Friday, July 16, 2010

Karen's story - part 2

As I explained in a previous post, my friend Karen, sent me several private messages sharing her story. She had been a victim of spiritual abuse and has learned much as a result of having gone through that experience. I believe her story would be an encouragement to other so I asked her if I could post it here. Because of the length of the messages, I've decided to post them as a series, so here's part 2 of Karen's story.

"That’s the theoretical stuff. Now I want to talk about my own personal reactions and down-to-earth lessons. I am far from “healed,” so if some of these sound jaded or cynical, they probably are….

If you meet someone who hears from God all the time and presents themselves as spiritually sensitive or godly, run like hell. Especially if they want to “mentor you.” They’re either compensating for something and hiding some deep insecurities or they’re on a power trip which can be very subtle. A person can really exalt oneself and feed off the good feelings of “doing ministry” and become bad news without realizing it.

Be alert for addictive behavior like immersion in christian music, always seeking “more” from God, activities and mannerisms that make people appear as other than human or real--unapproachable, distant because they’re so into Jesus that they have no time or space for you. Ya can’t love God and not love those around you.

If you can’t talk about or question the unspoken cultural rules, mannerisms, or mass opinions, get out.

Trust your gut. If you’re feeling something that you can’t verbalize that makes you uncomfortable, listen and don’t dismiss it even if you can’t describe what you are uncomfortable about. Clarity on that will come later. If you’re feeling repressed, you are being repressed.

Don’t be surprised if your best friends suddenly ignore your existence.

If you have to go someplace to find God or God’s anointing, healing, or whatever, chances are it’s just another human activity and full of emotionalism and hype. Do yourself a favor and stay home.

Look out for dishonor and disrespect meted out to people who do not conform. Look for uniformity touted as “unity.”

If someone starts talking about “touch not God’s anointed”, get out.

Often there will be a brief time in a new group where there is more freedom than you’ve ever seen in a congregation. Watch for leadership to start talking about training people to operate in their gifts, or requesting that you go to a select group of people (an inner circle of “elders” or “more experienced people”) before being allowed to speak, or the beginnings of teachings about Jezebel spirits or spiritual authority. All or some of these indicators mean that the fun is over: someone feels threatened and needs to be controlling. When that happens, you may as well leave, because the initial freedom that drew you will never be allowed to return. It is classic bait and switch, and you will be left to jump hoops without ever getting to your destination of freedom of expression within the body. And you will be shut down.

Intellectualism may not foster spirituality, but neither does emotionalism.

Bondage is often disguised as freedom."


Lou said...

Oh, this is so painful to read. Especially the part about your best friend ignoring your existence. When my ex-husband went back into addiction and left me with a baby, alone in the US and considered certifiably insane by my non-Christian family and friends, one person helped me. She's the same person who now focuses only on her 'prophetess' mentor and didn't blink an eye when this same prophetess caused me great distress. (It's too long to go into here, but you can read about it on my blog
I have never felt so alone in all my life.

Aida said...

Lou, I’m hoping Karen will jump in here and respond to your comment but I’ll post my thoughts too.

I read your story and was touched by it. Abusive groups love it when we’re zealous for them to the point of giving up everything for the cause. Even when it becomes obvious that the zeal is obsessive and self-destructing, they’ll continue to encourage it. When we finally grow weary and just want to rest, we’re condemned for being lazy.

I’m sorry that you experienced the hurt that you did. I can relate to your situation with your “friend.” When I was still in the system and struggling, one of the assistant pastors encouraged me and really helped me get through it, however, all of a sudden she dropped me. I don’t know, maybe the pastor told her to drop me. All I know is that we had once been good friends and all of a sudden there was nothing.

The control in those groups is so strong that friendships and family relationships mean nothing. You’re accepted as long as you play the game but once you stop, you’re punished by shunning and it’s very hurtful to all of a sudden be left alone when you thought you were loved.

Lou said...

Yes, Aida, you understand completely. Thank you for reading my story. Sometimes it's just enough to know that you are heard. Otherwise you begin to feel that you're going crazy!!!

Aida said...

Yes, Lou. I do understand and I encourage you to continue speaking out. The “don’t talk” brainwashing we received in the system stays with us for some time after we leave. However, there’s freedom in speaking out what happened to us as we connect with others who understand. Being understood is a major part of our journey to freedom.

I’m so glad you’ve been encouraged by Karen’s story. Thank you for sharing.