Being spiritually abused makes us feel vulnerable. We don’t like feeling vulnerable. When we’re vulnerable our defenses are down. We want to armor up against the attacks. The attacks were unwarranted, unprovoked, unfair. What kind of armor can we wear in self-defense? Those were my initial thoughts after abuse – thoughts and feelings I had to work my way through.
Then one day, I read the research that Dr. Brene Brown has conducted. I have now read every book she has written. I’m such a total believer in the truth of the data that her research reveals that I have become a Certified Daring WayTM Facilitator as a clergy person (CDWF-Clergy).
In her work, she refers to life experiences in which we feel vulnerable. She calls those experiences an “arena.” Spiritual abuse is an arena. In the arena of spiritual abuse, what are we to do? Are we to armor up like the ancient Roman...
Sometimes spiritual abuse happens again and again from the same perpetrator. Such ongoing spiritual abuse teaches us that it will most likely happen yet again. It makes us fearful, wondering when the other proverbial shoe will drop.
Repeated abuse can make us second guess everything, wondering if it was our fault somehow. In a sea of bewilderment, we begin to feel unworthy. That shame makes us doubt the faith we had believed and steals our joy. We struggle through each day with that angst in the pit of our stomach. Such stress and unhappiness can make us physically ill.
We need something to cling to, front and center. We need to dig deep and find the determination to hang on for dear life until this storm blows over. Scripture verses are a good example of what to cling to. Jeremiah 31:3-4 is a good example.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
I will build you up...
The Palmist said, “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:114)
And a contemporary songwriter wrote these words based on that verse, “You are my hiding place. You preserve me from trouble. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance. Whenever I am afraid I will trust in you. Let the weak say “I am strong in the strength of the Lord.” 1
It is the Lord’s joy to do all of that for us. It is his joy when we know that he is our inner hiding place, and that we can go there any time we need to or want to. It is his joy to fill our hearts with songs of deliverance from whatever tempts us to think that somewhere else is our hiding place. It gives the Lord joy when we trust in him instead of letting our fear take us somewhere else. It is his joy when we allow his strength to make us strong. His strength undergirds us when we are broken-hearted. His...
In the Gospel of John Chapter 4:7-15, we read the story of Jesus at the well when a Samaritan woman comes to draw water. Jesus asks her for a drink.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him...
I know from my own experience, how very difficult it was to even contemplate extending forgiveness to the perpetrator whose behavior left me reeling in the strong emotions and the dust of bewilderment and deep wounds that cut to the heart.
What I do not know is what stage of healing my various readers are in, after they had been so offended. If a considerable amount of time has passed, there might be some of you who might be ready to hear something about forgiveness.
Nevertheless, whether that is you, or the abuse is still ultra-fresh, perhaps the following is wisdom to be aware of: Somewhere in the far off distant future (if not sooner,) you might have to think about forgiveness, so that your inner peace can return to you.
So, what is forgiveness? Let me say first of all, that forgiveness is not at all the same thing as reconciliation. Forgiveness is one way. Let me say that again. Forgiveness is one way. It happens in your heart and...
Last week I wrote about the phrase “Reverence the Integrity of Self,” our truest, deepest Self in Christ, and how when we truly reverence that creature, we will desire to bring her to full life. More than that, when we commit to that reverence in the Lord’s presence, we will be obeying Him.
This week I continue with Fr. Bonnell Spencer’s explanation of the vows that monks take. So, what about the vow of “chastity?” You might very well say, “Dorothy, what does that vow have to do with me? I have no intention of becoming a monk or nun.” Most of the time, those of us who are not part of those kinds of religious communities, misinterpret their vow of chastity by making it too specific – i.e. meaning celibacy – meaning not having sex with anyone. That's all it means. Right?
But what if I told you that’s not what Fr. Spencer’s next definition says? He writes that...
How often do you think of the word “reverence?” When you do think of it, what is it in reference to? A lot of people I know would answer that "reverence" refers to the sensation they feel when they worship God, or when they know they are in His presence.
I would agree. However, what if I would tell you that another way to think about the word “reverence,” is this: we are to “Reverence the integrity of Self.” What do you suppose that might mean? The phrase comes from the writings of a monk of the Episcopal Order of the Holy Cross. Fr. Bonnell Spencer, in an attempt to define what monks mean by taking a vow of obedience, wrote that it means to “Reverence the integrity of Self.”
When I first read that, I thought, “How can reverencing myself be the same thing as obeying God? Then I read on. Clarification happened: Fr. Spencer said that when we seek to reverence in every way...
What do you think of communication skills? Have you ever tried to learn any? Do you have the nerve to use them when you’re already stressed out? I talk about one of these skills in today’s blog. I’ve listed three scenarios of abuse for your consideration of using this skill.
Scenario 1: Suppose you’re a happy member of Church A, and have been for years. All of a sudden a new pastor arrives on the scene. Not having been trained in communication skills himself, and not seeming to know the adage that pastors are not supposed to change anything for the whole first year they’re on staff – here he is, behaving like a bull in a china shop upsetting everything in his first month on the scene. And you’re one of the ones who gets trampled on.
If he’s a reasonable person, he may be open to communication if approached correctly. What do I mean by “correctly?” Make an...
In my blog from September 4, 2019, I quoted three researchers who variously used the following phrases to define spiritual abuse in churches: Misusing one’s authority, power and privilege. Maltreating followers. Manipulating and exploiting others. Violation of someone’s personhood. Unwelcome intrusion. Unexpected. Beyond your control.
In today’s blog I want to write about the phrase "violating someone’s personhood." Christians believe that each one of us is a child of God, worthy of love and respect, because God loves us. When abuse happens, we feel violated, like someone has stepped across our invisible boundary uninvited with their agenda. Suddenly we are left feeling like our insides have been misshapen and bruised. Depending on the severity and longevity of the abuse, it can take years to find healing.
This ought not to be. This ought not to happen in God’s...
Last week I ended my blog with this quote from St. Paul, from I Thessalonians 5:23. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
St. Paul mentions spirit, soul, and body as though those three elements are what we are made of, made of. (Read last week’s blog on the child’s poem “What are Little Girls Made Of?” to understand why I repeated here the phrase “made of.”) And he lists all three as though each were something different from the other, (Instead of spirit and soul somehow being the same, as in the lore of some folk). According to this Scripture, and what I describe below, they are each distinguished from each other, and they each have distinct purposes.
When I think of my own “system,” if you will, as being made up of these three parts, spirit, soul, and body,...