You Are Free

August 12, 2014

Thank you for your help yesterday. I was unsure whether I really followed your plan for the day. Sometimes I just did what I wanted. Surely there is a balance. Surely I can sometimes do what I want?

Of course. Do you give your children time to do what they want? You show them balance between their desires and their responsibilities. Sometimes they get out of balance. Sometimes you do too. It’s not an easy thing, even as a adult. What I really want you do to is stop allowing your spiritually abusive background to speak to you about this.

Spiritual abuse says, “If you’re not giving ALL your effort, you’re failing.”

I say, “I don’t need your effort. I want you to be a whole person.”

Spiritual abuse says, “Redeem the time because the days are evil.”

I say, “I am the great redeemer. I am beyond time. I redeem all things for my children.”

Spiritual abuse says, “Perfection is the goal in all things.”

I say, “Be mature enough to realize perfection is not possible. Enjoy my goodness.”

Spiritual abuse says, “When you look back on your life, will you regret this?”

I say, “When you look back on your life, you will see my hand in every day, every moment.”

Spiritual abuse says, “God has a plan for your life, a path designed for you to walk in. Don’t stray from the path.”

I say, “I made life to be an exciting journey! Though I know your life in its entirety before it begins, you have more say in it than I do. That’s the way I wanted it! I give you life and breath and a beautiful world in which to live, and then I revel in what you do with it!”

I am always with you. I always have been. I always will be. Whatever you’re doing, I am there. You are free!


This post is part eleven 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.

Humble or Humiliated

May 25, 2014

I had a disturbing dream last night. My take-away is that when I see others as hating, disliking, making fun of me, I respond with my own anger and hate. A friend of mine said I need new “glasses,” that in truth, people like, even admire me. She said when I see people through God’s eyes, I might be very surprised.

As I work through the spiritual abuse issue, I begin to see people differently. The guest speaker at church yesterday made statements I agreed with and some I disagreed with. Here’s the cool thing. I found myself able to both agree and disagree while still feeling love and respect for him, AND I didn’t automatically doubt or berate myself because of his message. I saw him as a lover of God sharing his heart, not as a messenger from God with 100% truth. This allowed me to find his truth and let it have a place in my heart without being guilted into something untrue.

In the past, I have seen myself as “falsely humble.” It had to be false because according to my faith tradition, no one is truly humble. In fact, all this time I was being humiliated by spiritual abusers and their hyper-spiritual, people-condemning rhetoric.

I’m beginning to see my ideas and opinions are just as valid as those of others. As I validate my own humanity, I am better able to validate others, even those who disagree with me, without feeling threatened by them.

And there is true humility. When you realize that you are infinitely valuable because I made you exactly as you are and say you are good, the natural next step is to see that everyone else is just as infinitely valuable as you are! Your abusers were so full of pride themselves, they couldn’t see the value in anyone different from them. But the value of humanity is in it’s diversity! You love others not because they are just like you, but because they are unique, rare, one of a kind! That, my precious child, is humility.


This post is part nine 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: Nasrul Ekram, https://www.flickr.com/photos/inrime_nasrul/997415862.

The Crucible

April 19, 2014

Wow! Big dream. Lots of images from my past and present. I was plagued by fear. People could easily manipulate me because I was afraid. I heard you say, “liquid character.” What are you trying to say?

Fear is a crucible. People have different melting points, but at some point most people’s character liquefies in the face of fear. I want to raise your melting point.

Uh oh. Sounds really scary, like you’re going to turn up the heat.

Some might see it that way. But are you willing to see me as FOR you, WITH you in difficult circumstances? I want you to be who YOU ARE in the face of critics, in the face of people who want to manipulate you.

How can I tell when it’s people manipulating me and when it’s you molding me?

Perfect love casts out fear. If fear is involved, it’s not me.

So you’re telling me not to fear, but people are about to turn up the heat?

Yes, but fear is the crucible. You don’t have to be IN the crucible.

I don’t have to live in fear, but in love.

What does love look like in this metaphor?

It’s not the fire, or the heat. It’s the light.

Yes! Live in me, in the light, in love! You don’t have to live in fear.


This post is part six 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: Dan Brown, https://www.flickr.com/photos/thepuzzler/5439493601

Violated in Church

April 20, 2014

Yesterday, my pastor showed a clip of “The Passion of the Christ” in the church service. People all around me were moved, but I was stoic. I’ve never wanted to see that movie. I was really angry that in church, where I am supposed to feel safe, I was being assaulted with horrifying scenes I had successfully avoided to this point. Is something wrong with me? Why do I avoid the grim details of the crucifixion?

It’s just a movie. You don’t want to see Saving Private Ryan or Lone Survivor for the same reason. But you’ve read Lone Survivor and you’ve read the passion. You’re not avoiding the stories. You’re avoiding the graphic violence depicted on the screen. It’s okay. You have a tender heart, so tender that images like that undo you. It’s that feeling you’re avoiding. It’s okay to feel undone, but right now the feeling is overwhelming to you. It’s just a movie. You don’t have to watch it.

Thank you for understanding me and helping me understand myself. As I closed my eyes and tried to block out the violent sounds, I felt so alone and afraid in that dark sanctuary. I felt like I was somehow defective, broken. And I was so very afraid.

I know. I’m angry that you were subjected to that. Boundaries you had set for yourself were violated, and because of where you were and who you were with, you felt something was wrong with you. Truth is, something is really wrong when a person does not feel safe and unconditionally loved in what people call a “sanctuary.” You’re okay now. I’m going to show you how to be who you really are and not be ashamed. I’m going to show you how to stand up for yourself so that no one will be able to do this to you anymore.


This post is part five 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: Jane Fox, original image modified: cropped. https://www.flickr.com/photos/runjanefox/9214235312

“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.

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.

Reincarnation?

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.

 

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