THE CHURCH TODAY has lost its credibility in the community. Incidents of child abuse by members of the clergy have tarnished congregations of all denominations. Reports of domestic violence within supposedly “Christian” marriages are increasing. And the teaching of many churches simply bolsters their particular theological brand rather than focussing on the Gospel message of God’s love, grace and mercy, and how we should live for him.
For many decades I had struggled to find a spiritual home where I could feel loved and accepted. However, trying to find a church to belong to was a painful, futile experience that eventually came to an abrupt end when vivid memories erupted of my being sexually abused by the State leader of my particular denomination. That betrayal affected every part of my life – body, soul and spirit. It took all my determination to process the many issues that surfaced, in particular aspects of my spirituality and my sexuality.
Although I had many questions about what had been done to me, and why, I could not turn my back on God. I knew he would once again see me through this difficult time, just as he had with the many other challenges I had been through over the decades.
However it was obvious that there was no way I could belong to a church that had caused such offence. The church had robbed me of my right to experience the reality of a loving, living God and had replaced that reality with their restrictive, legalistic teachings that I had soaked up for years.
As I worked through the many issues stemming from that spiritual abuse, I began to understand something of what it means to live an authentic Christian life, one that is genuine and which attracts others to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is aspects of this journey that I want to capture in my blog Authentic Christian Living.
Many people have been wounded in churches. Many have either lost their faith or are struggling to hold onto it. It is for them, in particular, that I address this blog Authentic Christian Living. I pray that it will be a source of comfort and healing for all who read it.
I HAVE HAD the opportunity over the past weeks to share my story with social work students, some undergraduates and others completing their masters in social work. It’s not easy telling my story, which has been rather harrowing and very turbulent, but I share it according to the audience. With the masters students it was a small group of mature people, all of whom had been working as social workers for some time. In the smaller group there were many opportunities to talk informally about my experiences and to respond to questions. With the undergraduates – a much larger group of younger people, I’m assuming, I’m telling my story a little differently, brushing over some of the rougher points and omitting others… I don’t want to scare them off working in mental health services!
Why tell my story? There are many reasons, but above all I want to testify to God’s goodness for all He has done over the decades to bring me through to the place of peace and contentment I now enjoy. I do not know why life was so tough for me, but I do know that without God I would never have made it.
Life hasn’t turned out the way I wanted it, and I have had to grieve for lost hopes and dreams. However, life is a whole lot better now than what it had been for so long. For those who would like a glimpse of my journey as I see it, check out Psalm 40; Isaiah 61:1-3; and 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. These help me focus on the reality that God maps out our lives, and He is working out His purposes for us all.
Have a great day!
It’s two years since I published my autobiography – Peace and Freedom are My Names. That was quite a feat, even though I made some blunders along the way. One of my biggest concerns has been trying to market it. I am not one for promoting myself, nor do I find it easy to ask for assistance. However, for my book to sell, I need to do both.
Peace and Freedom are My Names is an inspiring account of my journey into and out of madness, a journey that was all-consuming for more than a decade. It was an incredibly lonely, frightening experience, one that I longed to escape from, but from which there was no escape.
After having ongoing bouts of depression over the years, I was eventually diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder – also known as complex post traumatic stress disorder. Along the way, I experienced significant anguish from family difficulties and from within the mental health sphere, as well as from churches.
However, had it not been for my strong faith in God, I would never have come through that lonely journey.
As those who’ve met would know, I did eventually emerge from that harrowing ordeal, coming to a place of peace and freedom, joy and contentment that I never thought possible. Peace and Freedom are My Names is the story of that journey.
All it needs now is for it to be marketed appropriately …. that is one of my projects for 2012.