God’s Quarry

I had originally shared this only with my Facebook friends, but decided it is a good way to wrap up my 7 months of healing from the painful devastation of being sucked into the cult of Sound Doctrine. Now that God has moved me forward into a time of mind boggling restoration with partnership in a new company and a house He completely hand-picked just for me, I thought it fitting to share this perspective.

Thanks for traveling this journey of healing with me for these last few months. I am excited to see what lies ahead as I continue to grow in His grace!

*****

Pondering the message I heard today. It was really good. All about rejoicing while we’re in God’s Quarry. I wanted to get a better understanding of how a quarry works so looked up the definition. The first one said:

Noun: an excavation or pit, usually open to the air, from which building stone, slate, or the like, is obtained by cutting, blasting, etc.

That one really resonated with me…the hard times in my life, most recently the 12 years in a cult and the last 7 months of starting my life all over again from scratch, have been a true pit for me. And my faith and understanding of who God is was, for many years, blasted to a place of nonrecognition.

Wikipedia said:

Quarries are generally used for extracting building materials…

Based on Pastor Ross Holtz‘s comments today, I am quite sure the building materials are build ready…the hard work has been done in the quarry, so once they leave there, they are acceptable to the builder.

I kept thinking of the scripture

1 Peter 2:5
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

As much as I hate what I went through in the cult, and the struggles I have had coming out and allowing the Lord to heal my mind and my heart, I do believe He has used it to build me into a sacrifice acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

I can rejoice in being that living stone that will continue to be built into that spiritual house to be a holy priesthood. If it says we “are being built” then it’s not over. There may (more like WILL) be more pits for me in the future, and more blasting to come.

May I learn my lessons well now, to rejoice always, and pray continually, so that I’m well prepared for whatever comes next.

Nothing New Under the Sun

My friends’ counselor at the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KSARC) mentioned the other day that the way a pedophile grooms a child to become a victim is the same way cults groom their members to become victims. I’ve been doing some reading up on this and see some amazing similarities.

I guess there’s nothing new under the sun. Whether its spiritual abuse, sexual abuse, or physical abuse (domestic violence) there’s a red thread found in the intentional manipulation for a desired end. How much more important it becomes, then, for us to guard against being vulnerable to abuse. And the only way to do that is to become emotionally healthy so we can differentiate between our true selves and our true feelings and those thoughts and emotions we have been manipulated or pressured into feeling.

Differentiation – Living Faithful to Your True Self

One very helpful way to clarify this process of growing in our faithfulness to our true selves in a new way is through the use of a new term: differentiation. Developed by Marie Bowen, the founder of modern family systems theory, it refers to a person’s capacity to “define his or her own life goals and values apart from the pressures of those around them.”

Differentiation involves the ability to hold onto who you are and who you are not. The degree to which you are able to affirm your distinctive values and goals apart from the pressures around you (separateness) while remaining close to people important to you (togetherness) helps determine your level of differentiation. People with a high level of differentiation have their own beliefs, convictions, directions, goals, and values apart from the pressures around them. They can choose, before God, how they want to be without being controlled by the approval or disapproval of others. Intensity of feelings, high stress, or the anxiety of others around them does not overwhelm their capacity to think intelligently.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Page 82

When you belong to a cult, you aren’t able to choose anything about how you want to live your life. Your entire life is wrapped up in being controlled by the approval or disapproval of others. As I think back about the ways that Tim Williams intentionally groomed the Sound Doctrine members so that they would never believe their associate pastor could be guilty of child rape. He made a big deal of telling emotional stories of innocent victims being imprisoned for years and finally freed by lawyers for The Innocence Project. Then there were the comments about false memory syndrome and his opinion that you can’t believe someone who claims sexual abuse from childhood. Oh, and we can’t forget about the sermons that bashed any sort of inner healing and biblical counseling for emotional wounds. Nothing like keeping the flock incapable of having their own thoughts, beliefs, convictions and goals. They are much easier to manipulate this way.

