Monthly Archives: March 2016

You Have a Story


You Have a Story

My strategy to survive was to appease the soldiers and to make friends with them. I thought, if only we could make friends with these soldiers, then we would survive. 

But porters can die at any time. For example, if a soldier got angry and just shot me with his gun, nothing would happen to him. I would just die, like a chicken or a rat. To Tanintharyi Division, they send 500 porters every year. Of the 500, only 72 porters make it back to the prison. If you survive, you survive.

I was a porter for nearly six months.

~ Lai Pa, 34-year-old man from Burma. Source: How to Use Stories to Change the World.

by Hillary McFarland

Everybody has a story. Sometimes it’s buried so deep we forget we have something to say. We wonder who would want to listen? And often it’s so painful that reliving our stories through the telling process is such an overwhelming prospect that we squash it into oblivion.
Stories are like sculptures. They must be chiseled slowly, carefully. Creating art from a sprawling array of experiences takes time. And yet, this can be powerful. Redemptive. And part of a personal healing journey.
My book features many stories from women who share their experiences of setting out like Abraham into a land they do not know, a life they do not know. It’s a tremendous act of faith to follow the prompting of God and leave all they’ve known behind, but these women are brave. Courageous. And I am deeply inspired by them. They are my heroes. And I continue to hear from others who do the same … who leave all to take up their cross and follow God into the wilderness despite extreme physical and emotional hardship, rejection from their families, and the comfort of what they’ve always known. It is scary to walk by faith! It is agonizing to endure accusations, knowing that your act of godly obedience reaps judgments of rebellion, of feminism, of apostasy and worse from those you love the most.
It is in this pain, in this becoming, in this life journey, we find your story.

God gave you something to say. Even if you don’t believe in this idea of a Creator who has an ultimate plan for the universe, there is something in you that knows you have a purpose. That there is more to life than just you and me and all our stupid, fleeting fancies.

(Yes, I just used “fleeting fancies” in a blog post. That’s how I roll.)

You have a unique voice with a unique message. It is called your story. And only you can tell it. ~ Jeff Goins, You Have a Voice

He hosts my favorite website for writers. He is encouraging and inspirational, offering fresh perspectives on the art of prose. He says that everyone has a story to tell. And he reminds us that:

To be an artist (a writer, photographer, painter, musician, etc.) is to suffer, but not without meaning. Not without purpose. To be an artist is also to create something beautiful that can alleviate pain. ~ Jeff Goins, Art Helps us Deal with Suffering

Some of the early drafts of my book Quivering Daughters were written in real time. For me, writing helps me to process. It’s like lifting the lid off a pot of boiling water, allowing steam, and therefore pressure, to escape. It allows the rabid, frothy pain to dissipate so I can see what is really there underneath the surface of emotional reaction. It helps bring clarity.
My story, and the stories of my heroes, are real. They are told through our own unique perspectives. This is something no one else has. No one else can tell your story the way you can. But here is what I want you to take from this: when you share your story, with all of its nuances of light and dark, of pain and joy and heartache and victory and morning and shadow, when you flood your pages with vulnerability and crack open those deep, hidden places, there will be those who try to discount your experience because they had a different one. They have different eyes and don’t trust your eyes. They have a different tolerance of pain. And they will dismiss you. They will try to re-write your story. Or edit it. Or tell you that you’re wrong. Maybe even that you are lying.

You can’t take my story away from me.

Here’s the thing. God knows the truth. He knows the truth about your story, and that is what matters. Trust Him. He knows what your eyes see. Tell your story with confidence because you answer to Him, not to those who discount your thoughts and experiences and feelings. You don’t have to defend the truth. Truth defends you. Be faithful to God’s calling and trust Him. He is faithful.
If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.  Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God… John 3:20-21
Your story comes from your heart. It is a culmination of many things, but it gestates in your heart and you birth it, and it comes alive. Guard your heart. Keep it with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Don’t give it away. Don’t let your story be re-written by others.
What story do you have to tell?
What keeps you from telling it?


17 comments:

  1. As a direct corollary, Listening is an act of love.

    Once there was this guy who had two sons….

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  2. Beautiful, Hillary. The last two questions gave me goosebumps.

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  3. Hillary, thank you. I needed to hear that again. <3

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  4. Someone with an experience will never be at the mercy of someone with an opinion.

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  5. My brother led me to your page… Completely inspired by your post today. Praying God will allow me to take the right steps to put my journey into words.

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  6. Writing helps me process too…which is why I started my blog.

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  7. I had never thought of it like that. But it's so true. I like it.

    And I agree with Anne – writing it out really does help!

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  8. Thanks for your piece. Perhaps this answer will help others to know they are not alone in their self-speak in their minds when trying to find their voice. On the second question, "What keeps you from telling it?", I answer:

    People will not understand. They will judge me for it. It is self-centred to focus on my own story. It's one story in all the world's millions of stories, why should people care about it?

    Or perhaps even posting this is self-centred and a waste of time, and much worse will be telling parts from my story. But that reasoning must be wrong, as I don't regard others as selfish when they tell theirs. So I post as Anonymous.

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  9. Yes!
    Don't let your story be rewritten by others.
    Don't let others squash the truth of your story because they can't handle the truth.
    Don't let others shame you out of your story because it doesn't line up with what they want your story to be.
    It's YOUR story. It's YOUR life. It's YOUR pain. It belongs to you and it is the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy the truth of your story.

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  10. Indeed. great post. I have spent many hours with a pen and paper to help me handle the stress in my life growing up.

    What keeps me from telling my own story?

    Well, can I answer that with a question?

    How do you tell your story without hurting the people involved? I have a story, but I don't want to go there because I know it will hurt the perpetrator whom I know all along had been well-meaning in their great error.

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  11. Great words… thanks for sharing… Your description of the pot boiling and the words letting out the steam…yea, I get that… speaks my heart too…

    My first visit here… loved it.

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  12. I also write to process things, it's like free therapy. Thank you for writing this. I wrestle with how to write my story out, because I am kind of like brittany in the sense that I don't want to hurt anyone. But I've come to realize that I am telling my story, not anyone elses. I tell what I have lived in my own words, and I've found that when I get that feeling as though I might have shared to much, it is usually because I was trying to prove my perspective with to many details. I have nothing to prove. People can try to re-write it, or demand more detail to justify my understanding, but I am just me, with my feelings and thoughts and experiences. And I have a voice.

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  13. Great post! and thanks for the blog love.

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  14. You, my friend, take my breath away every time you write. HOW do you hear my heart even when I can't? Love, love, LOVE this. <3

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  15. Brittney wrote: How do you tell your story without hurting the people involved? I have a story, but I don't want to go there because I know it will hurt the perpetrator whom I know all along had been well-meaning in their great error.

    Great question, Brittney. For me, the answer becomes: is it something God has called you to do? Anything He has asked you to do He will equip you to do. He will show you how to do it with grace; the important thing is to walk obediently and trust that He will show you the way. What isn't good is allowing fear to keep you from answering His call…just start writing and He will help you know how to write, what to say. Sometimes truth isn't pretty but God can bring life and beauty and joy from broken things…He is the Redeemer! Believe me when I say that it isn't easy. You must be 1000% sure that it is something God has asked of you, and commit to walking in obedience. {{hugs}}

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  16. Brittney: Also, from a rather more mundane perspective, there's no shame in writing anonymously, or in using pseudonyms to identify yourself or others. Even professionally published memoirs do this all the time: "Names have been changed to protect the innocent."

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An Unnecessary Jesus?


An Unnecessary Jesus?

T he day I began to write about domestic spiritual abuse and the abusive aspect of modern patriarchy, especially within the Christian homeschooling movement, initiated a response I’ve heard repeatedly since: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” It hasn’t always been clear whether people mean to say “Don’t throw Jesus away just because some Christians misrepresent the gospel” or “Don’t throw away patriarchy because of patriocentrists” or “Just because there might be some bad, there’s good too” or “Don’t have a knee-jerk reaction to something that has a lot of good, just because some people may do it wrong.” I would like to humbly state that my entire goal is to actually get to that baby ~ at least, the One born of the virgin Mary who became for us the water of life. Not that He needs rescuing, but because He’s being pushed away until we’re left with a murky sludge, poisonous, thick, and served with God’s name in a ‘biblical’ chalice.
The water of death.   
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-8)

Patriocentricity is spiritual abuse. It is a false gospel. It preaches a different Jesus and renders the Way, Truth, and Life, who is our only Priest and Sacrifice and Mediator, unnecessary. In his latest article, my friend Lewis  reminds us that the veil in the temple was ripped by God at the crucifixion of Jesus, and then writes of patriocentricity:
…Sewing up the veil, stitch after stitch, until soon, their wives and children are once again separated from a loving, caring, forgiving, and readily accessible (through Christ) God. Men defying scripture to become “high priest of the home”. Unfortunately for this methodology, the Spirit of God doesn’t reside in a temple made by man (Acts 17:24) and doesn’t dwell in the “home”. This negates the need for any “high priest of the home”, as the high priest, literally defined, is one who deals with God on behalf of the people. WE are the temple. I repeat…WE are the temple. WE, through the completed work of Christ, house the Spirit of God within us. There is ONE who deals with God on our behalf: Jesus Christ (1st Timothy 2:5). All of the scripture speaks against the notion of “the high priest of the home”. It’s a dangerous, destructive, and spiritually abusive idea. No more need for a high priest. We have a perfect and eternal High Priest who doesn’t need our help. His work is complete.

Lewis calls this, rightly, “Patriarchal Apostasy.”

If you take Jesus out of the equation, their authoritarian culture doesn’t change. If you take the authoritarian culture out of the equation, they have no Jesus. It IS their Jesus.

Dear friends, this is serious! In the true Jesus and His gospel there is simplicity.

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Cor. 11:13-15)

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Gal. 3:1-4)

Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Cor. 3:12-16)

God Himself ripped the veil. The Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands. He has poured out His Spirit on all who believe ~
And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:16-18,emphasis added)
Prophets are, in part, servants of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit, speaking truth. But, “Do not quench the Spirit,” Paul warns. “Do not despise prophecies. Test all things, hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” Those who work to repair the veil and who quench the Spirit in the lives of those seeking to follow the true Christ serve the worst kind of evil…it is evil bathed in light.
This isn’t about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
It’s about spiritual warfare. 


39 comments:

  1. Fruit speaks louder than words.
    Matt. 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
    21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

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  2. Awesome.
    I just read Lewis's article too and he said it so well.

    I never thought of "Don't throw the baby out of the bathwater" as anything but, "Keep Jesus and lose the 'extras' others try to add to Him."

    Glad you pointed out to me that there are other versions. I won't throw this statement around lightly. Will probably quit using it at all.

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  3. True about the fruits. You know the legalists love to use this verse to prove that if you don't have "fruit" like them, then you aren't a true follower of Christ.

    However, these verses are directly speaking to the *TEACHERS*…not the disciples. False teachers, false prophets. We are to look at the teachers and "prophets" fruits. Let's measure up their fruit to what the Word of God really does say. ♥

    Heather ♥

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  4. "I would like to humbly state that my entire goal is to actually get to that baby ~ at least, the One born of the virgin Mary who became for us the water of life."

    Amen and amen. I love that line in response to "throwing the baby out with the bathwater".

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  5. Love it!

    I think it was Tozer who asked, "If the Holy Spirit didn't show up where you worship, what would be different?" (Words to that effect, probably better ones.) If the answer is nothing, you're doing it wrong.

    Also, 2 Cor 11:3-4: "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ [one of my favorite phrases ever, right there]. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully."

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  6. Ha! I did throw out the baby when I left organized religion and i kept the bathwater of rigid, ritual adherence to rules: just rules for all the back to the land, home birthing, getting away from Big Pharma and other corporate oligarchs. I got there through completely non-Christian non-religious paths but I ended up in the same unloving, unspiritual, place preaching loudly to the not-quite-as-holy.

    My journey this last year has been about actually throwing out ALL the bathwater by whatever name it is called and refocusing my energy on the Source. Even though my family is happy not to have to try to live up to my standards anymore, even they are confusing my efforts as just another trade in addictions.

    I try to explain that I traded addictions before–became a "dry Christian" as it were–but that this time I'm actually trying to "do the Steps". I suppose they feel as though they've heard all this before. And it really will come down to what Fruit they see in me over time: will I actually become more loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, gentle, kind, ….

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  7. Hillary, I read this to my husband. He, too, loved your opening paragraph. Well put!

    When I got down to the scripture from Acts 2, he said…in his typical tongue in cheek fashion…"aww…what does he know? I mean…hey…he only wrote part of the bible, right?"

    Getting back to the baby. You go, girl!

    Sorry you have all the spam. πŸ™ Sometimes people just cannot accept that there just might be another side to something that they don't see. It is even harder to accept it when to do so may cause them to lose their circle of friends and community.

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  8. "Every plant that my Heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up." (John 15:13; ESV)

    If something doesn't come from our Father in Heaven, He will "root it up" from our lives, rather we like it or not. This is slowly happening to me, and it's quite a painful and confusing undertaking.

    I'm still slowly reading your book and learning so much from it.

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  9. "Those who work to repair the veil and who quench the Spirit in the lives of those seeking to follow the true Christ serve the worst kind of evil…it is evil bathed in light."

    Another great point. Sometimes that which wears the uniform of virtue and purity is the nothing more than evil, even when those involved are blind to it. Very symptomatic of patriarchy.

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  10. Thank you, everyone, for your kind comments and patience with moderation…truthfully I don't like having it enabled and will hopefully remove it successfully after spambots realize its hopeless. πŸ™‚ So please continue to leave your thoughts. πŸ™‚
    ____

    Queen ~ great to see you, and I agree that the uprooting can be very painful. And yet, there is hope:
    Jer. 17:7,8 7 “ Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
    And whose hope is the LORD.
    8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
    Which spreads out its roots by the river,
    And will not fear when heat comes;
    But its leaf will be green,
    And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
    Nor will cease from yielding fruit."

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  11. And speaking of fruit ~ that is GOOD fruit. πŸ™‚

    Sandra, your family will see it. Stay steadfast and strong. Bless you as you sort through all of the lies and cling to your Source. {{hugs}}

    Abigail, Eric, Lewis, Heather, and Mara ~ thanks for the encouragement. Please pray, for these things are serious, and prevalent, and so many are left aching. πŸ™

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  12. Hillary, I love your words. I was thinking of the scripture today that says when the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

    Praying for your life and work to keep bearing good fruit, fruit that lasts and brings honor to God.

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  13. I appreciate the point of the veil being sewn back up. This is what happens, and Lewis writes it so well. I had never thought of it in word pictures that way.

    I also completely agree with your last statement, Hillary. It is about "spiritual warfare".

    The religious spirit, in my opinion, is found across the entire Body of Christ in varying degrees. It is fueled by pride of Christian human beings who need to humble themselves in the sight of God. This precious promise is spoken in Hebrews.

    It is only when we repent that we can then be lifted up by God, only then. Humility is the one lethal human choice against pride and the subsequent demonic invasion which comes into our Christian borders through strongholds like the religious spirit.

    I hope and pray those in the Patriarch Movement and Quiverfull Movement whom have strayed from the grace of God through Jesus Christ will come back into the fold. All it takes is humility.

    I internally weep and pray for Quivering Daughters. May there be healing and restoration for them through our Precious Lord Jesus Christ. May they know the beauty of the light burden and yoke and the marvelous fellowship of our Comforter Holy Spirit each day as they are delivered from the evil. May they be able to turn, and forgive the sin of movements which have afflicted them with arrogance of false doctrine, and may they pray for revival too. In Jesus' Name…

    It IS very simple, thank you for saying so Hillary. It is equally very serious. When our Lord Jesus Christ returns, (and He does so at times in history though this is not the time of His coming in the clouds as spoken in Revelation) it is a blessed and fearful thing. Your book and the other authors surrounding you are reaching out to the broken in spirit. I say I hope those who are in arrogance take note unto repentance and change.

    I am praying for you daily, and I scan read much of your book last night.

    Love and blessings,
    Cara

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  14. I appreciate Lewis' point of the veil being sewn back up. What a vivid word picture this is.

    I agree completely that it IS about a spiritual war, Hillary. I feel the Religious spirit (demonic) is fueled by the pride of human beings. This IS serious.

    I read a lot of your book last night, Hillary, and I am thankful to God that you as well as the other authors whom you are using on your blog and in your book are doing what you are. I am blessed and encouraged by your balance.

    I pray for you and Quivering Daughters. I equally pray for those whom need to repent. It is only when we humble ourselves in the sight of God that we can be lifted up.

    Blessing to you today…Cara

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  15. AMEN. My husband and I came out of a less sever environment ('church') but it nearly destroyed our family nevertheless. They called it Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Give me Jesus anday! So glad we're free in him now and so much happier. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  16. I, too, just want to be able to get to the baby – to Jesus. I put sooo many things ahead of Him. I'm so glad He is patient with me!

    Thanks, Hillary, for putting this so well.

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  17. Sorry about the spam. πŸ™ Thanks for being willing to do the extra work!

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  18. Thank you for stopping by, Jul, and welcome to my blog!

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  19. I suggest that the "baby with the bathwater" idiom means that there is an aspect of a situation being dealt with which has truth and/or value, and that the surrounding aspects which may be undesireable should not be allowed to obliterate that true and valueable thing which is in the midst of the undesireable.
    Relative to your message and posts (which I have and do read) it is quite obvious that the great and wonderful truth of Ex.20:12 is regularly and carelessly discarded with the bathwater of parental failure to affirm their children. It is obvious that the choice of a great and loving, all-knowing God to put you, Hillary, and Lewis – and Lewis' former 'interest', and other such "abused" and "oppressed" daughters, into such abusive and oppressive homes was not a good thing and was not done by Him to build in you(all) the character of Christ and to demonstrate that Christlike character first in that family where He put you. I could paste quotes from many of the posts and comments that show the Truth-Jesus working thru the parents He chose-being thrown out with the weak understanding of "liberty" and "freedom" and -sadly defiled understandings of "grace." "There is a generation that curses its father and does not bless its mother."Pr.30:11. "Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old." Pr.23:22. The "baby" of Bethlehem, whom you discuss your attempts to find, are equally the Word of these Scriptures also. Find Him there.

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  20. Hillary, this is so right on! I have been studying just the last few days about the veil being torn again and love this part, but it is resonating again in a new and deep way in regards to oppression and guilt… letting it all go for freedom and the generous healing light! I definitely do not like seeing the shadow in the door between me and God.. so it is divine timing that I am here again.

    So much sludge is wanting to come back again in my life for that final cleansing to be free of my overly authoritative past..and bathed, fully immersed in not just clear water as I did for my baptism 5 years ago … but now to be bathed in this pure Love knowing what it has done in depth for me…

    I actually wondered how you can do this ministry task just the last few days, and this post answers it for me.. because just working through this all in segments is so painful, but God has truly given you strength, and extra healing for your wings. I thank God for you, and pray his blessing over you as you continue to touch so many wounded hearts!

    It has been so tough and yet comforting to be here and share in these topics and connect to small aha's and try not to be overwhelmed by the fear and guilt that wants to take over again. I want that root out and to truly experience the glory and the light, and the full blossoms! A lot of tug-of-war right now.. against old programmed thoughts, and now, trusting my own inner process.. completely, and standing against the other calling it out as untruthful.

    Thank you, thank you for all that you are doing.. I absolutely love the part you shared that We are the Temple and the beginning about saving the Baby (the hope, and peace of the world).. this portion below really is so beautiful and resonates with where I am at with connecting more intimately with Mary's role to make her Son shine.

    "I would like to humbly state that my entire goal is to actually get to that baby ~ at least, the One born of the virgin Mary who became for us the water of life. Not that He needs rescuing, but because He's being pushed away until we're left with a murky sludge, poisonous, thick, and served with God's name in a 'biblical' chalice."

    hugs, all the best and I hope this isn't too lengthy!

    xx
    Jenn

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  21. "It is obvious that the choice of a great and loving, all-knowing God to put you, Hillary, and Lewis – and Lewis' former 'interest', and other such "abused" and "oppressed" daughters, into such abusive and oppressive homes was not a good thing and was not done by Him to build in you(all) the character of Christ and to demonstrate that Christlike character first in that family where He put you."

    Anonymous…Why on earth would you blame God for the abuse that goes on in patriocentric homes? God may have chosen our families, but he didn't choose their idolatrous practices or abusive behaviors. They did. Please do Him a favor and stop laying the blame at His feet.

    The scriptures you quote are used with your presupposition that the fathers and mothers inferred are genuinely following Christ. In using these scriptures, and telling us to find Jesus in them when they aren't speaking of Jesus, but rather of fathers and mothers, aren't you making our point for is?

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  22. It is obvious that the choice of a great and loving, all-knowing God to put you, Hillary, and Lewis – and Lewis' former 'interest', and other such "abused" and "oppressed" daughters, into such abusive and oppressive homes was not a good thing and was not done by Him to build in you(all) the character of Christ and to demonstrate that Christlike character first in that family where He put you…."There is a generation that curses its father and does not bless its mother."Pr.30:11. "Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old." Pr.23:22.

    I would greatly like to find where it is on this blog that this message has been presented, because it certainly isn't what I've written…if there is something I need to correct, I truly want to know. I definitely don't wish to mis-communicate. I realize, with a humble heart, that there will be times others will disagree with me but I prefer it to be with something I've actually written.

    This will come out more strongly than I usually respond, but in humility I say that I mean this with gentleness and love to whom I hope is a brother or sister in Christ. I don't care about myself, but I completely object to your insinuation that those who have lived this lifestyle and experienced these struggles do not or have not understood the importance of Christ-like character or of demonstrating it, first, in their family of origin. I submit that in most cases, such things rarely if ever left their minds, especially as they advanced in years. The desire to please God and parents over all else (and being constantly faced with the reality of their own flesh, wickedness, failure, and lack of measuring up) is a message I hear constantly and a reason many give for resorting to self-injury, suicidal ideation, etc.

    If you were addressing me privately or asking an honest question about something, I would not venture to defend in this way but your comments are not edifying on behalf of my audience and I will stand with Jesus for the brokenhearted, for the oppressed, for the blind, for the captives, for the lost, for the hurting, for the hungry, and for those who only need a cup of Living Water.

    Your inclusion of the Scriptures you chose suggests that you find them to be applicable in this context, which only serves to accuse those who read and relate to this blog of:

    1)cursing fathers,
    2)not blessing mothers
    3)not listening to fathers,
    4)and despising mothers.

    Those are some serious accusations! I can't pretend to know the hearts of all my readers…….which also means that neither can you. Prooftexting Scripture is serious…and such accusations are also! If you believe someone has actually cursed their father or who actually despises their mother then let us go to them in the love and humility and passion of Christ and show them where they have erred and endeavor to restore them.

