9 Attributes to Look For if You Suspect You are Being Spiritually Abused

th  “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 5:30-31 

 We see the Lord’s displeasure being expressed against those who operate an effort to control the people. Consumed with their own ambition, these leaders have convinced the people that their power is divine. Yet in reality, these false prophets are merely wielding their self-imposed influence for personal gain, claiming they speak for God.

Pharisee“From the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (NAS). Jeremiah 6:13-14 

A common characteristic of an abusive religious system is that the real needs of the people are lost in the never-ending quest by the leaders for personal fulfillment and happiness.  

And this has been my story.  Part of it anyway.  You will find my whole story in detail in my first book, ”Climbing Out of the Box, My Journey Out of Sexual and Spiritual Abuse Into Freedom and Healing” 

climbing-out-of-the-box-by-dixie-r_-diamanti-300x300-e1397103388170https://www.amazon.com/Climbing-Out-Box-Journey-Spiritual-ebook/dp/B00AZ9JKG6

 

spiritualabuse-blue 

Some of my spiritual abuse experiences include:

  1. When I needed to go to work to help support my family I was told by the authorities of the church I attended that I needed to forfeit working and stay in the ministry because if I didn’t I would lose all my gifting to ever do ministry again. For years I thought my gifts would not be used again and that I was disobedient because I didn’t obey them. (Until I was shocked when I began to see my same gifts used out there in the market place..aha moment.)

  2. A church that repeatedly told us they basically had the corner on the market of Jesus and they had the fullness of God and His gifts, where other churches did not, and that if we ever had to go elsewhere, we would miss God’s highest.

  3. A pastor who found ministry to be a vehicle for his great gain, lying and manipulating donors to give more and more money. He actually took the offering in decorated trash cans…(not lying).  The wealthy had the high positions in the church.  There was the pastor who had the men of the church build his home for free labor, stating, that as Solomon had to have the temple built before he could help the people, he, too, needed to have his temple before he was free to really be a pastor.

  4. A leader who cornered me in a room alone, threatened me, and yelled because he said I was too “perfect” to minister to women. He said I needed to dress down and quit painting my nails if I wanted women to identify with me.  He also said I needed to project being poor.  I was devastated.

  5. Openly ostracized and lied about to a congregation of people to manipulate me to quit my women’s ministry outside his organization that was reaching hundreds of women. ( I didn’t quit.  I left his church organization that very night.)

  6. Innocently called into a pastor’s office alone and watching him lose his temper at me, yelling with spittle flying, finger pointed in my face, falsely accusing me of talking about him behind his back because I told a sound man I was removed from the worship team and had no idea why.  I sobbed so loudly I couldn’t gain control while he stared me down with contempt until I finally got up and left.

These are all true stories, and I could go on and on but,

…now, many years later I coach so many who relate their own stories of pain and abuse at the mercy of “godly men and women”.  My heart aches for them because I know this is not Jesus.  This is man or woman who wants to control and the power goes to their heads. 

But, this was just the beginning of my story.  Upon leaving these controlling ministries after 25 years of having a church building as home and family,  I went through a 5 year sabbatical where I had an encounter with Jesus such as I never had, after being in church and busy with ministry all those years.  

freedom  It took me many years to be set free from the damage that was done to my spirit and to be able to enter a church building without anxiety and tears. 

 So don’t lose hope in the pain of loss when you know you have to make a change.  Jesus promises to NEVER leave you or forsake you.  Even when you are brave enough to leave and everyone is saying to just overlook the sin.  

When all the control and crutches are gone guess Who is left standing? 

jesus6    Jesus!!  

And oh what a Man He is…never to leave us or forsake us.  He will reveal Himself to you in all truth and lead you to safe places to experience the true love of God in motion, and connect with believers who really care and walk in His love in confidence.

Things to look out for in your place of church community if you suspect spiritual abuse:

  1. Do they say you have to blindly respect and obey them, without having earned it, just because they said so and they are your leader?

  2. Do they demand your allegiance to them as ‘proof’ that you are a follower of Jesus?

  3. Do they use exclusive language: “We are the only church in town really following Jesus.”  “Our theology is the only sound doctrine.”  Everyone else is missing the “deeper” walk.

