Janyne McConnaughey 00:01
Pretty soon I was like we don't even know. We do not even comprehend how common this is and the structure, the secrecy, the protective ways that the church circles around when abuse happens, that that we're not trying. We're not trying to destroy the church we're trying to open up that secrecy and protective so that we can all be honest and say the essence this happened and how do we keep it from continuing?
Laura Howe 00:37
From Hope Made Strong, this is the Care Ministry Podcast a show about equipping ministry leaders and transforming communities through care.
Supporting those in your church and community not only changes individuals' lives, but it grows and strengthens the church. But we want to do that without burning out. So listen in as we learn about tools, strategies and resources that will equip your team and strengthen hope.
I'm Laura Howe and we are continuing this series during Mental Health Awareness Month and today we are talking about trauma. Now the goal today is to gain a better understanding of trauma and how the church can support those who are healing. At the outset of this podcast, I want to identify that sensitive subjects are discussed in this episode. And while Janyne is a wealth of knowledge and resources, her wisdom comes out of a life of much suffering. And I often speak on compassion fatigue and bring awareness that hearing stories of suffering can be weighty, and could cause caregivers to become weary.
So I feel that it's my responsibility to identify that in this episode, stories of childhood trauma are shared. Now we don't go into detail but we do identify abuses and the age that they occurred. Now bearing witness and learning from stories is super important. But so is being kind and offering yourself grace and limiting your trauma exposure. So before carrying on, please take a moment check in and listen to what you need to hear today.
One of my pet peeves is a sticky counter and now that my kids are getting older, it rarely happens. But still, every once in a while I sit down at the table or on my island and I rest my arms down only to feel a gooey, sticky mess underneath. It's so gross. Despite cleaning up after breakfast, my daughter's syrup or jam is now stuck to my clothing and it's a dried congealed mess on the counter making it so hard to clean up. And trauma is similar trauma is sticky and so often we think about the stickiness of our own trauma, like what happened in our childhood or the horrible things that were said to us or things that we witnessed and how that sticks with us throughout our life.
Rarely do we think about how the trauma of others impact us. In our culture, we try to put things in a neat category, black and white pro or con for or against, and where can I place blame and responsibility. We like things in neat categories where we can understand and reason them. But trauma is not one of those easy things that you can put in a box or compartmentalize the struggles of one person often transfer on to be the struggles of another.
What I mean by this is that we want to blame the drunk driver the death of a loved one. But perhaps that drunk driver was struggling with an addiction because they were abused by the for years by their father so we place blame on that father now for two lives.
But what if I told you that father was a war vet, and his mental health was deeply impacted and his anger became uncontrollable when he returned from the frontlines where he saw and witnessed horrific atrocities. In that scenario, each person was a victim and each person is a perpetrator of trauma, but they are all children of God.
In this episode, we're talking about what trauma is and and how the church can support those who experience trauma and we need to recognize that we can be both perpetrators and victims or victims can also be perpetrators. We are all people who've been impacted by trauma.
When I was working in a mental health clinic, I was told to assume that every person walking through the doors has likely experienced trauma or we can just assume that they have experienced trauma. I needed to prepare my heart and my mind that the likelihood that this person sitting in front of me is easily triggered may be reactive, or will have the urge to run away or be combative and because these are all trauma responses.
And I would say that you pastor or maybe care director or care coordinator can assume the same thing that any person who is seeking support from you at the church whether it's on a Sunday or a midweek appointment. They are someone who has likely experienced trauma.
And our guest today Janyne McConnaughey
knows this all too well. Janine is the board president of the trauma and attachment network. She is a nationally known trauma-informed author and advocate, and she's a survivor of sexual abuse. But her work and trauma didn't start until after she was 60 years old. And because this is when she discovered the power of her own story.
Janyne was born in New Mexico, but moved to California with her family as her father was a pastor. And they served in churches across the southern California region. During her teen years, you would find Janine like many teens and many PKs running VBS leading kids games or Bible studies and this passion led her to get a dual degree in Christian education and child development. But this passion to teach and support kids came not only from her natural abilities, but also from her own trauma experience.
