Get over it!

Working through traumatic experiences in ministry

Grant Swank, Jr., is pastor of the New Hope Church of the Nazarene in Windham, Maine.

You've been beaten up and left for dead. Who did it? The very churchly dancers you had thought you could trust. They hugged you. They prayed over you. They sent you memos and left messages on your phone machine. They sent you Christmas greetings with nice sayings scribbled all over them.

Then they flashed the name "Brutus." His knife went squarely to your heart. Your blood spilled into the alley as they sauntered away, never looking back.

When you began studying for the ministry, you never dreamed that such treachery was "out there." You thought that those in authority over you were to be believed and admired, leaned upon when you needed to open your heart in counseling and camaraderie. And so you told them everything in trust.

You never thought that those wearing ecclesiastical titles could seem to be in league with those who lie in wait.

Nor did your spouse. If anyone trust ed the stalkers, it was your spouse. She believed in them completely, looking into their faces with childlike admiration.

So did your children.

But now you all are much smarter than you once were. Or can you call it "smartness"?

Getting over it

So then how do you "get over it"?

You allow yourself to be human with all the emotions stirring about within you: anger, anguish, disappointment, feelings of revenge, wanting to settle the score, nightmares of getting even.

You are not in your perfect heavenly body yet. A part of all that is having a host of emotions on the dark side. Realize that and deal with it... in time and patiently.

Go easy on yourself. Bring your tattered self to the good Lord, who has also been treated unbelievably shabbily, over and over again. If there is anyone who surely can empathize with your state, it is He. After all, until the close of this earth's stay, Cod always will be weeping over those who promised to follow, yet reneged.

Dump your weary self at His feet. Cry. Wail. Stomp your feet. Rant and rave. And then let go. Only when you do all that, can you eventually "get over it."

I know. I have been there. The memories are horrible. They sting to the depths. Yet I can witness that time is the gift of grace that heals wisely. God has seen to it that the clock keeps ticking, and with each tick new tissue comes to the wounded parts.

This matter of God and His blend of time and circumstance is a much more profound healing reality than our impatient souls want to admit.

In time, God will put all that madness behind you so that you actually will talk about the horror, and without raging as perhaps you do now. But that occurs only after time—and with each of us, the timing is different.

Nevertheless, we may be sure that God will take care of us, as we move toward "getting over it," and as we arrive at a place of healing. He will see to it in His own masterful way. And when you do "get over it," you will dis cover a new ministry. It will be that of caring for others in like suffering, genuinely comforting them along the way, saying to them, "I know exactly what you are going through for I have traveled that journey."

That's what "getting over it" is all about.

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Grant Swank, Jr., is pastor of the New Hope Church of the Nazarene in Windham, Maine.

May 2003

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