Yes, my abusers went to the same church as I did. I was blamed by people at church. I experienced victim shaming at church. There are unpleasant people at church. So why do I still attend church? My relationship with God, the Father and Jesus Christ are not about them. I felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost in the library doing research on my physical and emotional health issues. Holy Ghost is my guide through the labyrinth maze of living. I know when I pray, my faith is increased. Studying the Holy Bible I became friends with my buddy Joseph, sold by his brothers into slavery, falsely accused and imprisoned and left there with no end in sight. He answered pharaoh’s questions about his dreams and saved a nation including his abusive brothers.
There is Job who lost everything and experienced horrible health problems and turned on by his friends but his faith continued through it all.
Job’s suffering did not alter his faith.
Then there is the story of Ruth that followed Naomi. Many preach Ruth but few pay attention to the bitter Naomi. Through all her sufferings Naomi returned to the place of her religion and taught Ruth faith. I admire Naomi in her willingness to recognize that her religion helped her in her trials.
I kept looking for answers. A sermon I heard opened my understanding. Church is a hospital for sinners not a country club for saints. Through church I am challenged to serve others, interact with people that are way different than I am, and learning of Jesus Christ and God’s love for us. Church was not a sanctuary for me but a place to show my love for God because no one could drive me away from my faith and showing my love and remembrance taking the sacrament. My faith is not about them.
I felt God’s presence in my most awful days. I felt God’s love for me in a weed field overlooking a freeway with barn yard smells wafting all around me. I prayed for answers that sometimes took more than 30 years to be answered. I prayed in my darkest despair to be relieved from this Earthly existence and was told no. I begged for help and pleaded that I couldn’t live in this darkness any more. I learned snark….my answer, “What are you going to do about it?”
I learned about inching forward in faith 5 minutes at a time. I learned that the smallest candle can give great light in dark places. I learned that with faith of a mustard seed I can move mountains….just don’t be surprised to find a shovel at the foot of my bed in the morning. I learned not to be surprised who you see in Heaven, they may be equally surprised to see me. I learned that this World is a testing ground. I learned that God was serious when He asked for a broken heart. I learned that broken hearts brought to Jesus are healed. I learned that contrite is being like Job and accepting all things the good and the evil.
Corrie tenBoom learned from her sister in the concentration camp to be thankful for the ever present pesky fleas. The fleas kept the prison guards away from their barracks so they were able to have the Bible study and prayer circles. But her greatest test came after being released from the concentration camps and giving a speech to a group. Afterwards a man came to shake her hand and thank her for her faith and words. Corrie recognized the man as one of the prison guards, she shared that her great test of faith was to lift her hand and shake his hand. Life will test us to the fullest extent.
My faith is the root of my healing. It is hard for me to not share my faith when I talk about healing. I know that some people, like myself, experienced religious abuse. It is to me one of the worst and most difficult abuses to overcome. On my knees in prayer is where I learned that my challenges are answered by Heavenly Father through my faith in Jesus Christ. The people that used scriptures to manipulate and harm others will have their own punishment. Those that persecute others will have consequences. My not seeing their consequences does not stop them from having them. My faith is knowing Heavenly Father loves me so much He sent His Son Jesus Christ to redeem me, a sinner. I am deeply grateful for my faith in Christ. For with Christ, all things are possible.