Janyne McConnaughey 06:06
I can remember as a high school when I was in high school, I would, you know, I was the VBS person, you know, I was in charge of the games, and I was in charge of the crafts, and I was, you know, I ran things I you know, I was always a leader growing up. And so but I loved working with the children. And and so later on, as I began to understand my story, I realized that part of my love for young children was because I was trying to understand myself and to to understand this conversation, it would be necessary to say that my, my sexual abuse began in a home daycare at the age of three.
So even though I didn't have any cognizant memory of that, those things that happen to us become drivers in our life, and I can see how my entire life I was propelled to understanding young children. When I did, when I did my work for my dissertation, I actually ended up under the guise of a pedagogical study of math education methods, I really did a study on how how teachers viewed the child from innocence to noninnocence.
And so I realized now, that underneath everything that I was doing in education, I was constantly trying to figure out myself as a child, what happened to me as a child. And, and, and why I took some of the past that I took that I didn't understand and, and so, so it all winds together. It's kind of interesting how, when you finally understand your own story, you just you just go, oh, wow, I make so much sense to myself now, it was a relief to finally understand why I did the things that I did. And fortunately, fortunately, I had enough support in my life that that the choice is driven by trauma were good choices. You know, many people do not have the kind of support and care from youth leaders and my dad and from you know, people in the church and and friends if they don't have that kind of support, then they make choices that are what we typically think of as trauma based choices. But but really once you experienced trauma in your and I and trauma can be a we need to say trauma can be all sorts of trauma, you know, birth trauma, accident, you know, I mostly I talk about the trauma of abuse and sexual abuse, but there are many kinds of trauma that affect us and trauma is not the event but it's what happens. What it's what happens in the aftermath of the event and how it goes on to affect you.
Laura Howe 09:03
Let's, can we pause on that for a minute for the sake of this podcast for those who are listening when this podcast comes out it is May World Mental, not World Mental, Mental Health Awareness Month. And for those who are listening far into the distant future, we are highlighting different mental health struggles that people face to destigmatize them to learn more about them to you know, to help support ourselves as leaders as we navigate life and journey through stuff. We'll just say stuff and how to support others and so I'm excited to connect with you because of your story around trauma and I think it's extremely relatable but I want to first start off looking at what trauma is and what you said there's really important I want you to repeat it and maybe go into a little bit more for those who are listening because this might be completely new information trauma might be a flippin word that people Are you talking about like, Oh, I'm traumatized, you know, I didn't get that sale or I have PTSD from doing you know, an event or something like that something that is more benign. Or maybe it's not for that individual. But I want you to talk a little bit more about it. You said trauma is not the event, but it what comes after the event, can you lean into that for me a minute,
Janyne McConnaughey 10:25
So when, when a traumatic event happens, a traumatic event is something that is beyond the capacity of your nervous system, your body your mind, to, to deal with it, you're overwhelmed by that. And what happens in those moments is that is that you, if you if you think of the brain, and you think of the prefrontal cortex, where most of our thinking goes on, and logic and all those kinds of things that just goes off track in that moment, and you you are living out of the your amygdala, which is at the center of your brain, and it says danger Will Robinson, there is something really bad going on here. And we need to and it communicates to the brainstem and says you either need to you either need to fight, flee, or, or at the very last you just shut down. You just collapsed. All right.
So that is kind of what happens in the traumatic event. Now it's perfectly possible. On the other side of that, for instance, you've been in a car accident. And and you know, a lot of times, children who've been in car accidents are just in a daze right, and it's important to come to them and to comfort them and to hold them and give them the support and let them say they were frightened and say oh yes, validate their feelings and all of those things because that helps to process that the traumatic event.
So in the absence of that, what happens is all all of the effects of that trauma just continue to live on in your nervous system. So, so, um, something that someone who haven't has not experienced an event like that, they would say, Well, that wasn't really scary. But to some new event, you know, where's the person who's whose nervous system is already wired, you're already completely wired, hyper vigilant, you it just doesn't take much to push you over the top and it it becomes another traumatic event.
And so, um, so the ongoing, and especially for emotional abuse, and ongoing physical abuse, what the child comes to believe about themselves is also a part of the trauma. So it isn't just your nervous system, it's what you become, to come to believe about yourself, like, I'm helpless. This is my fault. I'm not worthy of people helping me, I'm not important or someone would have come to help me or you know, all of these things that live on deep inside of you that continue to affect you.
