Faith is your personal connection with meaning and purpose in life through someone greater than yourself; Jesus Christ. To have faith in Jesus Christ is to have faith in the “higher power” who can save from sin and help as we heal from our traumas . Often, people express their faith and belief in God after traumatic events because they realize through the event how temporary and fragile life can be! Knowing the Jesus who created us and offers us healing and eternal life only makes sense in that context!
Because a personal faith in Christ is closely linked with your sense of purpose and meaning in life, things that have an impact on what you do and who you are can affect that faith. Some Veterans may find their life experiences strengthen their spirituality or faith. For other Veterans, their experiences may cause them to rethink or question faith. If you put into practice your faith each day, trauma may cause you to be concerned about losing faith in what you believe. If you do not know Jesus Christ before you experience a traumatic event in your life, you may afterward struggle with questions about meaning and purpose in life.
Christian or non-Christian may ask God, “Why me? Why did you let me live? Is this the plan, because I don’t like it.”
You may wonder:
- What death and suffering mean in the broader scheme of things
- If there is any meaning or purpose to the things you saw or experienced
- If you are a bad person because of your actions
- Why bad things happened to you or people you care about
- Why you survived when other people did not
These kinds of questions are common after a difficult or traumatic experience. Many people need to think about why and what they believe to help make sense out of what they have been through.
For most people, wrestling with these sorts of questions is difficult, but eventually leads to answers. However, some people may find their experiences make them feel as if there aren’t any good answers. Don’t give up! There are answers.
In recent years, it has become clearer how faith relates to health. Individuals and care providers should keep an eye out for spiritual struggles such as:
- Loss of faith
- Difficulty forgiving others or oneself
- Feeling abandoned or punished by God
- Anger toward God
- Guilt or shame
- Grief and loss
- Difficulty merging deeply held values with life experiences
If you are experiencing these kinds of spiritual problems, you may not feel like your old self. You might find that you have stopped doing things you used to enjoy, or perhaps you have isolated yourself from others. If you have struggled with these kinds of spiritual issues or a crisis of faith over a long period of time, you may also be dealing with relationship problems, feelings of depression or anxiety, or other issues that you may want to address.
“I struggled with my faith, just like a lot of people do. Some of my close Army buddies and my brothers helped me get back in touch with my faith. That really helped me find my peace again and just realize that I can enjoy life again.”
Learning to make sense of what happened can rebuild your sense of purpose and meaning. Try to take the time to:
- Join a TBI/PTSD support group and talk about your questions and beliefs with people you can trust
- (Our group meets every wed. night at 5:30 at Henry Bible Church, 1592 Yorick Ave, Henry, Nebraska)
(We have been there and have personally experienced TBI and PTSD. We will not minimize what you are feeling!)
- Spend time thinking, expressing, and making sense of the experience, whether through talking, writing, art, music, or other means
- Practice your faith in a meaningful way (Church, Groups, and private conversations with other Christians) to help you feel more connected and focused on what is important
- Share your thoughts, feelings and questions with counselors or Pastors—they can help you examine your beliefs and find meaning
Talking to close friends and loved ones about what you are thinking and feeling may help you resolve your concerns and allow your friends and family to provide support. In some cases family may not offer support. In such a case be sure to find a support network like a group or pastor. If you are married be sure to have your spouse come to the TBI/PTSD group with you. You will both need to explore the answers Jesus provides together! We have resources for suited to address both of your needs and understand the struggles that go on!
Every day, Veterans connect with resources, services, and support that effectively address the issues impacting their lives. If spiritual issues are interfering with your health and well-being or getting in the way of your relationships, work, or daily activities, you may want to reach out for support. Consider connecting with:
- A pastor and/or a group leader (Our group meets every wed. night at 5:30 at Henry Bible Church, 1592 Yorick Ave, Henry, Nebraska) If you are having a crisis don’t wait, seek help now at an Emergency room or from a help line such as:
- Your family doctor: Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does
- A mental health professional, such as a therapist
- Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center: VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans and may have VA chaplains on site
Learn more about the possible associations between spirituality issues and other concerns such asrelationship problems, alcohol or drug problems, reckless behavior, posttraumatic stress, anddepression.
My HealtheVet Spirituality Center
This online resource provides information on finding spiritual support through a wide variety of services, including VA chaplains, support groups, and education programs.
This website provides resources, information, and self-assessments to help Veterans and active duty military deal with issues unique to them, including understanding spiritual balance.
If you are a combat Veteran or experienced any sexual trauma during your military service, bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist—many of whom are Veterans themselves—for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA.
VA Medical Center Facility Locator
Some spirituality issues are related to health conditions that need attention. This link will allow you to search for VA programs located near you. If you are eligible to receive care through the Veterans Health Administration, you can enroll in one of VA’s treatment programs.