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  23. Jenn….it's never too long. πŸ™‚ Keep listening to the Holy Spirit as you sort through the conflicting messages…He, the Spirit of Truth, has come to guide us into all truth. I'm glad that you find comfort and encouragement here! <3

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  24. Lewis, When do I get to hear you opine on the first commandment with promise (also repeated clearly in the NT), with all the ferocity ("idolatrous," "abusive," etc.) you express against parents? Do you acknowledge the prensence of Ex.20:12? Does it teach that God is going to affect the future days of children in relation to their honoring of their parents? Do you really believe that these parents are under some oath to intentionally hurt and deny God to their daughters? That they are out to cause pain and sadness, and keep their daughters from God's best for their lives? That there is some intentional alliance to imprision the souls of children for selfish reasons?
    They are, in reality, fathers (and mothers) born with the same sinful heart that you have, and trying their best to do what they understand is best for their children. And where there is insensitivity and failure, it is rarely due to intentional plans of a parent to cause hurt to their children. Hence the commandment doesn't come with all the explanation and exception clauses that you are so so so quick to patch on there.
    Hillary, your post was about the accusations you received re. the "baby being thrown out with the bathwater." I tried to bring that back out of the allegorical confusion you turned it into. You noted a week or so back that you were going to write some about "the things my parents did right," and yet the very context of noting your intent was to provide the balance of how clearly you express how much your parents did wrong! Did I misread your first chapter? Your mom -kerosene- it didn't work- we were burned? And your use of the word "burned" was intended to express more than just the kerosene incident, no? How do I then find respect and honor for parents, and an attitude that I/you – as an adult believer – will do all that I can to a)show God that I am the best possible daughter/sister I can be in Christ in the home that God chose for me, and b)that no one will be able to accuse me and my actions of being dishonorable to my parents. God turns the hearts of kings whereever He wills. If God so turned your fathers heart to say, "It's a bad idea," then you clearly don't honor God by rejecting your father's opinion.
    Again, the baby of the idiom is a sovereign God working THRU parents to build the character of Christ in children, not independent minded young adults allegorizing idolatry to justify their independent natures. And hence, many daughters are being turned away from their fathers, and hence away from the promise of the commandment. Your first read in the "new, start here" tab, Hillary, is very balanced and well presented. THAT is what needs to emphasized more than the Lewis brand of bashing all the "babies" in his blog heading. And you, also, could try explaining what the Truth means when it says that "blessed is the man whose quiver is full." Isn't that verse Truth? Lewis – can you even attempt to support the teaching of that Scripture without a rash of "buts" and exceptions? Hillary, your very title is intended to cast disrespect on the biblical concept of a blessed man who has all the children he can for the glory of God, i.e. a full quiver. So I don't think my accusations are in error. And again, try and deal aggressively with the "baby" -Ex.20:12!

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  25. Anonymous, are you saying that abuse is ok as long as the abuser says they don't mean to hurt a child? Are you saying that parents are perfect? Are you saying that adults should obey every whim of their parents?

    If that is true, then why was it ok for our parents to homeschool us when their parents didn't agree with it? Why was it ok for our parents to go against their parents' wishes as long as it was something they felt God wanted them to do?

    In no way are we saying that we should not honor our parents. But sometimes honor is not obeying their every whim. Honor is obeying GOD.

    My parents raised me to follow God. My dad told us numerous times that he wanted us to continue on the journey they had begun toward God – he wanted us to go beyond where he and mom had been able to go. He wanted us to continue to make progress in the next generation.

    Following God means acknowledging wrong that was done so we can forsake that in the next generation. Following God means holding on to what was good and taking that with us to the next generation. Both of these mean discerning, figuring out, making judgement calls on what is right and what is wrong.

    The men of Israel, from 20 years old and up, were accountable to God for their actions in the wilderness. No young man could claim, when they chose not to go into the promised land, that he was "just honoring his father" by refusing to go in. God's command had been clear. And each man had to decide for himself. God judged each man for his own decision, not the decision of his father or grandfather.

    Anonymous, have you read the stories of some of us? Do you really agree that making a child work beyond their strength is ok? Do you agree that ignoring major depression and self-abuse issues in a child is ok? Do you agree that beating a child until he can't breathe is ok? Do you believe that rarely praising your child for good behavior and attitudes is ok?

    All we are saying is that this type of thing is not ok. That a child should be cared for and made to feel special to God and his parents.

    We are not saying that children (especially young children) shouldn't be made to obey. Of course they should. But as a child enters their teens, more and more decisions should be handed over to them. They need to learn in a safe, gradual way how to make decisions on their own. Otherwise, there is no way they will be ready to be an adult, to be a husband or wife, to be a father or mother.

    Every parent will make mistakes. Every child, therefore every person on this earth, will have emotional and perhaps physical scars from their parents. We are not saying that we are the only ones on the earth hurting. Our parents have scars too. What we are saying is let's seek healing together where possible. But if our parents refuse to seek God's healing, does that mean we should refuse to seek Him as well?

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  26. "Lewis, When do I get to hear you opine on the first commandment with promise (also repeated clearly in the NT), with all the ferocity ("idolatrous," "abusive," etc.) you express against parents?"

    In Jewish society, at age 12 a girl (and 13 for a boy) was considered a "legal" adult, no longer religiously, morally, socially, or legally bound to obey her parents – free to make her own choices without the interference of her parents. In the NT, the scriptures dealing with children obeying their parents are translated from teknon and talitha, which means "little child".

    "Do you acknowledge the prensence of Ex.20:12?"

    Sure I do.

    "Does it teach that God is going to affect the future days of children in relation to their honoring of their parents?"

    Sure it does. Honor and obey have little in common besides the letter "O", however. A child honors a parent by living a life pleasing to the Lord…not a life pleasing to their parents. Ideally, those would be the same thing, but they're not always so.

    "Do you really believe that these parents are under some oath to intentionally hurt and deny God to their daughters? That they are out to cause pain and sadness, and keep their daughters from God's best for their lives? That there is some intentional alliance to imprision the souls of children for selfish reasons?"

    I don't think many of them started out with the intention of hurting their children, but along the way, to make the system work, it required full-blown devotion that made the system the god of their lives. Intentions matter little at this point, as they've hurt their daughters, placed obstacles between them and the Lord, caused pain and sadness, and interfered with God's plan for the lives of their children. When people start talking intention, it's usually a smokescreen for very, very, very bad results.

    "They are, in reality, fathers (and mothers) born with the same sinful heart that you have,"

    The Spirit of God dwells in my heart through Christ Jesus. I try not to dwell on the old sin-nature or be a slave to it.

    "and trying their best to do what they understand is best for their children."

    This is what I have the most difficulty understanding about the patriarchal movement. Christ made clear His thoughts and distaste for the commandments of men. Why would parents believe the commandments of men are best for their children if they're truly following Christ and not man?

    "And where there is insensitivity and failure, it is rarely due to intentional plans of a parent to cause hurt to their children. Hence the commandment doesn't come with all the explanation and exception clauses that you are so so so quick to patch on there."

    The commandment doesn't instruct adult children to obey their parents. That's an exception clause that the patriarchal movement has patched on there.

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  27. "How do I then find respect and honor for parents, and an attitude that I/you – as an adult believer – will do all that I can to a)show God that I am the best possible daughter/sister I can be in Christ in the home that God chose for me, and b)that no one will be able to accuse me and my actions of being dishonorable to my parents."

    This was addressed to Hillary, but I'd like to comment on it…The patriarchal movement has transfered honor and respect to the same definition as "obey", "submit", and "support wholeheartedly". Before the conversation can really move forward, it needs to be established whether your views are processed through that filter and if you consider those words to all mean the same thing.

    "God turns the hearts of kings whereever He wills. If God so turned your fathers heart to say, "It's a bad idea," then you clearly don't honor God by rejecting your father's opinion."

    Again, addressed to Hillary, but I'd like to comment…There's usually a pretty definitive way to see of it's actually God turning the heart: measure with scripture. What if a father's opinion disagrees with God's? Not everything that happens is the work and will of a sovereign God. In fact, I'd dare to say that MOST of the things happening in the world aren't the work and will of God…but they happen nonetheless, despite the scope of His sovereignty.

    "Again, the baby of the idiom is a sovereign God working THRU parents to build the character of Christ in children, not independent minded young adults allegorizing idolatry to justify their independent natures."

    It isn't a sin to be independent minded. God doesn't demand or instruct that adult children share or further any particular family unit's vision. They have no need, whatsoever, to justify something that isn't an offense. Independence isn't rebellion. It's independence.

    "And hence, many daughters are being turned away from their fathers, and hence away from the promise of the commandment."

    This isn't accurate on any level, nor is it a responsible handling of the scripture.

    "Your first read in the "new, start here" tab, Hillary, is very balanced and well presented. THAT is what needs to emphasized more than the Lewis brand of bashing all the "babies" in his blog heading."

    My blog heading merely tells my readers what my blog is about. There's very little editorial nature to it. If you consider Christ to be the baby in question, I'd be careful in putting patriarchy, quiverfull, courtship, and the like on an equal level with Him.

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  28. "And you, also, could try explaining what the Truth means when it says that "blessed is the man whose quiver is full.""

    A quiver generally holds 6 arrows (seems I heard that somewhere recently). So is it sinful and gluttonous to have 7 children? What equates to full, and is it gluttony to surpass it and a curse to not reach it? Regardless of how one interprets the meaning of that verse, I don't think God ever intended it to become a foundational element of the gospel. It would be a shame if an entire faith and Christian way of life was constructed around that one very, very, very ancillary verse.

    "Isn't that verse Truth? Lewis – can you even attempt to support the teaching of that Scripture without a rash of "buts" and exceptions?"

    Probably not, if I'm going to be held at the disadvantage of any disagreement equating to a "but" or an "exception".

    "Hillary, your very title is intended to cast disrespect on the biblical concept of a blessed man who has all the children he can for the glory of God, i.e. a full quiver. So I don't think my accusations are in error."

    This is another needless and baseless accusation.

    "And again, try and deal aggressively with the "baby" -Ex.20:12!"

    Please don't make Jesus unnecessary by placing all emphasis and loyalty on parents or a system of patriarchal belief…which is exactly the point Hillary was trying to make in her post, and the point I've tried to make in my recent posts. Until Jesus is given precedent, until Jesus still upholds one's faith when all else is taken away, including the human authority structure, Jesus has been rendered unnecessary.

    Please consider this.

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  29. Anon –
    My answer to your general question about these bloggers and commenters "ignoring" the command to honor their parents is this – for more than a decade I tried, REALLY REALLY HARD, to honor my father by forgiving and submitting. I tried constantly to adjust myself (though not with anywhere near complete success) and often blamed myself for the fact that he never seemed to get better.

    When I finally admitted to myself that he was abusive, that even though he had tried extremely hard to do better than had been done to him in childhood (and he was better, just still not healthy), when I finally admitted that I had been living with abuse, THAT is when I started being able to honor my dad. It's a long story, but almost immediately after I accepted that fact I started feeling all those things I tried to beat into myself for years – love, affection, forgiveness, an oh well that's not a big deal attitude – all of those things seemed to surge in when I started living by what was true.

    Admitting to myself and to a couple other people that my parents had done some very messed up things has been completely changing my family. My dad is making progress like we have NEVER seen before and so is the rest of the family.

    So, in my case, beginning to speak openly and with love but also boldly about things that were wrong has turned out to be the true honor. My parents always told us they wanted us to be better Christians than them and I am finally taking them at their word. I NEVER thought my parents wanted to cause me harm, but trying to relate to them by what their intentions were made everything much worse. Relating based on what was really happening is making everything tons better!

    Also, God may turn the hearts of kings, but where does that verse say it also means fathers? Just wondering…

    To finish my rambling thoughts, I've tried the "honor = obey." For adults relating to adults, it can become hell on earth. Relating to my parents as another adult now is making life for THEM much happier as it is bringing THEM closer to God, not just me.

    L

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  30. Dear Anonymous,

    I will try to address the concerns you raised in your second comment, but I’m sure you can understand that I don’t have unlimited time to continue responding to baiting comments that discuss material which can be found by searching the archives of this blog. I’ve tried to remain open and willing to discuss opposing viewpoints, and to do so in a respectful manner. My purpose and calling has been made clear in several places and I’m sure you can understand that I am more interested in trying to fulfill what I believe God has asked of me than by using my time on this blog for other reasons. If you have genuine concerns that you would like me to consider and pray over and seek God about, I invite you to compose an email that I can read as I have time. I simply can’t guarantee that I will be able to keep replying to these comments.

    The others have made very good points in what they’ve shared. You’ve brought up Exodus 20:12 several times. It seems we have adopted different interpretations of what it means to honor parents. I don’t believe that honor is synonymous with obedience, and believe that Paul also makes that distinction in Eph. 6:1-2. In verse 4, when he mentions children again, he talks about “bringing them up.” Adults are already brought up, so the assertions he makes to fathers here don’t apply to them. I write to adults so do not believe I need to constantly add reminders such as, “But if you are a child, be sure to obey them.”
    (con't below)

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  31. Since you are familiar with the first article in my “Start Here” section, let me quote from it regarding my own stance on honor:

    Regardless of your living situation, remember that a parent is honored when you obey the Lord, even if it isn't in a manner they wish. A parent is honored when you love the Lord and stand up for righteousness. A parent is honored when you seek truth. When you put the Lord first in your life, your parents are honored, which means that when you take your eyes off your parents and place them on Jesus, this brings them honor.

    Let me add here (as I’ve stated elsewhere) that sometimes honor will be obeying, if you mean by obey that an adult child hears a parent’s request, considers it prayerfully, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit chooses to make the decision their parent hopes they make. But other times, God might lead them differently. I think where you and I will continue to disagree is that I believe adult children who claim to be followers of Christ must always put Holy God above earthly parents. Sometimes God will lead us to “obey” our parents. Sometimes He will lead us in a direction our parents question, fear, and sometimes even downright disapprove of. But I also believe that obedience to God over parents does not equal disobedience to parents.
    (con't below)

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  32. If our parents are Christians then they are our brothers and sisters in Christ…yes, we should honor, respect, and care for them, but ultimately, they are equal with us before God. Consider if as adults, your own brother or sister asked you to do something. If you did what they asked, would that be you “obeying”? Or simply you doing a favor? Or what if your adult brother or sister commanded you to do something? What if it were a friend of yours? You can give thought and prayer to their demand, seek God’s direction and Scripture, maybe even seek the counsel of others, and decide if it is a healthy or righteous step for you to take. But that still doesn’t mean you’re “obeying” them if you do it or “disobeying” if you’re not. The fact that you even consider their command, suggestion, or request gives them honor.

    You wrote,
    “You noted a week or so back that you were going to write some about "the things my parents did right”. I wrote 5 weeks ago:

    Someone asked me recently, point blank, if I still loved my parents. As in currently, now, today. Honestly? I love them more than I ever have.
    Perhaps this seems incongruous with writing about the hurtful effects of spiritual and emotional abuse in the family structure. Although there have been many repercussions (fruits) spiritually, emotionally, and in other ways that I've encountered and had to work my way through, hand in hand with the Lord, it is because of this that I can sit here today in obedience to His calling. Additionally, it is understood that not every family will practice the same things in the same manner. (For example, when I was growing up, Vision Forum didn't even exist ~ although I have many readers who now experience the teachings and beliefs that are promoted by them. And for another example, in their wisdom, my parents did not get into Gothard like many of our homeschooling friends did. And yet I have many readers who were part of ATI. And the fruits of those teachings ~ some of the effects on the daughters of patriarchy ~ are some of what I address in this blog. ) Does this mean that any of our families were all wrong? No, and I don't know how else to state that I'm not saying they are. I hope and pray that where I lack in my communication the Lord will help me.
    In the next few weeks I hope to post What My Family Did Right.

    (con't below………..)

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  33. It still is on my list of articles to write (there are many). The true context of writing what I did was actually a response to something that someone had asked me recently “Do you still love your parents?” To be honest, the question was asked by someone who didn’t even read this blog, so they wouldn’t know how much or how little I wrote about certain things. I didn’t think that point was necessary to make because it is irrelevant ~ it just made me start thinking about how much I actually DO love them, which is “more so now than I ever have”. I then continued with “Perhaps this seems incongruous with…” But, anonymous, the truth is, those things…”the hurtful effects of spiritual and emotional abuse in the family structure”… ARE what I write about and my context is very clear throughout my blog (and book). It’s not a fun or light topic. Sometimes posting lighter things is for my own benefit. I believe God HAS called me to address these issues, and I consider it a “blessed burden.” But sometimes talking about happier stuff helps me personally to “come up for air” so to speak. I’m sorry that you were looking forward to that post and that it still remains only my list. Shortly after that post where I mentioned I planned to write it, my book came out (earlier than expected at that point) and other things came up that I needed to address. I also went out of town and took a much needed writing break. (Like I said, I don’t have unlimited time. *smile*) It certainly wasn’t an intentional oversight.
    (con't below)

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  34. You wrote: “And you, also, could try explaining what the Truth means when it says that "blessed is the man whose quiver is full." Isn't that verse Truth? Lewis – can you even attempt to support the teaching of that Scripture without a rash of "buts" and exceptions? Hillary, your very title is intended to cast disrespect on the biblical concept of a blessed man who has all the children he can for the glory of God, i.e. a full quiver.”

    I think it means what it says: that blessed is the man whose quiver is full. Let’s not read into it what isn’t there, for example: “Cursed is the man whose quiver is empty or small.” (Hezekiah 4:18)

    As far as the statement “Your very title is intended to cast disrespect on the biblical concept of a blessed man who has all the children he can for the glory of God, i.e. a full quiver.”…if you’ve read much of my blog as you say, you will realize that this isn’t true at all. I state in my FAQ that while Quivering is a twist on the word Quiverfull, (giving an idea of what this book and blog are about and who it addresses) it also denotes fear…which can be taken as fear of God (good) or fear of man (bad). Fear is a topic I write about often, as well as authoritarianism which utilizes fear, even unwittingly. I’ve repeatedly stated that I have no objection to people having a “full quiver”, in and of itself. Sometimes daughters from Quiverfull families encounter things that then fit into the scope of my calling, hence this website and my book (which goes into greater detail regarding what I’ve written here tonight).

    Additionally, the Bible speaks of many things as blessings, especially if they come from the Lord. A good wife is a blessing. The Lord blessed Isaac with growth and possessions (Gen. 26:12-14). Those who obey, trust, follow, and love the Lord are blessed. I agree that children are blessings! However, your statement: “biblical concept of a blessed man who has all the children he can for the glory of God” I don’t agree is biblical because as written here, the concept is backwards. Rather, God, who is the author of life, creates children for the man and his wife, who are then blessed in this way (again, doesn’t mean that the man without children isn’t a blessed man in other ways…there are different blessings, just as there are different callings) ~ God does the work here, which brings Him glory. However, there is also Scripture which proclaims, “Rejoice, o barren!” So I don’t believe that not being with child means that a couple is not blessed of God, since God opens and closes the womb (which Quiverfull adherents believe. True Quiverfull families accept however many children God sends them, even if its 1, which paints a different picture, IMHO, than the man who has all the children he can.)

    (con't below)

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  35. Anonymous, I don’t know what compelled you to write here; perhaps this is a raw subject for you in a personal way or maybe you simply believe differently. You are certainly entitled to disagree with me and I hope that from all those who believe differently, I might learn something so that the time and engagement was profitable. I try to take Eph. 4 and 2 Tim. 2:23-25 to heart when writing and especially dialoguing about these hard and controversial topics. I hope I have done so today. God bless you.

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  36. Regarding your last post, Hillary, I do agree with you, and agree that it is evident, that you attempt to respond and express your points in a very sincere and humble matter. You "have done so today," imho.

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  37. High five! I am so with you on this. I have finally come to the place where I can disagree with how a 'pastor' misrepresents God and not want to go rip his tongue out. In the OT he says "if the false prophet is deceived, it is I who have deceived him and I will judge him accordingly" then in Job it says "the deceived and the deceiver are His." sigh** what a relief! I felt like it was my 'duty' and 'reponsibility' to expose those 'leaders', but not anymore. I just share the truth and as He guides me to. All the pressure is gone and my trust in Him has increased. He can handle them all. He has a plan for them.

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My Hiding Place


My Hiding Place

Coffee’s rumble draws me awake. I can hear it beyond the door, waiting, steaming and fresh, for eager cups. I stretch my arms, blink in the sun. It is morning nowmorning, when mercies are new. Even as a little girl, I need new mercy like mommy needs her coffee.
     Although I don’t know what it is, exactly, I think about it sometimes when I run down the hill, run away to my sanctuary. It nestles, my nook under the trees, cozy and waiting, warm and soft from summer. It’s important to have a place when you’re little, you know, a spot all your own where you can curl up and let the forest murmur against your cheeks. A place where you can think about things—deep things, the mysteries of life and pain—while the zephyr wraps you up in sheets and the sun tucks you in.
     They say mercies are new in the morning. I don’t know about that. I don’t know mercy but I do know hell, and it lurks in the shadows of dawn and noon and night. It haunts me when I’m seven and seventeen and twenty-seven, clutching at my heels, waiting for me to fall. It pricks me when I fail, a thousand times, to be the gentle sister, the pleasing daughter, the loving woman God wants me to be. It suffocates me as I plan my death, and I can see it, see hell waiting, and I stay alive and afraid for another morning. A thousand haunted mornings . . .

I am guest posting at Madabella today . . . please join me!


6 comments:

  1. Thank you again for sharing your beautiful words. I'm so inspired by you!!

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  2. Wow.
    Very beautiful…
    Very haunting…
    Very…true.

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  3. So beautiful Hillary..
    Clicking over right now to read the rest

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  4. Melissa, thank you for hosting me. may God bless your study. πŸ™‚

    Friends, you bless me with your kind words…glad this guest post resonated with you. Thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts. πŸ™‚

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  5. Hillary, this post is powerful! It reflects the quiet fear and despair I saw in the hearts of many of the women of my church. Yes, they were haunted. That’s an excellent word.

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Godly Authority: A Flight to Topsyturvydom


Godly Authority: A Flight to Topsyturvydom

by Eric M. Pazdziora


P

oet and playwright W. S. Gilbert (you might know him from his operettas composed with Arthur Sullivan) wrote some comic poems about the far-away land of Topsyturvydom:

Where vice is virtue—virtue, vice:
Where nice is nasty—nasty, nice:
Where right is wrong and wrong is right—
Where white is black and black is white.

Everything in Topsyturvydom is precisely the opposite of what you expect in our world. Soldiers are cowards, criminals are judges, and babies are born knowing differential calculus and become more ignorant as they grow. It’s silly, of course, but that’s the fun of it. As Ken Medema sang, “The world looks different to you when you’re flying upside down.”

So I’ve noticed a recurring phrase in certain schools of doctrine: “Godly authority.” Husbands should have godly authority over wives. Fathers should have godly authority over children. Pastors should have godly authority over their congregations. Don’t rebel against godly authority.

It sounds good and devout, probably because “godly” is a good faith word and “authority” is something we take for granted. Somebody has to have authority, and certainly “godly authority” seems preferable to the other kind. In fact, it’s exactly what we would expect to hear.

That makes me suspicious. Most of these doctrinaires would agree with me that “godly” should only mean “following what Jesus taught.” But Jesus never taught exactly what we expect to hear. Jesus taught about flying upside down.

Jesus managed to subvert almost everyone’s expectations. They expected a Messiah who would enforce the Law of God; they got one who religious people called a wine-bibber and a friend of prostitutes. They expected a Messiah who would be a conquering hero; they got one who died on a cross with thieves. It’s not for nothing that His critics accused His followers of “turning the world upside down.” Sometimes I’m left wondering whether Jesus was a secret citizen of Topsyturvydom.

When we look at what Jesus taught about authority, what we find seems equally wrong-way-up. Look closely at some of what Jesus said and you’ll start to think you’re standing on your head:

But Jesus called [the disciples] to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25–28, NKJV. Cf. Luke 22:24–27, Mark 10:42–45.)

When Jesus taught about authority, He said one thing clearly: It’s not about exercising authority. The great one is a servant. The greatest one is a slave.

Jesus didn’t let up with the topsy-turviness, either. He said you shouldn’t even take a title of authority:

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:8–12, NIV).

