Presentable

August 15, 2014

I’m so tired. Instead of going to church, I wish I could go to sleep.

Why can’t you?

My hair is wet and needs to be styled.

Why?

So I can look good to the people at church.

Why do you care what they think?

Is it wrong to care? Is there not value in being presentable?

Presentable. Yes, you are a gift from me to others, like a present. Are you not then intrinsically presentable?

Even with rumpled hair and no makeup?

Haven’t they seen you like that before, when camping for example? Why is this day somehow different? Why do my people place such a high value on being presentable to others on this day? Is this in the Bible? Where do I say you must dress up for church? Don’t I tell you to rest? Don’t you need a nap now?

Yes, I just don’t know if I can get one with my family’s needs.

Can you trust me on the Sabbath to care for your children a little bit?

Is it really this simple?

It is.

 

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.

Like a Slinky

I refuse guilt. There is no condemnation. But I see the futility of doing things in my own strength and on my own schedule. It just doesn’t work. I know you embody all truth, and even facing my own weakness points me to your strength. Bottom line: you are calling me higher as a wife and mother. Help me. Show me. Point the way.

You’re like a slinky. When I lift you higher, more of you flows down to your children, husband, and home. I lift you up; you pour down. You are still all you, but more of you is available to flow to others. And in turn, I lift others to pour into you. It’s not a fearful thing. It can actually be fun! But it’s my power, not yours; my strength, not yours; my goals, not yours; my timing, not yours. I do it, not you. Just don’t fight me as I do it. Remember there is no fear in love, no fear in me. I am light, and in me is no darkness.


This post is part seven 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: By Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA (All work and no play) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

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.

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.

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