If you have some extra prayers, I would like to ask for you to pray for me and my family. This is hard. The lawsuit decision is hanging over my head, but I'm not sure my funk is all about that, though.
The harder issues for me right now are spiritual abuse and how it affects families and marriages - even years after the fact. This is what I'm dealing with now personally. Relational issues are tough and combine that with spiritual issues, it's even more challenging. I'm just going to leave it at that and ask for prayers. I didn't want to hide this fact because it's a part of the ramifications of spiritual abuse and it needs to be discussed. Maybe when we get through this hurdle, it would be good to discuss it more at length. I guess I'm sharing this for two reasons: one is because we could really use the prayers. Secondly, to let you know that this is a very normal part of spiritual abuse. It is confusing and it can come between the most important relationships. So if you are walking in this part of of your spiritual abuse recovery, I'll be your walking buddy. You are not alone.
Also weighing heavily on my heart were stories I've read and heard this week. One story I heard today - from another side of the country - would make your head spin - sexual abuse involving a very young child that was overlooked by pastor and the typical pattern is that the perpetrator gets all the attention (cover up) and the victim gets basically abandoned and pushed aside. AAAAAACCCCCCKKKKKKK!!!!! I can't handle this, people.
There are so many of us out there who are going through this. I was reminded of Pastor Ken's comment yesterday - that even he struggles with spiritual abuse "remains" some 16 years later. Yea, this stuff is real and lasting and we'll be working through it for a while. I'm so thankful for his honesty and vulnerability - keeping it real for us here - as someone who has walked this path.
Here is my favorite part of Ken's comments in case you missed it:
As for the guilt, it's a double-bind, really. I was horribly guilty for mistreating my parents, siblings, old-friends who hadn't "seen the light" as I had, etc., (still apologizing to this day!), but also, I was constantly dealing with a nagging guilt for being/seeming less committed to this new, "serious" church that I'd joined, and was gradually giving away more of my life to, piece by piece, friend by friend, dollar by dollar. I felt guilty for being a my families events/parties, etc., and guilty for NOT being at them! Ugh. I'm flash-backing...going to go on a walk and thank God for saving me, once and again and again!
This chapter of your "life-book" is dark, strange, full of surprises, wins and losses. I know it's been pretty dark and challenging and uncertain. But we DO know the end of the book! The great Shepherd personally returns for His flock. Errant teachers are corrected and judged appropriately. Damaged sheep are finally and forever healed, and the world finally sees Jesus, again!
Amen, oh, how I needed to read those words. And now after reading that for the 23rd time, I will go and put my head in the book of Philippians because a good friend thinks it would be good for me. Thanks, Michelle.
Last thought: Folks, if you do not have people in your life who will lovingly encourage you to stay on the right path. Please seek them out. Take a risk and ask if they would do that for you. I don't think I could do this on my own without friends.
Photo is from Avery Suarez, one of the high school choral students I worked with last year and a great photographer.