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Archive for January, 2014


Father,

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 purposeful life.

You know me intimately, Lord.

You know the thoughts

And the intentions of my heart.

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

Which has become my life.

Tell me, will I find joy once more?

Will I regain my confidence?

Will I smile at the future once again?

Question: Everybody who has ever been abused has felt like this at one time or another. Answer the questions asked from your own experience.

Because of your relationship with God, you have all the tools necessary to reverse the negative emotional input of your abusers. It’s all there—inside you—waiting to be utilized. All you have to do is appropriate it. Don’t allow all-consuming fear to incapacitate you. If you haven’t already begun to repudiate your fearfulness, start today. Remember, you can still be everything God ever intended you to be, which is definitely His will. All that’s stopping you is yourself.

 

 

Journal: Write about how fear has gripped you in the past and how you deal with it now. Be completely honest and forthright.

There is no principle in Scripture that is clearer than the fact that there is “no condemnation” for believers. At the same time, it’s the weapon of choice for most religious abusers. They wield condemnation like a sword, constantly pointing their sword-like finger at people, scolding them for the way they behave and even for the way they think. Because the abuser is in a position of power, the condemnation that person heaps upon others resonates, finding fertile ground in the soil of the abused person’s heart.

 

Journal: Write about how your abuser used condemnation to abuse you. Be sure to write about how effective it was in putting you down.

When despair comes, recognize it for what it is, but never give in to it. The feeling is normal, but if you nurture it, it will develop into self-pity, which will consistently prevent you from standing on your feet. Instead, ask God this:

  • What do You want me to learn from this experience?
  • What is the lesson You are trying to teach me?
  • I want to understand, learn from my experience, and grow from it.”

 

Journal: Write your answer to the questions asked in the paragraph above.

You are in a unique position to help others—just as you’ve been helped. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and your ears keen. If you do, God will bring as many people into your life as you have the capacity to help—perhaps more. The enormity of the problem is that severe, and those who have the capacity to help, so few. Be vigilant. Be open, and get involved.

 

Question: Do you recognize how important you are? Are you vigilant? Are you open? Are you available to get involved?

Jack Watts

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Being Available to Others

 

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 give me the power to carry it out.

 

Be alert to give service. What counts a great deal in life is what we do for others.

—Anonymous

Although you may not recognize it, you’re a much more valuable person than you once were. Because of the heartache you’ve endured, and your willingness to take a hard look at the painful events surrounding your abuse; you have learned recovery skills that will help you live life more successfully. Unlike most, you can now look at life more realistically than ever before.

Because abuse is so personal—because it’s such an affront to who you are—each person who has experienced it believes his or her story is unique. As they see it, nobody has ever suffered as unjustly as they have. But if you think about it realistically, this couldn’t possibly be true.

Sadly, religious abuse is quite common. Multiplied millions have experienced it—just like you have. Most don’t do the work to recover from it. Because you have, you understand many things they don’t. You know the way out; you know about the 11 Steps. Most don’t have a clue about their abuse or that recovery is even possible. They’re still grinding out their days in mediocrity, suffering from shame, disappointment, and disillusionment.

With the insights you’ve gained, you are in a unique position to help others—just as you’ve been helped. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and your ears keen. If you do, God will bring as many people into your life as you have the capacity to help—perhaps more. The enormity of the problem is that severe, and those who have the capacity to help, so few.

Be vigilant. Be open, and get involved. Regardless of whatever else you might be doing, because of what you know, helping others discover spiritual freedom must become a part of your life.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (II Corinthians 1:3-4)

Jack Watts

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Your Despair Can Have Purpose

Refer to Step 5: I recognize the only way back to a productive life is exactly the way I came.

Be patient and calm—for no one can catch fish in anger.

—Herbert Hoover

When despair comes, recognize it for what it is, but never give in to it. The feeling is normal, but if you nurture it, it will develop into self-pity, which will consistently prevent you from standing on your feet. Instead, ask God:

  • What do You want me to learn from this experience?
  • What is the lesson You are trying to teach me?
  • What do I need to learn from my experience to grow from it.”

When you ask these questions, expecting an answer, be still and listen. Be patient—even when it’s the last thing you want to do. When you do, the lesson will come—not in a loud, bombastic way but gently. Your revelation will develop from deep within you. That’s the way God does it. Something will just click into place—something you never knew or understood before. When this happens, your character will transform, and you will become a different person—a wiser person, a better person.

The alternative is to disregard the lesson, which means you’re destined to repeat it. There’s no getting around it. A wise person listens—a stubborn person does not. People in recovery are often obstinate, which means they have to go through a world of pain before they become willing to learn.

The choice is yours. Learn the lesson early or learn it late—after you’ve been through many more painful experiences.

 

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)

Jack Watts

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Condemnation—Beating the Sheep

Refer to STEP 4: I recognize that God is not the abuser; people who misuse their authority are the abusers.

The only true law is that which leads to freedom . . . There is no other.

