Sunday, 11 July 2010

On Surviving Abuse, Part 2

See last Monday's post for the first part.

Maybe this psychological abuse is one reason that the book I was driven to write, right after I finished the first one, was all about mind control. In Legendary Space Pilgrims, I describe a physical and invasive form of emotional manipulation and a journey to freedom. No doubt it carries reflections of my own pilgrimage in liberating my thoughts once more.

That picture was taken in the thick of it. I imagine I look a bit harrowed. Trying to talk myself into not rocking the boat, because that would just get me hurt.

A similar manipulative effect was thrust on my prayer life. As we prayed together in the group, this man would often interrupt and ask why I prayed this or that and whether I had asked God if that was the right thing to pray, because he was certain it wasn't. So I learned to spout highly spiritual prayers tailored to please the leader, but which came nowhere near my own heart. To this day I will not pray aloud in a group. In fact, I don't pray at all in the usual sense, not even in my head. Hence the companionable silence with God. I don't think he minds. He's not like that.

For years it was hard to even enter a church. Yet I insisted on doing it, because it remained the best place to meet people with similar moral standards to my own. Funnily enough, the same year I left the scene of that group, I ended up leading worship for several months with the guitar in a little church in Balbriggan, Ireland, due to sheer need - they had no one else to do it. They were very supportive and didn't notice the stiffness I felt. Anyway, back in New Zealand after that, all through last year, I would frequently run out of church services to weep profusely for reasons I couldn't pinpoint. Looking back I think it was grief for the faith I once had, the trust in the Spirit's guidance which had been so thoroughly destroyed.

Now I no longer grieve, but I have not regained what was lost. Rather, I have found a peace with the way things are. I'm thankful for all I have been given - and it is not inconsequential - and when I write, often it is as if the words come spiralling down from heaven to my screen. If that isn't living with God, I don't know what is. Woe betide any who push me and insist I'm not doing it right. Insistence is exactly what damaged me. I am now allergic to pressure and power plays. The life and the faith I have now is vastly different to what used to be, but I would go so far as to say it's better.

There are many who would say I'm not a real Christian, because of not praying, or my irreverent use of church services to write stories, or because I am sick to the stomach with what is known as Christian evangelism. That's okay. You can think what you like. Maybe I'm not a Christian according to your standards. But you know what? I don't think I care. And what's more...I don't think God cares, either.


Andrea Graham said...

(hugs) I know God misses me when I shut him out, because He's told me so, but I also know He knows how much you're hurting and wept with you in the silences.

Healing will come in time, and you'll learn how to talk to Abba again without hearing those voices telling you that you're not doing it right. It is not an uncommon problem for abuse survivors at all, Grace. Many of us have difficulties holding a conversation with God the "normal" way. But when we're in the place, we can use our story writing, journaling, song writing (in your case,) poetry, any creative out-of-the-box idea you can dream up, to keep in touch with Him, and there's no shame in that.

M Pax said...

How do we know they're right? We don't. Faith is whatever we believe.

Whatever calls us, is right. We can decide for ourselves. It is between us and our God. No one else. I hope you find your way back to what you lost ... or find a better path that brings you even more joy.

Lum said...

Just now reading these...
*hugs* :( :(

I don't know you very well, but now I feel like I know you better. I'm so sorry, and I think you're very brave to talk about it!! :-)

I hope that God will help you heal from all of this stuff. It's not a small thing, but at the same time, I know He's bigger than the people who hurt you.

Ann said...

Sending belated (( hugs )). I consider you my Sister in Christ! You are living the peace of Christ and I, and many others, can see God living in and through you. God will take you where He wants you to go when the time is right. Looks to me like you are in His good company!
(( hugs ))