We live in a world where things go wrong, where people get hurt, and where people make mistakes. That is a hard and painful reality to accept sometimes, especially when we are walking through that pain.

Restoring the Heart: A journey of restoring trust in the Church and spiritual leaders is a work that is coming from my broken and healing heart. In December 2004 I was spiritually abused by the leaders of a church. This resulted in huge issues in my life and faith for the following four and a half years. In July 2008 I joined a new church. I was still recovering from what had happened in the previous church, but I faithfully followed where I believed God was leading me. I was still learning how to trust, walk in faith, and to overcome PTSD and other emotions tied to that abuse. I was disillusioned with the church and dealing with a lot of confusion, but pursuing after my faith to the best of my ability. Over time the leaders at this church decided they could not walk with me and they excommunicated me claiming they didn’t even believe I was a Christian.

This left me at rock bottom. I had to decide if God was real, if I had a sincere faith in him, or if everything in my life for the last 25 years of living as a Christian was a lie. God met me there. The Christianity I knew wasn’t working, but God was bigger than my lack of faith. He healed my heart, restored my faith, and released me from the bondage, confusion, and pain I had lived in for over four years. Since June 2009 I have found such incredible love and forgiveness from God and restoration in my life. God has opened doors for me and I am now actively involved in another church, and am part of the core leadership of a new church plant. I am more in love with God than ever before! I have been disillusioned, abused, rejected, abandoned, and lost. So far the leaders of my last church will not forgive me or even communicate, but God continues to restore, heal, and use those who faithfully follow him. The people of the church gave up on me, but Christ never did. He saved me and has changed my life. I hope that my story and testimony of the Lord’s work in my life will be a testimony to others.

The fact that people are often reinjured when trying to return to churches and recover is a tragedy and a growing problem as few pastors and church leaders have taken the time to be trained and educated on the issues around spiritual abuse, disillusionment, and rejection. This site is a way to share my story, continue to work through my own healing, and help to open the door for others who have been hurt in our churches or by spiritual leaders.

If you have walked through a time of abuse or disillusionment too, I hope you will join me on the path to recovery and healing.

If you are a church leader who wants to minister to those who need your caring hand and heart and want to share with us and learn from us we would love for you to participate.

Restoring my heart and my trust in the church and learning to trust other spiritual leaders has been and continues to be a journey with a lot of hard work. I have experienced such amazing change that I desire to share that with others and to minister to those who are hurting and disillusioned in their faith. The desire of my heart is to live a life pursuing after God, and to do that I need to be in relationship with others. I am no expert, I am just another broken person who is seeking to find a restored heart and a new life, but if my story can encourage and help you, or if I can answer questions and offer insights from my own experience I would like to walk this journey with you. One of the most painful parts of my journey is that I walked it alone for a long time. Maybe we can now walk it together. Are you willing to walk this path with me?

Restoringheart (aka Sherie)


20 Responses to “About This Site”

  1. kskedgell Says:

    I appreciate your honesty, courage and compassion. I am sorry these things happened to you but you are trungin these liabilitiies into assets. I too have been through my share of abuse only it was connected to a fundamentalist cult. It’s taken years to recover and I;m still in “process.” Thank you for sharing your insights. i look ofrward to reading more.

  2. kskedgell Says:

    sorry about all the typos. It’s a little early in the morning yet and I’m still waking up. By the way, how did you get Goggle to post your blogsite? I have one and haven’t fgured it out yet. thanks.

  3. restoringheart Says:

    Thank you for the encouragement and insight. I think connection with those who have been down this path before is a key to healing because so few understand. I like what you said about changing the liabilities to assets. God can and will do that as we are faithful in this journey, even in spite of our shortcomings and our wounds.

    I can’t actually answer your question about how Google registered my site. I have done nothing to encourage or advertise the site. I don’t know if your site is on wordpress, my only thought is that they advertise or are searched by Google regularly.

  4. I found your blog through a Google alert on ‘Spiritual Abuse’. You have made some very valid points..thanks. Three years out and your view of the landscape is a wiser and perhaps a more learned view. We’re only just a year out and still a bit raw…have subscribed to your feed and look forward to your thoughts.

  5. Bob Bushman Says:

    I found your web site and was blessed to find others who like myself are seeking to minister to those who have been spiritualy abused. I have started a forum on allaboutgod.net called healing for those who have been spiritually abused. I am amazed that the stories are so similar. i came out of an abusive authoritarian church 10 years ago. I saw alot of people hurt, it brought hurt to our whole city and many poor wounded people are still in need of ministry. God bless you for your work. check out my forum and I will derect other to here.

  6. wendyjduncan Says:

    My husband and I left a Bible-based cult eight years ago. We definitely understand about spiritual abuse. If you live in the Dallas metroplex, you might want to consider attending our support group for former members of cults, high-demand or spiritually abusive groups.

    For more info, see http://dallascult.com/index.php?page_id=266

  7. Church conflict can have a devastating impact on all involved. I have personally experienced it. It is the reason why, after having earned a Master of Theology degree and worked as a Sr. Pastor for 10 years that I went on to earn my PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

    If your church is experiencing conflict, get help before it is too late.

