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Archive for September, 2011


Father,

As the vicissitudes of life have turned against me,

And it seems like nothing but misfortune

Will be in my path for the foreseeable future,

Anxiety and fretful worry fill my days.

When I awaken in the middle of the night,

I am filled with dread and foreboding.

My mind races and my heart churns apprehensively.

Nevertheless, at the deepest level of my being,

A quiet persistent voice tells me to never give up.

When I rise in the morning, I am filled with resolve,

Knowing that this quiet voice came from You.

As the days pass and my pressures increase,

I feel battered and beaten at every turn.

It seems like everything that can go wrong certainly does.

Maintaining a positive outward demeanor,

I remain determined to do the next right thing,

Regardless of what that might be.

I have no other choice but to follow this path.

Despite my resolve, my insides feel numb and crushed,

As pressures from my circumstances intensify,

Weighing me down, relentlessly grinding me to despair.

As I bow my knee and ask for relief,

Which I know can only come from You,

I realize that I have no answers within me.

In the quietness of my heart,

Your voice continues to resonate,

Telling me to never, never give up.

As the weeks turn into months, with no respite from my travails,

Having been abandoned by all who once wished me well,

All that remains are those who desire me harm.

I feel undone, fearing that my heart will break,

But I have no choice but to press forward.

There is no alternative, and I cannot abandon my purpose.

It’s not in my nature to do so, and that will never change.

With that in mind, I bolster myself repeatedly affirming

That I will never give up—never, never, never give up.

Lord, my life is in Your hands, and You alone know

What day my complete restoration will come.

Until that time, I know what I must do.

I must relentlessly press forward

And never, never, never, never give up.

Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)

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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 could have imagined.

I know I need to return to You,

But now that I see how wide the gap has become,

The way back seems so daunting.

In my reaction to being wounded,

I have behaved in ways that have not only

Injured me but others as well.

I know this is true, and it grieves me.

I am 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 harmed 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 my heart sick.

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

Forgive me; restore my relationship to You and

Be with me as reach out to those I’ve wounded.

Help me learn from my egregious errors,

So that I never feel the compulsion

To drift so far from You again.

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and thee remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering thee before the altar, and go your way, first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24)

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Father,

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

So honored that you would love me,

And pay attention to my needs.

On my best days, which seem to be rare,

When I am peaceful and tranquil—

When I am confident that You are in charge

And that I need not worry,

I know how blessed I am.

Help me live in this truth each day.

Help me show others that You care

And that You are always available.

Let people see by my actions

The depth of my confidence in You;

Let them see that Your ways are always the best—

That they are always wise and prudent.

Teach me to refrain from boastful arrogance;

And let pride be far from me,

Knowing that this too would be my witness;

Pushing those You care about further away,

Rather than drawing them nearer.

Teach me to be mindful that

Whatever I do, whether positive or negative,

It is a reflection of me but also a reflection of You.

Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear; but certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His lovingkindness from me. (Psalm 16-20)

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Father,

My heart aches,

And I feel so unworthy

To come before You.

I feel worthless and,

By the contemptuous smirks of others,

I’m certain that they are right.

I feel so ashamed of myself,

And nobody is there to say,

“It’s okay. God is there for you

No matter what.”

I feel like I need to cringe and cower,

While refusing to hold my head high.

I feel like I need to skulk in the darkness

Rather than boldly embrace the light.

I feel like You don’t love me, Father,

And I wonder, How could You?

I know I don’t love myself

And I probably never will.

And yet, in the depth of my self-pity,

You are there with me, always vigilant,

Always available, always telling me,

My child, I know what you’ve done.

I know how badly you feel.

I know that you think your life has no value,

But that’s not how I see you—not at all.

In spite of everything, I love you

Just the way you are.

That’s why I sent My Son.

He paid the price for your shame

Washing you whiter than snow.

Now, leave the past behind.

Hold your head up high

And walk with Me into the future.

I still have a plan for you—

A plan filled with hope and promise.

Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; do not hide Thy face from me, lest I become like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in Thee; Teach me the way in which I should walk; for the Thee I lift up my soul. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; I take refuge in Thee. (Psalm 143:7-9)

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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—

At least, most of the time.