Laura Howe 13:44
So, just to summarize here, that the trauma lives past the event, there's the traumatic event where your nervous system in your brain is sending signals to your mind and your body saying, This is scary, you are at risk, there is danger here. You know, beware be hyper vigilant to everything around you. And that's usually where we think okay, that traumatic event is over you should be fine. But I love that you said that if not processed if not, you know able your mind and your body are able to process that event and that trauma that it can live on in your body and in your mind and start impacting how you view the world and how you view yourself.
Janyne McConnaughey 14:29
Correct. I also want to say a word about attachment. Because a child who is well nurtured in that attachment relationship they learn how they learn self-regulation skills that the child we have this this idea that we can teach self regulate. Self-regulation is taught by co-regulation between the parent and the child. And so in in my case, because I did not have a good attachment relationship with my mother then then she wasn't able to provide that support for me after the abuse. And so I wasn't able to regulate myself, because I needed her to co-regulate with me.
And so there's a whole science of attachment that goes into this and I wrote a blog once trauma without attachment. And the impact, and that's usually the truth that those whose impact carries on are usually those who did not have secure attachment before the event. Because if you had secure attachment, you're probably going to get the support you need in the aftermath. So they tie together, and I, you know, so I'm president of the board for the attachment and trauma, and I'm like, Oh, I have to mention attachment I have together and it's so important not to pull them apart, because they do go together.
Laura Howe 15:51
So having strong attachment, meaning that when a child presents a need, it is appropriately responded with love and care and affection. And when that cycle continues, then there's a bond between the parent or the, or the care provider and the child so that they know they can trust this person. And having those attachment, those healthy attachments, knowing that there's trusted adults in their life, they are better equipped to process trauma. Is that what you're Is that what you're concluding? Yes.
Janyne McConnaughey 16:28
Okay. Yes. So if we, if we think about Maslow's hierarchy, you know, and you have physical safety, and then you have emotional and what, what the lack of attachment, and then trauma at those, it just wipes out the whole foundation of the growing development of the human being. And so one, one of the things that I talk about in my book is that we have people coming into churches that that have no foundation, no childhood foundation, and we have expectations of them, that, that our teachings and salvation and is going to solve the problems, when in reality, they have the it's necessary to go back and rebuild those very basic building blocks.
And one of those is trust, and , and so, so there's a lot more involved in that. And it really what I'm trying, what I go out and speak about is the fact that that faith communities have every, every potential to be that place where people and safely rebuild the foundation they never had. Sometimes I have a little bit of problem with the recovery idea, because because for those who experienced early childhood trauma, there is nothing to recover back to. There is no, a lot of times people who did not experience attachment, we'll say there's just this hole there. And I don't I don't know what to do about it. It's just a hole. And there's no way to recover that you have to build you have it's called earned attachment. You have to learn what that attachment feels like, which is a long and arduous process. And it requires those walking beside the traumatized to not leave, not get irritated with them. Not not feel like they're not making progress, but just continually set boundaries and walk beside them.
Laura Howe 18:36
There are so many questions I want to ask you right now. Things like Okay, so what are the signs and symptoms of this? How is the church able to help? What are the first steps that we can do to build these things? Those are the first three questions that I want to ask, but I want to return to those in a few moments. And I want to build a foundation of why you are an expert and why you're so passionate about this, we actually haven't heard your story. And I'm not wanting to hear your story so that we can sensationalize or, or things like that, but I think it's important for listeners to hear, but you are coming from lived experience as well as professional experience. And you alluded to the fact that you you were sexually abused when you were just a preschooler in daycare, was that an isolated incident or did you experience abuse growing up along the way.
Janyne McConnaughey 19:35
So the statistics show that once a child is abused it's very, very likely that they will continue because you're so vulnerable at that point. Because you don't know how to set boundaries which a child is it's impossible for a child to set boundaries anyway. But you're just you're very, very vulnerable. So yes, the abuse I continued to have episodes of sexual abuse from the time I was three until I was 23. And so I, and here's the interesting part about being in the church was that and I was just reading my second book, sometimes I, sometimes I'm looking for a quote out of a book, and I start reading my own book is kind of funny, you know? Like, Wait,
Laura Howe 20:26
Man, that girl Oh, wait, that was
Janyne McConnaughey 20:30
Wait, I'm reading my own book. Okay, so, anyway, so I was reading and I was reading about an incident that happened when I was five. And, and how, how difficult it was for me to be the little girl that my parents needed as a pastor's daughter. And, and I really, I, I've just always been this really kind of, I call it Pollyanna sometimes. But I just really, no matter what happens to me, I just believe that thing, the next day can be better, right? And so, and I think that's a tribute to my dad, and how my dad helped me through everything.
