Writing about Spiritual Abuse

I wrote this yesterday:

"I have had so many different thoughts come to my mind in the last few days that I have considered writing about..."

It seems like there is no way to put enough distance between myself and my cultish past as to be completely detached from major events occurring within the group I left over seven years ago. During these times of emotional re-engagement and reflection, I often consider writing. But most of the time I choose not to. I have written a whole book about my religious past and my testimony of deliverance. It's there for anyone who is interested. I don't want to make it my life's calling to forever address the injustices and offenses of this particular group.

However, I process a lot of "thinking and feeling" here on my blog. Writing is therapeutic for me. Nobody is compelled to read what I write. Yet I know there are many who share similar struggles who read because they relate to me on some level. Whether I am writing about spiritual abuse, CLL, the joys of being a grandma and an aunt, my thankfulness for God's faithfulness and mercy to me, or simply the mundane events of my day to day life, my blog is one of the ways I connect with other people.

We went to the most lovely brunch yesterday celebrating a well-loved couple who will be married in October. The groom is the son of very close friends of ours. So we have been included in several celebrations. Yesterday's brunch was such a warm and intimate gathering of friends (even though there were many people there). And I had the best time. At times like these, I often think about how thankful I am that God provided a way for me to escape the confines of the small box I had lived so much of my life in. I am very thankful for the friendships and bonds I have formed in my new life, which is not so new anymore. There is so much joy and freedom in my life. I am oppressed by no one. I feel so loved and valued by the people in my life today. There is such a dramatic contrast between my past and my present.

We came home after the brunch so John could change from long pants into shorts. I didn't need to change clothes because I was comfortable in what I had worn to the brunch. So while John was changing and checking his email, I logged onto my laptop. I stopped posting on the ex-GAC message board quite a while back, but I still occasionally click on it to see what is being discussed. There have been a few times that I have really wanted to respond to something, but I have said to myself, "Don't do it. You've moved on." (Well, sort of.)

I had already heard about the comments on Dyal's blog regarding mercy vs. tolerance from someone personally. And checking the message board aroused my curiosity enough to go to his blog and read his comments for myself. The excommunication of my former church from the 'body' as a whole has been a hot topic among those connected or formerly connected to this group. Many of us who have left still have family members who are devoted to the "vision" of William Sowders and "the body." I'm sure that is partly why it is so hard for nearly all of us to ever completely disconnect.

I often share my thoughts with John. And I talked to him quite a bit yesterday about this and other issues connected to my former church. He is frequently very candid with me about his own thoughts and perceptions. He likes to tease. And he doesn't shy away from telling me, "All of you who have grown up in that place are messed up." We laugh about it. And I usually say sheepishly, "Even me? You think I'm messed up?" He doesn't mean it as a put down. I think he is just finally realizing that the emotional scars of being raised in deception and bondage have lasting effects on a person, which is something I have tried to explain to him in the past. I have come a long way in my healing process. But I am a work in progress.

Some people don't like it that I continue to write about spiritual abuse and the experiences of my past. Others ask me to please continue confronting these issues. I am often torn because I am not sure what God wants me to do. But one thing I have learned as a result of writing my book and hearing from a lot of readers is that there are many, many people out there who have suffered the wounds of spiritual abuse. It is an ongoing problem in many people's lives. And it isn't limited to the group I came out of.

I have a heart for victims of all kinds of abuse. I have never suffered sexual abuse, but I have suffered every other form of abuse both spiritual and domestic. My heart goes out to those who have suffered to a much greater degree than I ever have. And I hate injustice. I am not preoccupied with injustices done to me. But I cannot be apathetic about the grave injustices done to others. I cannot sit by on the sidelines of people's lives and choose not to care. And I don't understand how anyone can. I cannot stand to see a victim turned into a villain because he or she needs to talk about what has happened to them. I consider it an egregious injustice for someone to rail on and on about how women wearing pants is a rejection of holiness when the same "system" has failed and failed and failed to come to the aid of innocent women and children in need of care and compassion. How can anyone with a sincere heart before God refuse to see why that is SO offensive to all of us with a heart of compassion for hurting people? The lack of action taken to protect the innocent in contrast to the grasping for power over the lives of others (especially women) is glaring. I pray this will change and eyes will be opened. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why anyone would be distressed over a separation from this movement. It looks to me like it would be very desirable.

I will admit that part of me responds to the whole mess this way: "What a joke! What a farce!" But nothing about it is funny. It would be like laughing at a train wreck with mutilated bodies (shattered lives) lying everywhere. That's what this is to me. The only answer is repentance. But certainly not for women wearing pants.


Anonymous said…
Shari: Your ability to write 5 pages on one small topis has always intrigued me. LOL. I could never do that. Ha. But, i know you are serious in your words and they are heartfelt. Two of the most famous words people like to use are: move on, or forget it. Sometimes i think it is so ingrained in us, it will always be in the back of our minds. Just thoughts this Monday. Mega
Lynda said…

I feel the same as you do about the people. There has been a lot to endure in the people. They say that it just a test. It's not a test. Thy were shun. They don't Know what to do. The peoples heart are hurting.
Shari said…
Mega, I just write from my heart. I tend to be a very passionate, expressive person. And I love to write.

Lynda, I'm not sure all the people's hearts are hurting. I think a lot of them don't care about being shunned. I've heard that many of them are so happy about the new freedoms that they are fine with the decision of the "brotherhood."

Personally, I'm glad I saw the Light and got out long before all of these events.

I told someone today that my struggle now is a frustration with myself between why I still care about what is going on there enough to respond to it and yet, on the other hand, wondering if God would be DISpleased if I ever stopped caring enough to respond. It is truly a dilemma for me.

But selfishly, I want to move forward and never think about that group again.
Unknown said…
I understand your thought that you've made your peace and need to move on--not posting on the message board, etc. But honestly, we never totally move past the parts of our lives that have created the whole of who we are. Choosing when to respond is good and healthy. Thinking you can be past it simply because you were able to say so much in a book is not fair to yourself, nor to those who might benefit from your opinion. You are a spectacular person!
Shari said…
Thanks for these words, Susan. They were encouraging to read first thing in the morning! I know you're right. After all, I am 51 years old and spent 43 of those years living in that bubble...