Spiritual Abuse

As with everything else I’ve tackled since leaving Bubba, I do not feel ready to tackle this issue.  I’m actually quite terrified by the thought of confronting this.  I love God.  I’m just scared of His people.

I was thinking about it this morning and I had a big light bulb moment.  The Christians I’d been to church with during the last three years of my marriage were all legalistic and came across as very judgmental.  If I wasn’t doing it their way then I was going to Hell.

I seemed to end up in churches where the congregation had thoroughly embraced the teachings of Ted Tripp.  In his book, he talks about spanking as if it is a salvation issue.  If you aren’t spanking your children, you are going to Hell and so are your children.  He made it into a commandment, even though the verses he was using to support his claim were found in Proverbs.  Proverbs are proverbial.  They are not laws and are not meant to be followed as such.  Yet, since I was the weird non-spanker, there was obviously something wrong with me and I was dooming myself and my children to Hell because I wouldn’t spank them.

Then there were the people who, when I talked about the struggles in my marriage, would tell me to pray more, be a more submissive wife, give Bubba more sex, give more and more.  I did all that and strangely couldn’t understand why my marriage was actually going downhill.  I was doing everything people were telling me to do so obviously, I must be praying wrong.  I began to feel more and more of a failure because I wasn’t able to save my marriage, to make Bubba happy, or to stop him from exploding at me and the children on a regular basis.  Nothing I did was good enough and the blame for everything was solely laid at my feet.

Nancy became my biggest critic once I left the marriage.  I’d already left the church by that point because I couldn’t stand it anymore, but Nancy was my sister so I couldn’t get away from her as easily.  I really thought my family would support me when I left and told them that everything Bubba had done.  There was no compassion, grace, or care extended by my family.  My parents told me that I was cruel, making Serenity do all of my parenting, spending too much time on the computer, and that I needed to just forgive Bubba and give him the chance I promised him to “get better.”

Even after I tried to explain that he was escalating, I was wrong for not continuing to give him yet another chance.  Nancy told me that I wasn’t saved because I was getting emotional support from Luke.  Wow!  I’d never known that texting a man was a sin that could make you lose your salvation!  That sure was news to me. Nancy continued to pronounce judgement on me until I cut contact.  I was amazed with her arrogance for putting herself on the Holy Spirit’s level.  Somehow she never saw the irony of what she was doing.  She was pointing out all of my sin but blinded to own her judgement.  I often wished I could simply send her Matthew 7:1-6.

I was so very hurt by the people of God’s church.  So much so that I am afraid to go back to church.  I took a giant step and arranged a meeting with a local preacher.  I’ve been to her church less than a handful of times since I left Bubba.  It is a different denomination than what I’d been attending.  We had a nice meeting.  She said her denomination’s position on divorce is that yes, God hates divorce but they understand that things happen that mean the people cannot stay in the marriage.  Regardless of my marital status or the reason for leaving that marriage, I am still one of God’s children and He loves me and misses me.  She said of course, there are going to be judgmental people in every congregation but the majority of people will welcome me with open arms.

She is beginning a new Bible Study in two weeks.  I’m going to start attending that.  I’m hoping that if I get to meet some of the people from the congregation in a small group setting, I’ll feel less threatened than attending Sunday services.  I’m going to take this slow.  I’m going to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.  I miss having a church family.  I want to feel safe to go back to Sunday morning worship.  I just have to fight through all the ick that has been so long attached to His church and His people.

I need to give this congregation of people and this preacher a chance.

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5 Comments

  1. I think it sounds like you’re off to a good start. Hope it goes well. This has been an area I’ve struggled with and even told my therapist there are some things I read in the Bible I can’t make sense of. Most of it has to do with forgiveness, submission, and love; all of which are skewed by abuse.

    • Believers are told to be submissive to EACH OTHER. Everyone tends to ignore that verse and skip ahead a few to how the wife is supposed to be submissive. I call bullshit on that. Husbands and wives are to be submissive to each other. If you both work for the good of your spouse, amazing things can happen.

      I wonder if I’ll ever get a chance to experience that someday…..

  2. Ang

    All too often this is what happens; the victim is again victimized by people playing the ‘christian’ game.

    • Yes. It is so common for people who claim to be Christian to put on their judgment hats and condemn the victim for all of her “sins.” I’m still afraid of people who claim to be Christian.

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