August 19th, 2015 – I fondly remember this day.
If you ever left a job or moved away to another city, the proper thing that usually happens is… you get to say farewell.
Some of you may not have had the opportunity to say goodbye to the church family you served. Don’t fret, this is the plan of the abuser to keep you from exposing them. They do not want you talking or answering the loaded question, “Why are you leaving?”
I’ll never forget the time my husband and I were visiting our son at a Military Prep Academy, NMMI, in Roswell New Mexico. This was about 4 months after I resigned. Kiani had found a church to attend and we were excited to go with him on a Sunday morning.
We sang 3-4 songs then it was time for announcements.
Well. The next 15 minutes were dedicated to saying goodbye to the woman’s director that had served there for the past 30 years.
There were gifts given. Songs sung in her honor. Heartwarming letters read. And the dreaded video of people sharing personal messages of how her life impacted theirs.
I snapped a photo of my view:
With each goodbye I heard, the deeper I sank in my seat. I felt as if I were the only one in the room. A wave of sadness came over me and faces of families from my old church overtook my mind. One by one, by one. I began to weep.
I tried to hide the fact that I was crying as I reached for the box of tissues on the ground. My husband noticed my tears. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and proceeded to hug me and pat me.
Kiani looked over and for a second I caught his eye. His look communicated, “Why are you crying?”
That was the longest 15 minutes ever! I confess, I felt betrayed… again. I admit that I felt I should have at least gotten the chance to say goodbye to my church family. I saw the congregation love on this woman on that stage and they were able to say thank you….they were experiencing closure. I felt ripped off.
On Friday August 15th 2014, we had a staff meeting and the staff was told I gave my 2 week notice and that they will announce to the church that I am leaving. Then on Sunday, August 17th, I was called into his office 10 minutes before service and basically told to go home. (I know now, I was too much of a threat to them and the less time anyone on that campus had with me, the better for them.)
So in New Mexico, I endured watching a heartfelt celebration of this woman’s life and I coveted her feelings. I had wished I could have experienced the blessing of closure.
As Ernie leaned over and said to Kiani, “Mama feels like this should have happened when she left. That’s why the tears.” Then my son put his hand on my knee and proceeded to say something so poignant, “Mom, it would have been so fake.”
Floored! He was absolutely right. My abuser would have had said things about me that he really didn’t mean. It would not have been genuine nor sincere. It would have been 15 minutes of going through the motions and fake smiles all around to support a false narrative that I was leaving on good terms.
The Lord spoke through my son that day. The Lord also gave me the day I speak of in the video. The Lord knew my needs and He knows yours too. I experienced the closure I was seeking in God’s timing, not mine.
May you exhale. May you surrender. May you never loose hope. May you rest in the arms of Christ who is in control. He will never leave you not forsake you. My blessing came a year later, but to God, it was right on time. And that’s all that matters.
Here are the steps that helped me survive Spiritual Abuse:
- Confide in a trusted friend, mentor or counselor. Simply have a conversation about what has been going on in your life. They will be able to identify there’s a struggle that’s unhealthy. They can direct you, pray with you and more importantly become a safe place for you. Talking about it, helps you heal.
- Make a decision to distance yourself from the abusive environment. Leave. Unfollow people on social media. Take a different route to a destination. I treat my abuser like an ex-boyfriend. I got rid of all the things that remind me of the relationship. Why traumatize yourself? Self care is NOT selfish.
- Follow through with the above decision.
- Seek help from a reputable Christian counselor or mentor on a regular basis. This breeds healthy accountability. Now is the time you need to surround yourself with wisdom. There is so much to UNLEARN. There’s healing power in knowing how you are doing week to week or month to month.
- Get educated about Spiritual Abuse and Narcissistic Leaders. The more understanding you have, the less you are influenced and affected by the past. They wanted to keep you in the dark. You will acquire tools to defeat and unlearn things that cause you pain. There will be some reminders that are out of your control, but at least you’ll understand your situation and will be more equipped to handle them.
- Keep a journal either video or written. This helps you document your healing as well as helps you sort out your thoughts. YOU are not the cause of this!
- Surround yourself with other survivors. Spiritual Abuse has been ignored for decades. It has been part of Christian vocabulary recently with the Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill controversy. Not everyone will be able to relate your story. Others that have experienced what you have experienced are the best sounding boards and can offer you the best advice.
- Remember vengeance belongs to the Lord I was a mandated reporter and I fulfilled my duty. However, resist posting on social media your distain and anger. I did not blog for months because I did not want to regret what I wrote. I knew I my emotions were not at a place that would please the Lord. What gives me satisfaction is that everyone will stand before the Lord and give an account of their lives. The Lord knows ALL about our story, the Lord will judge, it’s His battle.
Need prayer or just someone to listen? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org