Spiritual Abuse from Cradle to Grave No More

I will say to all who read my blog that, yes, you are very welcome to peruse my posts and read away, and as much as you like, but really, there is a core group of individuals that I am trying to reach through this blog and it is those who have been directly affected by spiritual abuse and in all forms.  Spiritual abuse from churches, from fellow parishioners, from pastors, from certain denominations, etc.  Yes, there is physical abuse, which may seem like the worst kind of abuse to the average person, including me.  There's verbal, mental and emotional abuse which to me can almost be equal in the terribly potent affect of physical abuse.

Spiritual abuse.

I may have attempted a meaning a few times on my blog in my past posts, but I think I need to take a stab at it again through my ongoing story here.  And we will start from the beginning, the beginning of me, a baby in my mama's womb, with MY experience.  Just mine, not yours.  I don't know yours.

The horrible truth is that I was programmed in my home since birth to be a lean, mean, smiling on the outside, hating with the private talks on the inside, judgmental, seemingly loving on the exterior "under certain circumstances" and otherwise just self-righteous, bible verse cherry-picking and misquoting, fighting machine.  Programmed.  The buttons were pressed for me, almost every one.  The digital designers had done their work and the real Designer had to get a hold of me, that loving hold, an embrace.

I just didn't have much of a choice in how I was raised, many of us don't.  I embrace the loving Jesus now, God and His word in the proper context, but when I was a child I was highly confused by a very contradictory way of life...one of hatred and soul winning and bible reading.  One of force.  One of manipulation.  One of fear.  One of physical, emotional, mental and above all, spiritual abuse and smiles, lot's of empty smiles at church greeting the laity and from our whole family.  Maybe they weren't all empty, but most of them were...for me. 

And I am going to a place now that is dark and hard, but I know it will help someone.  And I repeat, this blog is expressly for spiritually abused souls.  May the true God grant them all great grace, real, affecting grace. 

I remember my Dad, who was my pastor for the majority of my childhood, trying to get me saved.  I think I was seven.  And this may be painful for some to read.  This particular event I am going to talk about wasn't painful for me as a child as much as it was just sheer confusing, exhausting and frustrating.

Dad(and again, I was like seven and I recall this time to the best of my ability):  "Okay now tell dad what it means to be saved."

Me:  "Uh, Jesus, died, dad?"

Dad:  "No, no, no, no.  That's not salvation.  What does it actually mean?  I need you to tell me why he died and what it means for you?!"

Me:  "He died for my sins.  If I believe in Jesus, he forgives me?"

Dad: "Okay, now listen, listen.  You know Jesus is the son of God.  In order to be saved, you got to understand that he was 100 percent God and man."

Me:  "What does that mean?"

Dad:  "If you will just listen, I will tell you.  Now, if you believe that He was 100 percent God and a 100 percent man, if you believe that Jesus was the son of God, now, you have to know that, understand?  If you will believe that Jesus was the son of God, that he was infallible, his word is infallible, and you see, you need to repent, too.  And if you don't have faith you won't really be saved at all.  He died for your sins, your filthy, stinking sins and he wants you to pray and confess and get saved."

Me: Okay.

Dad: Go ahead, pray.

Me:  "Dear Jesus, forgive me for my sins.  Amen."

Dad:  "No, no, no, no.  You have to tell him how sorry you are for your sin and repent.  You have to thank him for his goodness and ask to help you read the bible and pray every day.  And I don't think you were really sincere.  Repeat after me....

And my dad persisted in a thirty minute session of getting me to repeat just the right words to be saved, but also to make him feel like I meant it.  It was exhausting, confusing and frustrating and downright...

spiritually abusive.

This event would actually depict a calmer, yet angry side of dad, and yet the force and control was still there in every tone and word.

