In the days following the tragic mudslide, I have been in contact with other youth leaders, children’s leaders and leaders in our church to help care for people of all ages. Last Sunday I had the opportunity to lead a service with our Carpinteria people where we read scripture, shared stories of God’s presence and prayed for each other.
Now I am happy to be in the Santa Barbara area with you. On this Tuesday my heart is heavy for all of us and the ways we have directly and indirectly been impacted by the tragedy taking place just a week ago.
Here are a few tips and tools for you as you care for yourself and your kids:
- Recognize we have all been traumatized by this event, in one way or another.
- Understand the value of responding to trauma in your own life and the lives of others.
- Identify ways the impact of this trauma has played out in your own life: sadness, impatience, loss of appetite, anger, guilt, etc.
- Identify ways the impact of this trauma is playing out in your kids. Be sure you are receiving care, be sure your kids are receiving care. None of us are totally fine right now. Ensure all of you are processing this with somebody.
- Tell the story of how you heard about this event, the emotions you experienced as a result, what you wanted to do upon hearing this news.
- Answer the question, “What is it I (you) need most?”
- Be aware of the difference between male/female responses to trauma. For example, I have talked to many pastors/leaders mentioning more females than males coming to process and seek help with them. Males (I can speak with authority on this) are notorious for declaring they are fine when in reality they are not. Make sure the males in your life or you as a male are reaching out. See Tip #1.
- Understand “the body keeps the score.” This is the title of an excellent book by Bessel van der Kolk. It reminds the reader that lack of response to trauma will have consequences on the body physically, mentally, socially or emotionally at some time in the future. Count on it.
- Keep in mind the three C’s in trauma response
- Offer Calming – find a “happy place” of rest, food, dance, music, play, time in the Psalms, prayer, meditation. This is not denial. This is taking care of one’s self and trusting God with the bigger picture.
- Seek community – What better time to be with people you love than after a disaster or tragedy. For those in the church, the loving family of God provides a convenient and helpful place to just be with others. Listening to stories, giving a hug and being ready to help is vital to traveling this road together.
- Make connections through healthy communication – While it is essential to be with those we love in community it is also important to actively communicate care and reach out for care in our lives. Putting words to our struggles and actively listening to the words of others helps us to name our deepest needs and gives us a path to move forward into the “new normal” we now face.
I am grateful and honored to serve and live among you. If there are ways I can be of resource to you in the days, months and even years to come, do not hesitate to connect with me. May the joy of the Lord be our strength.
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