Toplines on Trauma

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

A couple weeks ago, I attended a Trauma Informed Care training presented by national expert Bonnie Martin, LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor). The training was hosted by National Community Church here in Washington, D.C. I was joined by one of my mentees who is pursuing her Master of Social Work. Since attending the training, it’s been my intent to share with you some of what we learned.

Though I’ve been told by others that I am a good listener, compassionate and provide wise counsel, it was recommended that I attend the training to better serve the at-risk youth population the Lord has placed a burden on my heart to mentor here in D.C. Unlike the young people I’m currently mentoring who seek guidance in navigating career choices, relationship matters and their life in Christ Jesus in a morally decaying world, it is highly likely the stories I’ll hear from the at-risk population will be gut-wrenching and horrific.

The training was tremendously helpful to someone like me who is not—I repeat NOT a mental health expert. She presented a lot of information, at which my mentee and I took copious notes. Though she is a Christian, Martin framed the information primarily from a scientific perspective to depict how trauma affects the brain and how the brain attempts to heal.

While I wouldn’t dare capture for you the entire training in this blog post, I can provide you some toplines. I hope this helps to enlighten and certainly not minimize the scale and impact trauma can have on someone physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. For those of you reading this who are mental health professionals and more versed in issues on trauma, please feel free to provide additional insight.

Toplines on Trauma

What is trauma and what does it look like?

  1. Trauma (as Martin defined it): too much stress at one time for the body to handle properly; a distressing experience.
  2. Trauma can be acute (ex: earthquake) followed by subsequent aftershocks. PTSD looks at how the body and brain are responding two months after trauma. Complex post-trauma could also be trauma that is chronic (ex: some children are born into trauma, such as those born to a heroin-addicted mother, child born into food insecure home or molestation. Chronic homelessness is ongoing trauma).
  3. The brain is being altered under traumatic stress and this needs to be taken into consideration.
  4. Neuroplasticity: how the brain seeks to heal after trauma or injury and establish new neuro connections to adjust to changes in new environment.
  5. Trauma can cause memory impairment. Memories can also change, become disjointed or not make sense.
  6. Negative behaviors of acting out: Some of the behaviors that traumatized people act out is what helped them survive (lying, stealing, etc.) to cope with stresses that never should have been. While we get this, they need to be restored from this. Sexual acting out may be sign of previous sexual trauma. This is done to manage stress response.
  7. Prefrontal cortex of the brain if compromised or damaged during trauma, creates hypervigilence. The person’s ability to perceive stress in a healthy way, is gone. All events are elevated to a high stress level (ex: studying for an exam and being chased by a shark receives same stress response).
  8. A person experiencing trauma may feel unworthy of love, acceptance and carry shame.
  9. They may crave sweet, fatty food combinations. They can gain weight and this compounds the shame feelings. Diet is critical. They need hydration and healthy food. Dehydration impairs mental function.
  10. People experiencing trauma are exhausted. Difficulty getting out of bed to run their race. Weary and faint-hearted.

How can you best help this person?

  1. Listen. If they choose to be silent instead of talk, sit with them in the silence. Don’t seek to fill the silence.
  2. By listening and not trying to “help,” you offer them a safe place to engage and build a healthy relationship. This also helps their brain establish new neuro connections.
  3. Focus on their strengths.
  4. Show up. Be present. Your presence matters.
  5. Stick to what you know. If they ask you a question and you don’t know, tell them, “I don’t know.” Do seek to connect them to the appropriate resources who can help.
  6. Ask questions to get to know them. Be interested in them. People are the assignment. We have as much to learn from them as they do from us.
  7. People who have experienced trauma tend to self-isolate. This can kill. They need community and connection.
  8. Embrace anger and grief. These are honest, raw and real emotions about pain and trauma. Bear witness to their pain. Don’t try to shut them down too soon.
  9. Understand that resiliency differs for everyone. Trauma differs for everyone and cannot be compared.
  10. Empower people. Never take their power away. “Do you want an apple or orange?” “Do you want to sit here or over there?”

 

comfortingeachother

How can you stay healthy when serving/ministering to a person who has been traumatized?

