Remembering with Compassion and Empathy

Sometimes I worry about the fact that I no longer feel the hurt from our encounter with spiritual abuse, that somehow it is my responsibility to continue to carry the pain.

I wrote the spiritual abuse articles from the midst of my grief. They came from a place that was real and feelings that were raw. I hope that the words from that time have the ability to connect with others who are now in the midst of their own raw and vulnerable situation.

I want those words to still connect because I no longer feel the same pain that I felt then. I remember feeling the pain, but it just doesn’t hurt anymore. I suppose this is a good thing, a hopeful thing.

With just a little effort, I can remember the confusion of betrayal and of trust being broken. I can remember the rejection of friends no longer calling and acquaintances glancing away way when they saw me.

Now I watch with dispassionate regret as things continue to unravel at our CLB. As we encounter the latest refugees, I see the grief and loss that they are feeling, and I try to remember the degree of devastation we felt.

At the time I was crippled by the pain and overwhelmed with the loneliness. The anger and bitterness tormented me day and night as I tried to escape their dark reality. Sadness threatened to suck me into a never-ending darkness. I was afraid that there was no way out.

Maybe it is a good thing that as others go through this, I am not down in the pit with them. I know their pain, but now I stand as one removed from it, hopefully as proof that there is hope beyond where they are at this time.

What I have noticed of the refugees and exiles is that everyone’s response is unique. Whether they struggle with the pain or whether they seem to breeze through it, one thing is true – the escape from control, as painful as it might be, is the first step toward a journey of freedom.

I believe that I will always have compassion for those who find themselves in this situation and a special understanding of what it is like. I also will always have an intolerance for the systems in churches that perpetuate this kind of injustice.

I want to share with you this prayer request from the comments of my previous post. Some of you have been in this person’s shoes, and you also remember what it felt like. Please take a moment to pray for this person and their family. God knows who they are, and I know from experience that He cares deeply about their situation.

You and those who hang out here have greatly encouraged my journey. Could I ask you to pray for us here.

Tomorrow we meet with the “Apostle” and “Prophet” to have them ask us why we are leaving, give us the ramifications of our actions and tell us what “judgements and instructions” that will be proclaimed to a later meeting that night of the covenant members.

An email went out already today to all our friends. One of our guys called off work for tomorrow (we own our own business), and more hurt is on its way. Others are being told not to talk to us and so on.

You all have spoken of losing your friends in a day and now I am living it. Please pray grace for us to not retaliate but be kind and gracious.

I appreciate you and The Community.

A Former Leader

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15 thoughts on “Remembering with Compassion and Empathy

  1. thanks (said with tears)

    I love that Father has healed you. It does give me hope. If you were still in the middle of all the hurt and confusion, I probably would not have been able to keep reading. But as I went back to the very beginning blog that you posted and worked my way through your journey (yes, I read each one) I realized that I was in the middle of my story/journey – not at the end of it.

    God is good.

    A Former Leader

  2. Grace, I’m really glad that you don’t feel the pain anymore, but if you think you can remeber it. The fact that you are not in the pit anymore means that you can emphasize with and be an encouragement to those who are in the pit.

    Praying for A Former Leader, you really shouldn’t be treated this way :( you are right, your story hasn’t ended.

  3. Church structures that deeply wound flesh and blood children of God are subject to and agents of “the principalities and powers” Pual warned us about.

    Praying for Former Leader and the others.

  4. grace, i know you have your reasons but sometimes i wish you would just go ahead and out this church.

    i know some guys here in portland who publicly blog about the hypocrisy and major problems they had with a megachurch in our community. some people post on their blog that what they are doing is divisive. but they say what they are doing is proclaiming the emperor has no clothes. and the people who are from their church who have felt the harsh control and manipulation find some comfort in the validation of their blog. though admittedly, sometimes it gets bitter and angry, but that’s because the injustice of spiritual abuse has simply pissed them off.

  5. Former leader,

    You are not alone, which I realize is cold comfort at this point in time. May the Lord give you the strength to hold your tongue, to guard your heart and your thought-life, and may He nurture you by His Spirit into a healthier place.

    “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

    Amen.

  6. Thank you all for your prayers. We went into the meeting at peace and we left with peace. We were able to stand up and say kindly what we did not agree with. They assured us that we were decieved and with great sadness told us that they would make an apostolic judgement about us that night at the meeting. We assured them that we would not live in fear of that.

