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Refer to Step 7: I will make a detailed, written account of my abusive experiences, as well as my subsequent behavior. I commit to being as thorough and honest as I’m able.

In the weeks and months immediately following your abuse, the devastation is so complete you feel certain that life will never be normal again. The wound to your soul leaves you bleeding emotionally, and most feel certain the destruction will be permanent. For many, it is, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

There is an alternative. In my own experience, my wounds lasted for nearly twenty-five years, which was far too long, but there was no program available to help me climb out of the hole I dug for myself. To me, it seemed like I would have permanent emotional scaring, but that’s not what happened. I finally became sick and tired of living life as an emotional cripple, after being abused by mean-spirited men whose purpose was to destroy me. I realized there was nobody that could help, so I had to trust God once again and dig myself out of the hole.

There were many things that helped me recover, including my firm commitment to do so, but perhaps the greatest recovery tool was when I started writing about my experiences. I wrote about them in excruciating detail—feeling all of the debilitating emotions I had originally experienced once again. When I was finished, I read what I had written and made numerous changes.

As I continued the process, I realized that the longstanding sting from the affront had abated, and I no longer felt as wounded as I had for years. I had begun to heal. By the time I was finished, my understanding about what had transpired was much greater than it had ever been. Over time, and slowly, my healing became complete.

Now, years later, I understand my wounds, but they are no longer painful. Instead, I have gained wisdom I never would have had before I wrote about my experience. This can be your reality as well, and writing about it can be a valuable tool for you. Join me in this healing prayer:

Father,

I’ve come before You so many times,

To tell You about my life—

About my woes, my heartaches and my failures.

I come to tell You who I really am—sort of.

I want You to know me, but only from my perspective,

Which may not be an accurate picture.

I know this. That’s why I tell You

About myself in bits and pieces.

But now that my situation has become

Too much for me to bear—too much to shoulder;

I’m forced to be completely honest and forthright.

Until now, my admissions have been begrudging.

I’ve refused to consider that more was needed—

That a complete cleansing would be required.

As I continue on my journey to recovery,

I want to unburden myself from all of my shame,

All of my guilt, and all that has enslaved me.

But doing so seems like such a daunting task.

There’s so much there. I know it, and so do You.

Father, that’s why I need Your guidance.

Only You can help me be completely honest

With myself, with others, and with You.

As I begin to journal my unvarnished inventory,

Provide me with courage to be thorough and transparent.

Give me the “grit” I need get it all out, and provide me

With the discipline I need to be thorough and complete.

As I begin this process, my insides are churning,

Because I’ve loved the darkness rather than the light,

Even though I have pretended I do not.

Father, without Your help, I can’t change a thing.

I know this, but with You empowering and guiding me,

I’ll do my best to be strong, courageous, and thorough.

Now, with Your help, and the leading

Of Your Holy Spirit, let’s begin,

Amen.

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord;” and Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:3-5)

My Article on Sonoma Christian Home

 


Having established a relationship with God through faith, you already have everything you need to facilitate your recovery. It’s inside you. Because you are His child, possessing all the rights this entails, you can recover—just as soon as you make the decision to do so.

This isn’t just the power of positive thinking or putting a constructive spin on your situation. It’s real, and you can count on it.

You may feel lost, detached, helpless, and defeated, but you are not. You may feel like you are in the world—without God, forlorn, and beyond help—but you are not. You may feel like nothing good will ever happen to you again, but it doesn’t have to be this way. All is not lost—not even close, regardless of how desperate your circumstances appear.

As is so often the case, your recovery depends on how you choose to proceed. If you nurse your wounds and continue to blame your abuser, you can certainly do that. It’s your right, and it’s the path most people choose to follow, especially immediately after their painful experience.

Being angry for a while is normal but, by becoming stuck in your anger, you will only experience one thing—bitterness. When bitterness clutches your soul, it diminishes the quality of your life, insuring you will never become the person God intended you to be. Bitterness can run so deep in you that it becomes as addictive as a controlled substance—a habit nearly impossible to break. Once it takes grip, it becomes part of you, diminishing every positive character quality you’ve ever possessed. It can even alter how you look, producing a sour, defeated countenance, which is certainly not the look you want for yourself.

Nothing good comes from bitterness—nothing. If you’ve become bitter, it’s imperative that you make a conscious choice to break its hold on you. Until this happens, no substantive recovery will be possible. Remember, you didn’t become bitter in one day, so be patient with yourself in renewing your mind. It takes time, but it will come, if you work at it. To help you discard bitterness, join me in this prayer, and pray it as often as you need.

Father,

You know how badly

I have been mistreated

By those who should have fostered my welfare

But did the exact opposite,

Taking advantage of my trusting nature instead.

