Archive for August, 2010

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

Whenever I ask someone to tell me what their goal is for recovering from religious abuse, I’m always amazed by how little they hope for. Some will say, “I just wish it had never happened. All I want is to get through this situation the best way that I can.” Others will say, “If I could just get back to where I was before all this happened, I’d be satisfied. That’s all I want—nothing more.”

Nothing more! Whenever I hear something like this, it’s hard to believe that so many people have such low expectations.

I suppose that’s one way to look at it, and if it’s the best a person can do, that’s okay. Tragically, because people have been wounded so deeply, many come to believe that the best years of their lives are behind them—with little to look forward to. This way of thinking can become a self-fufilling prophecy, adversely impacting a person’s entire lifetime. Expecting little, their goals are met every time.

Although many people think this way, it doesn’t have to be like this. Life can be much, much better than simply muddling through. The goals may have to alter somewhat, but achieving fulfillment should still be the goal.

I am firmly convinced that each of us can do better than just aimlessly wandering through life, making it by the skin of our teeth. In your recovery, learn to set your goals high. You can be everything you ever envisioned yourself to be. Your potential hasn’t diminished. In fact, because of the value of your experience in helping other wounded people, your life can be more fruitful than you ever imagined.

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

As a child of God, He expects us to lift Him up—not push Him.

That’s all. That’s our entire responsibility—nothing else. Isn’t it freeing just to read this and take it in, knowing that I can just be me?

I can’t save anyone any more than I can damn them. Neither can you. We don’t have anything to do with it. We don’t get a vote—never have, never will. It’s left up the God—where it belongs. If that’s true, then, what is our part in the process?

It’s to lift up Christ, which we do every time we act out of the nature He has imparted to us, rather than out of our own, self-serving natures. If I act out of my own best interest and nothing more, I miss an opportunity to lift Him up. When I am Christ-like, I display love, joy, peace, and all the fruit of the Spirit of God. When I suffer for the Lord, I’m also lifting Him up. When I choose His way over materialism, I’m lifting Him up. When I’m kind, expecting nothing in return, I’m lifting Him up.

When I seek my own way, I’m not. The greatest problems come when we fool ourselves into believing our will is God’s will, and we press for it at the expense of another. It doesn’t work, and it manifests a poor witness for Christ.

Being Christ-like works; nothing else does. It draws people to the Lord much better than a three-minute testimony from a stranger. The former is genuine, while the latter is little more than an infomercial, something contrived, forced, and disingenuous—something that never delivers as much as it promises.

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Refer to STEP 5: I recognize that the only way back to a productive life is exactly the way I came.

There is an aphorism, generally attributed to Lord Acton, which is one of my all-time favorites. When I first read it decades ago, I was in graduate school, and I incorporated it into my life. Since then, it has worked its way deeply into my heart to become an integral part of who I am, a part of my core values. It guides my actions and provides clarity to direct my path. It states:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

When it comes to spiritual abuse, this statement seems particularly applicable. Most of us, when we see or experience abuse, just leave, extricating ourselves from a difficult, toxic situation. Maybe that’s the best thing to do, but maybe it isn’t.

In my own experience, I have confronted one situation head-on, and I have left a similar one quietly, without saying a word. As the years have passed, I feel much better about the time when I confronted it than when I didn’t.

Although I was unable to change the outcome in either case, I was changed when I made a stand and said, “This is wrong, and I won’t be part of it.”

In your situation, is that something you should consider doing?

Your primary responsibility is to take care of yourself and your family. That’s a given, and if that’s all you can do, it’s enough. If you think you can do more, however, you probably should. It may be difficult, but you’ll feel better about yourself as time passes. It’s what “good” men and women do, and that’s what we want to be—good men and women who will not stand idly by and allow evil to triumph.

To learn more about about the subject, go to: Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.

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Nothing is as it seems,

As I thought it would be,

As I believed I had been promised.

Perhaps all of it was nothing more

Than my own wishful thinking,

But the despair from my failure is real—

Nothing could be more real

Than how heartbroken I am,

Knowing it didn’t have to end this way.

As a youth, when I turned my life,

My will and my purpose,

Over to You for safekeeping,

I believed I would experience abundance,

But that has not been my lot—not even close.

Life has not been what I expected it to be.

