Tamar was also a ‘stranger’ in the land.

Rahab

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Joshua sent two spies out to,” Go, look out the land,” They ended up in Jericho at a prostitute’s house! Now that part of the story was explained to me in the past: what were they doing there instead of looking out at the land! Yet, Rahab is part of the genealogy of Jesus she was the mother of Boaz. James said, “was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” By preserving the lives of the spies, for whatever reason she was a prostitute or that they were visiting her, she and her families’ lives were saved and she was considered righteous.

Ruth

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Ruth was a Moabitess, immigrant foreigner. She was faithful to her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi. As widows they were destitute in the patriarchal system where only men could provide a living for a woman. Through her faithfulness to Naomi, they took the initiative, took an enormous risk to Ruth’s reputation to ask for marriage for Ruth to Boaz, calling on the same Deuteronomic laws of protection for widows. Yet, she found favor in both God and Boaz eyes, who took her as his wife. The women encouraged Naomi, “For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him [Obed] birth.” Obed became the grandfather of Kind David.

Bathsheba

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An innocent woman, taking her purification bath in her courtyard where she thought she had some privacy, was unaware of the lustful stare of King David whose palace overlooked her rooftop. She had no say in refusing the King when he sent for her. She was taken to his palace where he used her as he would. To hide his sin King David had her husband Uriah killed. Not only was Bathsheba raped, but her husband was also killed, and now she was a pregnant widow, probably the worst position a women could be in.

When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. Once the time of mourning was over, David tried to rectify his sin and brough her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son.”

When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. Once the time of mourning was over, David tried to rectify his sin and brought her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord, and although he repented, his family life was dysfunctional as a consequence. When David was dying his son Adonijah placed himself on the throne. Bathsheba went into King David to remind him he had sworn to her that Solomon his son will be king after him. She reminded him that she and Solomon would be treated as criminals once David died. David rectified the matter and placed Solomon on the throne. When Solomon acceded to the throne, he had a throne brought for his mother and Bathsheba sat as his right hand, in a position of power. God upheld her dignity in the terrible circumstances she was forced into.

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When you look at these women’s stories from a completely different perspective, you hear their cries for justice in a patriarchal system that marginalized them as human beings made in the image of God. You see the hand of God moving to vindicate them and bring them into a place where they are given justice and the honor of being part of the genealogy of Jesus.

Jesus must have known and understood this when he sought out the women whose stories I will share in my next blog. [ to be continued…..] 

I would love to have your comments on this perspective. You can respond in the What are Your Thought box.

If you are interested to hear the sermon series, it can be found on You Tube Christ City Church. The two books I have read and used as reference as well are “The Day I met Jesus” by Frank Viola and “Women of the Bible Speak out” by Marlo Schalesky

Grief, LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Retirement, Seasons of Life, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

FIVE WAYS TO FIND EMOTIONAL PEACE AFTER TRAUMA

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Inner healing pathway
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Recognize the Symptoms

When we experience a sore throat or fever, we are reasonably sure we are getting a cold or the flu and take measures to help ourselves get over it. But quite often, we don’t feel quite right within ourselves. Perhaps we feel anxious or uneasy at certain times or with certain people, or our stomach knots up at certain places. We have low-grade depression and just find life hard at times. These can all be symptoms of PTSD or systemic abuse. Part of healing is recognizing that something is just not quite right. Having established that you could be living a much happier and healthier life than you currently are, is the first step in getting help. Your commitment to yourself to get help or find new coping strategies and strategies for overcoming disabling thoughts and behavior are the motivation you need. Let us look at a few ways in which we can recognize unhealthy symptoms.

woman sitting on wooden planks
Depression, Inner Healing Pathway
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Mental: Stinking Thinking?

So much takes place in our thinking brain. What are our obsessive thoughts? Do our thoughts and our beliefs align? What are our thoughts about ourselves? Do we beat ourselves up all the time?  What are our thoughts about others, families, friends, teachers, etc.? If these are on a constant negative spectrum and churn and return both waking or sleeping. We are constantly thinking about rights and wrongs and get confused with what we were taught and how our reality matches up. Do you have thoughts of self-harm? Make an inventory of your thoughts over several days or a week, write them down without judging them, they just are, and you are now aware of how much time you spend with them.

