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Archive for December, 2010


Father,

In my pain and anguish,

When my heart was broken,

And I thought darkness would overwhelm me,

I felt lost and all alone, but I wasn’t.

Despite how I felt, You were there with me,

Diligently working in my heart,

Stripping me of my pretense,

Stripping me of my arrogance,

Stripping me of my self-serving ways,

Each of which had made a wasteland of my life.

Although Your child, I had no concern or awareness

Of the direction You intended for me.

My only concern was relief from my discomfort,

But Your purpose was far greater than mine.

I thought my anguish would never end

And that I would not smile at the future again,

But I was wrong about that, as well.

I knew the desire of my heart

And asked You repeatedly to grant it,

But You never did, which still saddens me.

What I have gained through my loss, however,

Has had more value than I ever imagined.

Out of the abyss, You have raised me up,

Placed my feet on solid, immovable rock,

And strengthened me with power in

The inner man—at the center of my being.

No longer fearful or timid, I’m resolute and confident.

Instead of apprehension, I am calm, strong, and sane.

And it’s all because You have changed my heart—

Transforming my perspective about what has value.

Without Your loving, consistent care,

I would never have learned my lessons

And would have been destined to repeat my mistakes

Over and over again, like an unreasoning animal

And not like a man—not like a child of the King.

To redeem what I had completely wasted,

You reached into the pit—into the mire

And emotional carnage of my life—

Redeeming my future by giving me hope.

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Father,

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,” is my motto.

In my heart, this is how I feel

Nearly all of the time.

I’m not trying to hurt anybody,

But I don’t really trust others either—

Not even You, Lord, not even You.

Gritting my teeth obstinately,

I boast, “I can handle anything.”

Then, You allow adversity to reign over me.

Fighting You every step of the way,

I refuse to learn the lesson I’m being taught.

It’s who I am, or—at least—the way I’ve become.

Undaunted, You turn the pressure up further,

And I wince at the discomfort

But still will not yield—not yet.

I still have so much fight left in me.

I cannot submit; I will not submit.

Then, You double the pressure, redoubling it once again.

Finally, when I can stand no more,

I break—just a little, and in bewildered distress,

Cry out, “Lord? What have I done?”

As if completely innocent, I ask, “Why is this happening?”

Revealing Your purpose, You let me know

How much my world needed shaking.

Finally, coming to the end of my obstinacy,

In submission, I acknowledge what I should have earlier,

“Your will is my will. Do with me as You please.”

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Father,

Nothing is as I had wanted it,

As I thought it would be,

As I believed I had been promised.

Perhaps my aspirations were 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 my life didn’t have to be 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.

It seems like I have failed

At everything I’ve been called to do,

And when I’ve needed You the most,

It seems like You have been very distant.

My enemies delight at my misfortune.

The pain from their sharp, cutting looks

Is ever before me, stinging and infuriating me,

But also crushing my soul and my spirit,

Derailing my efforts to get back on my feet.

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 are not close;

At least, I don’t feel Your presence.

I didn’t want to fail, Father.

You know that I didn’t—but I have,

And I can’t change the outcome.

Many doors are now closed,

But my life is not yet finished,

And other opportunities will eventuate.

When they do, help me learn

All the lessons I need to know.

I don’t want to ever be in this

Hopeless, tortured place again—

Where life seems to hold no promise.

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Father,

Having been wounded at the core of my being,

I have stopped seeking You—

Stopped praying, stopped looking to You

For wisdom, guidance, and discernment.

I haven’t wanted anything to do with You.

I’ve been so angry, so hurt, so humiliated.

In my pain, I have acted in shameful ways,

Which I want to keep secret

And hide from You and everybody else.

I didn’t intend to be like this—

To become the person I know I am,

But my sins have exceeded my coping capacity,

And I am unable to control myself,

Which I foolishly believed I could.

My self-defeating behavior controls me,

And I can no longer hide from the truth.

I am weary of hanging my head in shame—

Of churning my anger and bitterness within me.

I know that I have fed my rebelliousness,

But I don’t want the future to be controlled by my past.

I want to change—to regain control of my life.

I am in a deep pit, from which there seems no escape.

I have often blamed others for my plight,

Choosing to embrace the role of a victim,

Convincing myself that I have been faultless,

But I can no longer justify my self-serving behavior.

I have been wrong and need to admit it to You and myself.

Help me end my self-defeating behavior.

Then, cleanse me and restore me to wholeness.

