I'm visiting here from Out of the Storm

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I'm visiting here from Out of the Storm
« on: June 30, 2018, 12:58:29 PM »
I usually post over at Out of the Storm.  In one of my postings, a member there suggested I might get some insight from this particular group here.

I'm a survivor of bullying and spiritual abuse.  I suspect I have CPTSD from both of them.  Currently, I also deal with a child that has autism, debt I incurred from a stint in court reporting school (trying to get a career so I could earn money so we wouldn't have to rely on a safety net that may break at any moment), and numerous health problems (skin, bladder, back pain, TMJ, sleep apnea, and possible adrenal fatigue.  I'm in menopause and take hormones; next week I see the doc for a meds check.  I also deal with depression and I'm on meds and see a counselor for it.  I suspect also that I have OCD that manifests itself in pure-O--the obsessive thoughts without the compulsive actions.)

My number one problem with religion can be summed up in this sentence:  I am afraid of getting it wrong and going to hell. 

I know this is not a place to discuss or argue about theology and so I'm going to try and avoid the subject as much as I can.   In college, I was in an abusive church for five years.  The group I got involved with in an attempt to get away from that church also turned out to be abusive in their own way.   What made the college group abusive was that they believed they were the only ones that were going to heaven, and if you didn't read the Bible exactlythe way they did, you weren't a Christian.  Once you were part of the group, you had to spend so much time a day reading the Bible, praying, meeting with the group, and "sharing your faith" -- that last translates into, invite everyone you meet to church or Bible study.  "Everyone you meet" includes checkout people and people you run into on the street.  People "older" than you would ask you how much time you were spending on Bible study and prayer, what you were studying in the Bible, how many people you invited to church/Bible study that week, were you involved with people in one-on-one Bible studies.  If you didn't perform up to snuff, you were asked why, and you were rebuked for it.   If you didn't ask people to Bible study or church--like, if you were standing with someone in an elevator, or in the checkout line at a store and didn't invite them to church--you were rebuked for not being "bold". 

I didn't leave the group because 1) all my relationships were there, and 2) if you left the group, you left God. 

When I graduated from college, I deliberately moved to a city that had a church that had been part of the group I was in but that was trying to get away from the abuse.  Eventually, that church split, and many of us, including myself, went to independent house churches.  The reason I say that they turned out to be abusive in their own way was that, while we said that we weren't the only ones right, I think we acted like we were somehow better than other Christians because we'd gotten away from organized religion.  In practice, we had opinion leaders that we had to listen to.  I remember one meeting that was at my apartment where two people disagreed and the room nearly exploded.  I was almost afraid that the two people were going to come to blows. 

Before we got married, I told my husband that we needed to get out.  It took about a year, but we eventually moved to another city and started over with a church that's in the same denomination but NOT in the same group that we were in. 

I'm ashamed and embarrassed to say that we moved to our current city nearly 25 years ago, and I am still struggling with the question of "who's right"?  Events in Christianity that have happened over the last year or so have not helped at all.  (Many churches are dealing with their own "#metoo" moments.  Also, there are major conflicts over the roles of women in the church.) 

I'm supposed to read the Bible to find out who God is and how to serve him.  But everyone has a verse.  Everyone.  Everyone believes they're right and they can prove it by Scripture.  But what do you do when the conclusions people come to are diametrically opposed to each other?  I'm afraid of coming to a conclusion and it being the wrong one, and then going before God on Judgment Day and him telling me that because you believed such-and-such, I'm sending you to hell.

And I can't just do a straight reading of an English-language Bible, either.  I have to consider context, original language, original audience, the culture of the time . . . and there are days I feel like I have to have a theology degree with a minor in Biblical languages to understand what the Bible really says and what it really means.  And sadly, there are people who have a theological agenda that twist the Bible to suit their own beliefs.

I'm 54, and I just feel the energy being drained out of me between the past abuse and my present circumstances.  My son with autism is 19.  He's presently in a job training program run by our public school system, and he's eligible for that until he's 22.  But after that, then what?  I don't know if he'll be able to live on his own, and my nightmare is, what happens to him when we're gone?  We have debt.  I'm currently working as an at-home proofreader to pay back student loans.  We also owe Orkin for some work they did on our crawlspace that cost a couple of thousand dollars.  We DID pay off our credit card . . . and then, I needed a mouth guard to help treat my TMJ, and I had to put that on the credit card that we just finished paying off!! The good news there is that we'll be able to pay off the card much faster this time.  We need a new roof.  Our sliding glass door to the back yard hasn't opened in three years.  I want to paint the inside and get rid of our filthy carpet (which came with the house, and we bought the house over 20 years ago.)  My husband is working all the overtime he can to help with our finances, and it's wearing him out.

