Calvinism, Doctrine as Idol, Julie Anne's Personal Stories, No-Talk Rule, Personal Stories, Shunning, Spiritual Bullies

Why Does Calvin’s God Feel Abusive to Me? I Didn’t Choose This!

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The Lord works righteousness and

justice for all who are oppressed.  

Psalm 103:6

I have never, ever connected so deeply with someone else’s spiritual experience as I have recently with reader, Oasis.  The tears . . . . oh, the tears.  This deep, gut-wrenching, sobbing pain is so real for some of us.  I cannot believe I am doing this, but I’m feeling that right now I need to try to clearly articulate my feelings about Father God and how He relates with the abuse some of us have incurred.

I want to discuss my abusive background and tie in with it how some thoughts and words I have heard from Calvinists – people close to me – have affected me spiritually.   If you would like to challenge or debate any of this (and I am absolutely fine if you do), please take it to the Calvinism thread (feel free to post a comment in this thread letting us know so we can join you).   Thanks for your understanding so we can keep the space on this article safe.

Some of us have been abused as children and the underlying message of abuse is always about control.  Someone used their power in a controlling way over us.  We were not allowed a choice.  We were not allowed to say “no.”  We were told to be quiet.  We were told to get over it.  We were told to stop feeling.  We were told to stop crying.

I think these powerful messages are more compounded when it is sent to a child from a very early age.  The child has no way of refuting the message and so the painful messages have been  repeated in their mind over and over again.  The messages become the truth for the child and they believe the lies that their abuser told them.

Oasis shared how she was part of a pedophile ring as a child and has struggled for years with the notion that God saw the abuse and stood behind a curtain and allowed it to continue.   That tore me up because it is a similar feeling I have had.

Here were Oasis’ powerful words that really hit home for me:

I remember being in church at five-years-old and staring at a drawing on the wall of Jesus surrounded by children. I was so jealous of the child whose face Jesus held in his hands! He was smiling and there was so much love in his eyes. I asked my teacher more than once if someday Jesus would hold my face in his hands like that, too. She said he would, and I believed her.

Instead of responding to Oasis’ original comment, I will do it here:

Hi Oasis:   I think I need a warnindisclaimer on each of your comments. I don’t think I have ever gone into full-blown weeping by anyone’s words the way I have with yours – and I mean the ugly crying, not just the shedding of a few tears.   The Kleenex on my bed is in shreds – I’m talking pain from the very depths of my being  – the pain that rarely comes to surface.

I firmly believe that God has shown His love to me through you and your words, Oasis.    As you shared, I felt your compassion and understanding, not this “God-is-sovereign-He-ordained-it”  justification stuff that we so often hear when talking about abuse.

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Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.  Isaiah 30:18

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Right now, I am at a place where I choose to acknowledge God is real to me and that He ordained YOU, Oasis, to read my blog at such a time as this to be able to say the words that would validate what I have gone through and bring me hope.  God, the masterful Conductor, orchestrated this marvelous symphony for me, right here, right now.  The timing, the tempo, the phrasing is the gift He has given me through you to touch my soul.    Thank you, Oasis.

I am a musician and time and again, I am reminded by examples like this, that God meets me in ways that are intimately personal to me:  timing.    Any musician will tell you how important timing is.  If you are participating with a group of musicians, missing just one beat will yield a musical disaster.  God’s timing is perfect.  God knew I needed to hear from you this week.  He didn’t miss a beat.  I can worship this God who loves me deeply and wants  to connect with me in the most meaningful ways.  I  am thankful to God that He has given me this opportunity as a result of you to sort through this rubble of confusion and deep spiritual turmoil.

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And now I will share more of my story knowing the possibility that others who have gone through abuse can find similar hope instead of relying on faulty lies and messages that others or they themselves might have been replaying in their minds.

These words from Oasis melted me inside:  I remember being in church at five-years-old and staring at a drawing on the wall of Jesus surrounded by children. I was so jealous of the child whose face Jesus held in his hands! He was smiling and there was so much love in his eyes. I asked my teacher more than once if someday Jesus would hold my face in his hands like that, too. She said he would, and I believed her.

I, too, have always tried to imagine what it might be like to have Jesus hold my face.  The thought of Jesus’ hands touching my face is unfathomable to me, I cannot even picture it happening in my mind.  It is too good for me, but I can visualize it happening to someone else.  I also cannot imagine myself as a child sitting in the lap of Jesus. In my mind, I was always off to the side longing for that opportunity. I was not chosen for that. Just like the last kid left standing when being picked for school teams in PE, that was me and my relationship with God. I was damaged goods, never worthy enough to be picked.  I wasn’t chosen to have that kind off relationship where I could sit in His lap.  I didn’t have a teacher to tell me that one day Jesus would hold my face in His hands or allow me to snuggle in His lap.  That really wasn’t a possibility for me.  That is what the messages in my mind told me.  I’ve heard those messages for decades.

Most people come into the world because their moms go into labor at the appointed time. The baby’s fully developed body triggers a response in the mom’s body signaling her body to prepare for birth.  My entrance to the world was quite different.  I was not “welcomed” to the world.  I was beaten before I was born and I fought to remain alive.  My mom hid my dad’s drugs and he beat her, putting her into premature labor.  The labor did not stop and I was born 10 weeks early.  There was concern about my lungs and I was not supposed to survive that ordeal, yet here I am.  I was born to abuse and came home to chaos.  My mom divorced my dad when I was 1.  I never saw him again.  Ever.

I can’t remember how old I was when Mom told me the story of why I was born premature, but that surely sent me a message:  “my father didn’t care if I lived or died, so I must not have mattered to him.”    The lining of the lungs is one of the last finishing touches in baby’s development in the womb.  As no one else in the family has asthma, it is very likely the asthma I have had my whole life is due to my premature birth.  I didn’t have a choice to be born early or to have asthma.  As I went through life, some of the burning questions in my mind have been:  did my dad care about me? Did he ever think of me?  Such simple questions, such powerful questions for a child.  And you know what?  Those same questions remained powerful even into my forties – you don’t just get over it so easily.

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He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,

according to the purpose of his will . . . Ephesians 1:5

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My Dad had a college ring.  He was proud of that ring.  Seeing a big clunky college ring on a man’s hand brings back painful memories for me.   He chose to wear it.  I didn’t.

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My mom remarried when I was 3 years old and my new Dad legally adopted me when I was 5. We were now a legal family.  He is the only Dad I’ve known.  I liked him initially. But he had a rage. I will never have the answer to why, but he took his rage out on me, a 3-yr old skinny redhead, by beating me, leaving me bruised, with welts, sometimes a bloody nose, knots on my head, belt buckle imprints.  I’m a mom with 7 kids and as I sit here typing this I’m struck at the idea of a full-grown 6 ft 2 in.-tall man who could get in such a rage and take it out on a 3-yr old child.  This is some crazy stuff, isn’t it?

As I got older, he added kicking to the routine.  He would tell me to go to my room, kicking me and shoving me against the wall of the staircase as I attempted to make my way to the bedroom to get “spanked.”  Usually his kicking made me fall down which meant more kicks.  I finally got to the bedroom where I was beaten more, eventually ending up in the corner of the room, curled up into a ball to protect my head.  He’d then go back down stairs where life was going on as normal.  The television was on.  There was laughter.  It never happened.  It was never mentioned. It just was.

I’m an emotional person now, but as a child, I refused to let my dad see me cry during or after.  I would not give him that satisfaction.  There was no way in hell I was going to let him know how he was affecting me.  I had control over that choice.

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But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.  2 Thessalonians 2:13

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Years ago I went to counseling dealing with this abuse and one of the questions that I heard time and again:  “surely your dad was an alcoholic, right?”  Wrong.  He did have a few beers while watching football, etc, but that is not when he had his fits of rage.  The fits came out of no where with no rhyme or reason.  My dad worked strange hours and so I never knew when he would be at home.  My first fear coming home from school was, “is Dad home?”  I haven’t thought about this for a long while, and once again, it’s hitting me:  in my childhood home, my home was not a place of refuge.  I never knew when a battle would ensue, so I walked on eggshells.

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According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 1 Peter 1:2

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My Mom and Dad had their own biological children.  For some unknown reason, he did not treat them the same as me.  I was chosen to be the victim of his violence.  They were not. Why?  I told many, many people about the abuse, even the police, trusted family and friends, and people dismissed it, didn’t want to get involved, or didn’t believe me.  The abuse continued until I was 19 years old and moved out.

