Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spiritual Abuse: How to Deal with Stumbling Blocks on our Journey

We give great honor to those who endure under suffering.  For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance.  You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.  James 5:11

So   . . . . . . . .   you finally come to the conclusion you need to leave your abusive church and you leave.    The physical church is left behind with all its people, you close that chapter of your life emotionally and spiritually, and try to move on.  You have left.  But now what?  Where do you go from here?  What do you do with that residue of yuckiness that is in your brain that didn't get left behind in your old church?  Where does that junk go?  

This is the reality that many of us have faced or are going through.  Closing the figurative door behind you does not mean there are not issues to be worked out emotionally and spiritually.  I received this heart-felt e-mail from blog reader, Tammy, who is in that place:

Do you mind sharing with me about things you may have done for yourself or steps you may have taken in grieving the whole BGBC abuse that you suffered?  
It sounds to me like the pastor was for sure narcissistic and controlling and had a lot of influence over people that were there just going along with whatever.  Were there any in the congregation that you thought idolized him?  Depended on him too much?  
I am getting to my point...I hope.  It's just hard for me to ask/explain.
You see, I left/was forced out of a church about a year ago because I disagreed with one point that ONE pastor had (there were 4 pastors).  The pastor I disagreed with was very forceful and became SO LOUD and vocal when approached about different things.  I tried to "hang in there" because I know the pastor was also extremely wounded.  But, I just couldn't do it knowing that this pastor had a church that would believe any and all things that they said.  They worshipped the pastor...idolized them. Also, I started to wonder about people I knew who went to the church for awhile and then left.  SAME thing...they always would say, "oh they have a lot of problems", etc. 

Lately, I am not so much hurt as I am angry.  Because I am now the "one with problems"!?  However, I went to one church for 10 years and then started "church shopping" and ended up at the abusive church for 2 years.  So, they can't say I'm going around from church to church and have "problems".  AND, just recently, after a friends wedding, I realized something too.  I was looking at a picture taken of a group of 5 of us women at the wedding...I realized we were ALL on that church's prayer team...AND, all of us had left!!!  In fact, it was two other ladies that actually started questioning and left before I did?!?! 
At this point with so much anger...I sometimes have no clue what to do.  I have been working a little bit with a counselor, but sometimes I feel like it is a year later and I am no farther along with anger and being hurt.  It seems like I still think about it almost daily and want to "warn" people about the pastor (the controlling pastor) and the phoniness. 

But, there are some crossovers in our sometimes small Christian community and it seems like people are enamored with my former pastor without even going to the church.  AND, that is just it!  They don't know the pastor...the real pastor I know.  I lived in community with this person for 2 years and I truly know how this pastor acts!!!   How do I get beyond this? 

If you have been in this place, what has helped you?  How have you dealt with this difficult part of the healing journey?

photo credit: fragmented via photopin cc


  1. Julie Anne

    You ask...
    “If you have been in this place, what has helped you?
    How have you dealt with this difficult part of the healing journey?”

    Tears. Lots and lots of tears. ������

    And I mean sobs and groans and a running nose.

    1. I hear you, Amos. It's a very painful place - coming from the depths. Not so much anymore, but sometimes things will trigger it again.

  2. These verses became very real to me.
    There have been a few trajadies through the years.
    But - Having to leave this group of folks that I loved - Hurt and pain...

    Ps 6:6
    I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim;
    I water my couch with “my tears.”

    Ps 39:12
    Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry;
    hold not thy peace at “my tears:”
    for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.

    Ps 42:3
    “My tears” have been my meat day and night,
    while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

    Ps 80:5
    Thou feedest them with “the bread of tears;”
    and givest them “tears to drink” in great measure.

    1. The Psalm 6:6 is so sad. In verse 8 of that same chapter it continues (NLT): "Go away, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping."

      There is something very powerful about knowing that we are not alone when we are crying. I know this isn't the same as spiritual abuse, but I think there is the same emotional response - when I was abused as a child, I would not let my father see me crying. I didn't want him to have the pleasure of knowing that he hurt me physically and emotionally. However, 20+ years later, in the counseling office, I cried in the presence of someone. My cries were heard and validated. That was very healing. To think that my heavenly Father hears my cries of abuse, whether physical abuse or spiritual abuse - - He has not left me. He sees my pain. That is so powerful - so beautiful. We are not alone in this process.

  3. And - After a long, long time - After many years - And many tears.

    These verses also became very real - Thank you Jesus.

    Ps 116:8
    For thou hast delivered my soul from death,
    mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

    Ps 126:5
    They that “sow in tears” shall reap in joy.

    Pro 3:5-6
    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
    and lean not unto thine own understanding.
    In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

    Ro 8:28
    And we know that all things work together for good
    to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    1. A. Amos, thank you for the scripture. I had a hard, but good counseling session yesterday. I came home and journaled and then went and read the scripture you gave me. I didn't know if you would "go back" and see this reply. So, I asked Julie Anne to thank you too!

  4. Julie Anne

    All the pain and tears had a benefit.

    Drove me to Jesus.

    And now my Creepo Meter is well tuned. ;-)

    1. I like the progression with each of your comments, Amos. They are heart-felt and show the reality of the pain, the despair, the crying out, the being heard, and finally hope and a peace. Thank you!

