After last week’s blog posting, Steve entered the conversation by replying:
- If we were all basically “good”, we would not be having this conversation about the trauma war brings into the lives of its soldiers.
- War is “the” evidence that we live in a fallen and broken world.
- Our souls yearn for truth and grace.
- The church has the message the wounded soul needs; it is the good news, the Gospel.
- The church must be engaged in our God-given mission of providing “the heart” of healing for our wounded warriors.
- Our freedoms were purchased and are maintained by their (the warrior) significant sacrifices.
Steve, thanks your joining the blog. You have provided us a good starting point to begin our conversation. Why do we need to be about “soul care?” Soul care:
- reflects the role of spirituality in meaning making (well-being)
- provides a spiritual dimension in maintaining health and wholeness (resiliency)
- promotes an understanding of spirituality within the context of trauma and ways to speak to a hurting soul through prayer, meditation, liturgy, scripture, and in the sharing of story (healing)
Sometimes under the stress of living and at times suffering, it is easy for us to lose sight of the meaning and purpose that steadies us and sees us through the difficult times. Maintaining health and wholeness includes a spiritual dimension. Soul care addresses the aspect of well-being that captures a person’s overall spiritual health.
Some of the spiritual issues our warriors face while in combat:
- War is a gross result of human failure, sin
- Violence and brutality point to our inhumaneness
- Consequence is alienation from God, others, and self
These spiritual issues should compel us to try to understand the following realities:
- War’s violence implore questions of faith into the lives of those who fight them. When a warrior steps onto the battlefield he or she immediately is confronted by the kinds of hardships and horror that has moved humanity through the centuries to reach for the Holy. The battlefield becomes a test of the soul.
- Some of our warriors have been physically wounded. Others experienced the invisible wounds of mind and spirit. Following trauma the warrior may experience the loss of assurance, confidence, anticipation, hope and joy. The warrior may now exhibit discouragement, hopelessness, and despair. For some the soul wounds go deep, where the warrior has lost his/her faith or adopted destructive behavior as an escape from war.
- Many of our returning warriors have lingering fear and guilt from their experiences. Some struggle with the ethical and moral challenges that they faced. Transgressions can be from individual acts of perpetrating violence on another, or by witnessing the behavior of others committing violence.
The affects of trauma on the person’s spirituality can lead to confusion about God, or a shattered faith in God, others, and self. (Next week we will discuss the importance of faith to the warrior.) Spiritual symptoms can include shattered self esteem, finding it difficult to pray, no spirit of thankfulness, seeing no value in the Scripture, feeling hopeless. Severe soul wounding may result in a diminishment of everything meaningful to the warrior and loss of belief in God. It is paradoxical that countless warriors describe their war experience with the word – hell. Many veterans suffer their hellish experiences in isolation and silence that further deteriorates their relationships. Soul wounds feel like hell that strikes at the core of the warrior’s well-being. The result often can lead to confusion about God, or a shattered faith in God as well as in others and self.
Upon returning home, many veterans face the most difficult challenge of the war, their re-integration back into their family and into the community. How can the returning veteran journey toward transformation and healing of the soul? This question and other topics will be the focus of our conversation in the weeks ahead. Until then, I look forward to your reply and continued conversation…