So you can imagine that my image of “father” is quite skewed. I didn’t know unconditional love from either of my fathers. I did not hear messages from my fathers that said:  I love you for who you are, I’m so glad you are in this world, you are precious to me.

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My Dad who raised me, praised me for outward performance. I made him look good.  My grades were good and thankfully, for my emotional health, I had piano and excelled in it.

My heart and soul poured out through my fingers as they expressed the emotion that was penned up inside. To this day, people  say they feel an emotional connection when they hear me play – – – I’m not surprised, I spent many years practicing that – – – music was my language when I had no words as a child and no adult wanted to hear about the abuse. My piano was the safe-keeper of all unspoken thoughts and feelings and that is where I spent many hours wrestling with God asking Him, “why was I chosen for this?”

As I became an adult, I learned how powerful a father’s role and relationship is in the development of a child.  But I also learned that the relationship with our father has a direct impact on one’s relationship with God.  Our earthly fathers can somehow in our minds get confused with God the Father.  If I had difficulty trusting my earthly father, I’d probably have difficulty trusting my heavenly Father.

I’m kind of a stubborn person and I simply decided that was not going to happen to me.  I wasn’t going to let it happen.  Just by having that knowledge, I convinced myself that I could combat that common issue of earthly and heavenly father confusion that so many survivors face.

Well, the reality is that the lies that permeated my mind as a child resurface when I least expect it.  Those old messages from the deep recesses of my mind sometimes override what fact I know or what common sense I have.  It is a very difficult mountain to climb to fully trust, to truly believe that God loves me unconditionally, to understand that God forgives me as far as the east is from the west, that God loves me with an everlasting love.   These are the truths that I must repeat in my mind frequently . . . . . to this day.

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The Lord has made everything for its purpose,

even the wicked for the day of trouble. 

Proverbs 16:4

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For those who felt the love of their earthly fathers, their faith may come easy.   They probably don’t have these issues.  They are more likely to have a sure foundation.  This creates a spiritual conflict for those of us with father issues.  We can doubt our faith, question whether our salvation is real, wonder if it’s all in our head.  We are easily confused.

For me, sometimes it is a daily battle, not only with my mind, but with people around me.  I have been battered spiritually by those who should be loving and supporting me.  I have been told that I am an unbeliever because I don’t match the way they think Christianity looks like – whatever that means.  When I have been unable to read my Bible or pray for a season, that gets labeled as “rotten fruit” and proof that I’m an unbeliever.    Those same people who claim to know Christ and judge me are not willing to come along side and have compassion or understanding considering where I have come from or willing to simply say, “when you can’t pray, I will pray for you.”  I think they believe I have not accepted my lot in life, the lot that God chose for me.

Please imagine being in the shoes of someone abused.  Imagine the picture of a God who chooses whom He elects – there is no rhyme or reason. The dad who raised me chose which children he liked.  He didn’t choose me.  He said in words that he loved me.  He showed me off as his trophy prize when I played the piano well for company.  But when the company left, I could have been beaten for a “wrong look.”  It sure sounds like my father was playing favorites to me.   Did God also choose to let me get abused and not my siblings?

I’m sorry, I cannot allow my brain to go back to that. That is hell – – – every day coming home from school wondering if this would be the day that he’d explode.  What is it like every day wondering if I measure up to God, if I got the doctrine right if He’s going to elect me – even if I have already believed in my heart He has saved me?    Sometimes my feelings waver.  It’s déja vu, but now with a spiritual Father.

Do you sense both the physical and heavenly father chaos I have experienced?  It’s hell.  Do you see why hell might seem preferable than heaven – – if I have to acknowledge that this God, the One who sent Jesus to die for me, actually chose for me to be abandoned, rejected, and beaten by both of my earthly fathers?   I’m now supposed to be okay with the fact that God foresaw the abuse I would endure and it was in His glorious plan?

Finally, Oasis’ words articulated so powerfully what I have felt.  She speaks so well for me here:

It is IMPOSSIBLE for me believe that God loves me, if he was the man behind the curtain the entire time. I have cried so many tears over the concept. If any part of him, on any level, wanted those abusers to destroy me in the way they did, then I conclude that GOD DOES NOT LOVE ME. And if this is true, then my sorrow will never end, because my God is no more.

photo credit: m.toyama via photopin cc

170 thoughts on “Why Does Calvin’s God Feel Abusive to Me? I Didn’t Choose This!”

  1. Oasis, You have ministered more than some paid ministers or nouthetic counselors do in years. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. And so is each one who shares their experience while at the same time proclaiming the hope & love of Jesus Christ. God does not glory in suffering. But instead, God is glorified when our light shines for all to see. That’s what verse 16 says. Your light brightly shines the way! Hallelujah! 🙂

    Matthew 5: 1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
    3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
    5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
    6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
    7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
    8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
    9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
    10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
    13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
    14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
    17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

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  2. Also, Julie Anne… Kinda mad at myself for not knowing how to say what I want to say to you. So happy you feel validated and hopeful! 😀

    You said, “Right now, I am at a place where I choose to acknowledge God is real to me…”

    Yes, a choice has to be made. A choice to believe, to hope, to fight. You have to choose life…

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  3. A Mom, WOW. Speechless again, haha… That is what gives God glory, alright. Thank you so much for that. 😀 How incredible, the things he does for and through us!

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  4. Barb O said, “Yes, so many counselors do not understand what spiritual abuse is. For many, going to a secular counselor is a much better option. People have put their trust in Christian leaders and were devastated… Further, these counselors may not have the understanding in this/these areas that they need in order to help them. Often religious abuse can be understood and exposed from a safe secular setting.”

    I could not emphatically agree more! I would NEVER EVER recommend a counselor within a church to a friend. Especially if you are a woman. Most times you are the problem, by default, because you are a woman. I’ve heard too many horror stories.
    Some don’t have proper training. And you won’t normally find practical help. Actions to do or try that might help, say with depression for example.

    There are degreed professional Christian counselors who who have their own practice and/or practice outside the bounds of a church. But non-Christian professional counselors can be helpful as well.

    If the matter relates to abuse, one qualification you may want to have is that the professional counselor does court-ordered counseling for abusers. They may have a better understanding of abuse. Chances are they won’t be naive, but there’s no guarantee.

    These are just general recommendations to take or leave at your own discretion.

    We’re seeing miraculous hope & healing here at this blog! It’s beautiful.

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  5. A Mom,I have been recalling the Beatitudes in my mind the entire time I have been reading this thread. Gave me shivers when you posted them. That is what I call unity in spirit. Blessings in the Lamb of God.

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  6. I’ve got a round of thanks: Thanks JA for this latest article. Thanks HUG for your awesome sense of humour. Thanks Argo for your contributions and thanks JA and Fiat for letting Argo speak freely.

    There is alot of stories of abuse – I’m not the best at replying to past trauma, having a very logical mathematical mind, but I do get angry at all the abuse. I wish all abuse survivors the best and hope all your healing and growing goes well.

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  7. Brian said~

    “So much for the expression of various ideas on here. Sad to see you are doing this.”

    Right back atchya for your own blog, Brian. Sad to see you are doing this.

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  8. Julie Anne – I apologize for my remark about God’s Attributes on this thread, and I thank you for your gracious way of handling it. It doesn’t excuse it, but I mentioned the subject because I was anticipating responses to my comment and responded to them pre-emptively – rarely a good thing to do.

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  9. Thanks, Jeff, for your apology. I accept it. 🙂

    I’m happy to continue the discussion on the Calvin-debate approved thread. I think it’s good to wrestle these things. Many of us were never allowed to wrestle at our churches, you had to believe their way.

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  10. “Thanks Argo for your contributions and thanks JA and Fiat for letting Argo speak freely.”

    Ryan, I echo you. Argo has articulated so beautifully his compassion & support for the abused. I know several have been validated & helped by his unwavering stance on what he sees as an abusive breeding ground. Argo cares deeply. He consistently defends individual value.

    We can not ignore abuse that has occurred in certain areas. No denomination should be off limits. We need to be willing to talk about it WHEREVER it occurs. And to connect dots if there are patterns. It’s right to seek answers & solutions & to openly discuss them. To be able to agree or disagree. That is the only kind of environment where individuals will feel safe, validated, loved. They will experience what should have happened & didn’t, loving people who will stand up, defend, protect, & speak truth. The healing will begin.

