Saturday, July 12, 2008

Spiritual Traps (Part 2)

(I know this is very wordy, but if you can make your way through it, it makes a lot of sense.)

"The fourth aspect of a good trap is called equity rescuing. When people do this with a house, we call the house a "money pit." Money pits are houses that suck people's money into an endless home-improvement mission. This happens because they invest money into the house to make it more livable. But more things keep going bad. Then more money is needed to continue the improvements. After a while, more and more investment is needed to "rescue" all the money already put into the house. This also happens with jobs. After ten years in a job you hate, your conversation with yourself goes something like this: "I hate this job. I think I'll quit. Wait a minute, I can't quit. If I quit I'll have wasted the past ten years. I'll stay for another year. If things don't improve in a year, then I'll quit." The problem is that in a year you have another year's "equity" to rescue. And you'd have to walk away from eleven years instead of ten, so it's harder to leave than before.

Equity rescuing occurs in abusive relationships, as well. In an abusive situation people start moving away from what is normal. Each time something else happens it moves you another step away, until you end up far from normal. You may even be well aware that the situation is abusive and abnormal. So you set up a "boundary." You say, "What's happened up until now is it. No more! I'll stay, but if this happens one more time, I'm leaving." It happens again, but for you to walk away from the situation at this point will feel as if you have been abused for nothing. So you try a little bit harder, and invest a little more of yourself. More serious abuse occurs, so you set up another boundary. "You can call me names and push me around, but if I ever get a black eye, then I'll quit.

The problem is that people don't compare their situation to what is normal, they compare it the last adjustment made. Compared to all they have invested, this latest violation just isn't that big of a compromise. If they would compare it to normal, they would be able to see how many unhealthy adjustments they have made and how really abnormal and unhealthy the relationship has become.

It's ironic that the fact that we care so much about our faith is what contributes to our being trapped in unhealthy systems. We care about the kingdom of God. We want to put our energy, our time, and our money there. Shouldn't the church be the best investment? But sometimes our efforts turn into an equity-rescuing venture.

You invest more and more of your life in a system that promises but cannot deliver. You deny what you see, how you feel, how tired you are, and the problems you have, and call it spiritual. As denial turns to delusion you lose sight of how the system has actually begun to hurt you and how your own life is hurting others. Your friends try to warn you, but you cannot hear. You are caught in the trap of the spiritually abusive system."


Barb said...

Wow, have I ever lived through this one!!

Set Free said...

Hey Barb,
I did too!