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What Does Healthy Faith Look Like?

Uncategorized Oct 08, 2020

I have written a lot about the trauma that happens when we are spiritually abused.  And I have written a good bit about churches that aren't healthy.  But what does "healthy faith" look like?  Toward the end of the book Toxic Faith:  Experiencing Healing from Painful Spiritual Abuse, the authors devote an entire chapter to "Seventeen Characteristics of Healthy Faith."

The first one of the seventeen is "Focused on God."  Instead of depending on the many and varied ways that our culture defines God, or on how anyone else tells us who God is (when their version is twisted around to something unloving), or depending on those who would "make it up as they go," -- instead of that, go back to the Bible.  The Bible is our best link to knowing who God is.

In the Bible, God is always seeking for his people, wanting them to return to Him, wanting them to accept his great love for them.  He wants a mutual and loving relationship with his people -- even...

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With Healing Comes Creativity – and More, Much More

Last week I explained how I came up with these three phrases:

  • Rendered by life’s events
  • Transformed by Christ
  • Empowered by the Holy Spirit

 If you didn't read last week's blog, I invite you to do so now.

Each one of those phrases represents a part of the healing process from having been spiritually abused.  There comes a time when the pain and suffering have had their say in “rendering” us.  We realize that we can’t carry it any longer.  We’ve had it.  And so we sur-render to our Maker.  

The Latin prefix “sur” means “over” or “above.”  We have given over our “rendering” by life's events,  to the Lord who loves us unconditionally.  And now he can “sur-round” us with his loving comfort and healing presence. 

There’s a song I can remember singing a few decades ago called “His banner over me is love.”  Exactly. ...

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Rendered by Life’s Events: What the Heck Does That Mean?

Uncategorized Sep 24, 2020

I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between a life lived surrendered to Christ, versus the abusive situation in which the psychologically sick leader distorts holy truth and teaches that the church member is to be submissive to him or her only.  When the church member has been brainwashed by such a mockery of the Gospel, they can experience terrible and deep wounds.  And it can be traumatic for them to find the courage to get out from under such a dysfunctional and sick system. 

I’ve wondered if the person coming out from that misinformed and warped definition of the word “submission” would have difficulty understanding the word “surrendered” in the context of a loving surrender to Christ.

That loving surrender gives us the freedom and the beauty that is ours when we surrender to Christ.  He is never abusive.  Instead he is empowering.  He wants us to fulfill the life He’s given us, and to be a...

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Out of the Depths Have I Cried unto Thee O Lord

Uncategorized Sep 17, 2020

“Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee O Lord,

Lord, hear my voice.

Let thy ear be attentive to the voice of my supplication.”

These are the first words of Psalm 130.  They have been my mainstay many, many times.  Being open to the journey toward healing takes me into the depths of my soul.  That’s the place I go to, when I pray those words, and while I’m holding the broken shards caused by spiritual wounds.  I go to that place because I know the Lord will meet me there.

When I meet him there, it is as though he sees the shards, my broken pieces.  Maybe his focus isn’t on all of them at any one time.  Maybe this time, He gazes on a particular one.  He shines his love on that shard, and then He gazes at me, and I know in that moment, that even though there may still be more work to do, that somehow I’m already whole.  And loved.  And I’m at peace. 

And I want to stay there, with Him gazing...

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Shalom: Peace and Wholeness are Possible

Uncategorized Sep 10, 2020

This week I continue to bring you some of the ideas that Carol Merritt writes about in her book, Healing Spiritual Wounds:  Reconnecting with a Loving God after Experiencing a Hurtful Church.

Last week I shared some ideas that Merritt writes about the Great Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

She continues to explain that spiritual wounding, or “religious wounding” happens when the Great Commandment has been violated.  When the abuse happens to us, someone else has done the violating.  The Great Commandment has a three-part nature:  love of God, self, and neighbor.”  Merritt likens this three-part nature to “a machine of three pulleys – a machine that produces love.  Spiritual wholeness happens when the finely tuned mechanisms of love work in tandem.” (p....