    JA, It is no accident that many are coming forward on your blog. There’s a definite connection.

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  11. “So much for the expression of various ideas on here. Sad to see you are doing this.”

    Right back atchya for your own blog, Brian. Sad to see you are doing this.”

    It is about control. It is ok for Brian to moderate because he has the true Gospel. But since we don’t and we won’t believe his interpretation then the accusations of not being able to express ideas comes out. Although he does not allow it on his blog. (False teaching, you know)

    I must tell you this is a tenant of that movement. If you read the book I linked to “Right to Heresy” this is exactly how Calvin behaved. There is no concept of fairness or justice or even love. It all goes back to control, power, censoring and micromanaging. It is ok for them to do but not for others.

    They are the first to point out what they think is unfairness to themselves by others but cannot see the same consistent behavior in themselves.

    What is important to remember about this movement is if you can replace the common enemy of free will thinking, they would simply fight each other over even finer points of doctrine. And that is ONLY because it is legal to have differing opinions and interpretations in this era.

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  12. Argo is not easy to understand because he is taking you through his thinking processes but once you follow the pattern he is always fighting for the TRUTH of the VALUE of each individual.

    And calling EVIL what it is.

    If there is one thing that Christianity needs right now is the patience to think things through and stop depending on mystery.

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  13. Lydia – As evidenced yesterday, I’m unable to move comments from thread to thread. Feel free to copy your comment to the Calvin thread and then I’ll delete this one. Thanks 🙂

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  14. Regarding churches and child sexual abuse, I wanted to put a plug in for the Open Your Eyes Conference in Taylors, SC — Sept. 20 – 21, 2013.

    Anyone in the SSB Family able to attend this??

    https://openyoureyes2013.eventbrite.com

    Speakers and Topics:
    Dr. Diane Langberg, psychologist and speaker specializing in dealing with trauma survivors and clergy will be presenting on Sexual Abuse in Christian Organizations. “It is heartbreaking that sexual abuse occurs in Christian organizations. The ensuing damage of that abuse is compounded when institutions deny or hide that abuse. This presentation will consider how our systems often protect themselves rather than vulnerable sheep through deception and an abuse of power. We will also reflect on what true repentance looks like and some principles that should govern our responses to abuse.”

    Victor Vieth, Executive Director of the National Child Protection Training Center will be presenting A Call for Collaboration Between the Faith and Child Protective Communities.

    Boz Tchividjian, Founder and Executive Director of G.R.A.C.E. A Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment.

    Justin Holcomb, Pastor and Author of Rid of My Disgrace will be presenting A Pastoral Perspective on Addressing Sexual Abuse. This session will explore 3 things: 1. what the Bible says about the darkness and grief experienced by victims, 2. how the gospel applies to the experience of sexual assault and the effects in victims’ lives, and 3. the importance for pastors to respond in ways that are compassionate, practical, and informed while also avoiding platitudes and shallow theology.

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  15. You guys, if Im slow, my iMac died. My MacBook Pro has the home row keys sticking and so I’m stuck on iPad and not used to it. They are both under warranty, but it will mean an overnight trip in Portland 4 hrs away. Ok enough whining.

    One thing is very important to note and my dear reformed friend and pastor caught it. My respect for Craig keeps climbing. Look what he said:

    “For what it’s worth, from now on I’ll make sure I think of your story and the stories of others before I express my theology. I’m very glad that I can call you a sister in our Lord and a friend.”

    The point of my post was to show how the messages I got from Calvinism (whether the messages i got were accurate or not is beside the point) made the abuse crazy cycle in my head go more crazy. God became the abuser. B4b attempted to share his brand of love here which was promptly trashed. He said that my view of God was distorted.

    To that I say: who freakin’ cares? Now hang with me for a sec. How in the hell is talking to someone about their distorted view of God going to do a bit of good when they are trying to survive the head trips of the abuse they have incurred? Abuse alone can lead to suicide and now b4b and those like him want to shove their perception of a loving God down our throats when all we can see is the same triggering responses of people we trusted.

    I went to trusted authority and they did nothing. I poured out my heart to God and He gave me the same response. The fear of rejection, the feeling of being alone, not heard, not validated is probably the single most silent killer of people. By silent killer I mean: emotional death, spiritual death (crisis or abandonment of faith), or of physical death by either suicide or illness grout on by so much emotional stress.

    I believe it is absolutely futile to discuss theology to someone who is in such a deep emotional state. In fact, I would say that it borders as abuse. What they need is love and compassion. They need to be able to stand on their 2 feet. To all those who say that theology is the answer, I say bologna to that. Jesus met people at their point of need and addressed that need specifically. I don’t see him shoving theology. For the life of me I don’t understand what is so difficult about paying attention to what Jesus said and did.

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  16. Thank you so much Julie Anne for sharing your experience here. It is so exhausting to to do that. I shared a lot at sgmsurviors a few years ago about my religious upbringing and the spiritual and indirect sexual abuse involved with it. It’s an exercise that is just too exhausting to write out again and again. So I so appreciate everyone that keeps these blogs going by giving up their personal stories, it is OK that we keep going over the same subjects because new people are reading all the time, even though I am anti Calvinist and will argue with them, even the Calvinist commenters at survivors helped me tremendously and I know they do help others sort through their past as you and commenters here do. So, to others who have kept their stories to themselves, when the time feels right, we are listening and caring and identifying.

    *Mod note: Made the change for you, Patti. You’ll have to change it in the comment submission form next time you comment. – Fiat Pax*

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  17. Julie Ann,
    I am so sorry for the abuse you suffered. It hurts my heart to think of a child being treated that way.

    Over the years, when a situation has come up in which someone seemed unappreciated or mistreated, usually in what ultimately amount to insignificant matters, I’ve heard (or used) the phrase, “They were treated like a red-headed step-child.” I suspect I will be less likely to use the phrase over such trivial concerns in the future.

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  18. Thanks, Tom

    I’ve never heard that expression before. Although all my regulars know I milk the raging redhead one. I think I’m justified in being angry about abuse.

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  19. B4b attempted to share his brand of love here which was promptly trashed. He said that my view of God was distorted.

    Anyone that claims with certainty that anyone else’s view of God is “distorted” is doing nothing more than claiming his own divinity.

    ” 14‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.’

    15“Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol,
    To the recesses of the pit.”

    Is. 14:14-15

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  20. I think having an understanding of the theology that a counselor believes and practices can be very important. As an attorney, I have worked with a variety of churches in matters of abuse, mis- or mal-feasance (missing money or unapproved expenditures benefitting leadership), and organizational documents, including constitutions and bylaws, including subsidiary organizations. In each case, I read up on the denomination in our extensive theological library, talk with older, long-time members about the beliefs of the church, both past and present, and write out my understanding of their actual, practicing theology, particularly as it relates to the issue on which I am providing advice and/or representation.

    Abuse is endemic in two types of congregations. One is the pastor-controlled church, typically patriarchal and authoritarian. Most often the abuse is an abuse of authority. This is the kind of abuse JA suffered in exactly this kind of church. In some instances, the abuse includes sexual abuse of a staff member, congregant or child, through the controlling power of the pastor or other person with authority. (Sex with someone under a person’s authority is abusive because the victim does not have independence to freely say no.

    The second type of congregation is one where the theology allows leaders or counselors to downplay the significance to the victim of the abuse they have suffered, suggests that the victim is partially at fault for the abuse (due to sin nature, e.g.,), makes the abuse the result of God’s will or plan, and/or allows for easy repentance, forgiveness and restoration.

    This is not to say that abuse does not occur in other church contexts, but in the above, the statements and actions of the church through its leaders and/or members more frequently results in compounding the physical, sexual or psychological abuse with spiritual abuse of the victim.

    An abuse victim should not be required to forgive the abuser and the abuser should not be restored within the congregation without significant counseling. There needs to be more steps in the process: full and complete confession; application of appropriate correction (e.g., reporting to civil authority, penance, loss of position, submission to counseling for an extended period (two years, weekly is appropriate); compensation to the victim for independent psychological or psychiatric treatment for as long as the victim chooses and compensation for other harm done e.g., replacement of income if appropriate); repentance; applying for forgiveness; allowing the victim, in their own time, to forgive if they choose; supervision of the abuser for an extended period with an accountability group of at least three persons. Restoration then may be possible with a unanimous recommendation of the abuser’s counselor and the accountability group, as well as the leadership (lay if a staff member is the abuser; staff is OK to be involved if the abuser is a lay member).

