How To Cultivate The Power of Peace Within The Church
How To Cultivate The Power of Peace Within The Church
Categories: RECENT RESEARCH
Lisa Murray, M.A., LMFT
Peace. Everyone wants peace. Global peace. Racial peace. Peace within our families and peace within our hearts. We want relief from our brokenness, healing from our pain.
In our efforts to find peace, we grasp at everything around us—our relationships, our finances, our careers, even our faith—to bring us that coveted feeling of wholeness and calm. So many are left feeling hopeless and disappointed when every place and every thing that promises to provide peace doesn’t provide peace, not any lasting peace, that is.
The Center for Disease Control & Health & Human Services statistics show that 22 million Americans suffer from depression with over 29,000 suicides annually. In the U.S. it has been estimated that over 40 million people live with anxiety. Roughly 50% of marriages today end in divorce. There are over 7 million people searching the Internet daily, because they are lonely and desperate for companionship. More than 21 million Americans, ages 12 and older, abuse or are addicted to drugs and alcohol. That’s not a people at peace.
Within the Christian community, the statistics are similar. What’s worse, these numbers don’t include individuals who suffer in the shadows with their wounds and never seek help. So why, in a community of believers who have all of the spiritual resources available to them, are there still so many who never experience the abundance and peace Scripture promises? What is preventing us from being the salt and light the Bible tells us we should be?
The reason, I believe, lies in understanding our fundamental design. God didn’t just create us as physical beings. He didn’t just create us as spiritual beings. He created us as emotional beings as well. When the focus of our message to the hurting and wounded is focused entirely on healing our physical self or our spiritual self, without ever addressing our emotional self, we are simply missing the boat, adding spiritual shame to an individual’s emotional pain and leaving many to walk through life wounded.
I was one of the walking wounded. Like countless others, I searched for everything I was told would bring me peace, still nothing gave me peace. Even with an amazing and steadfast spiritual heritage and foundation, nothing healed the emotional wounds that were buried deep inside of me. Anxiety overwhelmed me. Hopelessness and despair engulfed me. Shame shrouded me. I felt completely helpless to claim the peace and freedom for which I desperately longed – until the day I began a new journey and discovered the keys that unlocked the doors to my peace.
As I’ve counseled thousands of individuals and couples during my career as a Professional Therapist, I’ve discovered my childhood experience was not so uncommon. Many of us go to church and have a spiritual awakening. We find peace with God, strengthening our spiritual self, but in the process, no matter how much we read the Bible and pray, we simply cannot find freedom from our emotional wounds, we cannot begin to know what healthy relationships or healthy selves look like.
Society today largely ignores emotional health. We teach physical health to our kids in school. We teach intellectual health through our educational curriculum. In the church we teach spiritual health that provides deep meaning and hope for those sitting in the pews. What we have missed in our communities and in our congregations is emotional health. If we offer a course on financial peace, where is the course for emotional peace?
Perhaps emotional health is too messy. Most of us don’t like to get bogged down in pain or suffering. We like things that are spectacular. We like things that are instant. We hope this time of prayer and fasting will hold the cure, will provide the healing for which we are so desperate. The truth is, many wake to find they are still desperate.
So how can those in the Christian community help individuals who are dealing with anxiety, depression, addiction, and a host of other wounds and issues that have left them feeling hopeless, powerless, defeated?
- Be a safe place.
The body of believers should be the safest place for individuals to be vulnerable, to expose their deepest hurts, and to find healing. If we simply throw formulas or Scripture at them, we dishonor the healing journey and we add more shame to the mountain they already carry. Welcome them. Embrace them. Walk with them. Don’t judge them.
- Treat the whole person.
Our emotional wounds are complex. Whether clinical depression or anxiety, or traumas and hurts from our past, there is no quick fix, no magic bullet. It is important in my practice that I help clients explore physical or bio-chemical component, the emotional component as well as the spiritual component. The more I am able to listen to, honor, and treat the whole individual, the more my clients will be able to build connection and congruence, strength and stability.
- Embrace our own journey.
When we think we’ve arrived, that’s when we stop being effective at helping others find healing on their journeys. Our clients will only embrace the process to the extent that we embrace the process. If they see us as vibrant, passionate people who are actively walking on our own journeys, they will be able to find the courage to walk through their own journey, walk out of their own darkness and find the life they desire.
In my new book, Peace for a Lifetime – Embracing a Life of Hope, Wholeness, and Harmony through Emotional Abundance, I walk with readers through whatever season of life they are in, and lay out simple, practical life steps that will help them find healing and will nurture Emotional Abundance in every area of their lives.
It’s time the Christian community stepped out of the shadows and became leaders in addressing emotional health issues. Then the church will be equipped to go out into the world and live out the Great Commission in an authentic and powerful way!
Lisa Murray is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Franklin, TN, with an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, as well as a graduate degree from Trevecca University. In 2007 Lisa founded the Counseling and Family Ministries at Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, TN, where she not only works to help individuals, couples, and families, deal with the complexities and challenges of life and relationships, she also treats a full spectrum of mental health issues.
Having walked through her own struggles with anxiety, despair, and perfectionism, Lisa enjoys helping others as they explore and discover spiritual and emotional healing in their lives and relationships. You can read more of Lisa’s articles at www.lisamurrayonline.com You can also follow her on Facebook: Lisa Murray, or on Twitter: @_Lisa_Murray.
Photo credit – https://s.sharecare.com/img/profile/e/8/3/e83f0ade-75d7-42cf-a658-d8108c04f76e.png