“Who we listen to while rebuilding its damage spiritual life makes a lot of difference. Sometimes all kinds of people are talking to us. We may hear critical voices, knowing voices, helpful voices, fearful voices, shaming voices and hopeful voices. And to make matters worse, we likely are hearing a variety of inner voices as well. Most of us have an inner chorus that is quite capable of keeping the noise level up when the voices of real people fade away. Our inner chorus is often made up of powerful voices from our past-the voices of certain people that still influence us even though they are no longer part of our day to day lives. With all these voices competing for our attention, it is essential to develop spiritual practices that help our spirits listen to the loving voice of God.” (Soul Repair: Rebuilding Your Spiritual Life by Jeff VanVonderen and Dale & Juanita Ryan)
One of the most important decisions I have made on my spiritual journey of recovery centers on determining who to listen to. Four and a half years ago when I was abused in a church I choose to listen to family, friends, co-workers, new church contacts, counselors….basically anyone I felt I could trust to tell the story to without slandering the church or being further abused or hurt. There was a great deal of feedback that the church was wrong, that I had been mistreated, that I didn’t do anything wrong, and that I was better off for being away from them. Because I was so hurt I wanted to hear that and I listened to it. I didn’t deal with any real issues, especially not sin in my life but instead accepted that I was mistreated and just sought healing and an opportunity to move on. Hindsight now tells me I was blind to some issues, but mostly I set myself up to be placed into captivity by that abuse. I allowed the enemy to walk me into a victim mentality and to believe that I was not walking in sin. I allowed him to blind me to the sin and unbelief in my life. Unbelief may be one of the most crippling and unnamed sins that is out there!
Now, I am walking very carefully regarding who I talk to and listen to. I have the counsel of a good counselor and someone giving me Biblical discipleship. In both cases we go back to God’s word for counsel and truth, not to our past history or to worldly knowledge. Other than that I basically speak to one friend. I made the conscious decision that if I want to change, truly change, I can’t return to the places I have been and speak to the people I have learned from in the past. I have to give God time to change me and show me different things. I have to allow him to be the loudest and most prevalent voice in my life. It is a lonely and quiet period, but God’s word is truly becoming alive and active for me. It is feeding the hunger in my soul and quenching the thirst I could never before fulfill. God is amazingly good and his word will take care of us and lead us if we trust it to truly do that. I now clearly see the sin that was in my life five years ago, what elements were my fault in the church abuse I experienced, how I sinned in my attitudes and actions after the abuse, and the most recent sin I have walked in. I hate that sin so much! I truly want it gone and I am listening to God about exactly how to move away from that and break that captivity once and for all.
“As part of my healing, I had to take responsibility for my sin, whether or not another person’s actions escorted me to those sins. Perhaps you are like I was at one time. You don’t want to take responsibility for your sins because you think they weren’t your fault. You may wonder, “How else would I have responded after my reference point had been so disoriented?” But, you see, I don’t think confessing sin that resulted from victimization is primarily about fault. It’s about freedom! Yes, my sins were my own fault. But more important to God, I believe, was my willingness to confess how badly I hated those sins and how I wanted to be free from the power of the abuse held over my decisions. Confession allowed me to bring simple behaviors to the table for open discussion with God. He instantly forgave me and completely cleansed me and then he began to teach me day-to-day how to change my responses.” (Breaking Free by Beth Moore)