    For information and help, go to my website, http://www.ResolveChurchConflict.com.

    Dr. Ken Newberger

  8. marycooke Says:

    Hi, I’ve had more than my share of disappointments in churches, primarily pastors who got involved in sin, or who did nothing to deter those in their congregations from doing so. As a result, I don’t go to church much. I love the Lord, so I still study the Word and read good authors such as AW Tozer, but trusting is a bit out of reach for me at this time. I enjoyed looking through your blog and hope you will take a few minutes to check mine out.

  9. restoringheart Says:

    Mary, thank you for stopping by. I apologize I didn’t see your note as it went into my spam box.

    I can understand where you are at, I have talked with so many who are there. I have been there myself. The place I have reached though is that I love God so much that I can’t read his word and not want to love his people and his church and be involved. It is a very tough walk at times, but I want my life to be all about God and his ways and I have realized I truly am willing to pay that price no matter what the cost.

    I have given your sights a quick look and will return for a more thorough viewing. It sounds like you have a great heart that is seeking after the Lord. I hope that you will walk closely with him, and hopefully some day return to his church as it is his family.

  10. Roz Says:

    I tried to leave this comment on the current post, but I don’t see that it “took”. Let’s try here:

    I don’t remember how I happened across your site today, but I read deeply into the last number of months of posts.

    My heart breaks for you.

    A blessing of the blog world is that we can share with one another with the privilege of anonymity and across distance and time zone. On the other hand, it prevents me from saying, “Would you like to just go out for coffee?”

    I am praying for you and for others in your situation. You have a gentle heart that’s dedicated to Jesus; God will protect you and bring you home. It’s a slam dunk, because He’s faithful and you’re willing.

    I don’t see an email link on your site, but if you’re in the mood, there are email links for me at exultet.blogspot.com

    Anyway, hello, my name is Roz and I live in Michigan. I was in a conforming group for a while that doesn’t really meet the criteria for spiritual abuse, but it was enough to develop some real empathy for folks in those situations.

    1. restoringheart Says:

      Roz, thank you so much for your note and your king and encouraging words. I appreciate your empathy and care. It has been a difficult journey, but I can see God’s hand and provision in the midst of this. I continue to hope and pray that I can learn and grow through that and can reach out to others who have experienced similar things. I am sorry to hear that you too once experienced an unhealthy church. There are too many of them that have damaged God’s family, scarred Christ’s reputation, and hurt/disillusioned/crippled/chased away believers.

      I have not had a chance to look at your blog yet but I will come by to visit. It is so encouraging to walk through life with others who are devoted to Christ and who are willing to share with transparency and honesty. Oregon and Michigan may be a long way apart, but with Christ we are one family and there is a connection there that is beautiful.

  11. lost sheep Says:

    hey–i wanted to let you know i deleted my one blog–can’t explain there or here–not sure of your email or i would let you know why–i still have my awareness one–just wont be putting personal stuff on there–might switch my blog to blogger. if i do will let you know–thanks for your support–if i can get your email i will email you back or you can get mine (one of them anyways) off of my awareness blog.

  12. Hi Everyone,

    I wanted to inform you that my book: ‘Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness’ has been published. It is a doctoral research study on ‘how’ people recovered after experiencing spiritual abuse. This book has immediate appeal for those wounded in the church as well as for interested church leaders. Would you be able to assist
    me in making this information known?

    People can purchase a copy of the book by contacting me at: info@churchexiters.com.

    I have book information on my website: http://www.churchexiters.com.

    Here are a few samples of what others have posted.

    Weary Pilgrim http://thewearypilgrim.typepad.com/the_weary_pilgrim/2009/12/index.html

    Futurist Guy

    Prodigal Kiwis

    Your help would be appreciated. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Dr. Barb Orlowski

    1. Barb,
      Thank you for letting us know. I learned about your book through Prodigal Kiwis and had not shared it with others yet. I hope that it will bring some more attention to not only the issue of spiritual abuse, but even more importantly to the area of recovery because there are so few resources about that.

      Thank you for the work you put into this resource!

  13. bishopswife Says:

    Thank you Sherie for taking the time to shed light on a very important topic. I just came across your site tonight and I was overwhelmed with the realization that spiritual abuse is so common. I am so thankful to have a resource to share with others as well as one that I can utilize myself as I continue the journey towards complete healing.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Jana, I have been looking through your site and learning about your journey. You are a courageous lady to go through that, be willing to step back into leadership in another church, and to share your story with others. Thank you for that example and voice. It is needed! Spiritual abuse is more common than we want to admit, but I also have learned that to call what I experienced abuse is somewhat misleading when compared with stories like yours. There were some unbiblical and uncaring things in my story, but not in the same way that others have experienced. That doesn’t minimize the impact it had on my faith and relationships until I found healing though.

      You might be interested in Shari Howerton’s book Breaking the Chains. It talks about her experience in large networked community similar to what you may have experienced and the unhealthy control enacted by some of the leaders.