The formula for greatness, according to Jesus, is to thrust greatness away from you. It’s not to be looked up to but to be humble. The greatest is the least, the most exalted is the humblest, and the highest is the lowest. If you want to become great, try to be humble; if you want to be humbled, try to be great.

Is this just more nonsense and silliness, something W. S. Gilbert might have dreamed up? Contrast this to the entire doctrinal systems that fixate on authority, and who has it over whom, and whether it’s shaped like a chain or an umbrella, and you do get the distinct impression that somebody is standing on their head. Somebody’s got something very, very wrong.

Here’s another clue in another flight to Topsyturvydom. Jesus based these paradoxical statements directly on Himself and His own work: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” The apostle Paul (possibly quoting an early Christian hymn) elaborates on this in a lyrical passage:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5–11, NASB)

Jesus was God, and Jesus became a servant. Jesus humbled Himself, so the Father exalted Him. It’s upside-down, but it’s true.

It gets even loopier. When God exalted Jesus to the highest place, He made another statement about authority. It casually succeeds in blowing all our discussions about “godly authority” to smithereens:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18, NIV).

All authority belongs to Jesus.

“All authority in heaven and on earth,” just so we’re clear it’s all-inclusive. Not “all spiritual authority” or “all authority in the church” or “all authority over My disciples.” Those would be radical enough—but “all” means “all.”

This isn’t anti-authoritarianism. There’s plenty of authority for us to obey—but only Jesus has it. It does not belong to anybody else. It is not given to anybody else. It is not shared with anybody else. If anyone says they have any authority in any context and their name is not Jesus Christ, they are wrong. (And if somebody says his name is Jesus Christ, don’t believe him, unless maybe he starts walking on water.)

After this statement, any discussion about who has “godly authority” is pretty much pointless. Nobody does, except Jesus.

Far from being a passing observation, this fact is tied directly to our salvation:

“For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” (John 17:2, NIV)

Since Jesus has all authority over us, Jesus has authority to save us. Since Jesus has all authority over our lives, Jesus has authority to give us eternal life.

So what then? Don’t get the wrong idea. If your association with “authority” gives you a picture of Jesus sitting at the top of the heap and bossing everyone around, then it’s back to Topsyturvydom we go. Jesus followed His own teaching about authority: authority, He said, is something that should make you act like a servant and wash people’s feet.

So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” (John 13:12–17, NASB)

This ties everything so far together. Jesus is in authority over us, and (logically enough) we can’t set ourselves up as superior to our authority. Since Jesus humbled himself and acted like a servant, if we follow Him, we should humble ourselves and serve as well. No one sits higher than the King, and the King is washing people’s feet.

So there we are. If godliness means following Jesus, then “godly authority” is an oxymoron. Godliness is not about authority; godliness is about humility. It’s not about leading; it’s about following (namely, following Jesus). It’s not even about “servant leadership”; it’s about servantship.

But—I hear some people still perplexed with the shock of being turned heels over head—but how on earth does that fit with the way we do things in real life? Doesn’t someone have to have authority in, say, the government? In a marriage? In a church? In a workplace? In a family? Doesn’t the Bible tell us directly to submit to those authorities?

All right then, one last flight to Topsyturvydom. The Bible does tell us to submit, which is appropriate enough considering everything we just saw that Jesus said. But what’s glaringly missing are any corresponding verses that say leaders have authority.

This puts an interesting spin on verses and topics that sometimes become needlessly controversial. Consider husbands and wives (I’m thinking of course of Ephesians 5:21–33). Yes, the Bible says fairly clearly, “Wives, submit to your husbands.” But it follows this statement not with the corollary we’d expect—“Husbands, exercise godly authority over your wives”—but with “Husbands, love your wives like Jesus did for the church,” that is, by sacrificing everything so she can benefit. This makes sense when we consider that Jesus’ kind of love involves washing feet like a servant. What do servants do? They submit.

For that matter, and it is simply amazing how rarely this point gets made, the statements about husbands and wives in context both come immediately after this verse:

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:21).

Godly submission, yes. Godly authority, not so much.

Well, OK, there is one verse that talks about husbands having authority, but I doubt it will ever become especially popular in the Patriarchy movement. It puts it this way:

For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Corinthians 7:4, ESV).

Again, the idea is not patriarchal authority but mutual submission. (You know what, can we just go ahead and say that this verse all by itself proves once and for all that Patriarchy is an unbiblical teaching? I mean, seriously, “the husband does not have authority.” And that’s not just in the physical relationship; it’s the same Greek word for “authority” that Jesus says in Luke 22:25 we shouldn’t have at all.)

It’s the same with other positions that are considered authoritative. The Bible says that we should serve the government, but also that the government should serve us by providing peace and justice (see Romans 13:4). There’s a reason we call them “public servants.”

Again, the Bible says that we should submit to our pastors, elders, spiritual leaders (however you like to translate presbuteros), but also that they should not lord it over anybody, just serve as good examples (see 1 Peter 5:2–3). Paul explains his position as an apostle precisely this way: “Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm” (2 Corinthians 1:24, NASB).

It might be tempting to misconstrue this and go running around telling our bosses that they’re not the bosses of us. It’s true, technically, they’re not, but to do that you’d have to ignore all the verses before about humility and servantship. I think we’ve gone so topsy-turvy that we’re making figure eights, so it’s probably time to catch our breaths and see the big picture from the air.

The big picture is simple, clear, and beautiful. It’s love.

We’re free. Anybody who tries to forcefully control us or require us to obey is trying to usurp a position that only belongs to Jesus. Conversely, if I want to lord it over anybody, I’m trying to set myself up as the Lord. Men and women alike, husbands and wives alike, pastors and congregation alike, we’re all brothers and sisters, free and equal.

But since we don’t have to submit and serve out of obligation, that means we’re free to submit and serve just because we want to. Just because we love. Since we’re not obliged to make payments, we can give gifts. We can freely sacrifice for others with no other motive but love. We can serve others not because they have authority over us, but because Jesus has authority over us, and Jesus serves from love.

If you want to see what “godly authority” looks like, don’t look to any person but One. Jesus is washing His followers’ feet. Jesus is giving and serving and loving. Jesus is flying upside down, making loops in the air over Topsyturvydom.

Eric M. Pazdziora still can’t fly without an airplane, but music brings him close sometimes. He works as a freelance composer, author, and worship leader, and lives in Chicago with his wife Carrie, several stories above the ground. If you want to hear some of Eric’s music or read some more articles, visit his website at ericpazdziora.com.


36 comments:

  1. This is really, really good. Thanks Eric.

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  2. Great post Eric!! Wow!

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  3. Amen! You know, that 1 Corinthians 7 passages is truly the undoing of so much of the patriocentric rhetoric!

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  4. It's amazing, though, when you point all this out in various blogs, the ones clinging to authority only look for loopholes, or worse yet, redefine words to an extent worthy of Orwell's 1984: rule is service, "final say" is subservience, "no lording over" becomes "benevolent lording over", Jesus the Sacrificial Lamb is turned into Jesus the Extreme Fighter, and so on.

    Sometimes pictures can work where words fail:
    http://www.fether.net/1000-words/

    (and speaking of 'umbrellas', I'll add a picture for that soon)

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  5. Isaiah 5:20
    Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    This article is outstanding.

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  6. Interesting. I certainly agree in context of marriage and the church. Its significant that Jesus is the head of the church and no one else. Arms cannot move without the brain giving it signals first. Anyone who this pastors are the authority in the church is overlooking this.

    I'll chew if I agree on the rest. It seems to me that parents have authority over the church. The Bible does not instruct them to submit; it instructs them to obey.

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  7. "Amen! You know, that 1 Corinthians 7 passages is truly the undoing of so much of the patriocentric rhetoric!"

    I know, right?

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  8. Paula, excellent word picture.
    Kingdom of this world: top-down authority structure; kingdom of heaven: bottom up authority structure. I find it very telling that Jesus said that "unless you become as little children" you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

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  9. Thanks Hillary! πŸ™‚

    But it brings up the larger issue of "church" authority, the clergy/laity class distinction. That's why instead of arguing in favor of women pastors, I argue against men pastors. ("pastor" being the CEO tradition, not the Biblical spiritual gift)

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  10. I think there is alot of fear around giving up the cultural idea of the authority. They don't like to admit its cultural, but claim its 'biblical'.

    Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18, NIV).

    I look at that verse, and I wonder why others spend so much time on Jesus being always subordinate to God. To me its a waste of energy, and I will never understand why they think this (ahem) 'point' is important.

    I pray that those give up the grasping for control, and humble themselves enough to see what Jesus was truly asking for them. Someone is in charge, and that is Jesus.

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  11. Very well written! Thank you so much for putting so much thought, study and prayer into this article!

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  12. Author's Note: A few people have asked how this applies to parenting children (minors), especially in light of the verse "Children, obey your parents." I didn't address this in the article mostly because I'm not a parent. However, I asked my dad and he offered this response:

    "Jesus wants us to obey Him and that obedience springs from our love for Him and His love for us. So it is with parents. Parents are to Love and obey Jesus themselves and respond to their children in the way Jesus does.

    Parents are to use their authority in the way Jesus does. In His position He serves– that is topsy turvey! Jesus is not turning people into slaves but helping them mature as sons and daughters–children of His kingdom.

    Jesus teaches, corrects, disciplines, and always shows patience, mercy, forbearance not anger or condemnation. If he is that way with me why would I be a different way with my children?"

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  13. Thank you for this Eric.

    I had to use the verses of husband/wife authority over one another's bodies to shoot down a teaching on a Christian website concerning polygamy. It made me sick because women on the site were thinking they would have to submit to it if their (Christian!!) husband chose to become polygamos.

    As our home church crumbled some years ago, I made the personal observation that submission is required of men one to another before it is required of wives in Ephesians 5. Many are the church break ups, in my opinion, due to the misunderstanding of this point. It is a very arrogant misunderstanding. I knew I couldn't say anything about it, though. I would not have been heard.

    I think what you have written here boils down so many issues. To use leadership in any other way than how Jesus did is pride, plain and simple. That does not bode well for much of Christianity today. May we all heed what you are saying here unto more understanding in our midst.

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  14. wow! I LOVE IT! Thank you so much! I needed to hear this right now.

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  15. Eric, to me you nailed when you said the "big" picture is that we are "free & equal". It also seems to me, that my strongest "flesh" pattern is control.

    In my limited experience, learning who Jesus really is & my identity in Him I wanna "choose" to look to Him I wanna "choose" to depend on Him for life & for Godliness & choose less to depend on me others & my flesh 4 LIFE.

    Thnx 4 this article that we are free in Christ!

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  16. I agree with this article for the most part. Authority is very misunderstood today in our culture and in the church. You've made some great points about leadership requiring humility and service.

    However, I would caution against rebounding from pharisaical authoritarianism and going too far in the opposite direction.

    For instance, children are told in multiple places to obey their parents (from the Ten Commandments to the New Testament epistles) and parents are told to exercise their authority to make those children obey (see Proverbs and I Timothy 3:4 for a start). There is nothing in there about obedience coming from love – it's great if it does, but it's required regardless.

    Slaves are required to obey their earthly masters. Nothing in there about how they should love them and then feel obedient out that love. Just "obey them." The very nature of a slave/master relationship is one of authority. Masters are nowhere commanded to free their slaves.

    We are called to respect and obey our civil leaders so long as they don't require us to disobey God. Though we should love them too, there's nothing in there about our obedience being based on whether we can love them or not. We're just told to obey. And they are clearly described as having authority to reward good and punish evildoers.

    Husbands are called the head of the wife. Although the Bible makes it clear (as you so well did also in your blog) that this headship requires humility and love, yet it is headship. And the job of a head on a body is to… well… exercise authority over that body and lead it.

    So I guess I'm not contradicting what you said, I'm just reminding us not to go to the other extreme and say that we should start by trying to love people in charge of us and hope that obedience to them flows out of that. We are required to obey, period, unless it conflicts with God's direct commands. We are also required to love. The commands go together, not one after the other.

    As for the term "godly authority", I do think it has been badly misused. But I don't think there is therefore no use for it.

    Properly speaking, godly authority is authority God has given you to do something. God gives parents authority over children. He gives masters authority over slaves. He gives husbands authority over wives and families. He gives church leadership authority to lead and, if necessary, discipline church members. These are all right and good things God has commanded various people in His kingdom to do, and having commanded us to do them, we now have delegate authority from Him to do so in the manner He prescribes (humbly, lovingly, etc.). This is godly authority.

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  17. @Heather S.– I don't think we disagree that much. What I say is not "Our obedience is based on whether we love them or not" but "Because we love them, we should serve them." That is, I don't think there are any exceptions to the Second-greatest Commandment (Love thy neighbor) and the Golden Rule (Do unto others…), so there is no "whether" to Christian love/agape. It's assumed in all cases, even specifically to our enemies.

    Actually, I think you can find love expressly or implied in all the Scriptural examples you list– for instance, Colossians 3:22 mentions "sincerity of heart" as the motivation for slaves to obey masters, and the parallel passage in Ephesians goes onto say not "Masters, you have authority" but "Masters, treat your slaves in the same way" (serve them from the heart – !!!).

    I still find the Scriptural support lacking for the idea that God gives people authority, as I detailed in the article–Jesus has it all. Of course I'm not advocating anarchy by any means, but I do think the word "authority" is so overused by spiritual abusers and so under-supported in Scripture that we ought to find more biblically-accurate terms to express the concept Jesus taught. Like "serving." πŸ˜€

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  18. Heather wrote So I guess I'm not contradicting what you said, I'm just reminding us not to go to the other extreme.

    I agree that balance is so important, but for those who have experienced the abuse of authority, (or any other kind) sometimes they need space to "Test all things, hold fast the good." Sometimes this might seem that, throughout the healing process, some do go to other extremes. But this doesn't mean that God is finished with them, and we as friends can respect their journey and pray without ceasing. And it could be that they might have something to teach us. πŸ™‚

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  19. I didn't see any extremism in this post. I saw wisdom, plain scripture offered straight up for what it actually says.

    Thank you for this post. You said it so wonderfully well. I'm still shaking my head in joyous disbelief that a brother wrote it!

    One could expect the oppressed- women, children, slaves- to figure out the passage where Jesus told those who wanted titles and authority to let it go and simply serve. But you, as a man, could do like so many others and grasp tightly to any power/authority tradition says is yours.

    I respect you greatly, sir. Thank you for your true devotion to Jesus and his upside-down kingdom. =)

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  20. I didn't see any extremism in this post. No, it was wonderfully gracious.

    By the way, some fascinating discussion on facebook over this article….

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  21. I really liked what Eric had to say. I actually read it to my 7 and 5 year old and it opened a lot of discussion for us.

    For instance, children are told in multiple places to obey their parents (from the Ten Commandments to the New Testament epistles) and parents are told to exercise their authority to make those children obey (see Proverbs and I Timothy 3:4 for a start). There is nothing in there about obedience coming from love – it's great if it does, but it's required regardless.

    My children and I discussed this issue too. I explained to them that God didn't give them to me to "own" them and that I had no authority to demand anything from them. However, out of the knowledge they have that we love them dearly and truly seek Gods wisdom to help them grow into their own understanding of him, and because they love God, they choose to submit to us for their own well being. My kids sort of got this, it was really a very interesting discussion. I don't give them enough credit sometimes for what they are able to understand.

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  22. To me there is NOTHING extreme about having freedom in Christ and that we're all equal. It's what God says!

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  23. Let's see, I've responded to some questions but not to all the favorable comments yet, so I'll take you in reverse order (fittingly enough):

    Lollypop–Just so! I like what G. K. Chesterton said: "Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious." We are absolutely free and equal and we absolutely need to serve one another out of love.

    Victoria — Wow, I wouldn't have thought of reading this to a 5 and 7 year old myself, so good for you! I certainly agree that children are vastly more perceptive than grown-ups often give them credit for. Did you play them the Ken Medema story/song I linked at the beginning (about Alice and her great big enormous pockets)? They'll love it.

    Shadowspring– I'm honored! Yes, believe it or not there really are men (and white men, even!) who are willing to follow Jesus even when He upsets our falsely-conceived social advantages. If I'm not willing to be humble, what's the point of my following Him in the first place?

    Frogla– You're welcome. Much of the "biblical" teaching going around on authority is very fleshly indeed, so I'm glad you recognize that and are working against it in your own life. That makes me happy.

    Cara–You're exactly right: James 4:1.

    Hannah–The trinitarian concepts involved here are actually very interesting. What some miss is that Jesus says "The Son does nothing but what He sees the Father do." So Jesus' authority is the Father's, and if Jesus serves, that means the Father does too. This radically shifts many perceptions of God.

    Paula– I loved your pictures! And you're definitely onto something about the inherent problems with the "CEO tradition" of church leadership. I've seen it end very badly in many cases.

    Thatmom– I know! I was close to cutting it out (as it's a bit of a digression) but Hillary persuaded me to keep it in, so you can thank her for that bit.

    Anon – RA – Erika – Hillary – Katydid – Lewis — You're welcome! I'm glad to know it's finding the audience it needs.

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  24. Eric, I am new to your blog. I find myself copying/saving parts of your posts or the whole thing…maybe after you write enough it could go into a book and thus save room on my computer!
    Just a note to some of the people struggling with the "love your headship" concept….remember that kind of love is "act in their best interest love." So really it turns it back around to serving/leading with selflessness. True Jesus love. And the person in the "headship role" perceived or otherwise still has the hardest job of all…Everyone of us has responsibilities or "authority" of some sort. I love how you showed us the right attitude…the people of Babel wanted to make a name for themeselves, we know how poorly that turned out for them!…..Eric, thank you for addressing yet another "sacred cow" in the church and doing it well.

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  25. Did you play them the Ken Medema story/song I linked at the beginning (about Alice and her great big enormous pockets)? They'll love it.

    Eric, yes, I actually showed them that to start with which is how I ended up reading your article to them. They had so many questions, it just seemed easier to read and explain things to them. I've started reading quite a few of the blogs I visit to them in order to help them better understand that even mommy is still learning and enjoys it. (I preview them before hand of course.) I've found it sparks some unexpected conversations.

    I forgot to mention that what I like about your messages is that they strike very deep yet are written with such a light spirit that my children have enjoyed several of your pieces.

    I know this doesn't apply much to Hillary's primary goal for her site, but I like to read here to keep myself in check. Having come from an interestingly lightly-religious yet highly-fundamental family, I find myself often following what I was taught. Her words (and those of her guests here) are useful to temper that instinct in myself.

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  26. To quote your article: "There’s plenty of authority for us to obey—but only Jesus has it. It does not belong to anybody else. It is not given to anybody else. It is not shared with anybody else. If anyone says they have any authority in any context and their name is not Jesus Christ, they are wrong."
    I'm a little confused about the above and no one having authority in the light of these verses: 2 Cor. 10:8, 1 Tim. 2:1,2, Titus 2:15Do you mind clarifying?
    Thanks!
    Grace

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  27. Grace (nice name!)– Good question. I think it's a matter of context. When Jesus says "All authority in heaven and on earth" I think we have to take that as pretty absolute, hence my blanket statement.

    As you point out, there is obviously a bit more nuance to the idea of "authority" than I was able to fit into my overview. Practically speaking, some people (pastors, parents, government, employers, etc.) are going to be in positions where other people will follow them. The verses you cite specify the fact of this responsibility but more significantly the shape it should take: notice for instance the phrase, "the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down." (2 Cor. 10:8)

    In other words, people in these positions should think not "I'm in charge of you" (usurping Jesus) but "Since you're following me, I need to do my best to encourage and edify you" (copying Jesus).

    That's a bit of a roundabout way of explaining it, and clearly there is a bit of Scriptural tension there even still. Maybe I'll revisit it at some point in the future. Thanks!

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  28. Victoria — That's so great! What a fun way to teach your kids. I'm glad the lightness comes across well; probably years of reading Chesterton paying off there….

    Anonymous– Thanks and welcome! I've toyed with the idea of a book over the years but (since I work in publishing) I know I need to build my reader platform before that will happen. So hearing you say that is very encouraging!

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  29. Eric,
    Thanks so much for the clarification!
    ~Grace

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  30. Thanks so much, Eric! I think I'm beginning to understand. I certainly have the "be a servant" part down when I'm in a servant position. But when I'm in an "authority" position, I really struggle to stay a servant. I want to, though. It just requires some really big changes in the brain and heart. πŸ™‚

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  31. Sharon– Yes, that's crucial. From the many comments here and on Facebook I think perhaps I didn't say quite enough to people in legitimate "leadership" positions (except if my comments above help clarify). Maybe I'll come back to that in a future article.

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  32. It's silly, I know what you aren't saying here, but I still can't bring myself to like this article. All the submission language is just to much. I've heard all of the abusive authority stuff supported by the very verses you are using to de-bunk it, so all I can hear is my Dad's voice in my head. Sorry! I'm sure it was a valiant effort. πŸ™‚

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  33. It's okay, Young Mom. *grin*. Thank you for reading it; it's received quite a bit of pro and con feedback both publicly and privately. I really enjoy these discussions because they help to gently challenge or encourage me in my own thinking and understanding. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

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  34. Youngmom– No worries. Though I'm perplexed how anybody could use (say) the passages from Matthew 20 or 23 to support abusive authority; kind of like using Romans to support salvation by works, isn't it? Anyway, I suggest putting it aside for now and coming back to it after you've healed in other areas.

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  35. Lol! I'm still confused how it was taught to me myself!

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The Myth of the Lukewarm Christian


The Myth of the Lukewarm Christian

by Eric M. Pazdziora

T

here’s this sermon I’ve heard a few dozen times. You’ve probably heard it too. It goes like this. Some Christians are really passionate and sold out for the Lord. They do great things. They live ri­ghteously. They don’t do anything that could be considered worldly. They only listen to Christian music. They have biblical family values. They’re on fire.

And others? Well, they’re “lukewarm Christians.” Sure, they say they believe, but they’re not that committed. They show up in church to warm the pews, but they still do worldly things. You should see the way they dress and those movies and music they listen to! If only they knew all the right things to do so they could be on fire like us. Jesus says, “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:16). That, strong children, is why you have to be on fire for the Lord. Let us pray.

Obviously, I can’t object to an exhortation to be more committed to the Lord, and I dislike “easy-believe-ism” as much as the next disillusioned evangelical does. But if you know about Spiritual Abuse, you recognize a few other all-too-familiar themes lurking in the subtext.

There’s a strong temptation to elitism there—you want to be better than all those “lukewarm” folks, don’t you? Legalism’s waiting to pounce, too; it blends in perfectly as long as you define “On fire” as “Doing our things” and “Worldly” as “Not.” All that’s left is for us to spin “I will spit you out of my mouth” as “You might be eternally lost if you don’t do our thing” and we’re practically in cult territory.

But it’s biblical, right? It even has a Bible verse in it, and you can find dozens of people interpreting that verse in exactly that way, pretty much that same sermon, even. Tweak the applications a bit and it’s good for weeks.

Well, there’s one tiny problem: That’s not what that Bible verse means. Actually, it means pretty much the opposite.

Yes, Jesus says He doesn’t like it if you’re “lukewarm.” Yes, Jesus says “I will spit you out of my mouth,” and yes, it’s true (as you’ve probably heard) that that refers to puking. But what makes Jesus want to vomit? Is it really people who claim to follow Him and still (horrors!) watch PG-13 movies with wizards in them? Is it people who claim to follow Him but are just pew-warmers?

Or is it something different? Not just a different token “worldly” action, but a completely different way of thinking about your relationship to the Lord?

