One of my recent awakenings about Spiritual Abuse has been around the idea of delusion: a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact. As with any issue where we are deceived and misled whether my man or our spiritual enemy, I was not consciously aware that I was dealing with delusion. The impact of the delusion had some pretty deep affects on my life though. In my story the delusion happened because I didn’t have support after my spiritual abuse and I tried to put my spiritual life back together on my own. I learned to believe only what I could handle and understand and I avoided those things that brought pain, sorrow, conviction, or confusion. It clearly shows that good support is desperately needed after abuse. Thankfully God is gracious, and even though I didn’t have good support 4-1/2 years ago and I have fallen into some deep sin and unbelief he has led me to awareness of that now and I am repenting and turning toward a new life and faith.
“This phenomenon is called delusion and it is the end result of conscious forms of denial. Delusion is the distorted perception of reality, a totally unrealistic view of what is real. Conscious denial has to exist in a spiritual abuse situation in order to convince others that everything is fine, and also to fix blame away from the person or system. When it succeeds in convincing the person himself or herself, he or she is deluded. Delusion is one of the main components in the learned powerlessness of the victim. More serious than denial, different than repression, it is a warp in the thinking process that filters out what was information coming in from the outside. It is probably the most significant factor in keeping the victim trapped in the abusive system.”
“They need a renewal of the mind. In a very real sense they’ve been spiritually brainwashed. They must be immersed in the truth about whom God really is and what he has lovingly done to settle the issue of their value and acceptance. They need to hear the good news about their new gift-based identity. Third, they must experience safe relationships in which to heal from their emotional, psychological and spiritual wounds. Admitting neediness is hard. Looking at yourself honestly and fearlessly is hard. Much support is needed. Fourth -again, in the context of safe relationships-they must be given permission and opportunities to practice getting their sense of identity as a gift from Jesus.” (The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen)
One of the keys in dealing with delusion is seeing the truth. In both of my last two churches I struggled greatly when truth got too close or too real because it directly conflicted with the delusion living with. I would feel struggle, conflict, confusion, and doubt. This was especially true on occasions where I met face to face with the pastor at my last church because he is a godly man who knows scripture and tries hard to live by it. The way to combat the delusion though is to have God’s truth break through to show us how we have been deceived. There is no single answer on how that will happen as each person is on a different journey but we need to reach a point to stand in agreement with God that we are being deceived and we need his truth, and then we need to tear down the lies and replace them with God’s truth.
To live a double life is soul destroying. Inner dishonesty is spiritually crippling. It is not merely that you learn to lie, but that you learn to lie to yourself, and to have an imaginary relationship with God. (Church Discipline That Heals by John White and Ken Blue)