But then, but then on the on the other side of that, there were behaviors that I was exhibiting, which were absolutely biologically correct behaviors for a child who has been traumatized in the way I was. And of course, there was no understanding of that. It's kind of sad, but funny that at separate times, I just randomly asked my parents, so what was I like, as a child? And they both said, well, difficult, you know?
And I'm like, oh, yeah, I bet I was, I really, I mean, I was really, I dissociated a lot. I had lots of dissociative structures, I didn't, I couldn't always distinguish between what was true and what wasn't true, I would do things and not remember that I'd done them, I would just a whole litany of things that that they really couldn't understand. And so, um, so when I was five, I was like, I can't, I can't be the little girl that my dad needs me to be, and, and not be a problem to my mother and not be a problem to them in the church. So I just need, I just need, and this is all subconscious, okay, I, I just what I did was I just buried like, senate to the basement, this, this doesn't exist, this did not happen to me. And then I went on to live my life. So so when, during therapy, I realized I had a little girl inside of me that that was, her job was to just be in the bed and cry. She just was in the bed crying and every time something bad happened, we just handed it to her to cry. And that was that was her job. And so, so the really imaginative ways that a child's mind finds to survive, do not do not, do not serve us well as adults. You're not a whole functioning, healthy, mentally healthy human being when you have all of these little structures you created as a child to try to survive. So so yes, the abuse did come to an end, because I got so good at just burying, whatever, whatever happened. And when I did try to tell it didn't go well. So when I was in, when I was in, I was 10.
And I went to camp and I tried to tell a camp counselor that something bad was happening to me. And she said, oh, you should not say bad things like that about people. But if you ask Jesus to forgive you, you you can be saved. And so yeah, so, so that when I got to that I went, Oh my gosh, that was my salvation experience. Like whenever, you know, when I when I joined the Baptist community, they you know, you always need a date of salvation. You know, everybody you need to know the day birthday aren't really that way. But the Baptists are so I was like, Oh, I know what it was. It was when I was 10. But I didn't remember the full story. And so when I realized how that started, how distort it, how very distorted and so an end, bless her heart. She had worked with children. She was one of the primary people on the district that loved and cared for children. But that day, she got it horribly wrong because she did not believe me.
And and so, um, so I think so I have, you know, my life is filled with those kinds of incidents where I tried to get help But it went badly. And so and for the most part because people were uninformed about the impact of trauma on people's lives, and that's why I wrote trauma and abuse, is because I wanted people to understand the impact and how it was affecting their lives and how it was not a spiritual problem, it was a problem with the impact of trauma. So..uhmm
Laura Howe 25:29
I heard a statistic once, and I don't know if it's true. So please, if this is not true, don't hold me to it, that it is more likely that a woman will have unwanted sexual advances or B abuse than it is to rein one in three. And so people forget how common it is for people to experience abuse and trauma.
Janyne McConnaughey 25:50
You know, when I, when I started, when I decided to publish Brave, which was my first book, I was terrified. I mean, I had lived as a Bible college professor all these years, I had never said that I had been abused or anything. Anything bad ever happened to me. I mean, I was, I had this perfect me that I had created to live inside the church. And I think that's important to realize that people are creating perfect versions of themselves in order to belong in the church. And so what I have been able to do, everything that I accomplished in my life is in faith related schools and ministry. No, I don't think so. I think that I would have been hindered if my story had been known.
But by the time I read 61, and I decide, oh, this, this was wrong, I should not have had to hide my story, this was wrong, and my abusers walked free while I carried the damage. You know, there is no statute of limitations for abuse survivors. And so um, so when I got ready to publish the book, I thought all my students are going to be so disappointed, you know, they have i this idea of who I am, and, you know, I just all of this kind of stuff. And, and to my surprise, which is not surprising to me at all, now, I began to get emails and messages and texts, and thank you for sharing that happened to me too. And so it was like a dam broke open and, and pretty soon, I was like, we don't even know, we do not even comprehend how common this is. And the structure, the secrecy the protective ways that the church circles around when abuse happens, that, that we're not trying, we're not trying to destroy the church, we're trying to open up that secrecy and protective so that we can all be honest and say, Yes, this happened, and how do we keep it from continuing.