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Father,

I know You haven’t given me

A spirit of fear.

Your Word assures me

That You haven’t,

But that doesn’t mean

I’m not fearful. I am.

Sometimes, my fear is so consuming

That it sends a cold chill

Through my body,

Through my soul,

Through the essence of my being.

On the outside, it doesn’t show,

But on the inside,

Which is tender and vulnerable,

I am undone.

Every fiber of my being

Quakes with dread,

Consuming me with foreboding.

When will it ever end?

When will my heart knows peace?

When will terror of the unknown

Cease to grip my soul,

Tossing me about,

Robbing me of sleep,

Robbing me of purpose,

Robbing me of a purposeful life.

You know me intimately, Lord.

You know the thoughts

And the intentions of my heart.

But I can’t find You in this dismal pit,

Which has become my life.

Tell me, will I find joy once more?

Will I regain my confidence?

Will I smile at the future once again?

Or is this my lot—my portion,

And my destiny forever?

Will my future be short and grim?

Will my disquietude ever abate?

Will tranquility be mine again

Or nothing more than a distant memory?

The answers are not in my hands.

I have no control, and my fear

Robs me of my faith in You,

Which I do not want,

But I know not how to overcome.

You see me as I really am

And not how I pretend to be.

Rescue me, Lord.

Rescue me quickly,

Lest my fear consume all of what

You have built into my heart for years.

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Father,

I’m so grateful for all that you have done,

So honored that you would love me,

And be mindful of my needs.

On my best days,

When I am at peace and rest—

When I am confident that You are in charge

And that I need not worry,

I know how blessed I am.

Help me live like that each day.

Help me show others that You care

And that You are available.

Let people see by my actions

That I have confidence in You;

That Your ways are always the best;

Always the wisest and most fruitful.

Teach me to not be boastful or arrogant;

And let pride be far from me,

Knowing that this too would be my witness;

Pushing those You care about away from You,

Rather than drawing them nearer.

Help me be mindful that

Whatever I do—good or bad—

It is a reflection of who You are.

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Father,

In my pain and anguish,

When my heart was broken,

And I thought darkness would overwhelm me,

I felt so lost and all alone, but I wasn’t.

Despite my anxiety, You were there with me,

Diligently working in my heart,

Stripping me of all of my pretense,

Scourging me of all of my arrogance,

Revealing each of my self-serving ways,

Which have made my life a wasteland.

For so long, I had no concern or awareness

About anything You desired for me to do.

My only care was relief for my tormented soul,

But Your concern was far greater and deeper.

I thought my anguish would never end

And that I would never smile at the future,

But I was completely mistaken.

In my anguish, I revealed the desire of my heart

Asking You repeatedly to grant it,

But You never would, which still grieves me.

But what I have gained through my loss

May have more value than I ever imagined.

Out of my painful abyss, You have raised me up,

Placing my feet on solid, immovable ground,

Which has strengthened me with power

In the inner man—at the core of my being.

No longer fearful and timid, I’m peaceful and confident.

Instead of fretful apprehension filling my hours,

My countenance has become calm, strong, and sane.

It’s because You have changed my heart—

Completely transforming my perspective.

Without Your loving, consistent care,

I would never have learned my lessons,

And would have been destined

To repeat my mistakes endlessly,

Like an unreasoning animal

And not like a man—

Not like a child of the King.

Read Full Post »


Refer to Step 4: I choose to believe what God says about Himself: that He is good and can be trusted. I recognize that God is not the abuser; rather, people who misuse their authority are the abusers.

You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough.

—Frank Crane

There’s nothing more difficult than hearing the voice of God when you’ve been spiritually abused. Most people are not even interested in listening for it.

That’s because someone they have trusted has used his or her position of spiritual power to exploit them. Naturally recoiling at such a destructive breach of authority, their sense of righteous indignation has been offended. Not only does this make the person angry with their abuser, but it also hampers their ability to trust others.

This loss of trust is also extended to God. In their minds, they believe that God should have intervened to prevent their abuse. Because it was unfair and unjustified, God should have done something to stop it. In some ways, they believe that He let them down more than their abuser did. At least, that’s how they feel about it, which may be illogical, but it is also very important.

Has this been your experience? When you think about it rationally, you probably realize that God wasn’t at fault, but you still feel that way. Because you do, it’s difficult to ever trust Him again. It’s also becomes far more difficult to hear His voice, which is always gentle and rarely insistent.