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Physical, chronic illness
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Physical: Chronic Illnesses?

Physical symptoms are easier to experience but not necessarily to diagnose as sometimes they may have started out as psychosomatic but have taken on reality in your body. Be aware that stress and trauma are retained in the body’s cells as a memory imprint. Do you get stomach aches in certain situations? Did that end up as IBS or chronic inflammation of the bowl? There are many forms that this can take, backaches, migraines, arthritis, etc. After having a thorough physical at your doctor to rule out any disease or illness. Learn to read your body signs when you are feeling stressed or your muscles tighten. Does your heart race, do you get hot, does your stomach contract? When does this happen? Make an inventory over a month, scan your body each day, what symptoms you feel and when.

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Emotional , incontrollable outbursts
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Emotional: Uncontrollable Outbursts?

We may often feel angry or upset over something that should not really affect us to the degree it does. When do we feel triggered? Are there words that people use that make us feel bad? Or perhaps we will see or smell something that brings back bad feelings. Do we feel guilty over nothing or uncomfortable when certain subjects are talked about? Do you struggle with addictions to make you feel better? Or perhaps places we walk past or through that make us feel uneasy. Take an inventory of these places or incidents and any feelings or thoughts you have about them.

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Empty Church arches, dead
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Spiritual: Disillusioned with God?

Do you have a belief system in some Higher Power? Do you believe there is help from someone greater who will guide you by their wisdom? Have you lost your faith? Does the thought of religion turn you off, or do you long for connection with God? Have you been hurt or disillusioned by church and religion or don’t believe that God loves you? Where do you seek spiritual solace? Journal your feelings around spirit, faith, church, God.

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Finding happiness with a pet
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Having taken an honest inventory of your dis-ease, you will now have a lot of information to help you identify the symptoms of perhaps a traumatic experience that has affected you most of your life. You will also have places to start looking for healing. We are wonderfully complex creatures made in God’s image, created for a purpose. We are His masterpieces, yet sometimes the mud that sticks to us is hard to remove, marring that image and holding us back from our full potential. According to your situation (we are all different), look for professional help in the area you felt the most in need, a psychologist, medical professional, or spiritual director. Once you have turned the key in the door that unlocks the secrets to your anxiety, unease, and mental health, you will have begun the journey to healing yourself. This may take several years, so have patience with yourself and those who would help you. For those who feel they can help themselves, there are many excellent books and resources available. There are also support groups to help you both on and off-line. Find one that you can gel with and be comfortable sharing your journey. A few resources are mentioned in my previous blog.

Grief, LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Seasons of Life, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

Resources for Healing Spiritual Wounds

What book or e-book would I recommend to my readers this week is the challenge for Welcome to My World? That is a tough question to answer as I have read at least five excellent books this past month in doing the research for my focus articles on Spiritual Wounding, Generational Trauma, and Child Abuse for April.

Healing Spiritual Wounds

I will tell you a bit about each of them, and you can decide if you want to read any. “Healing Spiritual Wounds,” by Carol Howard Merrit. Merrit shares her own story of living in a home where abusive parental practices took place following the teachings of their fundamentalist church. I followed her story through the process of her anger, grief, and shame to reconnecting with God and finding her healing in His love. Sadly, what she writes about has been common practice in many fundamentalist church groups.

Sacred Wounds

Another more practical book was Sacred Wounds by Theresa B Pasquale. This book deals with this sensitive subject, spiritual wounding, and trauma. She has shed a lot of light on the subject, which is close to her heart. She is professionally qualified to write on this subject, and anyone who has had to deal with spiritual abuse or trauma will find the book most helpful with examples from life. People coping with or helping people through their issues with religion and church would find the insight most beneficial. To know where to back off and where to support. Spiritual abuse had a lasting effect on people’s lives and how they can deal with their problems when their concept of God has been corrupted. If you need help for releasing some of these wounds, God has gifted some people to help you, I am happy to share this article by Justina Ford on being Confidently Visible Despite Spiritual Wounding.