  1. Don’t be a sponge/don’t absorb others’ trauma or you will not be good for yourself or others. Instead, mirror love and resiliency, laughter, play, redemption. Mirror everything you pray for them to have. The Holy Spirit working through you and your presence will be the influence.
  2. Make sure you bounce back. If you are not bouncing back, stop and get help.

Praise Jesus Christ, who is our Savior! He is a sure help in our times. You need not think that you can save this person. Only Jesus can. Jesus knows our pain and suffering. He knows that pain and despised the shame of that pain for the joy set before him as told in Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

he-refreshes-the-weary-and-the-faint

Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending your Son Jesus, Our Savior, to bear it all for us on the Cross. In our pain, our grief, anger, a yearning to understand “why?”, He knows and sees our struggle. He hears our cries and utterances.  Because of His victory achieved on the Cross, the shame is not His or ours. Thank you Jesus for your amazing love that heals the broken places and makes all things new. We pray that those experiencing such pain would begin to lay their burdens down, so they may see the victory and joy you’ve already set before them. Refresh and renew their spirit, mind and body, Lord with your love, strength, peace and joy. In this joy, may they run their race with perseverance, seeing their victory already won. Please also strengthen those of us you’ve called to help those in pain. We thank you for inviting us to be co-workers with you in this work as they move toward healing and freedom, and prayerfully, may be equipped to help free somebody else. 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

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Charity: More Joy in Serving the Few or the Masses?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“The best fruit is not shaken from the tree, but picked by hand, one by one.” –Jerry McAuley (1839-1884), reformed thief and prisoner, founder, The McAuley Water Street Mission in New York City

I know the donation pleas are loading up your email inboxes and mailboxes, all for good causes. In this high season of giving or charity, the aforementioned quote by Jerry McAuley has given me pause.

Hands down, it’s wonderful that many of us give our dollars, resources and time to various organizations to help others in need. Praise God for you and the organizations who are helping to bridge the gaps. May we continue to serve…so long as we’re not placing our joy in and idolizing the numbers (ex: millions served). I’ve become dazzled by the numbers, at times.

As Mr. McAuley’s quote infers, imagine the positive impact you can have on one or a few because you’re able to spend quality time with them.  Your time and presence shows love that will last and very likely assist in shaping their character. McAuley knew full well the power of love’s one-on-one ability to transform. He was a riotous drunkard and vicious robber who was repeatedly in and out of prison, spending seven years in Sing Sing. He later heard the Gospel delivered by a volunteer missionary and was transformed by Christ’s love. Shortly after, the Lord led him to launch the McAuley Mission in New York City in 1872, where men who were drunkards, robbers and the like, came to hear the Gospel and were transformed by Christ’s love.

“Charity” as originally described in this King James Bible version of 1 Corinthians 13:13 means “love”:

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love).

When we love others

 

Charity also means to extend benevolence, goodwill or love toward another who is suffering or in need. With time, the word “charity” has taken on the form of campaigns and operations to reach the masses with pleas for donations in order to serve the global masses. Some of these efforts have been subcontracted out to cold edifices like the government as opposed to our one-on-one help that requires time and sometimes uncomfortable conversations. Government may provide (barely) for people’s physical needs, but true philanthropy also provides for one’s spiritual needs.

By expecting the government to fill the gaps (even in broken families—an article for another day), we’ve become far more removed and far too impressed with the fallacy of mass progress. Surely if millions of people are being provided clothing and a meal, all is well, right?

An excerpt from The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky (1992, pg. 129) depicts the problem with this thinking:

‘The National Conference of Charities and Correction (which in 1917 changed its name to the National Conference of Social Work) began to include lectures on how poor housing caused crime and how governmental housing projects would help. The trend was clear: Any time the charitable emphasis moved from the person to the mass and from the souls to stones, government became the popular engine of progress.’

heart-in-handsYes, it’s impressive in marketing materials to say, “We served 10 million people last year and intend to serve an additional 5 million this year.” No one will turn down the help or berate you for being able to serve so many. Although, for those of us in Christ Jesus, as His Ambassadors, may we not idolize the numbers or the operation. May we truly be the hands, feet and heart of Jesus Christ if it is one or two He places in our care to serve for a time. May we find even more joy in caring for the spiritual needs of the hand-picked fruit (if this is His will for you) rather than striving to shake the entire tree.