Like a wounded animal, you have recoiled and become very self-protective; and the thought of ever allowing yourself to become vulnerable again is the farthest thing from your mind. Just the thought of it probably sends a cold chill down your spine.

If you want to heal, however, that’s exactly what you have to do. You have to listen for God’s voice, trust it, become open to His healing, and then to His leading. What that entails is between you and God Almighty. I have no idea what it is, but I do know He will continue to reach out to you until you listen. It’s His nature, and He’s very persistent.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. (Psalm 13-14)

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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 deeply wounded my soul.

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

Which I have tried to excuse but cannot.

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

Injuring the innocent—just as I have been.

Father, I acknowledge that I have done this,

And I am becoming a hurtful person.

I don’t want to be like my abusers,

But, in all candor, I know that I have been,

Despite my insistence to the contrary.

Forgive me, Father. Heal my wounded heart,

And restore gladness to my troubled soul.

As an act of contrition, I have chosen to abandon

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

Despite my pain, anger, and disquietude,

I choose to stop spreading malice and enmity.

To sustain my determined resolve, I need

Your strength more than ever before.

Will You reach down and empower me?

Will You help me bridle my caustic tongue?

Will You keep my feet from stumbling?

Transform my wandering heart, Lord,

And keep me close to You at all times.

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Father,

I’m not where I want to be—not even close.

I’m not what I want to be,

And I’m not the person I’m capable of being.

Even worse, the gap is widening, not narrowing.

If I’m being honest with myself,

Which I repeatedly try to avoid,

I’m constantly excusing my poor

Behavior and my rebellious attitude.

I don’t like myself—not even a little.

I’m a pathetic substitute for what

I should be—for what I want to be.

Nearly everyone who knows me well

Recognizes that my life is shipwrecked.

It may look acceptable to casual observers,

But to those who know me, they recognize

The truth and shake their heads in dismay.

Why shouldn’t they? I can’t fault them

Because I don’t like what I see either.

My relationship with You has evaporated,

Even though I pretend that it hasn’t.

This is who I am—who I have become—

And I want to admit my faults, which are many.

I am no longer willing to pretend—not to You.

I have traveled the wrong road for so long

That I’m not certain I can ever

Follow the correct path again.

That scares me so much

That I have been unwilling

To face the truth about myself,

Choosing instead to hide my face from You.

I know I can’t change on my own.

Without Your help, I have no chance at all.

Will You hold my hand and touch my heart?

Will You be there for me and not abandon me?

Because without You, I know I can’t make it on my own.

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Father,

Having been wounded at the core of my being,

I have stopped seeking You—

Stopped praying, stopped looking to You

For wisdom, guidance, and discernment.

I haven’t wanted anything to do with You.

I’ve been so angry, so hurt, so humiliated.

In my pain, I have acted in ways I’m ashamed to admit.

I want to keep them secret—to hide them

From You and from everybody else.

I didn’t intend to be like this—

To become the person I know I am,

But my sins have exceeded my coping capacity,

And I am unable to control myself,

Which I foolishly believed I could.

My self-defeating behavior controls me,

And I can no longer hide from reality.

I am weary of hanging my head in shame,

Of churning anger and bitterness in my heart.

I know that I have fed my rebelliousness,

But I don’t want my future to be controlled by the past.

I want to change—to regain control of my life.

I am in a deep pit, from where there seems to be no escape.

I have often blamed others for my situation,

Choosing to embrace the role of being a victim,

Convincing myself that I have been faultless,

But I can no longer believe my self-serving delusions.

I have to admit the truth to You, and to myself.

Heavenly Father, I need Your help.

Without You, my life will have no meaning or value.

Help me end my self-defeating behavior,

So that I will be cleansed and restored to wholeness.

Read Full Post »


Refer to STEP4: I recognize that God is not the abuser; people who misuse their authority are the abusers.

One’s cruelty is one’s power and, when one parts with one’s cruelty, one parts with one’s power. When one has parted with that, I fancy one’s old and ugly.

—William Congreve

For religious abuse to occur, an attitude of arrogance, entitlement, and pride is required by a religious leader. If such an attitude doesn’t exist, then most abuse is accidental—not malicious. To be certain what’s happening, it’s always wise to take a good, hard look at every pastor and ministry leader, looking for telltale signs of spiritual superiority. If you discern these characteristics, move on.