  5. Julie Anne

    Sorry, very sorry, to hear about the childhood abuse.

    You’ve come along way. ;-)

    You write...
    “I cried in the presence of someone.
    My cries were heard and validated.
    That was very healing.”

    Seems when folks are abused - And they are NOT believed, NOT understood...
    That is devastating - To NOT be validated - Is devastating...
    And they are abused again.

    That is why - What you do here - Is so important...
    Allowing folks to tell their story, their disappointment - In a safe place...
    To see at least a few of the perps coming to some sort of justice...

    To be valadated - Is the beginning of healing...

    Thank you for your service...

    Thank you Jesus

    1. Amos said: To be valadated - Is the beginning of healing...

      Exactly!! I hope this blog will always remain a place for voices to be heard and validated. I had other posts planned, but this e-mail would not leave my head. I know what it's like to be in anguish and not be heard. When God speaks that loudly in my heart, I must roll with it. This e-mail probably represents many others who are going through something similar.

  6. Julie Anne, When I was reading this post if it wasn't for the fact that that church had 4 pastors I would have thought that was something I would have wrote. It's a sad reality that many of today's churches are run by abusive Pastors and with a flock of people that not only follows but supports this craziness. You know my story, not only did I lose my church family but I also lost my wife, who was convinced by her Pastor and boss that it would be in her best interest to divorce me. I thank Amos for the hope that things do and will get better. It's however has been almost a year for me and the pain and tears continue. I ask that as thousands read your blogg that prayers would be spoken for those of us that continue to suffer from the abusive we endured.

    1. I know, Raymond - that's just it - - these abuse stories have so many similarities and it's the same pain. Yours is compounded because not only did you lose your church/relationships at church, but your wife - and if that eats at my heart, I can only imagine what it's like for you to walk through that experience - especially since you still love her and never wanted the divorce to begin with. I'm so sorry you are having to deal with such an immense amount of pain. It's not like you can snap your finger and be done with it - - - it really is a process. But . . . there is hope - we do have the assurance that God has never left us or will never leave us. There will be some good that comes out of this - - sometime. You have and continue to be in my prayers.

  7. Julie Anne, Thank you so much for your help, your understanding and your prayers.

    1. Tammy - sending a cyber-hug your way. You will get through this. Feel free to anytime use this blog to share what's happening as you are going through this - even if it's not the topic of discussion - just to ask for prayer or to vent - whatever! Ok?

    2. okay. I really appreciate that, Julie Anne.

  8. Tammy

    Thank you for the thank you. ;-)

    After a few days I realized you were the author of the email in this post from Julie Anne. I’ve wondered, struggled with, about saying more, and what to say. Or NOT say anything at all. I started and stopped a few times.

    In my darkest of times, all I had to hang on to was - Jesus. And today I can see the benefit of those very dark days.
    Jesus was always there even when I couldn’t see, or feel Him. I often thought He left me. Or, I must have done something wrong.

    All lies.

    Looking back, I can understand - Getting it from Jesus for yourself is often the best.

    When you “hear His voice” and Jesus tells you
    You’re okay - You’ll know - You’re okay.

    Maybe the delay was God after all. Seems those scriptures, His Word, was enough.
    Julie Anne shared part of your email with me. A year is a long time to hold it all in.

    I hurt for you - And I rejoice for you.

    I hurt for you because you were forced out - Because there is NO excuse for abuse.
    All the pain and the darkness - stinketh.

    I rejoice for you because God opened your eyes to what was going on. And you had the courage to speak , to disagree. And you saw the true nature of man - who is NOT the Shepherd of your soul. You’ll be a little more cautious before putting your trust again - in a “Mere Fallible Human.”

    I rejoice because you are seeking healing - Because you are seeking the healer.

    This might sound a little strange - But - You are in a great place right now.
    You might NOT see it now. Or believe it now - But “ONE” day...

    Jesus Loves You - And says to you...
    “Come unto me, (Tammy)
    all ye that labour and are heavy laden, I will give you rest.” Mt 11:28

    “..he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted...” Luke 4:18

    Your rest and your broken heart are in the hands of your creator - Rejoice...

    1. Amos - - - this is beautiful. This is the Body of Christ in action right here - helping one another, encouraging one another, praying for one another. I love this!

    2. Thank you again, A.Amos. I have really needed these words of encouragement.

  9. Tammy

    Here’s a song that tells the story well.

    Through It All

    Verse 1
    I've had many tears and sorrows,
    I've had questions for tomorrow,
    there's been times I didn't know right from wrong.
    But in every situation,
    God gave me blessed consulation,
    that my trials come to only make me strong.

    Through it all,
    through it all,
    I've learned to trust in Jesus,
    I've learned to trust in God.

    Through it all,
    through it all,
    I've learned to depend upon His Word.

    Verse 2
    I've been to lots of places,
    I've seen a lot of faces,
    there's been times I felt so all alone.
    But in my lonely hours,
    yes, those precious lonely hours,
    Jesus lets me know that I was His own


    Verse 3
    I thank God for the mountains,
    and I thank Him for the valleys,
    I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
    For if I'd never had a problem,
    I wouldn't know God could solve them,
    I'd never know what faith in God could do

    1. Crying again. Thank you A. Amos. I SO appreciate this. My heart needed to cry & hear God's words for me.


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