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Partners Insight – restor(y): Collective Trauma: The Hole in The Bride’s Dress by Kayleigh Clark

I count it a privilege that on my journey, I encounter and get to partner with leaders and credible practitioners in various disciplines connected to the areas of work and passion I value. I have asked these great leaders and practitioners for their permission to share updates, articles, and insights they have gained to not only equip us but also give you the reader, more insight into the depth and heart of the areas they are leading. My hope is you will become a fan (raving fan) of their work and share it with others.

Pastor Kayleigh is one of these leaders that I want you to know. The ministry of restor(y) that Kayleigh leads is a remarkable resource for helping both individuals and communities navigate trauma while providing trauma-informed resources, training, and long-term partnerships to pastors, ministry leaders, and entire congregations.

The following article, Collective Trauma: The Hole in The Bride’s Dress, by Pastor Kayleigh Clark, provides a great analogy for why her work is so vital for us. Enjoy.

“I accidentally ripped a hole in your wedding dress.”

This statement, coming from my seamstress, was the last thing I wanted to hear. My wedding was this weekend. I was already worried the dress would not be done in time, and now she had ripped a hole in it. I was thankful we were speaking on the phone, so she could not see the mortified expression on my face. “But don’t worry,” she continued, “I can fix it, and I won’t charge you for the extra hours.”

The next day, when I went to pick up my dress, my sister went with me, and as we were driving to what felt like the 100th fitting of the week, my sister looked at me and said, “We’re taking this dress home today, and if it’s not done, I’ll figure out how to sew and fix it myself.” She had had enough of the back-and-forth half-fixes this seamstress had offered. Her sister’s wedding was in two days, and she was not going to let this seamstress ruin it by putting more holes in the bride’s dress.

One metaphor used for the church is “the bride of Christ,” and collective trauma is currently ripping a hole in this bride’s dress. As people who love the church, we are called to respond as my sister responded to the hole in my literal wedding dress.

We must recognize the brokenness and passionately pursue healing.

I love the imagery of the church as the bride of Christ because it awakens us to God’s deep love for the people of God. The return of Christ is likened to a wedding banquet, a great celebration of the most beautiful love story. There are many implications to this metaphor, but the story of my seamstress ripping a hole in my wedding dress and my sister’s determination to restore the dress remind me of the description of Christ’s love for the church found in Ephesians 5. Here, we are told that Christ loves the church in such a way that he,

Gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless

– Ephesians 5:27

Christ gave himself to the church that it might be radiant, holy, and blameless. Unfortunately, the brokenness of our world means that holes appear in the dress of God’s bride. The church is not always free of blemish and wrinkle, and it is in need of Christ’s tender love to restore and heal it.

Collective trauma is one specific cause of holes within the church. Examples of collective trauma experienced by congregations include the destruction of a church building by fire or other natural disasters, clergy abuse or misconduct, the death of a matriarch or patriarch within the church, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as times of pastoral transition. Though these events may create wounds within the church, healing is possible, and it is to this hope that we cling as we ask ourselves, “How do we respond when we see holes within the church?”

Today, I want to provide us with two things we can do as we seek to passionately love the church and lead her to Jesus.

  1. Recognize the Holes: There are many things that can rip metaphorical holes in the dress of the bride of Christ. As mentioned, collective trauma can cause holes. Naming and recognizing when this is the case is essential to moving towards restoration.
  2. Pursuing Healing: The beauty of calling the church the bride of Christ is that it reminds us of how deeply Christ loves the church. It should awaken love for the church in us. It should cause us to care deeply for the people of God, and whenever we see holes in her dress, it should compel us to passionately seek its healing. Healing is found in Christ alone. When his people seek him and allow him to restore them, they will find themselves the radiant church God created them to be.

Here at Restor(y) we want to help you both recognize the holes and pursue healing. We know it can often be difficult to name the areas of brokenness when you are a part of an organization. Often when it is our lived reality, we may know something is not quite right but may not be able to pinpoint what is wrong. At Restor(y) we offer consultations and assessments to help you identify the holes so you can pursue healing. When you are ready to pursue the healing Christ has for your church, we offer partnerships to journey with you on that process. We love the church, we know it is Christ’s bride, so with passion we will pursue the healing Christ has for her so no holes remain.

We invite you to join us.

For more information on all restor(y) has to offer visit the website in the link provided.

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