I've had too many days where I say, "I give.  I give.  I can't cope anymore."  I love my son but I get tired of his behavior.  And I truly hate what abusive religion has done to me and to others I know. 

Since this is specifically an area for religious and spiritual discussion, I'm curious to know if anyone has had similar experiences.



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Re: I'm visiting here from Out of the Storm
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2018, 07:55:05 AM »
do you feel as if the religion was the PD in your life?  pretty much everything we post over here has to be related to the PD/ uPD person in your life unless it's in the cafe and that's more for light postings.

From the subform description -Discuss your spiritual issues as they pertain to relationships with someone suffering from a Personality Disorder.

a further breakdown from the 'about this forum'


This is a place to discuss religious and spiritual issues as they pertain to your personality disordered relationship and/or your own passage towards recovery.
Wed like to remind you that we are a diverse community from many countries, comprising many races, religions, value systems, and beliefs.  Feel free to speak about what's important to YOU and how your values and beliefs affect you and your relationship.  However, please exercise caution and don't assume that everyone else shares the same views.  Like politics, religion has an uncanny way of stirring up some very poignant emotions that can easily erupt into a controversial debate!

With that, Id like to wish you well on your spiritual journey.



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Re: I'm visiting here from Out of the Storm
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2018, 06:44:51 PM »

I am so sorry for the abuse you were served at the hands of a so called Christian church.  It sounds very legalistic to me. So many rules to abide by, or you're not good enough in their eyes or God's eyes.  I went to a church like that once and couldn't keep up with all their non-biblical man made rules and left.   A legalistic place like that is always going to make you feel unworthy. They use manipulation tactics in order to make you second guess yourself and your standing with God to control you. Putting people in emotional bondage is not how God operates. Jesus says, my yoke is not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing. God does not force his will on anyone. He gives us free choice on eternity and how we conduct our lives.

My number one problem with religion can be summed up in this sentence:  I am afraid of getting it wrong and going to hell.

Coming from a Christian standpoint, it is only by the grace of God that we are saved, not by works. I would start reading the book of John and go forward, especially the verse John 3:16 considering salvation. All you have to do to be assured or your salvation is admit your sinfulness, believe Jesus is Lord, and call upon His name to save you. Done.

It is a free gift, not earned, and is quite simple.  I hope this helps and gives you some peace on your way OOTF with these people. Blessings, Adria


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Re: I'm visiting here from Out of the Storm
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2018, 07:13:17 PM »
Welcome!  I have occasionally read some posts at Out of the Storm and found that group to be very supportive. The group is also very supportive.

When I was in jr high and high school, my FOO attended an extremely legalistic church. On top of the church being very legalistic, I was forced to go with my uPD parents.

That church also believed they were the *ONLY* one's going to heaven. In the whole Bible, I've never once come across the verse that says "those attending church xyz on Main St are the only one's going to heaven". Even as a kid I knew they were way off base with that.

Almost the minute I was old enough to stop attending, I did. I went about 25 years without attending a church. I've recently found a small friendly church that balances out the "law" with "gospel" - with an emphasis on how Jesus came to fulfill the law so we don't have to.

Keep looking for a spiritual home. Once I decided to return to church, it took me a few years to find a place that didn't freak me out. I was really, really picky - any vibe that reminded me of my childhood church and I was outta there.

I want to echo Adria. Salvation is simple - accept that you are a sinner and accept God's forgiveness. There aren't any other test, feats of strength, a particular verse you may miss, no works you must perform. Just faith.

I'm wishing you peace. And since we're on the Religious and Spiritual Board, I'll let you know that I'm praying for you.



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Re: I'm visiting here from Out of the Storm
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2018, 09:12:25 AM »
Hi Alliemat,
I'm so sorry you've had these experiences. I've had a similar experience to you in the sense of being in a group during college that felt we were 'right' and it affecting my thinking. I don't think the one I was in was as strict as the one you were in though.
My conclusion has  been that I think 'love' trumps 'rightness'. There probably is a right and a wrong, but no human is ever going to fully know what they are. I also think we western Christians idolise the bible. The bible isn't God, it just tells us some important things about God, and our interpretations are fallible. Like you said, everyone can back up their own opinions with a verse.
You sound so tired and at the end of your rope. It is so hard and it is allowed to be hard and frightening. You need to know that you are strong and capable enough to face these emotions. God has given you strength, so you can face them. He's also given you his love and his comfort. He loves you so much, he doesn't care if you are right. He just wants to be with you. He likes you and who you are.

I've found The Bible For Normal People podcast tremendously helpful, I would recommend checking it out. You might also like the Liturgists podcast. There's one about embodiment that delves into trauma so it's especially relevant.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.



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Re: I'm visiting here from Out of the Storm
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2018, 07:49:06 PM »
Alliematt, Im sorry you have had these challenging experiences with your churches. Im sorry too that seeking answers within your faith has become a source of anxiety.

