“Spiritual Abuse”

Author’s Note: Next to the day I was born and the day I was married, March 29, 2014, was the most significant day of my life. It was a Saturday morning, and I woke with the words “spiritual abuse” circling in my head. I had heard the term once or twice, but had never given it any thought. I grabbed my phone and searched it up. Soon I was reading pages that fingered my conservative Christian college as spiritually abusive. I was stunned. I mulled this over all day, and the next day, I began to write.

March 30, 2014

I’m beginning to see. I’ve always thought the source of my 20-year depression was what happened to me 20 years ago, but you’re showing me it stemmed from my college and even my upbringing. Thank you for opening my eyes. I want to understand the effects of those years on my life. I’m seeing this morning that my fear, the stronghold I’ve talked about so much here, is rooted there. And the years that followed, when I ran from you, were rooted there too. Please repair the damage that was done there.

Apokalupto: to take off the cover, to expose. That’s what I’m doing. I’m exposing your abusers for what they are. I’m uncovering the hurts they have caused. I’m removing the veil.

It was not your fault. The dynamic that caused you to run from me was so much bigger than you. You were not rebelling against me. You were rebelling against the god your abusers had painted me to be. I hate that picture of me. It’s so distorted, so ugly. No wonder you’re afraid of me. Will you let me show you who I really am?

Oh yes! Please show me!

I will. You’re going to be surprised.

April 13, 2014

I’m not afraid. I see you painting a new picture of yourself in my heart. It’s so different, so surprising! Yesterday I began to realize how many man-made rules I try to follow, some from others and some of my own making. For example, what I do or don’t do every day. If I set a goal for myself and don’t accomplish it, I have felt condemnation from you. But you DO NOT condemn me! As for what I do day-to-day, I am free! I am always free in you! I’m starting to get it!

Yes, you are. To you, it feels like you’re breaking out of tight bonds. To me, it looks as if you’re blossoming like a rose. You are blooming where I have planted you. It’s lovely to behold.

This post is part four of a series in which I share past prayer journal entries documenting my process out of spiritual abuse and into the freedom God intends for all of us. To read a synopsis of my story, click here. To go to the first of this series, read Looking Back.

If you feel this conversation is important, please share on social media.

God Gets Angry

March 15, 2014

Okay, you’ve been speaking to me all night. Thank you for the dreams you gave me. Clearly you are saying that a lot of my feelings of anger are rooted in things that have been stolen from me.

That’s right. And they have been. Yes, it’s okay to feel that way. And yes, it’s okay to make a list. Yes, stolen. STOLEN. It’s okay to feel angry about that right now. These things were as dear to you as the clothes on your back. But it wasn’t people who took them away. It was my enemy.

Okay, I don’t know if I want to make a list now. Do you want me to?

Just write down the main things you can think of right now.

Three different jobs that I loved, my innocence (BIG one), my joy, my father, my brother, my music (enjoyment of it), my health,  wealth (why do I not want to say my here?), my first 3 children.

How do you feel thinking about all that?

Depressed. Angry. Powerless. Weak. Hopeless. I feel regret for what has been stolen.

Is it your fault these things happened?

You know, I have been blaming myself. But you are so telling me these things were stolen from me by your enemy. That’s not my fault at all, is it?

No, it isn’t. Yet so often you blame yourself, hate yourself over what has been lost. I’m telling you it’s NOT your fault these things happened. It’s okay. How do you feel now?

Relieved. Tired. Disappointed. Violated. Angry.

I’m angry too. I have been all along. Not at you, but at my enemy! He is my enemy, and he steals from my kids to steal from me! But I don’t let him get away with it. I’m the Restorer. Look up those verses.

Ruth 4:14-17

14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” 16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Isaiah 58:5-12

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustic and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free  and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Yes, you are indeed the restorer. May you be to me as you were to Naomi and Jacob. May you restore to me all that your enemy has stolen from me. Make it so!

Note: After this, God told me to wear all white to the church service I attended that day. He said, “Today, I have removed your reproach.”

This post is part three of a series in which I share past prayer journal entries documenting my process out of spiritual abuse and into the freedom God intends for all of us. To read a synopsis of my story, click here. To go to the first of this series, read Looking Back.

