I guess it could appear that I am "dwelling on the past" or refusing to "get over it" because of certain things I write. I received a couple of comments after a recent post that showed me there are a few people who think this is the case. I am an open and honest person and I do not try to be something I'm not. (Although I make that statement with a little hesitation because for 22 years I tried to measure up to what the controlling leadership of my former church wanted me to be.) But even at that, I am who I am and I have written all of these things from my heart. I know I'm rambling, but I have a hundred thoughts rolling around that I want to get out - the main one being what's on my heart concerning my blog.
Before I left my former church, I went through a tough period of time where I questioned all that was going on, and the last people I could have talked to were the leaders at my church. I knew they would have labeled me "crazy." Besides that, in one service it was said strongly by the leader, "Don't come to me with your concerns or issues!" I had no one to turn to and I knew that I was walking on shaky ground. I was risking everything by venturing out beyond the boundaries, but I had to get my answers.
I had gotten wind of a blog that had been started by a couple who had left the church. We were told by the leadership of the church not to read the "evil blog," but I was curious to know what was being said because I knew the good people who were writing it. The first time I read it, I felt guilty because I knew if the leadership found out, they would be mad. But, when I read it I saw that many others were having the same thoughts and questions I had been having for a while and it brought clarity to me. (Thank you!) In one of the posts, they referred to an article where the term "spiritual abuse" was used. I had never heard that term before and the word 'abuse' seemed a bit strong, but as I read the article it all rang true. I began to google words like "spiritual abuse" and everything I read began to answer my questions. I was doing all of my research in secret because I was afraid to let anyone know, but the more I learned, the more truth I saw.
I found blogs by searching the web and then I followed links to other blogs. I was amazed at the number of people who had been through the same things I was going through and how similar the circumstances were. One blogger described it by saying, "All the controlling pastors must use the same play book." By reading different blogs, I learned of books to read that would help me. As I read Jeff Von Vonderen's book, "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse," I learned about the "signs of control and abuse" and "how you get caught in spiritual traps." A dear lady, Aida, recommended Darin Hufford's book, "The God's Honest Truth" and I learned more about God's love than I had learned in 22 years. I read Jake Colsen's book, "So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore," and I saw a perfect picture of who Jesus is and that having a relationship with Him is what really matters. I began to see a totally new picture of God and His love. For so long I think I and many others equated God with the controlling leaders of the church, but things were quickly changing for me. I can honestly say that reading blogs has helped me to see the truth about the situation I was in and I am glad they have been there when I needed answers and when I needed someone to talk to.
When I first began my own blog I thought it would be good "therapy" for me to write out my thoughts and I also wanted to help others by providing the same type of information that had helped me. It was a good thing for me. The comments people left helped so much and it has also been good to hear that something I shared helped someone else. Everyone is at a different stage in the process. It would seem that some have fully recovered, some are still walking through the healing process, while others are just beginning to see the truth. You may not know some one's story and there are some who will never tell their whole story. Some things are too personal for people to speak of. I have shared some of my own personal experiences so that others can relate, but there are things I will never tell. It has never been my intention to hurt anyone or to write things that stir up hurtful emotions in people. I try to be very careful about the things I say. I have to be able to lay my head down at night and feel that my heart is right before God. I said in the very beginning when I started my blog that if I ever felt that God wasn't pleased by my blogging I would delete it all. But I don't believe that's the case and I think that the materials I have provided and the information I have shared has helped people - so it stays. Helping people is what really matters. And this blog has helped me to heal too. I have met so many people from around the world - people I wouldn't have met otherwise, like my friend "Getting There" from South Africa and my friend Barb. I have reconnected with a friend from the former church who now lives in Georgia. She heard about my blog and she too read "The God's Honest Truth" and it helped her immensely. I have such a special place in my heart for the readers of my blog and for the writers of the blogs I read.
I chose to do my blog anonymously for various reasons, although a lot of people have figured out who I am. The first couple of days I had it up I began to get calls asking if it was me. How did people know? I didn't decide to do it anonymously because I am ashamed of anything I have to say. I just felt that it would be the best way to do it because I was already having a hard enough time dealing with things. I'm sure that many bloggers understand why I did it that way. I didn't want it to somehow be used against me by the people in my past. It was hard enough to find out that 2 days after I left my church, my family was all of a sudden being called "evil" and "bad." I felt like I put myself in a vulnerable position by having a blog, but even after "dumb blogs" were referred to from the pulpit of my former church, I still had a resolve to continue sharing this information to possibly rescue others from the trap of spiritual abuse.
I am so thankful that caring people took the time to blog and share information for me to read. I am in that same place now - I care about people and I don't want to see anyone stay in a hurtful situation because of a lack of information. I know how great it is to be out of the control and walking in freedom and I know God wants all of His children to experience that same love and freedom. Each person takes a different amount of time to heal and my heart goes out to everyone in this situation. I continually hear of situations that people are dealing with and all I can do is think how sad it is that all of this hurt came at the hands of people we thought we could trust - in a church. Boy, have we all learned some lessons.
Everyone has to be allowed to be themselves and if they need to talk one day, then I want to be there to listen to them. If they need to cry, I want to lend my shoulder. I will be understanding and never judge another person by how they deal with difficult circumstances. And by all means, I will never tell someone to "get over it." That is like a slap in the face and those are hard words to hear when what someone really needs is compassion. I want to be a friend to those who are struggling and say, "I understand, I've been there." And I hope I will always have people in my life who will do the same for me.
I know what's in my heart and the reasons I share, but I have felt at times that some have had the impression that I just keep bringing up the past. I just don't see it that way. I don't believe continuing to share information about spiritual abuse holds me to the past situation. I think it sets me free to know what I will never allow myself to be a part of again and I want to continue to share things that may help one more person get away from a bad situation. If I share things I've learned, like information on "Healthy or Unhealthy Churches," just know that I'm not stuck in bitterness, but I want to get the information out there to save others from hurt. I want to share information that helps people see they are not crazy and that there are others who have made it out of a controlling, abusive situation and are now doing good, walking in God's love, and living in the freedom God provided.
Okay, I think I said it in enough ways so that you understand where I'm coming from. I know I didn't have to explain myself, but I wanted to. I will continue to share the things on my heart and I always welcome and look forward to any information you can share to help me and others. Please just don't say "get over it." I look at how far I've come over the past 6 months and I am so thankful to be where I am. When my former leaders told me my life and family would fall apart if I left, they were wrong. Me and my family are so happy doing the things that really matter in my life - loving God and loving people. My honest prayer for everyone who has been in a hurtful situation with a church, is that you will be able to separate your experience from God and know that He loves you more than anything and the pain you have felt had nothing to do with Him. Have a great day!