I’m not trying to hurt anybody,

But I don’t really trust anyone either—

Not even You, Lord, not even You.

As I grit my teeth obstinately,

In my arrogance I think, I can handle anything.

Then, You allow adversity to have reign over me.

Fighting You every step of the way,

I refuse to learn the lesson I am being taught.

My proud, headstrong attitude defines who I am.

At least, it is the way I have become.

Undaunted by my inflexibility,

You increase the pressure upon me,

And I wince at the discomfort,

But I 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 more.

Finally, when I can stand no more,

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

I cry out imploringly, “Lord? What have I done?”

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

Revealing Your purpose, You allow me to recognize

Just how much my world required shaking.

Finally, coming to the end of my inflexibility,

I acknowledge what I should have earlier,

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

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, or angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor thins to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

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In recovery, there’s an aphorism I really like. “You are only as sick as your secrets.” I’ve posted numerous stories and will continue to do so when appropriate. It helps free those who are bound by their painful experiences.I am an ex-Jehovah’s Witness who has, for all intents and purposes, given up on having any kind of relationship with God because of what I went through, as well as what I saw others experience. At Jack’s request, I’m sharing something I shared with him as part of a conversation he and I had via Facebook.

I had sent him the following link:

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/29084837/detail.html

The gist of the story is that a 52-year old man admitted that he raped and impregnated his children’s baby sitter in 1997. The young girl was forced to stand before her entire congregation (fundamentalist Baptist) to confess her “sin.” She wasn’t allowed to tell the group was that the pregnancy was the result of being raped by another member of the congregation. The church’s pastor then helped ship her to the home of a Colorado couple she didn’t know and arrange for her baby to be adopted. This was done with her mother’s consent.

This tragic story is an example of the kind of abuse Jack seeks to alleviate within the Christian Community. What I shared with Jack – and what he asked me to post here – is the following:

“I didn’t personally experience this young woman’s nightmare, but I know of so many instances among Jehovah’s Witnesses where the guilty party enjoyed the full privileges of a person in good standing because he “apologized,” while the person wronged/victim ended up being disfellowshipped/publically reproved because she was too traumatized/angry/hurt to accept his apology.”

“I know I should not, as my ultra-right-wing Evangelical Fundamentalist Tea Party Christian friends (I have two, believe it or not) tell me, be ‘stumbled’ by the actions of people who claim to be Christian, that I should just focus on my personal relationship with Jesus (don’t have one, never did). But I’ve got to go with Ghandi on this one; he said, “‘I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.’”

“So, that’s where I am with it all. And that’s why I enjoy your posts, because you’re like, sane. You’ve been through it, and come out the other side being able to talk the talk AND walk the walk. That means a lot to me.”

This is the first time I’ve “come out,” in taking a public stance against the religious abuse that occurs among Jehovah’s Witnesses (and so many other “religions”). And it’s quite scary, as I have definitely chosen a side now, instead of trying to remain diplomatic. Before posting, I said to Jack, “I’d love to post this. But just as it is? Or should I add to it?” His response? “Whatever you please. Just do it.” I think he knew that this was something I needed to do, in order to face my feelings and, if it is at all possible, begin to heal.

Thank you, Jack.

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Since publishing Recovery from Religious Abuse, I have heard many stories that have been quite disturbing. This is one example:

I didn’t want to fail, Father.You know that I didn’t—but I have,

And I can’t change the outcome of the past.

Many doors have now been closed to me,

But my journey is not yet finished,

And other opportunities will eventuate.

1. I did NOT fail… but that does not mean my life was not ripped like a tornado!
2. Doors closed… journey not finished…

there are no more “opportunities”…. I live each day moving closer to living under a bridge while the man who raped me… a minister… prospers and is healthy…. his mistress… is in a nursing home; his ex wife is permanently handicapped and works 5 jobs just to survive

maybe it is just a male/ female thing…. but there is no future and no hope… the OLD MEN will find young whores and old women are discarded to live under bridges! I now work for 1/4 my former salary after spending 3 years being unemployed!… I am handicapped… and most likely will never recover… I’m not getting younger…. this is as good as it gets!

