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Pain, Pain, Go Away

A recent NPR report revealed that 20% of adults in America are living with chronic pain. This issue is so prevalent that medical schools are now having additional coursework for aspiring doctors pertaining to pain management so that they will be able to treat this pain epidemic thoughtfully and holistically.  How do we help those who are in pain while also combatting the opioid crisis that plagues our society?

Others are asking the question, where is all this pain coming from? Those who are asking this question often reference the seminal text on trauma and the somatic response to the trauma: The Body Keeps Score. The author suggests that even when we are years past the traumatic event, our bodies hold onto the memory of the trauma for much longer.

Jamie Lee Finch in her recent book, You Are Your Own says:

There are ways to help surivors recognize that the physical and psychiological reactions resulting from traume are messages – attempts from the body to try and expain what has happened. Imbalances, illnesses, anxietiesm and pains are signal flares from our deeper selves searching for rescue (78-79).

We are not well. We are hurting. We are in pain.

We need healing. The type of healing that can only come from the gospel of light and love and resurrection.

May God grant us the courage to embark on the journey of deep, soul-filled searching. May God grant us the community to sustain us along the journey.

 

On Being a Revangelical

When I voiced a call to ministry, I found myself an outcast of my spiritual home of twenty-six years. As a woman who was raised Southern Baptist, my voicing a call to preach and pastor was beyond the fundamentalist theological views of my home church. From the vast number of women and men and nonbinary individuals who have shared their stories so openly, I know that I am not alone in finding myself wandering in a spiritual desert by coming out to who I was called to be. There is a whole community of people who are joining together to try to find sanctuary, ask questions, and share their stories in order to find wholeness and healing. This #exvangelical community has created books, podcasts, conferences, and all sorts of spaces for people who found themselves homeless.

Throughout my journey of being called to pastor and preach, I have followed this community appreciating the courage and vulnerability with which so many people have shared their stories, their lives, their pain, their abuse, and their trauma. Indeed there is something powerful about knowing that you are not alone and you are not the only one who has been disowned by a community of faith.

But I never identified myself as #exvangelical.

I could never put my finger on why exactly until recently. In the second Democratic debate when Major Pete made this statement:

“And for a party that associates itself with Christianity to say that it is ok, to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents,” he said, “that God would condone putting children in cages has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.”

Something deep within me resonated with this statement because this is exactly where I have been stuck. I have never not considered myself evangelical. I believe in the gospel. I believe the gospel offers freedom and hope and healing and wholeness to all of those who have been oppressed, abused, silenced, ostracized and downtrodden. And I believe in spreading this message of hope.

I haven’t identified myself as an evangelical because of the political connotations associated with the term “evangelical.” I haven’t identified myself as an evangelical because of the way it has become synonymous with the religious right and the fundamentalist oppressive, abusive theology that has caused so much hurt and pain and disembodiment.

Between this statement and my partner’s parsing of the Greek meaning of the term evangelical around the dinner table, I am finally ready to say that I am evangelical or perhaps a revangelical, returning to an identity I used to wear proudly as I tried to convert my middle school friends and offer them eternal salvation.

I am no longer interested in converting people, but I am interested in continuing to accept the invitation of partnering in the wonderful, mystical, and transformative work that the Holy Spirit is doing here on earth within and among us.