I’ve been puzzled by the Sound Doctrine’s extreme paranoia lately and adamant refusal to even ask the question if Malcolm Fraser could possibly be guilty. But the more I think it through, I begin to understand their dilemma. If any of the current members consider the possibility that their associate pastor is a pedophile and has been one for many years, then the gig is up. They would have to admit that Tim and Carla Williams really do not hear from God and have created such an unhealthy controlling environment that it’s become a fertile ground for an abuser to thrive. The house of cards would fall and those who have burned every bridge in their lives and thrown away the last 10-20-30+ years on a lie would have to confront the fact that they’d been duped.

Not an easy place to be.

I know…I’ve been there.

Praying for God to continue to expose the lies, shine His light on the evil deeds of darkness, and set the captives free.

Learning to Love Well

We’re studying the chapter entitled “Grow into an Emotionally Mature Adult” this week and I am amazed at how God has answered my prayer to show me where I’m at on my journey to emotional health. I love the examples given in this chapter that give a true picture of what it looks like if we are emotionally immature in contrast with what real maturity looks like:

Emotional Infants

    Look for others to take care of them
    Have great difficulty entering into the world of others
    Are driven by need for instant gratification
    Use others as objects to meet their needs

Emotional Children

    Are content and happy as long as they receive what they want
    Unravel quickly from stress, disappointments, trials
    Interpret disagreements as personal offenses
    Are easily hurt
    Complain, withdraw, manipulate, take revenge, become sarcastic when they don’t get their way
    Have great difficulty calmly discussing their needs and wants in a mature, loving way

Emotional Adolescents

    Tend to often be defensive
    Are threatened and alarmed by criticism
    Keep score of what they give so they can ask for something later in return
    Deal with conflict poorly, often blaming, appeasing, going to a third party, pouting, or ignoring the issue entirely
    Become preoccupied with themselves
    Have great difficulty truly listening to another person’s pain, disappointments, or needs
    Are critical and judgmental

Emotional Adults

    Are able to ask for what they need, want, or prefer…clearly, directly, honestly
    Recognize, manage, and take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings
    Can, when under stress, state their own beliefs and values without becoming adversarial
    Respect others without having to change them
    Give people room to make mistakes and not be perfect
    Appreciate people for who they are…the good, bad, and ugly…not for what they give back
    Accurately assess their own limits, strengths, and weaknesses and are able to freely discuss them with others
    Are deeply in tune with their own emotional world and able to enter into the feelings, needs, and concerns of others without losing themselves
    Have the capacity to resolve conflict maturely and negotiate solutions that considers the perspectives of others

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – pgs 178 & 179

When Pastor Ross first preached on this topic last week, I felt like it would be hard for me to judge where I am at since I am not married, or working in an office with co-workers, or living with a room mate, etc., etc. I asked the Lord to put me in some situations where it might be obvious where I am at emotionally…and boy, did He ever answer my prayer!

Many times over the last week I have found myself in conversations with others getting critical and judgmental about the topic of conversation. And as you may have picked up on a few of my posts, I have definitely been preoccupied with myself and my future….that surely doesn’t help me truly listen to others pain and disappointments because I am too wrapped up in my own! I thought back to my tendency to avoid conflict with others and not wanting to rock the boat. Then the Lord reminded me how so many times when I was married I would blame and pout when I didn’t get my way.

Well alrighty then…I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m an emotional teenager! But praise God He is helping me to learn what it is going to look like to be emotionally healthy, and praise God that I have so many others who desire the same emotionally healthy spirituality walking along side me, and a whole church committed to it!

I look forward to learning how to love well. That’s a long way from where I’ve been for the last twelve years, and I praise God for that.

Perspective

Roger Petersohn’s sermon on Sunday really touched me. It was all about perspective, and how our focus needs to be on God and enjoying our relationship with Him, rather than on our “to do” and “do not do” lists.