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  21. On the “red-headed step-child” thing. I have heard that before. It was explained to me that it is very rare for a red-head child to be born to a couple where neither one of the couple, or a close relative to them, has red hair. Thus the assumption that a red-head child where both parents do not have red hair must have been conceived outside of the marriage, and calling the child a step-child was a mild form of what could, but shouldn’t, be said. Thus the “red-headed step-child” was thought to be an unwelcome child in a home and likely would have a bit of a temper due to rejection. Perhaps that child would have been treated as JA was treated!!!

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  22. B4b attempted to share his brand of love here which was promptly trashed. He said that my view of God was distorted.

    More like B4B attempted to pick a fight here (as usual).

    He as much as says so in his choice of handle.

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  23. Arce said: “On the “red-headed step-child” thing. I have heard that before. It was explained to me that it is very rare for a red-head child to be born to a couple where neither one of the couple, or a close relative to them, has red hair. Thus the assumption that a red-head child where both parents do not have red hair must have been conceived outside of the marriage, and calling the child a step-child was a mild form of what could, but shouldn’t, be said. ”

    Ah, that makes sense. Interestingly, the only other redhead in my family was my great-grandmoter (who also was the only other musician). I’m fortunate to have 3 redheads (Hannah is 1).

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  24. Julie Anne said, “God became the abuser.”

    Yep. A partner in crime.

    I always knew other people were suffering because of this teaching, but didn’t realize there were quite so many. I could hardly find anyone anywhere, online or off, who could relate to the pain or understand the seriousness of the problem, the desperate need for hope. I can hardly believe what I’ve been reading. This definitely isn’t talked about enough.

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  25. Over the years, when a situation has come up in which someone seemed unappreciated or mistreated, usually in what ultimately amount to insignificant matters, I’ve heard (or used) the phrase, “They were treated like a red-headed step-child.” I suspect I will be less likely to use the phrase over such trivial concerns in the future.”

    Good point. You know another phrase some of us picked up that is horrible theology, IMO? “There but for the grace of God, go I”

    It hit me years ago that it was cruel and not true.

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  26. “To that I say: who freakin’ cares? Now hang with me for a sec. How in the hell is talking to someone about their distorted view of God going to do a bit of good when they are trying to survive the head trips of the abuse they have incurred? ”

    My dear late mother had a saying that I think fits here.

    “I am not here to see through people. I am here to see people through”

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  27. An Attorney wrote:

    An abuse victim should not be required to forgive the abuser and the abuser should not be restored within the congregation without significant counseling. There needs to be more steps in the process: full and complete confession; application of appropriate correction (e.g., reporting to civil authority, penance, loss of position, submission to counseling for an extended period (two years, weekly is appropriate); compensation to the victim for independent psychological or psychiatric treatment for as long as the victim chooses and compensation for other harm done e.g., replacement of income if appropriate); repentance; applying for forgiveness; allowing the victim, in their own time, to forgive if they choose; supervision of the abuser for an extended period with an accountability group of at least three persons. Restoration then may be possible with a unanimous recommendation of the abuser’s counselor and the accountability group, as well as the leadership (lay if a staff member is the abuser; staff is OK to be involved if the abuser is a lay member).

    I agree with this, Mr. Barrister. The concept of forgiveness as preached in many churches (especially ones that want to hush up abuse and get things “back to normal”) has become a human practice of squelching disruptions and not the truly spiritual practice it really is. One problem occurs when we conflate God’s forgiveness with human forgiveness. They serve two very different purposes. God’s forgiveness to us is solely for the benefit of the other, we sinners here on Earth. But, our human forgiveness to others is not for their benefit, but for our own. We forgive others to be able to set down our own burdens and to continue in the light of “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Our forgiveness is NOT for the primary purpose of the other’s well-being, although that may happen.

    When we try to rush people into forgiveness and reconciliation (two very different and not necessarily related things) we make forgiveness a hollow human construction, and not the healing balm of the Great Physician. We must wrestle with our pain, feel it, embrace it, cry out and question God about it, and own it before we can truly come to the point where we can begin the spiritual practice of forgiveness. When we forgive another who has wronged us, it doesn’t mean that we will ever have to reconcile a relationship with that person. but it will mean that we can have a proper relationship with other people, and when another person reminds us of that pain and wronging, we can have a proper relationship with that person without projecting the old pain and wrongdoing onto that person.

    Our forgiveness allows us to be free from the chains of our past. It doesn’t mean that we have to pretend that things are hunky-dory with the people that harm us or to restore them in any way. That work is between them and God.

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  28. “God’s forgiveness to us is solely for the benefit of the other, we sinners here on Earth. But, our human forgiveness to others is not for their benefit, but for our own. We forgive others to be able to set down our own burdens and to continue in the light of “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Our forgiveness is NOT for the primary purpose of the other’s well-being, although that may happen.”

    Very true. And our forgiveness does not automatically confer a right standing before God for the person we are forgiving. I think too many pastors spin it that way putting the onus for wrong doers salvation on the one who was abused. (We see this all the time in abusive marriages and what they tell women who are abused)

    Our forgiveness does not automatically mean reconciliation either. We can forgive and avoid that person who did not ask for forgiveness and does not care one way or the other. I think that is healthy and common sense. Forgiveness is giving up any right we think we have for revenge. And revenge is NOT calling the authorities when a crime has been committed against you. Too many groups like SGM tended to make it look like revenge to call the authorities. Yes, call the authorities when a crime has been committed. Physical abuse in marriage is a crime against the state, too.

    stop listening to pastors! Too often it is a church image situation for them. They don’t want it getting out because their teaching makes an idol of gender roles and marriage.

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  29. I think a lot of people confuse emotional healing with forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is irrelevant to healing. I know this is an unpopular belief, and every time I say this, someone who’s never been in my shoes comes along and insists that people like me who choose not to forgive are full of deadly poison, basically destroying themselves. That is simply not true. As far as I’m concerned, God does not forgive unrepentant sexual abusers and neither do I.

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  30. @ Eric Fry~

    “We must wrestle with our pain, feel it, embrace it, cry out and question God about it, and own it before we can truly come to the point where we can begin the spiritual practice of forgiveness. When we forgive another who has wronged us, it doesn’t mean that we will ever have to reconcile a relationship with that person. but it will mean that we can have a proper relationship with other people, and when another person reminds us of that pain and wronging, we can have a proper relationship with that person without projecting the old pain and wrongdoing onto that person. ”

    I thought those were some good and healing words you wrote there!

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  31. “I think a lot of people confuse emotional healing with forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is irrelevant to healing.”

    Very true. Healing can and does come without and apart from forgiveness, but forgiveness can’t happen without some level of healing.

    “people like me who choose not to forgive are full of deadly poison, basically destroying themselves.”

    Holding on to anger and not forgiving doesn’t have to be a deadly poison. Scripture tells us to “be angry, yet do not sin”. A justified anger can drive us to stand up against injustice and wrongdoing; that certainly isn’t sinning. It’s when we sin in our anger that it becomes poison to us; that’s something we all must watch out for, but it’s not a license for preachers to condemn all of our anger as poison. Without people standing up to oppressors in justified anger, what would our world be like today?

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  32. Oasis

    I’m with you on this…
    “Sometimes forgiveness is irrelevant to healing.”

    “As far as I’m concerned,
    God does not forgive unrepentant sexual abusers and neither do I.”

    Here Jesus says – “IF” he repents forgive him…

    Luke 17:3
    Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee,
    rebuke him; and “IF” he repent, forgive him.

    And when “WE” confess “‘Our” sins…
    Jesus, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

    1 John 1:9
    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
    and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.

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  33. “Holding on to anger and not forgiving doesn’t have to be a deadly poison. Scripture tells us to “be angry, yet do not sin”. A justified anger can drive us to stand up against injustice and wrongdoing; that certainly isn’t sinning.”

    Thank you, Eric. Something that needs to be repeated over and over. Righteous anger against evil is not bad. It should spur us on to action in standing up for basic justice.

