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Archive for September, 2014


The Aftermath of Abuse

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

Everything that is happening is ultimately for the good if we’re willing to face it head-on and use our adversities for soul growth.

—Joan Borysenko

Shortly after a person has been wounded by religious abuse, friends of the victim invariably say, “It will be okay. You just have to trust the Lord; that’s all.” With that, they are finished with the issue. No further practical help is offered. After a while, the victim doesn’t even receive a word of comfort from their fellow congregants because people tend to withdraw from someone who has been pushed aside. They simply don’t want to deal with all of the negativity. Who can blame them?

To the victim, however, such advice is meaningless. Instead of helping, platitudes like the one above tend to make a difficult situation even worse. As people withdraw, the abused person is left to deal with the problem by himself or herself. This is when many turn to self-defeating behavior. It provides relief from the pain—a one-day reprieve from reality. It’s also how people become “hooked” on alcohol, prescriptions, or inappropriate relationships—none of which work long-term.

When a person reaches his or her bottom, and there are no other options, that’s when they are finally willing to take the advise of their friends and “trust the Lord.” By this point, their emotional isolation has taken a substantial toll, and the person doubts that their life will ever be worthwhile again. When a person reaches this point, that’s when God’s presence and help become more real than ever. It’s when He touches the places that hurt, providing illumination, insight, understanding, and healing.

All that’s necessary for this to happen is one thing: the person must realize that the responsibility for getting back on tract is theirs and no one else’s. When they reach this point, when they become willing to admit this, their lives can begin to change for the better.

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. (Psalm 73:25-26)

Jack Watts

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From my weekly article in SONOMA CHRISTIAN HOME:

WHO WILL I BE FROM NOW ON?

Part of recovery—after enduring the initial trauma from your abuse—is determining who you intend to be for the rest of your life. You have to decide whether or not you will be a perpetual victim?

If this isn’t what you want, you will have to take the necessary steps to become the person you know you were created to be? Making this decision is an important step and needs to be made thoughtfully. Most don’t do this. Instead, they just drift along aimlessly, trying to forget about their painful experience.

Living in such denial isn’t a good strategy. It never works, especially with something as serious as abuse. Shortly after an abusive experience, most have a natural tendency to shrink away from conflict. They become tentative, insecure, and uncertain. Other people, by way of contrast, become cynical, jaded, hostile, and combative. Still others seem to fluctuate between the two, which is a particularly volatile mix, producing instability and acting-out behavior.

None of these reactive responses is desirable. If you want your life to count—really count—you’ll have to abandon your natural reactive tendencies, choosing instead to pursue proactively a life where you make a determined effort to change how you respond to your abuse. It’s critical to your recovery to do this.

If another abusive situation occurs, which may happen, although it might be difficult, taking a firm stand in direct opposition to the situation may be exactly what you are supposed to do. Even the Lord, who loved everybody, had conflicts with abusive, self-righteous religious leaders. So should we. It’s probably the best way to ensure that evil does not triumph.

As you pursue your recovery, your usefulness to the Lord and others will increase. If you are willing to be used, join me in this prayer:

Father,

My spirit has been rejuvenated.

Even my step feels lighter,

As the burden of my past has been

Lifted from my shoulders.

Now free to walk into the future,

Unencumbered by guilt, shame,

And all of my self-defeating behavior,

I want my life to have more meaning

Than the mediocrity that has become my routine.

The pursuit of valueless materialism no longer

Has the appeal it once held for me.

In fact, my definition of success has changed.

My spirit has been awakened, and I want

To spend all of my days, which You have numbered,

Doing what You would have me do—

What You have prepared for me.

I’ve learned that I can understand

Your leading as I look back,

Far better than by looking forward.

Whatever You have in store for me, Lord,

Regardless of what that might be,

That is where I want to spend my days.

Having wandered so far from You in the past,

I know the mischief I am capable of,

Which is not what I want for my life.

Father, guard my heart so that

I do not wander away from You again,

Pursuing fruitless, meaningless endeavors.

Let my heart rejoice in Your ways.

Give me peace, purpose, and the resolve

To accomplish Your will each day,

For as many days as I have left.