It reminded me of how much my focus was always on my “do not do” list for the last 12 years…the cult had me so zeroed in on my sins and focusing on everything I’ve done wrong or am doing wrong, that my perspective was so far from objective it wasn’t funny. Then, of course, there’s the fact that whatever you focus on is what you’ll increase in your life.  No wonder I made no progress in my longing for righteousness…all I had my eyes on was my sin (my “do not do” list).

Changing my perspective to be focused on the Lord and my relationship with Him has been so refreshing and productive! It’s no wonder that I am growing, once again, and regaining a proper point of view. When I looked up the word perspective in the World English Dictionary, the first two definitions really hit home:

perspective  (pəˈspɛktɪv)
— n
  1. a way of regarding situations, facts, etc., and judging their relative importance.
  2. the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it; objectivity.

What’s important is loving God, not being so overly consumed with my sin, and all the hoops I think I need to jump through to make sure God keeps loving me. There’s nothing I could do or not do to make Him love me anymore than He does right now. Understanding that one thing should cause a wave of gratefulness to wash over me and motivate me to zero in my thoughts and affections on the loving God I serve.

Help us, O Lord, to judge the relative importance of our “to do” and “do not do” lists…help us have the ability to see clearly and objectively Your great love for us…and to focus on our relationship with You, the lover of our souls. May all that we do, or don’t do, be birthed out of love for You, and You alone.

Dying to the Wrong Things

I visited Point Defiance yesterday and was incredibly refreshed by my time with Copper and God. The name of the park intrigued me, so I looked up the definition of defiance. Here was the most fitting definition on dictionary.com:

a daring or bold resistance to authority or to any opposing force.

When I read that I realized that when I walked away from Sound Doctrine on November 10, 2011, I was exemplifying what I will call “holy defiance.” In the Name of Jesus, I made a daring and bold move to resist the false and abusive authority I had lived under for 12 years. Tomorrow will be 5 months since I left and I am growing stronger every day, reclaiming who God created me to be.

I looked back today at the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book in the chapter entitled “The Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality” and saw my highlighting of #3…

Dying to the Wrong Things

As Iraneaus said many centuries ago, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

True, Jesus did say, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). But when we apply this verse rigidly, without qualification from the rest of Scripture, it leads to the very opposite of what God intends. It results in a narrow, faulty theology that says, “The more miserable you are, the more you suffer, the more God loves you. Disregard your unique personhood; it has no place in God’s kingdom.”

We are to die to the sinful parts of who we are—such as defensiveness, detachment from others, arrogance, stubbornness, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, a lack of vulnerability—as well as the more obvious sins described for us in Scripture: Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Speak the truth (see Exodus 20:13-16 and Ephesians 4:25)

We are not called by God to die to the “good” parts of who we are. God never asked us to die to the healthy desires and pleasures of life— to friendships, joy, art, music, beauty, recreation, laughter, and nature. God plants desires in our hearts so we will nurture and water them. Often these desires and passions are invitations from God, gifts from him. Yet somehow, we feel guilty unwrapping those presents.

When I ask people, “Tell me about your wishes, hopes, and dreams,” they are often speechless.

“Why do you ask?” they respond. “Isn’t my only wish, hope, and dream supposed to be to serve Jesus?”

Not exactly. God never asks us to annihilate the self. We are not to become “non-persons” when we become Christians. The very opposite is true. God intends our deeper, truer self, which he created, to blossom freely as we follow him. God has endowed each of us with certain essential qualities that reflect and express him in a unique way. Part of the sanctification process of the Holy Spirit is to strip away the false constructs we have accumulated and enable our true selves to emerge.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Pages 27 & 28

In my 12 years in Sound Doctrine we died to all the wrong things, as we all became clones of the leadership. At the same time we supported the full bloom of arrogance, stubbornness, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and lack of vulnerability.

How ironic, and how deeply troubling.

May God continue to shine His light of Truth on the darkness of Sound Doctrine.

The Confusing In-Between

Every time I attempt to get settled, put roots back down, and move on with my life, God reminds me that I am not in control.

When I found out a few weeks ago that I won’t need to move to Texas to help with my mom (we’re looking for a small group home to move her into) I began to feel very unsettled. I launched a new job search and started looking on craigslist for a small house to rent.

