The Role of Religion and Spirituality in a Flawed World
"Religion and spirituality often come into play in times of loss or during life-shattering or life-shaking experiences that contradict our assumptions about the safety of the world, about a Creator, and about ourselves.† Herman (1992) suggests that trauma challenges one to be a theologian, to ask 'big picture' questions when experiences change our perception of the world.† Alice Seabold testified to this loss of security: 'When I was raped I lost my virginity and almost lost my life.† I also discarded certain assumptions I had held about how the world worked and about how safe I was' (cited in Herman, 1992, p. 50).
"Combat veterans, who saw and did things on the battlefield that most of us only experience watching movies or in nightmares, often have trouble reconciling their experience with the faith with which they grew up. Believing that, in wars, 'God is on our side,' that we fight for 'one nation under God,' assures soldiers that they are engaged in a just cause.† 'The truth about combat is quite different, however.† God seems malignantly absent in the caldron of madness, savagery, and malice that is war.† Grace, redemption, mercy, kindness, love of nature---the stuff of New Testament faith---are incompatible with the killing rage of combat' (Mahedy, 1995, p. 6).† For many young soldiers, their battlefield experiences shattered their conceptions of right and wrong, and the exposure to evil resulted in strong feelings of shame and guilt. Thirty years later, many combat veterans are engaging in spiritual practices to promote their healing (Salois, 1995)"† (Locke, B.; Garrison, R.; & Winship, J. (1998).† Generalist Social Work Practice. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, p. 51).
Every night when I pray, I ask that those I have harmed in any way, or those who even feel that I have harmed them regardless of the accuracy of their perceptions, I ask that they forgive me.† I donít just routinely "ask" for forgiveness, I humbly beg them to forgive me.† My redemption lies in part through their forgiving me.† My redemption also lies in my behaving ever more lovingly toward all people so that my mistakes are, at that final moment of accounting, hopefully balanced by good works.
However, I also pray that, through the grace of God, any pain that I have inflicted upon others be turned into wisdom, be used by them to grow and become wiser better persons.† Since trauma challenges one to be a theologian, it means that it provides one with the opportunity to come close to God.† In my own life, I have always tried to use pain in this way and it never fails to work.