  4. Do they shame people, without grace, if they fail to live up to the church’s expectations?

  5. Do they quote scriptures about “not touching God’s anointed” when referring to themselves? Yet they often confront sin in others, particularly ones who bring up legitimate biblical issues. Or they have their circle of influence take on this task, silencing their critics.

  6. Do they cultivate a dependence on one leader or leaders for spiritual insights? Personal discipleship isn’t encouraged. Often the Bible gets pushed away to the fringes unless the main leader is teaching it. And if you have an insight from God they have to approve it before you can share.

  7. Do they demand blind service from their followers, but live prestigious, privileged lives.They live aloof from their followers and justify their material extravagance as God’s favor and approval on their ministry. Unlike Jesus’ instructions to take the last seat, they often take the first seat at events and court others to grant them privileges. They typically chase after wealth–at any cost, and often at the expense of the very people they shepherd.

  8. Do they hold to outward performance but reject authentic spirituality. And place burdens on followers to act a certain way, dress an acceptable way, and have an acceptable lifestyle, but they often demonstrate licentiousness, greed, and uncontrolled addictions behind closed doors.

  9. Use exclusivity for your blind allegiance to them. Followers close to the leader or leaders feel like lucky insiders. And, of course, this meant they are more spiritual than the rest of the congregation.  Did you ever feel like you are exempt from the “click” of popular people in the community of believers?  Everyone else is on the outside, though they long to be in that inner circle.

We are all one body in His church. 

hands  You are the church!  

We need safe places to gather together and grow together and share Him together.  Don’t settle for less, and be brave enough to change if the Holy Spirit is showing you that something is just not right.  In fact, run!!  

The longer I stayed out of my ‘loyalty’, the move abused I was in the end.  You cannot fix it!!   Run!

  There is healing and restoration from this horrible sin for both the ones who have abused and the victims of their abuse.    Remember we are all an important part of His body.  We ALL have gifts, callings and talents He wants to use.  We were never meant to sit in a pew looking at the backs of heads while listening to one man  teach, without using our own gifts too!!  No one is more important than the other.

Be set free today!!   

Call me if you need help with this issue and you find yourself sunk deep into spiritual abuse and feel like you can’t get out.  Go to the home page from this blog and send me a message.  Or please comment below.

Advertisements

Will You Go Deeper With God?

Jesus-By-My-Side-342x200

If you look for Him, you’ll find Him.

 If you keep looking for Him, you will find him even more…..

 If you don’t stop looking, he’ll invite you in deeper and deeper, fuller and fuller and farther and farther.  There is no end  to the depth of relationship you can have with Him…

 He invites you.

 0006948_abide-with-me_1000Do you notice the welcome sound of His voice?

It sounds like a whisper at first….

 It is a walk through the forest in the dark…all you can see is your feet, but not the path…but knowing He is there.

 We don’t have to know where we’re going, just that Jesus is taking us.

 lantern_forest_by_retrolex

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.  Psalm 119:105

Can we go on this wild and crazy adventure with an invisible, yet so very real God?   Do you want to?

 There He is

1506500_619449268111523_2092771554_n He stands in front of you
arms open,
ready to hug you,
ready to feel your complete innocence, purity and beauty.

 Will you believe He sees you this way?

Will you by faith receive His deep love?

 jesus-and-me By keeping an eye on the One above our trial, we remember how all things work out under His authority.  How He will never leave us. 

He promises and it is so….

He calls.  
Will you open your heart?  love

It’s another invitation.

Abba waits…

He doesn’t need strong; he loves weary, tired, broken; he can handle it.

Do you see him waiting to rescue and love you every minute? 

309148_275390375904036_1522969089_nIn every weary and heart-wrecking task, God waits to rescue you time and time again. 

Will we accept his invitation?

 He knocks,
in a way where it nags your soul to answer the knock, the calling….

You know you should, but can you? Can you open up?

Surely, it is an invitation, but will you permit it to be so?

Can you trust Him?

 Still, Holy Spirit of our  heart, He is pushing you just a little to step out.

