I can relate to the feeling of loneliness because I have experienced it before many times, especially when I was in my 20s and early 30s. It is like a “spiritual attack” on our mind, which afflicts all of us at one time or another. It was almost like there are “voices” in my head, trying to convince me that I was not good enough and that other people are enjoying their lives and not caring about me. Loneliness is not a pleasant experience at all. So I can understand the bouts of loneliness people are going through, especially when they are living all by themselves. If I were them I would probably be facing the same situation. It is a perfectly human and normal thing and I can understand that.
On another note, I have just come across this insightful blog “We Are Spiritual Abuse Survivors“, which was written by a spiritual abuse survivor, Andie Redwine. Although I haven’t been subjected to any severe form of spiritual abuse in the past since I was attending a fairly grace-based christian church institution for several years (though the spiritual abuse there may be more subtle), I can relate to some of the things shared in the blog. I have seen and heard some of the examples of spiritual abuse mentioned in the blog (in varying degrees). I am sharing the blog here as the readers who may have been spiritually abused before may find comfort in knowing they are not alone.
Among some of the things I can relate to in the blog are:
“We all experience vulnerability in difficult emotional times. Most people find some sort of support to see them through.
We thought we were specially called by God. We learned later that we were just a means to an end, with the end being the elevation of our leader.
Or we were rigidly raised to believe that everything on the outside of our group was bad. That only our group alone understood God, salvation, and the keys to living rightly.
We were taught or reconditioned to fear everything that contradicted our leaders’ edicts. We believed dissent to be wicked, evil, and Satanic.
And then we learned something about our leaders that made us question all that we built our lives upon.
We learned that there are a lot of people claiming that they are God’s exclusive one-and-only end time prophets. They all have their own franchises, and they all seem to know exactly when Jesus is coming back.
We learned that some of our phobias have been granted to us by leaders who manipulated us into believing that the world is really a terrible, horrible place.
Of course, our leader’s group is wonderful and the only good to be found in the world.
Or is it?
And then we learned that asking these questions makes us expendable to the leader and the rest of the group.
When we raised objections about our leader, we were called dangerous, rebellious, demonic, or apostate. People distanced themselves accordingly.
And when we left, or when we were banished or shunned, we became a part of ‘the world’ that we so feared. We were disfellowshipped as pagans, heretics, and anathema. (Disfellowshipped is a fancy term for ‘kicked out with no home and no place to go.’)
We were as good as dead to everyone who once claimed to love us.
We believed that eternal punishment was inevitable.
We believed that we left the hidden truth, the narrow way, and the only light. That we could either repent, delude ourselves, or suffer in silence. Alone.
Because of the Internet and our Googling late into the night when we can’t sleep, we’re learning that we aren’t the only ones. Because of the anonymity that the Internet affords, we’re getting braver. We’re telling our stories.
We’re speaking out.
We are still fish out of water. We care deeply about other hurting people because we know what it means to hurt.
We don’t have demons. We aren’t possessed.
We’ve experienced trauma. And it has never been nor will ever be our fault.
We have to convince ourselves of this sometimes.
We’re healing. Slowly.”
I like the conclusion of the blog:
“Some of us have found God since the abusive experience, and some of us have not and may not. Some of us will get there eventually. We need to be free to experience whatever path we choose. We are valuable regardless of the road we take.
We’re complicated, but we’re worth it. We’re passionate, brave, creative, thoughtful, loyal, benevolent, enjoyable, beautiful creatures that have been through something hard and lived to tell the tale.”
Yes, I admire the courage of those who have gone through spiritual abuse in institutional churches to face their ordeals, and share their experiences with others for their encouragement. I agree that they are passionate, brave, creative, thoughtful, loyal, benevolent, enjoyable, beautiful creatures that have been through something hard and lived to tell the tale.
“Don’t let anyone rush your grief” by David Hayward