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Spiritual trauma: Gaining insight, showing love

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Spiritual trauma happens, even in the church. Rev. Christy Holden and Derrick Scott III discuss why some have experienced spiritual pain that may make the church feel unsafe. They share ways we can prevent harm and encourage healing as conduits of God's love.

Guests: Rev. Christy Holden and Derrick Scott III

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This episode posted on January 20, 2023.

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Trauma happens even in the church today. We talk with Reverend Christy Holden and Derek Scott III about how and why some have experienced spiritual pain that may make the church feel unsafe. During our conversation, we discuss ways to prevent harm and encourage healing as conduits of God's love.


Crystal Caviness, host: Christy and Derek, welcome to "Get Your Spirit in Shape." I'm really excited to have you with me today.

Derrick Scott III: Good to be here.

Christy Holden: Yes. Thank you for having us.

Crystal: To get started, can each of you share just a little bit about yourselves and the work you do for The United Methodist Church?

Christy: Sure. I am Christy Allen Holden and I have been serving for the last 11 years as the pastor and director of Gulf Coast Wesley Foundation in Fort Meyers, Florida. But I also do some work as an adjunct professor and as a spiritual wellness coach, working with people in the community who are largely outside of the church. And I've recently been exploring more in the area of spiritual trauma, because that's a really a big passion for me.

Derrick: Awesome. Well, I'm Derek Scott III. I'm a layperson in the Florida Conference. I've been a campus minister as well. Been doing ministry with college-aged young adults for about 21 years. First in a local church context and then founding a Wesley Foundation in northeast Florida. And now I am a part of a work of imagining what ministry to college-age young adults in the digital space might look like called Studio Wesley. And a part of that work is a project called The Wellness Project, essentially creating and curating resources for college-aged young adults at the intersection of faith, mental health and wellness. And obviously a component of that is recognizing the ways that we in the church can contribute to the mental health and wellness of college-aged young adults, or we can harm the mental health and wellness of college-aged young adults. And so my whole life, for the most part, is just focused on college-aged young adults and loving that, just grateful to be a part of this work.

Crystal: Because of the work that both of you do with the Wesley Foundation, with the church, with college students, I think that you're uniquely qualified to give some insight as well as some wisdom on the topic that we're going to discuss today, which is how the church harms people. And you know, I'll be honest, even saying that makes me grimace because the church, church people, church buildings, sanctuaries, all of that ought to be about love, God's love. And yet we know that people have been harmed by those of us inside the church. And whether that's intentional or unintentional, the harm still happens. So sadly, this can cause people to either never want to visit a church again or even learn about God. So I think it's just something that we have to understand a little better if we can, but at least start a conversation about that. So thank you both for being here and willing to have that conversation with us. The first thing I'd like to talk about is how does harm happen, both the intentional and the unintentional?

Christy: Sure. Thank you, Crystal. Well, I think harm can happen in a number of ways. And the first place I'd start is that though we want our congregations to be our faith communities, to be places that are guided by God's love and where we are able to practice imitating the love of Christ for one another and for the world, we are still practicing, right? And so to just be honest and acknowledge that we don't do that perfectly and that there are ways that are known to us and ways that are unknown to us, that we can follow someone else's journey because of our own imperfection and following and imitating Christ, we're all still learning. And that makes it both a blessing to be a part of a spiritual community, right? That’s an encouragement. None of us are perfect. We can join in the path together knowing that we're  journeying with other people and growing together, but it also can create some hazards for one another. And so I think just being really boldly honest about that piece is important as we start this conversation.

Derrick: I would agree with Christy, and I think one thing that has to be lifted up and a constant reminder for us as spiritual leaders, as cultivators of spiritual spaces, is the assumption is that these spaces are safe. People are walking into our spaces vulnerable and needy and empty in many ways. And I, I know as a leader, I often forget that, I forget that people are coming to us in a very specific condition. And so when we make mistakes, part of the harm starts at our inability to own up to them.  It starts at the inability to say, you know, that actually was not the best thing I could have said in that sermon, and I apologize. And we all make, I don't know, a single preacher that doesn't have a little, you know, moment of like losing their brain as they're riffing, you know?

And so I think that, again, lifting up the fact that church is supposed to be a safe space is a good reminder and sort of a good compass for us. But I think the other, and there's so many different ways that we could talk about how harm happens in religious spaces. I think one in particular, in part because of the way that we do church in the United States and in the West, we have this fascination of building church. We have this fascination of building something that's big and that's influential. And because of that, we at times will forget that people are not simply cogs in a system. They are not simply there as scenery that stars me as the pastor. And they're not just there to make me or this church look good. They are there to receive. And in this culture of building church, we often sort of put people in a machine and forget that they're real people.