And I will say it loud, proud and clear as a bell that it is ONE thing to present an idea, a belief, especially if someone asks and REALLY wants to know or even to teach something, but not forcing anyone to adhere to something spiritually minded.  And it is totally another thing, another really horrible thing and I have also been guilty in my former life of this, my former life, sometimes even yesterday sadly...it's another thing when someone is being kept when they don't want to be kept, when a person is being persuaded when they are not ready or express the signs of confusion by your perpetual wheel of thought you may have them on.  And, I repeat, I am or have been guilty of this.  This is a lesson for ALL of us.  But I see my crud for what it is and say, God, help me!  I don't want this for my life! 

And the raw reality is when a person is not interested in what you are saying, they are being honest.  If someone is disagreeing with you, they are being honest.  If someone is not ready to hear a line of thought, they were being honest.

Honest, honesty.  Real, reality. 

I had this happen to me at the store this very day.  I ran into a married couple that I knew casually that I have not seen in a while.  I said hi to the wife buoyantly and asked how are you and said a statement or two.  She said, hi and good.  I was going to strike up a convo.  She was totally uninterested.  She was polite, but silently looking at her books.  Her husband came over, they were perusing together, I also said hi to him, I don't know him well at all.  He said hi, but nothing more.  Well, I was very put off by their manner of being so short, but the reality is...they were being...

Honest.  They were in a hurry maybe.  Maybe they couldn't talk.  Maybe they talked all day at work and didn't want to talk anymore.  Who knows?  I let it go.  That is hard for me.  I didn't push a convo with them, but I was about to and I could tell it was totally unwanted for whatever reason.  And why would I ever want someone to do something they do not want to do?  It's programmed.  The buttons are pressed, they are actually jammed and I need a butter knife to un-stick them. 

Why do so many Christians want to override honesty with bullying tactics?  I could right another whole post about that, and I might.  

To impose, to impress, to enforce, to control, to push, prod, poke beyond exhaustion is abusive.  It is.  It really is.  Sometimes spiritual abuse comes in a passive aggressive manner...and this is my least favorite kind.

And see, there is honest spiritual abuse and dishonest spiritual abuse.  And maybe that's another post.

So from the cradle to the grave there's a new kind of abuse in town, actually it's a really, really old one that gets ignored a whole lot, by a whole many people.  I ignored it in my life for so long and I ignored the past that shaped who I became and will not be some day, hopefully, and fully not be.  But that's a fix I need from the real One.  The Source.  The Life.  The Real Hope.  The Real Jesus.  Not the one conjured up for me.  Not the way of life conjured up for me.  And I want to do is notice.

Notice you.  And not just notice you, spiritually abused, misused and used up soul, but ENCOURAGE you.

His yoke is easy, His burden is light, His love constrains us and His hope fills us.  And if you want to, poor out your cup, my friend.  The one the Misled have handed you.  Poor out your cup...that bitter cup of abuse and a skewered view of who Jesus is...you and I know it's mingled with pain, sorrow, loss and a hopelessness that engulfs the very true nature of God Himself.  Pick it up and pour it out at your own pace.  It's not what He really has for you.  You were lied to by so many well meaning people.  You were misused by so many ill-willed, hurtful bent up souls of darkness needing the True Light of life and love.  If you want to, pour it out let it fall out as fast or as slow as you want, take your time and it's okay.  And in that puddle, that mingled puddle of pain and abuse that you stand in, He is waiting there for you in His own puddle...blood, mingled, flowing down and His arms are outstretched for you whenever you are truly ready to receive them and not one single minute before.

      

 

He Sees Us

I am so grateful today.  Yes, no, I am not grateful everyday.  In fact, I am not grateful much.  I spend much of my life discontent and complaining, out loud and privately in the recesses of my mind, unfortunately and fortunately, too.  Gratefulness comes in bursts for me.  All of a sudden what is going on around me occurs to me and I become profoundly grateful, deeply grateful and a big smile builds on my face.  I don’t know why gratefulness strikes me this way.  And my random thought to go with this grateful thinking is give and it shall be given.  Keep giving.  Don’t stop giving to others.  Your smile, your time, your life.  Give it away, your money, your encouragement.  A kind word.  I have reaped so much.  Not because I expected it, not because I demanded it.  In the past at times I have failed in desiring accolades for my giving, or I beat myself up for not being more of a giver, but really, what human being doesn’t want to be noticed for his giving?   It’s natural and not always wrong I think.  What a catch 22.  