Thank You for healing my wounds,

In Christ’s Name I pray—Amen.

Jack Watts

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God’s Touch Changes Everything

 

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

 

Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.

—George Sand

 

Salvation is easy. It doesn’t require a thing from either you or me, other than the acceptance of a free gift. Providing the gift is God’s part. He did it all, which is what love, mercy, and grace, are all about. That He loved you at your most unlovely moment is the essence of Christianity. It’s what makes Christianity truly unique and special.

That God was willing to reach down, touch you in your vulnerability, and lift you up is what makes having a relationship with Him so desirable. Once that happens, regardless of what anyone might tell you differently, you are a child of God’s and always will be.

At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be about. Unfortunately, people tend to forget the tenderness of their own experience, choosing instead to regiment a dynamic relationship, which can never be accomplished successfully. Through their efforts, they make Christianity hard, rigid, unyielding, and unforgiving. They try and make a deeply personal experience into something cold, austere, and systematic.

If a Christian is smug and self-righteous, legalistic and condemning, haughty and judgmental, then how attractive can that be? Not very! Most people run from anything that is so unappealing. Who can blame them?

You recognize the kind of people I’m describing, don’t you—the heartlessly religious who are never wrong about anything? Sadly, Christianity has far too many people like these. They call women, who have aborted their babies, murderers, forgetting that they, too, were no better.

The self-righteous lift up a version of Christ that is not in the New Testament—not even close, and yet these are the people most feared in churches. These are the people who are eager to share their exacting, unyielding opinions, which they expect everyone to accept. Their bitter sting keeps many from embracing God’s love, acceptance, and mercy.

That’s why being in recovery has such value. You’ve had to lean on God more completely than most. If you display love, joy, long suffering, and a genuine concern for those in need, then you are lifting up Christ the way you’re meant to. That’s very attractive to hurting, desperate people, searching for answers. If you’re smug and self-righteous, however, you will also have a great impact for God—a negative impact. Like many things, the choice is yours, as are the consequences.

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that o one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

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Unlearning Old Behavior

 

 

Refer to Step 1: I acknowledge that my life is shipwrecked and not where I want it to be.

 

 

When I live in the past, I live in regret. When I live in the future, I live in fear. When I stay in the present, everything is okay.

—Anonymous

 

After the pain of our abuse begins to subside, after we realize our life is going to take a very different direction than we desired or expected, we start asking ourselves what lessons we need to learn from our painful experience. Although this may sound like a healthy place to start, it’s not. There’s one step before this, which needs to be addressed:

 

What do I need to unlearn from my experience?

 

If you make the decision to begin with this question, your recovery will be deeper and more thorough. Before we become fit and useful to ourselves and to others, we need to unlearn the errors we have internalized as true, while we were enmeshed in our deception. Until we do this, we will flounder, making less progress than we should.

It does no good to simply criticize our abusers, essentially throwing verbal stones at them. It may feel good at the moment, but it doesn’t help the healing process. We need to do more.

We must recognize our deception and make a conscious decision to never be entrapped by the same falsehood again. By doing this, we will be unlearning whatever imprisoned us in the first place. Once accomplished, we will finally get back to square one. Upon reaching this spot, we will be ready to allow God’s Truth to cleanse us and renew our spirits. But make no mistake about it—we have to unlearn our errors before our recovery will have lasting value. If we don’t, we remain vulnerable to the next abuser who comes along.

 

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

Jack Watts

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One of the really great recovery slogans in Alcoholics Anonymous is this: It really isn’t yours until you give it away. What this means is that—to solidify all that you have accomplished in sobriety—to own it as the essence of who you are, you must help someone in the same way you have been helped. This makes helping others become an essential part of your recovery.

In AA, or any program, helping others by becoming a sponsor is one of the key components. They say, “The time to call your sponsor is before you pick up a drink—not after.”

In recovery from religious abuse, helping others along the path to spiritual freedom is also an integral part of recovery, but it’s a little different than in a substance abuse program. To be the greatest help to someone who has been spiritually abused, you must learn to identify God’s interest in them rather than your own.

