Personal/My story

Today marks another milestone along my journey of recovery. The abuse I experienced which resulted in PTSD, trauma, and many years of struggle occurred six years ago today. In some ways it feels like six decades of struggle I have walked through, but in other ways it feels like it just happened.

Each year has held milestones along my journey, but this year more than any other has been the turning point. It has been a year of big steps, significant change and healing, and moving clearly in a new direction.

  • Joined the core leadership team of a church plant, one that really wants to reach the lost and broken
  • Started actively serving with six organizations in my community (most of these organizations sought me out which was an answer to a prayer that the Lord would open doors when he felt I was ready)
  • Began networking with people in my community and all over the nation
  • Helped run a major medical/dental clinic to serve my community
  • Joined with a group addressing human trafficking and hoping to raise awareness in the church about trauma
  • Started a book about what I have learned through my journey
  • Recognized the roots of my issues come from deep shame and started that recovery journey
  • Began openly speaking about and sharing the testimony of the changes Christ has brought into my life this year+
  • Last week I was notified that the pastor from my last church is finally ready to meet and attempt to reconcile

As I move into next year I already know of two major milestones that lie ahead

  • I will be leading a recovery group for abuse and trauma
  • I will be a part of a special program. Through that I hope there are outcomes that raise awareness of trauma and recovery, and teaches that brokenness and “not being okay” are beautiful things.

Tonight I had a chance to share part of my testimony with a friend who didn’t know anything about my past. He listened and personally identified with parts of my journey of trauma and recovery.

As I left, he stopped me and going out of his way to make an impact he looked he straight in the eyes and said, “You are a hero. It is incredible to hear the story and learn more about the depth that exists. You truly are a hero.”

To those of you who are also on this journey of recovery, and who face the daily struggle to recover from abuse, I want to say “You are a hero!” You daily face challenges that others don’t understand. You find courage to keep trying. You stand up for others who face injustice. You take steps forward, even when you don’t want to. Thank you for your courage and strength. You are heroes, and you are making an impact and a difference.

A few days ago I received a note from someone letting me know that my identity is being misused in another forum on the Internet. Someone other than myself is referring to this site and posing as connected to this location. I am guessing it has not been a positive representation.

I have to admit that it doesn’t make me very happy, but honestly there is little I can do about it other than continue to respond with the love and grace God has given me, while continuing to be wise about how I speak and act, and maintaining the security on this site.

Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery. While the individual(s) who is claiming to be me or claiming to be tied to this site is not exactly imitating me, they are representing themselves as connected with this site. There are millions of sites they could have chosen, so it is interesting to me that they would choose my very small corner of the world. I also have  had to laugh because the enemy (Satan) would love to use this to bring him glory and hurt Christ, but I know that things like this do not come from the Lord.

Realize that when you see representations of others out in the world, that it may not be a true and genuine response or representation. Sometimes what you see is a poor knockoff, a false representation, or a cheap imitation.

Lately I have not been feeling that well, and I have noticed that I am not thinking as clearly as I was not long ago. It began to concern me that some of the confusion and muddled thinking from my past might be returning. I started to question if I was falling into depression or if there was some more serious issue at work.

Then I remembered, we are what we eat.

Last year when I fell into crisis and became depressed, I also learned that what I was eating and drinking was affecting me. I was dehydrated, and my body was responding to the artificial ingredients and starches I was eating. I was not eating an extraordinary amount of these things, but at that time it was more than my body could handle.

Stress affects us in many ways. When we are under stress, the foods and beverages we eat and do not eat can affect us to a much greater extent than they might at another time. Different people will be more susceptible than others to certain foods. Prior to this time, I already had issues when I ate too much wheat, and I have to monitor that intake every day, but during the difficult time last year I was also affected by other starches, especially sugar, and by artificial ingredients.

When I removed the wrong foods from my diet and increased my fluid intake there was a dramatic change.

I lost over twenty pounds, my thinking became clearer than the spiritual changes already created, and my energy increased significantly. Over the course of the last year foods have been reintroduced and I had been eating pretty normally. Lately I have been in a very busy and stressful season, and I stopped paying attention to my diet and health. The issues I faced last year may have resurfaced, causing me problems once again.

When we are under stress, our diet can add to any feelings of frustration, confusion, and disillusionment.

If you are feeling those things, take a few minutes to look at any changes you could try in your diet for a few days. Take a moment to think about the music, media, and activities you are “feeding” on also.

