As I have recently learned about how trauma shows up in our lives, in many different ways, and how it affects the ways we then interact with our world, I began to see how trauma has showed up in my life, and in my family members’ lives. I have also had several people tell me their teen, young adult, and adult children have been telling me their child has told them they were traumatized at church. And, the parents are not understanding where their child is coming from and really struggling to understand them. I really wanted to record this episode with Lindsay for all you parents who need and want to further you understanding of trauma so you can begin to open up the conversation with your child.
Want to contact Lindsay?
Welcome back to Parenting Through the Detour. I am so glad you’re here. This is episode 41 a conversation I had with Lindsay Poelman. What the Heck is Trauma at Church?
Howard W Hunter said, “Your detours and disappointments are the straight and narrow way back to him.” And we know that men and women are that they might have joy. But when you get taken on a parenting detour, it feels like joy is something that other people get to feel. But not you. It doesn’t have to be this way. Join me on this podcast. And let’s find some joy through your detours. And I’ll give you some help along the way. I’m your host, Tina Gosney. And I’m a life and relationship coach, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Hey, just dropping in here for a minute. Before I get to this conversation with Lindsay. As I’ve been doing this trauma informed coaching certification with her, it’s really opened my eyes up to how we all experience trauma in our lives. Even if we’ve never gone through. One of the big things that we usually associate trauma with, there are so many more ways that we can experience trauma in our lives. And we all have it to one degree or another. I’ve had several people tell me lately that their kids, teenagers, young adults, and adult children have told their parents that they have experienced trauma at church. And I’ve seen some of this firsthand with people that I know. And so I want you to just listen with an open mind, and maybe opening up to trauma being different than we have always classified it as so on to this conversation with Lindsay, as we talk about how this shows up at church, and how we can create more safety in our classrooms and in our lessons and with our members at church. So enjoy this conversation I had with Lindsay.
I’m here today with my friend and colleague, Lindsey Pullman. And I really wanted Lindsay to come on the podcast because I’ve been doing her trauma. What do you call it? Lindsay? Relationship Certification? Yeah, I’m trying to remember the exact term. It’s the relationship trauma certification. So I’m being trained at by Lindsay and by a fellow colleague of hers, Karen, who’s a trauma therapist, and we’re learning about trauma and coaching and how we can apply and help our clients more. And I know that Lindsay is such a great resource. And I’m going to let her take it from here and introduce yourself and tell you how she got to this point and how why she became so knowledgeable on trauma. And just a little bit more about her. So I’m let you take it, Lindsay.
Okay. Yes. Well, Tina, I am knowledgeable and fascinated by it because of my own experiences. But I will say all of this started about I guess, wow, I’m just like looking at time. It’s like flying by. It’s probably about six and a half years ago, when my husband who was you know, working as a dentist. You know, we were having like, in 2015. That was like a year where we just bought our house and the neighborhood we’d finished you know, my husband finished dental school, it felt like we’d finished dental school. He found a great job with great practice was about to buy and we just had our third baby.
And then he came in told me about some porn use that he’d been hiding from me and lying to me about and at the time, I was just like, totally devastated. You know, like, I didn’t, it just didn’t feel like it could get much worse just because of all the stuff that I’d been taught around what it means if your husband’s looking at porn, what it means about you, it means about him what it potentially means about your family. So that was really hard. And then a week later, he started having panic attacks. And he stopped working. Because his hands got shaky and he’s a dentist and so suddenly like not only was I like reeling from learning about these, you know, these lies and the betrayal there. Suddenly my husband was nonfunctioning, and it was within one week, within a week.
That’s amazing to look at and see like you dealt with all of that all at the same time.
It was yeah, like I I totally went into kind of like a shock/shutdown, but also function enough to keep my kids alive response, which us moms do. Um, but it all happened within a week. And so at the time, I had a four year old A two year old, a four month old. And then my husband was like, it almost felt like a newborn in the sense that like, he couldn’t fall asleep, he couldn’t stay asleep, like he needed help. Like, to the degree where like he couldn’t even like really fall asleep. And so we, you know, immediately got him into like a psychiatrist and, you know, started working on like, stabilizing with medication and therapy and things like that. And we thought it was about the porn. But then as time kind of went on, we realized that he had been sexually abused as a child. And so there’s obviously a lot of trauma there. And it was just like, so crazy. I mean, it was just fascinating. Because here I am trying to like, keep my husband alive, while going through my own betrayal, trauma.
And then he realizes he’s been sexually abused. And now he’s got his own betrayal trauma that he’s working through. And then there can be more trauma added on when trauma victims try to tell their story and share and get shut down, whether it’s by you know, like professionals or clergy who don’t really understand or, you know, family members, things like that. And so, there’s like more that can be added on. And so this is obviously why I’m super fascinated about because I care about humans, and I have the asleep, well, I’m gonna get emotional.
