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Archive for April, 2011


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

Only God can turn a mess into a message.

—Unknown

Learning to come to God as Almighty—rather than just as a Friend and Comforter—has empowering qualities that most abused people have either forgotten or have never learned. When you come to Him, asking what His will is for your life, you are asking Him a direct question. No longer content to languish is your despair and your depression, coming to God as Almighty tells Him you are ready to do whatever He wants you to do—to be whatever He wants you to be.

It means that you have reached a point in your recovery when you want to be of service to others. It’s a mark in your recovery when you’re healthy enough to help someone rather than simply focusing on yourself. It means your intentions are to serve others.

You’ve come to trust Him again, knowing that your abuse came from misguided men and women and not from God. Knowing that abusive people like these cause much more harm than good, you have also come to realize that your experience can have value in helping other wounded people to heal.

Can God trust you with what you have learned? Can He count on you to be faithful in helping others who have been wounded—just like you have been helped? Can He count on you to point others to Him and not exploit them as you were exploited?

Only you know the answer to this; but if you are faithful with your part, you can’t imagine the reward that awaits you. You’re sense of self-worth, which has taken a hit ever since your abuse, will make you feel more worthwhile than you’ve ever felt before—guaranteed.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs. And he touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I, send me!” (Isaiah 6:6-8)

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

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.

—Thomas Paine

The Scriptures teach us to “count it all joy” when we experience difficult “trials” in our lives. When you read this for the first time, however, it seems like it must be a typo. In your mind you say, Surely, God doesn’t expect me to count it all joy that I’ve lost my job, my house, my child, or my health, does He? As difficult to accept as it seems, that’s exactly what He wants you to do—to count it all joy. Just because you can’t see a way out of your circumstance doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and He already knows the outcome. From His perspective, it’s already a done deal, and all He is waiting for is for you to fall in line. The way to do this is by putting everything in His hands—especially the outcome, which you have no control over anyway. Look to Him; thank Him for your circumstance; and fall in step. When you do, numerous character qualities will be enhanced in you.

Everybody has trials. Everybody has disappointments. Everybody has failures. It’s what you do with it that counts.

If you chafe, becoming bitter and petulant, you will have failed to mature in an area where you need to become an adult. This means you will need to repeat the exercise—like a student who is required to retake a failed course. The choice is yours: you can either demonstrate wisdom, by counting it all joy, or you can go through the experience again.

As for me, I’ve gone through many trials with mixed results. Like most, I’ve chafed more often than I should have, which has meant I’ve had to repeat several painful experiences. Now, when they come my way, I accept this chorus as true:

You give and take away

You give and take away

My heart will choose to say

Lord blessed be Your name.

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

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

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.

—Thomas Paine

The Scriptures teach us to “count it all joy” when we experience difficult “trials” in our lives. When you read this for the first time, it seems like it must be a typo. In your mind you say, Surely, God doesn’t expect me to count it all joy that I’ve lost my job, my house, my child, or my health, does He?

As difficult to accept as it seems, that’s exactly what He wants you to do—to count it all joy. Just because you can’t see a way out of your circumstance doesn’t mean there isn’t one. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and He knows the outcome.

From His perspective, it’s already a done deal, and all He is waiting for is for you to fall in line. The way to fall in line is by putting everything in His hands—especially the outcome, which you have no control over anyway. Look to Him; thank Him for your circumstance; and fall in step. When you do, numerous character qualities within you will be enhanced. Everybody has trials. Everybody has disappointments. Everybody has failures. It’s what you do with them that counts.

If you chafe, becoming bitter and petulant, you will have failed to grow in an area where you need to mature. This means you will need to repeat the exercise—like a student who needs to retake a failed course. The choice is yours: you can either demonstrate wisdom, by counting it all joy, or you can go through it again.

As for me, I’ve gone through many trials with mixed results. Like most, I’ve chafed more than I should have, which has meant I’ve had to repeat my failures numerous times. Now, when they come my way, I choose to repeat this chorus:

You give and take away

You give and take away

My heart will choose to say

Lord blessed be Your name.

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s well for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

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Have I experienced religious abuse? If so, how significant has it been?

The following questions will help you determine for yourself.

After reading each question, simply mark the appropriate number on the ten-point scale. Try not to spend too much time on any question. Choose the first response that comes to your mind. Your “gut reaction” is usually the best.