If you feel this conversation is important, please share on social media.

Listening to God

March 14, 2014, morning

This is the second time this week I have heard an audible voice call my name.* I like it. What do you want to say?

I want you to keep listening to me. I have a lot to say.

Do you mean right now or in general?

What I have to say will take months, even years. And it’s going to involve everyday moments. It’s time to bring you out of that dark place and into the light. I want to shine my light on all the dark places in you.

Sounds kind of scary.

It is to someone who has been in the dark so long. But I am your light. Do not be afraid. I am coming to rescue you. You can trust me.

I feel such a peace.

Good. That’s all I want to say right now. Meditate on my words for a few moments. Keep relaxing in that place. And keep listening.

Your words illuminate Psalm 27 like never before. Thank you. I love you.

I love you… so much more that you know.

8:59 am

See how much you love your kids? You are a good mom.

12:33 pm

I’m back. I’m tired and would love a nap. Do I have your permission to take one?

You’re thinking of this wrong. There’s nothing wrong with taking a nap if you’re tired. You’re putting this burden on yourself. It’s not from me.

But what about…? Well, now that I think about it, it does seem resting is one of your key themes. It’s when I strive that I become angry.

Good memory. Hang onto that and let me show you how to rest even when you’re busy.

* Background: I thought I heard my husband say my name. It sounded like his voice. The first time he was next to me in bed asleep, and I thought maybe he had talked in his sleep. The second time he was in another part of the house but sounded like he was in the room with me. I asked if he had called me and he said he hadn’t. This reminded me of the incident in 1 Samuel 3 when Samuel though he heard Eli calling him, but it turned out to be God. So I responded as if it were God and listened to what he had to say. This has happened to me a total of 3 times to date.

This post is part two of a series in which I share past prayer journal entries documenting my process out of spiritual abuse and into the freedom God intends for all of us. To read a synopsis of my story, click here. To go to the first of this series, read Looking Back.

If you feel this conversation is important, please share on social media.

Photo Credit: db Photography, https://www.flickr.com/photos/demibrooke/2470252246.

Looking Back

It’s been three plus years since you first began taking me on this journey out of fear and into your love. As I read through my old prayer journals, I am amazed at what you have done in such a short period of time. I want my readers to hear some of the things you have said to me that have brought me to this place. And so I begin by looking back.

March 11, 2013

You’re calling me to yourself, but I want to crawl up in a ball and go to sleep. The sadness is so profound today, so deep.

I know. I see the darkness. I feel what you feel. I am intimately acquainted with your grief. I am here. You are not alone. You are like those lost treasures in Monuments Men. You’re a priceless work of art stuck in a salt mine where only I can see. Most people don’t even know you’re there. They can’t see you, touch you. It’s dark, and it’s lonely, and you feel worthless. You’re damaged by the mistreatment of others. They don’t know how deeply their carelessness has hurt you.

You will not stay here forever. You will not be destroyed. With gentle hands and steady step I will carry you out. The light will shine on you again. Others will see what I have created and preserved and restored, and they will rejoice because of it. Your redemption is near.

Note: Heartbeat of Grace is where I have blogged about my recovery from spiritual abuse.  In January of 2015, I wrote more about this journal entry. You can read that post here.

This post is part one of a series in which I share past prayer journal entries documenting my process out of spiritual abuse and into the freedom God intends for all of us. To read a synopsis of my story, click here.

If you feel this conversation is important, please share on social media.

Photo Credit: Susanne Nillson, https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomastern/13982836004.

When Enough is Enough

After our last conversation, I sank into a deep depression. For two days, I sat in my own personal darkness and mused. I know what you said. There were for me no unanswered questions. I just didn’t like the answers.

The more these thoughts tumbled around in my head, the more depressed I became. At times, I couldn’t stop crying. At others, I sat and stared numbly. By the third evening, my husband became very concerned. He said it seemed like I was giving up.

Something about that statement shook me out of my stupor. That’s not me, I thought. I don’t just give up. I laid my head down that night knowing something had to change.