I’ve expressed my outrage and indignation

To You so often that I’ve lost count.

This affront has wounded me deeply.

Out of my pain, I know I have hurt others,

Which I’ve tried to justify but I cannot.

I fear I have become like those who have hurt me,

Injuring the innocent—just as I once was.

Father, I acknowledge that I have done this,

And I am becoming a person I don’t want to be.

I don’t want to be like my abusers,

But to be honest, I know that I have been,

Despite my insistence that I have not.

Forgive me, Father. Heal my wounds,

And restore gladness to my troubled soul.

As a conscious act of contrition, I choose to abandon

My self-serving ways, which have been so hurtful.

Despite my pain, anger, and disquietude,

I make a commitment to stop spreading malice.

To ensure that this becomes a reality, I will need

Your strength and guidance more than ever.

Will You reach down and touch me?

Will You help me bridle my acerbic tongue?

Will You keep my feet from stumbling?

Will You transform my wandering heart,

And maintain it close to You?

Don’t allow my years to be spent in nurturing spite.

I need Your help, Father, and I will

Continue to need it as I move forward

Discarding my bitterness—one day at a time.

I pray this in Christ’s Precious name,

Amen.

Refer to STEP 6: I abandon my desire to spread malice because of my pain and anger, and I chose to relinquish my right to be self-absorbed.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:30-32)

http://sonomachristianhome.com/2014/08/helping-wounded-christians-heal-discarding-bitterness/


More Than Common Sense

 

Refer to Step 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to provide me with the power to carry it out.

 

 

At the bar of common sense, Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad; but bring them to the bar of faith, and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God.

—Oswald Chambers

If you were to take a survey, you would probably find that a large percentage of people actually want to do God’s will. That is probably how they would answer a generic question about doing so, anyway.

If doing God’s will involved something they didn’t want to do, however, the percentage would drop dramatically. This is not only true for non-Christians but for believers as well. This is true, despite the fact that following God’s will is at the core of Christian beliefs, regardless of what that might entail.

In one sense, much of God’s will is clear and easy. For example, there is no gray area about stealing, bearing false witness, or adultery. Nearly everybody knows this, but most of life isn’t this clear or this easy. When someone prays, asking God’s will about a particular situation, it’s easier to follow when it’s in sync with common sense. When it runs counter to common sense, however, it’s a much different situation.

When God asks you to take step into the dark—especially when taking such a step goes against a person’s preconceived notion of what he or she should do—most refuse to do it. They simply can’t muster the courage to do so. It isn’t that they don’t trust God. It’s that they don’t trust Him very much. They don’t trust Him enough to take a giant leap of faith, which means their development is thwarted as a result.

Because their faith is little, so is their growth. If you want to become everything you are capable of being, which is what God wants for you, when He asks you to step out in faith, obey Him with reckless abandon. It’s definitely a scary thing to do, but if you can do it, you will find that you are safe in the hands of the Master. In fact, it’s the safest place you will ever be.

 

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you. (Psalm 128:1-2)

Jack Watts

Life’s Inevitable Tradeoffs


 

Refer to Step 10: I choose to believe God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

 

 

Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.

—Albert Einstein

 

 

As you mature in your faith, and your relationship with the Lord grows, there will be times of plenty and times of want. Both are inevitable. It’s the same for everybody, and the longer you live, the more difficulty you’ll experience. That’s just the way life is.

 

By being blessed with longevity, you will be forced to grieve the death of more people than if you live a shorter life. In many ways, life is a trade off. What benefits you in one area causes you difficulties in another. Consequently, it’s how you handle a situation that counts—not avoiding the pain that comes from it.

 

It also means that developing character is far more important than the acquisition of material possessions. I remember a bumper sticker years ago that said something like this: When you die, he who has the most toys wins.

 

This always seemed like a particularly cynical way to look at life, but for those of us who are in recovery and value our relationship with God, nothing could be further from the truth. The person who wins is the one who does the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.

 

Nothing compares with this, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to accomplish. It isn’t.

 

Because very little in life is a clear black and white choice, it’s often difficult to know what God’s will is in a given situation. That’s where the value of your recovery becomes critically important. By walking in the light the best way you know how, which creates purity of heart, you can know God’s will and follow it far better than those, whose motives are duplicitous and self-serving. Although this seems obvious, often it isn’t, which is why it is essential to keep your relationship with God open and honest—no matter what.

 

Perhaps the following would be a more accurate bumper sticker:

 

Those who walk the walk, win.

Those who just talk the talk, lose.

 

I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12-13)


Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

 

Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.

—Carl Jung

 

Shortly after being abused, most people make a decision to throw God out of their lives, as well as their abusers. In the mind of the victim, God is part of the abuse. In this thought process, people reason in the following way: God didn’t abuse me, but He didn’t stop it either, which He should have.

