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.
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seamed with scars.
—E. H. Chapin
Having experienced religious abuse as a Catholic child in Boston, while living in a hippie community in California during the Vietnam War that turned into a cult, and as an adult working for Christian ministries for thirty years, each experience has had a shaming effect upon me. For many reasons, I believed I didn’t measure up, and my sense of self worth was abysmally low. I certainly was not the Lone Ranger. Many of my peers had similar experiences and felt the same way—exactly the same way. Some of those around me seemed to be able to handle their abusiveness better than I could.
I wanted to be like them and cast God aside, but I couldn’t. For me, He was real, and I had to deal with Him, regardless of what others chose to do. Perhaps that’s why helping other people recognize their abuse is so important to me. I knew that when I began to understand the causal factors behind my abuse, I would be able to use the recovery tools I learned as a member of AA and turn my life around spiritually.
For years, I wondered why everything happened the way it did. I often thought, Why did that have to happen?
In recent years, I’ve come to accept that nothing occurs without a reason. I couldn’t understand it at the time, but each incident had a purpose. Each chaotic incident and personal failure helped me become the person I am today.
When events were unfolding, I was in too much pain to have any discernment. It was all I could do to make it one day at a time. Since then, however, my concern has always been for people who have been wounded—for the underdog. That’s why I have been writing about religious abuse for years. My burden is to help the millions of wounded Christians whose lives typify pain and sorrow more than love and joy.
Despite what has happened in your past, you can become the person God created you to be—the person you know you want to be. I know it.
And after you have suffered for a little, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (I Peter 5:10)