Even if your abuse has been significant, there’s hope for you. You can overcome the wounding you’ve experienced to become everything you’re capable of being. Here are the questions:

1. I have stopped going to church because someone in the ministry wounded me.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

2. Although mistreated by someone in the ministry, I still go to church, but I simply go through the motions.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

3. I believe God is displeased with me for leaving my church.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

4. I believe most Christians are hypocrites.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

5. Yes, a church leader has abused me.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

6. I feel unworthy to pray.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

7. I have been verbally abused by someone in the ministry.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

8. I have been sexually abused by someone in the ministry.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

9. I have been financially abused by someone in the ministry.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

10. I have been emotionally abused by a religious experience.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

11. I feel a sense of shame around religious people.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

12. I feel used by religious people.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

13. I believe religious people condemn me.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0 Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

14. I am angry with God.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

15. I feel unworthy to reach out to God.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

16. There is more to life than I’m experiencing.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

17. I would like to feel closer to God, but I don’t believe it’s possible.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

18. Life has no meaning.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

19. Sometimes I wonder if I have a drinking problem.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

20. Sometimes I wonder if I abuse prescription drugs.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

21. Sometimes I wonder if I have a problem with pornography.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

22. Sometimes I don’t believe God loves me.

10_______9_______8______7______6______5______4______3______2_______1_______0

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

Now that you’ve finished, add your total score.

• • • •

If you check 7 or higher on any question, Recovering from Religious Abuse can help you. If your total score is between 101 and 129, this book may be for you. If you score 130 or above, you definitely need Recovering from Religious Abuse. If you score above 150, your need for Recovering from Religious Abuse is significant.

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As many as 40 million people have abandoned Christianity because of an unpleasant experience—much of it because of religious abuse, but what constitutes abuse? Here is the definition I use in Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom, recently published by Simon & Schuster:

Religious abuse is the mistreatment of a person by someone in a position of spiritual authority, resulting in diminishing that person’s sense of wellbeing and growth—both spiritually and emotionally.

Religious abuse is the use of spiritual authority, by words or actions, to manipulate someone for personal gain or to achieve a personal agenda, thereby harming that person’s walk with God.

Religious abuse can also be defined as any misuse of Scripture, which harms a person’s relationship with God—like the damage resulting from cult involvement.

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When asked what mistakes he has made in the first two-and-one-half years of his Presidency, a startled Obama couldn’t come up with an answer, which seemed to surprise many but certainly not me. The reason he didn’t have an answer is simple: He doesn’t believe he has made any mistakes.

What’s more important than his answer is the reason behind it.

He’s a narcissist, and narcissists don’t believe they ever make mistakes—not specific ones anyway. From the perspective of a narcissist, when something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault—not theirs.

Before you dismiss this as anti-Obama rhetoric, let me point out that George W. Bush couldn’t answer the question either—for the same reason. He, too, has a problem with narcissism.

Because of similar responses by Obama and Bush 43, especially after two terms of Clinton, whose narcissism had an aggressive sexual component to it, I have done some reflecting about the Presidents during my adulthood, based on whether or not any of the rest of them have had narcissistic tendencies. Here is what I have concluded:

  • Nixon was not only narcissistic, but paranoid as well, which proved to be a disastrous combination for our nation.
  • Ford, who was not elected by the people, was genuine and forthright, as well as dull and unexciting, displaying no such tendencies.
  • Carter still thinks his administration was successful, which those of us who lived through it, recognize as ridiculous. He is unable to come to the truth because it’s not in a the nature of a narcissist to do so.
  • Reagan was quick to admit when he was wrong and extremely adept at self-deprecating humor, which the fragile ego of a narcissist would never permit.
  • Bush 41 lacked the leadership skills of his predecessor, but he seemed like a pretty normal guy, as did most veterans of World War II.
  • As previously mentioned, Clinton, Bush, and Obama all display various degrees of narcissism.

Looking back to earlier generations, Teddy Roosevelt is the only other obvious narcissist in the past century. Perhaps there were others, but my point is that we seem to elect chief executives that either have narcissistic tendencies or full-blown narcissistic personality disorders, which says more about the voters than it does about the Presidents.

As our nation ramps up for the next presidential election, voters need to spend greater effort measuring the contenders, adding a narcissistic criterion to the list of items that should disqualify a candidate. Below, I have listed the nine indicators of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If a candidate displays five or more, withhold your support. Remember, a narcissist is always charismatic but never a good leader.

