Earlier this week, I shared an excerpt from Lecrae Moore’s memoir, I am Restored, on Instagram. In my caption, I shared my thoughts about being both a therapist and a Christian while not identifying myself as a “Christian therapist.” I am looking forward to sharing insights that I gained from Lecrae’s (stage name) book, as it goes beyond just evangelizing; rather, it focuses on mental health from a holistic mind, body, relationship, and spiritual vantage points.
“I experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse all before the age of ten.”
As an occasional listener to Lecrae’s music, I was aware of some of his back story; however, you don’t really get to know someone until you either talk to them or read their memoir. With regards to sexual abuse, I admired that Lecrae, a Black man, was brave and vulnerable in opening up about being sexually assaulted as a child. Too many Black men suffer in silence because of toxic masculinity, stigma, the distrust of mental health services, and the cultural expectation to not share private family matters outside the family; in other words, the tendency to sweep trauma under the rug.
“Growing up, if you experienced sexual assault, that was seen as a joke for our boys as a badge of honor that we would share to prove our manhood. It’s not really shameful to be molested by a woman in our culture; it’s a sexist world.”
Because of the stigma surrounding sexual abuse, Lecrae suffered in silence for many years. As often happens to victims, Lecrae self-medicated his trauma with promiscuity, drugs, and alcohol. Being violated and therefore sexualized at ~7-years-old and not knowing how to process the emotions, Lecrae began having sex in the 2nd grade.
“Sometimes we respond out of trauma instead of seeking healing.”
With regards to physical trauma, Lecrae endured the beatings from his mother’s boyfriend as a child and even got to the point where he started sleeping with a knife under his bed. From listening to his story, it’s clear that his mother was caught up in the trauma bonding cycle.
In his book, Lecrae describes several relationships that had a significant impact on his mental health; however, to be concise, I’ll highlight two: fatherlessness and the Christian church.
“While fatherless is a convenient scapegoat for Black pathology, I don’t believe it’s the foundation of everything that’s happened in my life. I don’t subscribe to the idea that the Black community suffers solely because of this reality. This idea lacks careful consideration of our narrative. Systemic dysfunction is in our communities because systemic evil has visited upon us. Dr. Joy DeGruy describes this as post-traumatic slave syndrome, a feeling that causes us to internalize the trauma of those who came before us. We must confront our past individually and society must confront its past corporately.”
Having grown up with an absentee father myself, I appreciated that Lecrae covered this topic that’s incredibly prevalent in the Black community, yet often gets discussed in simplistic terms.
“Church hurt is the worst hurt.”
Given that Lecrae is, arguably, one of the most popular Christian rappers, I was surprised to hear about how fickle the church has been to him at times.
For example, he was at the height of popularity until he dared to mention that “Black Lives Matter.” The same fanbase that filled arenas turned their backs on him; for example, he lost 30,000+ Instagram followers in a single day and would show up to previously booked arenas to an audience of a few hundred.
“In my career, people had always rallied behind me when I rebelled. They were with me and cheered me on. I’d built entire albums and a movement around the concept of rebelling against the culture. Yet when I rebelled against white supremacy, these same people refused to support me and instead vilified me.”
“I don’t think speaking about the value of Black life is partisan; I’m just tired of Black bodies lying dead in the street.”
Hearing his experiences was validating to me, as most of the hurt and trauma I’ve experienced in my own life have been from folx in the Christian church. While it’s not surprising to me, I am glad he points out examples of hypocrisy, stigma, avoidance, racism, and evil that occur behind the veil of “the church.” To this day, I’m still finding my way to participate within the context of Christianity while simultaneously having boundaries to avoid future hurts and toxic ideology. Lecrae’s book let me know that I’m not alone in this endeavor.
For more on the specifics of Lecrae’s experiences with addiction, depression, and therapy, you’ll have to read the book; however, I’ll leave you with the most noteworthy quote from the book, as it articulates the holistic nature of mental health treatment:
Thanks for reading!
Originally published at https://panoramiccounseling.com on March 21, 2021.