Owning Our Work

On this week’s podcast, Dan concludes a series about trauma care in the church through the lens of Galatians 6. A few weeks back, Dan talked about restoring those who were broken by their own sin; then he shared a two-part reflection on how we go about carrying the burdens of the people around us who have been hurt by the sins of others (Part 1, Part 2). Now, Dan discusses the necessity of being able to check in with ourselves, reflect on our work, and take satisfaction in a job well done.

“That is the great work of being someone who knows trauma but also knows how to engage others for the sake of helping them in their trauma.”

That self-evaluation is trickier than it sounds, especially for those of us who have been affected by trauma in our own lives. Dan talks about the neurological effects of trauma and the way that it shuts down our ability for self-reflection.

“Our bodies, whether we’re aware of it or not, are carrying stress, carrying trauma. The longer or more significantly you have been traumatized, frankly, the least likely you are to be self-aware. As a result, the more difficult it is to do this very simple thing: Pay attention.”

After checking in and paying attention, this passage in Galatians challenges us to take stock of what we have accomplished—the weight, exhaustion, and satisfaction of our work. Dan compares this to the creation narrative in Genesis, in which God stops after every day, surveys his work, and finds joy in a job well done. It is crucial, Dan says, that we be able to do this without comparing ourselves to others or to our own standards of perfection.

“I am to hold the goodness and glory of my own labor without having to make a critique. […] All I am to do is be able to suffer, experience, name, and bless, and then eschew any tendency to compare. […] Comparisons are cruel. They leave you empty, envious, or both, and therefore they ruin.”

Dan concludes by reflecting on some of the questions that were stirred by this discussion of trauma care in Galatians 6.

“Are you in danger even in your own efforts to restore? Are you thinking of yourself more than you ought? Are you paying attention? […] This is the path for carrying and caring for trauma.”

Speaking of conclusions, next week Dan begins a new podcast series all about endings. You won’t want to miss it.