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  34. @Diane:

    Thanks. It really bothers me how a lot of preachers want to lay a trip on us about how it is wrong to be angry at and scream at God for the things that happen to us. The Psalmist certainly didn’t believe that. Out of anyone in the universe, God is the only one that can truly handle the full brunt of our anger and frustration.

    I think it’s psychologically and spiritually healthy to express all of our anger to God; His pure love will give us what we need to heal. Even if we turn our backs to Him in our anger for a season, He is faithful to keep loving and caring for us.

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  35. @ Oasis~

    “I think a lot of people confuse emotional healing with forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is irrelevant to healing. I know this is an unpopular belief, and every time I say this, someone who’s never been in my shoes comes along and insists that people like me who choose not to forgive are full of deadly poison, basically destroying themselves. That is simply not true. As far as I’m concerned, God does not forgive unrepentant sexual abusers and neither do I.’

    Oasis I agree that sometimes forgiveness is irrelevant to healing. You can be not bitter, much to people’s surprise, but actually sad for the person who has hurt you.
    Eventually.

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  36. ” Righteous anger against evil is not bad.”

    It’s not only ‘not bad’, it is objectively and actively good.

    The false forgiveness and reconciliation that preachers want to push solely for keeping the peace does nothing to bring about real repentance. It gives the offender a psychological excuse to simply dismiss his actions and continue as if nothing happened. The continued burden of the weight of our own sins is what makes us willing to open ourselves to God and metanoia, or repentance.

    By extending a false forgiveness and reconciliation, we become complicit in tying up a heavy burden and placing it on innocent others who have to be around the unrepentant offender.

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  37. Eric said:
    “I think it’s psychologically and spiritually healthy to express all of our anger to God; His pure love will give us what we need to heal. Even if we turn our backs to Him in our anger for a season, He is faithful to keep loving and caring for us.”

    I did receive this advice, thankfully, in dealing with my daughter’s death. I didn’t hold back and have had “it out” with God many times. If you’re not able to be real with God over what happened then you may get “stuck” and not able to move forward in healing. It made me feel closer to Him, secure enough in His love for me to handle the anger I needed to express.

    I wonder if this kind of expression of anger would threaten someone of the Calvinistic bent? Would it be considered sin? If you weren’t secure in your relationship with God, would it mean you may not be one of the elect?

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  38. Eric

    Yes – I have experienced this…
    “I think it’s psychologically and spiritually healthy to express all of our anger to God; His pure love will give us what we need to heal. Even if we turn our backs to Him in our anger for a season, He is faithful to keep loving and caring for us.”

    Went through some tough times and shook my fist at God.

    When I saw friends – I told them – I’m NOT talking to God…
    Just like a cat who is angry – I turned my back on God…
    NO more serving this God – Who doesn’t protect His own…
    Lost it All – Family – Friends – Wealth – Feeling like Job…

    And after a couple of years – Yes – Many dark days…

    Going to work – Going home and crying – Night after night…
    Thinking I must have done something wrong…
    Thinking God has given up on me – Rejected me…

    BUT GOD – Well, where could I go? – Who else has the words of eternal life?

    Found out Jesus really loves me…
    Whether I do anything for the Kingdom of God – Or NOT.
    Whether I serve this Jesus – or NOT.

    Jesus just loves me – Sins and ALL – Character defects and ALL… 😉

    A very valuble lesson – And today I’m thankful because I know…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}} – will never never ever – leave me nor forsake me… 🙂

    Heb 13:5
    Let your conversation be without covetousness;
    and be content with such things as ye have:
    for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

    Through It All

    I`ve had many tears and sorrows
    I`ve had questions for tomorrow
    There`ve been times I didn`t know right from wrong
    But in every situation
    God gave blessed consolation
    That my trials only come to make me strong

    I`ve been a lot of places
    And I`ve seen so many faces
    But there`ve been times I`ve felt so all alone
    But in that lonely hour
    In that precious, lonely hour
    Jesus let me know I was His own

    Through it all
    Through it all
    I`ve learned to trust in Jesus
    I`ve learned to trust in God
    Through it all
    Through it all
    I`ve learned to depend upon His Word

    So I thank God for the mountains
    And I thank Him for the valleys
    I thank Him for the storms He`s brought me through
    Cause if I never had a problem
    I wouldn`t know that He could solve them
    I wouldn`t know what faith in His Word could do

    Through it all
    Through it all
    I`ve learned to trust in Jesus
    I`ve learned to trust in God
    Through it all
    Through it all
    I`ve learned to depend upon His Word
    Yes, I`ve learned to depend upon His Word
    I`ve learned to depend upon His Word

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  39. ‘By extending a false forgiveness and reconciliation, we become complicit in tying up a heavy burden and placing it on innocent others who have to be around the unrepentant offender.”

    a BIG HEARTY AMEN!

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  40. Yes – I have experienced this…
    “I think it’s psychologically and spiritually healthy to express all of our anger to God; His pure love will give us what we need to heal. Even if we turn our backs to Him in our anger for a season, He is faithful to keep loving and caring for us.”

    Went through some tough times and shook my fist at God.

    When I saw friends – I told them – I’m NOT talking to God…
    Just like a cat who is angry – I turned my back on God…
    NO more serving this God – Who doesn’t protect His own…
    Lost it All – Family – Friends – Wealth – Feeling like Job…

    The thing that gets me, Amos; how many times have we heard sermons on Job that only tell us to persevere through hard times without giving any advice on how to actually get through the hard times?

    When we’re hurt, wounded, and crushed, why not teach us how to pray the Psalms of Lament?

    When we feel empty and alone, why not teach us Ecclesiastes?

    It’s a disservice to people, God, and the scriptures to try and sweep anguish and mourning under the rug of platitudes and verses that only make us feel more separated from God and our fellow man. Why is it so wrong for preachers and fellow Christians to tell us it’s ok to be angry at God, to scream at Him, to turn away from Him in our anger? The sad fact is that people don’t want to deal with this anguish and anger in others because they refuse to admit that it exists within themselves, as if that somehow makes them a lesser Christian or unworthy. Jesus Himself cried out to God asking “Why have you abandoned me?”

    Compassion and sympathy aren’t just simple things like being nice or offering a hug and a kind word; to practice them we must get down inside our own emotions and feel the pain and grief with the suffering person. And to do that, we have to feel and acknowledge our own pains, fears, and doubts. And to do that, we have to feel and express them about God, to God, and with God. That’s laying your life down for your fellow man.

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  41. Someone read from Ezekiel 34: 11,12 today. I thought that it was so appropriate to hear what God says about himself–that He, himself, would search for his scattered and wounded sheep and look after them now as he looked after the children of Israel at that time:

    “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.”

    Yahweh, himself, promised at that time to search for his sheep and rescue them. No one would get in the way of God’s intention to care for his sheep after their previous encounter with harmful shepherds.

    I see that so many people here have true shepherd hearts, just like their Heavenly Father. They long to help in any way that they can to lift the load and to share their hearts with others.

    There is further comfort found in this passage from Ezekiel. It is a rich chapter. Here are a few more thoughts:

    “15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.
    I will shepherd the flock with justice.”

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  42. A. Amos Love said, “I’m with you on this… Here Jesus says – “IF” he repents forgive him… And when “WE” confess “‘Our” sins…Jesus, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”

    Thanks, Amos, I was afraid that I’d said too much and was gonna get my head bitten right off. But what do ya know, once again, I’m not alone in something! 🙂 From what I can see, unconditional forgiveness for all people at all times is not taught in scripture.

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  43. Eric, I second Lydia’s thanks for your words about anger.

    Barb, you said, “I see that so many people here have true shepherd hearts, just like their Heavenly Father. They long to help in any way that they can to lift the load and to share their hearts with others.”

    Aren’t they wonderful? 🙂 Thank you for quoting from Ezekiel, I really needed to read that today.

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  44. I love that Ezekiel passage. It’s a favorite.

    “From what I can see, unconditional forgiveness for all people at all times is not taught in scripture.”

    Isn’t it interesting that in many of the sex abuse cases we heard about at SGM (and I can think of others HOFCC in WA State) where the push is to get complete reconciliation by all parties. The notable tragic story is the toddler who was forced to face her sex offender and reconcile. Unfathomable, but that was the #1 goal – no victim care, just hurry up and get reconciled. It’s like the same kind of urgency we hear from people, “if you were to die tonight, do you know if you’d be in heaven?” It’s a “better hurry up or else” attitude. Crazy!

