What Exactly is Spiritual Abuse?

My husband and I were discussing what exactly defines spiritual abuse and why is it so bad? In my estimation, spiritual or religious abuse happens when religion is used, not for the spiritual benefit of the individual, but solely for the gain of the organization and its leaders. Scriptures and principles are turned on their head and used in a way to manipulate, coerce, force and extort actions out of the person being used. What is supposed to be holy, is used in a way that can result in financial, emotional, physical and sometimes psychological harm. What is so horrible about this is in the church realm is that people give a very special part of themselves (soul and spirit, not to mention time and effort they can never recover) to know more about God. The knowledge of God is tied to our eternal destiny, and many times people are willing to give up all, and open their hearts to obtain what they perceive as the ultimate prize, eternal paradise.

A very vulnerable place to be.

Because churches bestow such high honor on earthly church leaders, people that are seeking to connect with God can be led like sheep to the slaughter.

Continue reading “What Exactly is Spiritual Abuse?”

Candy Crush and Recovery

Call me crazy, but I was laying in bed and thinking about my recent therapy session and the progress I had made in this particular session. I was so happy, but it was hard work going backward and feeling certain things about incidents that caused shame in my upbringing. As I often do, I was playing Candy crush before I dozed off to sleep, and I noticed the connections between Candy Crush and recovery from dysfunction. Continue reading “Candy Crush and Recovery”

Now, About Those Other Sheep

Let’s take God out of the box.

The idea of that one church, religious group, or denomination has a lock on God is ludicrous. The idea that God will only lead a person to one church organization is equally not supported by scripture. Frankly, when a person lets Christ into their heart and life, nothing else is needed, they are already a member of God’s church. God never says, “Now find a Pastor from _________church, and then you’ll be alright.”

My husband and I were talking about this point because we noticed how easy it is to get comfortable with church attendance in any Christian church you can name and use that as a ticket to heaven. We are both striving to stay free from that type of complacency as we focus on obeying the leading of Christ. God is and always has been about a personal connection with Him.

In my experience, this becomes a problem for conservative, fundamental, literalists. They tend to believe that their way is the only way God will connect with people.

God is not that small.

Conservative church leaders seem eager at times to hide the liberal position of our Savior on this matter. Even though the Bible teaches one faith (the gospel of Jesus Christ), Jesus left room for how and through whom his teaching would spread to the world. Christ left room for diversity in this matter.   The King of Kings understood that his message needed to reproduce through a variety of sources.

God had a plan in the spread of the gospel. Christ immediately started to include Gentiles and women as disciples (women were usually not allowed in such settings). Something that had not been done before.  He focused on those that knew the one true God, meaning Isreal, (see Matthew 15:4) but the plan all along was to include the entire world.  He just had to make Peter and the other disciples understand his acceptance of all people first (See the Lord’s struggle to get Peter to accept Gentiles in Acts 10:9-23)

In the spread of the gospel, Jesus rejected group-ism and exclusivity.

How do we know this?

Jesus had to correct the disciples about their small view of God.

“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.” (note that the person believed in Jesus’ teaching, but “he’s not with our group”). But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he who is not against us is for us.  Mark 9:38-40

In our small group, not only was this scripture rarely if ever taught, but John 10:16 where Jesus said he had other sheep, not of this fold was taught like this: the Church of God was the fold, and the “other sheep” were people outside of the church who may be saved but needed to come to the “truth” of our group. That’s a little twisted right?

But my denomination is not the only one that makes this error of calling the fold their particular church or denomination. Numerous fundamental churches and Christian based cults twist this scripture.

This type of theology confines God to a tiny box where he only accepts those that believe like” we” do and who follow us. It’s more of the “we are the only ones right” mentality. If a person has an extreme amount of special light, wouldn’t God give them the love, patience, and humility toward others that would mirror the love of Christ?

Instead, the result of claiming special light has disastrous consequences.

I interviewed a former member who belonged to our group as a child, and she stated that she thoroughly believed that anyone that wore pants and jewelry and didn’t belong to the Church of God and follow our rules were just not saved. It took her a long time after she left to accept even family members she knew as true Christians fully. What is wrong with that picture?

Toxic atmospheres breed toxic thinking. Certain things we breathe in when we’re in the wrong atmosphere.

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She went on to say that as she met other Christians, she realized that many of these “outsiders” were in better spiritual condition than the people in the church. They had good spirits, were kind, open, and loving. So it wasn’t the membership in our group that made them spiritual. So why teach that it’s a pre- or post requisite to ‘true’ Christianity?

download (1).jpgI notice that such scriptures are hidden and avoided in churches that like to think of themselves as exclusive. The simple fact is that God loves all, and embraces everyone who follows him, and He cares about even those who don’t. It doesn’t matter if they are members of your particular organization.

I’ve heard from so many former members that have struggled with this separatist view. Several have indicated that they cannot get their parents to accept their relationship with Christ, not because of any sins they may have committed but because of things like clothing or church standards held by their Church of God congregations. Completely bypassing that they are committed to living the Christian life.