But I just really, I care so deeply about people who are victims of any trauma, or anything where they need help and, and we like the last thing anyone wants to do is to be a part of someone being re traumatized when they’re finally courageously reaching out for help. And so I think that’s why I do what I do as a relationship trauma coach, where I’m training coaches, because we want to help coaches, be able to show up for people who are finally reaching out for help, right, and do it in a really empowered way, where we recognize how much we can do. And we make, we recognize where it makes sense to bring in some conjunctive support as well, and so on. That’s kind of why I’m super fascinated about it. And then, you know, like through, and I just want to say that, like, you know, fast forward five years, like my husband and I are doing better than ever, and our kids are doing great. And we both are now in careers that we’re so much more passionate about. I was an account, I was in public accounting, he was in dentistry. And we’re both in coaching now. And so I just anyone who’s going through anything, I just want you to know, like, even if it doesn’t feel like it can get better. So just hang on to that desire, because that’s there because it’s possible.
Beautiful. And what I heard, this is not the first time I’ve heard your story. I mean, we’ve talked. Yeah, and I’ve always just been so amazed at you and the things that you went through and just like, let’s just pile some more on top of an already big pile and how you both have made it through and the life that you both created for yourself. Now. I think it’s so admirable. Thank you. It’s a beautiful thing, and that it led you both to be helping so many people.
Yeah, we go through just lead us sometimes in these, like, Okay, I’m going down this road that I never thought I was going to be on. But this is where I am in this is feels so good to be on this road right now.
Yeah. And I couldn’t have believed that at the time. And this is like where it can be helpful to understand trauma and understand how to support people in their trauma. Because if someone would have told me which I did have people tell me little things here and there. But like those kind of typical quintessential things that you’re told what when you’re in it, like, Oh, this is God’s will. This is God’s plan. Things like it’s going to do these things. I would have just been like, leave me alone. Like, please just let me be sad, you know. And so but now I can look back and be like, wow, like, yes, yes. And yes, for sure. Like, and even with my husband like we used to call it his mental breakdown. And now he calls it his mental awakening, you know?
Oh, beautiful. Yeah. What a great reframing for that. Well, I wanted you to come on the podcast because I really want to help some parents to understand. I think trauma is kind of a buzzword these days. A lot of people use it, maybe not totally understanding it. And I know a lot of like the younger generation like the kids that are just coming up now maybe teenagers and young adults are telling their parents are saying like, I’ve been traumatized or I’ve experienced trauma and the way that we define trauma in different ways. And, and what their kids are meaning by that and how they can better understand what their kids experiences. And I really want to direct it towards the church, because it seems like that’s a lot of what our kids are telling us is how they’re being affected at church. And so I really want to bring some understanding your parents through talking to you about this trauma.
Okay. Yeah. I mean, really, like really basic understanding around. You know, trauma is, it’s anything that can create, like, kind of a separation from self. And so I think a lot of us, like, you know, where I think generationally speaking, we’ve been kind of taught to believe that, you know, you can carry, there’s like a hierarchy of trauma, where it’s like, well, you can carry trauma, if you can experience trauma if someone dies, or if there’s a natural disaster, or, you know, if there’s a war or whatnot, like, right, like, we kind of have these, like these socially accepted things that are like trauma approved circumstances. And what a lot of you know, trauma therapists and trauma informed trauma informed coaches are, you know, sharing now is that, like, any little things that we experience that we don’t work through, can be felt deeply, as much as like, so the stuff I was talking about previously, like war, natural disasters, things like that people dying, people call that like a big T trauma. And what, you know, trauma informed therapists and coaches are saying today is yes, and there’s other little things that people can carry, and people can experience. And if we don’t know how to process that, it can be compounded over time, and it can be felt and experienced and impacted, like the impact can be greater than or equal to that big T trauma. And so I think it can just be really helpful for people to recognize, like, maybe I don’t need to police. Well, is this trauma or isn’t this trauma? Like, I don’t, maybe I don’t need to be policing that word. But what I could do is just like, see what support emotional support they’re needing? Because obviously, they’re hurting right now.