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

VATG in Photos: Joyful Fellowship Within the Body of Christ

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Gratefully, God created us to fellowship with one another. Whether family, friends, spouses, children, colleagues, neighbors, classmates, customers or others, we can enjoy relationships based on shared interests or pursuits. Yet, I’ve experienced through the years (and perhaps you have too) a deeper, unexplainable joy shared among Believers when in fellowship with other Believers. What’s most striking is when such unity is felt across miles, time zones, geographical boundaries, through phone calls, emails and social media—perhaps never having met one another face to face. Such joy! Sometimes when speaking with my brothers and sisters in Christ I’ve said, “Can we do this all day, every day?!” While here on Earth, we’re experiencing a snippet of that joy of which we’ll taste fully and eternally one day.

Such joy was experienced during a recent surprise trip from her home in California to Washington, D.C. made by my/our dear sister in Christ and Voices Against the Grain ministry team member, Ana Martinez. A quick, 12-hour stopover with her family allowed Ana and I to meet for the first time in person since Ana joined our ministry team in August 2013!! A blessing to fellowship face to face! We’ve shared many phone calls and emails encouraging, sharing words of wisdom, praying with each other. We’ve hosted radio shows together separated by West Coast/East Coast time zones but joined by technology and united in Spirit.

Thank you Lord for the joyful fellowship you have created within the Body of Christ! Separated by miles but united in Spirit, I look forward to when all six of us ministry team members can fellowship face to face!  I also look forward to meeting other brothers and sisters in Christ who God has connected us to since launching the ministry in May 2013. I hope in reading this, you too have enjoyed that special and joyful fellowship experienced among Believers. Christ Jesus truly is our joy!

Photos below!

-Nicole

Nicole and Ana enjoy time at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Ana caught up with Nicole in D.C. (where Nicole resides) during a quick trip.

Ana Martinez (left) and Nicole D. Hayes (right) enjoy time at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.  Ana caught up with Nicole in D.C. (where Nicole resides) during a quick trip. (Photo courtesy: Ana’s sister “Milli.” Thank you Milli for capturing our moment!)

More smiles! A great time in fellowship!

More smiles! A great time in fellowship! (Photo courtesy: Ana’s sister “Milli”)

Fashionably fabulous ladies in the cold! VATG Digital Media Coordinator Destiney Bishop and Nicole D. Hayes enjoy a time of fellowship in November 2014 prior to Destiney's move from Maryland to New York. So much fun!

Fashionably fabulous ladies in the cold! VATG Digital Media Coordinator Destiney Bishop (left) and Nicole D. Hayes (right) enjoy a time of fellowship in November 2014 prior to Destiney’s move from Maryland to New York. So much fun!

More VATG team member photos here.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

Colossians 1:11-12- We pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so you will have the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Take a look at the snapshot presented before us. A concise and  precise view into the attributes and actions that will align us with our Lord. First up: endurance, which is the ability to continue or last, despite fatigue, or adverse conditions. Second: patience, which is the steady perseverance to continue when confronted with delay. Two words, one outcome provided by the God Who is, Who gives us strength to stay the course. Thus, when we remain within these principles we locate a well of joy previously untapped. This well becomes our life source as it contains the Living Water needed to carry out our day. This well has provided us many blessings, which we must be prepared to share with others.
(#Godsway)

 

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C. Moreover, Herbert serves on the pureHOPE advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture. Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management.

 

The Lord Did What? Let’s Praise Him

Psalm 90:15- Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Today is a day the LORD has made and we will surely be glad in it. Glad to the point of exhaustion for the Lord guides our steps and stabilizes our walk. Glad to the point of peacefulness because God has brought tranquility to a landscape of destruction. Glad to the point of immense respect, for The God Who Is has shaped our lives into a mold of His own, so we might correctly identify our Creator. Are you glad today? For the manna that fell out of the sky fed us, the water that sprung from that Rock quenched our thirst, and the cloak of mercy and grace clothed us. Therefore, who is glad today? Who can speak to the wonderful blessings brought to your life? Who can remember the tragedies, negative outcomes, and immense pain that transformed you into the person you are today? Through good or bad you are loved and welcomed into HIS arms—a notion that should bring a grin to all of our faces. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the pureHOPE advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management.