It doesn’t matter how profound that person’s teaching may be or how loving he or she appear to be, it’s an illusion. At the end of the day, those who embrace such leadership will pay dearly. By keeping their mouths shut, they provide tacit approval for abusive behavior, paying the price that always accompanies failure to promptly do the right thing. On the other hand, those who recognize the problem and make a stand for what is right will also be abused.

Here’s the way it works. Although people have differences of opinion, when one person’s opinion is elevated above others and positioned as “God’s will,” then abusiveness is certain to follow. The person who doesn’t buy into the program is not only rebuked; but by holding his or her ground in opposition, that person’s relationship with God is inevitably called into question. To criticize the minister—”the anointed one”— is perceived as criticizing God, making the person who disagrees have flawed, “sinful” character qualities. Routinely, those who are in opposition are depicted as “carnal”—as purposefully going against God’s will. This makes the questioner’s walk with the Lord appear to be defective, which is exactly how it is positioned by the abusive leader. When the abuser says, “I’ll pray for you, brother,” it is usually accompanied by a syrupy smile. When this happens, you can be certain that no prayers will be forthcoming—only character assassination.

The person asking hard questions becomes an “untouchable”—rejected by those who were co-laborers just a short time before. This kind of treatment happens routinely in ministries and churches, wounding people beyond their capacity to cope with what follows. When the process is complete, there is another person added to the ranks of the religiously abused.

Your boasting is not good. Do you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (I Corinthians 5:6-8)

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Father,

Allow me to serve others with gladness—

Without keeping score,

Always giving, never expecting to receive.

Allow me to give of myself,

To give of my talents and of my goods,

To give of my time and of my energy,

To give of my heart and of my soul.

Help me understand the needs of others,

Never criticizing,

Never demeaning,

Never scolding,

Never condemning.

You have been so gracious to me,

Always Loving,

Always forgiving,

Always restoring—

Never chastising me for failing,

Even though I have been misguided

More times than I have not.

Father, keep a condemning spirit

Far from my heart and further from my lips.

Allow me to serve others with gentleness,

With compassion and tenderness,

Never diminishing the value of another.

Let me extend mercy to the brokenhearted,

Just as You have done for me.

 

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Father,

Here I am once again,

At the end of myself,

Feeling like a fool,

Feeling like I haven’t learned a thing.

It seems as if I’ve been here so often.

My times of sorrow and suffering

Have far surpassed my times of contentment.

Be gracious to me, Father,

Let me know what You have in store for me.

Assure me that my pain has had a purpose—

That the years have not been a total waste—

Devoid of meaning, devoid of value.

I want to cast my anxieties upon You

But when I do, they don’t stay.

They haunt my consciousness regularly,

Exacting a fearful, debilitating vengeance

Upon every fiber of my being when they return.

I want to be strong, but I am not.

I’m so weak—so used to defeat

That sorrow has become my daily drink.

Rescue me, Father. Pour out Your grace,

And allow me to know joy once again.

Let my cup overflow with blessing.

Let my life once again have value,

And allow me understand what it is.

I fear that my days will end

Before any good will ever materialize,

Leaving a wasted, purposeless existence.

Without Your active involvement,

All will be lost and irredeemable.

I know that; I’m certain of it.

As I wake in the morning and retire at night,

That realization is ever before me.

That’s not what I want,

Nor is it what You want for me either.

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Father,

I know You want me to trust You completely,

And I do—at least, much of the time.

Because of my wounding in the past

And feelings of worthlessness,

I still struggle to believe that You love me—

That You accept me just as I am,

Regardless of my situation.

Perhaps that’s why I whine and remain timid,

Even though Your desire for me

Is to be strong, joyful, and self-assured.

I desire inner strength, but that’s rarely an option.

Father, how can You love somebody like me?

That You do is something I cannot fathom.

Such love and acceptance is beyond my grasp.

You say that you love me despite everything,

Even when self-defeating behavior overwhelms me,

Which seems to happen far too often.

As You display Your faithfulness,

My trust in You increases, ever building,

But it still isn’t where it should be—

Not where I want it to be.

I pretend to be strong—to be supremely confident,

But I’m not nearly the person on the inside

That I appear to be on the outside.

I pretend to be what I am not—

To be far more secure than I really am.

I even attempt to fool myself,

But You know my frailties, which I try to mask.

I don’t know why You care about me,

When I don’t even care about myself.

This is a great mystery to me.

In my quiet moments, which I attempt to avoid,

I try to fathom such love and caring,

But I simply cannot.

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