You know? And just for reference, can you give us some examples, and I know that there’s going to be no numbers of examples. That could be possible. But just so some people understand what we’re talking about with little, little or traumas that aren’t those big things like,
wow. Oh, my goodness. So it can be, you know, just chronic stuff happened, like chronic chronic discounting in the home, you know, some, like stuff that happens chronically in the home where we’re like discounting or invalidating our kids experiences, things like that. They can it sounds little, right, it’s like, but at least you don’t live here. Like, you’ve got it good, right, these little tiny things, like, it can be that kind of stuff chronically over time, but, and then it can also be, you know, not making a school team. Right. And some people might be like, what their name wasn’t on a roster, like, get over it. But what we’re not taking into account is like, the different unique experiences that each human has, and what belief systems are associating with not making a team and then compounded and over time, like that, like that compound, like thoughts are physical. You know, and, you know, we talk about, like, all things spiritual, or Oh, my gosh, what is it all things? Yes, exactly. And with thoughts, like, some people might be like, What are you talking about? Like, it’s the same, but we can literally like, amp up our anxiety with our thinking, and we can take it down with our thinking. And so it’s like, we have physical effects of our thinking. And so and a lot of us, like, with trauma, it does get stored and carried in our body. And so when we don’t make a team, whatever belief system is associated with that, you know, as it gets compounded compounded, it can turn into something bigger that needs
Okay, so I think those are really great examples, but I think it you know, as we talked about before, it can encapsulate so much, and you deal a lot with relationship trauma, betrayal, trauma, and we’re going to talk today about how that applies to the experience that a lot of these kids are seeing they’re having a church Okay, and that might sound strange to relate betrayal, trauma or relationship trauma to church, meaning like an organization. So can you tell me how how does that apply to the experience that our kids are having at church?
Yeah, you bring up a really good, really good question. And it’s, it’s something that I feel like is being developed more and more. And there’s, it’s, I don’t want to say it’s twofold because it’s, it’s very multifaceted. But one thing, one way like one formal term that we can use is like this term called institutional trauma. And that’s where, when people have been traumatized, and then they reach out for help, whether it’s to clergy, or to clergy, or to family, or to therapists, or coaches who aren’t trauma informed, they can be really traumatized in that experience, because their experience is now being discounted, and then they start questioning themselves, and they like, can you can exhibit an experience PTSD from stuff like that. And, you know, I think, for kids at church, you know, in high demand religions, I’m just trying to think of some examples off the top of my head. I mean, I think when we stick when we get into like black and white teachings, like in high demand religions, it can be really confusing and scary for kids. Right. And when we’re operating in like black and white teaching, it is a symbol it like kind of brings up more of like, our lower brain type stuff. And I think we just forget sometimes that like, there are always two sides of a coin when it comes to like, what we’re teaching. And so like, what is the opposite of what we’re teaching? Okay, so if it’s like, yeah, so, um, like, if we’re teaching that, like, you know, be like, not having sex before you get married is like, the best way to have the safest, most intimate, whatever, whatnot, marriage. People are simultaneously subconsciously, also learning that the opposite is true. Does that make sense? So I think a lot of this stuff happens unintentionally, in high demand religions. And I think it happens a lot. And people get and kids get really scared. Right? Yes, yes,
I do. So give another example of black and white thinking. I mean, you gave that example about having sex before you’re married. But what would be another example of black and white?
So another black and white example? Let’s see, just thinking off the top of my head. Another example of black and white thinking could be maybe church attendance. Okay, so I think that can be a really confusing one, where we’re taught to, you know, renew our covenants, and, and, you know, take the sacrament every week, no matter what, right? And we’re told that the sacrament is the most important part of church. Right? Okay. Also, we’re forgetting that humans are humans. And we’re, like, completely nuanced. So as black as, as black and white, as teach some teachings can be humans actually can’t be black and white, even if we tried to be and so when we’re focused on the sacrament being the most important thing, then what are we telling ourselves if we sleep in and we miss the sacrament? More what effort? What are we telling ourselves, if we don’t really understand the significance of the sacrament just yet, but for some reason, it’s the most important thing. Right? And so it’s kind of this thing where it’s like, Is there is there a way to start teaching in a more nuanced way? Because that’s actually where all the humans are. Like, no one is on either, like, you know, even that idea, like being all in like being all in what does that really mean? Because Is there a way for a human to actually be 100%? All in? I’m actually not sure. Right. We can be all in in our commitment. But as far as like all the little, all the rules and regulations that are there, is it possible to never judge or to you know, do all those things perfectly, I think, I think we’re just kind of forgetting about the fact that we’re humans to write and allowing for that to be to and remembering that it’s the nuance that brings that a richness, like it’s the nuance and the diversity to me that brings this beautiful tapestry of church congregants together you know, that makes it look as beautiful as it is.
