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."