And that is a space where a good amount of spiritual manipulation happens. A good amount of the robbing of autonomy will happen and harm happens. This is where harm happens to people who are volunteering their hours and, and, and, and because it's a part of the life of a follower of Jesus to contribute to the community. It's what, there's so much that we can say about that. But that's one piece that I definitely want to make sure that we think about is the ways that we as leaders can do harm to those who are helping us create these safe spaces, create these dynamic spaces, because we're so focused on building something big, building something, and forgetting that these are beautiful individuals who are deeply loved by God and don't simply exist to create our, our big church spaces.

Christy: Oh, absolutely, Derek, I would jump on that by saying like, you know, we're so blatantly influenced by our culture of, of consumerism and, you know, just of that building as you mentioned, that we can sometimes mistake our own sense of value and worth based on what we can accomplish in the outcomes that are, that affect other people. So if as a spiritual leader or as a spiritual practitioner in a congregation, my primary goal is to get someone else's mind to change or someone else's spirituality to grow in a particular way or, or I've decided what outcome I'm hoping for that will make me feel successful, that is about me and my ego, and not about the real love of the other person, right? So as much as we can, looking for ways to honor the, the sacred worth of our neighbors, but also to honor the sacred worth of ourselves, our belovedness is not determined by any kind of spiritual or any other achievement, right?

God loves us just as we are how we are. And I'm, I think in many ways that misunderstanding of our own belovedness is one of our greatest sins right now, or maybe the greatest sin in humanity of all time, right? That we misunderstand who we are because when we see our own belovedness is not attached to achievement or accomplishment or production, productivity, profit, you know, like all that up into the right business we like to see in our social and economic structures in the world, then that overflows then into the church. You know, we can make room for other people to just be who they are, where they are, and for real authentic love to happen. But the minute I look at another person and say, we'll be successful if, and there's an outcome that I need attached to that, then I've exploited them in a way, you know, I've made them, I've objectified them and dehumanized them in a way that does not fit our theology of imago de and and belovedness. And so that is, for me, a fundamental root of so much of the harm that happens in the church. So thank you Derek for that leaping off point.

Crystal: And let's define harm because, you know, someone might hear this and say, well, I've never physically hurt someone, so let's talk about what harm could really look like. Not just from a clergy layperson relationship, but someone sitting beside you in the pew. How do we harm people and maybe not even recognize it as harm?

Christy: Sure. I'm, I'm so glad you raised that because I think so often, particularly in clergy conversations, I think this happens. But maybe, maybe it's true all across the church, we tend to think of spiritual abuse or trauma or spiritual harm as being direct actions that, that maybe misuse power or control or even cause physical harm. Like so many of the stories we've heard in the news about clergy who have inappropriate sexual relationships with staff or people in the church or minors in the, in the congregation, right? And certainly something like that would be the epitome of traumatic. But there are so many other more sort of insidious ways , that harm can happen. And I would say like any diminishing of that embargo day that would take away from a person's sense of wholeness, of belovedness, of wholeheartedness could be an experience of harm for them. Um, and also we don't, we don't get to decide what is harm, right? Like everybody gets to say whether something is hurtful or even traumatic. Like we all experience those things in different ways. So, um, that can make it tricky. But I think any way in which we diminish the value of another person, their ideas, their process would be the starting place.

Derrick: Agreed. And I think about harm as anything that hinders a person's vitality. So there's physical harm, right? And, and this is one of those things where it's not so much that we can create these sanitized environments where harm never happens. I mean, this is the hope of every parent, right? Like, you don't want your kid to be running outside and to, you know, get hurt or to skin their knee, but they're going to skin their knee. And so we try to create boundaries and we try to create awareness so that, you know, when they're running, tie your shoes, right? And if you're running with people, don't, don't run into your sibling, right? And these are things that we do because we recognize that physical harm can happen. Well, the same is true for emotional harm. The same is true for spiritual harm, mental harm. These things are going to happen.

