My brothers and sisters in Christ,
First I want to thank everyone for praying. God continues to bring healing and restoration to hurting and disillusioned souls. One particular issue resulting from exposure to spiritual abuse that seems to be common, without exception, is depression, ranging from mild to having to be hospitalized. As we have drilled down on the root cause of depression, with respect to spiritual abuse, what we’ve found, in every case, is that the depression is rooted in having been exposed to legalism and a performance based relationship toward God and others. The pervasive feeling of not being able to “measure up”, and being more sin conscience than grace and mercy conscience, has often resulted in a general pall over the lives of many a saint. Often, these same individuals are prone to falling into the trap of the “fear of man” and man pleasing”. Usually, the individual presenting with depression is confused regarding the nature and character of God and feels nothing they do is sufficient in gaining a sense of pleasure and acceptance regarding who they are as a child of God. There have been at least three cases that I am aware of where individuals experiencing depression have been immediately relieved of their symptoms by simply ceasing to attend the abusive organization where the abuse occurred.
Another interesting phenomenon common with those experiencing depression is the feeling of having been controlled, manipulated or lorded over by another, usually someone perceived as a spiritual leader. This, by extension, has often resulted in a perverted and skewed perspective of God, where God has been assigned character qualities that are not in keeping with His nature, such as that of a hard task master, never satisfied, more concerned about what you do verses who you are in Christ, placing function and performance above relationship, and replacing unconditional love with conditional affection and acceptance. Often this has had a trickledown effect in how parents train their children and, in many cases, produced angry and exasperated children/teens, which eventually evolves into rebellion.
Additionally, several teens have presented with various types of eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia). Left unchecked, these disorders can become extremely problematic. If you see or suspect any peculiarities/changes/obsessions in your teen’s perspective regarding their physique or behavior related to food/eating please make an attempt to discuss these issues with your teen and if necessary seek help from a professional counselor. Often the root issue concerning eating disorders has to do with a desperate/obsessive need to regain or maintain control of one’s life. This is very interesting with regard to spiritually abusive organizations (churches), in that the fundamental and pervasive goal of these types of organizations is often, to ultimately control or have unauthorized authority over another individual. In my opinion, one of the first and most important interventions a parent can do for their child/teen is to remove them from these types of organizations.
Book recommendations this month: Book of Colossians (Bible); Hurt People Hurt People and Released from Shame, both by Sandra D. Wilson.
Thanks again for your prayers and donations!
By His Grace,