This kitty found us not too long ago. She was an abandoned kitten and her life existed in in the cold and bitter winter, constantly searching for food and shelter. The kids placed some food and milk outside and she hung around a bit, coming and going. Gradually, she let them pet her. To the children’s excitement, one day I let her venture inside the house. She looked around, but quickly went back outside. Our home was too foreign for her. The next day we let her in again and she found a dark, quiet place beneath our couch and slept for a few hours hours. We could hear purring. She was at peace. When we opened the door to let her outside, he put her front two paws outside the door, sniffed the air, but didn’t go out all the way. Stray cat no more, she was home!
Now she is an indoor cat and has no desire to go out in the cold air. She’s full of energy and playful. However, there is still something not quite right. If we put our hand down to touch her, she is very cautious and runs away most of the time. Occasionally, she’ll let us rub beneath her neck and she relaxes a bit. We’ve had her for a few weeks now and she still is not completely comfortable with us. It has to be on her terms. She cannot simply relax and settle into our lap. She seems to always have a nervous energy.
This made me think of abuse. Whenever there is abuse, there are trust issues. It’s difficult to relax, difficult to know how you will be treated. You always have to be on guard and prepared for the next abuse. It is a natural protective response, but it takes a lot of energy to live like this. It takes its toll on a human’s body physically, mentally, and emotionally. If the abuse was spiritual, there can be lasting effects. Some spiritual abuse victims will leave a church, never to return.
The pastor represents our shepherd and we, the congregants, are the sheep. In the Bible, our true Shepherd is God. Very often in our minds, The Shepherd (God) and the shepherd of a church (pastor) get confused. If we believe that God placed the shepherd (pastor) in the church for us and this shepherd abused us, sometimes that gets equated with God doing the abusing – even though we know that cognitively to be false. That is why it must be stopped. Spiritual lives are at stake. Who wants to risk going back to a church where someone is in authority? How can I worship God when he placed these pastors in my path? Oh, it gets very confusing. Sometimes it’s just easier to leave church altogether.
I think over time as kitty sees that we love her and she sees that we will never hurt her, she will begin to trust. I hope one day she will get to experience the sweet peaceful feeling of resting in a warm lap and falling asleep. She’s missing out. Shame on those who use their position as pastor in to lord over people in a way that makes it difficult to trust. Take a look at our kitty’s eyes in that picture. This was taken on the first day she found us. She shows fear. Those eyes remind me of so many people who have suffered at the hands of a pastor who used his authority to control them.
I want to be able to rest in my Heavenly Father’s lap, unhindered by the pain of the past. When those shepherds crossed my path, abused their authority to their own gain, it made it hard to trust Him. Every day my spiritual walk is a struggle. Will God abandon me? Will He reject me? Will He be there to pick me up? Will He accept me if I fail? I have to remind myself that God was not the abuser, but man. One day I hope to rest comfortably in His lap without having those fears and confusing thoughts. What a joyous day that will be.