I was given the assignment today to write down all the things that my former pastor told me that made me feel good about myself.
She gave me this assignment after I told her how I sometimes feel badly about who I am and how God works through me. An example is every time I post a blog or send an email I wonder if what I’m doing is the right thing. I may use Supergirl as my profile picture, but inside I’m just a little girl with a big voice hiding behind a false name, wishing I could be that Supergirl. I question everything because some of the ways I relate to people is what opened the door for my abuser to come in… So here I go again wanting to throw out the baby and the entire bathroom. However, these same methods of communication have also opened the door to healthy relationships in my life, for example like the one with my counselor. But even knowing this is true, I still battle fear – even when I emailed a pastor just this morning just to tell him thank you for his sermon that encouraged me last night. Thus just another reason why spiritual abuse is so destructive. I went to my pastor for him to tell me the truth and good…when proper boundaries were not kept and I realized how wrong what I had with him was. I’m now left to wonder what was good and bad? What were God’s gifts and what were me begging for attention out of desperation? Writing all of this is my journey to untwist the twisted and sift through the good and bad and find God’s truth.
Here are the things my former pastor said and did to make me feel special:
I remember the first time my former pastor walked up to me at church. We had just joined a couple of weeks before and he shook my hand, looked me right in the eyes and asked me kindly if I’d be willing to teach the older kids class. Even his hand shake and the look in his eyes made me feel important. I don’t know why but I thought about shaking his hand that night a hundred times. It’s hard to understand but he just made me feel special.
I remember in one of my first emails to him he responded quickly and told me he appreciated me complementing him on his sermon. He valued my opinion. Once again I felt worthy.
Then there was one of the first phone conversations with him. He’d called me and during the course of our conversation he said he’d developed a strong emotional attachment to me. This statement made my heart flutter. The pastor felt attached to me? This adopted child who’d been longing for a connection her whole life and who felt unworthy felt in those moments on top of the world. This pastor, this man who demanded authority and respect was attached to me. I think that was the moment I swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker.
As the relationship grew and I started to open up to him about my past he told me on that day that I was the woman of his dreams and his soul mate. He also said he loved me like a daughter. I was wanted, loved and coveted.
As the years progressed here were some of the things he said to me:
We share a heart
I will always love you
You are a piece of cake
You are the sunshine of my life
You are my best friend
In another time and place I’d marry you
I wish I could run away with you
You are beautiful
You are eye candy
I could spend all day looking at you
No one loves me like you do
You are gifted
You are smart
You sing so beautifully and clear
You are an amazing writer
I like to just hear the sound of your voice
You are special
Time and time again the same kind words of encouragement he told me. My adopted father had criticized me, threatened me, and made me feel like a piece of trash, but this pastor made my heart swirl with pleasure and excitement.
My counselor said I’d spent too much time in the desert as a child longing for attention and love, this pastor was holding out the tall glass of cold water. Is it any wonder I drank so much I drowned?
So I’m still vulnerable she says. After all the hurt and pain I’ve been through I’m still prone to walk into yet another abusive situation. There’s this part of me that doesn’t want to believe this, but there’s also this part of me that KNOWS she’s right. So what do I do to protect myself? My counselor says to trust that internal voice inside of me that tells me when something isn’t right. Trust requires self confidence… Which means I have got to stop second guessing myself. When I think back to early on with the relationship with my pastor I missed warning signals, because I was constantly thinking I was overreacting or judging wrongly. Growing up in an abusive home the only way I felt in control was blaming myself and excusing others bad behaviors.
I’ll say it again, Steve Brown is my hero. He actually took the time to answer my desperate email and call me on the phone when I confessed to him what had happened between me and the former pastor. I don’t have any idea why God put it on his heart that day to talk to me, but I really think him believing in me is one of the things that gave me the courage to tell the truth to my husband. The great thing about Steve was he let me make the decision for myself and kept reassuring me that God was in control, loved me and was with me, also that he was praying… Just what a pastor is supposed to do – even though he isn’t one anymore he still has a pastor’s heart.
But you know what’s sick and twisted and Satanic – from the pit of hell and smells like smoke – is that even when someone like Steve Brown tells me that God loves me, that I’m special and that he is moved by something I wrote- I hear this evil voice in the back of my head telling me I am a bad person that just wants attention… And ultimately I’m just out to screw up like I did before. NO! NO! NO!
I understand why Martin Luther threw the salt shaker. I’m so very sick of his lies, of his crap, of the chains that he has had me bound with. I WILL NOT LISTEN TO HIS CRAP! I’ve had it with him. I thank God that one day just as the Bible says I will crush his head. My counselor asked me today when do I get angry. I’m angry now, because every single time God gives me something good to hold onto or live for the evil one comes along with his lies and tries to steal it away.
But thank God for the truth. Thank God for my counselor and thank God for Steve Brown and thank God for those Christians in my life who’ve loved me and I’ve loved without it being destructive. I was made for those relationships. I was also made to live out God’s purpose for my life. If Satan can get me to believe that I’m not made for these things then he can get me to settle for less… Which is just what he managed to do before.
I’m not going to let one abusive relationship steal all that. I’m also not going to let it make me be afraid to do what God has called me to do.
Please don’t you let him steal your joy either.
If God is for us who can be against us? Who can bring a charge against God’s elect?
Not my past.
Not my failures.
Not the abuse I’ve suffered.
Not the evil one.
No one can.
Because it is finished.