A narcissist:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance, exaggerating achievements and talents, and expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, or beauty.

3. Believes that he of she is uniquely “special” and can only be understood by people of similar stature.

4. Requires excessive admiration.

5. Has a sense of entitlement and has unreasonable expectations of automatic compliance with his or her expectations.

6. Is interpersonally exploitative, taking advantage of others, especially underlings.

7. Lacks empathy. It’s all about them, and a narcissist  is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings or needs of others.

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them.

9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

While most politicians exhibit some of these characteristics, to be a narcissist, one has to meet at least five of these criteria. Sadly, we have had close to twenty continuous years of narcissism in the White House. In my humble opinion, “Enough is enough.”

At bare minimum, we need someone who can admit when he or she is wrong. If you have ever been married to someone who can’t admit being wrong, you know how dysfunctional the family becomes. Perhaps you’ve had a boss like that—one who makes the workplace unnecessarily difficult. It’s the same for a President. Because we have had so many of them, is it any wonder why our nation is so dysfunctional?

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Father,

I feel so broken and despondent.

My body writhes in despair,

Consumed with pain and anguish,

And I have a sense of hopelessness

That I fear will overwhelm me.

When will it ever end?

I go about without purpose,

Without understanding—devoid of joy,

Which once was mine in abundance.

My grief is ever before me,

Reminding me of my loss,

Robbing me of sleep,

Diminishing my countenance,

Telling me that I have failed.

Others placate me by saying,

“It’s all for a purpose.”

My friends who want to “fix me”

And lift the sorrow from my heart.

But they can’t; it doesn’t help—

Nor does it ease my pain—not even a little.

I can pretend to comprehend my plight—

To understand the lessons I’m being taught,

But I don’t—not even close.

My heart is broken, perhaps beyond repair,

And I fear that it will never change,

And I will never laugh as before.

In my despair and hopelessness,

I cry to You, begging for relief.

You hear, but You don’t answer.

I beseech, moan, and whine,

But You allow my pain to continue,

Each day—long into the night.

Rescue me my Lord, quickly.

Put Your healing hand upon me,

And make me whole once again.

Teach me my lessons so that

I need never repeat them.

Take that which is broken in me

And mend it so that it will

Be whole, and more resilient than ever.

Strengthen me so that I may

Bless Your name with gladness.

Make my sadness become a distant memory.

My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, “My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord.” Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:17-23)

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Refer to STEP 5: I recognize the only way back to a productive life is exactly the way I came. I have to repair my relationship with God and make amends with everyone I have wronged along the way.

It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.

—Leo Tolstoy

We live in an era when Christianity has become a vestige of what it once was—trite, simplistic, and deeply dishonest. The richness, which once typified people of faith, has been replaced by Christian legalism and plastic faith that buckles under pressure. Looking good to one’s peers is more highly valued than doing the right thing.

Nearly everybody realizes this is true, but few are willing to be straightforward and admit it. By trying to maintain the illusion of “having it all together,” when nothing could be further from the truth, Christianity has lost its sense of direction in America, as millions of church-going people look hypocritical to those who operate from a secular mindset. Secularists, refusing to be fundamentally dishonest themselves, have come to dismiss Christianity as irrelevant.

Those of us who have been wounded by the church have a similar mindset. We don’t think the religious leaders in our lives are hypocritical; we know it. Being embittered by our experience, many who have been wounded—people like you and me—have chosen to pursue our lives knowing that God is real but remaining aloof from seeking His counsel. We are still willing to give Him a nod of the head, but we have stopped bending our knees in submission to Him as we once did.

This is why recovery is critical for wounded believers like us. As part of our recovery, we know the value of rigorous honesty, which was once an integral part of Christianity instead of hypocritical legalism. We know that without being forthright, especially about our shortcomings, we will remain hopelessly mired in mediocrity.

This is why we have more to offer than those who look good on the outside but have marginal character qualities on the inside. God needs tough people; and with all you’ve been through, you qualify to be one of them. The question is, will you be?

Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue after righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (II Timothy 2:22)

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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 know 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 productive life.

You know me intimately, Lord.

You know my thoughts,

As well as the intentions of my heart.

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

Which has become my life.

Tell me, will I experience joy once more?

Will I regain my confidence?

