Q. I have a very close friend who is Jewish (Conservative). He is deeply religious and his faith is the foundation of his entire life; it provides the context for his close relationship with his family and motivates his work. The Torah is very important to him.
As part of his duty he served and played a key role in the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and was on the ground there for several months. Since his return he has suffered from PTSD. He took the lives of innocent people by mistake, and he says he did other things during his work there which he won’t talk about, all for which he is sorry. He says he violated the Torah. He no longer believes he is a good person.
He has not been to synagogue since he returned. I know he does not believe he deserves to go and he is punishing himself. I have told him that God cannot be so unforgiving, and that it is not up to him to decide whether or not he should be forgiven, it is up to God. Everybody makes mistakes, surely that is to be expected. I’ve asked him to go to synagogue, even if his heart is not in it at first, in the hopes that it will open his heart back up to God.
But I am not Jewish; I do not have any religion. I need you to tell me what to tell him. I want his pain to ease and I want him to know he is still a good person, and he deserves to enjoy synagogue, even if he did violate the Torah. Please provide some wisdom for him. Thank you.
Answer: I think your friend is lucky to have you in his life.
It seems to me that you should have your friend visit a good psychologist, or a good pastoral therapist who is skilled in dealing with these issues. There are a variety of well‑established relaxation techniques exist which are likely to be effective in reducing the autonomic arousal associated with the experience of anxiety. Many techniques have been utilized to help individuals elicit relaxation including yoga, meditation, progressive relaxation, hypnosis, and bio‑feedback. Continue reading “Fighting for Your Soul (Jer. 45:5) Counselling through Post-Traumatic Stress”