    You want to know the best part? I AM FREE!!! I looked down the barrel at Religious Fear and refused to be afraid. It holds me no longer.

    I came home, placed my hands on each of my kids head and joyfully announced over them that they are free.

    I am not fooling my self that this feeling of joy will last through the relationships breaking but for now it feels good.

    Thank you for praying.

    A Former Leader

  7. Pam,
    I’m not sure that exposure would be beneficial to anyone at this point. The falseness is revealing itself, and its power is being dismantled. My reasons for not exposing them have not been about protecting them, but instead about staying out of the way and letting God deal with it.

    Everyone,
    Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement.

    Former Leader,
    It sounds like you handled this with grace and wisdom. I am so glad that you experienced the sense of freedom. That is something that you can hang on to as you deal with the inevitable relationship fallout.

    God is always about delivering His people from bondage and into freedom. Whatever plans that men may have to harm you, He will turn for your good.

    The church was such a huge part of my life that it felt like my whole world had shattered. It took a while for me to get a perspective beyond the relationships and perceptions of the people at that church.

    The articles at Lifestream were especially helpful to me. Also some of Chip Brogden and Frank Viola’s teaching was helpful in sorting through the authoritarian control I had been taught.

    I will continue to pray for you. Feel free to email me at katiejen2@yahoo.com.

  8. Grace,

    There is only One to whom you are ultimately accountable.

    Your articles were necessary for you and the very many who are in a similar situation. Many times our wounds bring us to the place where we can intelligently empathise with others who are bearing wounds and minister to them in their healing.

    I thank God for your courage and forthrightness in speaking out.

    Aussie John

  9. I am glad that you are not feeling the pain, and I hope can keep moving on with God. Just remember that as we go through different hardship in our lifes, that we need to be there for others as they seek for answers.

  10. I finished reading your spiritual abuse posts early this morning (all 8 of them)
    as I was reading it was thinking I could have wrote them myself.
    Excellent insight.
    Except instead of Fred and Barney we had Mo, Larry and Curly.
    Thanks for your honesty Grace.
    Also for dedicating this post to someone who’s coming out of the same thing.
    I’ll keep praying for, A Former Leader.
    for all of us….

  11. Grace,
    The fact that you said you are becoming removed from the pain is so encouraging to me. I’ve been 10 months free and somedays still feel that pain quite real. But as my new pastor told me the other day, it doesn’t immobilize me anymore and that’s a good sign. I appreciate your candor more than I can say.

    “A Former Leader” – my heart goes out to you as well, having had my own meetings with the “Apostle” and having judgments made and pronounced over us. Continue to declare your freedom, their words hold no power over your life now. I am a former leader/pastor as well. I too am available as a friend should you need to talk. My email address is pjcarnes@gmail.com. Our hearts and prayers are with you.

  12. aussie john,
    Thank you. I hope that the articles do continue to help others who are experiencing the pain of spiritual abuse.

    popastephen,
    It really is about moving on with God. Hopefully we can all help one another get out of the pits and traps we encounter along the way.

    rhonda,
    Mo, Larry, and Curly? LOL!
    I’ll let you know when we get the been there/done that t-shirts printed. Thanks for adding your prayers.

    pj,
    I am glad that you see signs of recovery. It seems there is no way to rush the process.

    I really appreciated your thoughts to Former Leader about denying the power of their judgments and words. Disempowering the judgments and the resulting shame was a difficult but important part of the battle for me. In fact, it was often the most intense part of the spiritual battle, not succumbing to the power that their judgments held over me.

    Thank you for sharing your comments.

  13. Grace, Robby Mac, others, I would love to learn more about what you see as healthy charismatic beliefs versus the abuse, flesh, and shenanigans you experienced. I grew up in a fairly staid, almost cessationist background, but never agreed with those beliefs biblically. I wholeheartedly believe and have believed for years that much of what non-charismatics see as emotionalism and fakery is genuine acts of the Holy Spirit in Christian’s lives, but I haven’t been around charismatic believers much prior to this past year.

  14. bryan,
    I hope to write more about that soon. The abuse that I experienced had little to do with charismatic beliefs. Our situation was the result of manipulation by the senior leader with the cooperation of the visiting apostle. The abuses that continue to happen at that church are the result of control and hierarchy. The post that I’ve written today might give you a clearer picture of that.

    However, the topic of healthy charismatic beliefs versus charismatic hype is something that I want to delve into soon.

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