The weather being beautiful today started me off in this frame of mind, the kind of weather that hypnotizes you and draws you out to God’s sun and sky, you’re out the door without realizing it.  And with one notice of it I realized in one fell swoop that there is more going on that’s pretty amazing all around me.  People have come to me for help.  Wounded souls who need a friend, who need me, who see my worth.  Just when I felt like I was feeling pretty useless.  Some other people in my life made me feel like a waste and I fell for it.  I bought into the lie.  And when the lie set in and did it’s work I was a wounded soul, all was lost for a moment in my mind and I let those feelings take a hold of me.  And then.

And then, yes, and then.

God sees me down here, doesn’t He?

He sees me.  He knew I was worried for my son and we saw some answer to his pain.  He smiled.  He showed relief.  And I sighed and thanked God.  And smiled.  He sees me.  He saw what others had done to me needlessly and the pain they tried and did cause to me and He, yes, I believe it was God, brought just the right people in my life at just the right moment to counter balance all that raw pain.  A note came in the email box…it wasn’t a list of demands, it wasn’t an advertisement or some message to further make me feel worthless for not taking action on a social issue.  For once, it was a note, a simple note, a short few lines, just asking me how I was doing and that I was being thought of…at just the right time.  She didn’t know what I was dealing with.  He sees me.  I have been fighting a dumb financial battle over here…wondering how we can pay down debt when everything keeps breaking down.  The house, cars, appliances, our children need enrichment in their learning, they have desires and it all costs money.  And then.  And then, I was offered a two day a week money making opportunity at home.  And then He gave my husband a new, better paying job.  He sees me.  Oh, God, in heaven, you see me.

And I am here to tell you that He sees you.  Really, He does.  I think He has x-ray vision and sees right through to the heart.  So glad He sees our heart...those real intentions that we possess instead of the ones we are being accused of by others.  I felt so invisible for so long to God, to others and even to myself at times.   And the truth is, you, we are the world(we are the children) to someone and that is God in heaven.  He loves you and sent His son to die for you.  He sees you and longs for you to be His own child.  And as His child, He sees you and He hurts every time you fall and in strength, in the power of His might He carries you and brings to you just the right people at just right time filled with all the right words and He sees your loneliness,  your pain, your worry, your struggle and He cares about every ounce of it.  I had forgotten how much He really does think of me and how much He does care.  I am so grateful.  So very, very grateful.  

Thinking Out Loud in Rough Draft

Flash forward some sixty something years and you have me.  I am thirty-five years old.  A theme needs to be woven together and a story also needs to be told while jutting out ideas.  Strong, settled ideas.  I am not a psychologist or a doctor, but I have seen patterns in my life and in the life of my family members that would suggest to me that we are all hiding behind our own religions and none are the same and we all worship different things, but nevertheless, we are all in some way or another hiding behind our idealistic idols.  Some of us have used a religious leaning to blend in or gloss over our own painful realities instead of facing them head on. 

Some use Jesus and others use their wits or their smarts as their religious front man.  I am not totally sure that I was aware fully how much I used my religion as my shield, an insufficient shield against my own realities, especially my own pain.  It’s kind of like using a Dixie plate to shield myself in a real battle with real bullets and knives.  Laughable, isn’t it?  It’s just as laughable to take an emotionally distraught, abused, manipulated or otherwise used person and paint them all over with the color red from aisle nine of the Home Depot and say, you are now well, see, I fixed you.  I have painted you red.  Red, I have been told, is a very healing color. Trust me and you’ll feel it too and if you don’t, well, then, you just don’t believe hard enough.  You’ve failed.  Oh, yes, again you have failed.  Wow, and the abuse continues on in the lives of the already abused person and the feeling of worthlessness persists like a black void within them.  So many do not see the value of confronting and evaluating our own pain, our own journey, our lives.  Taking the time to understand what our abusers have done to us and how it has shaped us today and examining it in the light of all things.  There are no rules.  Just branching out in our minds to make that first step is extremely vital.  Not just vital, but I’ll say it again, extremely vital. 

