Let’s face it. There are countless numbers of people turning their backs on church, religion, and God, and many are experiencing Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome. This is also the title of a wonderful book I recently read about one woman’s spiritual quest to heal from being so traumatized from her past church experiences.
Reba Riley, the author, describes PTCS as “a condition of spiritual injury that occurs as a result of religion, faith, and/or the leaving, losing, or breaking thereof; the vile, noxious, icky, and otherwise foul aftermath of said spiritual injury; and a serious term intended to aid serious spiritual healing - without taking itself too seriously in the process.”
Consequently, because of PTCS, she found that she could no longer pray, go to church, or even say the name ‘God,’ and it was the reason she became one of the increasing Nones. She stated, “I saw thousands of stories of brokenness. I see the millions of people who crash into religion when they go looking for God. I see people so tired of being spiritually bruised that they give up on faith altogether.”
Many of us have either been there or find ourselves there now. I, too, have met countless people who have had these same experiences mainly because of the way they and/or others were treated, and because they know that the hate and judgment they are seeing in so many religions just isn’t right. I can also say that I’ve been there so I know how they feel.
Riley knew she needed to heal from these traumas so she decided to go on a spiritual adventure and explored thirty religions by her thirtieth birthday (she was 29). Some of the religions she visited were Christian Spiritualists, Mormons, Amish, Pagan, Pentecostals, Catholics, Baptists, Islam, Buddhism, Quakers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many others, all the while studying with an Eastern Orthodox urban monk. She met many wonderful people along the way and learned the best from each of the religions.
And she began to heal. She learned, as I did, that it’s okay to question our beliefs and to learn from all religions without sacrificing our core beliefs. Personally, my faith is now stronger because I opened my heart and mind, and I wasn’t afraid to question and look for answers. Reba wrote that her faith is bigger than religion, God is bigger than any of us knows, and love is bigger than everything. I totally agree. I also loved her new term for God: Godiverse.
If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing woman’s extraordinary journey of her being healed from PTCS, I would highly recommend you read it in her words. You can also go to her website at www.rebariley.com.
“I think God is like a round diamond with millions of facets. You have a facet; I have a facet; everyone has a facet. God spins in the space between us, reflecting the light in each of our perspectives.” Reba Riley
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 23, 2017.