Will you listen or ignore?

Will you forgive or forget and pretend it never happened  this time?

 He wants to finally unclutter your heart of it’s hurt, bitterness, fear, anxiety, the list goes on,  to make room for his fullness.

Will you pretend busy-ness this time, again?

or be free?   It is a choice.  Broken-Chains

 The invitations– they never end for those with eyes to see and those with ears to hear.

 It is a symphony of the most desired harmony of humanity.  Love!

 Yet, if you are busy, you’ll walk right past it.
If you are worried, your mind will not have space to receive it.

For we worry about the things we can’t control. 

If you are distracted, you find anything to do rather than hear his whisper.

It is an invitation for those who want more.  Those who:

 Who call out more.
Who long more.
Who ask more.
Who need more.
Who desire more.  530443_10150790377567355_563857079_n

 

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13

 

dixie1  It is a never ending quest to know this wonderful God of ours.   It is not about religion or performance.  It is about you seeking and finding, more than you could ever dream possible.  He will be all that you will ever need.  Everything thing else He brings into your life will be the outflow of His extreme love for you.  If you want to know more contact me through this web page and sign up for coaching.   You will not be sorry.  ♥

Jesus Always Picks the Wrong Guy

553486_415888875110718_1880467937_n

Following Jesus can be a treacherous path of trying to change the world, as we see it,  and running straight into the truth that we are, indeed, the one with the problem.  We need deliverance from:

… our belief that it is up to us to change people.

… our judgmental and legalistic ways.

Think about this:

In the beginning of Luke 19 – the story of the tax-collector Zacchaeus.

(Raise your hand if you just started to sing “Zaccheaus was a wee little man, a wee little man, a wee little man was he!”)

005-zacchaeus  Jesus is in Jericho and a crowd has gathered. The crooked tax collector Zaccheaus was there. He can’t see over the crowd so he climbs up a tree to see Jesus. In the middle of that crowd – which likely would have included more than a fair share of holy or influential or important or preferred or religious people – Jesus heads right for that tree and calls out to that guy – the one who is a social and religious outcast, ridiculously perched up in the branches –  to come on down because Jesus wants to go to that guy’s house for supper.

Huh?   How do I explain that to my religious friends?

I mean, honestly.

Jesus always picks the wrong guy.

Pharisee  Of course, everyone in the crowd gets quite indignant, muttering among themselves about how Jesus is now the guest of a sinner. Not only did the guy betray his religion, Zacchaeus has betrayed his people, his nation, colluding with the powers that be for his own gain and oppressing the very people who were supposed to be his people. 

Or how about the story of the town harlot of Samaria?   The infamous, Woman at the Well”?  (John 4:1-42)  The longest conversation recorded of Jesus and one person was with this woman who had 5 husbands, and was with a guy she wasn’t married too when Jesus approached her. 

womanatthewellbylizlemonswindle  There is our Jesus, sitting by a well…in forbidden Samaria.

Does anyone else see the humor in this story?

The town slut, (or Ho, Hussy, Loose, Sinner, etc. (as she would be called today) approaches Him.

What?

Isn’t she hopeless and an embarrassment? And openly living in sin, (deep breath)!

 Plus, Jesus, as a Jew, was not even supposed to be in Samaria, let alone talk to a woman, for heaven’s sake!!

That woman!!

309148_275390375904036_1522969089_nWe hate that woman!  Don’t we?  We can’t be seen talking to her.

Isn’t that breaking the rules?

Imagine if Jesus was in our world right now in the flesh,  and he heads right over to someone who cooperated with and benefitted from oppression of innocent people, someone who had traded integrity for political power, someone we distrust, someone who we feel is dangerous, someone who stole from people in a socially acceptable and governmentally blessed way, someone who took the very religious or national identity that we cherished and basically stomped all over it for his own gain.    

I can think of a few already, but I won’t mention names.

Ugh. We hate that guy.

   Don’t we?   I mean aren’t we supposed to keep ourselves clean by dissing those who are not living up to our standards as we interpret them?

Would we be murmuring and complaining and wondering about this Teacher who apparently had missed the important parts of the very Law he claims to teach.