Laura Howe 28:04
The church has such a has an opportunity to be so impactful in becoming a healing space. I love what you said there at the beginning, you said that the church is uniquely structured or has is is designed in such a way that it can meet a need, like no other organization or community can. And I just think that is so powerful that, you know, we are missing the mark not for for ignorance, just we're not aware of how impact how common this is abuse to happen, not just in women, just not sexual abuse, but trauma. We're not, we're not aware of how common it is. And we're not aware of how impactful it is. And then we're not aware of how great the church can provide healing or how how impactful the church could be.
Janyne McConnaughey 28:56
Yes, yes, we're missing the opportunity. And I want to say that when you find a survivor, who has been through a life like I've been through, and I still hold on to my faith, and I still believe that there's hope and I still, I still believe then that is a that is that's a treasure for the church. You know, instead of instead of seeing that, it's that that what happened to you is a weakness. It's a strength, that it's called post post traumatic growth. I call it post traumatic spiritual growth and the faith of a survivor who's gone through the healing process. A lot of times does not fit in the box that the church expects it.
There, there will be things that they will they because of the trauma, there will be things that will always be challenged, there will be things that that that will, though healed, they will have to find different ways to access the spiritual practices. And in my book, I spend quite a bit of time talking about that. Because scripture is so triggering for me. So, so triggering and for a lot of people who've been through spiritual abuse. And so that's our kind of go to, you know, and we, I'm triggered right out of the gate, right out of the gate. And so but but I can, I've done entire studies for my church, based in Scripture, it i, there are ways for me to access it. But it does not look like the traditional spiritual practices.
And so I, part of what I tried to do is to say, open the box, God is not coloring inside the lines, God is finding ways to help people who have experienced the very worst that light could give them to grow closer to God, and to experience and if the church would just walk alongside of us and support us. And there are some things that the church has to set aside in order to do that. Okay, so I can go there. Do you want me to go there?
Laura Howe 31:37
Yes, let's go there. Let's talk about a couple because I'm sure the list is long, but let's talk about the maybe the most common hang ups or barriers that that the church that I don't know if the church reinforces or or instills, but what are some of the maybe the top one, two or three most barriers that that are there for people to who are finding healing it. So
Janyne McConnaughey 32:01
the main one, I think, is because when someone when someone is clearly emotionally dysregulated, which is a part of the experience having experienced trauma, and there, we mistake that for conviction.
Laura Howe 32:22
And I let me just reference it that emotional dysregulation has a physical appearance, it's they're flustered, they're, they're speaking fast, they're feeling overwhelmed, they're stressed their blood pressures pumping, they might be pacing. And so when we think of that, we might think, Oh, they're being confusing. That's good. So tell me right, so.
Janyne McConnaughey 32:43
So it's easy. I know that when I, when I was younger, and I was and I was suffering, I would go to the altar, you know, and they would come and say, Well, what is the sin that you're here to pray about? No.
Laura Howe 32:58
Oh, okay. Right. And your response? And your response would be so hard to grab onto something. Right?
Janyne McConnaughey 33:07
Right. How do I, if I had no words for the sin was against me? Great, and how can i How could I even do it. And of course, when I did try to do that it's a 10 year old, it didn't work so so I quit going, I quit going to the altar, that was not a place that was ever going to be safe for me because because it would be perceived as being convicted about something instead of just seeking God. So then the other one, the other one is that goes with it is that when when people enter into the church, and and we kind of have to talk, I'm gonna say very short about the ACES research, which is the adverse childhood experiences.
And what that study did was it it documented 10 different areas of adverse experiences, including, you know, abuse, home dysfunction, you know, there's 10 Things you can you can research it, but what they did, what the study did was connect lifelong medical and behavioral consequences that were correlated with not causing but correlated with a higher incidence of those particular adverse experiences.
So and one of the things I found was that, for instance, smoking, you know, dangerous health practices, smoking, promiscuity, drug abuse, all of these were increased with with the number of ACEs and those are all the things that Church calls sinned. And so they are really actually what they are all the ways that the person is trying to calm the dysregulation in their nervous system. And so does addiction take on a life of its own? At some aspect? Yes. But the original way that this gets started is dysregulation in the nervous system that they're trying to calm. It's not because they're wanting to go have fun and have I know that what did they however they get introduced to the drug, they realize that it helped them. And so and then it goes on from there.