The answer, like the answers to most things, is found in context. The context here is the opening chapters of the book of Revelation, that is, the part that you don’t need an advanced degree in theology or screenwriting to interpret. John records letters from Jesus to seven churches in Asia Minor, at once pointing out their sins and shortcomings and encouraging them to stand firm in what faith they have. It’s dynamite stuff; I wish I had time to expound all of it.

The letter with the “lukewarm” verse is the seventh and last, addressed to the church in Laodicea. It begins like this:

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.

Already this is a bit confusing, given the standard interpretation. If the “hot” people are those who are “on fire” for the Lord, then the “cold” people must be… atheists? Flagrant sinners? Crooked politicians? Richard Dawkins and his merry band of infidels? Could be, but then why does Jesus say “I wish you were cold or hot” like they’re both equally good? Surely He doesn’t consider it the same to be on fire for Him and stone-cold against Him?

16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

That bit we know. Jesus doesn’t like lukewarm beverages. He spits them out. Insipidity, something that’s the same temperature as the room, doesn’t do it for Him.

That’s obviously a metaphor for something (unless you’re a hyper-literalist and think that Jesus drinks people). Yet there’s no mention of the behaviors we’re often told are “worldly.” Is Jesus speaking in riddles, or will He explain what He means? What’s the difference between “hot” and “cold”? What makes a person “lukewarm”?

The next verse tells us. Specifically. It even starts with “Because” so we won’t miss that it’s connected. Here’s why Jesus gets nauseated by “lukewarm” believers:

17 ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…

Oh.

Well, that’s not what they told us it meant.

The “lukewarm” people Jesus is criticizing think they have it all together, but they don’t. They think they are rich when they are actually poor; they think they can see when they are really blind; they think they need nothing when they are living on the streets. They have the worst of both worlds—all the smugness of wealth and all the neediness of poverty. They need help, but they think they’re well off.

This makes the rest of Jesus’ metaphor perfectly clear. “Lukewarm,” obviously, means a mixture of hot and cold, producing something bland and tepid. The Laodicean church combined feelings of passion for the Lord (hot) with the condition of being apart from the Lord (cold). The result is horrible: people in spiritual need who can’t recognize it because they think they’re doing great.

“Lukewarm” means “self-righteous.”

A “lukewarm Christian” is not somebody who claims to follow Jesus but also does worldly things. It’s somebody who says “I don’t do worldly things, so I’m living in God’s will.”

A “lukewarm Christian” is not somebody who claims to follow Jesus but only shows up on Sundays. It’s somebody who says, “God must be pleased with my devoted church attendance.”

A “lukewarm Christian” is not somebody who doesn’t have a quiver full of children. It’s somebody who says, “I have biblical family values, so I’m more sold out to the Lord than those feminists are.”

Lukewarm Christians are satisfied in themselves. Lukewarm Christians are proud of their spiritual commitment and pleased with all that they do for the Lord. Lukewarm Christians believe that they are living the right way, with all the right values, and all the right methods, and all the right works.

Except they aren’t. The fact that lukewarmness—self-righteousness—nauseates the Lord matches what He said (terrifyingly) about people who won’t make it into heaven:

“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” (Matthew 7:22–23)

These people did great works for the Lord—even miracles—and thought well of themselves, but they missed their need for the Lord Himself. Jesus said, “Only one thing is needful,” and it isn’t to do great works for Him. Jesus wants us to trust Him, rest in Him, believe in Him, see our need for Him, get to know Him, let Him get to know us. That’s all one thing: it’s called Faith.

That may explain why Jesus says “I wish you were cold or hot.” If you’re “hot,” then of course you’re exactly where the Lord wants you to be—surrendering to the All-Consuming Fire. You’re seeing your need of Him and depending on Him to burn away your impurities and kindle your love.

If you’re “cold,” you’re apart from Him—and you feel it. Sometimes we have to hit the bottom before we learn to look up. As Martin Luther said, if you’re going to sin, you may as well sin boldly. None of this socially respectable stuff. Try it all, if that’s what it will take for you to see it doesn’t satisfy. When the Prodigal wound up in a pigsty, he realized how good his father really was. The sooner you get to the end of your rope, the sooner you’ll see your need to be rescued.

Being “cold” is just as good as being “hot,” from a salvific standpoint, because in both cases you’re seeing your need, insufficiency, and helplessness, and coming to depend on Jesus for His grace, forgiveness, and righteousness. The one fatal condition is to be needy while depending on your own righteousness. That’s disgusting. That will get you spit out of Jesus’ mouth. That’s lukewarm.

The point is not that we should be lazy, worldly, or half-hearted in our commitment to Jesus. The point is that there are much worse sins than laziness or worldliness. As C. S. Lewis said, “A cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.”

What’s the cure for lukewarmness? Jesus (again) tells us exactly in context. Here’s the rest of His letter:

18 ‘I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

The answer is to look to Jesus. It’s to see your need and see that only Jesus can fill it. It’s to ask Him to give you whatever it takes to fill it, and to give up anything it takes to get it. It’s to let Jesus enrich you, cover you, heal you.

There’s hope. Jesus counts even the “lukewarm” people among “those whom I love”; otherwise He wouldn’t take the trouble to correct them. It’s never too late to repent and open the door to friendship with Christ. If you let Jesus sit down with you at your table, He’ll let you sit down with Him on His throne.

If you simply do that—if you open the door to Jesus, trust in Him, get to know Him, and let Him help you overcome your self-righteousness—then you’re not lukewarm anymore. You’re one who overcomes. You’re on fire.

Don’t let any of the lukewarm Christians tell you otherwise.

Eric M. Pazdziora is a recovering legalist, but doesn’t like to boast about it. These days, he mostly writes words and music. He lives in Chicago with his beautiful wife Carrie and his spoiled cat Eloise. If you want to hear some of Eric’s music or read some more articles, visit his website at ericpazdziora.com.


42 comments:

  1. The problem with me having been self-righteous in the past is that now I'm proud that I'm not self-righteous anymore. πŸ˜› Sigh.

    Very interesting view of that verse! Oh, to have the balance that God has! I DO want to rely totally on Jesus for my righteousness. I want to know Him more. Guess I need to let go of the pride and bitterness, don't I? πŸ˜›

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  2. "If you simply do that—if you open the door to Jesus, trust in Him, get to know Him, and let Him help you overcome your self-righteousness—then you’re not lukewarm anymore. You’re one who overcomes. You’re on fire.

    Don’t let any of the lukewarm Christians tell you otherwise."

    THIS is exactly what I needed to hear today…. Thank you.

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  3. Heather C. (from facebook)September 9, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    Wow, I have been wondering about this very thing for the last couple of months. It's amazing how God directs us and gently teaches us.

    I have a lot to think about and chew on this, but I am convienced that the Lord wasn't talking about "seperated Christians" vs "Worldly Christians" like I was taught.

    This opens up more for me to study up on.

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  4. Lovely as always.

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  5. I think Thursdays are going to become my favorite, Along with Friday, Monday, Tuesday….:)

    This is a much-needed messege. Also, I laughed out loud for a long time at this line: "That’s obviously a metaphor for something (unless you’re a hyper-literalist and think that Jesus drinks people)." πŸ˜€

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  6. I believe this post might be the very first time (in some 30 years of sermons, Sunday School lessons, and hundreds of thousands of pages of Christian books) that I have EVER heard an interpretation of the "lukewarm Christian" that did not propagate the nonsense Eric describes at the beginning of his essay.

    And the only one that makes sense –in any context you frame it with. It's about time someone stood up and announced that this emperor is wearing no clothes! Thanks, Eric.

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  7. Excellent, and I needed to read this today. I'm married to a man that is deeply involved in the Hebrew Roots Movement (one of its many different facets), and he has aged 20 years in the past year and half that he has followed the law. He can't figure out why he feels so old and tired all of the time. And he's not old. Legalism in its extreme forms hurts those involved in it, and the families they are SUPPOSED to love. It's been a difficult time. Thanks for posting this today!
    Kathy F.

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  8. Thank you so much for this post. I could feel healing happening in my heart as I finished reading it. I was just introduced to your site, and I really can't express to you how incredibly grateful I am to know there is a place out there for women who have experienced everything you express to find healing. There is a lot of hurt out there.

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  9. I have always wondered about that. I have heard and believed those sermons too. But it did not mesh with my thinking. I always wondered how you could be a holy roller/missionary saving the world (on fire) and raise a family with all th commitments of work/family etc. I mean everywhere people have to work and there is plenty to say about that in the Bible.

    And I want to cringe everytime a support letter arrives requesting support for the "on fire" ones.

    It just seemed to raise more questions and now after reading this I will mull it over but now am starting to drink it in.

    I think it fits.

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  10. This is such a beautiful article.

    It brought to my mind the day my dad asked me if I was a hot, cold or lukewarm Christian. I was 15 at the time. I answered "lukewarm" because I thought it was the safe answer. I knew that according to a patriarch and legalist's interpretation of that verse, that he wouldn't see me as a hot Christian and I couldn't say that I was cold because I did love Jesus and try to know Him and I also didn't want to say cold because that would set my dad off on a tangent. So, to be safe, I said lukewarm. Wrong answer, according to my dad. I got the lecture anyway about how awful it was to be lukewarm and God wanted to spit me out of His mouth.

    Looking back, and after reading this article that explained things in CONTEXT, the table of reality was actually turned. I can see that my parents were the lukewarm ones all along back then. Thank God they're no longer of the legalist mindset.

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  11. Eric, God has given you such a beautiful gift for writing truth, gracefully. Thank you for depending on the Spirit to inform your interpretations and expositions… He is healing hearts through your fingers.

    P.S. I love you.

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  12. the term "lukewarm" is a trigger word for me for 2 reasons. First, my DH, who is also involved in a Hebrew Roots Movement cult, are all about NOT being lukewarm & it seems to be law based. So for me it's refreshing to hear this term being defined by you, in the light of the true Gospel, not in the way his cult defines "lukewarm".

    I also heard this term, while in the evangelical movement, and they defined it as being on fire for God but there was more emphasis on doing for God rather than hearing from God. So hearing you say "if you open the door to Jesus, trust in Him, get to know Him, and let Him help you overcome your self-righteousness—then you’re not lukewarm anymore. You’re one who overcomes. You’re on fire.

    Don’t let any of the lukewarm Christians tell you otherwise." is awesome! Thanks!!!!!

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  13. I have never quite heard it put this way and love how God revealed this through you. I struggle with the lukewarm thing every time I do something that might not be "on fire" for God. But, I always felt this love for Jesus and the "poor in spirit" neediness for Him. Makes sense now, thanks for your great gift.

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  14. I wish you had a facebook and twitter share button on this, it's so needed for so many wounded warriors.

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  15. jseven, there are share buttons: if you look at the bottom of the post, just above the labels, you will see them. I'm glad this post meant so much to you!

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  16. Thank you. That was exactly what I needed to hear right now. I don't know quite how I ended up at this site, but I think somehow I was meant to read that.

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  17. Lukewarm is to those who like to throw it around a code word for 'not thinking exactly like me' and I have been called that many times and it is always irritating. I like this text, I have never seen it explained this way before and now, of course, that is how you should understand lukewarm. Even though I have always hated being called that by more conservative Christians I have always accepted their understanding of the word, I will not anymore.

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  18. I'm amazed and delighted to see all the comments still pouring in! Thanks, everybody.

    Kathy F. & Frogla – I wasn't aware of the connection to the Hebrew Roots movement, but considering that the name sounds like what Paul was writing about in Galatians, I can't say I'm entirely surprised. I'll do some more reading on it. Also, you might be interested in this article I wrote about legalism.

    Carrie – I love you too!

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  19. I appreciate reading another view on this verse. I also enjoy the humor you put into your writing. It makes me smile as I read.

    There is yet another interpretation I heard from a youth minister once. He pointed out that a hot drink (like coffee) and a cold drink (like soda or iced tea) are both refreshing. Lukewarm water is not refreshing.

    Laodicea was known for having lukewarm water in their springs and wells. So the concept of something being refreshing was very familiar to them.

    He said the verse was about people being refreshing in the L-rd…bring life to the people around them. It did not matter if your method was hot or cold…it just mattered that you were one or the other.

    Either way…these two interpretations…yours and the youth minister's…both make more sense than what some are apparently teaching.

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  20. Oh yeah! That always escaped my notice, the part that cold was preferable to lukewarm. If the hot Christians are good, the cold ones must be really bad! But I can now see that cold does not mean the opposite of hot.

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  21. Hebrew Roots movement? What about the book of Galatians? What about the fact that the law was for the Jews between Moses and until Jesus's death only? Even Abraham wasn't under the law.

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  22. Eric

    I learned something from this blog today. Never thought of it this way. I ALWAYS thought I was lukewarm because I wasn't doing enough. At least that's what the APOSTATE CHURCH taught us. You must get busy for the LORD. You'll burn in hell if you don't get busy for the LORD. Cliche's like "An idle mind is the devil's workshop" etc.

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  23. Where does the word legalism appear in the New Testament?

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  24. Anon…that's a good one. Reminds me of a shirt that said: "legalism rules."

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  25. Crystal–So glad I could help!

    Anon– If you want the specific word "legalism" then you're out of luck; but the concept it describes (rules-based religion) is refuted very extensively throughout the NT. Start with the entire epistle to the Galatians (see my article on that here) and compare Colossians 2-3, Romans 5-8, Ephesians 2, Matthew 23, the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican…. "Legalism" is just easier to say than "the belief that keeping rules makes you right with God."

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  26. FYI, it is a Gothard teaching that you cannot use the word "legalism" because it isn't in the NT. Go figure. And, no, I can't provide proof because I heard it at a IBLP seminar a long time ago.

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  27. Out of curiosity, do they believe in the Trinity or the Rapture? I would hope so, but [points to obvious conclusion…]

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  28. Great post! I love it. I've struggled with this misapplied verse for awhile, as well. Thanks for giving words to my frustration. Well said.

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  29. Thanks Eric. This gives clarity. And I so appreciate you writing this.

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  31. Eric, this is so encouraging. I visited some of the biblical sites while in Turkey a few years ago. I stood and could see Laodicea and how there are two natural springs that flow through that region – one hot and one cold. There is a town where the hot and cold meet and the water is absolutely horrid! It's completely undrinkable.
    I grew up hearing sermons on the lukewarm Christian and was confused as to how that fit into the geographical phenomenon that the original readers would have most definitely understood to be implied in the text. I just couldn't make sense of it, but I knew my previously taught interpretations wasn't right.
    This explanation seems to me to be biblical and Christ exalting. Truth shared in the right spirit is so sweet. I appreciate it, I definitely needed to read this.
    Sharing the link to it, I hope you don't mind.

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  32. I read this to my hubby. He loved it and asked for the link!

    I always appreciate what Eric has to say. And the quirky humor is right up our family's alley.

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  33. The myth of mass manipulation or mass destruction (as opposed to instruction)as being valid or good.

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  34. Very cool post. But my understanding is this: in Biblical times, both hot water and cold water were valuable. Hot water was for bathing and cleaning, while cold water was for drinking and soothing fevers. But lukewarm water? Didn't clean, warm, and was nasty for drinking. So, it was worthless; this was why Jesus said hot or cold was best.

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  35. Eric, I really appreciated this post. I first found excerpts from it on RA's website and then went on to read the whole thing. Thank you so much for sharing this much-needed message.

    OneSurvivor, I also heard that interpretation of this verse. Definitely another interesting way to look at it… and when you think about it in the context of Eric's interpretation, either can be refreshing… seeing someone who's on fire and dependent for God, or seeing someone who's hit rock bottom and recognizing their need for God and reaching out to Him to save them… the "lukewarm" Christians, on the other hand, seek to point out flaws and tear people down, which discourages people and doesn't do anyone any good. *shrug* just a thought… lol

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  36. I have not ever looked at the verse from this direction and i think it looks great from this standpoint and is most likely the way it is meant. thank you for shedding light here.

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  37. hey ya! Just read this today lol i love the first comment as im the same, i was self righteous and now i have been self righteous again by opposing the legalistic versions and i am full aware of this! I am looking forward to the day when i know longer Judge anyone and can be one of those lovely gentle old ladies who nod and say only nice things and show lots of love! i have a good 20-30 years to get there and hey God can do anything so i trust that he can do this for me! God is GOOd! I have been reading old sermons by CHARLES KINGSLEY preached in the 1860s Google search him under the good news of god! Its beautiful teaching! thanks so much for your explaination on this Eric! tracy nz

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  38. I pray you guys really read your whole Bible before you truly fall into this….he makes a good point but his point leads alot of people to false conversion. I was lukewarm, thinking all I had to do was believe in Jesus in my heart and be good etc etc. I didnt need to be mother Theresa or nothing…but when I truly repented…..truly got saved I was on fire for Jesus because I realized what I was and why He had to die for me. whe. U are on fire for Him (truly saved) He will lead u to do works for His kingdom not cause u think ur self righteous but because the Holy Spirit leads u to what your purpose is for Him. And u do it….it's not legalistic when u are simply following the guidance of the spirit qnd obeying out of your love for Him. This article makes the lukewarm people think they r saved and the real Christians lukewarm.! Its totally wrong perspective but has a few good points in it only. Gos said if we have love for the world the love of God is not in us. You guys need to read the whole Bible so that u dont get deceived by stuff like this. It sounds good to the ear and righteuos but has errors and false in it. everything is pulled out of context but almost in such a smart way that it looks right when its not. Dont be deceived……Bible warns of days when people will start to have itchy ears and create a gospel that is EASY and satisfies them. You will know them by their fruits…! The way is narrow…..satan is all around ready to devour like a lion people….wake up and stop living in this candyland gospel…! Jesus did not die such a horrific death so we can live in candyland and claim we r saved cause we love him in our heart only. Wake up people….I used to be like this and think just like u guys….easy and as long as I dont have to changr my lifestyle its all good…hallelujah..! Praise God. Wrong…! Dont be fooled. Satan will tell u all u have to do is believe, nothing else. Ignore the fact that the apostles all gave up everything to follow Jesus, lost their lives…! Ignore the fact that Jesus commanded us to walk the Narrow path….to go out and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy spirit. just as long as u make it easy on satan from doing his job which is to steal, kill and destroy he wants u to keep on living this candyland gospel. U have no affect on him n his goal…..thats lukewarm, cause he knows Christ is not really in you….cause u are not even a threat to his goal………wake up people

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  39. Jesus said YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN people…wake up. Stop sleeping in hell..! When Jesus says MUST, He means Must…! If u dont know what born again means…..read your whole Bible..! Find out what born again means and repent…! If u are Not born again, u will Not see the kingdom of God per Jesus own words..! Just sayin…" I believe in Jesus, I know he is real. I may be living normal life like everyone else, not really on fire for His kingdom but im not lukewarm cause I love Him…" Is not being born Again, ur still lost just lost in a deceived way…!

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  40. Anonymous–Sorry, I just now saw your comments. I really don't know what you mean. Are you saying that, because I believe in Christ, Christ is not really in me? How could that be?

    I've read the whole Bible, and that's why I believe that faith alone in Jesus saves me. "Changing your lifestyle" (whatever you mean by that?) doesn't save you or make you a better Christian. The Pharisees had the best "lifestyles" of anyone, but Jesus condemned them.

    Jesus (not Satan!) said "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (John 6:29).

    Peace.

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What is Spiritual Abuse?


What is Spiritual Abuse?

This will begin a series identifying the main elements of what I believe undermines the very core of who we are as women. How we view ourselves, our effectiveness as a woman created in the image of God, our relationships, and our futures are all impacted by the roots that have attached themselves to the base of our souls. I choose to start with the subject at hand because it is more common and devious than we realize; before we are aware of it, we too can become swept along by the current and injured in its wake. So deceptive is this crime, that it slyly becomes the very foundation of what we believe, and why.

Spiritual abuse takes on many forms. The insidiousness of this becomes apparent every time I talk to women who don’t realize why they think or feel the way they do. It affects not only our spiritual lives, but also our hearts, minds, and as I believe, our bodies. It can be very difficult to identify, because it looks and sounds so right. With our built-in drive to please, to pursue holiness, and be obedient to God, we become particularly susceptible to this foul element of religiosity. In my belief, there is almost nothing more that grieves the heart of God!

Let us examine some of the obvious features.

Spiritual Abuse & Religious Cults

definitions

In relation to religion, the Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English defines “cult” as:
1 a system of religious worship directed towards a particular figure or object.
2 a small religious group regarded as strange or as imposing excessive control over members.

The Random House Unabridged Dictionary’s eight definitions of “cult” are:

1. A particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies;
2. An instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers;
3. The object of such devotion;
4. A group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc;
5. Group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols;
6. A religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader;
7. The members of such a religion or sect;
8. Any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

With the actual definitions as a background, consider this by Jeff VanVonderen:


Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority, the purpose of which is to ‘come underneath’ and serve, build, equip and make God’s people MORE free, misuses that authority placing themselves over God’s people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly Godly purposes which are really their own.

Unfortunately, this appears not only within the “crazies” such as Jonestown or the Moonies; many churches and families also exhibit these very characteristics. Taking advantage, whether intentionally or indirectly, these institutions exploit one’s love for God and loyalty; in effect using these qualities to promote their own agenda, purposes, and beliefs. In his book Churches that Abuse, Dr. Ronald Enroth lists several distinctives that are worth considering:

  1. Authority and Power – abusive groups misuse and distort the concept of spiritual authority. Abuse arises when leaders of a group arrogate to themselves power and authority that lacks the dynamics of open accountability and the capacity to question or challenge decisions made by leaders. The shift entails moving from general respect for an office bearer to one where members loyally submit without any right to dissent.
  2. Manipulation and Control – abusive groups are characterized by social dynamics where fear, guilt, and threats are routinely used to produce unquestioning obedience, group conformity, and stringent tests of loyalty to the leaders are demonstrated before the group. Biblical concepts of the leader-disciple relationship tend to develop into a hierarchy where the leader’s decisions control and usurp the disciple’s right or capacity to make choices on spiritual matters or even in daily routines of what form of employment, form of diet and clothing are permitted.
  3. Elitism and Persecution – abusive groups depict themselves as unique and have a strong organizational tendency to be separate from other bodies and institutions. The social dynamism of the group involves being independent or separate, with diminishing possibilities for internal correction and reflection. Outside criticism and evaluation is dismissed as the disruptive efforts of evil people seeking to hinder or thwart.
  4. Life-style and Experience – abusive groups foster rigidity in behavior and in belief that requires unswerving conformity to the group’s ideals and social mores.
  5. Dissent and Discipline – abusive groups tend to suppress any kind of internal challenges and dissent concerning decisions made by leaders. Acts of discipline may involve emotional and physical humiliation, physical violence or deprivation, acute and intense acts of punishment for dissent and disobedience.

While they believe such groups may not be cults, perse, the authors of The Drift into Deception: The Eight Characteristics of Abusive Christianity list specific qualities of those factions which are inclined towards spiritually abusive tendencies. From page 50: “We may define an aberrant group as one which emerged from orthodox, mainstream Christianity, but differs from it in belief and practices in one or more essential ways. The word aberrant means “straying from the right or normal way; deviating from the usual or natural type.” An aberrant Christian group, then , is neither a cult nor an evangelical organization.” The following attributes are often present in such assemblies:

  • Charisma and pride
  • Anger and intimidation
  • Greed and fraud
  • Immorality
  • Enslaving authoritarian structure
  • Exclusivity
  • Demanding loyalty and honor
  • New biblical revelations

While all groups will not demonstrate every single aspect, or varying degrees of them, there are still alarming similarities within many churches and families that need to be acknowledged. Unfortunately however, this can prove overwhelming when it hits too close to home.

