This summer, at Cru's National Staff Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado, I heard from the stage the phrase "spiritual abuse." Sounded to me like something that happened within cults or some other obscure religion, but surely not in the world I was a part of. But since I was not too familiar with this, I immediately searched the term on Google. And this is what I read that came up in my search. Prior to my search, I would have told you I had most likely not experienced any form of spiritual abuse, personally. As I read the list of 10 ways to spot spiritual abuse, a pit grew deep in my stomach.
I had in fact experienced all ten of these in my roughly ten years as a Christian. Sadly, I am not exaggerating. When I got over the personal pity party, God had room to soften my heart. Rather than choose to be angry and bitter [neither of which are Godly qualities, but that's often my natural bent], I am choosing to educate myself on the topic and seek much necessary, personal healing. I'm hoping to soon read [as soon as I finish other books I'm currently reading] Toxic Faith: Experiencing Healing From Painful Spiritual Abuse by Stephen Arterburn to both better understand and move towards healing and forgiveness, as well as gain wisdom on how to avoid finding myself in spiritually abusive situations again. Further more, I feel led to spread the news of the realities of spiritual abuse within churches and ministries, even amongst individual relationships.
As I now move towards further understanding, I hope to seek to avoid future spiritual abuse, being the cause of this type of abuse to others, and hopefully find myself equipped enough to walk alongside others who have been affected by it. And for that, I am grateful.
My encouragement to you... educate yourself. I am finding the more I know, the better equipped I am to take on life and all the messiness it entails!
A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land-- the prophets give false prophesies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way! But what will you do when the end comes? - Jeremiah 5:30-31
Additional reading on spiritual abuse:
Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse, Part One
Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse, Part Two
Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse, Part Three