I knew his story. . .
I had seen the Bible stacked with Our Daily Bread at the bedside. His prayers were uncomfortable, although not much different from other men unaccustomed to praying publicly.
There was faith within, but he halted at the door.
Dressed in our Sunday best, we had driven to the building together. Why would he not go in? I was his guest. This was his home, or so I thought. His apprehension was inappropriate for a man at home. The door between this man and what was on the inside was more than I could see with earthly eyes. We sat in the car and waited. For what, I did not know. Confusion filled my mind and I lost hope for what he was lacking. “Perhaps,” I silently reasoned, “It’s all been a show. Maybe, he has no faith at all.”
He had left a cult a year or two before. Although I knew his story, I did not understand the long term effects. I was unaware of the things hidden in the heart. I had not yet heard of spiritual abuse. I did not venture to guess that what he had experienced was like that of a child or spouse misused and beaten.
I left that day, sixteen years ago, and never saw him again.
They shared their stories. . .
“I was not a part of any church group for three years,” were the words with which her story concluded. It had been a story of abuse and false teaching. She, too, was confused and afraid.
“Ten years,” said another. Her faith had been questioned as well as her love for Jesus.
One would never recommend that a woman immediately find new love after escaping an abusive relationship. Still, so many wonder why the spiritually abused tremble at the door. They fail to see the door of the heart locked tight; the abused child crying inside.
This is my story. . .
My heart was pounding all the way up my throat. Heat crawled up my neck and washed over my face. Mouth dry and palms sweaty, I reached for the door. It had only been two months since my own escape.
Familiar faces came my way, eager for re-acquaintance. Hoping they wouldn’t know, I pretended like nothing had happened. We’d only been gone for seventeen months. “Things just didn’t work out,” I said through an awkward smile. Some wanted more. I did my best to answer without falling apart.
When worship began, I thought I would melt into a pool of darkness. Could I do this, this act which had once been my favorite? Could I sing with all my heart and not remember what I had left behind? Worshipers rose and I remained still. Paralyzed by fear, I wrestled between judgement and desire. Weak and broken, I gave everything to Him again.
This giving, it happens over and over in a broken heart.
By His strength, my feet stood fast and my body rose. My mouth opened and a quiet voice broke through the tears. Words were broken and notes faltered, but strength began to grow. A hand ascended, reaching for the One who had descended. Never before, had worship been so true and uninhibited. Never before, had I feared the Lord so.
Later, a finger pointed my way and hope shot through the darkness. Words aimed straight for my heart, “He has not lost you.” The words echoed, “He. Has. Not. Lost. You.”
No. No, he has not. He has not lost me!
Again, we sang. Again, words pierced my soul.
No power of hell,
No scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand.
‘Till he returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
(From In Christ Alone)
Months pass by and the healing that began that day continues. Sometimes, it takes place within walls. Most of the time, it is where “two or more are gathered.” We have not settled yet into a church home. In our healing (for really, all five of us have had to heal) we have come to really understand fellowship and what it means to worship. Praise God that we may worship without fear!
Facing an experience related to what has hurt you is much like getting back on a horse that bucked you off. It is necessary, but frightening. Taking that step, after an appropriate time of rest, can open the door to much needed healing.
Have you had to get back on the proverbial horse? Did you wait long or face your horse right away?
How did getting back on affect your healing process?