Healthy vs. unhealthy leadership

I will not attempt to exhaust every good element within healthy “religious” organizations, but I will detail a few important characteristics that are always present within balanced church groups and family structures. I believe that these distinct virtues are: humility, sacrifice, and altruism.

Humility

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20

Godly religious or family authority takes on the distinct humility of Jesus, who appeared in the form of a bondservant and became obedient to the point of death. Can your spiritual leader be found figuratively or even literally on his knees, washing the feet of his disciples? Or does it seem more likely that his followers are bowed before his feet?

Sacrifice



The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. John 10

Does your leader routinely lay themselves down for their flock? Or do they require unbalanced degrees of service, veneration, and loyalty?

Altruism



Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Phil. 2

Does your spiritual leader honestly set aside his own will and desire, seeking the well-being of those within his care?

Families and church systems that lack these elements are in grave danger of not only becoming out of balance, but of grossly misrepresenting the True God to those entrusted to their care. Let’s look at some of the ramifications that Spiritual Abuse exacts upon women.

The effects on women

Spiritually abused women, who still seek healing and wholeness. . .

  • often struggle with the concept of God
  • have difficulty trusting those in authority
  • often find themselves within unhealthy relationships
  • have little or no boundaries
  • dwell with extreme feelings of guilt and shame
  • struggle with low self esteem, consider themselves worthless and wicked at the core
  • often have health and weight issues
  • battle depression
  • have difficulty make decisions due to lack of confidence and trust in their abilities
  • feel they never measure up to God’s standards
  • do not think of themselves as autonomous beings, created in the image of God
  • cannot fully comprehend the love of God
  • feel disconnected from their souls, emotions, feelings, and God

I will expound upon these with greater detail in future articles, but oh, my dear friend! Those of you, who bear these burdens and feel the oppressive ache within your soul. . . my heart breaks for you! I was once afflicted, such as you are; nearly to the point of suicide and death. I grew tired of life; weary and exhausted from endlessly trying to measure up to the standards that were rigidly forced upon me. We will explore some of these issues later, but for now, let me encourage you that it is possible to be set free through the grace and sanctification of our Heavenly Father! Take heart, and know that He who is the Father to the Fatherless is with you always.

For further study, I heartily recommend The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen.


Introduction

Welcome!

When I first begin talking about my book Quivering Daughters, many people ask instantly why I haven’t written it before now. A valid question, for I have dabbled in writing since I was a wee lassie of six, when my homeschooling mother would present to me lists of words for creative inclusion with poetry, story, or song. The short answer is: much living was required of me before the fullness of time and the Spirit of God spoke in unity.

The long answer, I expect, will be drawn out over the course of the next several months.

I hope that you check back often as I chronicle this journey and share what I have learned. This blog will serve as my sounding board; to test the waters, and post articles and resources I have found helpful. Ultimately I hope that hungry souls will find relief through the work of my hands and the words of my heart. I humbly bow before my Creator in awe of His presence within my life, praying that you will be blessed as this project unfolds.

Feel free to leave comments, ask questions, and send messages! I love feedback.

Why I am Still a Christian


Why I am Still a Christian

A couple of similar comments were left recently that I wanted to address in a post:
“Without trying to be antagonistic, I am curious why so many have continued in the christian religion after their experiences with it. I was raised as a strong Protestant, and had spent years studying the Bible and Christian theology, but subsequent to my experiences with a man who controlled his daughter/family to the point of ruining a relationship, I realized that trying to pick and choose which parts of Christianity gave birth to it was impossible. So, I am interested why so many here are moving forward with that intent.” (From Commandments of Men | New Blog)

and

“Not to join in the mutual misery society, but having likewise been through a failed relationship with a girl because of her father and her refusal to actually commit…similar to many of the details that “Lewis” has shared…I have one question: Why do any of you continue to be christian? Once I learned what the end result was, I washed my hands of it all; and I’m curious why so many of you who have been through similar situations continue in the very ideology that gave birth to the abuse.” (From When You Love a Daughter of Patriarchy.)

I am so sorry for the pain that you’ve been through. I believe that God weeps with you at the injustice and sorrow that you’ve witnessed and experienced; even though I don’t know the precise details within your situations He did speak strongly about those who cause His children to stumble. 
Speaking for myself, separating God from man (including man’s actions, beliefs, lifestyles, etc.) and separating God from the man-made religion of Christianity was a vital part of healing and continuing in the Faith. Ultimately it required taking certain people and ideas off of a pedestal and allowing God to shatter all the false ideas I held onto, including lies about myself and a misunderstanding of His nature, and replace them with truth.
I can follow a God who hates authoritarianism, who prizes mercy over judgment, who values person over doctrine. For me, it’s a matter of realizing that humans (including myself) are fallen creatures and that I can look to no one except God for truth and righteousness. This also helps me have grace and mercy, forgiveness, honor and love for those who continue these practices, knowing that as a human, I too make mistakes, cause pain, and am no better, more enlightened, or more worthy than anyone else. I can’t blame God for the actions of man, even when those things might be done in His name. I am actually thankful, for in my own life it forced me to seek Him myself and work out my own salvation with fear and trembling.  The Lord called me, healed me, and set my feet upon the narrow path…it is my joy to serve Him however I can.
I’d love to hear from others, both Christian and those who have left the faith due to abuses of patriarchalism, authoritarianism, and fundamentalism. If you are a Christian, why, and how have you remained so or become so? And if you’ve left the faith, why, and what would it take to come back?

In other words, why have you kept the faith despite spiritual abuse?


49 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing! I am not into organized religon,but closer to God than I ever have been. I still consider myself Catholic/Christian.

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  2. Thanks for the great post and the reminder that patriarchalist abuses have resulted from disregarding the Bible — which makes me wonder why ignoring all of it would help? πŸ™‚

    Perhaps I would only qualify your statement about "valuing person over doctrine." If "doctrine" is taken to mean lifeless, pointless teachings about fine points of philosophy or something, I could understand that. Yet Christian doctrine should include the truth that persons are valuable, that God is merciful and does not tolerate human authoritarianism. Through true, Biblical teaching about God's nature and actions (doctrine), we know He is love.

    (If it helps at all, I also pick on a favorite Nicole Nordeman song for along implying that upholding doctrine is inevitably unloving.)

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  3. im not entirely sure y i remain but i have been thru a similar process of separating god from religion and people. found myself with faith in a very different god on the other side.

    good post.

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  4. Thank you all for the feedback! πŸ™‚

    E.Stephen Burnett, good thoughts…the doctrines of man is a good qualification, although unfortunately it takes some years-to-never understanding that the doctrines of man are, in fact, not God's doctrines. πŸ™

    theholywild…so thankful this is true.

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  5. Funny that you should post on this question today–I've been trying to write something for my own blog and no matter what topic I start writing about, by the end of it I find myself responding to this question instead!

    I grew up in the rather prototypical patriarchal household in the 70s–before Gothard, et al, got up a full head of steam but their ideas were starting to float around the Evangelical churches I grew up in and the families we associated with–and left Christianity in my heart in the mid 80s and physically left the building in the early 90s.

    But I've always been a mystic, a Seeker of Truth wherever it may be found, and I found that, once I abandoned the dogma of You Must Believe Doctrines, I could commune with the Divine in the way I had always sensed possible while in the church but the doctrine got in the way.

    After 20 years of free-lance mysticism and dabbling in other organized religions and social groups (who all turned out to be as fundamentalistic in practice as the Christians I had left, or more so as fundamentalism as a mindset increased as a Zeitgeist toward the end of the 20th century), I found myself wanting to root out my own fundamentalist fears and angers and integrate the best of my heritage as an American Protestant woman into the person I want to be in this second half of my life.

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  6. I won't leave a lot of replies today, worked out a lot yesterday [I do that sometimes]…all I want to say is, for me, because I questioned faith from a critical point, from the most hostile [at times] to the revolutionary, and still Do question,

    the Bible, God, Heaven [the laws of, hierarchy, real reason we were created, so forth, including questioning everything from ancient beliefs, that are re-emerging today with full force, Sumerians, Annakim, Egyptians, Mayan, etc]

    there is ONE thing, that stands apart, from every single 'god' and 'ideology' out there that is the core of the compass I have found,

    and that is, Jesus, was The One, Lord of All, creator of All, both good and evil [that is Biblical] came down, as human, and gave His body, laid His self down, was horribly tortured, so that I, You, wouldn't have to die spiritually eternally. Of all the beliefs, of all the gods, of all the goddesses, of all the aliens, only ONE, ONE,

    gave Himself, for Us, in a more intimate loving way than even a lover would…He gave and Took our sins, our darkness, took the pain, horror, the ravaging dogs, the bulls of Bashan, Psalms 22, the shame, the being 'forsaken', all of it, the fear, so that HE could give us HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, HIS SALVATION, THROUGH HIS POWER, HIM,

    that is THE POWER, OF THE GOSPEL, it is not about authority, it is not about law, it is not about facade, it is not about power, it is not about marriage, gender roles, hierarchy, economics,

    but Love. Someone told me, and the religious often do, sin separates us from God, true, that is true, but what is forgotten, is that sin did not keep God away from US, oh no, Jesus came down and sat, ate, drank with sinners, so it wasn't God who avoided us,

    it was us, who avoided Him, that is what sin does, it takes US from Him, from His Love, it warps and poisons OUR minds, OUR souls, OUR spirits, not His…His Love, His Holiness, is not shaken by evil, it is more Powerful that evil, it is more Powerful than

    DEATH.

    Even DEATH, COULD NOT HOLD JESUS DOWN…IT CANNOT HOLD LOVE, PURE LOVE, DOWN.

    That is the Power of the Holy Spirit, NOT human will, not human goodness, frail and shallow as it may be and is…

    God, the ultimate Power, the ultimate Love, is not shaken by us, He saved us, IF we will simply, let Him, trust Him, rely on Him…His only begotton son, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Our salvation.

    Humans through beginning of time have done all to climb up the ladder back to God, fearing due to sin, the consciousness of, doing all to Prove, to Justify their 'earned' right to Heaven, so they think,

    but we all have sinned, we all have sinned against Love, to Love God with all our hearts, mind, strength, notice that is the one command, that does not say, as thyself. Only the love thy neighbor as thyself.

    Why is that? Because we could Never, love thyself the way God loves us.

    No way, He, our maker, our creator, He as in 'in our image', male and female, our image,

    loved us so much in spite of our sin, gave His self, His body, broken, beaten, naked, bruised, bleeding,

    to wash us, cleanse us, to bring us to Him, to reconcile US, to HIM, to make us New Creations, in His likeness.

    Of all the beliefs, HE, is the ONLY one, that gave His self to me, to you, to the world, to all, so that no one, has to be separated from Him and His total Love,

    justified freely, by HIS GRACE,

    no other ideology, no other explanation, nothing the world has to offer, can even compare, to Him, to His love, the King of All, gave His life blood, so that I might Live, in His love, forever.

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  7. cont

    And all I had to do, is believe and live through Him, through Love–I have questioned it all, without hesitation, without succumbing to the 'dogma' of doctrines, to rebel against them, I found,

    was actually my road to freedom, because HE showed me, in spite of my sins, which are many, who HE is, and He still is. To KNOW love, to Live Love, is so far from doctrines, religion, doing 'right' but with no real love, is a journey, sometimes painful yes, because it is So contrary to what we are and know, is a Life, the Life, that only one I think, knows through the Holy Spirit, faith works by Love. Anything other than that, is simply a mind ideal–one day that mind ideal will falter, mine did,

    when HE comes through, He and HE alone, without mental adhering, then you know, YOU KNOW, and you're never the same again. So for me, it's not that I still believe,

    because that ran out–now it's little steps, running to Him, and total reliance on Him, the Cross, Jesus and Jesus Crucified, the compass, that I rely on, to lead me to the end. That, I think, is what faith is, the hope, substance of things hoped for.

    BTW, for any who have questioned, from a secular point, from other ideologies, I have written on some of the journey, on my blog,

    maybe some of my dark questionings will help those, searching in truth and in doubt, I do not sugar coat, sometimes I can even be crass, but it was Truth, that I sought for, after Years of dabbling in lot of other beliefs. And I did ask the hard questions…and still do. God does answer, that I do know. [I came/questioned from a left ideology too, so just so you know]

    http://homesewersneedleworkersunion-hsnwu.blogspot.com/

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  8. God drew me to a relationship with Himself that was separate from the lifestyle choices my parents made for our family. Even when I still believed/practiced the patriarchal-type lifestyle, I had a solid relationship with God that was based on His grace, not just what my parents believed. (Sorry if I lapse into "christianese" lingo–I try not to do that but I'm writing quickly and defaulting to familiar vocab!).

    When I exited the legalistic lifestyle, that relationship remained. I could finally understand that my parents made destructive choices for us, not because of Christianity, but because of their own dysfunctions and warped thinking that had nothing to do with real Christianity.

    I did wrestle through some intellectual doubts, but always came back to a relationship with God that I knew was real. I know that kind of experiential confidence is not enough for some people, but it's ultimately what carried me through.

    Another huge factor in stabilizing my faith was the love of non-patriarchal Christians. When I saw the love and spiritual depth in some of the "worldly Christians" I'd once
    disdained, I realized that their faith could not possibly be manufactured. That encouraged me in my quest.

    -Grace

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  9. As far as abuses of patriarchalism, authoritarianism, and fundamentalism being billed as 'Christian,' these practices are all distinctly anti-relationship in nature. They are all about rules, they are the stuff of religion.

    I finally understood that Jesus didn't come to give us a new religion. It is Relationship rooted and grounded in Love that changes hearts.

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  10. I like what you said lionwoman, you know though my questioning was from a radical turn the rock over left view [far left], it didn't start Out that way, I grew up, with a family background in strict Catholicism/Shriner/masonry and Italian male-Patric centrism with also Irish, culture wise,

    then grew up in an extreme racist-nationalist based religious fundie town in the South, with over 100 churches, a lot of pharisees, with secret wife swapping parties, that kind of hypocrisy, KKK mentality, materialism, the whole right wing neo-conservative, neo-Nazi type of mentality that while my family who were from the East did not abide in that culture, the assimilation still occurred because it was only way to survive and keep from being lynched, literally. So in THAT WAY I can totally relate to what so many who have grown up with the QF and other fundie lifestyles are saying, and it was the LEARNED CONSTRUCTS and internalized gender hate, growing up with that,

    that actually laid the groundwork, both mentally and spiritually for me to be so accepting of other totalitarian cults or semi-cults, thinking that is, anything that was authoritarian in nature, including numerous denominations that are OBSESSED WITH SUBMISSION AND PATRIARCHY, I was ripe for, I had been trained and trained early.

    That's the thing about religion though, you don't have to be directly intimate or connected to it to be influenced negatively by it's destructive forces…especially when those negative influences are Political, Economical, Social and Institutional,

    and this, this is what I think is even far more dangerous for all people, especially women, and why yes, there is such a need to outwardly confront, challenge, rebuke blatant wrongs, because the Day we are Silent,

    is the Day that the authoritarians take dominion and we will wind up like so many other nations, in a state of tyranny, that is disguised under a mask of goodness. This is why, I do think dissent is so necessary, and the silencing of dissent,

    to me, spells out more danger than just what transpires in a few semi-cults or cult-like religions. Religion, rigid patriarchy and hierarchy, even if secluded, is yes, indeed, a threat,

    to freedom to have a soul that is not controlled or destroyed by forces that mean harm, so many think the dangers lie in liberalism,

    I can speak from experience, the groundwork, for tyranny, for absolutism, for the worst kind of medi-evil misogynist abuse, leading to feudalism with a gun,

    lay none other, than in RELIGION.

    I cannot emphasize this enough, and I really do believe, that the danger of this real threat, is too often, trivialized, in the safety of that it's not the same as faith, that is true, it isn't,

    but if faith is to have the freedom to grow, it requires space to breathe. Once that space is removed by despots, dominion movements that are mixed politically, be they right or not, they Always lead up to,

    totalitarianism.

    The connection of, is so glaring in my life, though not directly in the religious patriarchy, indirectly, male centric patriarchy, not only Nearly destroyed my faith, it did unrepairable damage, to both my life and my children's…

    and that, I will Never, forget. which is why, I will stand opposed to religion. It is toxic, it is poison, make No mistake about it…it paves the way, to absolutist fascism, NOT the other way, around.

    Jane

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  11. Grace, I totally agree with your last paragraph! When I saw "rebellious" young people walk through difficult times with shining faces and love for others, a lot of my prejudice fell away.

    Hillary, great post!

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  12. Once my Mother remarried (with an abusive biological father behind), we at first reguraly attended church. But after my parents were wounded in the church (from a mainstream denomination), they quit. Once we moved to Georgia, I started going on my own, alone. However based on my outlandish punk-rockish dress, I too became wounded in a public kinda way by leadership in the church. I had been attending ever time the doors opened. Hence, I too quit and became a prodigal for many years. Until I hit bottom and my life lay in shambles around me, did I come at a crossroads to reject God. I chose not to reject. It had terrified me how far I'd gone and I came back from the stye and was welcomed with open arms by the Father. To prove Himself even more real, He sent Jesus through others in a church I found after coming back 'home'. They accepted me warts and all. I began to thaw and realized how I'd built a wall not to keep me in but for keeping others out, even Him. It took a pit and many, many, skins of Jesus to fully embrace not only His forgiveness of sin, but my own forgiveness of my sin. Forgiving myself was the hardest. But coming back has been a deeper and more treasured relationship than ever before.

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  13. Many who have heard my story have said to me "it is amazing to me that you still believe in God at all, that your faith has continued, and you have not chosen to walk away from it all." There are many, many times I was so ready to just turn around and walk away from it all. If I'm honest, there are still days I feel so shattered and broken that I am so frustrated and am tempted to believe that this is not worth it. But it's not about the people who do this to me. It's about me and God. It's about a Jesus who L.O.V.E.S me SO much that He was tortured and killed for ME. He has never once done harm to me, He is the only one I trust and cling to in the storm.

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  14. I was recently chatting with a 'quivering' friend who is preparing to move out from her authoritarian family (in a situation almost uncannily similar to the story of "Annie"), and she expressed to me her weighty concern that when all is said and done, no matter how certain she is that she's doing the right thing in leaving, she may turn out to be wrong after all — and that God will hold her accountable for it … then her deeper fear that this entire struggle is born of selfishness and thus disregard of / rebellion against God … and that ultimately she will be damned for it as one who "wilfully goes on sinning". >_>

    Through a long conversation, God provided me with the words she needed to hear, showing her over and over again from Scripture God's faithfulness toward His chosen ones, that yes He 'wrote Israel a certificate of divorce' — but six verses later pleaded for her to return to Him … that even when we insist on turning our backs on Him, He will never turn His back on us … even when like the prodigal son we think we wish He were dead, He awaits with eager open arms our return …

    And with tears in my eyes I reminded her that the God of the universe chose HER to love — out of everyone in history — and chose to damn Himself rather than lose her … that THIS is the kind of God we serve, and THIS is the kind of love He has for us….

    And I wept as she finally understood.

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  15. My heart is soaring to read these comments! I love the Lord so much….He is so good! Thank ALL of you for taking the time to leave your thoughts and experiences. For others reading, please continue to do so!

    Scottie…I'm so glad she heard you. She is stepping in faith, yes? That Godis the One who calls her? Without faith it is "impossible to please Him" and yet even faith as small as a mustard seed is pleasing in His sight. He wants to be the One she seeks, follows, loves…He can make all things new and heal her relationships ~ I will pray for her and her family during this challenging time.

    Hope…I'd love to hear your story sometime, when and if you are willing. {{hugs}}

    Tammy, thanks for sharing your testimony! Praise the Lord for drawing you to Him and for His loving children who demonstrated His heart to you!

    Jane, thank you for loving the Father and seeking healing and truth. I know that you've had immense pain in your life and I thank the Lord that He is near to you and you to Him.

    Lionwoman ~ absolutely. This is similar to what I meant regarding doctrine over person…rules over relationship. Yet Jesus came to show us relationship…to reconcile us to God. Thanks for commenting!

    Grace, I agree with Sharon! I'm so glad God brought those people into your life. Beautiful words.

    Sandra, I look forward to seeing what that looks like for you. πŸ™‚ {{hugs}}

    God bless all of you!

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  16. I feel like most days I'm still reaching, grasping after Jesus and some days I'm closer to throwing my hands up with it all. It's a hard line to run after the thing that, at times, looks as if it destroyed you.
    For me, it's the person of Jesus. In the quiet of the night, when I can't sleep and I am hurting all over, He is still the one that my heart yearns for and there is a reality in that.
    Sometimes I can't even reach my arms out for Him, but He's showed himself as Emmanuel, the God that's with me (even when my heart is wandering).
    It kind of hurts just to say those thing, because clinging to promises that have brought such chains into my life makes me want to cry… but Jesus himself, deserves the effort to be sought after, outside of what man has made Him into at times.
    I feel like justice should be paid on behalf of what a man has done to me, and that should only stir me in the direction of allowing Jesus the same priviledge. His name has been contorted and used for purposes that are contrary to His heart. For me, justice in that is seeking Him regardless.

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  17. Thanks Hilary! I wanted to touch on your question about what it would take for someone like me who has left the faith to come back. I left the last church I attended without the intention of leaving or "falling away" from God. I still wanted to love Him, but because those in authority over me presented themselves as God's voice to me, it had been years since I had experienced any real form of relationship with God.

    It has been almost 5 years since I left and I still consider myself on a journey, but at this point everything has been stripped away. All faith in God, Jesus, or even the possibility of an afterlife has dissolved and I am at peace with it. For a while, it caused a lot of angst and depression, but now I am content to wait and see.

    If God really exists and truly loves me then I'm sure my heart will be stirred again. I'm also willing for Him to speak to my mind as well, but so far, I haven't heard anything new or convincing. I am fairy convinced that all of this will have to occur outside of an organized church group of any kind as every time I look back at the many churches and ministries I've been involved in throughout my life, I see mostly abuses of authority and mini to full scale cults.

    So, I guess I have no idea what it would truly take for me to believe again, but I know its not likely to come from a pulpit or anything stamped "Christian" as nothing in my experience or reading has led me to believe that Jesus as a person ever intended to found a religion.

    Again, thanks for your words. I am always encouraged by what you have to say.

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  18. MV, thank you for adding your voice! It breaks my heart (and I believe God's, too) that you've experienced so much abuse in God's name. I am happy to see your quiet faith that "if God exists" He can draw you, from wherever you are on the journey. You are absolutely right. Thanks for stopping by. Hugs!

    Vedodili, I love how you define/explain justice…"seeking Him regardless." Indeed He is Emmanuel.

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  19. I received this insightful comment on my facebook wall and wanted to add it to the discussion:

    "Because there's still space in my faith for me to ask lots of questions and sit with doubt. If I couldn't ask the questions that are, or had to accept pat answers that fed cognitive dissonance, I'd have given up. I read so much of the Bible and see the Lord so accepting of desperate questioning, and I sit with my own unresolved, desperate questions… See More. My abuse happened underneath great "kindness", and so sometimes even proclamations of the Lord's kindness do little or nothing to reassure me, because I wonder what God's kindness is a cover up for or distraction from.

    But the fact that I can question and be suspicious of the Lord's kindness, without him either having to shut me up or play manipulative games to make my questions go away, gives me space to keep trusting and believing that he is trustworthy.

    Also, the cross. There's a lot a "kind", abusive person will do to convince someone that the abuse is just being imagined. But the cross (the whole incarnation really) is something that I can (usually) relate to as not manipulative, but genuine loving sacrifice."