This requires you to really get to know the person, pray for them regularly, and listen for God’s leading in their lives. In AA, the most important thing a sponsor can do is to teach those they are sponsoring how to live life on life’s terms, without medicating with alcohol. It’s noble and worthy, but it’s also simple when compared to helping someone develop his or her relationship with God—once it has been damaged by religious abuse.

If you can learn how to serve another in this way, you will have done a service that will have eternal consequences. There’s nothing like it in importance. If you want to invest your life in a worthy way, help someone who has been the victim of religious abuse to reconnect with God in a meaningful way. It’s hard work but, if you have success with it, nothing in life will be more rewarding.

If you are willing to put yourself “out there” to help others, say this prayer with me:

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 this shaming charge,

Which my abusers have levied against me,

I have acted in ways contrary to my beliefs.

These truths have set forth in Your Word,

And they reside deep within the core of my being.

Having tried to run from You for so long,

I now see how flawed my judgment has been.

Returning has required me to renew my mind

And to begin looking at life as You do.

Thank You for enlightening me with wisdom,

For revealing to me that You have good things

Planned for me and not for the calamity I have feared.

At times, I still have trouble believing You, Lord,

Believing that the validation You have

Planted in my heart is real and long lasting.

The stinging indictment of my abusers

Has found fertile ground in my soul,

And continues to resonate, telling me that

I am a person without value—without worth.

When I begin to internalize this message,

Flood me with Your love, Your truth, and Your Word.

Let my heart believe You when You affirm,

You are my child—loved and valued.

And I most assuredly have a purpose for your life.

Whenever you have doubts, come to Me,

And I will remind you that you have value.

Thank You for loving me unconditionally, Father,

Amen.

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

 

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

 

Jack Watts

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Father,

I’m not where I want to be—

Not even close.

I’m not the person I want to be—

Nor the person I’m capable of being.

Even worse, the gap between the two

Is increasing, rather than diminishing.

If I’m being honest with myself,

Which I routinely try to avoid,

I constantly and repeatedly excuse

My poor behavior and my poor attitude.

I don’t like myself the way I am.

I’m a pathetic substitute for what I should be—

For what I know You want me to be.

 

But it’s even worse than this.

Nearly everyone who knows me well

Recognizes that my life is shipwrecked.

I may look acceptable to casual observers,

But to those who know me—

To those who know what I’m capable of being,

I’m certain they don’t like what they see.

How could they? Neither do I.

My intimacy with You has evaporated,

Even though I pretend that it hasn’t.

Father, I know who I am,

And I acknowledge this to You.

I will no longer pretend to be what I am not.

I have traveled the wrong road for so long

I’m not certain I can ever

Follow the correct path again,

But I want to more than anything.

Admitting this truth to You frightens me.

I have refused to face the truth for so long,

But I am now willing to do so.

I know I can’t change on my own.

Without Your help, I have no chance at all.

Will You meet me on my journey?

Will You hold my hand and touch my heart?

Will You be there for me and not leave me behind?

Will You, Father? Will You?

Without Your help I will never make it on my own.

I come to You humbly, in Christ’s precious Name.

—Amen

Jack Watts

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Father,

I wanted my life to be so different,

To be easier and more carefree,

But that was not the path You chose.

As I see the smiling faces of others—

Those who talk about You as if they

Know You intimately, but do not,

I wonder why their lives appear to be

Free from disappointment and conflict,

While mine has been stressful and difficult.

Question: When you look at the lives of others, do you tend to judge their outsides by your insides? If you do, bring this before the Lord, and tell Him how you feel, knowing you are not seeing reality accurately.

 

Instead of seeking and choosing to follow God’s leading, many people, including those who have been used, abused, and discarded by their church or Christian organization; chase after the desires of their own heart, believing that they are making a free choice to do so. It’s easy to see why they believe this, but it’s not the road to freedom. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Journal: Is this what you have done? Is your experience similar to this? If so, write about how you thought you were free but were not.

 

In your heart, you start to realize that the relationship is not really what you need for your recovery—not what you need to be the person you are capable of being. You know it, and your conscience regularly reminds you that it’s not helping you be the person you were created to be. In reestablishing your connection with God, you know that this relationship has become a hindrance. Even worse, you can only deny this for so long. In the end, you realize that it has to be terminated. This means that, sooner or later, it has to end, which is often very sad.

