Have you been hurt or rejected in a church or christian group?
Have you been walked over, ignored, shunned?
Have you felt manipulated or used?
Have you felt like you could never be good enough, could never do the right thing, were a hopeless failure, etc?
Have you been led to question your ministry or your giftings.
Have you been deeply confused, to the point of questioning your own perception or beliefs?
Have you left a church because of false teachings, or for other reasons?
If so, God says to you,
I see your confusion, and I know the hurt is deep. I know what you are feeling. Trust me, and forgive those who have hurt you. Keep living in forgiveness, my child.
Justice will be done, and vengeance is mine.
Many hurtful things that happen in churches can be classified as spiritual abuse.
This form of abuse attacks your spirit, and causes you to question everything you believe.
It can, sadly, even drive a person away from God.
It may involve blackmail and manipulation, perhaps in the form of false teachings, saying things to the effect that, “If you do this, then……”; or manipulative behaviours designed to make a person behave in a certain way.
It often involves humiliating treatment, shunning by groups or elders, bullying, indoctrination, being squeezed out of ministry, or being forbidden to minister.
Whatever the form it takes, and there are many forms of spiritual abuse, the results are devastating.
How does a person recover from this?
I found a few things helpful to me.
• Pray, a lot!
• Leave, and don’t go back
• Ask God to show you anything you need to repent of, including repentance of your involvement with these people, with the church or group. Repent of your agreement with their teachings and activities. Let the Holy Spirit lead you in this.
• Forgive everyone involved. Do this in prayer, naming each person, and stating what you’re forgiving them for. eg. “Father, in Jesus’ name I forgive……for……..and I bless them.” (I know, it’s hard to bless someone who has hurt you, but it’s what Jesus commands us to do, and in doing so, it opens the way for God to give them what they truly need, which will, hopefully bring them to repentance).
• Forgive yourself. eg. for your involvement, for being open to the teachings, or for whatever you feel the need to forgive yourself for. Often, it can be harder to forgive ourselves than others.
• In the name of Jesus Christ, cut off all spiritual, emotional, and soul ties formed with the person/people involved, and ask for protection from their prayers and thoughts towards you, as these prayers and thoughts will probably not be according to the will of God, but will be manipulative (i.e. witchcraft).
• Get rid of all books, CD’s, and other possessions that came from these people. This may seem extreme, but it definitely helps.
• Cut off all contact with them, especially through social media, newsletters, etc. Again, it seems extreme, and is often heartbreaking, but it is necessary to be free from their hold over you.
• Ask God to heal you of all your wounds.
• Worship the Lord, read His word, and thank him often for setting you free and getting you out of this group.
• Spend time with supportive friends and/or family
Once I would have suggested finding a good church, but so many churches are, sadly, in serious error, and it’s probably safer to stay away. Let the Lord be your guide.
Meet with good Christian friends if possible, and if you don’t have any, ask God to provide you with the friendship and fellowship you need. He knows you need it, and he always provides for us.