Spiritual Abuse May Be Happening in Your Church (or to You)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness  (c)2015 Nancy Virden

photo-24800475-businesswoman-covering-her-earsAbusers do not listen. They argue or twist your words so eventually whatever problem they are experiencing is your fault. Maybe they badger, or roll their eyes, or repeat the same thing over and over until you respond with what they want to hear.

A spiritually abusive church leader can accuse you of horrible things because you disagree with him on a matter and he cannot stand to be challenged. Share with a spiritual abuser a differing point of view, and you will find yourself suddenly not good enough.  You are willingly blind to the truth, your feelings are sinful, you are disobedient toward God, and no, you cannot sing in the choir anymore.photo-24757830-an-angry-businessman

From my experience with these types, it seems they will argue a point with nothing to back it except for some form of “I know.” An abuser will not be willing to hear you out. They will claim to have heard from God or be quoting scripture, but it’s like they are wielding a hammer on your head. They may “talk over” you in person, on Facebook, in texts, etc. Their responses to you will be as if they never listened. Well, they didn’t.

We are all sinners, and often carry opinions or act out in ways contrary to scripture or love. Any one of us may screw-up and fail to approach others in ways that are satisfactory. Normal, mixed-bag, imperfect people still can wound each other. We have to learn and change our ways, that’s why we need a Savior and church in the first place.

However, a spiritual abuser will, over time, create an atmosphere where you begin to question your right to be you, and whether you will ever be good enough for God. They will tear you down with oppressive speech, attitude, or behaviors, and by yielding to them you lose yourself, no longer knowing who God created you to be.

I am not all-knowing, nonetheless it seems to me God wants his creations to fulfill the purposes for which he created them. By standing by and making excuses for someone’s (or your own) abusive behavior, you give the abuser room to repeat his or her sin. By submitting to the abuse, you withdraw your own gifts and potential to change the world.photo-24751599-vector-of-businesswoman-with-question-mark-board.

It’s all so unnecessary. Your loyalty to an abuser cannot trump your loyalty to your Creator. Willingly submitting to abuse comes from a misunderstanding of duty.

Jesus suffered and submitted to his abusers, yes. He only did so in his time, avoiding beatings and arrest until the chosen day he would fulfill his mission. If you are no longer certain who you are or whether you have any value, you are not fulfilling your godly mission. You may be enabling a sinner to beat you down.

A spiritual abuser is at fault. Not you. It’s okay to walk away and say, “no more.” It’s not selfish to be who God designed you to be. You matter too.

*****

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

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