Yeah. So allowing ourselves to be human, and not reacting from that fear that we might, that might be coming up in us because of the beliefs that we have when we get really black and white about the things that we say in the, and the way that we say them. Is that what you’re saying? Ah,
yeah, I think so. And I mean, there’s so many more examples of black and white, like different black and white ways that things are taught. And I think it’s like we can I think there’s a way to teach and allow for the nuance of humanity, you know? Yeah. And like,
Oh, so sorry. Go ahead. No, go ahead. Well, I was sitting in Ward Council, I don’t know, a few months ago, and we had a lesson coming up with a youth about the proclamation on the family. And commenting that, you know, that can bring up a lot of things for a lot of people, because it puts this ideal out there that this is, if your family is healthy, if your family is the way it’s supposed to be, then this is what you’re like. And less than half of the youth in my ward have families that fit into that. That description of this is how your family is supposed to look like. So there was a possibility, you know, in our lessons that week that there was going to be some kids that were struggling. And we need to be sensitive to that. And I think getting ahead of things like that. And allowing the humaneness to come into our lessons are those of really long way into helping our kids feel. Yeah, like they fit and like are safe. And like their family unit isn’t going to be questioned. Yeah, when it doesn’t look like that, and are still loved and valued in the church. And as a child of God.
Yeah. And I think you bring up a really good point. Because, again, if we look, if we maintain our black and white thinking, and we read that document, then we’re also like you said, simultaneously, internalized, internalizing the opposite, the opposite is true. And that can be really scary for kids, right? For Kids and adults. I think for a lot of women. You know, I know for my mom, she was like, you know, we lived in a neighborhood growing up where she she worked part time. And I, if I remember correctly, and I guess I don’t want to speak for her. But if I remember correctly, I feel like she came home after those lessons feeling like I work. And like totally, you know, like, maybe there is like what’s, you know, like, I guess I don’t know what she was thinking. But I know that was a thing for her. And, you know, we look at today where I’m guessing at least at least half of women are working, if not more, you know, in marriages. And so it’s like, how can we present these? If we’re going to teach this? How can we present it in a lovingly inclusive, nuanced way without waiting for the reactions? Right? It’s like, how can we present how couldn’t like you said, how can we look ahead and present it in a safe way? Because that is so important, because when when kids believe that their spiritual or eternal safety is at stake, because their dad’s doing this, or because this, they don’t even have control over their family situation. And, and then they’re feeling unsafe. And when we’re not safe. We’re not learning anything. Exactly. And so it’s like how we I think, I just don’t think we can talk about safety enough with kids in presenting any of these principles, especially if they’re, you know, teaching principles that may come off as more black and white.
Yes. And I think not assuming that if they have a problem with something that they’re going to speak up and say something. I know a lot of adults won’t even speak up and say something when they have those types of shaming thoughts at church like I don’t, that doesn’t fit in my family. This doesn’t work for us. We don’t fit that ideal, and they will not say anything. So if we’re as adults, not often speaking up, how can we really expect our kids to do that when they’re feeling thinking those same thoughts? Maybe they can’t even articulate what they’re feeling. They just know that they’re not feeling good. They know that they’re not coming away from church feeling like this warm fuzzy like, this is my this is my place. This is these are my people.
Yes. 100%. And I think another thing to just keep in mind too, like if as a you know, as a teacher for presenting lessons. First of all, like everyone if you care, like give yourself if you’re doing it and you care about your class and the people that you’re interacting with, like please give yourselves all the credit. And especially if you’re listening to podcasts you obviously are doing Everything that you can. And the thing is, is like the same lesson can be internalized in 15 different ways by the 15 different kids there. And so thing is is like to try to say, well, there’s maybe this one kid that’s maybe experienced some trauma and this kid that hasn’t, we just don’t know. Know, right. Because especially like, if you look at, you know, my husband’s experience, and like who, you know, all of his leadership roles and all the things like, you just wouldn’t know that, like, you know, the guy who was like an AP on his mission, three months in or whatever, all of the different things suit, body president, all that stuff. People look to that. And they just think like, oh, he’s fine. Right. And so it’s like, if we, the more we understand about trauma, the more that we can have that be the fount like have safety, be the foundation of any lesson, it can be the priority of any lesson, so that the kids are attuned to learning, right? Because we really, it just, I just can’t picture any situation where it hurts to make sure that we’ve had these like layers of safety embedded into every church lesson.
Yeah. And I don’t think that that is something that’s really commonly found at church, I know that the reason that we kids and adults don’t speak up, historically, in my ex, I’m going to speak from my own experience. Yeah, and maybe this is similar to somebody else’s, and maybe it’s different. But this is my experience, is that when you do speak up, this is not something that’s true for me, or this is not my experience, or that I’m struggling with this, that it’s not really well received, that usually it’s discounted, or, Oh, you just need to have more faith, or you’re just not seeing it the right way. And that is exactly I think what you’re talking about, and that you’ve then become, you feel smaller, you feel like I’ve never should have opened my mouth, I’m not safe here. And you internalize that and you take it home, and the next time you don’t open your mouth. And you don’t say anything. And eventually those things start to pile up. And you begin to wonder why you’re still there. Like these people, and I don’t feel like I fit here anymore. And I think that that’s happened with a lot of people. I don’t think I’m unique in that experience.