Conditions of the Heart

Healing Power Through Spirit Born Emotions

For people who want to find ways to connect to God and heal from this type of trauma, a beneficial book with many different angles to approach healing is “Unleashing Healing Power through Spirit-Born Emotions” by Mark Virkler and Charity Kayembe.  One of the most exciting things in one of his approaches is that God speaks through images. As an artist, I have always found that I have been closer to God visually. This was in significant conflict with my upbringing when it was only The Word, which quite often, to be truthful, I did not understand! This book shows the numerous ways in which we can communicate with our Creator, which is really quite liberating.

What is the Bible and How Do we Understand it?

Life has certainly moved on since I was a child. Technology has changed so much of how we view the world that was not available to our forebears. The millennial generation thinks and experiences the world in ways that we never could. They also have many questions about the Bible and the Church, so my church here in Washington DC is doing a seminar on hermeneutics. We used the book by Dennis R Edwards, “What is the Bible and How Do We Understand it?His books on radical faith and the Jesus Way certainly shed a lot of light on many of the problems we have in applying Bible passages to modern life and made so much sense in light of the previous books mentioned.

The Body Keeps the Score

My research converged with listening to a weeklong series of lectures on Dealing with Trauma by a team from the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine. Their scientific experience verified what I had been learning from the above books but made the picture a lot clearer in the case of the developing child’s brain. Children are helpless to escape from traumatic or ongoing trauma, developing their own mechanisms, which become a learned behavior in their bodies. “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk is an excellent resource for learning about this.

Deconstructing Old Beliefs

There are other good resources for counseling from Spiritual Abuse. Church as Refuge is leading the movement to bring this to light and bring healing to those who have been taught a theology that had made them doubt their relationship with God. Listen to a short video excerpt by Rev Megan Cox of “Give Her Wings” or check out the website if you know of someone who might need this kind of help.

Memory and Dream Artwork

In January, I signed up to attend classes for Memory and Dreamwork in Drawing with a lecturer at the Royal School of Drawing in London for May. In the very first lesson, I had chosen a nightmare of vegetables chasing me I had had as a small child to work with. Everything fell into place with the eating and stomach problems I had experienced when I looked through the lens of what I had just been reading and listening to!  My recent work with the elderly who had dementia made me acutely aware that unresolved trauma can severely impact you in old age. I wanted to deal with any issues that might arise if I got dementia, hence my research. By the same token, I wanted to bring this awareness to the forefront to help point people in the right direction to get the help they might need before it is too late.

I could not choose just one book because one book would not cover the scope of this vast subject with so many facets, as everyone is unique. These books are a good starting point for people interested in the topic or who know someone who is struggling with any aspect of PTSD. Soaked in prayer as to which one will be most helpful in moving you forward. It is also crucial to seek counsel to find therapists who are specialists in PTSD with the spiritual aspect. Being able to reconnect to God is part of the healing process.

It is crucial to seek counsel to find therapists who are specialists in PSDT with the spiritual aspect. Being able to reconnect to God is part of the healing process.

What are your thoughts on PSDT and trauma? Do you think they are original sin? Do you believe that the church can help or harm in the healing of people who have PSDT?

LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Seasons of Life, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Uncategorized

GENERATIONAL TRAUMA AND WOUNDS

My Grandparents

This blog is part of a challenge in Welcome to my World and to answer the question today, “what was the first thing I thought about when I woke up?” I was woken rather early by a neighbor’s phone ringing. As it was so early I hoped it was not bad news. My mind went straight back to the time my father woke me up early to tell me my cousin had been killed in a road accident. This was a very traumatic event for our whole family and will have a lasting effect on our generation and quite possibly the next generation or two as we process emotions that run deep when triggered by something like an early phone call.

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Numbers 14:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.’

Native Americans have a seven-generation principle, that the decisions that are made today need to be weighed in the light of their effect over the next seven generations. Today we are living with the previous seven generations’ decision-making. This principle is also Biblical when it is stated that the fathers’ sins reach the third and fourth generation, a generation can be between 20 to 30 years, and a Biblical one 35 years, so we are looking at about 200-250 years down the line.