This is exactly what they believe, whether they are willing to admit it or not. For a long time after that, abused people continue to drift away from God, rarely giving Him a second thought—and definitely not a second chance. This period of bitterness and rebellion can last for a few months or for decades, depending on the depth of a person’s wounding and willfulness.

At some point, however, the abused person’s life falls apart, and he or she has no recourse other than to try and reconnect with God. When this happens, they attempt to do on their terms and not God’s, which they think will work but never does. During this period of flux, one day they want God to be near, and another, they want Him to leave them completely alone.

Acting like a petulant preschooler, they alternate between demanding that God answer their prayers, while insisting on looking the other way when He does. It’s an immature, poorly thought out strategy that is ineffective, but people do it all the time.

It’s not until a person finally bottoms out and admits that they are responsible for putting their lives together again that God is free to work in a restorative manner. When they reach this point—and not before—complete recovery becomes possible.

 

And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.’ (Luke 15:21-22


When spiritual abuse occurs, there is always the temptation to conclude that God doesn’t care, or that He really isn’t there. To feel this way is normal—at least for a while. Along with these feelings, the following question is universally asked: “If God is really in charge, then how could he have allowed this happen?”

Even Christ asked the question when He was on the cross—”Why have You forsaken Me?”

With Christ, the answer is obvious. If God had rescued His Son, the Lord would not have died for our sins. Being forever lost, we would have no way to establish a relationship with God.

But why didn’t God rescue you? He could have, but He chose not to. Instead, He allowed you to go through a world of suffering, didn’t He? Why would He do that? Does it mean He doesn’t really love you?

No, it means He treated you like a son or a daughter, allowing you to suffer at the hands of a ruthless, self-serving abuser—just like He allowed His Son to suffer at the hands of the Pharisees. God could have rescued Jesus, but He didn’t.

God had a purpose for what He did, and He had a purpose for what happened to you as well. God knows your situation more intimately than you do. He is aware of every aspect of your abuse and, no matter how badly you’ve been hurt, He is still in charge—no matter what.

His silence may seem unjust, but it is not. It may seem unkind and unloving, but it is not. You may not feel His presence and you probably don’t, but He is there for you, regardless of how you feel. You not only can count on it, you must count on it. Acknowledge this by joining me in the following prayer:

Father,

I have wandered so far from You—

From Your ways, from Your leading,

From Your purpose, and from Your love.

At first, it didn’t seem like a great distance,

But, over time, I have come to realize

My departure has been

Far greater than I ever imagined.

I know I need to return to You,

But now that I see how far the divide has become,

The way back seems daunting.

In my reaction to having been wounded,

I have behaved in ways that have not only

Hurt me but others as well.

I know this is true, and it grieves me.

I’m so sorry for having been so hurtful,

Which I acknowledge I had no right to do.

I can see how wayward I have become.

As I begin my long journey back to wholeness,

I know that I need to make amends to those

I have hurt along the way.

It never occurred to me that I might have

Treated others in the same way I have been treated.

Just thinking about this makes me feel ashamed.

Father, I am so, so sorry for my behavior.

Forgive me, and restore my relationship to You.

Be with me, as I try to restore my relationship to others.

Help me learn from my egregious errors,

So that I never feel the compulsion

To drift so far from You again.

Thank You for allowing Christ to die for my sins,

Amen.

 

 


Reconnecting with God

 

 

Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

 

 

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.

—Anne Bradstreet

 

Once you have reconnected with God after your abusive experience, you may think that life will go smoothly for you from then on. Although I wish that this were true, a lifetime of experience tells me that it isn’t.

Challenges will continue and, for most of us in recovery, never end. In fact, they seem to intensify, becoming progressively more difficult as time goes by. Because of our past experience with abusiveness, this presents some unique challenges for us.

Having become accustomed to blaming God for our problems, we tend to return to that when the going gets tough. We say:

  • “I did what You asked, and now look where I am.”
  • “Father, I’ve worked at recovery, but now I’m right back where I started?”
  • “Why have you allowed this happen to me—again?”
  • “I don’t deserve to go through this. It’s not fair.”

When adversity repeats itself, which it does routinely throughout life, being in recovery can benefit you greatly. When you feel overwhelmed, stop; take a spot inventory of where you are, identifying the problem, and work the necessary step to get back on track. By returning to the method that has worked for you in the past, you can replicate the positive effects every time you need them. As they become part of you, you will learn to live in the solution and be able to reconnect with God easily.

Remember, God never promised us smooth sailing, but He did promise He would never leave us or forsake us. There’s a difference between the two, and learning this difference is one step on the path to maturity.

 

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their bands apart. (Psalm 107:14)

Jack Watts

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