Yeah, yeah. And I think it’s like, what if there is structure in place for everyone to be right where they are, and have the unique, diverse questions that they have, and to know that they can be accepted in that. Right. And I think a lot of that, the more we recognize, I think the more we just really choose love, like, choose love and trust, the more that we can show that love and trust to the people who are questioning or to the people who, you know, do have questions and things like that.
I wish I could remember where I heard this the other day, but it was something like churches, the only place that you it’s considered a hospital, and that everybody’s pretending that they’re not sick. Hmm.
Interesting. Tell me more. Tell me more about how your thoughts about that.
Yeah. Where we, it’s you hear that churches a hospital, you know, we’re not perfect. And we’re coming here to, to, you know, heal ourselves. But we’re all there trying to pretend like we’re perfect, and that we are willing. And that, oh, it’s not for me. And if you express like, I’ve got this problem, and I’m struggling with this, that it’s discounted. Yeah. And I think if we switched our viewpoint of really what church is, as a hospital, for people that really do need help, like, how can we help people, and everybody’s needs are a little bit different. Sometimes we’re going to not treat somebody exactly the right way. We’re going to be making some mistakes, but just to recognize that it’s there. And that, then we can recognize that it’s not the right way in the first place. I mean, in the first that way that we tried to treat their issue or their problem, and maybe we can go back and try a different way.
Yeah, and I love the idea. I mean, when I think about a hospital that I want to be attending, it’s like this hospital with like, like, I would imagine the Cleveland Clinic where there’s just all these different wings set up for different people, right? Because there might be people who, you know who are sick. And it’s very clear that they’re sick, and they need that intensive care. And then there’s people who have healing to do. And they want to, like, totally up their game, like their functional functional medicine game or their physical, their physical game, right? It’s like, if we could think about it, like the diversity of what people need physically, as being necessary, spiritually, like, what kind of structure could we set up, that like, fits all of that, and has space for everyone, wherever they are? You know, because I do think healing is just this, it’s a continuous thing. And the layers kind of go on, and there’s different flavors and different things. And I think we could normalize that. And I think we could normalize trauma, and we could also just really normalize pain to
Yeah. And I think, like you were talking about before safety is so huge to provide and to try to create in our classrooms, and in our meetings. How does one go about creating safety? What does that look like?
Oh, that’s such a good question. So I think I think for most people, they’re probably doing it and not knowing. Even like, it’s like their little, like, a lot of I think a lot of us are pretty safe people. And not but not recognizing it. And so I think sometimes getting clear on like, how, what are my X factors, like, what are my unique gifts for the people that I work with? I think you can dial into your own. And then just like really communicate that, like I think sometimes communicating things to your class, or to the people that you work with, can help them be like, Oh, he does know that this could be a potentially triggering subject to teach about today. And he does know that that my mom is single, and that, like, it’s not always fun for me to hear these, you know, to read this lesson on families when I don’t know where my dad is. And my mom is single, right? And so I think just over communicating like that, everybody is just right, right, where they are. We’re all here to learn. And also just asking to, like, how fun would that be to like, let the kids like be like, what helps you guys feel safe, they might not even know. And if that was like a foundational conversation, like every time we started, like, a new year, like, what if that was on kids mind? So they could be like, ooh, safe or not safe? Right? Like, just so they could start feeling that because I know for? For some people, they don’t, you know, feel it for the first time until their 30s, like the true sensation of safety and like, what it feels like in their bodies and might be, they might be in their 30s or 40s. So like, what if we could help kids focus on that? So that the learning can happen from a safe brain space instead of a triggered brain space? Because when we’re in a triggered brain space, we’re like, totally, we go right into that black or white, all or nothing. And so you might say something as a teacher, that’s just like, pretty neutral. But they might be receiving it totally different because they’re a little bit amped up. Yeah.
Yeah. And I heard, just to bring in another quote, like, I love quotes, they just kind of roll around in my head all the time. Yeah. But it was something like, people don’t hear what you say. They hear what they think you mean. That’s just showing that we all interpret what we the words that we hear in a different way. And what does this mean about me? And we can never determine how somebody else is receiving what we’re saying, in the way that we meant for it to be heard.