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  45. Eric said, “I think it’s psychologically and spiritually healthy to express all of our anger to God; His pure love will give us what we need to heal. Even if we turn our backs to Him in our anger for a season, He is faithful to keep loving and caring for us.”

    Yes, God is incredible, isn’t he? For a long time I was afraid to let it all out to God, everything I really wanted to express. Afraid to anger him. But then the time came, and I lost it. I screamed through my tears, fired accusations at him etc. Doesn’t seem to have offended him one bit, even though I felt a bit guilty afterward. No, he’s never indicated to me that my meltdown was sinful. Since then, I’ve felt free to lose it whenever I need to. He patiently listens, and when I feel unable to approach him, he constantly surprises me with his love. He seems to hunt me down when I’m far away, saying, “Where are you? Come back.”

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  46. Julie Anne, tragic is right. That right there is revictimization.

    People also want to force healing on others. And by “healing” they mean the elimination of very ounce of negative emotion, immediately. But as has been said, feeling and working through those emotions is part of healing. Personally, not being a zombie anymore after years of feeling numb, is wonderful.

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  47. The fundamental problem with Calvinism is that it makes God a monster. And that concept of God is antichrist. The truth is we have a choice. And most choose to live in rebellion to God. As a former full time pastor of 10 years, I am so very sorry that you were abused; and then abused again by those who profess to know and love God.

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  48. Thank you, Randall for your kind words. I have rejected those ideas now that caused me so much confusion. It is great to be free to see God as a loving God and not a monster.

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  49. “Why does Calvin’s God feel abusive to me?”

    Because Calvin’s God IS abusive.

    Others have said, “That’s not God, that’s Al’lah.” Because both Calvin and Mohammed made Omnipotent Will the primary attribute of God (overriding all other attributes), resulting in Total Predestination. And similar views of God result in similar fallout.

    I’ve also heard it said that “Islam emphasizes God’s Omnipotent Power, Christianity emphasizes God’s Loving Nature.”

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  50. Brian,

    I am sorry, but your theology of “I find comfort in knowing that God truly is in control.” is not appropriate in this thread. This reinforces your belief that the God of Calvin was in control of the abuse.

    “In’shal’lah… Al’lah’u Akbar!”

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  51. I believe now what made it worse was the church that I ended up in. Because according to them Jesus was supposed to magically change me. I was told over and over to forgot my past. But my past had marked me deeply & profoundly and the psychological damage manifested itself in panic attacks, depression, shame, & fear. — Gail AKA Scared

    JMJ over at Christian Monist regularly calls BS on this Christianese idea that “Jesus was supposed to magically change me” completely and instantly. It’s a BAD misapplication of the phrase “New creature in Christ.”

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  52. As I have said at TWW and elsewhere on SSB:

    To me the difference between Calvinism and what I believe is in two definitions of sovereignty. Sovereignty does not mean that what you chose happens, it is the ability to make decisions about consequences. So in the U.S., the Congress has sovereignty to make laws, the President and his appointees have the sovereignty to enforce laws, and the courts the sovereignty to decide whether the laws have been broken and to impose penalties, and in civil cases, award reparations. But none have the sovereignty to make choices on behalf of the members of the public to follow or not follow the law.

    To me, the sovereignty of God is like the sovereignty of all three branches of government. But we retain the freedom to choose whether to follow God’s laws or not. The most important commands came from Jesus, which I paraphrase as: Love the Lord God with all of your being and love everyone you encounter as you love yourself. So in everyday activities we make choices that have consequences, and, while some of those consequences are the natural result of our choice (due to the laws of nature that God, in his sovereignty, put in place to begin with) and some are under God’s sovereignly created law, and thus, under his sovereign power to decide. One of those laws is that we are to believe in, love and follow Jesus, and choosing not to do so carries the ultimate penalty.

    All of this is why I do not believe that young children and those who are mentally incapable of making the choice to follow Jesus, are doomed. They do not have the ability to make the choice to love and follow Jesus. As in our legal system, they are not held responsible for what they cannot do.

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  53. Dear Julie Anne,
    I’m sorry I didn’t read this post when it was first published.
    I have no words. The pain you’ve suffered is beyond words. Just know that I’m sending you a cyber hug or a touch of your hand or whatever would make you feel most cared for.
    love
    Barb

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  54. This resonates with me so much.
    The questions, the pain, the fear from my childhood dominated my life. At the age of 30 I realized I had to discard everything I was “taught” and find a God I could believe in, because the one I was raised to believe in was a graven image of my father. I finally realized this when I became aware that I couldn’t make myself talk about God with my children. I loved them and didn’t want to hurt them, and in some way they would be destroyed with what I “knew” about God.. I was broken to realize that they had already come to conclusions about who God was by watching me. And God to them looked a great deal like their abusive grandfather. You see, how a person believes the world works, and who God is, really deeply affects the way they live and how they treat others. This is why I am deeply distrustful of some doctrines- because in my opinion, people cling to whatever interpretation makes them most comfortable. [Qualifier for upcoming statement-not saying they were true calvinists, have now read blogs online from calvinists that are not like this, and in no way was my upbringing typical—I hope. In addition, no matter what your doctrine, you still have the choice of how you will act] The hardcore calvinist-types I was raised around were also legalistic, idolatrously addicted to power and authority and control, petty, abusive, offensive, angry people. They seem to be choosing a God that looks a great deal like them.
    And the God I found had been waiting for me and wooing me while I wandered in the desert. He came to earth and suffered with us as Emmanuel, suffered with us and for us, and continues to suffer with us and for us. To Him, our free will is so important that He refuses to step in and take over and take away our choices, even when we make mistakes that hurt others. But He died to redeem us in spite of all of it, and because of it all. His grace is beyond our understanding. His primary concern is not our understanding of doctrine, but that we love him and those around us- with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength.
    The doctrine, oh the triggering doctrinal discussions. So many doctrines used to justify abuse. I cant and wont accept any doctrine that enabled a person to hurt and abuse another person.

    Through a very difficult journey I have learned a few things. Because of the spiritual abuse, I sometimes cannot pray or read the Bible. I am unable to sing in a church service. But I sing in private, and pray the Lords Prayer when I am unable to pray from my heart and each word has taught my spirit so much. All I need to say is “your kingdom come”- in the pain, in the anguish we feel, because I believe that pain and suffering is NOT Gods choice for us “your will be done” – when people do not use their free will to love God and each other.
    One day I saw a poster of the names of God, and I felt that Spirit was telling me- focus on me, focus on who I am, and let the doctrines go. And so I do, I meditate on his name. on the many names that manifest his character to us. And that has been the most healing, renewing experience. Humans can twist his words and interpret doctrine and use all of it as a tool to hurt other people, but His Name cannot be taken away from me or used against me.

    I cannot trust my own understanding and I do not need to. I do not need to know everything. I do not need to try to explain everything in a way that makes sense. I have learned to let go of all of this, and understand that any interpretations that pass through the mind and mouth of a human are contaminated by our humanness. (this from a child who was drilled and beaten with scriptures and doctrine- who was praised for shaming ministers and pastors by calling them out on their doctrine and mistakes) What I need is to focus on God, and believe in him, and pray how Jesus teaches us to pray.

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  55. Manner C

    Thank you so much for your comment. Really appreciated your thoughts.
    And thank you so much for this – It touched my heart and soul and spirit.

    “One day I saw a poster of the names of God,
    and I felt that Spirit was telling me- focus on me,
    focus on who I am, and let the doctrines go.”