Journal: If you have had a relationship like this, write about it, being completely honest and transparent.

 

My experiences in recovery are complex. They are more like the troubles David had with his family after he was king. In these stories, even when he was triumphant, it often brought him as much grief as it did joy.

Journal: Write about a situation in your family where doing the right thing cost you dearly, remembering that nearly everybody has an experience like this

 

Doing the right thing in recovery is often very difficult—just ask someone. Regardless of what type of recovery it might be, walking in integrity is frequently challenging. Everybody likes the idea of doing the right thing, but when there is great pressure exerted against you, it’s not easy at all. This is especially true when the pressure is initiated by a loved one. To take a leap of faith in a circumstance like this can be very intimidating.

Journal: Continuing with this same theme, write about a family situation where doing the right thing was very intimidating.

Jack Watts

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Part of spiritual abuse is being falsely accused. As you can imagine, it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. Everything in you screams out for vindication and revenge. You want to let the entire world know that you have done nothing wrong. In spite of your embarrassment, everything inside of you insists on setting the record straight—immediately, not later.

The normal, healthy, appropriate thing to do is to fight back, and that’s exactly what you intend to do. Now, let me ask you:

—Does this sound familiar?
—Is this exactly how you felt?
—Turning your other cheek isn’t something you would ever consider, right?

You want retribution—not forgiveness. But that’s not how the Lord behaved, is it? He was so focused upon doing the will of the Father; He never defended Himself, when He was falsely accused. He never lifted a finger, and He certainly could have.

Could you do the same thing? Could you be this selfless? Would it even occur to you this might be what the Lord wants from you?

In recovery, choosing to forgive is as difficult as it gets, and it’s hard to think about the future when everything inside of you wants to fight. Vindication can be obtained, but it’s best left in the Lord’s hands. Let Him be your advocate.

Reflect back and think about what would have happened in your own situation, if you had not focused on vindication. I know this is difficult, but just imagine—what if! What did acting out your anger accomplish—other than making you feel good for a very short period of time? Long-term, it probably did more harm than good.

If you reflect upon the alternative outcome, it may help you in the future. To help you let go of self-vindication and forgive your abuser, join me in this prayer:
Father,

Now that I’ve revealed myself completely,

Being as honest and forthright

As I know how to be,

Having also admitted my faults to another,

Please You to heal my pain completely,

And change anything in me You desire.

You are Almighty God; and I am not.

I’m weary of trying to walk a path

That has not been directed by You.

To complete the process of purging

All that remains toxic in my soul,

I know there is one final step I need to travel,

Which I want to do right now, Lord.

I release those who have been abusive to me,

Forgiving them totally and completely.

I have clutched my anger and bitterness

For far too long, and I have paid

A heavy price within my soul for doing so.

Believing I was punishing them by withholding forgiveness,

I have only punished myself instead,

Which I now realize and no longer desire to do.

I forgive them—just as You have forgiven me.

I release them completely—just as You have released me.

Give me the strength to put my pain and anger in the past,

And allow me to walk into the future unencumbered,

Free from the debilitating shackles that have enslaved me

To become the person You created me to be.

I ask this in the power of the Holy Spirit,

And in Christ’s Name, amen.

http://sonomachristianhome.com/2014/09/helping-wounded-christians-heal-abandon-self-vindication/

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In the Heat of the Battle

 

 

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

 

Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.

—J. C. Watts

 

 

Doing the right thing in recovery is often very difficult—just ask someone. Regardless of what type of recovery it might be, walking in integrity is frequently challenging. Everybody likes the idea of doing the right thing but, when there is great pressure exerted against you, it’s not easy at all. That’s especially true when the pressure is initiated by a loved one. To take a leap of faith in a circumstance like this can be very intimidating. Nevertheless, it’s important to do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time—not just occasionally, but routinely. It doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult but, when you are in the heat of the battle, it certainly is.

