Theresa, thank you for sharing this. I worked with a client who was schizophrenic and had an IQ around 60. We kept taking him to the psychiatrist, who asked the client if he saw things that other people didnâ€™t. The client would then start pointing at the wall, the bookshelf, out the window, etc. The psychiatrist inevitably concluded that the client was still psychotic, and increased his meds to the max. When I talked with this client in a more casual and relaxed environment, he pointed out to me some of the things that he saw. A stick in the grass that looked like a snake. A new leaf growing on a plant (the leaf wasnâ€™t there yesterday). Lines on the wall that made up an interesting design. It was all real to him and I could see it if I took the time to look and listen with him instead of trying to get him to stop â€œacting crazy.â€
What if those of us who are religious and who believe that God is real and does care enough to communicate to us are detecting something that not everybody sees or feels, which is real. Maybe we donâ€™t understand it completely or know how to explain it in terms that others understand. Maybe God is more advanced than we are, and catching a glimpse of Him is like my client noticing the wonders of nature and his environment.
The worst thing about spiritual abuse is that it invalidates the victimâ€™s ability to discern and trust their own experience. That is essentially what all abuse does. It is spiritual abuse when you experience something and others discount your experience and tell you that you are just crazy. It is also spiritual abuse when someone imposes their ideas and philosophy on you in a forceful and harsh and destructive way. The abuser might be scientific or religious extremist, or a skeptic, or a fanatic â€“ you name it. The result is a person who has been punished for seeing or not seeing something that the abuser disagreed with or was uncomfortable with. The victim loses the ability to have faith and trust in their own spirituality, be comfortable with religion and spiritual truths, etc. Or in a few cases these victims might abuse others whether in the same way or the opposite of what was told/done to them.
Healing comes when you can open yourself to your own experiences and see and accept them for what they are, and know that they are real to you.
We must sometimes face challenges and difficulties. At times there appears to be no light at the tunnel’s end…no dawn to break the night’s darkness. We feel surrounded by the pain of broken hearts, the disappointment of shattered dreams, the despair of vanished hopes. We all join in uttering the biblical plea, is there no balm in Gilead? We are inclined to view our own personal misfortunes through the distorted prism of pessimism. We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. If you find yourself in such a situation, I plead with you to turn to our Heavenly Father in faith. He will lift you and guide you. He will not always take your afflictions from you, but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face.
Thomas S. Monson
For me, this is the essential message. This is what I have been trying to say. It’s what it is all about. There is hope, and there is help and comfort available. No matter what you are going through or have been through, God has not abandoned you.
Especially for those who turn away from God and from religion because of their hurts and having associated their pain with something that is meant to be healing, I wish that you could hear this message and know that God is love. Anything else does not come from this source. Some people make mistakes, and some use God’s name for their own purposes, and none of that is of God. God offers healing and relief, and love. You’re not alone.
I have been thinking of a poem I learned a long time ago.Â For some reason, I learned it with “She” instead of “He.”Â I just found it, and I think it would be appropriate to share here.
She drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took her in.
As someone who always felt left out, this poem always resonated with me.Â I thought, how clever, to be left out and to draw a new circle of inclusion like that.Â But I always felt powerless to draw the circles.Â I was nothing but an outcast.Â I guess that this has motivated me though, and influenced me quite a bit.Â I keep trying to draw circles of inclusion.Â The trick is to get those I include to accept that circle I drew.Â They don’t always, and I suppose it isn’t up to me.Â But my circle stillÂ includes them anyway.