    Thought you might enjoy this list…

    Just give me – {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}} – Name above ALL Names…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}} – There’s Just Something About That Name – Jesus

    A
    Jesus – Advocate – 1 John 2:1
    Jesus – Alive for Evermore – Revelation 1:18
    Jesus – All-Knowing – Psalm 139:1-6
    Jesus – All, and in All – Colossians 3:11
    Jesus – Almighty – Revelation 1:8
    Jesus – Alpha and Omega – Revelation 1:8
    Jesus – Altar – Hebrews 13:10
    Jesus – Altogether Lovely – Song of Solomon 5:16
    Jesus – Amen – Revelation 3:14
    Jesus – Ancient of Days – Daniel 7:13 & Daniel 7:22
    Jesus – Anointed One – 1 Samuel 2:35
    Jesus – Author of Eternal Salvation – Hebrews 5:9
    Jesus – Author of our Faith – Hebrews 12:2

    B
    Jesus – Balm of Gilead – Jeremiah 8:22
    Jesus – Banner over us – Ps 60:4 S of Sol 2:4
    Jesus – Bearer of Sin – Hebrews 9:28
    Jesus – Before All Things – Colossians 1:17
    Jesus – Beginning and Ending – Revelation 1:8
    Jesus – Bishop of our Souls – 1 Peter 2:25
    Jesus – Blessed and Only Potentate – 1 Timothy 6:15
    Jesus – Blessed Hope – Titus 2:13
    Jesus – Bread of Life, my manna – John 6:35
    Jesus – Bridegroom – John 3:29
    Jesus – Bright and Morning Star – Revelation 22:16
    Jesus – Brightness of His Glory – Hebrews 1:3
    Jesus – Buckler – Psalms 18:30

    C
    Jesus – Captain – Joshua 5:14-15 – Hebrews 2:10
    Jesus – Changeless One – Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8
    Jesus – Chief Among 10,000 – S. of Solomon 5:10
    Jesus – Chosen of God – 1 Peter 2:4
    Jesus – Christ – Matthew 1:16 – 1 John 5:1
    Jesus – Comforter – John 14:16-18
    Jesus – Consolation of Israel – Luke 2:25
    Jesus – Counselor – Isaiah 9:6
    Jesus – Creator – Romans 1:25 – Isaiah 40:28
    Jesus – Crown of Glory – Isaiah 28:5

    D
    Jesus – Daystar to Arise – 2 Peter 1:19 Defense – Psalms 94:22
    Jesus – Deliverer – Psalms 40:17
    Jesus – Desire of all Nations – Haggai 2:7
    Jesus – Despised and rejected – Ps 22:6, Is 53:3
    Jesus – Diadem of Beauty – Isaiah 28:5
    Jesus – Door of the Sheep – John 10:7
    Jesus – Dwelling Place – Psalms 90:1

    E
    Jesus – Emmanuel – Matthew 1:23
    Jesus – End of the Law – Romans 10:4
    Jesus – Ensign of the People – Isaiah 11:10
    Jesus – Equal with God – Philippians 2:6
    Jesus – Eternal God – Deuteronomy 33:27
    Jesus – Eternal Life – 1 John 1:2
    Jesus – Everlasting Father – Isaiah 9:6

    F
    Jesus – Faithful and True – Rev 19:11 – Rev 3:14
    Jesus – Finisher of the Faith – Hebrews 12:2
    Jesus – First Begotten – Hebrews 1:6 – Romans 8:29
    Jesus – Firstfruit of Them Sleep -1Cor 15:20 Rom 11:16
    Jesus – Fortress – Psalms 18:2
    Jesus – Foundation Which is Laid – 1 Cor.3:11
    Jesus – Fountain of Living Waters – Jer 17:13 Ps 36:9
    Jesus – Friend of Publicans and Sinners – Luke 7:34
    Jesus – Friend Sticks Closer than a Brother – Prov 18:24

    G
    Jesus – Gift of God – John 4:10
    Jesus – Glory, my and lifter of my head – Psalms 3:3
    Jesus – God Who Avenges Me – Psalms 18:47
    Jesus – God Blessed Forever – Romans 9:5
    Jesus – God Who Forgives – Psalms 99:8
    Jesus – God of My Life – Psalms 42:8
    Jesus – God in the Midst of Her – Psalms 46:5
    Jesus – God manifest in the flesh – 1 Timothy 3:16
    Jesus – God of My Righteousness – Psalms 4:1
    Jesus – God of My Salvation – Psalms 18:46
    Jesus – God of My Strength – Psalms 43:2
    Jesus – God With Us – Matthew 1:23
    Jesus – Good Shepherd – John 10:11
    Jesus – Gracious – Ex 33:19, Rom 16:24, Rev. 22:21
    Jesus – Great God – Titus 2:13
    Jesus – Great Shepherd of the Sheep – Hebrews 13:20
    Jesus – Guide Even Unto Death – Psalms 48:14

    H
    Jesus – Harmless – Hebrews 7:26
    Jesus – Head of all Principality & Power – Col 2:10
    Jesus – Heir of All Things – Hebrews 1:2 Helper – Hebrews 13:6
    Jesus – Hiding Place – Psalms 32:7
    Jesus – High Priest Forever – Hebrews 6:20
    Jesus – High Tower – Psalms 18:2
    Jesus – Holy One Of Israel – Psalms 89:18
    Jesus – Horn of Salvation – Luke 1:69
    Jesus – Husband – Revelation 21:2

    I
    Jesus – I Am – John 18:6
    Jesus – Image of the Invisible God – Colossians 1:15
    Jesus – Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14
    Jesus – Inhabiter of Eternity – Isaiah 57:15
    Jesus – Inhabiter of Praises – Psalms 22:3
    Jesus – Intercessor – Isaiah 53:12 & Romans 8:34

    J
    Jesus – Jehovah Jireh – Provider – I Jn 4:9, Philip 4:19
    Jesus – Jehovah Nissi – Banner – I Chronicles 29:11-13
    Jesus – Jehovah Shalom – Peace – Is 9:6, Rom 8:31-35
    Jesus – Jehovah Tsidkenu – Righteousness – I Cor 1:30
    Jesus – Jehovah Shammah – Present – Hebrews 13:5
    Jesus – Jehovah M’Kaddesh – Sanctifier – I Cor 1:30
    Jesus – Jehovah Rophe – Healer – Isaiah 53:4,5
    Jesus – Jehovah Rohi – Shepherd – Psalm 23
    Jesus – Jesus – Matthew 1:21
    Jesus – Jesus Christ Our Lord – Romans 7:25
    Jesus – Judge of All – Genesis 18:25 – Acts 10:42
    Jesus – Just One – Acts 7:52

    K
    Jesus – Keeper – Psalms 121:5
    Jesus – King Eternal – 1 Timothy 1:17
    Jesus – King Immortal – 1 Timothy 1:17
    Jesus – King Invisible – 1 Timothy 1:17
    Jesus – King of Glory – Psalms 24:7-8
    Jesus – King of Heaven – Daniel 4:37
    Jesus – King of Kings – Revelation 19:16
    Jesus – King of Peace – Hebrews 7:2
    Jesus – King of Righteousness – Hebrews 7:2
    Jesus – King of Saints – Revelation 15:3

    L
    Jesus – Lamb of God – John 1:29 – Rev 17:14
    Jesus – Lamb Slain – Rev 13:8 – Rev 5:12 – Rev 7:17
    Jesus – Last Adam – 1 Cor.15:45
    Jesus – Lawgiver – James 4:12
    Jesus – “ONE” Leader – Matthew 23:10
    Jesus – Life – John 14:6
    Jesus – Lifter of Mine Head – Psalms 3:3Light – John 1:7
    Jesus – Light of the World – John 8:12
    Jesus – Lily of the Valleys – Song of Solomon 2:1
    Jesus – Lion of the Tribe of Judah – Revelation 5:5
    Jesus – Living Bread – John 6:51
    Jesus – Lord and My God – John 20:28
    Jesus – Lord and Savior – 2 Peter 1:11
    Jesus – Lord of the Dead and the Living – Rom 14:9
    Jesus – Lord God Almighty – Revelation 16:7
    Jesus – Lord God Omnipotent – Revelation 19:6
    Jesus – Lord Jesus Christ – James 2:1
    Jesus – Lord of Glory – 1 Cor.2:8
    Jesus – Lord of the Harvest – Matthew 9:38
    Jesus – Lord of Lords – 1 Timothy 6:15

    M
    Jesus – Maker – Psalms 95:6
    Jesus – Man of Sorrows – Isaiah 53:3
    Jesus – Master – Matthew 23:10
    Jesus – Mediator – 1 Timothy 2:5
    Jesus – Merciful – Heb 2:17
    Jesus – Messiah the Prince – Daniel 9:25
    Jesus – Mighty God – Isaiah 9:6
    Jesus – Morning Star – Revelation 2:28

    N
    Jesus – Name Above Every Name – Philippians 2:9
    Jesus – Nazarene – Matthew 2:23

