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Archive for February, 2013


 

Refer to Step 8: I share my experience with a trusted friend, and I confess to God the exact state of my heart.

 

A confession has to be part of your new life.

—Ludwig Wittgenstein

When you acknowledge the exact nature of your wrongdoing, be specific, open, and completely forthright. Do your best to be totally up-front. If you’re completely honest, the weight of guilt will be broken, freeing you from your emotional imprisonment.

Remember, you are only as “sick as your secrets” and, once they have been confessed, their burden will be lifted; and you’ll be free. If your problems are habitual or addictive, find a support group. There are many available. Do what you need to lift the burden of guilt and shame from your life. After all, haven’t you been confined to your emotional prison long enough?

If you believe you should be shackled, it’s a lie; you don’t. God desires your freedom—even more than you do, and He is eager to restore you to wholeness, to health, and to peace. Take some time to meditate about what you need to confess. Then, shake off your inertia, find a trustworthy friend, schedule a time, and share your experience.

Mustering the courage to actually confess what is troubling you will be difficult but once you’ve completed the task, you will be relieved beyond measure. It’s palpable; there’s nothing like it. If you’re reluctant to proceed, it probably means there’s something still bothering you—something you still need to uncover. If you’re like most, it will not leave you alone until you face it. Stop hesitating and do it. Even if you have to force yourself, make the effort.

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; and Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:3-5)

Jack Watts   My Story

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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 never too late to be what you might have been.

—George Elliott

Quite often, when a person invites Christ into his or her life, developing a relationship with God is perceived as having God as an ally—having Him in your corner so to speak. In the person’s simplicity and naiveté, their perception is Almighty God is there to help them further their ends—to help them achieve their goals in life. They operate under this delusion for a while—sometimes a long while—until their carefully constructed world begins to crumble.

Many things can shatter a person’s world, including religious abuse. More than anything, religious abuse can knock the legs right out from under a person. When this happens, all of their grandiose aspirations seem crumble as well.

It’s like blunt force trauma to a person, stopping them dead in their tracks, changing everything. It also knocks the grandiosity out of a person. When it happens, the abused person no longer has ends of his or her own to achieve. Their illusions about themselves have been dashed on the rocks, especially after having been subjected to shame, ridicule, and caustic criticism.

Such a crushing experience impacts a person’s core emotions, producing bitterness, resentment, and a hard heart. Just when the person believes that nothing else good will ever come into their lives, Almighty God comes calling again. Beginning with a gentle whisper, He lets the person know that they were traveling along their own road with their own goals, which were not His.

When that happens, at first the person is shocked, never having considered that he or she had been pursuing goals that were not aligned with God’s. As time goes on, however, and the relentless heartbreak of abusiveness takes its full toll upon the person; they become much more willing to listen to the voice of God.

“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’” (Isaiah 65:1)

Jack Watts

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Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

 

Many of us prefer to stay at the threshold of the Christian life instead of going on to construct a soul in accordance with the new life God has put within. We fail because we are ignorant of the way we are made. We put things down to the devil instead of our own undisciplined natures. Think what we can be when we are roused!

—Oswald Chambers

The single greatest enemy to our recovery is our state of mind. Because we have been abused, we feel defeated and worthless, which is exactly the message our abusers intend for us to receive. That is probably why they shamed us in the first place. Although it’s normal to have feelings of worthlessness, it’s also self-defeating to internalize them and make them a core part of who you are.

If you want to be a whole person—valuable to yourself and to others—you must renew your mind and reject what your abuser has said about you. Don’t internalize it. If you already have, make a commitment to renew your mind. Reject the false message immediately. When it returns to your thinking—which it will—fight it tooth and nail by turning it over to the Holy Spirit for transformation.

The way to do this is simple: believe God loves you and desires your recovery. The solution is easy, but summoning the will to transform your mind may be the most difficult thing you ever do. Nevertheless, do it as often as needed. You may have to do it every day, perhaps every hour. It’s difficult, but the value of making the effort is incalculable.

If you do this consistently, over time and slowly, you’ll change and become everything you were ever intended you to be. If you don’t, you’ll wallow in mediocrity and self-pity for years, maybe decades. The choice is yours. Renew your mind or accept the lies, which have been said about you as the truth.

And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. (I Thessalonians 2:13)

Jack Watts   Real Prayers for Real People with Real Problems

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Father,

I feel so broken and beaten,

So abused, rejected, and abandoned.

I never thought my life would be like this,

But I was wrong—dead wrong.

In spite of it all,

You’ve been there beside me,

Even in my darkest hours,

Even when I wanted You to leave me alone.

Things have been tough for a long time,

But I’m tired of rehashing my angst.

I want more for my life than to be a perpetual victim.