It's anything that hinders the vitality. Anything that keeps us from running spiritually that makes us have to stop and say, Ooh, that's harm and it's going to happen. But the question is, will we continue to be aware of it? Will we continue to look at the ways that we may be contributing to it and, and create safety, create boundaries. You know, there's this wear, again, we recognize that sometimes we put things in our houses that in the middle of the night, I'm going to stub my toe if I keep that table right in that one spot. So we move it. And so we recognize, again, when it comes to spiritual harm, man, if I keep saying words like this, particularly to this individual, they're going to continue to stub their toe on my words. It's going to hinder their spiritual journey. Is it worth it? Is it worth me keeping this one word, this one phrase in my vocabulary if it continues to hurt and harm this other person?

And yes, I love what Christy just said. We don't get to decide and I, I'm using this image of the child running around and because I feel like it helps us understand this idea of harm. They trip, they skin their knee and we ask them, are you okay? Does it hurt? Why did we ask? Said, were, are you okay? Because they stopped running, their vitality was stunted for a moment. And we stopped and we asked that question. And sometimes they're like, I'm fine. And other times huge meltdown. At least that's what I've seen. I have no kids of my own. But my point is like even paying attention to the ways that people are moving and acting in our spaces, and this is where we're so busy building church that we're not actually paying attention to the church. We will miss these moments where just a little bit of harm was done.

And just by being aware, we can stop, we can mend, we can apologize, we can quote unquote move the table that is stubbing the toe and then we can continue on this journey. Our recognition that harm, spiritual harm can and does and probably will happen, gives us then the ability to say, all right, how can I stay aware? How can I be ready to make the apology? And, and how can we continue to work on creating safer spaces? We have to be careful. We have to pay attention to the ways that the way we do church stunts, the spiritual vitality of any human being.

Christy: Absolutely. And I, I think Derek, that flows right into, um, the way that our beliefs can create that type of scenario. Also, like, I think it would be negligent for us to have a conversation like this and not talk about the impact of harmful or toxic theology. If we believe our primary mission is to get other people to produce that outcome for us, for example, right? That's a theological statement we're making in our behavior and our words and interactions toward other people that is causing harm. So for us to become really well educated about our theology, why we hold it, but also to be willing to ask hard questions of ourselves and of our faith communities. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in ways that hold sanctification as a pattern before us, right? We we're Wesley and people, we believe that we grow and change and shift and that we get better at doing this right?

And because we stand in that space then we, we, we cannot then stand in a space that has us right now, today, in this moment, in a position of rigidity, of certainty, of clinging to,  , binary. This is, yes, that is no, and there's no discussion. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because that does not keep us in a growth mindset, right? That's counterintuitive. It's antithetical to sanctification, which is a process of growth through the Holy Spirit, right? So if we don't hold onto and understand good theology and how that integrates with our practice, we do tremendous spiritual harm to others. And that really begins with a, to me, with a really good process for self-examination.

Derrick: And can I just pick up on that? One of the things I appreciate about our, our general rules, our three ma our three general rules as United Methodists, you're no harm. Do all the good you can maintain the ordinances of God. These are not meant to be sort of these like static, like you can check those off at some point. These are a part of our continued journey to perfection of, of sanctification. We never finish those classes, if you will. We never finish those learnings. So when, even when we're trying to define what harm is, even in the context of our general rules of do no harm, it is a signal that we are constantly on a journey of understanding what harm is. And so a beautiful recognition for all of us, particularly leaders in the church when we're trying to define harm, is to not be so focused on getting this one definition that we can then say, okay, I know what harm is.

No, we're always, this is what sin has done to humanity. We are harming each other in ways we don't even know yet like, and that's the Holy Spirit's inviting us on a journey where we can learn more and, and figure that out so that we can be better shepherds and leaders. But the idea that we're going to get this one definition and now I know it. And so I can always know when, when I see it. I, I, I know why we want to do that because we, many of us don't want to do harm, but we also have to be okay with continuously being educated on what harm is possible. That we're never going to finish that conversation. And so we've got to just be open. There are things we just didn't know about how we have harmed each other until, you know, the last few decades. And we'll continue to be on that journey of understanding.

Crystal: Before we continue our conversation with Christy and Derek, I want to take a moment to tell you about a resource that churches are finding useful to connect with young families in their communities. It's called Frolic, designed by early childhood experts to build faith through play in babies, toddlers, and young children to age five. Frolic is a new way to help young children take their first steps of faith. Explore the 1, 2, 3 s and ABCs of frolic, sign up and receive sample lessons, free resources and more. At Frolic little steps, big faith. Now let's resume our conversation with Christy and Derek.