Christians spend more on their christmas trees than they give to Christ or people in NEED!

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Father,

Nothing is how I planned it to be,

As I thought it would be,

As I believed it had been promised by You.

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 that my life didn’t have

To be what it has become.

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,

You have become very distant from me.

My enemies delight at my misfortune.

The pain from their sharp, cutting looks

Is ever before me, stinging and debilitating me,

Crushing my soul and my spirit,

Derailing my desire to get back on my feet.

Those I’ve trusted have used and misused me,

Finally rejecting me without casting a backward glance.

Like a fool, I never realized what was happening.

As I recoiled from my wounds, I called on Your name,

But You were nowhere to be found.

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 of the past.

Many doors have now been closed to me,

But my journey is not yet finished,

And other opportunities will eventuate.

Help me to learn from my mistakes, Father,

Because I don’t want to ever be in this

Hopeless, tortured place again.

Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou has destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. But as for me, the nearness of my God is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge. That I may tell of all Thy works. (Psalm 73:25-28)

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Father,

As I observe those who call upon Your name

To fulfill their trivial, meaningless desires—

Those who are never satisfied,

Those who constantly demand more from You

Like craving, all consuming sponges—

I’m amazed at how little they understand

Either Your nature or Your purpose for them.

Mellifluously, they say, “Praise the Lord,”

In a voice that quivers with self-serving sanctimony.

In their calculating hearts, they do not seek You.

They seek an angle to take advantage of others—

To search out a way to obtain their desires,

To win at the expense of those who must lose,

While smiling duplicitously, deceiving the foolish.

As I watch them and listen, I remember the time

When I was young, naïve, and easily fooled—

The time when I was unable to discern their deceptions.

When I see them now, I recognize how

Devious, self-absorbed, and cunning they really are.

In their hearts, they harbor pretense and treachery,

While maintaining a cunning facade of godly humility.

When I was innocence and naïveté, I knew no better.

Trustingly, I believed they had been sent by You

And had my best interests at heart.

As I reflect upon their actions decades later,

Having weathered their malice and survived,

I see the fruitlessness of their scheming.

Now, when I look for them, they cannot be found.

While I smile at the future, regardless of what it might hold,

I have learned that coming to You in complete honesty

Is the only path to a life of lasting fulfillment.

For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; hold to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these. (II Timothy 3:2-5)

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One of the things I have experienced is the liberation that comes from Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.

People think they are hurting us, doing to us something we deserve, but the thing is, with Jesus, and in the proper context of letting go, what they don’t realize is they really aren’t doing anything to us. It isn’t within their power.

The understanding of those people is important though and one of those things that gives us freedom and liberty from the abuse. I just had a situation yesterday, but that said, I just pray more for, love more for, and feel the freedom from Christ more as a result.

I am planning on doing a follow up on the review after I finish the book. I am actually about two days ahead of the actual posting, but it is really ironic how the situations in the journal process fits in and helps in time of need.

Thanks for writing such an important, liberating book.

Mike Furches

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Father,

Thank You for revealing Your will to me.

Now, I understand what I need to do and why.

My spirit has been disquieted for days,

As I’ve wrestled with my decision to proceed.

Deciding to confront my problem has been grueling,

But I’m certain it’s what You would have me do,

Despite my apprehension and desire to be liked.

By stepping out, when I would rather pretend

That the problem doesn’t exist—that it isn’t real—

I will be burning a valued bridge,

Which I have desired to protect at all costs.

But I cannot, nor can I continue to remain

Quiet in the security of my self-deception.

I know what I have to do, and I will do it.

But, Father, it’s difficult for me,

And I can’t pretend that it isn’t.

About some things I appear to be so strong,

But not when it comes to confrontation,

Especially when it’s with someone I care about.

My fear is that my insides will turn weak and

My resolve will vanish, rendering me useless.

Help me to be bold and confident,

While refraining from saying hurtful things,

Which are within my power and nature to do.

Father, help me guard my tongue from malice,

While remaining straightforward and candid.

And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14)

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