It seems like I have failed

At everything I’ve been called to do.

When I’ve needed You the most,

It seems like You’ve been so far from me.

My enemies delight in my misfortune.

The pain of their sharp, cutting looks

Is ever before my eyes, infuriating me,

But also crushing me,

As debilitating fear chains me to the past.

Those I’ve trusted have used and discarded me,

Rejecting me without a backward glance.

Like a fool, I never saw it coming.

As I recoil from my wounds,

I call on Your name, but You’re not close.

At least, I don’t feel Your presence.

I didn’t want to fail, Father.

You know I didn’t, but I have.

I can’t change the outcome.

That door is closed,

But my life is not over,

And other opportunities will come.

When they do, help me to learn

All the lessons I need to know.

I don’t want to ever be in this

Tortured place again—

Without a future, without a hope,

Without the promise of being successful.

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I’ve wanted things and relationships

You did not want for me.

I’ve wanted them so badly

That I’ve come before You

Countless times whining and mouning,

Beseaching You to let me have what I want.

And all You did was say, “No.”

I would not accept Your answer

And continued the relentless pursuit

Of my will versus Yours.

I tried to make wrong right,

Calling myself selfless for doing so.

I ascribed nobility to my efforts,

As if seeking my will rather than Yours

Was the path to peace and fulfillment.

In my foolishness, I did my best

To fool myself about my intentions,

But You remained firm and just said “No.”

Still unable to accept Your will over mine,

I manipulated events until exhaustion overwhelmed me

But You would not budge nor change Your mind.

Now, at the end of myself and all my fretting,

I bow my knee and accept Your decision.

No it is, and no it will be.

Parts of me still don’t like Your answer,

But You are in charge, and I am not.

Once I allowed myself to accept Your will,

I began to see things as You have,

And now realize Your way is better than my own.

Thank You for caring for me so much

That You protect me from my wilfulness

And from ends that would not be what

I thought they would be.

You know me better than I know myself,

And I thank You for freeing me from my past.

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I feel so badly about myself.

It’s hard to hold my head up high,

As my sorrow and my shame consume me.

The air around me is thick and difficult to breathe.

My heart is heavy as is my countenance,

Which diminishes my stature.

I long to be free of my shame,

But those around me wag their fingers,

Giving me “that look” of scorn and reproach.

You say that I am forgiven,

But I don’t feel it or believe it.

When will I be free?

When will I know gladness?

When will my penance be enough?

If there is no condemnation in Christ,

Then why is my shame ever before me?

Is this all there is to life?

Will my past determine my future?

Will I never know peace and satisfaction again?

I know You love me the way I am,

But others do not. They rejoice in my pain,

In grinding me down to nothing.

I should insist that they stop,

But I can’t, as my shame enervates

My ability to take care of my soul.

I am robbed of sleep, robbed of joy,

Robbed of meaningful life, and yet

It never stops. I am undone and wonder

If I will ever regain my footing in life.

Rescue me, Lord. Let me know joy

And peace once again.

Rescue me quickly, my Lord and My God.

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I’m praying because I know I should,

Not because I really want to.

I can do things for myself.

I always have—always will.

I don’t need Your help—not really.

“Bring it on. I can handle anything.”

In my heart, this is what I think

Nearly all of the time.

I’m not trying to hurt anybody,

But I don’t trust people completely—

Not even You, Lord, not even You.

This is exactly how I feel.

In my obstinacy, I repeat,

“Bring it on. I can handle anything.”

Then, You allow adversity to be my portion,

And  I fight You, every step of the way,

Refusing to learn my lesson.

I have to. It’s the way I am—the way I’ve become.

And then You turn the pressure up further.

I wince at the discomfort but will not yield—

Not yet. I still have so much fight left in me.

I cannot submit. I will not submit.

Then the pressure is doubled, and redouble once more.

Finally, I can stand no more.

In bewildered distress, I cry out,

“Not me, Lord? What have I done?

Why is this happening?”

Then You answer me in my spirit,

Revealing Yourself to me,

Telling me that You still love me,

That I’m still Your child,

That my world needed shaking.

When I finally bow my knee,

You redirect my life to be

What You want it to be—

Not how I insisted it should be.

Finally, at the end of my obstinacy,

I acknowledge, “Your ways will be my ways.

Do with me as You please.”

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