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Archive for September, 2013


 

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 the 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 have established deep within my heart.

Having tried to run from You for so long,

I now see how flawed my judgment has been.

Returning to You has required me to renew

My mind and to look at life differently.

Thank You, Lord, for enlightening me,

And for revealing that You have good things

Planned for my life and not calamity.

At times, I still have trouble believing

That You really love me—just as I am.

The stinging indictment of my abusers

Has found fertile ground in my soul,

And it continues to resonate, telling me that

I am a person without worth—without value.

But, when this happens, all I need to do

Is come before You and listen to You tell me:

“You are my child—worthwhile, loved, and valued.

I most assuredly have a purpose for your life.”

Jack Watts

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Father,

You’ll have to prepare the heart of my friend—

The one I have chosen to be my confidant.

When I reveal myself to that person,

I pray that Your love and acceptance will be

What I experience and not the condemnation

Of someone who is judgmental and self-righteous—

Someone who will not understand or accept me—

Just as I am, exactly like You do, Father.

Question: It’s important to have others be part of your recovery, but only trustworthy people. On a scale of 1-to-10, how trustworthy are your confidants?

 

Nobody plans on being abused, especially by fellow Christians, but it happens all the time. When it does, it’s debilitating and can render a person fruitless for a long, long time. It usually means your original vision about your purpose in life changes, and many have difficulty accepting this. That’s why it’s important to remember that it is God’s purpose we are here to fulfill—not our own.

Question: Has your vision changed since your abuse? If so, in what ways has it?

God promises not to put more on us than we are able to endure which, at the time, never seems to be true. It always feels like the weight of our hardship will break us, but God knows us better than we know ourselves. He stretches us beyond our comfort zone, which is His intention. At the end of it, however, we develop deep character qualities, which we would not have achieved through lesser means.

Journal: Write about how far you have been stretched by God. Think of at least one example and write about it, being sure to spend time on the long-term results.

 

Your future behavior is in your hands. If you are smug and self-satisfied, you will have a great impact—all-negative. If you display love and graciousness, you’ll also have a greater impact—all positive.

Question: Being completely honest, what has your impact been? If it’s less than you desire, tell God about it, asking Him to make you into the person He wants you to be.

At some level, accepting what their abuser have said about them as true, the abused person acts out the role ascribed to them, in nearly the way that Pavlov’s dog salivated. The abused person believes they are worthless, behaving predictably. If this has been your experience, admit it to yourself, to God, and to another human being. You’re not responsible for your abuse, but you are responsible for your reaction to it.

Journal: Taking time to be introspective, write about the acting-out behavior you participated in shortly after your abuse.

Jack Watts   Restoration Resources

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Rethinking Your Expectations

 

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

 

We must not measure our spiritual capacity by education or by intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured by the promises of God.

—Oswald Chambers

One of the worst consequences of being religiously abused is the belief that you will never do anything of consequence again. Being shamed, ridiculed, belittled, and discarded, most abused people recoil from the attack. Like a wounded animal, they look for a place to hide and lick their wounds.

Pulling away from others, even if it’s just emotionally, negates a person’s ability to become the person God intended him or her to be. At some level, accepting what their abuser have said about them as true, these abused people act out the role ascribed to them—just like the way Pavlov’s dog salivated. The abused person believes they are worthless, behaving predictably.

If this has been your experience, admit it to yourself, to God, and to another human being. You’re not responsible for your abuse, but you are responsible for your reaction to it. Believing what your abuser said about you, rather than the promises of God, will effectively neutralize you for as long as you accept an abusers judgment to be true. It diminishes everything about you, and you will lead a half-life or less, never reaching your full potential.

If this is what your life is like, you don’t have to submit to the stinging indictment of your abuser any longer. What this person said was not a biblical promise. It was a human curse, and you should not allow it to destroy your future like it has your past.

Put it away once and for all. Choose instead to return to what God has said about you, when you chose to invite Him into your heart. He loves you—no matter what, and He has a plan for your life that includes love, joy, and peace. Regardless of how difficult it is, reject the abusive message you’ve internalized. Make a conscious, consistent effort to do so. If you do, the reality of God’s love and acceptance will become overwhelming.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)

Jack Watts   Resources

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Being There for Another

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

We are attracted to people who share in our growth and progress and lose interest in those who don’t.

—Recovery Slogan

Becoming a Christian is easy. All that is required is the willingness to accept what has been freely provided. The Lord has done everything necessary, which is what grace is all about. The only thing you or can do is make His efforts more desirable to others or less.

Because so many Christians are smug and self-righteous, legalistic and condemning, haughty and judgmental—not nearly as many non-believers are attracted to a life of faith as there should be. Sadly, all of us know the people I’m describing: the ones Christ displayed anger toward—the heartlessly religiously self-righteous crowd.

The lives of people like these reveal a version of Christ that is not found in the New Testament—not even close. Yet, these are the people most feared in Christianity—just like the Pharisees were the most feared in Christ’s day. The bitter sting from the tongue of Christian legalists keeps many from embracing God’s mercy, love, and acceptance. The only legitimate fruit they display is self-control—except for their biting, acerbic tongue.