Will I ever smile at the future again?

Or is this to be my lot—my portion,

And my destiny forevermore?

Will my future be short and grim?

Will my disquietude ever abate?

Will tranquility be mine

Or nothing more than a 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 do not know 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 that You have built.

So your life will hang in doubt before you; and you shall be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you shall see. (Deuteronomy 28:66-67)

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Father,

Understanding Your will is not always difficult.

You are crystal clear about so many things—

About honesty, fidelity, compassion, and caring for others,

Which makes it nearly impossible to not know what to do.

But most of life isn’t that simple—

Nor is Your will that easy to discern.

It’s not always black and white—not crystal clear,

which is what I would like it to be.

Instead, it’s various hues of gray, making choices perplexing.

It seems like I never know in which direction You’re headed,

And yet You expect me to follow You blindly,

Putting my trust in You wholeheartedly—without reservation.

As I try to ascertain Your will, I have been forced

To step out boldly in faith so many times,

Without any idea of what lies ahead,

Or of what the result will be.

Nothing ever ends the way I thought it would—

The way I thought it should be,

Which forces me to ask if I have heard accurately,

Or did nothing more than project my own desires,

Calling them Your leading, when they were not.

As I walk by faith, I rarely receive the answers I expect,

Which You could disclose but choose never to do.

I look at my situation, demanding to know the outcome,

While You look at it already knowing what that will be.

Your ways are beyond my ability to comprehend.

As others view my life, scornfully mocking,

Delighting at what looks like my certain failure,

I can only look to You for assurance that

You know what You have planned for me.

No matter how ridiculous others may view my plight,

From the depth of my soul, Your voice constantly assures me,

Be still my child and know that I am God.

I acquiesce, quieting my soul, becoming very still,

Acknowledging that You are God Almighty, and I am not.

When I do, I release all outcomes to You,

Accepting that I may look foolish to many,

But on the inside—where it really counts—

I know I’m becoming incredibly strong

In ways destined to have value for events yet to come.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

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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 to give me the power to carry it out.

Father,

My spirit has been rejuvenated.

Even my step feels lighter,

As the burden of my past has been

Lifted from my shoulders.

Now free to walk into the future,

Unencumbered by guilt, shame,

And all of my self-defeating behavior,

I want my life to have more meaning

Than the mediocrity that has become my routine.

The pursuit of valueless materialism no longer

Has the appeal it once held for me.

In fact, my definition of success has changed.

My spirit has been awakened, and I want

To spend all of my days, which You have numbered,

Doing what You would have me do—

What You have prepared for me.

I’ve learned that I can understand

Your leading as I look back,

Far better than by looking forward.

Whatever You have in store for me, Lord,

Regardless of what that might be,

That is where I want to spend my days.

Having wandered so far from You in the past,

I know the mischief I am capable of,

Which is not what I want for my life.

Father, guard my heart so that

I do not wander away from You again,

Pursuing fruitless, meaningless endeavors.

Let my heart rejoice in Your ways.

Give me peace, purpose, and the resolve

To accomplish Your will each day,

For as many days as I have left.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Each of the 11-Step prayers is part of the recovery program contained in Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.

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

Father,

Having been used, abused, and discarded,

By those who insisted they spoke in Your name,

But most certainly did not,

My self-worth has suffered significantly.

Having internalized this shaming charge,

Which my abusers have levied against me,

I have acted in ways contrary to my beliefs,

Which You have set forth in Your Word,

And deep within the core of my being.

Having tried to run from You for so long,

I now see how flawed my judgment has been.

Returning has required me to renew my mind

And to begin looking at life as You do.

Thank You for enlightening me with wisdom,

For revealing to me that You have good things

Planned for me and not for the calamity I fear.

At times, I still have trouble believing You, Lord,

Believing that the validation You have

Planted in my heart is real and long lasting.

The stinging indictment of my abusers

Has found fertile ground in my soul,

And continues to resonate, telling me that

I am a person without value—without worth.

When I begin to internalize this message,

Flood me with Your love, Your truth, and Your Word.

Let my heart believe You when You say,

You are my child—loved and valued.

And I most assuredly have a purpose for your life.

Whenever you have doubts, come to Me,

And I will remind you that you have value.

The seers will be ashamed and the diviners will be embarrassed. Indeed, they will all cover their mouths because there is no answer from God. On the other hand I am filled with power—with the Spirit of the Lord—and with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin. (Micah 3:7-8)


Each of the 11-Step prayers is part of the recovery program contained in Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.