    O
    Jesus – Omega – Revelation 22:13
    Jesus – Omnipotent – Revelation 19:6
    Jesus – Only Begotten Son – John 3:16
    Jesus – Only Potentate – 1 Timothy 6:15
    Jesus – Only Wise God – 1 Timothy 1:17

    P
    Jesus – Passover, my – 1 Cor.5:7
    Jesus – Pavilion – Psalms 31:20
    Jesus – our Peace – Ephesians 2:14
    Jesus – great Physician, – Luke 4:23
    Jesus – Portion of Mine Inheritance – Psalms 16:5
    Jesus – Potter – Jeremiah 18:6
    Jesus – Power of God – 1 Cor.1:24
    Jesus – Preeminent one – Colossians 1:18
    Jesus – Pearl of Price – Matt 13:46, 1 Cor.6:20
    Jesus – Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6
    Jesus – Propitiation for Our Sins – 1 John 2:2

    Q
    Jesus – Quick Understanding – Isaiah 11:3
    Jesus – Quickening Spirit – 1 Cor.15:45

    R
    Jesus – Rabbi – John 3:2
    Jesus – Ransom for Many – Matthew 20:28
    Jesus – Redeemer – Job 19:25 – 1 Cor.1:30
    Jesus – Refiner – Malachi 3:2
    Jesus – Refuge in Trouble – Ps 46:1, Ps 9:9
    Jesus – Refuge from the Storm – Is 25:4
    Jesus – Resting Place – Jeremiah 50:6
    Jesus – Resurrection and the Life – John 11:25
    Jesus – Reward of the Righteous – Psalms 58:11
    Jesus – Righteous Judge – 2 Timothy 4:8
    Jesus – my Righteousness – 1 Cor.1:30 – Rom 10:3
    Jesus – Rock that is Higher than I – Psalms 61:2
    Jesus – Rock of My Refuge – Psalms 94:22
    Jesus – Rock of Our Salvation – Psalms 95:1
    Jesus – Root and Offspring of David – Revelation 22:16
    Jesus – Rose of Sharon – Song of Solomon 2:1

    S
    Jesus – Sacrifice for Sins – Hebrews 10:12
    Jesus – Salvation, my – Psalms 27:1
    Jesus – Same Yesterday, Today, Forever – Heb 13:8
    Jesus – Savior of the Body – Ephesians 5:23
    Jesus – Savior of the World – John 4:42
    Jesus – Scapegoat – Leviticus 16:8 & John 11:49-52
    Jesus – Scepter of Israel – Numbers 24:17
    Jesus – Sent One – John 9:4
    Jesus – Separate from Sinners – Hebrews 7:26
    Jesus – Serpent in the Wilderness – John 3:14
    Jesus – Shadow of the Almighty – Psalms 91:1
    Jesus – Shadow of a Great Rock – Isaiah 32:2
    Jesus – Shelter – Psalms 61:3
    Jesus – “ONE” Shepherd – John 10:26
    Jesus – Shepherd and Bishop of my soul – 1 Peter 2:25
    Jesus – my Shepherd – Psalms 23:1
    Jesus – Shield – Psalms 84:9
    Jesus – Sin, for us – 2 Cor.5:21
    Jesus – Son of God – John 1:49
    Jesus – Son of Man – John 1:51
    Jesus – my Song – Isaiah 12:2
    Jesus – Spiritual Rock – 1 Cor.10:4
    Jesus – Star out of Jacob – Numbers 24:17
    Jesus – Stone the Builders Rejected – Matthew 21:42
    Jesus – Strength of My Life – Psalms 27:1
    Jesus – Stronghold in the Day of Trouble – Nahum 1:7
    Jesus – Strong Tower – Proverbs 18:10
    Jesus – Stronger than the enemy – Luke 11:22
    Jesus – Sun of Righteousness – Malachi 4:2

    T
    Jesus – Tabernacle of God – Revelation 21:3
    Jesus – “One” Teacher – Matthew 23:8
    Jesus – Tender Plant – Isaiah 53:2
    Jesus – Testator – Hebrews 9:16
    Jesus – Treasure – 2 Cor.4:7
    Jesus – True Bread from Heaven – John 6:32
    Jesus – True Light – John 1:9
    Jesus – True Vine – John 15:1
    Jesus – Truth – John 14:6

    Jesus – Tabernacle of God – Revelation 21:3
    Jesus – Tender Plant – Isaiah 53:2
    Jesus – Testator – Hebrews 9:16
    Jesus – Treasure – 2 Cor.4:7
    Jesus – True Bread from Heaven – John 6:32
    Jesus – True Light – John 1:9
    Jesus – True Vine – John 15:1
    Jesus – Truth – John 14:6

    U
    Jesus – Undefiled – Hebrews 7:26
    Jesus – Unspeakable Gift – 2 Cor.9:15
    Jesus – Upholder of All things – Hebrews 1:3
    Jesus – Upright – Psalms 92:15

    V
    Jesus – Very God of Peace – 1 Thessalonians 5:23
    Jesus – Very Present Help in Trouble – Psalms 46:1
    Jesus – Victory – 1 Cor.15:54
    Jesus – Vine – John 15:5
    Jesus – Voice – Revelation 1:12

    W
    Jesus – Way – John 14:6
    Jesus – Well of Living Waters – John 4:14
    Jesus – Wisdom of God – 1 Cor.1:24
    Jesus – Wise Master Builder – 1 Cor.3:10
    Jesus – Witness of God – 1 John 5:9
    Jesus – Wonderful – Isaiah 9:6
    Jesus – Word – John 1:1 – Revelation 19:13
    Jesus – Worthy – Revelation 4:11
    Jesus – Worthy Name – James 2:7

    X
    Jesus – Exceeding Great Reward – Genesis 15:1
    Jesus – Excellency – Job 13:11
    Jesus – Excellency of Our God – Isaiah 35:2
    Jesus – Excellent – Psalms 8:1
    Jesus – Express Image of His Person – Hebrews 1:3

    Y
    Jesus – Young Child – Matthew 2:11
    Jesus – Yes and Amen – 2 Cor 1:20

    Z
    Jesus – Zeal of the Lord of Hosts – Isaiah 37:32
    Jesus – Zeal of your House – John 2:17

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}} – Name above ALL Names…

    Like

  56. Manner. C said, “And so I do, I meditate on his name. on the many names that manifest his character to us. And that has been the most healing, renewing experience.”

    Yes! As it would be, since God is Love, and love heals. “God is Love” has been a lifeline of mine for some time.

    I am so glad you found him waiting for you in that desert. God does not hide who he is from us. In fact, his goal is to form his own character in each of us.

    Like

  57. Oasis – Anyone interested…

    God is Love – Is also a favorite verse.

    if you click on the poster next to my name –
    You will see a poster made to fit in an 8 X !0 picture frame…
    It will printout also on 81/2 X 11 stock paper…

    If you would like this poster on PDF to print out – And other posters in PDF…

    Send me an e-mail – They are in color and black and white.
    With just The Word of God

    A. Amos Love
    love101faith@me.com

    Like

  58. A. Amos Love, such a great picture to use on blogs! Many times have I searched for pictures just like that one, with those three words on them.

    P.S. Always love your comments!

    Like

  59. Oasis

    I sent the “God Is Love” and other posters to Julie Anne.

    If you would like them – Maybe you can e-mail Julie Anne.

    P.S. I also enjoy your comments – Given straight from the heart.

    Appreciate your honesty and openness.

    Like

  60. Abuse-
    You pin me like a moth to velvet ceiling.
    I hang there smiling, mad. I’m without feeling.
    Wagner plays.
    You shape each act; the post I must perfect.
    A living crucifix. I genuflect
    at all you say.
    Macabre still life. Catatonic pose.
    My wings fall off in silence. No one knows.
    my soul decays.

    Church-
    I speak! You strip my truth. Divide and break it.
    This is my body, blood and you partake it.
    “Now let us pray.”
    Naked. There I stand against the wall,
    sipping of your vinegar and gall.
    I’m still afraid.
    Ancient memory echoes in your feast.
    You offer me your God, but serve the beast.
    It’s judgement day.

    Compassion-
    You gently pull the pins from stunted wings
    afraid they’ll crumble. Desiccated things.
    I don’t care.
    I stutter and I scream inside my head
    afraid that you will stop and I’ll stay dead.
    I push on air.
    Pry them out! Don’t stop! you’re saving me!
    It’s better to be dust than never free.
    I’ll take the dare.

    Like

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