So, um, so when we, when we, when we greet people as they enter the church and say the first thing you need to do is repent of your sin. Then we short-circuit all of the ways that they need to come to understand what is the origin of their behavior? Where does that behavior grow, from? What kind of healing needs to take place, what kind of foundational building blocks need to be built? And so they repent. And they, of course, you know, there's cases euphoria after someone comes to salvation, oh, my life is wonderful, the stars are brighter that you know, I mean, all of that, because you feel like, Oh, God loves me, I mean, that all that is beautiful, I'm accepting Yeah. But then what happens is that they, they, it doesn't solve the dysregulation in their system, they get triggered, that all comes back, and then they don't know what to do with it. And they feel shame because their salvation didn't work like somebody else's and then they go back into their old patterns.
And and John Wesley, when he had the, his his groups, he knew that some people didn't benefit, he created penitent bands, that were people who just didn't seem to benefit from the teachings that he was giving them. Well, they were trauma survivors was what they were, and they were constantly returning to the ways that help them as a trauma as a survivor. And so, so those are two, the conviction, the repentance from sin, the definition of sin, we need to nuance it, right?
Laura Howe 37:08
These are fantastic. And sometimes we often don't think that what we are saying and how we are conveying discipleship or spiritual growth, we look at behavior, we look at choices, not understanding the where they came from, or why. And I love that you pointed out that, at one point in time, whatever addiction or problematic behavior, it probably helped the person at the beginning and help them numb it, help them forget it, help them to calm down, they help them to speed up if they're, you know, struggling with lethargy, lethargic, and you know, depression.
And so rather than seeing the behavior, sn, finding out what that root causes and building relationship, and this brings us right back, circling back to what you talked about with the attachment behaviors, that's where it starts with the church. And that's where the, the gifting that the church has the ability or the the opportunity that the church has to build is looking at, let's build those foundational attachment principles. And can we circle right back to the questions that I wanted to ask at the beginning? Where what would the what is some of those first steps? Now, I'm going to pause here for a second, say that you have written four books.
In all of those four books, you probably have reams and reams of chapters and chapters of wisdom. But for the person who is listening, that they're identifying, either within themselves or the people that they are serving, what are some of the steps that the church can offer or bring to help start build those attachment relationships, rather than attack the behavior
Janyne McConnaughey 38:56
so that at the end of Trauma in the pews, I, the very last chapter, I list five principles. And, and part and those principles are our way to become trauma responsive in the church. And so, um, you know, I give like, this is a whole two hour session.
Laura Howe 39:21
I was gonna say, and it's edits your book, so let's not give it away, but maybe give us the first one or two, maybe. And then we'll reference all the things in the show. And one
Janyne McConnaughey 39:32
of those I mean, they're really simple practical things like for instance, to, to unconditionally accept stories. I remember when, and the only time in my life that I ever felt like my story was unconditionally accepted was it was in therapy. When I finally met a therapist who did not flinch. I mean, if she had flinched, I would have been out of there and one hot minute. Just, you know, I would have been drowning in shame. You know, I just appalled Another person, you know, I just I'm out of here I've given my deepest seat, and she just did not flinch. And so I say, one of the principles is to unconditionally accept people store and to just sit with them and not, and not feel like, we have to instruct them.
And, and so I give a whole list in the book of of, and they really came out of therapy like things like, Thank you that was so brave of you to share that with me. I'm honored that you shared that with me. You know, there's no judgement in it. There is validation, there's believing, no solution, no solution. So I'm not trying to fix anybody, there is no fixing. When someone shares their story, you, you have no idea how deep that story goes.
And so that that is that is one of the most important principles that I give in that entire chapter, is that we shouldn't have to leave our stories in the car when we walk into church, which we mostly due. And, and, and if we do share our story, we shouldn't feel like the air gets sucked out of the room. Like, right? And
Laura Howe 41:24
instead of leaning back and gas, oh, I
Janyne McConnaughey 41:27
go I had no idea.