People who are forced to make unpopular decisions and stick to them realize this. To make matters worse, there is nobody around to validate your decision to do the right thing. If there were, it would be much easier.

Therefore, when conflicts arise, especially when you are forced to go against opposition within your family, just hold your breath, take a leap of faith, and do it. At first, it may seem scary. You may think that you have done the wrong thing but, over time, the correctness of following the Lord will become increasingly evident. So, learn to step out in faith, regardless of what negative consequences you think might eventuate.

 

For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond slaves of God. (I Peter 15-16)

Jack Watts

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Refer to Step 6: I refuse to become like those who have abused me and abandon my desire to spread malice because of my pain and my anger.

 

No matter how eloquently spoken, or sincerely intended, words tend to trivialize the pain that we cause one another.

—Chaplain John C. Fitts

 

I have always liked the story of David and Goliath—everybody does. What’s not to like about it? An underdog puts his complete confidence in God, faces a giant and prevails, practically effortlessly. It’s a great story of right triumphing over wrong—of good conquering over evil. It’s a tale that puts a smile on my face every time I hear it.

 

My experiences in recovery, however, are far different—far more complex. They are more like the troubles David had with his family after he was king. In these stories, even when he was triumphant, it often brought him as much grief as it did joy.

There are two reasons for this. First, when intra-family disputes arise, right and wrong are never as clear as they were between David and Goliath. Second, there are no winners when the conflict is within the family. It isn’t just that nobody is a clear winner—nearly everybody is a clear loser, making such conflicts a war of attrition.

Unfortunately, most of the conflict experienced by people in recovery is with family members and close friends—not with evil villains like Goliath. This makes resolution very difficult. When family conflicts occur, recognizing God’s will can be very difficult. Not only are there conflicting emotions, but the desired outcome is rarely as clear and easy as one would like.

When you find yourself in a situation like this, which is almost inevitable in recovery, try to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason—no matter what that is or how unpleasant it may be to do it. During the conflict, make sure that you are never malicious—that you never deliberately harm another family member, including an ex-spouse. If you can do this, it’s probably the best that you will be able to do, but if you are successful in your effort, God will honor your fidelity, regardless of the outcome.

To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. (I Peter 3:8-9)

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What Might Have Been

 

 

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

 

Never be afraid when God brings back the past. Let memory have its way. It is a minister of God with its rebuke and chastisement and sorrow. God will turn the “might have been” into a wonderful culture for the future.

—Oswald Chambers

 

During the time when abused people choose to walk away from God, they develop new relationships, most of which are not healthy—but certainly not all of them. Some of them have value and are not destructive enough that they need to be broken when you return to the Lord—not at first, anyway. The relationship may be good for you, but it’s usually not the best, which you begin to realize as your reconnection with God becomes more solid.

In your heart, you start to realize that the relationship is not really what you need for your recovery—not what you need to be the person you are capable of being. You know it, and your conscience regularly reminds you that it’s not helping you be the person you were created to be. In reestablishing your connection with God, you know that this relationship has become a hindrance, and you can only deny this for so long.

In the end, you realize that it has to be terminated. This means that, sooner or later, it has to end, which is often very sad. In your rebelliousness, you probably never thought that reconnecting with God would be this important to you, but you were mistaken.

When this happens—and it does for nearly everybody who willfully walks away from God—do what you need to do. Do what you know is the right thing to do in your heart. End the relationship, but do it with as much grace and dignity as the situation will allow.

Afterwards, view it from the perspective that God would—never throwing stones or reacting in anger. Instead, feel all of the sorrow that’s in your heart. Feel the pain from it as well, knowing that it’s necessary to work through this to bring you to a better place. Although your obedience was necessary, you can always cherish that small part of value that was added to you.

 

In reference to your former manner of life, lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

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SONOMA CHRISTIAN HOME: here is nothing more difficult than hearing the voice of God, when you’ve been spiritually abused. Because someone you trusted used his or her position exploitatively, you recoiled. This is natural, especially since it was such a breach of confidence.

For most, the affront was so unexpected that the emotional damage caused by it was debilitating. As a result, not only did it make you angry but it also hampered your ability to trust other people—people you will need in your recovery.