Help me learn my lessons, which produced my pain,

So that I do not have to repeat them. I don’t want

To waste my years replicating meaningless drama.

Let my foolishness be turned into wisdom

So that others can benefit from my experiences.

In all of my broken places, heal me

With Your tender, loving hand.

I’m ready to move forward,

Without shutting the door on the past,

And the valuable lessons it has produced.

Jack Watts   My Story

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Father, 

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.

Journal: Take a few minutes and write down the actions you have hidden and want to remain secret. Be thorough and honest. Once you’ve written it, thank God for His forgiveness, and rip up the paper, knowing that you have been forgiven.

Like most infomercials, people’s testimonies are over-sold and under delivered. Because authenticity is missing, many dismiss these testimonies as being overstated, while others reject Christianity because they recognize the hypocrisy of believer. Here’s the question that needs to be answered: Wouldn’t it be better to tell the truth scrupulously, and allow the chips fall where they may, rather than live a life that’s essentially a fraud?

Journal: Write about your Christian testimony, being scrupulously honest.

The thinking behind prayers that ask to be spared from natural consequences isn’t the type of prayer that God answers in the way you want. He simply doesn’t operate that way. God doesn’t deliver you from trouble; He delivers you through trouble.

Journal: Can you think of a time when God walked you through a crisis rather than saving you from it? If so, write about that experience.

This is why the 11-step approach is singular and not plural—I and not we. There is no way for a group to heal your relationship with God. You have to do it that yourself, in the quietness of your own heart. Although each person’s experience may be different, the road back to God isn’t. It’s the same for everybody.

Question: What does the road back to God look like for you? Think about at least three things it entails.

 

After having been abuse, our perspective undergoes a radical change. We begin to learn the simple truth that an act of kindness performed at the right time, for the right reason, may be more meaningful from God’s perspective than something calculated to bring us notoriety, fame, and fortune. We begin to recognize that God values small things—where nothing is expected in return—more than grand things well publicized.

Journal: Think of a time when you performed a selfless act—a kindness performed for no reason other than to help someone else. How did that make you feel? Were you able to keep it to yourself? Were there any long-term ramifications from it?

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

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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.

 

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves—Amelia Earhart

 

Christianity is brimming with people who want to do great and noble things for God. If you ask them, they’ll tell you how much they are capable of accomplishing. Their aspirations are usually altruistic, noble, and grand. The problem is, more often than not, God doesn’t usually want what they do.

What He wants is for people to do simple, mundane things for others—nothing ostentatious or glamorous. The goal of Christians, who are grandiose, might be to “speak about God’s love to the multitudes,” but that same person might not be willing to run an errand for an indigent person.

That’s the problem. God has far too many men and women who are willing to be exalted, but few who are willing to be menial servants. Many are willing to do grand things, but few are willing to be simple, living their lives unaffectedly just doing the “next right thing” day by day.

In twenty-first century Christian culture, we have a worldly attitude toward service, routinely calculating:

  • What’s in it for me?
  • How will this further my ambitions?
  • How will this enhance my image with others?

After having been abuse, however, where the spiritual wind has been knocked out of us, our perspective undergoes a radical change. We begin to learn the simple truth that an act of kindness performed at the right time, for the right reason, may be more meaningful from God’s perspective than something calculated to bring us notoriety, fame, and fortune. We begin to recognize that God values small things—where nothing is expected in return—more than grand things well publicized. A small thing is a small thing, but faithfulness in doing a small thing is a big thing.

He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contibutors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)

Jack Watts  My Story

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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.

 

Go often to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.

—Recovery Slogan

 

When you read the steps for Alcoholics Anonymous or any other 12-step group, you’ll notice that they are plural and not singular. In step 1, it says, “We came to believe” and not “I came to believe.” In recovery from substance abuse, the shared experience of the group is often the most powerful component for achieving sobriety.

In recovery from religious abuse, however, it’s a little different. Although the wounding comes from a religious leader, God is nearly always blamed for the abuse as well. This means the person’s relationship with God becomes the primary problem and the relationship that needs to be mended first. Without getting straight with God, nothing else will work well—that’s for certain.

This is why the 11-step approach is singular and not plural—I and not we. There is no way for a group to heal your relationship with God. You have to do it that yourself, in the quietness of your own heart. Although each person’s experience may be different, the road back to God isn’t. It’s the same for everybody.

At the same time, you will need at least one trusted friend to act as your confidant along the way. Learning to trust God again is essential—so is learning to trust another human being. Both, working together synergistically, will make your journey much less burdensome—and with fewer detours.

Until you’ve accomplished both, nothing else will work very well. When you bring your situation before God, you can be assured He will always be available and accepting. Bringing it before another human is not as easy, but if the person is in tune with God’s will, the end result will definitely be empowering.

 

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12:13)

Jack Watts   Recovery Resources

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