You know, as a Christian and as someone who loves being in the church and loves the church, I talk about my life. And often when I meet someone and I'm just saying, this is who I am, these are the things I do, church comes up. It almost inevitably does. And I've met people who they say, I'm never going back to church. This happened to me. You know, that was, it was terrible. People in church are, you know, fill in the blanks. How can I respond to keep a conversation going and to begin building a relationship with that person?

Christy: Oh gosh, just to me that always starts with, um, I say always, you know, other people do it different ways. I, um, I though try really hard to start with listening. Tell me more about that. Oh my goodness, that sounds like it was really difficult for you. I'd love to hear more about that, even if it's not right now. I'll meet you for coffee. I'll, let's plan a time to go for a walk together. Let's sit down. I, I want to really hear how that impacted you. It sounds like it was really formation in your life in a way that that's causing you to continue to consider. So, you know, if you trust me enough of that story, I would love to hear more about that. I, I just think we get, as we said before, right? So focused on the building end of it.

We forget that the highest call of the church is to be in relationship. This is represented in the Godhead and the Trinity, right? In our three and one in relationship with one another. It's represented so much and in the way Jesus responds to people and how Jesus goes about doing ministry and the way Jesus builds the church is always through these deep intentional connections with people. So I, I just think trust building, relationship building, listening to the story, and as much as we can without judgment or without defensiveness, it's, it's not our job to defend the actions of the church. It's our job to help other people feel the belovedness of God.

Crystal: But we want to defend it. We want to understand so we can figure out why it happened. Or maybe that's just me. Maybe that's unique to me trying to help with this.

Derrick: First off, I don't think that's unique. I think that many of us, when we hear, especially those of us who've given so much of our lives to the church, we encounter someone who has, who has been harmed, who has a story, who has a season, and because of that story, that season, they're not coming back, that gets us in a very specific way. I think that we have to then have the personal self-awareness to decide what that moment is about. Is that moment then about me feeling better about my association with the church? Or is this moment about embodying grace and holding space for this individual that has been harmed, man. And when I'm sitting down with college students who tell me these stories about growing up in church and many of them coming from divorced families and the way that the church treated their parents, one parent was fine, but the other wasn't. Or you, you know, I I'm ready to like, well, you know, well, and you have to to understand my job in that moment is really just to hold space. Don't edit the story, don't correct the story. Don't bring the rationalizations. That's not, those things. Don't bring healing. This person's not going to, all of a sudden on the other side of your rant about, oh, well, you know, they're not going to, oh my gosh, you're right. I don't know why I thought it was hurt. My bad. Like, that's not going to happen. What what we hope will happen, and this is so often, at least in my context, when I get the sense that when someone's ready to tell me about the harm that's happened to them in religious spaces, that's a huge step.

Christy: Absolutely. Right? Absolutely. Derek.

Derrick: Yes. I need to handle that moment as sacred. When someone offers an honest reflection, they're honestly sharing what's happened to them in religious spaces. That's a moment for them to experience a God that listens. And I love these moments in scripture where it says, and God heard, God heard the cries of God's people in Egypt. And we can say, and God acted yes, but that, that the context is that and God heard and that like it's period God heard. Do people feel heard when they're sharing their stories of harm in religious spaces? And that's where we have to start. We have to start there not editing again, not, it's not about us in that moment. It is about this individual who needs to be cared for, who needs to be seen, who needs to be heard. And in that moment, we become a conduit of the listening God, we become the tangible expression of God listening to the cries of God's people.

Christy: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Crystal: Well that's really … what a responsibility.

Christy: It's an enormous responsibility. And there's a, there's an old book title I quote often. I I've never even read the book, I'm that awful. But the title is, it's “A Burdensome Joy.” It's, it is a heavy responsibility, but it is the greatest joy to be trusted with a story like that. To even be trusted with the, um, with a statement I've been harmed or I'll never go back even that much is, is a huge sacred gift to us. It allows us to see things. It's like the scales falling off of Paul's eyes. It's us being able to take in a world that's bigger than we've known, right? So if we believe that the church is great because it's been great for us, then there are some real limits to what we can see of how God is able to work. But when we sit with people who have experienced harm and they trust us in a moment like that, it is sacred. It's a deep joy to be able to share that space, even though it might be a hard story to allow ourselves to be conduits of grace, as Derek said, is profoundly rewarding. And, and to love people with no expectation of anything in return. You know, to love them in a way where they feel heard and seen and known and affirmed that their story is valid, their hurt is valid. It's, it's a, a beautiful difficult moment.

