Drawing on fifteen years of experience as a prayer minister, Dr. Candyce Roberts shares her insights on working with highly traumatized people in her book Help For The Fractured Soul. This book is a guide for laity who are working with abuse victims, specifically in the realm of prayer ministry.
Throughout the book, Dr. Roberts shares many stories from her personal experiences working with victims. These stories, although very sobering, help to give a real-world context to the advice she is giving. Roberts is not afraid to include stories that ended with a less than favorable outcome (e.g. clients who accused her of trying to do more harm and left without finishing counseling). This is a reminder that prayer ministry is not always easy nor does it always end perfectly. She reminds readers multiple times that we cannot change people and that we must get frustrated with their choices – we can encourage healing, but we cannot force someone to heal if they refuse to.
I appreciated that Roberts emphasizes in several places that we must only work within our scope of expertise. She stresses that prayer ministers should never try to diagnose, or take the place of a licensed medical professional/psychologist. Rather we must focus on what we are qualified to do (lead people before the throne of God) and be willing to refer them to a professional if needed.
Roberts reminds readers that before leading a prayer ministry, they must first be healthy themselves and be personally committed to inner-healing in their own lives. Later she gives guidelines for setting boundaries with clients. This is an important reminder to be fully investing in the lives of those to whom you are ministering, but to still value your own life and your own personal health.
While the book is directed at those working with the highly traumatized, I found many truths that could apply to any Christian. I greatly appreciated her words on denial when she said that we will not know the truth if we are living in denial in any area of life. The chapter on forgiveness was also poignant who anyone who has ever been hurt.
Dr. Roberts has clearly worked in this field for many years and has gleaned wisdom from her time as a prayer minister. This book would be a great starting point for anyone interested in prayer ministry or simply for the individual trying to understand and aid a friend who is highly traumatized. However, I will note that this book is clearly for the lay minister. Prayer ministry can be extremely effective, but I don’t believe it should replace a qualified counselor or psychologist. Rather the two should be conflated.
Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
“Hair…like cutting it…takes a lot of concentration.”
This radio interview is simply adorable. The 5 year old sister decides to give her 3 year old sister a haircut (unbeknownst to her parents, of course). In the clip, their father interviews them about the entire thing.
I think a certain sister of mine (who shall go unnamed) should listen to this. Because she had (has?) a certain affinity for randomly cutting her own hair and cutting other people’s as well. 😉
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about community, specifically about the Church. Living in communion with other people means that you share in their lives. In other words, if you are truly involved and invested in a community, your happiness may be tinged with sorrow and your sorrows with happiness.
Pregnancy is so visible at this stage – it is obvious to everyone that a baby is on the way. It is the springboard for many conversations about babies, pregnancies, due dates, names and more. Yet as I get further along in pregnancy, I cannot help but think about women who are longing to be mothers. The women who ache because they have been waiting for so long to carry a baby. I can simply be going about my business buying groceries or walking into church, yet it is a reminder to a woman of an unfilled dream. So even in our happiness, I want to be sensitive to those who are waiting and hurting.
At the same time, I was remember a couple stories of people I know who have carried babies to full-term even when they have been told that the baby is “incompatible with life.” We are thankful that (as far as we can tell) everything is going well with our baby. But we also think of those families for whom pregnancy is a time of turbulent emotions. I must trust that God has a plan in each individual situation so I cannot live in guilt or deny happiness over our baby. But I want to be a friend who can walk with people through their sorrows and who truly empathized with those who are hurting. After all, I have been the one who is hurting and, no doubt, it is only a matter of time before I am the one who is hurting again.
I had the same conflation of feelings at my wedding. So, so happy to be marrying Mr. Mays…yet aware of the fact that some people wanted to be married and were still waiting. And also aware that marriage isn’t for everyone – some people are really happy being single and perhaps they get tired of the idea that marriage is the ultimate goal for all people.
This comes through in many other areas of life too. Just because my grad school plans have been put on hold because of the baby, I still want to rejoice with those friends who have are getting their advanced degrees (lucky ducks! ;). I remember being so sick in college and struggling to rejoice with friends over things when I kept thinking about the fact that I could barely walk back and forth to classes. Everything that other people were happy about seemed so frivolous in the moments when I was waiting for a call from a doctor that could potentially change my life forever.
Ultimately, our motivation for living this way should be our desire to be like Christ. He commanded this lifestyle and He modeled this lifestyle. While on earth, He empathized with the people around him (think of his weeping over Lazarus’ death, his care for the woman at the well, taking the time to talk to the women who was bleeding). He could have been focused on His impending death and pain, yet He took the time to engage in life with those around Him and to be present in their sorrows and joys.
The best example I’ve heard of this style of living comes from a professor at Cedarville. We were studying Psalms and I was struggling with the fact that we (as Christians) sometimes ignore the lament psalms. My life at that stage definitely fit the psalms of lament more than the psalms of joyful praise and I was so incredibly annoyed with Christians who pretended that everything was perfect in life. The professor said that living in community meant that we embraced both of these. And then he shared a story from his life of a couple who very unexpectedly lost their adult daughter. The entire church showed up to the funeral, mourning with them and surrounding them in love and support. The very next day, there was a wedding at the church. No one expected the couple to show up. No one would have been offended in the slightest if they had stayed home in their grief. Yet there they were. When asked about it, they said (paraphrased), “Yesterday the entire Church mourned with us in our sorrow. Now it is our chance to rejoice with the Church and show them the same love that they showed us.”
May we all strive to have a similar attitude.