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Today in the Mission Yearbook

New Way podcast explores how to be in a relationship worth repairing


The Rev. Troy Bronsink discusses trauma-informed relationship practices and nonviolent communications

May 31, 2024

The Rev. Troy Bronsink works at the intersection of spirituality and leadership. (Contributed photo)

“So much of our lives is spent in the company of others. These encounters shape us, whether we’re passing time silently next to a stranger in the crowded row of an airplane or in the innumerable moments of life shared between our own roommates, co-workers, siblings or spouses,” the Rev. Sara Hayden, host of the New Way podcast, explains in her introduction to a two-episode interview with the Rev. Troy Bronsink, founder of The Hive, a center for contemplation, art and action.

Hayden met Bronsink early in his career when he was a church planter in Atlanta. Bronsink, who is based in Cincinnati, now works as a facilitator and a coach at the intersection of spirituality and leadership. Their conversation covers a range of practices, including mindfulness, nonviolent communication skills and trauma-informed conflict resolution, to shed light on the tension between our inner lives and our outer relationships in today’s world.

Video #1 URL:

“So, what is the world today? We’re more aware psychologically of an inner life, and we’ve become increasingly aware of what we can’t control, even the things we’re ashamed of in terms of injustice in the outer life. And so, that catch and release between inner awareness and outer anxiety is distributed more and more between more and more people,” says Bronsink, who offers explanations and examples of how the connections we have with strangers, friends or those with whom we serve with on sessions are “already charged with a fear response.”

In the first episode, Bronsink covers a mnemonic based on the letter “F” for the basic ways humans, when feeling vulnerable, try to protect themselves: flock, flee, fight, freeze or fawn. These protections are not just for interpersonal interactions but also explain our responses to the abuse we experience and witness as a society. Bronsink explains that when we are faced with complex systems of injustice, humans are incapable of remaining frozen forever and will either move back into a fighting or resistance posture or into a submissive and co-dependent relationship characterized as “fawning.”

The Rev. Sara Hayden

In episode two, Bronsink digs deeper into the diagnosis of reading our culture as one that is “caught in a fawn response,” particularly to white supremacist thinking, but also addresses what to do when someone you are engaging appears to be coming from “an activated space.”

Bronsink shares his own experience of addressing the wounds of white supremacy through his anti-racist work with a co-facilitator of color who called their work partnership “a relationship worth repairing” when they were able to recover from a mistake and microaggression on his part due to the deep work they had done over two years.

As Bronsink and Hayden cover issues of culture to personal relationships, trauma appears to inform all relational spaces in some form. The trauma-informed response to a person who is activated by past trauma, according to Bronsink, is to reflect, honor and connect. Awareness of trauma responses in selves and others is important in his work with churches and businesses, and Bronsink shares success stories of his work when activated people who dominate the conversation are able to catch themselves or another group member is able to honor and disarm them in their fear-based behavior.

Video #2 URL:

When addressing dysfunction in a relationship, he also encourages the use of nonviolent communication patterns to make an observation, express the feeling it creates in you, state a need and then make a request.

Bronsink says that he hopes “that folks forming community would know that they’re not alone in the work and there’s a deep lineage and a breadth of practices, skills and relationships to help them.”

Editions of the New Way podcast can be found here.

Beth Waltemath, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Friday, May 31, 2024, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (Year B)

Today’s Focus: Rev. Troy Bronsink discusses trauma-informed relationship practices on the New Way podcast

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Daniel Johnson, Facilities Technician, Building Services, Administrative Services Group (A Corp)  
Keion Jackson, Associate for Black/African American Intercultural Congregational Support, Presbyterian Mission Agency  

Let us pray

God, give us courage and endurance to rescue the marginalized from powers that bring darkness and to spread instead your hope of abundant life. Amen.