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  20. Scottie,
    I have a friend walking through a similar situation to your friend. One thing a couple of us try to consistently remind her is that pain and suffering are normal, in this life. When/if she leaves the "certain" world she's been raised in, she will surely face suffering. A child may be sick, a spouse may die of cancer, she may end up struggling with a mental illness or have a car wreck. She might fail at a course of study she pursues. In a world of "certainty", all of those things "mean" something.

    But the reality is, that if she stayed in the world she now knows, she might also have a child with a severe disability, or a spouse die of cancer or fail at something, etc. etc.

    Those things happen. They are "normal" (albeit, miserably normal. The teaching that everything that happens is a direct message from God leaves people paralyzed and unable to move, within the realities and knowledge and wisdom that God has already given to them as members of the human race.

    We can make decisions, and we sometimes will fail. But that is HOW we learn and grow. It's not proof that we chose the wrong thing or missed God's will or whatever.

    The Holy Spirit is in us, and that doesn't mean that he has to give a final word on every single little thing we do. But he is in us, a part of us, he has renewed and made spiritually alive every part of us. We can walk in that confidence, imperfectly, making mistakes and everything.

    The consolation I have as a believer is not that now, if I just listen (and maybe squint and turn my head sideways) enough, I'll be able to do everything right. It is, rather, that the Lord is with me and faithful to me, in each and every situation I walk through.

    I don't always walk confidently or with certainty, even about that (i.e. the Lord's faithfulness), but, as always, he knows I am frail and weak, he knows the reasons for my doubt and uncertainty, and I believe, similar to what MV stated above, that if he IS faithful, His faithfulness is capable of continuing in spite of all that I can't believe or know with certainty. His faithfulness is not threatened or challenged by my pain and struggle and weakness, even by my weak faith. It doesn't depend on Him, but on me.

    I guess that's wandered from my original point to Scottie, but it's all connected in one big soapbox in my head :-). I just don't have to "know" that the step I'm taking is right OR ELSE God is going to "get me", hold me accountable or whatever. I can trust His heart towards me and trust Him to patiently show and grow and lead me, instead of fearing that I'm going to be hit over the head if this direction I'm going in isn't good….

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  21. MV, I've been thinking about your comment and it really hit me…you've pinpointed why abuse of authority (authoritarianism) is so evil, especially in this context…you said "because those in authority over me presented themselves as God's voice to me, it had been years since I had experienced any real form of relationship with God." When someone tells another person that "they are God's mouthpiece" to them (I heard from a 'quivering daughter' this week who had just heard this from her father) this absolutely prevents them from that relationship…a relationship is all about communication, trust, love, growth, learning, etc…in this environment none of that is possible and yet this is the very reason Jesus came to die.

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  22. Vedodilli,
    Thanks for sharing your story and your tears and your heart. Your words help me, today.

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  23. I'm a brand new commenter. I wasn't part of the quiverfull movement, but I was part of a christian cult for 12 years.

    God was my abuser. God was my abuser, God was my abuser, God was my abuser.

    It is only in the past month or so that I have finally been able to stop making excuses for what he has done and say this out loud. Like the quote on your page says, I no longer have any patience with those who will defend him over me.

    I have also realized that, even since being out of the cult for 7 years, the only reason I have stayed with God is a fear of hell. So basically, I haven't left God because I'm afraid of what he will do to me if I do. Classic abusive relationship. I'm still terrifed of him. You can't get a restraining order against God, or go to a battered womens shelter to be safe. However, I refuse to live whatever life I have left as his submissive victim.

    There is nothing that could willingly bring me back to him.

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  24. KatR, I am so sorry! Even though I have seen it done, I still cannot understand why people use God as an excuse to abuse others. That is so, so wrong!!! I don't have words to describe how wrong! People who purposely convince innocents that their proper protector and savior is actually their enemy are…well…nevermind. But they are BAD!

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  25. KatR, I am so sorry for the spiritual abuse you've experienced from others in God's name…:(

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  26. KatR, you are one brave woman. I share in so many of these feelings. *One* of my big reasons for breaking away from the faith is the hell thing. It might have driven me insane eventually. I cannot believe how doubleminded I was, experiencing on one hand a somewhat tender connection to God, yet also believing I had to actively fear and avoid unimaginable torment. Eventually, of course, this had to fall apart.

    Yes, there *may* be torment. God *may* a monster. But I'm not going to live my life based upon fear. There is more to life than fear, as paralyzing as that is. I'm holding out for something more, living my life based on something more. I don't even know what that is, other than something that humans have called "love" from time to time.

    Will that end up to include a radically different vision of God as love? I do not know. I just know there is something more than what I've known.

    And I applaud you on your own journey.

    (btw dear Luna, I am sorry I don't comment here more. You have such a wonderful place. <3)

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  27. I am still answering this question for myself. I do know one thing, for me being a christian without a church is not an option. I grew up that way, and my Dad was the Pope of our house. All descisions came through him, including all biblical interpretation. I never want to "make up my own version of Christianity as I go" and live under the delusion that I am the only one who got it right, ever again.

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  28. The reason I kept the faith in Jesus was that I read Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies (her story of finding Jesus) and she didn't look anything like the crazy fundies I had just spent a lot of time with. I call her my "spiritual mother" because she showed me that no matter what I do, or who I am, Jesus loves me.

    I think that freedom to wander in the wilderness a bit, to let go of the fear of "hell," and to just rest was a huge part of me finally looking up.

    Suddenly, I saw Jesus and His arms were open wide and I could run to those arms and there wasn't anyone in the way (no hovering patrios, no dark clouds of "sin," no dark forest of confusion blocking my view) and I ran for my life and right into those arms.

    Now that I got thru, those dark things still haunt me, they loom close and they freak me out a LOT. But I don't have to go through them anymore. With Jesus there is a back door to life (a third path, if you will): not patriarchy, not hell, but peace. With Jesus walking beside me, arms safely around me, they CAN NO LONGER touch me. Those years can't get to me. They try . . . all the time. My mind plays tricks on me. My emotions overwhelm, my fears take over. I just run for those arms every time.

    Jesus and I have a deal: I never have to go back into that stuff, I just have to trust that there is something greater than this world out there and it's LOVE, Jesus, the Lion of Narnia, whatever I or others need it to be. It's there. Jesus is there. I no longer have to fear.

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  29. Trish,

    Your comment echoes well what I feel has happened to me about "those dark things." I had some expectations that the darkness would go away entirely, and that some spots in my heart would no longer be tender.

    At one time, my loudest and most constant thoughts were the dark and hopeless ones, and I felt like I knew nothing but pain. I sought some magic cure, too, looking for immediate deliverance. I believe now that God used the dark things to teach me perseverance as He demonstrated His faithfulness to me gently in what I've heard described as "the backside of the desert" where He sent every prophet for a time.

    The thoughts have not gone away entirely, but over time and through determining every day (sometimes every moment!) to renew my mind and thoughts, the volume knob on their intensity gradually turned back to a minimum. And sometimes, when a tender spot in my heart takes a good poke, those thoughts seem momentarily LOUD. But they modulate back down quickly, quicker and quicker each time I feel them, too. And the diameter of the tender spots become smaller in diameter every time.

    (Tenderness is different than active pain. Tenderness describes the feeling or sensation of soreness when that area is touched.)

    Over time, I've made peace with the tender spots. Given the disturbing nature of some of the things I've endured, I've decided that it is inappropriate for the tender ache to go completely and entirely away. In a way, those spots stand as witnesses of the past, advocates who cry out about the injustices we all face. They "remind" me of the past when I take risks, bearing witness to me that my safety is important. (The "shoulds" always USED TO take priority over my sense of safety.) The tender spots say "You know what this feels like" which helps me have empathy for others, helping me fulfill 2 Cor 1:3-7 by comforting other with the comfort I received. They inform my sense of discernment, and in doing so, the tender spots become some of my wisest counselors.

    My flesh seems to translate the language of pain into something I understand as dark thoughts. The flesh and the parts of my heart that have not yet been transformed often speak to me in the language of discouragement and condemnation. If I'm too busy or distracted, or I am in outright denial, the appearance of too many dark things remind me that I've not taken care of myself, reminding me to renew my mind again. (And if I ignore the dark thoughts, my body tends to remind me of them in the way of physical aches and pains.)

    I think of this honesty when Hillary writes about the dark light. I've made those haunting dark things a part of my "discernment guidance system" on my journey from utter brokenness into wholeness, a tool that the Spirit uses to work all things together for good.

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  30. Cindy, that is profound. I'm going to have to think on that one a while. πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for sharing!!!

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  31. Sharon,

    Thanks! My wheels have been turning, too, and I left something important out.

    I've been on a spontaneous Romans 8 kick today, and I wanted to point out the part of the chapter that speaks about the earth groaning in travail under the effects of sin. Paul wrote that the Spirit makes intercession for us through groanings that cannot be uttered.

    Especially when I feel overwhelmed emotionally (just like the momentarily overwhelming whack on one's "funny bone" with the lasting ache that follows), I specifically pray and ask the Lord to understand my pain and pondering as its own prayer of intercession, just like the earth travails. So often, I cannot find words to express the feelings and desires, and when I do, I don't ever feel like I can adequately wrap those words around the feelings to describe them. So I specifically pray and ask God who catches my every tear and knows all anyway to dedicate that pain as my imperfect groans of intercession for Him in and through the Spirit. I ask that it be used to work all things together for good (vs 28), to conform me into the image of Jesus, and to somehow let it be used to minister to others in a host of saving ways (vs 29).

    Paul doesn't say specifically that we are supposed to do this in this way. I struggle with what is the pain of my flesh dying and what is empathy and intercession, so this is just what I do, asking God to redeem ("to buy back") the bad so that it can be used for good. (Empathy describes a connection with others, recalling a similar pain and sharing it as opposed to straight compassion which is more detached from the other person.) This helps me not be self-centered in my own pain (as pain demands self-centered attention), but it helps me keep mindful and discerning, too. Boundaries become harder to establish, maintain, and defend when you're in pain, so I pray for help in this way too.

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  32. You cannot "follow a God who hates authoritarianism, who prizes mercy over judgment, who values person over doctrine" because no such God exists.

    Why do you need to be a follower of any particular mythology? Why not give up your imaginary friend, stand on your own 2 feet, and use your education, intellect, heart, and intuition to forge your own life?

    I know I'm wasting my time posting here, but every now and then I do make an effort at outreach. I watched as much of Left Behind 2 as I could stand a few nights ago, and decided to make more of an effort, in part because I think Kirk Cameron would probably have been better off choosing heroin over the religion addiction he did choose. Drug addicts, at least, know there's something wrong with the crutch they use to get through life. Christianists, like Islamists, are certain that what they're doing is right.

    It appears you're wise enough not to believe in Zeus, Allah, Osiris, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Inanna, or Krishna– why do you persist in believing in some mendicant Middle Easterner who, nowadays, would be strait-jacketed, locked-up, and Thorazined until he came to his senses?

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  33. Chris, I'm not sure I follow you. If we aren't supposed to have any crutches, what are we supposed to do with pain?

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  34. Chris…Your statement…

    "Why not give up your imaginary friend, stand on your own 2 feet, and use your education, intellect, heart, and intuition to forge your own life?"

    I can't speak for everyone here, and others here could likely address your point far better than I can, but in essence, I choose to follow my God precisely because He equips me to stand on my own two feet and use the traits and qualities He instilled in me. I stand wholeheartedly against patriocentricity (or Christian Islam as I like to call it) and much of the fundamentalist community because it forcefully takes that God-given opportunity away from innocent victims.

    I rely on God and His word for direction, but I don't rely on God to be my celestial bellhop. I do what I'm empowered to do, and I don't blame Him for the success or failure of my undertakings and choices.

    I prefer to think of God as my friend and loving Father rather than my taskmaster or puppetmaster. I absolutely use my faith as a crutch. It's comforting. Much the same as how we rely on friends and family in times of crisis. But again, it isn't such a crutch that I blame God for outcomes. For instance, it's always bothered me to see victorious athletes thank "their Lord and Savior" for their victories, but you never hear them say "I'd like to thank Jesus Christ for helping me to lose this game today. I couldn't have thrown that interception without His help."

    I trust God for opportunities, and for the wisdom to take advantage of them. When they don't work out, rather than blame Him, I choose to pour out my pain to Him. It's a lot cheaper than therapy, and much more fulfilling.

    You may not see eye to eye with my view (and that's fine), and many here who share my faith may not see eye to eye with my view (and that's fine too).

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  35. Lewis, your comment is very, very beautiful. My only quibble is that you are relying for direction on something that doesn't exist.

    In other words, the voice of God is a voice in your head.

    Sharon, it is absolutely not my place to tell you what to do with pain. What I do is feel it, acknowledge it, and then respond to it. Maybe I don't take any actions, maybe I cry, maybe I reach out to someone and talk, maybe I write. I process it.

    To be honest, I don't see what pain has to do with imaginary friends. Maybe I'm misunderstanding your comment? Could you say more?

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  36. Chris: While the tone of your comments seems to imply that you're fishing for a flame war, I'll assume you're simply not coming across as tactfully as you intended. However, I would like to point out that the general direction of your comments seems to be rather off-topic from the intention of the original blog post.

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  37. Chris,

    These comments were not all addressed to me, but my original thoughts after your first comment posted here overlap with the very questions and comments you’ve posed to others. I’d like to respond, and maybe I can help save someone else some typing!

    First, Scottie Moser is right to say that this blog addresses a serious problem of a sub-group within a particular religious tradition in an effort to help the bruised and broken within that subgroup find validation, comfort, hope and healing. I don’t think that anyone who participates here is averse to discussing why we believe what we do, but your adversarial tone does seriously derail the very focused, productive discussion that the blog intends to foster. I believe that I am right to say that the blog host intends to make this a safe and caring place where the wounded soul who is sometimes very fragile can find a gentle place to read and speak. Your adversarial tone does not foster this for these others who do not share your place in life, your belief system, and likely do not have the benefit of the internal resources that you do yourself. I think Scottie has kindly asked you to have some consideration for them as well as this effort.

    The blog host’s effort to work toward productive and helpful solutions to these specific and serious problems is no easy or light consideration and comes at a high personal price. Hillary has put aside personal comfort and other ambitions in life to be an agent of change at the risk of what can be very painful opposition. (And we’ve got more than enough adversarial folks within our own camp to contend with, just dealing with the specific problems themselves! πŸ˜‰ ) I would hope that you would stop and consider this effort as something courageous, altruistic, and admirable, demonstrating that some people are willing to put themselves in harms way in order to help those who have suffered like they have. Alone as a consideration, I believe that this is an admirable effort.

    I think that there is also virtue in seeking to attend to the “inconsistencies”with in one’s own belief system, demonstrating a desire to see Christians in general show themselves accountable as a group, particularly when Christians see themselves as the group that should be setting the best ethical standard for those outside of the faith. The truth is that in terms of what goes on in some of these sub-groups, we fall terribly short of that as a group. I think that this effort also demonstrates great integrity, and many non-Christians have expressed their great respect and support of this effort though they don’t share our beliefs. We are trying to “clean our own pot” as opposed to “calling all kettles outside the Christian faith black.” There is a respect worthy virtue and humble honesty in such an effort, too, I believe.

    I ask that you consider these things if you have not done so already, and I apologize if you have already considered them specifically in this light.

    I think it is an understatement to say that you do not share a sense of camaraderie with those in the sub-group or in the population of those who follow Christianity such as it is laid out well in Hillary’s FAQs section for the blog! In that sense, I think that Scottie Moser makes an excellent point that “the general direction of your comments seems to be rather off-topic from the intention of the original blog post.”

    Again, I don’t think that anyone is averse to exploring these matters, but within the population of Christians and within the sub-group of interest, our discussions here can be antagonistic enough on their own because of the difficult aspects and nature of the topic.

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  38. More to Chris!

    You’ve posed some questions to others here (which I didn’t have room to address and would like to do so). I think it speaks favorably of you that you’ve asked them, showing that you do want to understand where we presumable nutcases are coming from!

    What you call an imaginary friend or wishful thinking, I call faith, and it is the only thing that I’ve found (after great thought and devotion to a host of subjects from Christian and secular study) that gives me hope and transcendence. Every other consideration I’ve explored has given me a sense of despair and nihilism. And what you and others might call a delusion of causality, I believe with all my heart to be real. As Lewis says, it’s fine if we don’t agree.

    Dr. Michael Persinger jumps into my mind, a brilliant neurophysiologist who developed the “God Helmet” which uses magnets to put people into altered states of consciousness, specifically with the ability to induce religious experiences (as well as treatments for problems like depression, etc.). On a professional level, I know that he believes we are just creatures that create elaborate myths of spirituality to explain experiences that he understands as purely physiologic phenomena. We agree on the mechanisms of what happens – certain things trigger certain responses, and there is an absolute physical thing that happens which creates an ethereal experience. I share his fascination with the occurrence and the process. But I don’t share his causality, because I believe that what he describes was a created mechanism by the Engineer of engineers, by my Creator God.

    I can respect Persinger for where he is in his causality, as he has lived a very different life than I have. And Persinger respects me and would not demean my beliefs. People, Christian or not, should be able to live meaningful lives and I’d love to see them all do so. In that general disposition, I think that we can have respect for others who believe different things and construct different causalities and explanations for things without being demeaning on a personal level. It comes through a general respect for mankind and an understanding that different beliefs do not diminish my confidence and my self. It’s just different. (And I’m happy as long as my own life and liberty are respected and maintainted.) I’d fight and die for Persinger to have a right to disagree with me.

    In terms of Christianity, I’d love to see Persinger become a Christian. I’d love to have the opportunity to share my faith and my reasons for embracing my causality, my explanation of the hows and whys things are. And I’d be totally honest with him about my desires to see him change his mind so that he shares my beliefs. (The changing process is God’s territory, not man’s, IMO.) In that process, I am grateful that I can have an atmosphere of respect for that discussion. And if he thinks I’m deluded, I will show him respect and kindness anyway.

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  39. Chris said…

    Lewis, your comment is very, very beautiful. My only quibble is that you are relying for direction on something that doesn't exist.

    In other words, the voice of God is a voice in your head.

    Sharon, it is absolutely not my place to tell you what to do with pain. What I do is feel it, acknowledge it, and then respond to it. Maybe I don't take any actions, maybe I cry, maybe I reach out to someone and talk, maybe I write. I process it.

    To be honest, I don't see what pain has to do with imaginary friends. Maybe I'm misunderstanding your comment? Could you say more?

    Wrapping up…

    Chris,

    Do you see that people here have shown you kind respect in ways that you have not?

    In your opinion, our causality has no basis in fact. Fine. We all get that, both you and the rest of us.

    Why must it include demeaning terms like "imaginary friends" and wholesale discounting of everything. People, behavior, experience, and the like are complex processes. Every human being is on a different page in terms of understanding what all that means and how to make sense of it all so that they can have meaningful lives. You believe that we can't do so with our beliefs, and I (we) don't think you can have as meaningful of a life as we can and more so in what we understand as an eternal sense by not sharing our beliefs. We are all okay with that. We respect you for it, even.

    Why can't we be offered the same consideration and respect?

    Those writing here are trying to make sense and the best lemonade out of some of the sour lemons we've found ourselves with. Can we at least get some respect for that?

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  40. Chris, I appreciate your concerns and efforts at "outreach". From your position of atheism, I'm sure you've heard a thousand plus arguments from Christians regarding proof that God exists and to be honest, I'm not a very good arguer (okay those who know me in real life can stop laughing now).

    I really appreciate St. Francis of Assisi's statement, "Preach the gospel always, If necessary use words." I do believe that each of our worldviews come by faith; by faith I believe God exists, and that Jesus is the Son of God. I would venture to say (with respect) that by faith you do not believe those things. And that we each hope the other would come to our respective conclusions. =)

    I'll be the first to admit that I have a relatively simple mind compared to the mental prowess of the atheists I've interacted with. I would be a boring target if you want to debate because I simply can't keep up and it's not an area of strength for me. If there is anything you wish to dialogue about regarding my faith, I will humbly do the best I can.

    I appreciate everyone's comments! While it's true that the blog has a different purpose, this post actually opened with two questions by atheists so it was the most appropriate place, of any, for this discussion. I've learned a lot from everyone and am blessed to have all of you!

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  41. I certainly didn't mean to be disrespectful. I absolutely don't respect your dangerously misguided beliefs, but I have a great deal of respect for all of the posters I've read here. I know a bit about Hillary from another site; I have an immense amount of respect for her, especially. And I am not looking for a flame war. I posted for exactly the reason I said I did, outreach.

    First of all, I am not an atheist, at least not by the commonly accepted definition. I believe in a power beyond myself. It would be more accurate to call me an atheologist. I reject stories about anthropomorphic superbeings, because I understand that humans invented those superbeings to explain how the world works and to gain control over other humans. I also recognize that a belief in a power beyond oneself or in a god is just that — a belief.

    And beliefs are not facts, so none of my morals, hopes, or goals is founded on my belief (which isn't that important to me, I just believe it.) Building a life on a foundation of myths — as Christians do when they believe there's some big scorekeeper in the sky, keeping track of their "sins", or as Muslims do when they dedicate themselves to killing the infidel, or as Hindus do when they believe a child born with cerebral palsy did something evil in a past life — limits human happiness and endangers our common future.

    On a related note, I'm all for stories in the Bible, Koran, or Tao, etc. having emotional or metaphorical truth. Some of the people who wrote the stories in those books were very wise. But the acceptance of those stories as literal truth, followed by claims that your particular literal truth is the only way to get the approval of a Being that doesn't exist, is inimical to the interests of humanity.

    No one has ever presented me with any evidence that Jesus was the son of God, or that God handed Moses some stone tablets, or that when Shiva opens his third eye the world will end. Obviously not. No such evidence exists.

    I'm stunned at those of you who say your myths are your comfort or your only hope of transcendence. Our amazing universe is so full of beauty and fascination and wonder and ugliness and pain and sorrow and everything! It gives me everything I need, and although I certainly understand other people would have different needs from me, I honestly don't understand people taking comfort in myth. Illusions are dangerous; I find reality very comforting, and often quite transcendent. I saw the Taj Mahal for the first time 2 months ago . Now, that's transcendence. And so is Bach. [continued]

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  42. [cont.]
    Although, one of the main functions of religion is to set up an in-group and an out-group, and then to bolster the self-esteem of the in-group by making then feel they have secret knowledge, so maybe that's where the comfort derives from.

    Incidentally, the in-group/out-group phenomenon is one of the main reasons so many recent Islamic terrorists became radicalized after they moved to the West. They spent their whole lives in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or wherever, being told that Islam made them superior and that Allah had given them the best of everything. When they moved West, they saw that Berlin is nicer than Cairo. They couldn't deny that what they'd been told was a lie and they couldn't admit that what they'd been told was a lie. So they sought release from their cognitive dissonance the best way they could.

    Hillary, thank you for making me feel welcome. I didn't mean to derail your thread or the purpose of your blog. I just was so worried when I saw Kirk Cameron on TV with his nonsense that I came to your blog and, well, did outreach.

    I am enjoying this dialogue, and quite frankly, being the type of person I am, I really value talking to people whose beliefs are different from mine. It's how I learn. But I don't want to disrupt all of you from what you're doing here, and I don't want to give you false hope that you could convert me, because natural science and the social sciences do a much better job of explaining the world than religion, so it's time to nail the undead corpse of monotheistic superstition into its little coffin and float it down the river. Also, if my frontal lobes were configured for religious faith, we'd know by now. So you'd truly be wasting your time.