—Richard Bach

In the scriptures, it’s clear that there is “no condemnation” for those who have a relationship with Christ. It’s removed, as far as the east is from the west and is no longer an issue between God and man. It has been resolved, freeing mankind from the wages of self-defeating behavior. There is no principle in Scripture that is clearer than the fact that there is “no condemnation” for believers.

At the same time, it’s the weapon of choice for most religious abusers. They wield condemnation like a sword, constantly pointing their sword-like finger at people, scolding them for the way they behave and even for the way they think. Because the abuser is in a position of power, the condemnation that person heaps upon others resonates, finding fertile ground in the soil of the abused person’s heart.

Even though the Bible is clear that the issue of condemnation has been resolved, abused people accept such indictments as if it they were true. As a result, the abused person recoils, internalizing their castigation—as if it came from God Himself, which it definitely did not.

God is not the author of abuse. Those who use their authority inappropriately are the abusers. Sadly, most abused people miss this simple truth, paying a heavy price as a result.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can either believe what your abuser says, or you can believe what the Scriptures teach. The former leads to enslavement; the latter to freedom and emotional health. If you have accepted your condemnation as true, which most abused people have, there is hope for you. Your freedom can come quickly. All you have to do is believe what God says about you and not what your abuser says. It’s as simple as that.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. (John 8:32)

Jack Watts

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Discarding All-Consuming Fear

Refer to Step 2: I commit to stop living my life in pursuit of self-defeating behavior.

 

 No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.

—Edmund Burke

After a person has been spiritually abused and discarded, a number of debilitating emotions emerge from the carnage. Anger and bitterness head the list, followed by resentment and an unforgiving heart. Each of these is present, but the most debilitation emotion is fear—by far.

The abused person develops a spirit of fear that can incapacitate his or her capacity to function normally. For wounded people, natural enthusiasm and a zeal for life are routinely replaced by all consuming fear.

To experience recovery—real recovery, this is the place where the rubber meets the road. You must reach out to the Lord in your despair, in your confusion, and in your fear. Without Him, you will continue to nourish your self-defeating feelings—sometimes without even being aware of it. You may do this so much you’ll cease to be the person you know yourself to be, becoming a vestige of yourself. Instead of being strong and confident, you will become timid and apprehensive.

To escape this unwanted fate, you have to renew your mind—sometimes a dozen times a day or more. You will have to remind yourself: “God has not given us a spirit of fear,” but of love, power, and a sound mind.

Because of your relationship with Him, you have all the tools necessary to reverse the negative emotional input of your abusers. It’s all there—inside you—waiting to be utilized. All you have to do is appropriate it. Don’t allow all-consuming fear to incapacitate you.

If you haven’t already begun to repudiate your fearfulness, start today. Remember, you can still be everything God ever intended you to be, which is definitely His will. All that’s stopping you is yourself.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? (Psalm 27:1)

Jack Watts

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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 core of my being.

On the outside, it doesn’t show,

But on the inside,

Which is tender and vulnerable,

I’m not as confident as I seem.

Every fiber of my being

Quakes with dread,

Consuming me with foreboding.

When will my apprehension 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 determination, and

Robbing me of a purposeful life.

You know me intimately, Father.

You know my apprehensive thoughts

And the intentions of my heart.

But I can’t reach You from the

Depressive pit that has become my life.

Tell me, will I find joy once more?

Will I regain my confidence?

Will I ever smile at the future?

Or will this be my lot—my portion,

And my destiny forever?

Will my future be short and grim?

Will my disquietude ever abate?

Will tranquility return to me or will it be

Nothing more than a distant 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 cannot overcome.

You see me as I really am

And not as I pretend to be.

Rescue me, Lord.

Rescue me quickly,

Lest my fear destroy all that You

Have built into my heart for years.

Jack Watts

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Father,

I am undone and badly crushed,

As those who seek what little is left,

Fight over scraps of my being—

Over pieces of my shattered soul.

How long will You leave me exposed

And vulnerable to ravenous predators—

To those who seek to destroy me?

Tell me, Lord, when will it be enough?

When will You protect Your wounded child?

When will You move Your mighty hand to help?

Question: Have you ever felt like this? Do you still feel this way? What other emotions does this touch inside you?

 

Character destruction is often what abusers intend. It hard to believe that there can be people who are so mean-spirited, but there are. To recover from such malicious treatment, the abused person needs to make a conscious, concerted effort to reject the castigating message, which has undermined their self-esteem.

 

Journal: Write about what you have done to try and counteract your abuse, paying particular attention to how it has impacted your self-esteem.

If I could have chosen my path, I would have chosen a softer, easier way. What God’s choice for me was much different. Like a good parent, He wanted me to grow up and be an adult.

Journal: Write about your life after you were abused, paying particular attention to secondary difficulties that added complications to your life.

The only way to avoid it is to become forgiving. It’s why Christ said, “Love your enemies,” which is the most difficult thing in the world to do. It’s requires God’s love in your life to do so; but once you have let it go, the pain from it will diminish and eventually disappear.

 

Journal: Write about what you have done to forgive your abuser. If you haven’t done anything, write about why you refuse to grant forgiveness. Remember to be as transparent as you know how to be.