100% And I think that’s where communication could be helpful, right? Like, even just being honest, like, I don’t have all the answers. And we’re just here to have a discussion, right? Or, you know, just anything where I think, first of all, like if we are showing our humanity as a leader, and like taking out this like, again, this kind of like I’m up here teacher on a pedestal and you’re the students on there, like, what if it’s, we’re all here. And we’re Yes, I arrived on this earth a little bit before you but like, what if we’re all here to discover and learn together? And I just think there’s so many different ways that we can kind of like we can communicate that to people to our students, too. And I think, like for the youth, it’s like if they know that, like, this adult that they look up to, you know, still has questions still wonders things and is still curious about stuff that actually might create safety because they’re like, oh, I don’t have to have it. All right, yes to blank, blank, blank, blank, blank. Like, I don’t have to believe everything to be like, you know, worthy of this, right? Like, what if I’m worthy as a human because I exist. And there’s other things that I can learn and focus on to prepare myself in whatever way I want to as good as I get older. And so I think for parents, like, again, we’re talking about how we can communicate it to, to kids and to youth, but it’s, I think it might be worth asking yourself, do I feel safe? When do I feel unsafe? When I’m feeling unsafe? Does it make sense to have these conversations with my kids? Right? Because if we’re getting triggered by our kids, you know, them being triggered, then how is how well is a conversation going to go down? Right? So it could be really parents asking, like, how can I create groundedness and safety for myself? And what knowing that like, whatever question my kid hits me with or comment, I can, of course, take space before I answer, or I can be already in a grounded space to just be a human to them to
that, and I think that’s huge. And it actually plays into a podcast that was I just recently released, and Oh, perfect, when we get dysregulated in our nervous system, that we don’t have access to our higher brain, and we do insane things that we really regret later. And so grounding ourselves is super important. But I think that when a child comes to their parent, and tells them that they’re questioning, or they’re struggling at church, immediately as a parent, especially you’re in, if you’re in still in that black and white, and you see, you know, kids and people leaving all over immediately you go into panic. Yeah, and immediately become so afraid. And you have to make sure you just clamp that down so tight, like, this is not going to happen to our family. Right, which actually is really the opposite of what you need to be doing. But I feel so right in the moment.
Yeah. Because like, what if the questioning is good news? Oh, my gosh, my kid. I don’t know why I’m getting emotional. Because I have pretty young kids. And so, you know, I think a lot of the teams, that doesn’t happen, but I do my oldest, you know, she does have questions here and there. But like, but for me, it’s like, if a kid was coming to me, I hope you like I am so glad my child will come to me. Like, I don’t have the answers. I’m working on it. And I can give myself space to be a human to if there’s stuff that triggers me, but what can I do to keep this window of communication open? Like, to me, that’s like, the most important thing is having that window of communication there.
Absolutely. And that’s beautiful. If you have a child that comes to you, and tells you hard things that they’re questioning, how does such a good marker in indication of where your relationship is? With that child? Yeah, no matter how old they are.
Yeah, and if the kid is coming, like if they’re coming, crying, and if they’re coming, struggling, that isn’t a place to I mean, my like, from a trauma informed space, that’s, it’s not always the place to force doctrine down their throat, or try to, like, make them feel less bad, or try to help them see like, oh, but they didn’t mean that. If they’re coming to you, and they’re struggling or crying and their nervous system is activated a little bit. That’s a time to just ask what they need. To let them know you’re here to let them know that you see them, and that you hear them and that you love them. And just keep checking in what do you need? Do you need? Do you want advice? Or do you just want to be listened to? Who do you need? What do you need me to be for you? And like, what if it gets to be all about them?
Yeah. And the more we can help them feel safe and grounded, the more they can then not be reacting emotionally. And they were informed decisions for themselves.
Yeah, and I mean, I don’t I like the emotional reactions, right? It’s like, I don’t want to that’s, I don’t want to like, that isn’t the goal to minimize that, but it’s, the more that they can be more grounded, that you can check back in the next day, like, hey, and how are things today? And they might be like, Oh, I’m actually totally fine. I realized that that teacher didn’t you know, this person that didn’t text me back because their phone went down the toilet or like whatever, but like, the thing is, is like well We can get them back online with their thinking. And then they can really like, use their intuition to interpret, make to interpret and make calls for what actually happened. But then when they’re coming to you and like struggling, and and I think for parents, like I think it can be really helpful to kind of see that like every kid manifests. If your child has any anxiety, they all manifest it differently, right? Some with anger, some with crying, and some just take it all inward. And so if your kid is angry about not wanting to go to church, like, how can we be curious about that? Instead of like, whoa, something’s wrong here. Yeah. Like, oh, he might be anxious. I wonder why can you like imagine how different things will go down? If we can get into curiosity? Versus like, we got to stop this anger right now. And I, and I do say like, I do want to say that, like, offering that like, you can be curious and set boundaries as parents, right? We don’t need it doesn’t need to be this like, thing where we suddenly are just getting walked over. And like, in this curious land, it’s like, no, like Christ was the most compassionate man that watch this earth. And he was probably the best boundary setter to write and they say that, like, the most compassionate people are people that set boundaries. And then of course, you you’ve probably done a podcast, or you’re probably doing one on boundaries, because parents can get that mix up, too. But, you know, I think we can be lovingly curious and set appropriate boundaries to help really to foster safety in our home so that our kids can just ask questions. You know, absolutely. Yeah.