Never mind He really came to fulfill the law Himself.

We don’t hang around with people like that, Jesus.  (Insert whine)

Don’t you know? Good people wouldn’t be caught dead with a man like that.

10440802_696494227073693_7724385406213002777_n

Just like we don’t hang around with women who are caught in the act of adultery, or fornication, and….

  • we don’t hang around with Samaritans,

  • we don’t hang around with powerless children,

  • we don’t hang around with women who have a bad reputation,

  • we don’t hang around with beggars or the poor or the oppressed or the criminal or the possessed or the socially marginalized or the ones who aren’t allowed to come to church with the good religious people, never!  homelessman1

Get it together, Jesus.

And, hey, news flash, we certainly don’t go to the personal home of a corrupt politician for a bite to eat or the apartment of the town prostitute for a cup of tea.

But Jesus does it anyway.

Jesus seems not to care about our who-is-in and who-is-out line in the sand. He doesn’t seem to care about what we think about all the wrong folks hanging around with him. 

Jesus came to fulfill the Law but while also revealing the Love behind the Law, and the inadequacy of it, he came to replace the real love of a real God for their people. 

Jesus came because God so loved the world.  After all, as Jesus tells Nicodemus in the book of John, it was because God so loved the world that Jesus came to us.

Jesus came, not to condemn the world but to save the world. 

heart-of-stone…including the guy we would rather see condemned, to be honest.

How can we miss this?

Now take note of this fact:  because of an encounter with Jesus, Zaccheaus turns around gives half of everything away. He is so moved by Jesus, he vows to pay back anyone he has cheated four times the amount he stole.

The Samaritan woman? 

Oh, she just became the first woman evangelist telling the whole town about Jesus.

Extravagant repentance.  

Praying

Wild, reckless love for a man who was like no one they ever met.

They both were not just fulfilling the letter of the Law, they were repenting into the heart of Love Himself.

Looks like the presence of Jesus transforms everyone…even those of us who think we have it all together.

The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. 

Zaccheaus was lost, Jesus sought him out, and in this moment of repentance – which was so much more than just money or position – he’s reoriented to the Kingdom of God.   The woman at the well discovered that her bucket could only be filled with Jesus, not a multitude of lost men. 

Now that is something to get excited about!

Think of the word “today” in that passage. Jesus says “Today I must stay at your house” and then later “Today salvation has come to this house.”

The time is now.

We’d rather another day, another house, another time, another kind of sinner.  Don’t bother us with the now. 

But today is the day for the wrong guy…or the wrong woman.

It’s perhaps telling,  where we see ourselves in that story.

talkingwithjesus Are we the crowd, resentful and muttering because we think THAT PERSON shouldn’t be included because they aren’t righteous enough or holy enough or good enough or acceptable enough or just enough?

Do we have a long list of people we’d probably be pretty mad to see Jesus hanging out with in our world? Do we begrudge seeing Jesus head right to a certain house with a certain person? 

Horror of horrors.

We have our sort of people we want to keep out.

Sure, we’re okay with this kind of sinner being included –but not that kind.

jesus6  But over and over, Jesus picks the wrong person in our eyes.

He even picks you, and me!

Or perhaps we see ourselves more in the one who everyone else wants to keep out.

 “Today, today, today, I’m coming to your house.

And all we can do is receive Jesus with such joy and relief.

And our own sin – everything that damages us and damages our relationship with God and damages our relationships with one another – is over!

We stop putting God into a box of our own self righteous rules and let Him do what He came to do..

…love on all of us and see lives transformed.

dixie1    So we turn everything in our lives upside down and inside out to be with Jesus, to be Him extended to everyone…not just those we think won’t contaminate us.

…to cooperate in making all things right, today.

If you would like to find deeper meaning for your life and God’s perfect plan, Life Purpose Coaching is the way to go.  Hop on over to my web site by clicking on Life Coaching at the top of the page to check out the testimonies of countless others who have experienced life changing freedom through this awesome experience.  Contact me for a free short consult to make a decision today.  This is your day of change.   Find out how to break out of old patterns!!!  