Not being like them is part of what your recovery is all about. If you display love, joy, long suffering, and a genuine concern for those in need; then you are being faithful to God’s will. That’s very attractive to wounded, hurting people—people desperate for answers. By being there for someone who needs you to aid their recovery—just like someone was there for you—you will bless not only them but also yourself.

Your future behavior is in your hands. If you are smug and self-satisfied, you will have a great impact—all negative. If you display love and graciousness, you’ll also have a greater impact, which will be all positive.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cleave to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. (Romans 12:9-14)

Jack Watts   Recovery Resources

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Character Development

Refer to Step 4: I believe that God understands my wounded-ness and He alone can heal me.

 

Adversity is the mint in which God stamps upon man his image and superscription.

—Henry Ward Beecher

When you see how carefree some people’s lives seem to be, do you ever wonder if God is holding you to a higher standard than He does others? Many people seem to have such a comfortable, easy life, while those of us in recovery—by way of contrast—seem to have a much more difficult time than they do.

If that’s true—and I believe it is—then what is the reason for it? What is the purpose? In my own life, I distinctly remember when I was thirty-three and prayed, “Father, thank You for sparing me from trouble. Everything has always gone so smoothly for me. Nothing bad or difficult has ever happened. My life has been free from pain and suffering. Thank You for that. I’m so grateful—so grateful.”

From my simplistic perspective, I believed what I prayed was true. God was taking care of me by sparing me from all the heartache suffered by others. Within a month from the time I uttered that prayer, things changed, and the subsequent thirty years have been filled with difficulties. Have I struggled and chafed under the strain of my circumstances? You bet—big time!

But I’ve also grown, and the growth was the purpose behind all the difficulties. God promises not to put more on us than we are able to endure which, at the time, never seems to be true. It always feels like the weight of our hardship will break us, but God knows us better than we know ourselves. He stretches us beyond our comfort zone, which is His intention. At the end of it, however, we develop deep character qualities, which we could not have obtained through any other means.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Jack Watts   Resources

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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.

 

All our mortal lives are set in danger and perplexity: one day to prosper, and the next—who knows? When all is well, then look for rocks ahead.

—Sophocles

When someone invites Christ to come into his or her life, that person develops a vision about what God wants them to be. Usually, this vision is grandiose, having as many worldly aspirations to it as altruistic ones, maybe more.

It’s at this point that God begins His work, whittling away the worldliness, leaving the fruit of the Spirit in its place. Usually, the process requires years—sometimes decades. From God’s perspective, that’s perfectly acceptable because He is never in a hurry. From our human perspective, however, the process seems inordinately long and grueling.

That’s because we recognize our days are numbered, and we want to enjoy them, be happy, and experience continuous fulfillment. Unfortunately, life rarely works as we believe it should. It often throwing us unwanted curves, such as being abused.

Nobody plans on being abused, especially by fellow Christians, but it happens all the time. When it does, it’s debilitating and can render a person fruitless for a long, long time. It usually means a person’s original vision about his or her purpose in life has to change, and many have difficulty accepting that.

That’s why it’s important to remember that it’s God’s purpose we are here to fulfill—not our own. By simply accepting where we are, rather than chafing about not being where we want to be, we can put ourselves in line for God to use us as He sees fit. No other strategy is effective anyway.

Therefore, it’s a critical step for an abused person to accept the reality of their situation and move forward. To wish that life had been different—and that you had not been abused in the first place—doesn’t work. To get back on track and become fruitful, you must change your mindset and accept life as it is—not how you wish it should be.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (I Peter 1:6-7)

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

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Confess the Exact State of Your Heart

Father,

Now that I have spelled out

The exact nature of my self-defeating behavior,

And have written it down on paper,

I feel completely naked, exposed, and vulnerable.

Reviewing it provides me with great relief,

But I also feel insecure and sorrowful.

Now that I have brought to light

My deepest, most intimate secrets,

My fear of rejection seems overwhelming,

And I’m terrified of the condemnation of others.

Perhaps friends and foe alike will mock me—

Just like my religious abusers have.

I know that’s not a realistic fear,

But it still creates a sense of apprehension

And foreboding deep within my soul.

I know You have forgiven my self-defeating behavior,

But people are rarely as generous as You are.

You’ll have to prepare the heart of my friend—

The one I have chosen to be my confidant.

When I finally reveal myself to that person,

I pray that Your love and acceptance will be

What I experience and not the condemnation

Of someone who is judgmental and self-righteous—

Someone who will not understand or accept me—

Just as I am, exactly like You do, Father.

I have worked so hard and come so far.

Help me to continue being vulnerable and forthright,

Which I know is Your desire for me.

Stand with me, Lord, so that I can boldly state

The exact nature of my heart with humility—

Without being fearful, timid, or purposefully evasive.

Heal the broken places in my life and relieve

The burden of guilt I have been carrying for so long.

Jack Watts   Resources

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