Lauren St. John is a doctor of nursing practice, board-certified family nurse practitioner, master certified health coach, and cult survivor. She writes under the last name Karl as a tribute to her father.

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I have a theory.

The science of post-traumatic growth can be aligned with biblical truth to yield a blueprint for faith-based recovery from traumatic experiences.

In 2019, I first read about post-traumatic growth. In less than 5 minutes, I knew this was me — a person who has radically recovered from post-traumatic stress and developed psychological health of amazing sorts when considered in the context of their story. The research on this topic fascinates me. But let’s back up in the timeline.

In 2008, I was married into a religious cult.

In 2012, I regained my freedom and maiden name.

Contrary to a t-shirt that was purchased for me, brainwashing is not a cutesy way of describing the renewal of your mind according to God’s word (Romans 12:2).

Brainwashing is psychological abuse. It basically feels like a headache without the pain. An inability to think despite your best efforts. And in 2012, I tried to open the Bible but found myself completely unable to read it. I had been isolated, “loved,” emotionally abused and neglected by others who truly may have been brainwashed themselves.

In 2013, I was addicted to self-help books.

The thing about self-help is that no matter how brilliantly researched and scientifically studied the expert advice is, self-help is still human advice. And human advice does not heal the heart of someone who is spiritually sick.

As I plugged away at my workbooks, scribbling ferociously in my journal, I began to notice similarities between self-help teachings and scriptures in the Bible. Very slowly, my spiritually sick heart began to gravitate toward the Bible.

Just as children who grow up in a Christian home must eventually decide their faith for themselves, my reality was similar but opposite. I did not want to live the rest of my life saying “no” to God because humans had devastated my mental capacity for truth.

Today by God’s grace, I am powerfully healthy. This blog is my testimony.