I changed my diet two days ago and I already am seeing changes. God made us as whole people, and we need to treat more than just the spiritual areas of our life. Spend time caring for your whole body: heart, soul, mind, and body.

A few months ago when the truth of God’s character started to deeply impact my heart and my thinking I began growing and learning in ways I had never known. Although I recognized immediate changes each step of the way, it has taken time for God’s truth to sink in and start to make deep changes to the untruths and lack of faith that was so deeply ingrained into many areas of my life. I had still believed that my sin was keeping me from a righteous relationship with God instead of understanding that Christ has set me free and changed me forever.

Lately I feel like I have been drinking from a firehose. I have been growing and learning so much, so fast. The changes are things I can’t even put words to yet, but daily I am becoming more profoundly aware of the Lord’s presence in my life and the changes that are occurring.

I watched the Matrix the other night. I feel like Neo did in the movie as his mind was being opened to the truth of the real world versus the lies he had known and thought were real. Morpheus challenged Neo and pushed him. In explanation he said, “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”

That is very similar to what the Lord wants to do for us. He wants to free us from the things we have believed and the limited views we have known. He wants to open our minds to truth, possibilities, and opportunities. He wants us to become the people he has created us to be. It is up to us to believe and to walk in his truth. Faith is more than just asking and hoping, it is walking as if the prayer has been answered and we are changed. Morpheus later told him, “Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” I believe there are many like me who have made a commitment to Christ in the past, but who never learned how to move from knowing to walking the Christian faith out in a powerful way in their everyday life. Many of us have never been taught how to live as Christians who are radically altered by the Gospel.

The more I come to understand 1) Who he is 2) Who I am because of what Christ did and how that made me a new creation, it is radically altering my life. I have never known the freedom, joy, hope, love, power, and strength that I know live with. It is my prayer that others will also find this truth. Not only will it change their lives, but I truly believe that what I am learning about is the Gospel that Christ promised would change the world.

This year has been a time of change, growth, and has included some pain, however today my heart is filled with such gratitude. I am happy, healthy, and hopeful for the future, not because of circumstances in my life but because of a God that I know is in charge, loves me, and will never fail me. Today I have assurance that God is real, that he is a part of my life, and that I will be a survivor with a future and a hope.

Today I am thankful for friends and family, for faith, for work, for church and community, and for hope. I am thankful for online friends I may never meet who have touched my life, given me hope, encouraged and sharpened me, challenged me, and cared for me when I needed it. I am thankful for the hope I see in many of you as you walk through your own journeys and for the incredible courage you show. You are an inspiration and a joy to me. You warm my heart and show me God. The heart you have shown, the willingness to hope and try, and the desire to learn and grow brings light to my life.

Thank you, to my friends who share this journey and brighten my life.
You are a blessing to me!

Educating others about the affects of abuse means teaching them about emotional handicaps. Often people nod their heads like the get the concept, but unless they have more than just a head knowledge about it they are missing the point.

When I was 16-20 years old I suffered from some significant knee problems and we wondered if I would ever find healing and be able to walk again. I spent over half of this time on crutches and most of the rest of it in braces, therapy, etc. When I was in crutches or braces people would look and me and know there was something physically wrong so I could not handle the same things other could. People would carry things for me, hold doors, drive, etc. to help make life a little easier.

What wasn’t seen during that time were the mental, emotional, and spiritual affects. People would ask if I was in pain, but they wouldn’t ask if I was scared about having another surgery, or having trouble balancing physical therapy with my college studies. This same thing happens with abuse. If there are physical signs of the abuse people can see them and have some level of understanding, however the deepest and most profound affects of any kind of abuse are the unseen areas.

I try to educate people that I carry emotional and spiritual handicaps that are not easy to see, but the handicaps limit my capabilities. They keep me from living with the same freedoms, ease, openness, and peace that others do. They limit my ability to function at the same level and in the same ways as others. I live every day trying to overcome those handicaps. Some days I am very successful, and other days I miss the mark by enormous measures.

Are we living aware of the emotional, mental, and spiritual handicaps of those around us? Are we tolerant and accepting of others limitations, not excusing things that can be changed and not refusing to challenge people to stretch and grow, but loving them for who they are? We aren’t Christ, but he knew exactly how to accept others where they were at and care for them beyond their handicaps. How are we learning to be like him?

 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)

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