 

Being Christ-like works; nothing else does. It draws people to the Lord much more effectively than a three-minute testimony from a stranger. The former is genuine, while the latter is little more than an infomercial—something contrived, forced, and disingenuous—something that never delivers as much as it promises.

Question: Don’t you prefer to be genuine than to try and be something you are not? Does reading this paragraph make you feel freer or more constricted? Think about your answers and how each makes you feel.

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Just Doing My Part—Not God’s

 

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.

Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us daily.

—Sally Koch

As a child of God, you are only expected to lift Him up—not push Him. Nothing more. That’s our entire responsibility. Isn’t it freeing just to read this and take it in, knowing that it’s okay to just be yourself?

I can’t save a person any more than I can damn them. Neither can you. We don’t have anything to do with it. We don’t have a vote in the matter—never have, never will. Those decisions are left up to God—where they belong. If that’s true—and it is; then, what is our part in the process?

It’s to lift up Christ, which we do every time we act out of the nature He has imparted to us, rather than out of our own, self-serving natures. If I act out of my own best interest and nothing more, I miss an opportunity to lift Him up. When I am Christ-like, I display love, joy, peace, and the rest of the fruit of God’s Spirit.

When I suffer for the Lord, I’m also lifting Him up. When I choose His way over materialism, I’m lifting Him up. When I’m kind, expecting nothing in return, I’m lifting Him up.

When I seek my own way, I’m not. The greatest problem comes when we deceive ourselves into believing our will is God’s will, and we press for it at the expense of others. It doesn’t work, and it manifests a poor witness for Christ.

Being Christ-like works; nothing else does. It draws people to the Lord much more effectively than a three-minute testimony from a stranger. The former is genuine, while the latter is little more than an infomercial—something contrived, forced, and disingenuous—something that never delivers what it promises.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

Jack Watts

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Bitterness—the Fruit of Abuse

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

 

In the souls of the people, the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

—John Steinbeck

Some people are so offended with their abusers they assert, “I will never forgive them—never in a million years.” When they say this, it’s usually said with such deep, bitter resentment. They are crystal clear they mean what they have said. Their enmity is so engrained; they refuse to even consider forgiveness.

From their perspective, it’s easy to understand their refusal. After all, they didn’t do anything wrong; their abusers did. The offended person’s attitude indicates that if anybody needs to apologize, it is their abuser not them.

Many become so hardened in this position they become entrenched and immovable. Unable to recognize that their hardened hearts adversely impact them and not their abusers, they “hunker down,” nurturing their anger, which they adamantly believe is their right to do.

By feeding their bitterness rather than dealing with it, however, it doesn’t occur to them that abusive people produce more abusive people. That’s right; most people who experience abuse have been abused themselves. They simply follow suite, becoming just like the people they hate. Abuse begets abuse as inevitably as night follows day.

The only way to avoid bitterness is to become forgiving. It’s why Christ said, “Love your enemies,” which is the most difficult thing in the world to do. It’s requires God’s love in your life to do so. Nothing else works, but once you have let it go, the pain from your abuse will diminish and eventually disappear. At first, you will not feel the relief; but over time, you’ll realize it’s gone. Once it has, you will be profoundly grateful. I promise it you will.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Ephesians 4:30-31)

Jack Watts

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Chafing Under the Strain

 

Refer to Step 5: I recognize that the only way back to a productive life is exactly the way I came. Therefore, I commit to repairing my relationship with God and making amends with everyone I have wronged along the way.

 

 

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up, we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability—to be alive is to be vulnerable.

—Madeleine L’Engle

Here’s a question you might ask yourself: Do you believe God holds you—and other people in recovery—to a higher standard than He does others? This certainly has been my thought, and I’ve heard others express it as well.

Many people seem to lead such comfortable, easy lives—never experiencing significant setbacks. Mine, by way of comparison, seems more difficult and much of it appears to be unnecessary. That’s what I think when I look at life from my standpoint, rather than recognizing that God’s perspective is much different than mine.

If I could have chosen my way, I would have chosen a softer, easier one, while God’s choice for me has been different. Like a good parent, He wanted me to grow up and be an adult. I recognized the dissimilarity in our perspectives when I was thirty-three years old. I remember praying, “Thank you, Father, everything has always gone so well for me. Nothing difficult has ever happened, and I’m so grateful to You for that—so grateful.”

Within a month of saying that prayer, things changed, and the subsequent years have been filled with difficulties. Have I chafed under the strain of my circumstances? You bet—big time! But I’ve also grown up, which I wouldn’t have done if life had been made easier.

When I was thirty-three, I was a little boy who looked like a man. Now, I am a man in every sense of the word, having my character forged in God’s winepress of adversity. It was a painful experience but, from the Divine viewpoint, absolutely necessary. Without it, I would still have my gray hair, but all I would be is a little boy who looked like a mature man. The world is full of men who have never grown up, and at long last, I can finally say that I’m not one of them.

Who 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. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge. That I may tell of all Thy works. (Psalm 73:25-26; 28)

Jack Watts

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