Then came the dreams. I woke up at about 3AM with thoughts running through my head, visions of tragedy, of suicide, of death. I saw the last scene of Thelma and Louise (I know it was a great way to end that movie, but it ruined the whole thing for me. I hate suicide.) Then I saw a vision of a Latino truck driver driving off a high mountain cliff, crossing himself and screaming as he fell. Next was a passenger plane falling to the ground as horrified passengers banged on the windows trying to get out.

I hate this horrible world, I thought as I wept. Then your words came back to me. Do you  not agree there must come a time when I say enough is enough?

And then the depression lifted, as if someone had pulled a blanket off my soul.

How can you summarize all this for me? What do you have to say?

I love you. I love your neighbor who is rude to you. I love your friends, the ones you really click with. I love your friend’s transgendered daughter. I love your gay friends. I love your atheist friends. I love Barack Obama and Donald Trump. I love the members of ISIS and the members of the fundamentalist church down the street. I want them, every one of them. I want to shower them in my love and spend eternity giving them good things. 

Many people don’t want me, my love, or the good things I have for them. For some, it may  in fact be they are deeply hurt by the circumstances of their lives. If I choose to give them more lives to find me, am I not God? I do as I wish, and my wishes are always good.

There are those who even if I gave them a thousand lifetimes would never want me. This is true freedom, the freedom I have given everyone to reject me. Many will. I will not force myself upon them. Neither will I hold them hostage in some sort of limbo until they change their minds. Neither will I make them pay eternally for their decisions in this temporary world. In me is life. I will let them go. Perhaps in ceasing to exist they will finally find rest for their weary souls.

Note: Thank you for sharing this journey of discovery with me. Though I am sharing what I feel God is saying to my heart, I am in no way trying to create a theological treatise. Neither do I believe these words are “inspired.” This is how God talks to me. If you disagree, that’s okay. Ask him your questions. He’s waiting with answers for you.

Photo Credit: Mike Steele, https://tinyurl.com/hnsywy9.


I want so much to be a universalist, to believe that because you love everyone and want everyone to accept you, they eventually will, that you NEVER give up on anyone, that your love really does win everyone to you.

Perhaps that’s why when I saw an article about a Christian mother whose son has vivid  memories of a past life, convincing her and others that he indeed lived that life and reincarnated as her son, I was surprised by my own reaction. Whereas I am usually a skeptic, I found myself inexplicably drawn to this story.

I know you’re big enough to handle any question, stronger than any of my doubts or fears. Still, I wonder if I’ve crossed an invisible line. Have I, in my longing to understand all that you are, wondered about something that would cause you to reject me?

There is no doubt, fear, or question that can separate you from my love.

When I listen to your voice in my heart, I hear only love. In you, I see love personified. But when I read much of the Bible, I see an angry, vengeful God, one who puts to shame all who reject him and eventually casts them into a lake of fire.

How can these two pictures describe the same God? How can you say you want everyone and yet at some point give up on so many people?

What makes me special? Is it just because I prayed a prayer as a child? Is this act of mine all that separates me from “the second death”? The verses I read this morning seem to point to a person’s eternal destiny depending on what they do in this life. But so much of what we do or choose depends on where or when we’re born, how we’re raised, and what we encounter in life. You say you judge with equity, but that doesn’t sound at all equitable to me.

So I have begun to consider the idea that people reincarnate to give them many chances to find you. But so much of what I read in the Bible seems to rule out that idea. When I think of reincarnation as a real possibility, I feel a great love for all people, even those who have wronged me. When I return to these verses about your wrath and judgement, a sense of division and contempt returns. My heart says love points in the right direction, but the Bible seems to point in another. This is a huge issue for me. Please help me sort it out.

What if I give someone every possible opportunity, and in every case, they simply don’t want me? I won’t force myself on them. Am I to indefinitely hold off my promises to those who love me in order for the outliers to have a chance, yet another chance, to change their minds? Do you not agree that there must come a time when enough is enough?

Yes, I suppose so.

