IS THERE ANYTHING MORE TOXIC THAN THE FEAR of being judged? Judgment shuts us down and makes us hide. It keeps us from being ourselves, which keeps us from connecting with other people.
Don Miller Scary Close (This book is amazing! A must read!)
Yesterday’s blog about PTSD in church probably had more to do with fear of judgment than memories of my former abusive pastor, although those were terrible indeed.
As I looked around the congregation of seemingly together people, once again I wondered if these people knew what I’d done would they even look at me.
Stuck in this fear is paralyzing and a terrible place to be
Would they even look at me if they knew?
How many would assume the worst?
Would the pastor’s wife who’s been the friendliest and most accepting of anyone here guard her husband for dear life?
I know it sounds ridiculous, self absorbed, insane, but fear isn’t rational.
This morning I’m thinking clearly.
I know that God is not done with me.
I know He has forgiven me.
I know He did not intend for me to live the Christian life alone.
I know with time our family will grow in relationships with other believers.
It just takes time.
But just in case you are reading this and you’ve been abused by a leader in the church, please know you cannot take the blame. God hates what was done to you. I read a Steve Brown quote the other day. He said Jesus came to lead the sheep, not butcher them.
When you go to your pastor and trust him with your story and he uses it to benefit himself, you are a victim of spiritual abuse. On my resource page there are links where you can get help.
The worst thing about spiritual abuse has been the isolation I’ve felt. Some people in my former church didn’t call it what it really was. They called it an affair, said I wasn’t a victim. Judged my situation, when they did not walk in my shoes.
Please don’t judge. It’s one of the worst things you can do.
Don Miller shares how he met with a friend who’d cheated on his wife with another man’s wife. The man was beaten down and confused. Don remembered a time when he would have judged, but then he remembered another friend years back who’d made the same mistake, had isolated himself and committed suicide.
No one should feel it’s too late for them to be saved.
That isolation happens to me when I think people are judging me. Yesterday my husband and I had a mild dispute over moving some things from our other house we are selling. I walked away from that conversation wondering if I could do anything right. Then the thoughts bombarded me.
You’d be better off dead.
You screwed it up so bad it can’t ever be fixed.
Why not just end it all?
I begged God for help. The oppression was overwhelming. The phone rang a few minutes afterwards. My husband was checking on me. He was sorry about the dispute and wanted to make sure I was OK. He understands how on edge I am and how much I need his support. This upcoming weekend we’ve been married for 24 years. I thank God for him.
Last night I got an email from my counselor. She’d read some of my blog in her seminary class. She said everyone had cried. Today she’s doing a show on Steve Brown, Etc. about the movie 50 Shades of Grey. She said she might actually quote something I wrote in the interview. I was amazed that just a few hours earlier I’d thought about giving up.
Yesterday, I allowed myself to believe life wasn’t worth living because of the abuse I suffered. That’s the horrible thing about abuse, it causes you to forget who you are.
But God obviously has a plan for me, and it’s not for me to end up all alone, hiding for fear of judgment or worse yet dead because I couldn’t take it anymore.
When those thoughts came to my mind I thought of my husband, my three beautiful children and I plead with God to help me. And He did. He always does. He is faithful.
Don Miller talks about in his book Scary Close the movie Moneyball. He describes the scene where a baseball team manager named Billy, who believes a person has to be the greatest to succeed, is shown a video clip to cause him to think about his standard of perfection.
In the clip, the young baseball player hits the ball solidly and feels so good about it he decides he’s going to try to take second. But tragedy happens. As he rounds first, he trips on the bag and lands on his belly. His worst nightmare had come true. He tried and he failed.
Peter paused the tape and rolled it back and forth so Billy could see how funny the guy looked as he tripped over the base. “Ah, that’s sad,”Billy said. “They’re all laughing at him.”
But Peter let the video roll and asked Billy to keep watching. As the camera closed in on the player crawling on his belly to make sure he was safe at first, the first basemen leaned down, telling him to get up and keep running. The guy looked up in confusion, his helmet nearly covering his eyes. “You hit a home run,”the first baseman yelled. “You cleared the back fence by sixty feet.”
Billy didn’t say anything. He just sat there thinking about the video still rolling on Peter’s computer.
You don’t even know you hit a home run, Peter implied.
I think about that scene from time to time when I meet with somebody who’s been lied about or made a few mistakes, whose identity is under siege. They don’t even know, I think. They don’t know they can still live and love and connect. They don’t know who they really are and what they’re capable of.
It’s always darkest just before the dawn. Don’t give up.
You might have just hit a home run and didn’t even know it.
Our unseen Hope is there, He has a plan that won’t be stopped, and He will never let go of us.