Navajo Basket with Corn seed

The French Revolution

My interest in history around two hundred years ago during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars stems from the fact my ancestors left Europe to make a better life for themselves in 1820 in South Africa with the 1820 Settlers. My research has taken me down many fascinating research roads. Joseph Scherer, the brother of Bartholomey Louis Joseph Scherer, one of Napoleon’s generals but one of the old guard. They fell out over strategy for logistics. His brother, Joseph, our ancestor, left France to go to England. I knew he was French at heart as he named his daughter Marianne, which symbolized the attachment of the common French citizens of the revolution to the Republic – Marianne stands for liberty, equality, and fraternity. When Marianne and James Smith married, their first child was named Sarah Fish, I thought this was a most extraordinary name until I found a reference to Sarah Fish around the same time who was a radical Quaker abolitionist and advocate for the Native people in America, and it then made sense to me. The Revolution had cut deep into the family, and they were showing solidarity with just causes in the names they chose for their children.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Retracing the family history were many threads of trauma over the following generations in Africa, both familial and institutional. The Settlers were abandoned in Africa by the British after arriving there, and they suffered greatly.

Bessel Van der Kolk, a Dutch Psychiatrist, and researcher in post-traumatic stress wrote a book called “The Body Keeps the Score,” in which he says “the ability to feel safe is probably the most important aspect of mental health. When we grow up with family dynamics that make us feel unsafe, invalidated in our feelings and experiences, we can struggle to move past our personal and familial trauma.” We also know we are connected to our past through our DNA, and this trauma has been stored in the very cells of our bodies.

“The ability to feel safe is probably the most important aspect of mental health. When we grow up with family dynamics that make us feel unsafe, invalidated in our feelings and experiences, we can struggle to move past our personal and familial trauma.”

Bessel van de Kolk

Living with War

My interest in the times’ social history has enabled me to try and live in my ancestor’s shoes to see the world as they experienced it. I can imagine that they did not feel safe most of the time, from the generations since the French Revolution, through the Native Wars, Boer Wars in South Africa, the two World Wars, right up to my generation with the Bush War in Rhodesia. Replicate that on a worldwide scale with other families, editing the countries and the wars they went through, we are now reaping the crisis of the seventh-generation decisions in mental health that plague the population as the trauma of each generation build on the previous generation.

We may respond in a certain way to stimuli when we are dealing with issues that need to be examined. Are we are repeating our parents’ and grandparents’ behavior. We may have been taught to respond in a particular way or react in a certain manner. If we can understand the meaning of the trauma fully, we can heal from it. It is not always a problem we have created for ourselves.

I have identified one particular generational trauma both my sister and I have embedded in our DNA. We both have an overwhelming fear of snakes, more than a normal person would have. Our Great Grandmother Jessie Orchard was blinded by a Ringhals snake (similar to a cobra) when she chopped off its tail instead of its head with an ax, and it turned around and spat her in the eye, blinding her for life. This event in our family history has given us a hypersensitivity to an image of snakes or, heaven forbid, coming across one in the wild.

beige python on brown branch of tree
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How are we going to heal from all this generational trauma? I don’t know the answer – but with more research and more understanding, self-care, and caring for others, we need to find the way. Bessel van der Kalk says that our homes should be a ‘safe place’ where we can feel loved, where someone can hold us and calm us down when we come home from a traumatic day at work. When our homes are not safe places, it becomes difficult to heal as domestic violence adds trauma to trauma as often there is no escape for women and children. When the church is not the refuge we had hoped for and adds to the abuse, we have nowhere to turn. We need the safe space of home, relaxation, and touch. We need to have our bodies calm down with a soft touch or massage. We need the sound of a soft voice to soothe us, to let us be safe just as we are and who we are. We all have the power to make those around us feel safer. When we can make people feel safe, protected, and loved, we are already on the pathway to healing those around us and the society in which we live.

our homes should be a ‘safe place’ where we can feel loved, where someone can hold us and calm us down when we come home from a traumatic day at work.

Bessel van der Kalk

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you have anything that triggers generational trauma? Please comment below, and if you have not signed up to receive my newsletter, please take this opportunity to do so.