Okay, so also and also we need to understand what healing from trauma looks like. So it does not look like I'm gonna say a prayer over you, and you're gonna get up and you're gonna be fine. No, it is a loyalty. If only only I mean, I would love that magic one. I seriously love that magic one. But it is it is an unlayering
So one of the things that happens in healing trauma, and I talked before about all of the structures that I had built to, to live, right. And, and they weren't healthy. They weren't, but they worked really, really well. Okay. So a part of my healing was to take those structures down. Well, when you do that, you're also in the process of building new healthier structures. But there's this gap. There is this gap between when you get new structures in place, and the old ones and it is the messiest, messiest place like you're prone to oversharing you're, you're prone to wild rampid emotions, you're you're being triggered you, you maybe you can't even come to church, you are so triggered by being in crowds or, or anything, because you don't have the structures in place to deal with all of that.
And so a lot of times when the church sees people begin therapy, you know, which I kind of discourage a lot of times anyway, you know, we you should keep it inside the but trauma therapy, professional trauma therapy is distinctively different from what what we can offer in other places. And when this trauma is severe of this is necessary. So anyway, there's this, there's this moment where people are like that, see, I told you people go to therapy, and they just get worse. They look at her, she's just coming apart. She doesn't come to church, she doesn't. So this was a mistake therapy was a mistake. Right?
Instead of understanding that you've never had a voice, and maybe you're finally finding your voice, and you don't know how to use it very well yet. And so you're gonna say things that, you know, but the important thing is not to shame the person some more, but to say, so I've watched people heal part of what I do. Part of my mission in life is to just kind of walk alongside people they read Brave, which Brave the Brave series of books is really my books for survivors. And so, and the end, The trauma in the Pews is my book for the ministry leaders. So they they read brave, and they say, oh, I need help. They go find a therapist, and they and then I walk beside them, you know, and I'm, I'm watching because they start sometimes they'll start playing those personality games on Facebook because they don't know who they are, like up this whole mass that they had built, all of a sudden it crumbles and they're like, I don't know who I am. Or they already think it. It's just messy. There's all sorts of messiness. And when the church doesn't understand what that looks like and doesn't understand how to walk beside people as they heal, then they either will give up and just stuff it all back down, or they'll leave the church because they their stories there Healing is not honored. And that's one of those principles is to honor the healing of survivors.
Laura Howe 45:07
So good? Well, I'm excited to share both books are both series of the Brave series, and then church Trauma in the Pews. And you can find those on the show notes. And then wherever you can purchase books, I just googled it when I was looking for more details and it's on Amazon and all the all its all the places. And so definitely want to encourage people to access those and seek those both if you're recognizing and identifying the struggle within you as a leader because you're you're human to leader, and or as an addition to supporting others who are walking through this journey. So definitely want to point people to those. Just to wrap up, I want to ask you one last question. And it's, it's if you could write yourself a letter, or if you can send yourself a voicemail back to your previous self, maybe it's when you were 23. Maybe it's when you were early in ministry or going to school. Knowing that what you know now, what would you say to your former self?
Janyne McConnaughey 46:10
Well, I I actually think about that question alot and I would say different things to the me at different ages. But I think I think most prominent when it comes to comes to ministry, and the choice that I made as a college students that I did not qualify for ministry because of my story, that that I would go back and I would tell that self, your story is what makes will make you powerful. It is your story that will help. That will do more, do more for ministry and ministry leaders and for the survivors who've been harmed. And so hang on, hang on, and the day will come when you no longer have to be ashamed of your story. And it will be your strength.
Laura Howe 47:12
I love that. Thank you so much indeed for sharing your story being vulnerable, and and sharing your wisdom. Thank you so much.
Janyne McConnaughey 47:20
Thank you. I've enjoyed this.
Laura Howe 47:23
Hey, thanks for listening. This episode was kind of heavy, but it was so incredibly powerful. Janine vulnerably shares her story and offered incredible wisdom on how churches contend to those who've experienced trauma.
If this episode was jarring, or maybe it sticks with you for a couple of days, please connect with a trusted friend or a counselor. It is absolutely amazing how helpful it can be just to talk it out or process this information with someone else. If you have seen firsthand the impacts of trauma in your church and you want more resources and support on how to care for others, please check out the links to Janyne's book and the resources that she spoke of in the show notes I had hoped made strong.org/episode87 And if you want to be reminded when new episodes go live, make sure you follow this podcast. Thank you for connecting and take care