    If anyone would like to contact me, I could leave my email. Cindy, I especially extend that to you because I wanted to reply more to what you said and just felt I'd run on long enough. I really appreciated your response.

    Also, I do anti-cult work, so if there's anything I can offer there, I'd be very happy to help. I have to tell you, from your replies to me you seem very far along the road to recovery from whatever cultic milieu you might have been exposed to.

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  43. FTR, I totally agree with you about the Left Behind books/movies and want you to know that I think they're a bunch of hogwash. πŸ™‚ And I'm a follower of Christ. Also, I believe everyone here would agree with you about the purpose and consequences of religion. Most of us have completely rejected it. We here are focused wholly on the Person of Jesus Christ…how to live with compassion, mercy, love, justice, and joy like He did. That's all. Pretty simple and a sigh or relief for those of us coming out of strict religious systems. Nothing dangerous or sinister there.

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  44. Chris,

    Thank you for your response! Your PFC may be wired for naturalism, but I've got a left temporal lobe that probably glows in the dark! I might actually be able to short circuit Persinger's helmet if anyone could. πŸ˜‰

    To avoid the spam bots, click on my name, go to my site, and send me an email if you'd like to connect offline.

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  45. I still am a Christian because i knew God, before people in the name of God abused me. When i got confused about what they were saying was God for a time and in my desire to please Him followed in this way. But as i left, I discovered that all through the ages people have been using truth and the Word of God to hurt and harm others, just as much as it is used to bless others. Without God, I have nothing, the pain I have suffered is simply pain and heartache. With God, I can let that pain make me a better person and try to help other hurting people.

    I might not be your typical person who was abused by patriarchal society and a cultic church. I appreciate what you are trying to do, even if our paths have led us different ways…..I have stuck with the beliefs I had as a girl, because they were my own beliefs that i felt called to by God…not what someone told me to do.

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  46. I am still a Christian because God was never OK with the abuse I underwent. He was there with me the entire time – I could feel him. He listened when I prayed and answered my prayers. He was and is very real to me. I have seen enough proof that God exists for ten life-times and have felt his love – that love that takes over you until the whole world disappears and you suddenly understand everything – but afterword you can't remember any of it. I had several unearthly encounters with God throughout my growing up years. He loved me and he brought me through. He has never and never will condone abuse. You can't "throw out the baby with the bathwater" as my mother used to say. Just because someone took a belief found in the bible and twisted it so that it became a horrible horrible thing does not mean that God was OK with it, or that a belief in the Christian faith is false.

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  47. Good post and Smart Blog
    Thanks for your good information and i hope to subscribe and visit my blog Ancient Greece and more Burial and Society and Early Iron Age in Ancient Greece thanks again admin

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  48. "christians shoot their wounded"
    Chuck Girard, christian musician

    "We are but dust" it says in the scripture and the little kid hearing that asks "Mommy, what's butt dust?"

    "Humor, it is a difficult concept." comment from Spock, Star Trek vulcan.

    All those comments above to show that any of us are far from perfect and need to take ourselves less seriously.

    If you want to find why christians continue in the faith even when deeply hurt and discouraged, read the bible old testament and you will see that God's people have been sinners, users, murderers, rapists, theives, etc from the beginning. It comes down to "grace, greater than all our sin". It is He who keeps us.

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  49. Fortunately, I discovered God before my descent into Fundamentalism, purity movement, legalism, and Christian culture. When I reached the point where I realized I believed those teachings to be false, I still had a foundation to fall back on. I knew God as separate from all those things once upon a time, and so I reverted back to that. My views are always changing the more I learn, and I'm still seeking truth, but I'm glad my belief in God was not tied up completely in the parts of religion I have left behind.

    It was hard enough for me to do; I can't imagine how difficult it must be for others whose whole experience with God is wrapped up with negative teachings.

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The Over-Controlled Adult Child


The Over-Controlled Adult Child

When I was little, I had a child’s pocketbook story that illustrated, in soft pastels, the fruits of the Spirit. I could recite them in thirds like a clumsy waltz: “Love, joy, peace. Long-suffering, kindness, goodness. Faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control. Mom, what is long-suffering?” I kept these fruits close and studied them, for they were the marks of good Christians and mature people. 
source
     Patience was my nemesis. “Help me to be patient and kind!” I mourned daily, prayerfully. As the oldest, I regret how often I bossed my siblings and acted without love and gentleness. I didn’t struggle with lack of faithfulness much; I was very loyal to others and while I might have felt unfaithful if I only read my Bible once per day, I placed the highest priority on my time in Scripture.  My love for Jesus and desire to be found faithful drove me to invest in my spirituality.
     But without a doubt, the most challenging fruit was self-control. It covered everything about me ~ watch what filled my mind, guard my thoughts, don’t eat too much, don’t overreact, watch what I say, exercise, and so forth. And as I grew, my concerned parents were careful to shelter me according to their best judgment from negative influences, ungodliness, the “world”, and anything detrimental. Their control ~ of me, my environment, and my spiritual and psychological growth ~ was the result of careful consideration and their understanding of Scripture and righteousness.
The adult child
     The onset of adulthood is a convoluted subject within many conservative Christian homes. The legal age of 18 doesn’t always carry weight for those concerned with being “not of the world.” Yet as children mature and reach adulthood, healthy parents will relinquish the control they assume upon their offspring and trust them to God. However, as we see all-too-frequently within authoritarian households, excessive control upon adult children creates serious stumbling blocks that must be removed before we can continue to become spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy and mature.
     Within Christian parenting, an oft-quoted Scripture is found in Proverbs 22. “Train up a child in the way he should go,” says verse 6, “and when he is old he will not depart from it.” How this is done varies from family to family ~ rightfully so ~ and should even vary from child to child. But there is another passage with similar wording that caught my attention recently. God, the ultimate Parent, speaks to us:  

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.” (Ps. 32:8-9) 

The only way we can fully be open to His instruction, teaching, and personal guidance is to be self-controlled. Essentially this means not harnessed by any other person. With deep respect for parents trying to get it right, this also means that when we as adults are under the control of our parents, we are not fully submitted to God. And as long as we aren’t wholly submitted to our heavenly Father, as long as we look to someone else, rather than the Holy Spirit, to instruct and teach us, our hearts will be divided. 

“But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.” (Matthew 23:8-10)

Parental over-control
     Unfortunately, many Christian parents treat their adult children as though they must be harnessed with bit and bridle so that they will “come near you” ~ do what they want, meet their needs or ideals, achieve performance and desired behavior. In their zeal for producing godly offspring, many well-meaning parents insert themselves in their adult children’s lives in ways that are deeply inappropriate and hinders them from growth and maturity.
     Addressing the effects of this does not mean they are inherently bad parents or that we aren’t loving or loved. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Healing from over-control and surrendering to the transformation of the Holy Spirit in our lives is crucial to our growth ~ because it is when we walk in the Spirit that we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Our parents (or pastors, husband, and friends for that matter) cannot walk in the Spirit for us.
      Please join me next week for my new series about control.
Question for you:
     As an adult, perhaps even married with a family of your own, what areas of your life are still controlled by your parents? Physical control is what we think of most, but what about emotional control? Mind control? How does this affect your thinking, your living, your decisions, emotions, your significant relationships? This isn’t to cast blame or to find fault, but to identify the areas of our lives that need to be healed and placed in order for God’s glory.
Note: adult children from controlling households know the difference between over-control and simply “not getting their way.” Comments that accuse or somehow suggest that the child is merely rebellious or restricted  or prohibited from doing “what they want” are not helpful or edifying and will be deleted.


25 comments:

  1. Thank you, Hillary…

    "Be patient, be patient!" is a mantra of most Christian mothers of little ones. "Be loving, be joyful…"

    But I have found such FREEDOM in learning that these beautiful fruits are all from one Spirit, and even called by a singular, Fruit of the Spirit. To have them produced in me is to simply allow Him to do the work in me as I abide in Him.

    Such a great place to rest!

    As for my parents, they don't try to control anything about me except whether my kids do soccer or not! πŸ™‚

    Thanks again for working so hard on your blog. It's refreshing, eye-opening, and meeting many needs.

    Resting in Him,
    Karen

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  2. Thank you so much for this, Hillary. I have struggled greatly in the area of self-control since leaving home, especially in regards to how I use my time. It's not that I don't desire to be efficient, but that I just feel overwhelmed and at a loss as to how to go about it. There are other factors too (health, children, general life craziness) but I cry often because I don't feel like I have adult-like tools to manage my time and family, and I don't like the results. I've felt confused because I grew up in a very disciplined family and had no problem with discipline when I was still at home, so I feel like I "should" know how to do this.

    Your post brought so much clarity. I have known that my parents were over-controlling (they felt free to decide when I went to bed, how I wore my hair, my clothing choices, and severely limited friendships even when I was in my 20's and engaged to be married, just for a few examples). But I never connected the dots between that and my utter frustration in the years since. It was easy to be self-controlled when someone else was setting strict rules and parameters. Because they controlled everything for me, in some areas I have never learned to control myself. This helps me so much in understanding where I need to go from here to grow in this area. Thanks again.

    Grace

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  3. Let me add, this is not to absolve me of my responsibility to allow God to work His fruit of the Spirit, including self-control, into my life. I'm not BLAMING my parents for any lack of growth on my part, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that I wasn't permitted to grow and learn basic tools of self-discipline, which has made this particular area of growth very challenging and frustrating for me, if that makes any sense.

    Grace

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  4. Hillary,

    I could not have written this better myself, which must be why you were inspired to write it! It's the loveliest rendering of a most deeply heartbreaking subject I can imagine.

    I would weep, but I think that I'm all wept-out. Today as I read this, in awe at my amazement that someone has so succinctly summarized my experience so well, I quietly "ponder it in my heart." Maybe tomorrow, I will weep. Today, I'm too weary.

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  5. Hillary,

    This brings to mind a situation in my life that I feel the need to share with you and your readers.It isn't quite along the same lines, but it fits with the theme of this post.

    When I was leaving the IC about 15 months ago, my mother was very concerned that I was just following my good friends in their journey, it took awhile to convince her that I left because *I* saw things wrong with "her church". Anyway she went to her pastor and asked him what she should do. His exact words: "if she won't go to your church, kick her out of the house!" I was 22, and had been living in that house for 4 months alone BEFORE my mother moved in with me. My name is on the lease.

    Thankfully, the whole "control your children until they comply" thing was something Mama has never really agreeed with in the 1st place. So, she just tries to get me back every chance she gets. But it raises an interesting point – that a "man of God" would tell someone to kick their only child out just because they don't agree 10,000% with your beliefs is just CREEPY!

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    Replies

    1. My parents are extremely close friends of Ron Williams and his late wife Patti of the Hephizibah House home for girls. Patti Williams repeatedly told my mom that she was to cut me off from the family and to shun me because I did not choose to live the way I was raised. Exp…I wear pants and shorts, , don't go to their church, go to the beach, go to restaurants that serve drinks even though I don't drink achohol, etc…. This all from a pastor's wife, but saying that, my mom did not need extra encouragement to cut me off since she already had been for years! They just liked to gossip on the phone for hours! LOL

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  6. I don't know, exactly. I wasn't raised in a Christian home. I'm speaking as a Christian mom with several young children.

    It is hard to let go. To let children grow and find their way. But I think one thing that many forget is just how young people were when they were given responsibility…to raise families, to make decisions in the synagogue…way back when Jesus walked the earth.

    We artificially hold on to childhood when we control them and don't let them make decisions. Even to fail.

    But it is easier to think that than it is to step back. Especially when your daughter is 11 and you are struggling to find the balance between the growing independence she needs and wants and the fact that she isn't quite mature enough to handle it all, either.

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  7. Excellent post. I have 4 children and came from a legalisitic stronghold church and it took me over a year to walk in freedom by faith. I began letting go of control from my teen girls a little at a time. Watching carefully to see how they responded. I taught them to always respect the freedom that is offered to them. It's been a great journey and it works! It has developed a deeper bond between my girls and I because they see that 1. I put my faith in God for their lives. 2. I am trusting them. It's huge when kids feel we trust them, let them make some mistakes on their own(with discernment)and dialogue with them when they do make a mistake. each family needs to decide when it's time to begin their launch sequence into life. Some days I am more firm, while others I give more freedom as it's earned. We talk alot about the decisions. It's going very well so far.

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  8. Grace, My heart aches for you as I read your two comments. Even in the second, I see you hurting because you feel a responsibility for letting the Holy Spirit create the fruit of the Spirit in you. While I don't exactly disagree, it feels like you feel a heavy weight for something that is pretty lightweight–it's fruit that the Holy Spirit does create in you, because he lives in you. It's not something you have to preoccupy with, as if if you aren't doing something just right, he won't be able to grow that fruit in you (I may be overstepping in my assumptions and response to you, but I say this because it's a personal frustration I have–how often the fruit concept of the Holy Spirit growing these things in us, is turned around and taught as if it's something we need to tape onto ourselves. The teaching frustrates me, but I hurt for people groaning under taped-on fruit, which they self-evaluate as insufficient, when it's not about that at all).

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  9. Grace, I do personally relate to the struggle for "self-discipline" (which I think is actually something quite different from the spiritual fruit of "self-control").

    The cause of my struggle comes from a different place–severe burnout after years of missionary life and an abusive marriage–but the reality is very similar to what you describe–inadequate planning and organizing and managing resources to efficiently accomplish the things that need to be done. In my case, a physical burnout left me without the internal thermostats and regulators to be able to manage much of anything anymore (money, body temperature, time, organization, etc.), even though I was previously a happily structured kind of person (by personality, I love order, categories, etc.)

    It sounds like your struggle is having done much in the way of disciplined living, but never having been handed over the reins of figuring out how to make skills work and fit for you, personally. I don't know if any of my struggle is a help to you, but here is part of how I think about it now.

    My inability to regulate and "self-discipline" is a reality. It is a loss for me, and I must grieve that loss (often). But if I try to force myself to do or beat myself up for failing to do what I don't have skills or resources (in my case, actual energy) to do only leaves me more depleted, beaten down and ineffective.

    I think in your case there is such a loss and grief, because it feels like such a comprehensive loss and even betrayal–skills you were going to need as an adult were never allowed to grow, and it is a loss that costs you every day.

    The other thing, though, is to begin to assess the resources you do have. Are there compensatory strategies for what you can't do well or naturally? Are there ways you can make do, less disciplined/organized than you long to be? Are there shortcuts and tricks that can let you "cheat" a little and feel slightly "more" organized or disciplined than you actually are, so that you decrease the frustration with what you can't do? Are there ways to learn and work on building one little skill you are lacking; and if so, can you cut yourself slack for the other ones and your lacks in those areas, while you grow in this one.

    I think being able to realize and say, over and over, I don't have these self-discipline or management skills, and that just is, can, sometimes, let you give yourself grace to work on building one skill, instead of trying to flail around, ineffectively doing many skills that you aren't equipped for.

    Another thing that might help is to think about someone else–a sister or daughter or someone–if they came to you, as a young adult, having been denied growing into necessary skills–would you be understanding and patient with them, as they struggle, step by step, or would you expect them to be able to do everything all the time, even without the skills? Sometimes it has really helped me to frame my situation as if I'm looking at someone else who I care about, and then I realize I would not find it so necessary or urgent for them to be able to "get it" as I expect of myself.

    I feel the risks of throwing suggestions out there to someone whose whole situation and story I don't know, and realize that my comment could come across as a reaction that misses the heart of what you are saying.
    Hugs to you in this struggle.

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  10. Dana, thank you for that and for distinguishing between self-discipline and self-control. I also agree 1000% about having grace on ourselves…especially as we are essentially relearning or re-teaching ourselves what is important. "Be gentle to yourself" is something I say often, just like we would be gentle and compassionate to a friend sharing her struggles. Or, like Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as your self."

    Lisa wrote I put my faith in God for their lives. 2. I am trusting them. It's huge when kids feel we trust them, let them make some mistakes on their own(with discernment)and dialogue with them when they do make a mistake. This is SO IMPORTANT!! Thank you for bringing this up…YES: it is huge when kids feel your trust!!! An environment where kids feel undermined, as though parents constantly expect them to walk "in the flesh" and see them through critical filters is not conducive to growth or wholeness.

    First Dana: that's tough. IMHO I believe this is why its so important to really know your kids and what makes them each unique, even and especially within a large family, and to seek the Holy Spirit (who knows them better than they do themselves) for wisdom in parenting that child. I know how hard it is, though, watching them grow up. It's hard for me to see my siblings or my friends' children grow up, and I know for fathers and mothers it can be heart-wrenchingly bittersweet. Thanks for stopping by! God bless you.

    {{Cassie}} Oh my goodness…I am so sorry to hear that happened to you! Thank you for chiming in.

    Cindy, I know that feeling re: too weary to weep today. {{hugs}} REST.

    Grace, yes it makes sense and :'( … that kind of control is so crippling. I know you aren't blaming at all; understanding why we struggle in certain areas can help us pinpoint what we need to address and sometimes how. I am praying for you… <3

    Karen…thank you, and yes, REST. Abide.

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  11. While my parents were FAR from the patriarchal types of today, my dad was very old fashioned, having been brought up in the Great Depression by extremely conservative parents.
    My dad just kinda had that controlling personality w/o the trappings of a religious belief to go with it.
    At any rate, I don't think he was ever completely able to let go of control, due to his worrying nature, and his strong ideas of "how things should be done".
    He mellowed in his old age, but by then I was way past 40. By then, I, too, recognized that he only worried because he loved us and wanted the best for us. What was hard for him to accept what that what HE thought was best for us wasn't necessarily what was truly best for us.
    What was the saving grace for my husband and me, and our marriage, was that we lived about 60 miles from mom and dad for the first 15 years of our marriage. We had good counsel on "leaving and cleaving" without severing family ties.
    We had several confrontations with my dad….mostly my husband did, as he took on a leadership role in our marriage, and he knew how hard it was for me to confront my very strong father. (con't…)

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  12. One example was that Dad "gave" me some stock as he was gifting some of our inheritance ahead of time to help us not have so many taxes to pay when he would eventually die. Bob and I wanted to invest in the start up company he worked for. When I called the broker to see about cashing in some of the stock, I found out that Dad had kept it so that it was in myh name, but I had no power to buy or sell it w/o his approval.
    Well, we went to talk with my parents, and my husband basically told him that if it was a gift, it should be mine to do with as I pleased. And if it was still his, he should keep it in his name.
    That confrontation was the beginning of my dad finally prying his fingers off his right to control my life(it should be noted that I was 30 years old and married for 10 years at this time).
    He still tried, sometimes, to control things, but having those first years of our marriage far enough away helped.
    We did live int he same town with them for 8 years, but by then, my independence from them was well established as far as any control by my dad. And we had a fairly peaceful relationship with them and our kids were able to enjoy being with them, and they enjoyed the time with our kids. (con't…)

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  13. By the time Dad passed, I felt that my relationship with him had become much more mutually respectful. There was a time when, though I loved my dad dearly, I wasn't sure I'd miss him when he was gone. I do miss him, today.
    All that to say, over the years of our confrontations with Dad, and issues with my in-laws as well, I made a mental "in-law do's and don'ts" list, which was closely related to my "grandparent do's and don't's list" for myself when I became an in-law and grandparent. I have adjusted it for being a parent of unmarried adult offspring as well.
    I'm actually glad for the experience, because I see far too many of my generation of parents of newly emancipated adults holding on to them for FAR too long and FAR too much control. This is true among all varieties of Christian parents, not just patriarchal families, although they take it to extremes……and secular parents as well.
    I read an article recently on parents sleeping the first few nights in their children's dormitory rooms becasue they can't let go!! We, as parents, can stunt our children's growth into adults if we don't let them fly!! College officials call them "helicopter parents" because they just hover and hover….(con't…)

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  14. They have to struggle and learn and make some mistakes on their own. If we try to keep them our "babies", we will never have them as friends.
    I KNOW how hard it is to let them go, let them fall,let them struggle. But, if I have not raised adults whose relationship with God is THEIRS and THEIRS alone, then I have failed as a parent. If I have not raised adults who can figure out how to survive and take care of htemselves and their children, then I have failed as a parent.
    If I must continue to make their decisions, then I have failed.
    And I have failed. And I have succeeded. I have adult children in each camp…those that are independent, and one who cannot seem to get there.
    But it is not because I over protected or over controlled. It is because of their own decisions, and relationships with Jesus. I pray that each one will discover their need for God and accept Jesus as their savior one day.

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  15. I am looking forward to future posts you publish on this topic. I am 27, have been out of my parents home for 4 years, and it's only been in the past year that I've realized how much mind control they've had over me. Freeing myself from that control makes me realize how little self-control I own. It's like being a 5 year old again, and learning the basics of responsibility, making good choices, and being mature. I never realized until recently that one of my parents is a huge "control freak", and that parent's control has greatly impacted my and my siblings ability to function on our own, as well as foster strange relationships between certain family members. Now that I've realized this, many frustrations I've had regarding my family and my life are made clear and I'm able to see that freeing myself from that "control freak" is solving those problems.

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  16. Two thoughts come to mind, both of which others have written and I simply second their comments):

    1. self-control does not develop independently of love, joy, peace, patience, etc. It is not fruitS of the spirit. It is Fruit–singular, meaning that all the words we list are simply various descriptors of the same spiritual quality.

    1.5 we can do nothing–NOTHING–to cause this fruit to grow. We can't work harder, pray more, be better. It is the fruit of The Spirit. Meaning that this quality of holiness is the natural consequence of living connected to the Spirit, the source of all spiritual nutrition. If your efforts to grow spiritual fruit are getting you a bumper crop of guilt–get out of the gardening business. All we have to do, all we CAN do, is soak up as much of that Living Water as we can drink and let God do the rest. He is the gardener, not we ourselves. What a relief!

    2. I'm so there with Dana in living now with the physiological manifestation of over-control. I worked so hard to control every aspect of my life: my works, my words, my thoughts, my desires, my hidden secrets in my heart of hearts, that now my autonomic nervous system (the comptroller of the body–heat, digestion, heart rate, respiration) is all out of whack. I burnt my body out trying to control my soul.

    Now, all I can do–sometimes literally all I can do–is rest. Rest in the Lord. Be still and know that I AM.

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  17. For me it's a kind of emotional control. It manifests in 2 ways.

    1) If I inadvertently say something that my mother (she's the only one living) disagrees with, she will rage at me. She's even said my husband has brainwashed me. So, I've learned that, rather than discuss differing points of view, to keep quiet. It's a shame because we could both be growing if she weren't so ready to get angry and I weren't so intimidated – and I'm 48!

    2) She does not call me, but I'm expected to call her. She tries to give the "guilt trip," saying things like, "My friends say it's terrible that my daughter doesn't call to check on me more often."

    It's hard to be an independent woman in Christ and loyal to a parent who still seems to want a "mini me" of herself.

    So – I'm saying this to all moms with adult children: if you expect them to call all the time and you never call them, they feel as though it's one-sided. Also, your adult children have different life experiences than you do and may have a different – and perhaps deeper – point of view than your own.

    My daughter is now 21 and I do pray that I don't expect her to be a younger version of myself!

    Please, I don't want to say my name…

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  18. wow, some great discussion here! friend, you always challenge and encourage… thank you. i battle impatience daily. love the line "clumsy waltz." i hope you'll consider linking with me for imperfect prose. love e.

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  19. I look at various high-profile IBLP/ATI families [not just the Duggars] and see a 30 year old man living at home, being waited on by his mother and sisters but with no control over his own life and I just think WRONG!! I see a 19 year old girl being "given" in courtship to a 30 year old man who's never had to make his own decisions and I cringe at what the future holds for both of them. I could go on and on. There's a time to TRUST GOD to take care of the grown-up kids.