Learning how to trust again—and actually doing it—is one of the most difficult aspects in regaining emotional health, but this is exactly what is required. Having strong men and women in your life is important. Recovery can be a lonely road, and a wise person chooses to share the burden with at least one other person.

Your loss of trust has probably extended to God as well, because in your mind, He should have intervened to prevent it. You may feel like God let you down more than your abuser. If you do, you are not alone. Most people feel this way—at least, for a while.

When you think about it rationally, you know it isn’t true, but you still feel this way. Because you do, it’s difficult to trust God again. It’s also much more difficult to follow His leading, which is definitely the road to emotional health. You must learn to trust again—both vertically and horizontally.

Trust God first because that’s your primary relationship in recovery. Then, find at least one friend to help you get back on your feet. It’s important. If you want to heal, here is what you have to do. You have to listen for God’s voice, trust it, and become open to His healing. You also have to be open and candid with another human being—one that has enough strength of character to tell you when you’re wrong. You can’t do one or the other; both are essential—just like two wheels on a bicycle. Now, join me in praying for God to send you the right person to help:Father,

Now that I have spelled out

The exact nature of my behavior,

And have written it down,

I feel so naked and completely vulnerable.

Just reviewing it gives me a feeling of relief,

But I also feel insecure and so ashamed.

Now that I have brought to light

My deepest, most intimate secrets,

I’m exposed and fear rejection or ridicule.

Perhaps I will even be mocked by my confidant—

By the person I’ve chosen to trust—

Just like I have been by those who abused me.

I know this is not a realistic fear,

But just the thought of it

Creates apprehension and foreboding.

I know You will forgive my self-defeating behavior,

But humans are rarely as generous as You.

Please prepare the heart of my friend—

The one I have chosen to be my confessor.

When I expose myself completely, hiding nothing,

I pray that Your love and acceptance will be

What I experience and not the condemnation

Of someone who is self-righteous—someone who

Cannot understand or accept me, just as I am.

Father, I have already worked so hard and come so far.

Help me continue to be vulnerable and forthright,

Which I know is Your will for me.

Stand with me, Lord, so that I can

Boldly state the exact nature of my heart,

With humility, casting aside any sense of timidity.

Heal me in all of the broken places, Father,

And relieve the burden of guilt I have been

Carrying with me for all these years.

Free me to walk into the future unshackled by the past,

Free to become the person You created me to be.

In Christ’s Name I pray,

Amen.

http://sonomachristianhome.com/2014/09/helping-wounded-christians-heal-learning-to-trust-again/