I was raised in several Protestant sects and explored membership in a number of small evangelical churches as a young adult. The closeness of community appealed to me too. And I also noticed the challenge of finding a right interpretation of scripture and dogma.

Ultimately, this is the conclusion that fit for me: a loving, omnipotent, omniscient god would not set up his precious creation to fail for the minor fault of not interpreting conflicting scripture correctly. I also believed that scripture, while the word of God, was given through man and, through multiple translations, interpreted by man. Even if we accept the original Word as infallible, surely the contemporary translations in our laps are not. Again, I believe an omnipotent, omniscient god knows that we must live in the world, even if we are not meant to be of it. You are serving God by attending to your child and caring for your own needs; being a full-time Biblical scholar is not required to gain favor in His sight. If that were so, even the most apparently holy on Earth would be damned. After all, the Bible is full of stories of flawed men and women serving God.

Now, these are just my thoughts. Im no church scholar. In fact, Ive fallen away quite some bit. But I hope I can offer you some measure of peace.

I can also share that I worked for many years with a Christian therapist. She helped me to integrate my faith into my mental health work and was extremely compassionate. If you have not already tried this route, you may want to consider it.



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Re: I'm visiting here from Out of the Storm
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2018, 06:33:29 PM »
Yes, HeadAboveWater! That god (and I meant the little "g") they are talking about is NOT the God I know, who is so, so, so loving, generous, forgiving and kind. That said. Alliemat, I have been told that our parents may influence our feelings about God, too. Those of us with PD parents may (me, I mean) may have some issues to work out. I certainly did for a while.

But no one knows all the answers. Did you ever notice that the gospels have a different take on the same story (that one about Jesus?) Each of them is written differently, probably for good reason, I'm guessing. For example, the Parable of the Talents only occurs in Matthew, the "debts" and "debtors" occur in the Lord's Prayer ONLY in Matthew.  Silver and gold are repeated more in Matthew, but then Matthew was a tax collector so his view of the world infuenced his gospel. They are all like that. Yes, we each take something different and personal from everything in there, but we each contribute (assuming it is something good,not a cult, etc.) to a view that will resonate with others. That's how it works, not just for the apostles, but for all of us, I think, so no single person or group has the "right" answer. Maybe the right answer for Joe and Susie, but not for Bill or Barbara or Barney.  We all have to find what works for us. I fell in love with my little church the first time I went when I heard our priest end the sermon with "God loves you, God is NOT mad at you, He will never forsake you...." His does, He isn't and He won't. Just not who He is.

My tiny church is tiny because we are dedicated to doing good things for others. (We have one in another city with only 10 members. Two of them told me that on every Sunday, they walk one of the worst parts of their city to ask people randomly if they need help Not a lot of people would  even THINK about doing that! ) Wow! Amazing, huh? But every one of us, every one, has something special,that is perfect for what we need to do....including you!

As for your "obsessive thoughts" being OCD, that isn't necessarily true, though. Anxiety can also cause it, as does (as I recall from Pete Walker) CPTSD. Have you tried reading his blog or books? If you have CPTSD, his "CPTSD: From Surviving to Thriving" is amazing.

Welcome to OOTF, AllieMat.  Best of luck to you.
"It is not my job to fix other people; everyone is on their own journey."



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Re: I'm visiting here from Out of the Storm
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2018, 09:11:15 PM »
Your post really touched my heart. I am so sad for the spiritual abuse that you suffered. Two things that came to my mind as I was reading your story was that you really want to know the truth, and you are afraid of being wrong.

John 16:13 says that the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He explains the faith and the Bible to us. I would suggest, that if you are going to read the Bible, to do it for fellowship and devotion---not for necessarily just doctrine or duty.

Read it, like you are listening to a friend. And if there is something you don't understand, give it to God in prayer and then wait for Him to reveal it to you.

I also thought of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, John 3. I love how Jesus came to meet with her, and he offered her the Holy Spirit even though she did not have perfect doctrine, and even though she did not live a perfect or sinless life. He saw her worth, and he wanted to know her and bless her. He came to her and spoke truth to her. None of us probably have perfect doctrine, none of us are sinless or perfectly righteous. But He comes to us and reveals Himself to us anyways.

Think of your relationship with Him as one of grace.

I think He is already leading you into truth, because He opened your eyes to the abusive nature of the church you were at. He wants to set you free and give you a healthy loving relationship with Him. <3 Best wishes.
"I had to accept the fact that, look, this is who I am. I have to be who I am, and all of us have a right to be who we are. And whenever we submit our will, because our will is a gift, our will is given to us, whenever we submit our will to someone else's opinion a part of us dies." --Lauryn Hill