      If I can be of any help on your journey toward complete healing please let me know. My heart and passion now are to help those who have been hurt and disillusioned to find their way back to powerful lives of faith in healthy communities. I look forward to reading more of your posts and your story. Blessings to you!

  14. bishopswife Says:

    Thank you so much for the quick reply…so kind!! I just looked at the book you recommended and yes it does sound all to familiar. I can’t wait to read it.

    Abuse is abuse, no matter the form or length… it is still damaging. Your heart to help people is amazing and greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for being faithful and dedicated to a very important group of people. It is wonderful to see someone who can put into words what so many people feel.

    I am going to add your site as a Resource on my blog. I know of many others who will find it helpful.

    Many Thanks!

  15. Reg Says:

    Just found your page. Thank you for the work you do here. I also have a similar passion. I was in a Bible cult for 29 years. I understand. Exited 1997. Took me a few years to find our how deeply I was affected. Started the Spiritual Abuse Recovery FB page late 2010. Now have 190 who follow it.

  16. Elna Nel Says:

    I felt it necessary to share my story with you and hope that you will have it in your heart to understand.

    I would appreciate it if you can look at the following link:

    Please send it on to the people you feel comfortable with sharing.

    Awakening: Overcoming side effects of spiritual abuse and walk to inner Freedom I am preparing for something very important in my life, and I am asking for your moral, financial, and emotional support. I know it is now or never for me to stand up for myself.

    My dream is to still do the Camino de Santiago walk this year. I would like to leave South Africa on or before 11th of September 2012 and the whole walk takes between 30 and 40 days.

    I need to raise $4,000 to cover the cost of my walk across Spain: Camino de Santiago 500mile (700km). I have heard about life-changing journeys, but if I describe a 500-mile (700km) walk to Camino de Santiago, I suspect your reaction would be: “No way!!”

    After 6 years of spiritual abuse in a cult, 2 1/2 years of many losses myself and my family endured. The cult brought me at odds with my best Friend (Jesus Christ). It caused me to question, doubt and even run the other direction from my Source.
    I will be walking the Camino for two reasons, one to ‘bury’ the past, two for self-reflection/self-discovery. I would have never imagined myself taking on this journey alone, but I know AND understand why I must.. I’ve reached a time I need to re-assess, to reflect a little and decide what I’d like to do with the future. As a counselor I always care for other’s happiness before my own. Myself and my husband has been in community service from 2001, by starting a Summer Camp in SA. We worked with University’s, Schools, children in remission with cancer and many more. I did it without a single fuss or groan. It is always easy for me to make others smile, make them feel loved in their deepest depression and denial. I was there for advice and honesty. Did so much and didn’t ask anything in return. Always thought about life and has an urge to learn.
    I now know the darkness that depression bestows upon a person first hand. I have lived in its shadow for the last 3 years. I feel isolated in the darkness of my mind, exhausted from keeping a true side of myself hidden, feeling alone, thinking an end for life was the only escape from the pain, feeling hopeless and without a passion for life.
    I know now that I need “freedom” to get out and about to experience a strong emotion of life again. It took me a long time to accept that I am where I am but I need to trust in the love of friends, the world, to tell the truth and understand the truth of where I am.
    Spiritual abuse is a real phenomenon that actually happens inside as well as outside of the Body of Christ. Spiritual abuse (being trapped in a cult) for 6 years left very serious wounds on our family (husband / daughter / myself / and our marriage).
    People ask me: “Haven’t you got more than you need? What is wrong with your life then? I maybe may have more to be thankful for but I lost everything that made me be my inner self and inner happiness. Some people appear to be happy, but they don’t give the matter much thought. As long as people are busy doing (things/buying/ believe in something) they blunder on.
    I thought “I was happy” (betraying myself and friends through my eyes that I am happy). Most people will tell me they are fine, I’ve got everything I want, a family, a home, good health.
    I stopped in my life to ask myself “if that’s all there is to life?”.
    Through this time I tried to distract myself, to find a way of protecting myself from these tragedies. What is missing? By talking about my life, I came to the realization that most people have experienced the same thing.
    A man has ones said: “If we’re not alone then we have more strength to find out where we went wrong and to change direction.” I have never felt comfortable asking for money! However, this cause is very important to me.
    I know I am asking for a lot. Your contribution, along with contributions from others, will have a serious impact on this cause. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your support. I will certainly keep you posted on my progress as I prepare for this event.

    Please share with all your friends!!!

    Thank you!


  17. ven Says:

    Until we realise that every individual who have recognize and acknowledge that Jesus is the messiah, is the church. You are the church, not just a bag of people in a building. Its world wide, and doesnt matter if u even fellowship now and then with one person. (2 or 3 gathered God is in the midst). I left the so-called church building 3yrs ago that nearly drove me to asylum and rely only on God and he restored my life. Now I can see the Lord restoring all that the canker and palmer worm has eaten. I got my life back, my job, my car, my health and last but not least my sanity and a sound mind back.

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