Photo: SONOMA CHRISTIAN HOME: here is nothing more difficult than hearing the voice of God, when you’ve been spiritually abused. Because someone you trusted used his or her position exploitatively, you recoiled. This is natural, especially since it was such a breach of confidence.</p>
<p>For most, the affront was so unexpected that the emotional damage caused by it was debilitating. As a result, not only did it make you angry but it also hampered your ability to trust other people—people you will need in your recovery.</p>
<p>Learning how to trust again—and actually doing it—is one of the most difficult aspects in regaining emotional health, but this is exactly what is required. Having strong men and women in your life is important. Recovery can be a lonely road, and a wise person chooses to share the burden with at least one other person.</p>
<p>Your loss of trust has probably extended to God as well, because in your mind, He should have intervened to prevent it. You may feel like God let you down more than your abuser. If you do, you are not alone. Most people feel this way—at least, for a while.</p>
<p> When you think about it rationally, you know it isn’t true, but you still feel this way. Because you do, it’s difficult to trust God again. It’s also much more difficult to follow His leading, which is definitely the road to emotional health. You must learn to trust again—both vertically and horizontally.</p>
<p> Trust God first because that’s your primary relationship in recovery. Then, find at least one friend to help you get back on your feet. It’s important. If you want to heal, here is what you have to do. You have to listen for God’s voice, trust it, and become open to His healing. You also have to be open and candid with another human being—one that has enough strength of character to tell you when you’re wrong. You can’t do one or the other; both are essential—just like two wheels on a bicycle. Now, join me in praying for God to send you the right person to help:</p>
<p>Father,</p>
<p>Now that I have spelled out</p>
<p>The exact nature of my behavior,</p>
<p>And have written it down,</p>
<p>I feel so naked and completely vulnerable.</p>
<p>Just reviewing it gives me a feeling of relief,</p>
<p>But I also feel insecure and so ashamed.</p>
<p>Now that I have brought to light</p>
<p>My deepest, most intimate secrets,</p>
<p>I’m exposed and fear rejection or ridicule.</p>
<p>Perhaps I will even be mocked by my confidant—</p>
<p>By the person I’ve chosen to trust—</p>
<p>Just like I have been by those who abused me.</p>
<p>I know this is not a realistic fear,</p>
<p>But just the thought of it</p>
<p>Creates apprehension and foreboding.</p>
<p>I know You will forgive my self-defeating behavior,</p>
<p>But humans are rarely as generous as You.</p>
<p>Please prepare the heart of my friend—</p>
<p>The one I have chosen to be my confessor.</p>
<p>When I expose myself completely, hiding nothing,</p>
<p>I pray that Your love and acceptance will be</p>
<p>What I experience and not the condemnation</p>
<p>Of someone who is self-righteous—someone who</p>
<p>Cannot understand or accept me, just as I am.</p>
<p>Father, I have already worked so hard and come so far.</p>
<p>Help me continue to be vulnerable and forthright,</p>
<p>Which I know is Your will for me.</p>
<p>Stand with me, Lord, so that I can</p>
<p>Boldly state the exact nature of my heart,</p>
<p>With humility, casting aside any sense of timidity.</p>
<p>Heal me in all of the broken places, Father,</p>
<p>And relieve the burden of guilt I have been</p>
<p>Carrying with me for all these years.</p>
<p>Free me to walk into the future unshackled by the past,</p>
<p>Free to become the person You created me to be.</p>
<p>In Christ’s Name I pray,</p>
<p>Amen.</p>
<p>http://sonomachristianhome.com/2014/09/helping-wounded-christians-heal-learning-to-trust-again/

 

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THIS IS A REAL MESSAGE ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING IN IRAQ: “We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food too. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our CRI team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated it’s staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!”

Please pray sincerely for the deliverance of the people of Northern Iraq from the terrible advancement of ISIS and its extreme Islamic goals for mass conversion or death for Christians across this region.

May I plead with you not to ignore this email. Do not forward it before you have prayed through it. Then send it to as many people as possible.

Send it to friends and Christians you may know. Send it to your prayer group. Send it to your pastor and phone him/her to pray on Sunday during the service – making a special time of prayer for this. We need to stand in the gap for our fellow Christians.
God Bless You~

FROM JACK: This is a request for prayer from God’s people, so please do that. On this thread, please refrain from being political.

www.jackwatts.me

 

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Obedience is a Choice

 

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

 

 

I know the power obedience has of making things easy which seem impossible.

—Saint Teresa

 

One of the great misunderstandings of Christianity involves being obedient to God’s will. Because people like the idea of thinking they are masters of their own fate, following God’s will is viewed unpleasantly by many. In their minds, they conceptualize it as following God in a mindless, robotic way, which is particularly unappealing to a generation where willfulness is elevated above all else.

Instead of seeking and choosing to follow God’s leading, many people, including those who have been used, abused, and discarded by their church or Christian organization; chase after the desires of their own heart, believing that they are making a free choice to do so. It’s easy to see why they believe this, but it’s not the road to freedom. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

It isn’t until they have become hooked by alcoholism; addiction to prescription medications, pornography, or inappropriate sexuality; or by over eating, over spending, or other self-destructive issues that they realize what an error in judgment they have made. Choosing to be free, they find themselves imprisoned by self-defeating behavior instead. They wanted to be free, but they became the exact opposite.

Unable to extricate themselves, they finally arrive at the place where they are willing to do whatever is necessary to get back on track with God. It’s at this point that they make a resolution to abandon their destructive compulsiveness and follow God’s leading. They never realized that taking each avenue involved a choice—one leading to self-destructiveness, the other to love, joy, peace, and fulfillment.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior. (I Peter 1:14-15)

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