Note the surprise and condemnation in the tone John’s statement that someone who was not in their immediate circle, but followed the teachings and influence of Christ was doing something that they had failed themselves to do–cast out devils.

Jesus’s simple response “Forbid him not,” spoke volumes against an “exclusive” “separatist” spirit. What harm was the man doing? He was still publishing the name of Christ. He didn’t follow in the same way the disciples did, but Christ was okay with this. Christ didn’t even examine what the man was doing to make sure he was representing a certain way.

Christ’s demeanor about this is something for us all to consider.

When one only focuses on membership and fails to teach on the heart condition and connection with God himself, this is leaving out an essential aspect of Christ’s teaching.

Churches have to be careful about demanding that theoretical perfection be a reality in their circle when there is evidence to the contrary and little effort is made to teach the gospel properly. It leaves little room for honesty.

We all know that God did not cease to save souls in the denominations. We know he is still saving every soul that turns to him, regardless of where that soul is. We know that hundreds of thousands of people are being converted in the denominations every year. This is a certainty. What does it signify? It signifies that the harvest of souls is not past, as we had supposed. It signifies that God has not ceased to work in denominations. It signifies that we were wrong in what we taught on the subject. There is no use glossing it over–we were wrong

Charles W. Naylor, Author of Heart Talks, Church of God holiness movement pioneer and author of numerous Christian hymns

from his book The Teachings of  D.S. Warner and His Associates.

Hey guys, I’m staying on my exercise plan, and I’m losing weight. My meditation, prayers, and therapy have been so instrumental in my success. I had a goal of 20 lbs this summer, and I’m 6 lbs away. Woo HOO!

Shedding Perfectionism

As I’m sitting here eating the whole wheat tortilla that tastes like the lotion in my purse, I’m realizing some things.  Success in life is about reaching personal, internal goals, and on our way up that hill, everything is not going to go as planned. Perfection is an illusion. For example, today my usual routine (my planned and perfect routine)  had been filling  my belly up with fruit in the morning. However, having to get my granddaughter to daycare (let’s blame her) and losing track of time (that’s grandma), I rushed out of the house and barely got to work on time. Hence, the lotion infused tortilla. It’s OK though,  that I didn’t do my perfect plan because that’s life.

The more I learn about myself on my healing journey, the more I realize how insidious perfectionist tendencies can be.  

By the way, I am down another 2 lbs. since the last post.  Hooray for me!  Suck on that 56 year old metabolism!

downloadI was at a Toastmasters meeting last night and as I sat in the room, I realized how uncomfortable I felt.  It was not them at all. It was me. I tend to feel uncomfortable in a room full of people but I wondered why? I’m a great one-on-one conversationalist, but small crowds scare me.  Not large ones mind you, because I’ve preached to hundreds of people at a time (so weird how that works) and amazingly it’s easier than the small crowd for me.  The problem is my internal insecurities. It’s all in my head.  Call me crazy, but I keep feeling people are judging my every move in those situations.  Even more so if it’s people I don’t know.  The feeling overwhelms me that I’m going to say the wrong thing, that I won’t be witty enough or that I’ll be judged by something stupid I blurted out. 

download (1)The worst part is that in a smaller group,  I can actually see and feel their reaction.  So, my tendency is just to stay quiet in those situations.  I smile and nod so they won’t notice me too much.  But I want to get better and conquer this part of my life.  I’m adult!  Enough of the high school/elementary school feelings that come flooding back to me.

There’s a portion of the meeting where someone throws out a topic and on the spot a volunteer has to give a 1-2 minute speech on the subject.  So I decided to be brave tonight and get practice doing this. I did OK, but I felt so unsure of myself doing it.  I wouldn’t say I failed, but I just didn’t do as well as I would have liked. I’m sure I was at least average.

So here’s a goal I need to work on: being a better off-the-cuff speaker.  Fear has to go.

I am learning that perfectionism creates fear and fear stops me from growing.

If you don’t acknowledge the need to change, how can you grow and become better? Change takes daily acknowledgement, making intentional statements to yourself and making decisions to DO the actions that will make the change a part of your life.

This is my new quote this week:

The difference between failure and success is not much more than the changes we choose to embrace from one moment to another, one day to another. —therightmessages.com


 

 

Feel free to share your experiences below with public speaking or goals you’re trying to reach–or just maybe you can relate to all this craziness.

 

 

 

 

Psychological Facts About Children and Teenagers

A few interesting facts about young people.

Children

  • Children are not blank slates on which adults imprint knowledge
  • Children who grow up in stressful environments with strict parents are more likely to develop the habit of overthinking as adults.
  • Play-based learning activities increases a child’s attention span.
  • Children can organize information in their memory starting at age 7.Your younger child will be able to remember things, but starting at age 6 she can use strategies for learning to memorize. At age 7, she can then use patterns and other tricks to help her even more.

Continue reading “Psychological Facts About Children and Teenagers”