A Revised 23rd Psalm: From the Eyes of Someone Harmed by a Church Shepherd

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What does an abusive shepherd or pastor look like?  How does it feel?  A spiritual abuse survivor shows us using the format of the 23rd Psalm.

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spiritual abuse, clergy abuse, Psalm 23

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Today I was given permission to share very personal prose.  While the words of Psalm 23 and the Good Shepherd are normally very comforting, in this revised version, the words reflect what it was like for someone to experience an abusive shepherd, a shepherd who had little care or regard for this precious soul.

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In Contrast to the Shepherd of the 23rd Psalm

by Aletheia L. Roberts

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With you as my “shepherds”

I LIVED in want.

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You made me to lie down

exposed in musty old church storage closets.

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You led me through doors behind baptismal waters

to exploit me in the dust beneath the stage on which you preached.

You destroyed my soul.

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You coerced me down paths of YOUR unrighteousness

for your own SELFISH sake.

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Yea, I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death

and I KNOW your deeds are nothing but EVIL,

for these memories are ever with me.

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Your rod and your staff

they crushed and confused me.

Your threats…they silenced me.

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I ate regularly at a table in the presence of my enemies,

self-professing their “anointing” of authority

and how their “cup runs over.”

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Surely LIGHT and TRUTH will haunt you

all the days of your life,

for darkness cannot dwell in the

Eternal house of the LORD, the True Shepherd.

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Not EVER!

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12 comments on “A Revised 23rd Psalm: From the Eyes of Someone Harmed by a Church Shepherd

  1. I wish I could hit the LIKE button multiple times. This is amazing.

    many hugs to the survivor who wrote it. I think King David would happily move over and let you sit beside him in the library of Psalms.

    Like

  2. Wow!!! Spot on…

    From the depths of the hurts and pain of “Spiritual Abuse” and “Spiritual Deception.”

    With you as my “shepherds”

    I LIVED in want.

    Like

  3. My soul mourns for and prays for this author and others who have endured this and similar terror.

    Ezekial 34 addresses these kind of shepherds:

    “Woe to the shepherds of Isreal who fed themselves!
    You eat the fat and clothe yourself with wool; you slaughtered the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away,nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.
    So they scattered because there was no shepherd.”

    Thankfully Julie Ann has given a place to gather, mourn and heal together.

    Loving you in spirit wherever you are, you blessed and loved one.

    Like

  4. Thank you all for the supportive words. The author is aware of this blog article and is reading.

    This was allowed to be shared in the hopes that others who have experienced similar clergy abuse would know that they are not alone.

    Like

  5. I’m so sorry for the writer who endured this abuse. I wish this version of the Psalm never had to be penned. I pray the writer finds peace and joy.

    Like

  6. Your rod and your staff

    they crushed and confused me.

    Your threats…they silenced me.

    **

    I ate regularly at a table in the presence of my enemies,

    self-professing their “anointing” of authority

    and how their “cup runs over.”

    Wow, aspects I remember quite vividly. The threats of what God would do to me if I did not respond to my pastor’s coercion in the required way; the fear in simply sharing a meal or drink in the company of this man and his enablers, as if I was a secret traitor and was about to be exposed. And the silence imposed.

    I’d like to say to the author: No, you are definitely not alone!

    I hope you find much comfort in the knowledge that your experience is not only common, but strikingly similar to that of many visitors to this blog.

    God loves you!

    Like

  7. This moves me, it is powerful, heart searing. I read it this morning & felt it all through my day. I hope that there is more beauty to come from the ashes of your suffering. Your words are piercing, profound. Thank-You for sharing. Tonight I will pray for you.

    Like

  8. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. I am so sorry you went through all of this.

    I hope you can find comfort and healing in the real Psalm. Sending prayers for comfort and healing.

    Like

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