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Healing is Linked to the Great Commandment

Uncategorized Sep 03, 2020

There are many Scriptures that say that God is love, and that we are created in His image.  Since we are created in His image, we too are to love.   Love what?  Love how?

The Great Commandment says,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I would dare say that most of us Christians don’t get the fullness of what that means.  We simply go through life one day at a time attending to whatever each day holds, getting things done on our to-do lists.  Our awareness of all that heady love stuff may not rank very high a lot of the time.  We get reminded of the Great Commandment at church, when the preacher decides to preach on it.  But for the most part, the Great Commandment isn’t “front and center” as though it were the do-all, end-all theme of our life.

However, that...

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What Do Beautiful Feet Have to do with Healing from Spiritual Abuse?

Uncategorized Aug 27, 2020

I’m thinking about beautiful feet.  Not because my feet are beautiful.  They’re not.  The beautiful feet in my thoughts are the ones Isaiah talks about when he says,

“How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of the one who announces peace.”  (Isaiah 52:7)

I want that kind of feet – the ones that take me up on the mountain of the Lord – the feet that take me into the arena of peace – the feet that are the foundation upon which I stand while announcing what the Lord has done for me.  Those are the feet I want.

What do you suppose that peace consists of, that I am to announce?  I can imagine that Jesus has taken all of my past hurt into his hands and transfigured it.  Not into ugly scars, but transfigured it into a strength I never had before.  He has taken my wound into his wounded hands and wrapped both into his love and the love of His Father.  Their love picks me up and ushers me into...

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Healed from Abuse! Is That Possible?

Uncategorized Aug 20, 2020

We can’t “fix” anyone.  We haven’t walked even a half mile in their moccasins, as Native American wisdom would tell us.  We can’t fix the spiritual abuser.  We can’t straighten him or her out.  We can’t fix the tangled web that they have created.  The only person we can work with/work on is ourselves. 

Being spiritually abused creates issues for us to work on, that’s for sure.  Even if we physically leave the situation, the emotionality of it, the hurt of it follows us.  Those are the issues I’m talking about.  They go with us wherever we go. 

Sometimes we hurt so badly that we’re not even aware that healing is possible somewhere down the road.  We can't see beyond our own grand funk.  If someone tells us while we’re in the worst part of the pain, that we can be healed, it may seem like they’re trying to “fix” us.  We just want them to...

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Lesson Learned: Set Healthy Boundaries

Uncategorized Aug 13, 2020

Last week, I wrote about setting boundaries so that people who think they’re being helpful, but really are not, might stop telling us that if we had only set boundaries the abuse would not have happened.

This week, I want to continue writing about boundaries.  This time I want to talk about the abuser.  Sometimes the abuser doesn’t know that his/her comments or actions are so hurtful, unless we tell them.  Their conscious intention was not to be cruel.  They just weren’t sensitive to the effect of their own words or actions.  In those cases, using the same communication skill that I wrote about last week might actually get them to change their manner of speaking or acting.

That communication skill is this:  When you said/did___________, I felt _____________ because __________.

However, (shall I say it?) it seems as though most spiritual abusers do have a cruel streak about them.  Or they have some major life issue that...

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Setting Boundaries: A Communication Skill?

Uncategorized Aug 06, 2020

Boundaries.  The message comes to us in many different forms:  Healthy people set boundaries.  Sometimes it’s friends or a family member that says to us, “You just have to set boundaries.”  

While it is absolutely true that we need boundaries in order to keep others from walking all over us, it is also true that other people telling us that “simply setting boundaries” would solve the problem of spiritual abuse, just don’t get it.

First of all we have to remember that the spiritual abuse is not our fault.  It was suddenly and without warning heaped upon us, without our doing anything.  It’s the abuser that has the issues.  How could we have known that we needed a boundary, when no one else had ever treated us like that before?  If we don’t know we need a boundary, then how can we set it?

To be told we need to set boundaries seems to us like a daft simplification of the problem.  We...

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