Friday, March 15, 2013

Second Must Read This Year

I am very thankful for the way that God weaves books into my life.  Back in January, I was blessed to read Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp.  God used that book to heal a wound in my heart that was there because of a hard experience we'd had with a church we'd once attended.  I realized that my wound was not a failing in me, but came because of a pitfall our pastor at the time had fallen into.  That book gave me compassion for that man and has helped me to remember to pray for him and other pastors in their weaknesses.  Pastors are human, just like everyone else, and they make mistakes that affect others.  They have a difficult job.

This weekend I was blessed to read a second book that I know will have a huge impact on my heart and life over time.  I described this book as "an awesome book about PTSD" (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to my Bible study on Sunday night.  The looks on the faces of the other people in the room told me they were a bit stunned to hear me use the words "awesome" and "PTSD" in the same sentence.  One of the men had a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and so I next explained that it was awesome because it pointed the families living with PTSD and TBI straight to the Lord.  The counsel in the book was biblical and encouraging.

The book is Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home by Marshele Carter Waddell and Kelly K. Orr, PhD, ABPP.  Ms. Waddell's husband is a retired commander who served in the US Navy and lives with PTSD.  Mr. Orr was her counselor.  He is a Christian counselor who served with the USMC and Air Force until 2004, when he retired.  Ms. Waddell began a ministry, Hope for the Home Front, to reach families coping with PTSD and its effects.  The ministry conducts retreats for families who are learning to cope with effects of war.

Ms. Waddell previously self published When War Comes Home in 2008.  She also published a digital Bible Study titled Hope for the Home Front with New Hope Digital Publishing, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.   This book is her first book published by a major book distributor.  I previewed When War Comes Home on Amazon.  It looks like this book is an updated and revised edition of When War Comes Home.  There is a different organization to that book and it includes different appendices, but the focus and topics of discussion seem to be very similar.

Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home begins with Ms. Waddell's story and an explanation that living with a family member who suffers from PTSD is like a living Grief.  As a spouse, when your life is so completely different than you expected and your spouse has changed so drastically, due to PTSD, you have to grieve the death of the life you hoped for and lived.  The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and finally acceptance.  She talks in her book about each of these stages and the difficult parts of these stages.  She addresses each with strong biblical support and grounding.  I appreciated her addressing what the average woman does to offset anger and how she can do that.  She makes some very wise statements like this one on page 68, "A warrior's hurtful words and actions are not excused, but it helps to know that usually soft targets are not to blame.  Refusing to take your warrior's anger personally is a key step.

When she goes on to address the need to forgive one's spouse, she wisely starts with the wife.  Susie Larson says in Growing Grateful Kids that we cannot give our children something that we ourselves don't have.  Ms. Waddell's addressing of forgiveness is similar.  "We can't forgive others until we realize how much God has forgiven us through His Son's sacrifice, the only offering that turns away God's wrath that we fully deserve...When I stop to think on this, even for just a few seconds, I feel my heart swell, expand, and take on a greater capacity to forgive others." (p. 77)

From there, she begins to address how wives can and need to take care of themselves in order that they might be able to take care of their families.  I appreciated what she said and felt it was wise, but not over the top.  There is a lot made in our culture of "Mommy time" and what Moms have to have--whether it's undisturbed pedicure and manicures or weekly "girl time".  It is talked of as if it is something all women deserve.  The feeling of deserving something is synonymous with entitlement.  We are not entitled to a certain life or doing certain things.  Nowhere does God's Word tell me when I read it that I am entitled to breaks from being a mom.  In this book, the author wisely addresses instead the need for spouses to take care of their minds and bodies so that they can take care of their families.  She identifies five things women need to do plus a sixth--and that's to be in relationship with the Lord.

The rest of the book focuses on what this new life needs to be maintainable.  Accept change.  Find friends and a support network.  Keep people in your life.  And there will be a spiritual battle in the process.  But, Ms. Waddell's encouragement is to put on the armor of God and fight that battle.

There is only one area that I was surprised to find missing in this book and that was an addressal of the issue of abuse--physical, emotional, and verbal.  This is a very real issue for families living with PTSD.  There are several websites that have some great practical information for wives.  The first is a VA Site.  The second is found on family of a vet.  A final source is on About(dot)com.  None of these sites are Christian and I think they should be seen in the context of faith in the Lord.  A mom needs to protect her children.

As I read through this book, I was deeply encouraged for several reasons.  The first is that Ms. Waddell and Dr. Orr point women squarely to the Lord.  Scripture is threaded throughout the book.  Ms. Waddell is honest about her struggles with anger.  You can tell in the beginning of the book that she still struggles with her life, but that she is taking it to the Lord.  Ms. Waddell doesn't encourage women to feel sorry for themselves, yet she acknowledges on every page what an immense struggle it is to live with and love a warrior with PTSD.  This book feels like a large dose of solid, biblical counseling bottled up in a book!  Many moms are not able to go to counseling, whether because of time constraints, guilt, or financial reasons.  This book would be a wonderful resource for the wife who needs it.  Secondly, this book can help not only those who live with a family member who has PTSD, but friends and extended family.  It can give you some insight about how PTSD affects soldiers and their families--and how you can support them and stand by them when they need you.  Finally, and most importantly, I think this counsel in this book is applicable to not only spouses who love someone with PTSD, but to those who love someone with mental illness or substance abuse issues.  Wives in all of these situations are facing a life and a love that they did not expect.

I think this a wonderful book and I am very thankful that it has been published.  I hope it will be helpful to many women.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Publishing for review.

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