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  20. I have been reading some of the comments and your blog here, and I had a "light-bulb" experience tonight- I never grew up until I married and moved to live with my husband…I never understood until struggling through my decision to marry that I was an adult capable of choosing to be separate from my parents…my parents made sure I didn't get involved with anyone they didn't approve of- even godly men- until I finally read through 1 Corinthians 7 over and over and studied it and found that it was right for me to marry. I was ready at 24, but didn't pursue things against my parents' will because I felt it was rebellious. I have been told I am "rebellious" and "too independent" my whole teenage/adult life, even though I never had an adolescent rebellion, and was a model missionary kid, and I finally came to a place where it felt like obedience to marry and disobedience not to, and the people who should have supported me in loving God and my husband at first wondered if I had got pregnant, because we had to get married so quickly- I never would have done it otherwise. I have lived with guilt since then, though I knew, despite the pressures from home, that it was the right thing to do. I wish my parents had a more Biblical view of things, but they will always see me as a child, and still seem to think we must be under their authority, though I believe I must forgive, love, and respect them, under God's authority and with respect to my husband and new family. I have been so hurt by them, and still healing- and it is legalism plain and simple that has burnt me- only God can change them, so I will keep praying.

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  21. Anonymous, welcome! I'm heart-twisted over your story and your bravery and your faith. Your honor and love for them, the Lord, and your new family are so evident. I pray that you continue growing closer to the Most High (read Ps. 91 for deep comfort) and find healing in the shadow of His wings.

    I'm not writing new articles at this time, but please continue to browse the archives and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me at the link above.

    Blessings to you.

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  22. I've looked over an autobiographical thing of the Duggars (sorry for the tangent here), and while I don't know about ATI (is it even still thriving?), they specifically state that they are NOT part of the Quiverfull movement. I can't claim to have seen their lives "up close and personal," nor would I say that their lifestyle is for me (e.g., no birth control, and definitely a reality show!). I think that allowing themselves to be filmed has opened them up to tremendous criticism, but I would not lump them into the groups that some do. Apparently it works for them, and since only God knows the hearts, if they truly believe that birth control (of any kind) is wrong for them, they should be free to follow that leading…though they are surely a lot more fertile than MANY other couples practicing the same thing, which makes them an anomaly. As for how they are presented on the show or if it seems negative–again, one more reason to not get involved with TV!–but I wouldn't assume that what I saw on reality TV was "real." Just a thought. Just want to aim the criticism at the real enemies (wrong attitudes, sin, Satan, etc.).

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  23. hi hillary. thank you for posting this… my situation is a little different in that my mother (she's a single parent; my father passed away in 2004) is not a Christian, is wholly against me being devoted to my faith, dislikes my boyfriend because he's Christian and not Chinese (oh yes, i'm Chinese btw), and schedules out my daily life.

    i'm also 24 years old.

    sometimes i'm at a loss of what to do, because of course i love my mother, but she truly still treats me like a 14 year old. i'm not allowed to go out in general, but she will allow me to be at church on Sundays for a couple of hours. it's only during those Sundays that i spend time with any friends and my boyfriend, and i feel so lacking in the area of a social life.

    i'm also not allowed to speak on the phone with any pastors, and am allowed to speak to my boyfriend only 15 minutes a week.

    people have suggested moving out, but i'm actually supporting her somewhat financially right now; i get 3% of my paycheck and she takes the rest.

    i'm not sure what i'm really trying to say here, but i guess i just needed to vent. i feel like i missed out on so much God had for me all because i'm not allowed to go out and do things. and sometimes i wonder if God is angry at me for not being braver and for getting weary. i want to be an adult, learn from mistakes like an adult, and try to allow God to help me develop a sense of myself.

    but it's not possible, and i don't know how else to fix it. my mom doesn't listen to me about what's on my heart, and i really wish she would.

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  24. I finally left my mother's home (figuratively and literally) at 45 years of age. By that time, she saw herself as the controller of my career decisions, life decisions, work day, and romantic life (which I wasn't allowed to have). To be sure that she had me in her control, she (1) convinced me that I could not make it in life w/o her financial help and guidance (2) convinced me that she was in bad health (physical and financial) and needed for me to always be on hand (as her constant companion) and (3) bought me off (and, yes, I was easily bought thanks to low self-esteem) whenever possible with gifts, etc. When I finally was able to get and hold down a job, I moved out of her apartment. (Believe me, that move involved a HUGE fight.) I also met a man and fell in love. That's when she gave me an ultimatum: It's the family (meaning her) or this man. I chose him and got myself disowned. Just recently, she wrote a letter to ask me to put her name on some IRAs she had opened for me a long time ago. (I didn't ask her to make this investment; she simply didn't trust me to provide for my own future. Anyway, I don't care if I end-up living in a tent. I'm going to sign the things over to her. I don't want her money.) Funny…until now, I have felt a bit guilty leading my own life and enjoying the freedom. Her recent letter reminded me of something: Bondage comes in many forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of bad parenting. I think it would go against God's will for me to go back into a relationship with my mother until she is willing to respect me as an adult, willing to respect my choices in life, and willing to behave toward me and my significant other in a respectful fashion.

    I wish anyone going through this situation the best of luck. But hear me clearly: DO NOT wait to break free from a bad parental relationship until you are 45 and have wasted way too many years of your God-given life and freedom!

    Thank you for this blog. It's cathartic!

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When Parental Obedience Brings Rejection


When Parental Obedience Brings Rejection

by Hillary McFarland

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…
1 Tim. 3:1-2

Have you ever had this Scripture quoted at you? With ominous emphasis on last days and disobedience to parents?  I have.
I often hear from ostracized adult daughters who have made life decisions their parents believe are in disobedience (rebellion) to them and their teachings. Most of these women report that the difficult choices they make are a response to God’s calling for them. Parents counter that God wouldn’t ask them to do something that contradicts what they have taught and their understanding of Scripture.
Yet these same parents teach their children to obey God first, regardless of the cost, regardless of the suffering and sacrifice, regardless of what other people think. These same parents generally encourage their children to stay in the Word and ask God for wisdom. To grow in the knowledge of Him, take up the cross, and follow.
When these women obediently do so, they are condemned, emotionally (and sometimes physically) severed from their families, and rejected.

Disobedience, Really?

Scripture teaches that children are to honor their parents, but there is a difference between honor and obedience. Honor itself is not always a feeling. This article is not a criticism of parents who want to raise a godly family but it is a pointed look at the highly-confusing message some women (and men) struggle with in their adult life: which is that living life differently, having alternate convictions, or even reaching a different understanding of Scripture is equal to backsliding, rebellion, deception, or rejection of faith. For those who have prayed, studied, and carefully sought the Lord regarding their conclusions, this can be absolutely crushing.
Part of walking with God means to be bare before Him, asking Him to reveal sin in our lives and lead us in the way everlasting. Only the Lord knows the true motivations of our hearts. If there is an adult daughter who is in true rebellion and disobedience, there is still hope! However, honor and obedience notwithstanding, I submit that there is a lot less disobedience happening than some would have us believe.
Did your parents raise you to obey God? Did they teach you to follow Jesus? It’s a hard life. Can a parent ever be truly prepared for this? Can we ever be truly prepared for this? Because this is the reality of a cross-bearing life:
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,  “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?  Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.  So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:25-33

Did they raise you to seek first the kingdom of God? To be willing to go against the flow, to sacrifice? To take a stand? To question? To test all things and hold fast the good? To love God above all others, even when it hurts?

Encouragement for Living

Transitions are rarely easy, especially when it comes to issues of family and faith, individual (yes, individual) relationships with God, relationships with those we love, and sometimes the simple matter of growing up. It’s hard for everyone. For women, especially those who do follow the Lord faithfully despite opposition, may I offer some humble encouragement?
  • Keep your words sweet, like the saying reminds us, because someday you might have to eat them.
  • Seek to be humble in all things.
  • Stay open to correction, because we can learn from everyone despite disagreement.
  • Find safe and trustworthy people with whom to fellowship, even if you meet for coffee once a week.
  • The art of boundaries takes time to develop, but ask the Lord to show you how! And keep firm, but gracious, boundaries.
  • Listen well. Pray without ceasing.
  • As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all. But follow Jesus first.
  • Trust God. Trust His love for you and His love for the ones you love.
  • Remember that parents and others sometimes respond like they do because they are genuinely afraid for you. Honor them and be thankful for their love. Take their fears to the Heavenly Father and ask Him if there is anything He wants to show you through them, and ask Him to comfort them also.
  • Endure.
  • Don’t let the rejection you feel cause you to reject others ~ or to even reject yourself. Don’t reject your sadness. Don’t reject your pain. Don’t reject your anger. Let God use these things, and the God-of-all-comfort will bring life in ways you’ve never expected. 
  • Do not return “evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
  • Love.
It can be confusing and deeply hurtful to experience emotional or physical rejection, especially when you have ultimately done what was asked of you. It’s hard when you reap ‘punishment’ for obedience, rather than disobedience.

But take heart that you are not rejected by the One who matters most.


14 comments:

  1. i am so glad i read this. so glad. and if the tears are any indication, this is *exactly* what He wanted to speak into my spirit today.

    thank you, sweet friend.

    thank you.

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  2. An excellent point. I never thought of the contradiction involved when a parent says, "Read Scripture and listen to God so that you can follow Him better" and then turn around and say, "Your interpretation of Scripture and what God wants you to do is disobedient because it disagrees with my views." Well put!

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  3. Great article..why is it that some parents and churches focus on sin so much? Do they not truly believe that Jesus covered our sin? If they did, they wouldn't be so focused on it..they would be focused on Christ.

    And if they believe with all their heart, that they have taught their children to the best of their ability, then why do they not trust those grown children to now walk out their faith? If they reject these adult children's choices, then they have to admit they went wrong somewhere. But I would say the child should be let go..to discover who God is to THEM personally, not who God is to their parents.

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  4. Excellent post, Hillary! This is something I know SO well from personal experience. It is such a painful thing to face parental rejection, judgement, labels of rebelliousness, prodigal, etc. just to follow Christ, especially when your parents follow Him too and should be the ones who understand.

    And yet, in spite of the pain, I would do it again…follow the Cross, for the JOY set before me.

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  5. I've been struggling a lot lately, trying to find who I am as compared to who my parents are. And when I find that my point of view on something differs from my parents, it confuses me – especially when it's something of spiritual or life-changing importance. Thanks for the encouragement! I think I need to do a lot more praying, and a lot less kicking myself for being different.

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  6. I remember questioning this in the late 80s to a friend starting down the Patriarchy/Quiverfull trail who held her toddler up before a plague on the wall every time she was disobedient and told her "See, honey, the 10 Commandments and God says you must OBEY Mommy and Daddy." Admittedly I WAS butting in, but it seemed wrong [and YES I did wait till the kid was asleep]. I was not the least bit surprised to hear daughter # 2 rebelled BIG TIME many years later!!!

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  7. Kimberley…{{hugs, dear friend}}

    Jay, thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

    Pianissimo, I understand what you mean. I'm glad you found encouragement! It's so hard sometimes to hear only the Father's voice, isn't it?

    Jeanette, {{hugs}} You are an inspiration.

    Sisterlisa, you are so right. Focus on the FORGIVER of sins.

    Hopewell, thanks for stopping by! I hope your new year is off to a great start!

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  8. This post is exactly I needed to read…thank you so much. Parental rejection to my obedience to God is something that I am going through at the moment actually…and has been dragging on for months. It's so sad…my parents do so unwittingly…they don't realize what is going on here.
    Thanks.

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  9. Thanks for this post Hillary.

    I too know this from personal experience. It is so confusing to ask questions and be labeled as rebellious. My parent reject me over and over again and it is so hard. I feel like as 36 year old it (married with 3 kids) I should be past feeling wounded by their parental rejection of me their oldest daughter. It so confusing for most of my life I have thought they were spiritually wise and now I realize the fruit of their life does not measure up. But, since I feel they have been blessed by God with material blessings and spiritual positions and community respect I doubt where I know God as well as them and if my walk with Christ is a spiritual as theirs. It is painful and confusing.

    ~ Ali

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  10. Katherine and Ali…{{{hugs and blessings to you}}}

    Ali…It can be such a difficult and confusing place, yes? May our heavenly Father show you how much He loves you and show you the way you should go. While we see the outward successes (spiritual and otherwise)the Lord looks at the heart. Stay strong in Him!

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  11. As a first-born daughter who always tried to please her parents, it's been hard for me to step away from some of the teachings I was taught (for example, King James Onlyism and hymns-only singing). My parents stressed that the Bible was to be our authority. It has been reading God's Word that has led me away from some of the teachings given me by my parents. Their disappointment is hard for me to handle, and it's so strange to me that they've reacted so negatively, because I really do desire to please Jesus in my life and to follow God's Word.

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  12. Dear Mom and Dad,

    All I wanted to do was obey God with my life. You told me that's what you wanted me to do. But now you won't even acknowledge me as your daughter.

    What happened?

    I miss you so much.

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  13. Dear Anonymous,

    I hear you and am sorry for your pain. Your situation sounds familiar. I have been thrown out of my family (by parents, siblings) for simply questioning their behavior and for changing myself to follow good and rational thought patterns I learned in ALANON! How ironic, isn't it, when you try to be a better person and the people you trust most reject you for being GOOD. My family, whose behavior I put up with for years (there's a lesson here), have isolated me instead. And, they set any ethics I thought they had aside to do it. Is it sickness? Is it evil? Does it matter? My friends think I'm better off without them. But families like mine don't prepare you to be on your own. I am struggling also. Every part of my life was enmeshed with them including a job. Gone. It's like they all died in a plane crash or something. They couldn't care less about me, and I have stopped reaching out although I am open to contact. I still miss them, which makes me feel insane because IT IS insane to miss people who throw you under the bus. Denial would actually be a lot more tolerable than this. There's no going back, unfortunately the shred of self esteem I escaped with takes that option off the table. To top it off, I have neglected to take care of my self, husband and daughter while overwhelmed and grieving. I am praying to just be able to function and absorb this loss. And to forgive. Good luck to you in your quest. Let's pray we both find peace and a way to move on.

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  14. Your friends and sister in ChriatMarch 22, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    Dear Lord Jesus,
    You were the one who protected the "sinful woman" from the religious stone throwers…and please take these daughters under your wings. They have been rejected by the religious legalistic structure that has their parents heart. Please turn these ashes in beauty…and comfort these sisters who mourn in Zion. They have been lied to…for many years…many of us were, but you can heal hearts. I lift up every sister who comes to this page. Let them see this situation from your perspective. May your love, comfort them. May they walk in freedom. Please be their new family…let them receive the "spirit of adoption" to be in your family. Amen.

    Much grace and love to you all!

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The Mystery of Grace


The Mystery of Grace

My last article reviewed some of the features of shame, and drew comparisons between shame and guilt. To review, guilt–or godly conviction–is the feeling that follows sinfulness. For hearts submitted to Christ, it is a precious vessel by which we become aware that we have committed wrong, presenting the choice to seek forgiveness and restoration. On the other hand, shame is the internalized sense that I am wrong, worthless, evil, and have nothing of value to offer God or anyone else.

I have proposed that it can be helpful, when determining the source of your feelings, to ask: does this make me want to run to God or away from God? If the source of your emotion causes you to bury your head in darkness, I humbly beseech you to venture unto His feet and ask Him to reveal the deep inner secrets that oppress your soul.

. . .the Dayspring from on high has visited us;To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; To guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1

Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

The Voice of Shame

Do any of these ideas sound familiar?

  • I can’t do anything right; I am a failure.
  • I am worthless. There is nothing good about me.
  • If people only knew the real me, they wouldn’t even want to be around me.
  • God must think I am horrible.
  • I always say the wrong thing.
  • I can’t voice any of my needs or desires. . .most of them are ungodly, anyway.
  • I don’t deserve anything nice.
  • No matter what I do, I am still selfish and bad inside.

Most of these negative beliefs emerge from a deep sense of imperfection. The drive for perfection I believe comes, in part, by a good desire to live righteously and to. . .be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matt. 5 Some of us are inclined to have a pleasing nature, which can slip into idolatry as we seek the approval of others over God.

When I struggled with depression, the overwhelming sense in my mind was “It’s not that I make mistakes; its that I am a mistake!” I firmly believed the world would have been a better place and that my family would have been happier, if I had never been born. More than anyone I could see my own shortcomings. My “failures” loomed like towering, smothering giants, bellowing smoke and fire. They weighed upon me like a death sentence.

The Voice of Truth

For those who have been raised in shame-based families, a crucial element to healing is learning to replace these lies with truth from God’s word. What does He have to say?

One of the most precise passages addressing this is found in Romans 8. . .There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Meditate upon this verse, for truly Christ has come to set us free from the bondage of sin and death. What is more deathly than shame? It undermines everything within our hearts and renders us less effective for the kingdom.

Marilyn J. Sorensen, Ph.D., author of “Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem”, writes:

“Early in life, individuals develop an internalized view of themselves as adequate or inadequate within the world,” she said. “Children who are continually criticized, severely punished, neglected, abandoned, or in other ways abused or mistreated get the message that they do not ‘fit’ in the world — that they are inadequate, inferior or unworthy.”

These feelings of inferiority are the genesis of low self-esteem, Sorenson says.

“Individuals with low self-esteem become overly sensitive and fearful in many situations,” she said. “They are afraid they won’t know the rules or that they’ve blundered, misspoken or acted in ways others might consider inappropriate. Or they might perceive that others reject or are critical of them.”

Once low self-esteem is formed, the person becomes hypersensitive — they experience “self-esteem attacks” that take the form of embarrassment or shame, Sorenson adds.

“Unlike guilt — which is the feeling of doing something wrong,” she said, “shame is the feeling of being something wrong. When a person experiences shame, they feel ‘there is something basically wrong with me.'”

Consider the implications of this.

For a woman to spend her life feeling rejected, inferior, unworthy, inadequate, and a blight on the face of the earth. . .how indescribably sad! Unfortunately, it is all too common. In my humble opinion, if the enemy can keep a woman shamed–he has done his work. A condemned woman, tortured by her own thoughts and memories and messages she received throughout her life has no will to live. It can be a challenge merely to rise in the morning, much less smile and be a shining light within the darkness.

It is not that she will not try. Oh, she will. . .fatigued, plagued with self-doubt, and summoning every ounce of motivation, she will burst forth and try to prove invaluable to those around her so she can find a sense of satisfaction and purpose in life. Sheer desperation, hunger for acceptance and approval, and a frenzied effort of doing will keep her spinning in a vicious cycle. . .further compounding shame as mistakes glare her in the face when she fails.

To this woman Jesus extends a restraining hand. Come to Me, He pleads. I will give you rest.

No condemnation.

There lies before us a choice. Do we want to listen to the old messages of condemnation, or to the gentle voice of the Son of God? Healing lies within His blood-stained hands.

1 Cor. 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. . .

I believe that each time a shaming lie pops into our mind, it is essential to choose then and there what we will believe. It is re-training, in a sense; replacing grave errors with truth. Because of Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. . .we can approach the throne of grace with boldness for the help we need to overcome this battle.

Grace

My exhortation to you is to be gentle to yourself. Do not grow impatient as you learn to walk a new way. Take every moment by moment, and pray without ceasing. Oh, dear one. . .I pray that you will know the cleansing, healing mercy and grace that the Father offers! To partake of His grace is the most precious gift; for it bypasses your doing, and warmly embraces your being! This exquisite gift brings joy and life and freedom from the subtle roots of shame that oppress! This is His answer for a weary, burdened soul seeking relief.

. . .the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit,as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth. . .For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1

__________________________________________________________________

I strongly recommend “Released from Shame: Moving Beyond the Pain of the Past” by Sandra D. Wilson.


6 comments:

  1. Hillary, I just discovered your site tonite (1:30 a.m.), and I wish I could remember whose link led me here. Nonetheless, I don’t know whether to just sit in profoundly awed and grateful silence and tears or to send up fireworks and drive through town (in this middle of a night) and loudly proclaim-if I could-that there is freedom for captives. Your words are amazing and insightful and healing. Please don’t stop writing and please don’t think that because a post receives no comments it is somehow a measure of its worth or value. I have found every single one of your posts to have life-preserver elements (and I have read and valued all the comment trails, too). I am going to copy your entire site, if it is ok, and send it to my adult children, whom I think desperately need the help, affirmation, insight, and encouragement you give, and who don’t have access to unlimited internet access (it takes an eternity to read a rich site like yours when one is only accorded an hour at a time at a library computer). I wish I could say I have a favorite post but I have just immersed myself in the springs of fresh water that overflow here. However, in this link, your paragraphs beginning “For a woman to spend her life feeling rejected…etc.,’ and “It is not that she will not try…” so aptly summarize the desperation and futile effort and struggle I have felt of recent and of longstanding past. I don’t mean to gush, but I simply cannot thank you enough for what you have written. “No will to live…It can be a challenge merely to rise in the morning, much less smile and be a shining light within the darkness” sum up how I have felt the past 18 months as a pinnacle of growing feelings of the same for years and years. I hope and pray that when I wake up in a few hours that I will remember the hope that I now feel, that has only come in rare and minute glimpses over recent and not so recent past. I am desperate for it. And I have ‘been a Christian’ for as long as I can remember. Life in Christ should not be so bleak or so wearisome or so guilt and shame laden. I am so grateful that God has given you such an articulate and artful gift of expression. I agreed with every word you have written, and it has bouyed my spirit just to read here.
    Many, many, many thanks.

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  2. Anonymous–{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}

    God bless you, dear one! Your words encourage me in ways you will never know. I pray that as you do wake up this morning, the mercies of our Father–which are new every morning–will wash over you like healing rain.

    It makes me deeply sad that so many women–myself included for years–feel these things when it is so opposite of the very reason why Jesus came! His very purpose, in His own words . . .

    The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
    Because He has anointed Me
    To preach the gospel to the poor;
    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
    To proclaim liberty to the captives
    And recovery of sight to the blind,
    To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
    To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. (Luke 4)

    If this is His purpose, and we are the ones to whom He has come and offered such a precious gift–follow His pleading. Come, and rest.

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  3. i'm 30 years old, and i was abused by my pastor father. i have had varying degees of counseling since i was 23 and varying degrees of success. it is only this year that i am figuring out that i am not worthless or a mistake. i have been feeding off toxic shame for years that i don't even hear my own negative self-talk most of the time. i cried reading your post today. thank you for sharing his heart.

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  4. Anon 6:15 ~ praying for you tonight. May the Lord's grace and mercy continue to soothe the wounds that scar your soul. {{Hugs Anon}} Emmanuel.

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  5. this reminded me of myself…it made me cry…

    i always want my husband and kids to be happy…i do anything to make them happy….but i am always telling him and myself that i dont deserve to be happy…
    today i even told him…if i was rich i would buy you and the kids a house adn a car and it would all belong to you, all i want to own is my clothes and nothing more, i don't deserve anything
    he looked at me like i was crazy but i think this way alot…

    i have never once thought in my whole life that i should be alive, i have always thought evryone around me would be better off if i wasnt alive…

    thank you for this post….just one more thing telling me i should get help, and that i deserve help

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  6. Ohhh sweetie, the lie of shame that tells you these things is so horrible! When Jesus went to the cross he despised the shame and had victory. Cling to Jesus; He is the Truth. And you are made in the image of the Eternal Father who loves you and gave you your children and husband. {{hugs}}

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