At every turn I get a big “no” from God and that bugs me.

I realized today that this is what Peter Scazzero is referring to when he talks about “waiting in the confusing in-between”. It’s one part of the grieving process and comes after we begin to pay attention to our emotions.

Hmmmmm. Didn’t I just post a little big ago about feeling overwhelmingly sad?

So I guess this is the part that I need to embrace…the confusing in-between.

I hate waiting for subways, buses, airplanes, and people. Like most New Yorkers, I struggle not to finish other people’s sentences. I talk too fast.

My greatest challenge in following Jesus Christ for over thirty years has been waiting on God when things are confusing. I prefer control. I understand why Abraham, after waiting eleven years for God’s promise of a son to come true, took matters in his own hands and had a baby the “natural way.” Birthing Ishmaels is common in both our churches and personal lives. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7) remains one fo the most radical commands of our day. It requires enormous humility.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – pages 145-146

I keep wondering what I am going to do when I grow up…where I am going to live…what life is going to look like for me…and God is not giving me any hints.

And so I wave the white flag of surrender.

I ask God to give me the strength I need to accept the unknown, to be okay with feeling unsettled, to not have any sort of consistent income, and to be content being a guest in someone else’s home.

That’s tough for a Type A person who enjoys being established and productive.

But it’s where I am, and where I might be for quite some time, so coming to grips with that fact is a struggle. Accepting the confusion of being totally up in the air, disoriented, and disconcerted as part of the grieving process is hard, but I know it will be good for me, and an experience that will increase my trust in the One who delivered me from captivity.

Defensive Maneuvers

Been thinking a lot about my journey and how I have protected myself against the pain that I carried for so many years. I read this quote in the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book and it is so helpful to see all the different ways I run from pain.

When we are children, creating a defensive wall to shield us from pain can serve as one of God’s great gifts to us. If someone suffers emotional or sexual abuse as a young child, for example, denial of the assault on his or her exposed humanity serves as a healthy survival mechanism. Blocking out the pain enables him or her to endure such painful circumstances. It is healthy to not fully experience painful realities when we are that young so that we survive emotionally.

The transition into adulthood, however, requires that we mature through our “defense mechanisms” of denial in favor of honestly looking at what is true—at reality. Jesus himself said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Unconsciously, however, we carry many defensive maneuvers into adulthood to protect ourselves from pain. And in adulthood, they block us from growing up spiritually and emotionally.

The following are a few common defenses:

  • Denial (or selective forgetting)
  • Minimizing
  • Blaming others
  • Blaming yourself
  • Rationalizing
  • Intellectualizing
  • Distracting
  • Becoming hostile
                              Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Pages 141-142
     I have tended to go into denial, minimize the pain, and rationalize to myself why the pain is even there. I think I’ve used my positive personality and natural sales ability to actually sell myself on how it’s really not that bad,  rationalizing away the pain and convincing myself that I really don’t feel it. I think that’s why I always end up full circle and out of touch with what is really going on inside me. But then I go into denial, minimize, and rationalize it away, so I’m good again for a while…but always end up back where I started.
     I can look back and see specific times in my life where I’ve utilized these defensive maneuvers to my own peril. A failed marriage. Allowing myself to be cut off from my children. Losing control of the business I helped establish. Every single time, I denied the truth, minimized and rationalized away the terrible pain, instead of allowing the Lord to teach me in the pain, and maybe even open my eyes to the errors of my ways.
     I’m committed this time, rather than going into my normal routine, I’m allowing myself to feel the pain, embracing the negative emotions, and asking God to show me how He feels about each one.
     This has been a powerful process for me to pursue and I’m thankful for dear friends (Jessica Gambill specifically) who have encouraged me to bring the Lord into the middle of each thought and emotion. Each one is a result of the pain of the past (whether recent or from childhood) and embracing them has been a wonderful opportunity to grow and change and learn how to really trust the loving God I’ve seen as a tyrant for so many years.