Derrick: Mm-hmm. I keep going back to that space where you, you hear someone ready to talk about the harm they've experienced and you, you want to jump in and, and I do wonder if some of that wanting to jump in as because we've ignored the harm we've experienced and the ways that, you know, if you ignore, again, I just go back to some of these images, you ignore the little cut that you got when you scraped your knee that could get infected. And that could turn, that could create issues within yourself. And some of us are, you know, it, it manifests in, in some really interesting ways, but some of us, it toughens us up. I mean, we have this mentality, particularly in the United States that I just have to  toughen up and like, yeah, life's hard. And it's like, I'm not sure that's created great leaders.

Like I know that that's a mentality like, yeah, I'm going to get hurt and so I'm just going to, you know, toughen up and not let things affect me. Like that's who we are. Like we are people. Our God in Christ, according to Hebrews was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, our God in Christ was not toughened up at the hurt that comes with this life, though he entered into it and, and and is with us in it. And the idea that we would have spiritual leaders that are so callous in part because they haven't addressed their own harm. I'm not sure that that creates safe spaces. I think that maybe one thing we have to do as leaders is begin to acknowledge the moment that we spiritually skinned our knees and no one paid attention. We spiritual leaders may need to be willing to go sit in a therapist office and a spiritual director's office and unpack that, that moment's like it hurt and I just tried to get over it and I just tried to forget about it.

And let's just go back and let's, let's actually dig that stuff up and, and address it because it could actually be contributing to toxic leadership. There's this phrase, hurting people, hurt people. And I just wonder in that moment when I'm sitting there and I'm trying to receive someone's story of spiritual trauma, I wonder if the difficulty for me is rooted in my lack of awareness of my own spiritual trauma and my not having tools to address my own trauma. Therefore I can't, I only know how to edit somebody else's story. So I just, that was just a thought that I just wanted to put on the table of just the ways that we have to do our own work, even as we're trying to address and, and hold space for others in this, in their spiritual trauma and stories.

Crystal: And, you know, Derrick, that just comes full circle back to when we started when Christy said, this can be about our own sense of belovedness from God. So, you know, I'm just sitting around just wondering what is the say about how we, what my personal relationship is with God when I feel I must defend God? How bold and ignorant of me to think that that, because that's what it ends up feeling like. I've gotta defend God here. God certainly doesn't need my help in that, but what does that say about my relationship? And, and it certainly is a time for introspection and acknowledging where have I been disappointed in by people, you know, who are using God's name and love. And yet I still was hurt.

Christy: Absolutely. Crystal, I think you're so spot on in that investigation about who we imagine God to be and how we seek God relating to us. I think one of the things too that we could explore would be that feeds that is, um, the way that our language so often culturally has become, at least in the United States, spiritually violent God's spirit hit me like a brick in the head, right? That word in the scripture wrecked me, right? That that kind of language, that that communicates, that God somehow breaks us down, beats us up, takes us to the brink on purpose in order to show us the real truth or get us to make a better choice. You know, all that kind of stuff, that if we really unpacked it or if we really leaned into it, we might discover a different theological ground was really more healthy right.

Or more true of the God that's described in scripture or in our shared experience and shared revelation about who God is or how God works. And I think we internalize a lot of that. And I think also the other, another helpful investigation for us is to look at how authority figures in our early upbringing, our early childhood get mashed up with who God is, how authority figures spoke to us as children, what, how we perceived our relationship with them, our belovedness to them and around them, what was expected of us, and whether or not we met those expectations often turns out to be sounding a whole lot like God's voice in our head. Right? And so when those things don't get sorted out, we can believe that that's how God should sound to other people, right? So we're putting upon not only putting upon God who God isn't, but also putting upon other people who God isn't.

Yeah. And holding them to expectations that aren't, um, helpful or healthy. So yeah, like figuring out how to, um, re language some of those things and the way we communicate about faith and growth and also figuring out how to untangle our heads from honestly the harm that has been done through us, right? Our, our parents didn't mean to make that conflated with God, like our authority figures growing up didn't mean to say, oh, well now when I respond to you and put you in timeout or lose my temper with you, or holds you to a particular standard that you should believe that's how God's talking to you. Like our, our parents for the most part didn't mean to do that, but it did. It does get conflated. And so these are really important investigations for us to do if we're going to hold space with other people that is untethered to that stuff in us, that is related to our own harm, our own hurts.

Crystal: Wow. I feel like we could just do, like once a month we could get together and talk about this for the next, what five years . That would just be really valuable. But I do have just a couple more questions as we finish up today. And one is for each of you, what would be the most important takeaway about this topic that you want to share?