A friend face chatted with me today wishing me a happy 35th birthday.  So kind of him.  Don’t know what was nicer the time he took to check in with me or what he actually said.  To him I said I felt like at this age I was standing at the edge of something, hopefully something great.  After I said that he told me that 35 was a good year and he wished me well.  And then he said, “I could look at 40 (this year for me) and panic because I am that much closer to the grave. But I am actually excited because I put that much more distance between an unauthentic me and a more consistent me.”  What a thought.  And how emotionally stunted do we remain in finding our authentic selves when we never confront the reality of our pain head on instead of glossing over it.  Some have no idea how even to ponder, to be still for more than a second because it’s such a frightening place.  Being alone in a place of quiet and uninterrupted time, a moment where all is shut off, and I mean the plasma screen, the ipod, the cell phone, the ipad, the lap top, the kindle and simply be and think. 

And then you have to go a step further and shut your religion off.  And that is the hardest darn unforgiving contraption to turn off yet.  Oh, don’t think bad thoughts, think happy thoughts.  You are what you think, you know!  Don’t you know Jesus saved me, so now I am happy forevermore despite 18 long years of horrendous abuse.  How dare you bring up the past…you are so bitter!  Hey, you are supposed to forgive everybody!  Oh, he’s in the fold of Jesus, no more psycho therapists for you son, we’ll take care of you!  And I am not picking only on Jesus, nor do I intend to pick on the real Jesus, but I do and will pick on His prop.  Oh, there are so many props of Him everywhere and peddlers pushing every idea under His sun.  He is the Son and I believe that, but He gave me a brain, too.  Yes, He did.  He gave me a brain so that I would use it and discern that not every thing “his people” say is true, credible and worthy of my time and in fact, it is down right dangerous.  It is dangerous to tell an abused person he is fixed when he is not.  It is dangerous and even deadly to get the white out and flippantly paint over destruction in the soul of another.  No, Jesus or not and I believe it IS better with Him than without, healing is a life long process.  It truly is.  Healing is a journey.  And this journey, this life saving trip of acknowledgement and freely feeling and assessing and reassessing and understanding and yes, and eventually growing, is essential.  And there is also a dangerous business of shutting out the voice of dissonance.  Oh, geez, there’s dissonance again.  Shut him out!  But you see the growth is eventual and not instant and then the growth never begins if acknowledgement never starts. 

I yi yi. 

It never begins. 

Growth never begins if acknowledgement never happens.  And how many people are living this life?  I lived it and I am coming out.  I came out.  I am out and it’s hard.  So many are seeing red for us and they have their cans of paint and sometimes we have our own cans of red paint ready to dump on ourselves.  And it is rampant.  And this is why I believe abuse, abusers and the abused are so rampant in religious circles and when I mean religious circles I would like to say Christendom, but really it is much broader a problem than even that word can hold and I will say the “churched”.  Spiritual, physical, emotional and mental abuse abound, I believe, among the “churched”.  It’s a crock pot of manipulation of minds and glossing over really horrible stuff.  Oh, Jesus will cover over all this whole mess, don’t worry.  We’ll just pray and then we are off the hook and need to do nothing.  We lie to ourselves.  Others lie to us and then we lie to others when we think this. 

So stop and feel the pain.  Get mad.  Rehash as much as you need to.  Go there and know that what comes out of acknowledging pain is the beginning to a life of growth.  Growth in God, growth in ourselves.