Child abuse not only damages a child physically and psychologically, but it reads havoc with spirituality. It's difficult to address the spiritual aspect of our healing, especially if the abuse was in ritualized setting.
We build certain walls or defenses to survive abuse and these defenses make it difficult to let God (or a higher power) help us. We prayed to God to help us. We may fear He abandoned us in our time of direst need. This is not necessarily true. He gave us our multiplicity to help us survive! He foresaw we would be strong enough to endure.
Abuse victims tend to take on more than their share of responsibility. We may assume burdens that rightfully belong to the abuser. " I must have been bad; therefore, I was punished." This may cause feelings of shame, but this shame belongs to the perpetrators. These feelings may lead to self neglect. The scriptures tell us in the Bible to " Love your neighbor as yourself." Notice, we must love ourselves first before we help or care for others.
Self-love is not selfish. IF--and only IF--it's properly balanced with reality, with seeing ourselves as God sees us. Self-love is a condition to which every human being is entitled. One facet of self-love is addressing spiritual needs. When we try to reconcile our feelings of self worth, we find it problematic. " Love your neighbor as yourself" is perplexing when we face emotions of anger or shame.
How can we possibly love God when we are angry with Him? First, we must remember our anger is a " righteous anger." When we look at the example of Jesus Christ cleansing or chasing the moneychangers out of the temple, we see he was angry. He made a rope-whip and overturned tables. He did not speak softly. He yelled at the defilement of his Father's House. This righteous anger was justified. The same is true of our abuse. We are righteously angry over our abusive treatment. This is right.
When we start working with our anger, we discover we won't lose control when in a therapeutic setting. Releasing unresolved anger frees us from repressing and turning it against ourselves. Unresolved anger weakens the immune system, may lead to serious stress-related health problems, is dangerous not to let this anger be expressed.
It's natural to express this anger toward God. Where was He when we needed Him? Why didn't He stop the abuse? Why didn't He save us? These are natural questions victims ask and continue asking into adulthood. We must not forget God gave us the gift of multiplicity to endure the abuse.
How do we deal with God today? By letting go of the delusion that our low self-esteem affects our relationship with Him. His heart was broken each time ours' was. We need to take steps for our spiritual healing.
We can't hide from God. We believed in Him, and we felt He let us down or abandoned us. Yet, if we acknowledge that we are emotionally and spiritually hindered by our thinking, we can be re-taught and begin our healing journey to trusting and loving God again.
Picturing God as an Almighty God, Lord, Creator, or Supreme Ruler of the Universe is easy. Picturing Him as a Loving Father is an entirely different story. When we were small, we trusted our own fathers. If they were the abusers, it skewed our view of " Father"
In my own case, I thought I was a spiritual person until I started healing, when I found relation to God as a father all but debilitating. While remembering the abuse of my past, believing God cared for me was incomprehensible. I put God on a mental shelf and almost ignored Him. Part of me wanted Him to take away the memories. It was not until I accepted my multiplicity as His gift that I could re-build a relationship with Him.
Unless the spiritual shepherd (priest, minister, etc.) you seek to help you has formal training as therapist, remember the assistance should remain spiritual. Allowing therapeutic and spiritual boundaries to become blurred may cause a setback. If the spiritual shepherd confesses alternate personalities with demons, run for your life. That kind of thinking belongs in the dark ages. A good spiritual shepherd should know the difference. Demons would not encourage one to attend spiritual functions or seek spiritual support.
Setbacks caused by failure to set good boundaries make it more difficult to accept a loving God as Father. I allowed my spiritual shepherds to blur the therapeutic boundary, resulting with chaos, anxiety, and rage. My therapist told me, " Its's okay to be angry with God's representatives, just don't take it out on God." Wise words indeed." God allows us trials to perfect our faith, but he does not bring them upon us. (See James 1: 13-15) Our strength comes from endurance.
What we need from our spiritual shepherds is acknowledgement and acceptance. We must resolve our distrust of their authority". If our abuser were male, they were usually someone we trusted. We need a sympathetic ear and not necessarily a quick fix solution. By validating our pain and progress, our spiritual advisors give us hope. Validating who we are and where we came from nurtures our self-esteem. Perhaps in time, we can accept ourselves.
Our low self-esteem can hinder God's love. We are worthy of love and deserving of it, but we may fear that if we reveal our true inner selves that God would reject us. I don't think God views us in those terms. He sees into the core of our being and He knows what happened. He was there when we prayed during our abuse. He did not forsake us. He gave us strength. If that were not true, we would not be here today. He knew we would survive. It's the ugliness we feel inside that holds us back. We are much more critical with ourselves than is God. We are all precious in God's eyes. He doesn't want one of us to suffer or try healing alone.
Regular Bible reading and study can be comforting. The Bible is candid in its portrayal of mankind's history. Rape, incest, and sexual abuse are there for all to see...it is not something new. When we realize that god's archenemy, Satan the Devil, is behind the abuse, it gives us something on which we can focus our anger. Satan abused the youngest member of the first family by feeding Eve LIES that led to her downfall. When we review scripture at Revelation 12: 7-12 we realize Satan has concentrated his negative efforts on mankind with a vengeance. Our comfort is knowing God will not let this continue forever. A day of reckoning is coming when ALL abusers will be brought to justice.
As difficult as it is to trust, this is an assured promise. This is something we CAN trust! We would not be healing if God had not foreseen our ability to heal. Now that we are in our healing journey, it is a time to be prayerfully thankful