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Refer to Step 9: I humbly ask God to change anything He wishes, and I ask Him to heal my pain. Because God forgives us as we forgive others, I forgive my abusers.

Father,

Now that I’ve revealed myself completely,

Being as honest and forthright

As I know how to be,

Having also admitted my faults to another,

I want to ask You to heal my pain completely,

And change anything in me You desire.

You are Almighty God; and I am not.

I’m weary of trying to walk a path

That has not been directed by You.

To complete the process of purging

All that remains toxic in my soul,

I know there is one final step I need to travel,

Which I want to do right now, Lord.

I release those who have been abusive to me,

Forgiving them totally and completely.

I have clutched my anger and bitterness

For far too long, and I have paid

A heavy price within my soul for doing so.

Believing I was punishing them by withholding forgiveness,

I have only punished myself instead,

Which I now realize and no longer desire to do.

I forgive them—just as You have forgiven me.

I release them completely—just as You have released me.

Give me the strength to put my pain and anger in the past,

And allow me to walk into the future unencumbered,

Free from the debilitating shackles that have enslaved me

To become the person You created me to be.

How great is Thy goodness, which Thou has stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man; Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. (Psalm 31:19-20)

Each of the 11-Step prayers is part of the recovery program contained in Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.

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Confessing Your Shortcomings


Father,

Now that I have written down

The exact nature of my behavior,

And have spelled out my shortcomings,

I feel so naked and vulnerable.

Reviewing my words, I feel relieved,

But also sorrowful and insecure.

Now that I have brought to light

My deepest, most intimate secrets,

I am so exposed, and fear rejection and ridicule.

Perhaps others will mock me—

Just like my religious abusers have in the past.

I know that is not a realistic fear,

But it still fills me with apprehension and foreboding.

I know that You will absolve my self-defeating behavior,

But people are rarely as forgiving and generous as You.

Father, prepare the heart of my friend—

To be the type of confidant I need in my recovery.

When I reveal myself to that person,

When I open my heart and become completely vulnerable,

I pray that Your love and acceptance will be

What I experience and not the condemnation

Of someone who is judgmental and self-righteous.

Because I have worked so hard and come so far,

Please help me choose a friend that will listen

And not judge me based on my failures.

As I continue on my recovery journey,

Help me remain vulnerable and forthright,

Which I know is Your will for my life.

Stand with me, Lord, so that I can

Boldly state the exact nature of my heart

With humility, without being either fearful or timid.

Heal the broken places and relieve

The burden of guilt I have been carrying

Deep within me for such a long time.

How great is Thy goodness, which Thou has stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man; Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strif of tongues. (Psalm 31:19-20)

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

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Refer to Step 8: I will share my experience and my own wrongdoing with a trusted friend, confessing the exact state of my heart.

Father,

Now that I have spelled out

The exact nature of my behavior,

And have written it down,

I feel so naked and completely vulnerable.

Just reviewing it gives me a feeling of relief,

But I also feel insecure and so ashamed.

Now that I have brought to light

My deepest, most intimate secrets,

I’m so exposed to others and fear rejection or ridicule.

Perhaps I will even be mocked by my confidant—

By the person I’ve chosen to trust—

Just like I have been by those who abused me.

I know that’s not a realistic fear,

But just the thought of it

Creates apprehension and foreboding.

I know that You will forgive my self-defeating behavior,

But humans are rarely as generous as You.

Please prepare the heart of my friend—

The one I have chosen to be my confessor.

When I expose myself completely, hiding nothing,

I pray that Your love and acceptance will be

What I experience and not the condemnation

Of someone who is self-righteous—someone who

Cannot understand or accept me, just as I am.

Father, I have already worked so hard and come so far.

Help me continue to be vulnerable and forthright,

Which I know is Your will for me.

Stand with me, Lord, so that I can

Boldly state the exact nature of my heart,

With humility, casting aside any sense of timidity.

Heal me in all of the broken places, Father,

And relieve the burden of guilt I have been

Carrying with me for all these years.

Free me to walk into the future unshackled by the past,

Free to become the person You created me to be.

How great is Thy goodness, which Thou has stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man; Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. (Psalm 31:19-20)

 

Each of the 11-Step prayers is part of the recovery program contained in Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.

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