 

Confronting the Elephant in the Room

elephant in the room Because I am an advocate that  stands up for those who have  been victims of childhood  abuse and….

 Because I am a healed  survivor of my own past of  childhood abuse….

I once again feel the need to speak up on behalf of that group of people that even the church tries to shush up…because the disclosure is so uncomfortable for them…so it is easier to sweep it under the rug and pretend we don’t know these things are happening every day.

When are we going to start confronting the elephant in the room that most will ignore and pretend it is not there?

Silencing victims by saying that this shouldn’t be talked about, or should remain within families, says to a victim that this is something to be ashamed of.

 That they are in fact damaged goods.

woman-praying-clipart-LcKdoepEi When these crimes are called out and discussed in a public forum, the offender alone should bear both the responsibility and the shame. These matters need to be discussed not only for prevention, but also for healing.

 Victims need to be heard. They need to be believed. They need to know that what happened was not their fault. We bear witness to their suffering when we give them a voice.

 The only way we can ever hope to stop abuse is if we are willing to talk about it and admit that it happens.  We need to allow them to speak out!  To be transparent without fear of reprisal or shame or embarrassment. We also need to acknowledge that the Christian community is not exempt from this horror.   But it is not something that is often spoke about or expose within the church gatherings.

 I believe this will change.

 As Ann Voscamp so adequately puts it, “Because People of the Church are to be those who stand up so safe places open up, who lead by always going lower, who expose and confront abuse everywhere they find it, so the hope of the Gospel can be of use anywhere it goes.

Because People of the Cross are to be witnesses for the suffering, and responders to the victims, and testifiers of Truth, no matter the cost, no matter the risk, because Christ is The Truth — and where there isn’t Truth, there isn’t Christ. Why ever hide or cover-up the Truth?”

And to those still walking in their victimhood:

10440802_696494227073693_7724385406213002777_n Our wounds from childhood  abuse bring messages with  them…they have a common  theme of “your worthless, you  have no value, you are a  flawed person, no one will  love you, you are ugly” ….

 And when those wounds were delivered to you with such pain, they felt true. 

They pierced your heart. 

So, you accepted the message as fact.  You embraced the worthless verdict on yourself. 

The vows of silence we made as children act like a deep seated agreement with the messages of our wounds.  Because it was all about survival.   There was nothing else that could penetrate that agreement with our pain.  The vows we made acted like a kind of covenant with the messages that came with our deep wounds. 

light and darkness And it is a deep hole of darkness.

 We know that the word tells us where 2 or 3  agree on a matter it shall be done.  This can  work in the negative as well.  When we, as  victims of our past, set ourselves in agreement  with the enemy that there is something wrong  with us, we begin to live in exactly that place.

Those childhood vows are very dangerous things.  They change the course of our life.  

We have to renounce the messages as lies ….it is the way to unlock the door to Jesus.  Agreements lock the door from the inside.  Renouncing the agreements unlocks the door to Him….

birdcage to Jesus…

 He will move into those  heavily veiled places within  our soul and be there with us  in that place of pain and  abuse…..and deliver us and  heal us from the past.  I don’t know how He does it.  But I can attest to the fact that He does.

Because he did for me!  

(If you want to read my story of being a child victim of incest, you can find my memoir “Climbing Out of the Box.” on Amazon.) 

To you precious abuse survivors reading this:

Never forget that there is hope for healing. Although life after trauma is messy and working through the pain is difficult, it is absolutely worth the fight.

May you rest in the hope of a God who cradles his wounded children in his arms as his own body is wracked with tears for the suffering you have endured.

And He will heal you to the point that the past will not affect your future.

38477_137112636323023_6691527_n He will feed His flock like a shepherd:  He will gather the lambs in His arms,  He will carry them in His bosom and  will gently lead those that have their  young. Is. 40:11

 Jesus I give myself to you.  I give my  life to you.  I surrender me…totally  and completely.   Forgive all my  hurtful ways.  Forgive my self-  protecting ways and all of my chasing after other comforters.  Come and be my savior, healer, my love……

(If you are a survivor of childhood abuse and haven’t worked through the steps to healing please contact me for coaching on my home page above or leave a comment here.)