January is Spiritual Abuse Month. I honestly didn’t know that until I saw my friends Naomi and Teasi posting about it. I felt like this was the perfect time to tell my own story. You can take a listen to my story on mine and Naomi’s show, Reclamation, here.
I wasn’t raised a Christian. In fact, I was raised anti-Christian. After a bad experience, my grandparents had with organized religion, it was sort of sworn off in my household. Sure, I had a Precious Moments Bible but no one read it. It just sort of sat in my room.
After an incredibly dysfunctional divorce, I stopped seeing my dad. A completely mutual decision in middle school. And that’s really what led me to the church I landed in.
You see, my cute neighbors have a dreamy marriage and still do. I absolutely adore them! They are completely in love and have been longer than I’ve been alive. They had a large family and all the kids are amazing.
So when my cute little neighbor invited me to her Bible study, I wanted in. She told me her family was so happy because of the gospel. That was it. I was in. I bought into the whole experience. I wanted what she had, what I didn’t have growing up.
I was baptized FAST and began sharing the gospel with everyone I knew. I knew how happy I immediately felt and wanted others to feel the same way.
How wrong it all became.
The spiritual abuse starts…
I honestly didn’t see this coming. I was so bought into this religion and all its good that I never once saw the bad coming.
When my first marriage crumbled (and had been crumbling for a long time) I finally went to my bishop. I told him everything. I told him all the problems we were having and how they stemmed from a problem with opioids.
I was told to pray more. Read my scriptures more.
Maybe I wasn’t doing it enough.
Then when I moved, I was accused of being an adulterer because he had a good standing in the church.
I was told to re-evaluate my life choices and think clearly before dating again.
I was told the same advice when going to get my temple recommend renewed.
It felt like a gut punch.
I felt so unsupported at that moment. Maybe not even unsupported. Attacked.
I felt my integrity being questioned when I was the one in this marriage that was fully invested in the church. I was the one showing up. I was the one with multiple callings. Inviting the missionaries over. I was in. Fully in. And then none of it mattered. **I promise this is not the only incident. If you want the whole story, check out the episode with Naomi**
In the Summer of 2018, I stopped attending regularly. I went inactive.
I decided to visit another church in my area because I just needed some breathing room. It was overwhelming. Almost a culture shock to see how others worshipped. So different from my experience.
I met with the Pastor for breakfast and we talked for over an hour about my experience. He was empathetic and shared real insight with me.
I decided to keep going to that church and that’s how I met my hubby.
I’ll forever be grateful God put Glenn in my life because he’s the reason I was able to fully walk away.
That’s not to say 4 years later, issues don’t arise. Sometimes I put on a maxi dress with long sleeves and have a panic attack. Sometimes I feel the need to go back. Heck, I even had Glenn meet the missionaries because I was sure I somehow screwed everything up. I was convinced that my miscarriages were my fault and a punishment from God. There’s a lot to work out. Some days are better than others. Some days are really hard.
& I’m okay with where I’m at on this healing journey.
How Spiritual Abuse Changed my Life’s Work
God really does work all things out for His glory and goodness (Romans 8:28). Because of my many experiences and the deconstruction I went through, I had to relearn everything I knew to be true about God. Because I was going through my own intense relearning with two littles at home, I developed a passion for helping other moms do the same without being overwhelmed. I am naturally a researcher and learner so studying the scriptures and the nature of God felt exciting to me.
Which led to me to Women in Apologetics (WIA) and working on my M.Div at Liberty University. It was at WIA that I did the Voice of WIA Chat in October of 2021. This was really the first time I told anyone publicly I had left the church I was in.
Since giving that talk with WIA, my phone has never stopped ringing.
Every single day I get a message from someone in a spiritually abusive situation that needs help. This is also how I met Naomi and she invited me to co-host Reclamation with her.
Every single day I get to speak to women who have been hurt by the church (not God) and figure a way out and how to trust God again. Figure out who He is. Really see His goodness.
God used my experiences to help others and for that reason, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Part of what I get to do now is helping women feel secure in who they are and know their Creator. I get to help busy moms understand the scriptures so they never fall victim to spiritual abuse and so they may teach their children so they may always be safe. It’s so rewarding to see how God can take something so hard and make it a blessing to others.
If you’re ever in need to chat about something that has felt off or have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. Instagram is the fastest way to find me. I’ll see you in the DMs and comments.