And at that point, what is to happen to them? Are they to live eternally in some sort of void in which I, love personified, am not? Would that not in itself be cruel? They don’t want me. Do I simply ignore this? Or do I show them mercy by allowing them to cease existing, to die one last time? And when death and my enemies are no more, I can finally fulfill my promises to those who love me.

But what about equity? Can one go-around on this planet possibly be enough for everyone to have a chance to find you? And what about the stories about people who have seemingly lived before? Am I to just chalk it up to demons as the church teaches?

Whether in one life or many, can you believe that as I do judge with equity, and I do see everyone’s heart, that I do give them every possible chance to find me?

Yes, I can believe that.

Then just trust me with the details.

That last sentence doesn’t sound like you. It sounds more like something I would say.

I know you do trust me, but your heart is filled with many questions. Give me time to show you more. I do care about your questions and want to answer them. But you are bound by time, and I can work with that.

Please view my next post to learn how God used time to clarify many things for me.

Photo credit: Marketa, https://www.flickr.com/photos/toffee_maky/7928636728.


The Rut of Comparison

Sometimes I feel like such a good mom, like I can do no wrong and easily meet every need. Not today. I feel so inadequate, weak, and hopeless. I am so concerned about the deficits I see in my children, and I blame myself for them. I compare myself to other moms and my children to their children, and I only see their shortcomings. This makes me harder on myself and harder on them. But this can’t be the right way to handle these feelings. It doesn’t help anyone, and it hurts everyone. How do I handle these feelings then?

Do you think I compare one flower with another? Do I criticize the late bloomers? Or do I simply enjoy them each for what they are? A rose will not bloom sooner if I am angry with it. It blooms in its time and in its way, and it pleases me by doing so. I enjoy all the steps in the process, and I love it no less as a bud than in full bloom.

So it is with you. You couldn’t be more pleasing or loved today if you were any way but as you are. Your children and you delight me today as much as you will when you are more mature. It’s you I love, not just who you have been or who you will be, but you, today, in all the glory that IS you today. You can’t make me love you more or less. You are already ALL that I want you to be today.

And when you remember this, and see yourself and your children as I do, you will cease striving and simply enjoy the beauty around you and within you.


Ever wished you could ask God a question? Wanted his advice on a specific aspect of life?

The fact is, a growing number of people are discovering that we can ask God anything, and he will answer! It’s called listening prayer, and it has become the most enlightening and healing thing in my life.

What you will read here are some of the conversations I have with God about my life and family. God’s answers to me are meant for me and may not apply to your specific situation. But don’t be surprised if you see something that triggers his voice in your own heart. He is longing to speak to you too.

I don’t pretend to have any special knowledge of God, just a heart that longs to hear what he says and share it with others who may benefit. Mostly, I hope to inspire you to listen to God for yourself.

If you are interested in learning to hear God’s voice, check out my About page for a great video to get you started.

Photo Credit: Vic, https://tinyurl.com/jwp7n32.

A Math Meltdown

Yesterday was really hard with my third grader and her homeschool. She does fine until we get to math. Then she freezes up before she even sees the first question. I feel like I hover too much, like I haven’t given her the chance to really succeed on her own. Last week, when we did the place value cups, she soared! She really got it, and she felt so good about her accomplishment! But yesterday, she froze. What’s going on, and how do I help her? How can I build her confidence in math?

Peace. Be still. The storm is raging in you and in her. Your desire to see her succeed is putting pressure on her. She does need to know she can do it without your help. Take a break from your math curriculum for a while. Let her play online math games. Let her build her confidence in a way that she enjoys.

Take some deep breaths, mama. Don’t blame yourself for where she is. She is moving along the path that I have prepared for her. She is exactly where I want her to be right now. Don’t pressure her to take your path or strive for some arbitrary norm.

Look at my creation. You won’t find a “box” anywhere. I don’t put things in boxes. I don’t demand uniformity. Remember the waves. I love diversity. Be who you are. Let her grow at her own pace. Simply delight in her as she is today. Watch her thrive!

Follow up: Today went much better as I flowed with her energy and interest levels. She enjoyed playing math games online, and said she learned five new things! Success! Thank you, God.

Photo credit: R. Nial Bradshaw, https://tinyurl.com/mea9ofh.

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