So when you, you mentioned a couple of things that how trauma might manifest itself. He said, you know, or anxiety, I actually, he said, crying or internalizing or being angry? And if you’re seeing your kids do these things, at church or after church? How would you approach that? As a parent?
That’s a really good question. I mean, if like, is the anger being sent towards you, or towards a sibling or whatnot, I think, again, when a kid is maybe in kind of, like heightened anxiety, it might not be the time to like, you know, it just depends on each kid, right. So again, like, as a parent, just go with your gut, because your gut knows and you being grounded. And by grounded, I mean, like, basically on like, online are able to, like really think from your upper brain, you being granted is going to help you tap into your intuition as far as like what to do in each scenario with your kid. But like, if the anger is being, you know, directed towards you, or towards a child, another child or something like that, you can we can set boundaries, right, where, and we can let them know where they can direct their anger, right? Like, my eight year old can’t hit his sister’s, but he can, like, go crazy at the mattress if he needs to. Right. Or he can like he can, like throw pillows or, or whatnot.
So it’s like, how can we help them complete their stress response cycle, whether it’s anger, you know, anger, whatever, it’s like, there’s obviously something there, how can we help them complete that response cycle, but also, you know, if boundaries need to be set, then have those be there as well. But sometimes it’s like, like you said, they just don’t have words, for their anger, or their anxiety. And, you know, my, one of my childhood children who manifest her anxiety, but kind of like, by kind of going inward, she doesn’t have a lot of words. And so it takes a lot of just like sitting with her and listening and, and then she figures it out, like the next day, and I’ll offer ideas, but again, as a parent, sometimes it’s like, I don’t want to offer ideas that aren’t in her head anyway, you know, and so right, I think just going with your gut can be the first thing but just recognize, like some of that behavior that that we think is like,
Oh, they’re too idle, or they’re always on their phone or this, like the numbing out can be a trauma response. Yeah, right, then and, but then again, if you see your kid over using their phone, it doesn’t always mean they’re in a trauma response. And so I think just being curious, and trusting your intuition is going to help you see when it makes sense to bring in support, or not bring in support, or maybe it just it does, maybe it gets to be you and maybe we get to add a few people to the team and why not? Right. Yeah. And I’m so glad I had a team of young women’s leaders growing up, like all these different role models, you know, so for me, that was like, amazing, you know, and so I think as a parent Like when you bring in support, or you think about them getting other support from other adults, what if that’s just like a total win? And not like a failing in any way?
Yeah, I love that. Because that’s what we’re here for. Right? It’s too late to help and support each other. Yeah, let’s talk for a few minutes about a child that identifies as LGBTQ and what their experience might be at church, and how that might be affecting them with this, you know, subject of trauma that we’re talking about today. Hmm, gosh,
I feel like you should answer this question.
I talk a lot on this podcast, I want to hear what you have to say about that one.
Yeah, I mean, this is where I just like my heart. Gosh, I’m gonna like cry again. This is just like, where my heart aches. Like, for people who don’t feel like they fit into a mold, I think it can be like a really confusing thing, because and I’m not trying, and I think this happened. And I’m not saying with respect to any specific religions, but a lot of high demand religions, what can happen is, you can be told that you’re, there’s a place for you, but then structurally, it doesn’t feel like there’s a place for you.
It can be confusing, it can be really confusing.
Right? So it’s like, yes, you belong here. Also, make sure you fit into this protocol, you fit into these guidelines fit into this mold. And, and, you know, like as humans like we are, we’re tribal species. And we are like designed to be a part of the pack. And when it feels like your pack is your neighborhood or your church family. And suddenly you start not feeling like you fit this mold that has been presented for you because of you know, because of anything, or because of, you know, any identifying as LGBTQ A. And if I said that wrong, please. Like my apologies. But I think that can just be like, really hard. Because again, it goes back to that black and white, there’s this place for you. But also, you need to be this way. So it’s really confusing messaging. And I And and, you know, personally, I don’t think it’s fair to I don’t think it’s fair to kids to, to teach them in a black and white way. When they wouldn’t have they actually can’t be black and white, whether you are LGBTQIA or not. Right? Well, and I was just gonna say to like when you feel threatened around like not being a part of this pack that you’ve been trained and conditioned to believe is like the pack for you. Can that be traumatizing? 100%.