Derrick: I just continue to come back to the humility that's required as a spiritual leader. This is a vulnerable space, so things will happen. My task then is to, one, always be in a space where apology is very close to my next , my next sentence. To never feel like any intent is enough to overcome an impact. That humility that I, I exist for these individuals. They don't exist for me. I'm here to serve them. And so in the moments that I, oh my gosh, ne never intentionally, gosh, I hope we never intentionally try to do harm, that I'm ready to apologize. That at least for me personally, it's always the beginning of healing, the recognition that there will be a bump and a bruise. Because we're all still on our journey. We're all still learning. And so having the humility as a leader to just stay open to that and be ready to apologize and then take steps to minimize harm, I gotta stay humble. I, I gotta stay in, in the servant shepherding mode as a leader.

Christy: That's awesome, Derek. That's a beautiful expression. I think for me, I have such a deep connection specifically to the theology of the incarnation and the way that old hymn text goes, that Christ, in order to be made flesh, that God, in order to be made fully human, emptied God's self of all but love.

Just set aside everything but love in order to dwell with us, in order to be with us. And figuring out how to do that for one another, beginning with myself, you know, how how do I act the way God acts towards me? And if I can hold myself in that space, then I'll be more successful in holding my neighbor in that space. And if I practice holding my neighbor in that space, I'll be more successful at holding me in that space. And so it really does for me come down to this, you know, showing us this kenosis, this so self emptying love and not in the way of diminishing ourself or our identity or, you know, unhealthfully, setting aside what is blessedness about who we are, but rather embracing that, fully seeing ourselves, hearing ourselves fully helps us to do that for other people. Like we talked about the being self examined. But yeah, it all comes back to me to that sense of God being with us deeply in that way.

Crystal: Thank you. And the last question is a question we ask all of our guests on “Get Your Spirit in Shape,” and that's for you to share with us how you keep your own spirit in shape.

Christy: As an extrovert, I can tell you it is for me the most helpful practice to find a regular balance of relationships that help me stay accountable and people that tell me the truth. And also people who'll be kinder to me than the voice in my head that's often very harsh. So they tell me the truth in that way too. Sso a covenant group regular engagement with a, a covenant group has been completely life giving spiritual direction and therapy and having those kind of three bodies and other friends, friends outside the church, the balance in those relationships and a regular sort of rotation through those conversations with people and maintaining those relationships is probably the best way I say spiritually fit.

Derrick: And as an introvert, , which you have to understand, Christy and I have this beautiful friendship where I recognize she needs extroverted space and she recognizes that I have to have introverted space or I can't be in her extroverted space at all. But as someone who tends to recharge when I pull away, and this will sound weird for some people and others will be like, oh my gosh, that's exactly it. I stay spiritually fit by continually being intellectually and theologically challenged and, and always in a space of learning. That for me is what gets my spirit stirred. And, and the work that I have to do with that is to stay in therapy and to stay in relationship with people and to talk through some of these ideas that I've got in my brain. But it all starts with me staying in these theologically and intellectually challenging spaces.

And, and, and that's just, I think that's kind of how I, it's how I keep my soul fed. That there's still more for me to learn, there's still more for me to explore and it, and it keeps me out of my loop of this is how we've always understood it. So that must be what it is. It gets me out of that stubborn loop of thinking that I figured it all out, which always overflows into my soul and always overflows in the way that I interact with people and with God. And so staying intellectually and theologically challenged is the primary way I stay in spiritual shape.

Crystal: That's awesome. I just am so appreciative that the two of you are able to be with us today and, and talk about this. And I know it's been really insightful for me and I hope that our audience feels the same way. And I appreciate the work that you're doing for the church just to listen and minimize that, that harm and just being a loving presence for other people. Thank you both for that.

Derrick: Thank you Crystal.

Crystal: Thank you.


That was Christy Holden and Derek Scott II discussing the topic of spiritual harm. To learn more about Christy and Derek and the work that they do as leaders within the United Methodist Church, go to and look for this episode where you will find helpful links in a transcript of our conversation. If you have questions or comments, feel free to email me at a special email address just for “Get your Spirit in Shape” listeners, [email protected] If you enjoyed today's episode, we invite you to leave a review on the podcast platform where you listen. Thank you so much for joining us for “Get Your Spirit in Shape.” I’m Crystal Caviness and I look forward to the next time that we are together.