Yeah. And it’s not just the child, it’s the entire family. The entire family feels that way. It’s not just one person. Yes. And I think I’ve noticed, even even the people, the kids, especially this generation that’s coming up young adults, teenagers, they might not identify on that spectrum. LGBTQIA. But they have friends that do, and they love their friends. Mm hmm. And that could, they could experience that same trauma, because of the love that they have for their friend and because of how they’re seeing that play out at church, and that there’s not a place for my friend. So where does that put me like, I don’t want to be a part of something my friend can’t, doesn’t fit into and doesn’t feel like they belong?
Well, and I think what it kind of does is like, you know, as we under if we are feeling that way about our friends, even if we don’t identify that way, it can still be like a little bit triggering in the sense of where it’s like, what is it gonna be about me? Like, what if? What if there’s something I questioned or I went blank, and now and now what? Right so I can totally see why it can be, you know, can be scary to kids to even if it’s not that. And you know, I do think like, I mean, I think we’re we’re all connected, like we are connected to each other. You know, like who isn’t aching for the Ukraine right now? Right? Isn’t aching for that, right? And who doesn’t want you know, certain things to stop? And so, I mean, if that is your child again, it’s like, what can we celebrate about that? But they’re questioning, wow, my child cares so much for their best friend. Right? How can I help them get grounded in love and safety so that they can again, go use their upper brain to, you know, make more educated, not more educated, but more like decisions from like a more like an online space where we’re thinking clearly about the past, present and future. You know?
Absolutely. This has been so great to talk to you today. I’m so glad. And I really think that this is our my, it’s my hope that we start to go more towards this type of learning environment at church. So we can be safety and our love and compassion understanding. Yeah, for all you know, all ages, you know, no matter where we are, or what our life experiences are, or how, what we whether we feel like we belong there or not, that we just make everybody feel like they belong. Yeah, I did a podcast interview with Tom Kristofferson. And he talked about how hard it is sometimes to feel belongs. Yeah. And people that are similar to him feel like they belong. And he said, like, we have these, you know, these signs out in front of our church that say visitors welcome. But he said, I wish it would say all are welcome, because sometimes members themselves don’t feel like they’re welcome. And maybe we could put a little caveat there too, or a little addition to that sign that says, you can find a mercy here. How beautiful what would it be if we were just being merciful and showing each other mercy in all of our messiness, our messy humaneness that we show up with a shirt?
Yeah, and showing ourselves that too, right, like letting ourselves be a human and all of it as well, for sure. Yes,
that’s so huge. Yeah. So demanding. It’s not just a high demand religion, we’re very demanding of ourselves to.
Yeah, and it’s like, how could we shift that, like, create some cultural shifts there as well, where it’s more, like, we’re just more loving of ourselves because of who we’re being and who we are. You know, and the thing is, I think sometimes people think they need to, like shame themselves into action to actually act and behave the way they want. I think when we talk about sustainable action that comes from just like loving yourself for being just for being Yes, existing, and then all that sustainable stuff that you want, will follow. And I feel like that was what my husband went through, like, with his, his, you know, mental awakening that we talked about earlier. But like, he realized that, like, he was sacrificing himself in the name of duty, like physically, like, just sacrificing, sacrificing. And what he’s realizing now is like, as he prioritizes himself, even though it doesn’t, you know, not everybody gets it, not everyone understands, right, you know, they, what, for whatever reason, doesn’t look the way that like, he always thought it was supposed to look, but like, now he’s supporting himself and his family and, and his life in sustainable and like, truly sustainable ways, which is pretty miraculous. Really? Yes.
And doing it the other way is not sustainable. It will eventually catch up to you. So is there anything that we haven’t covered today that you think needs to be addressed?
Um, you know, I think I mean, I feel like this conversation we could, like, take this for, like, hours, but what I will say is, I just think locking into a vision for what you believe is possible for yourself and for your life is, you know, can be really, really a really grounding thing. So that even though you don’t have the answers, and you don’t know how the how, like how, how everything’s gonna unfold, having something to like, lock into and believe in that’s grounding for you can help you kind of act in a grounded space. And so you don’t always have to use your mindset to get yourself there. You know, for me, I have a vision of every human being trauma informed, right? So we can all support each other and create like, you know, just kind of like, basically evolved to the space where humans can feel safe, wherever they go, whether it’s at school, or at church or the workplace. It’s like everyone is we’re all humans, and we’re all carrying trauma. So how can we all support each other in that in the best way, you know?
Beautiful, love it. Thank you so much for being here. Yes. What a great conversation
I hope you’ve enjoyed this conversation that I had with Lindsay about trauma, and how we can just be better at church being aware of what other people are going through and just opening up the conversations.
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