I could go on and on, for a decade, and not tell every nasty, horrific thing that happened.
Since that is not my purpose in recounting all these incidents, I won’t try.
My purpose is to speak the truth, for as the Bible says, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free".
That is my hope- that all members of this Dade City church or any other spiritually abusive church will be free of the lies and horrors that have been perpetrated on them, or that they have perpetrated on others.
As a family member of mine put it, "No one walks away from a situation like that without guilt. We all came away from the church with cookie crumbs on our faces".
If you are a member of a controlling church reading this, know that there is God and life away from the cult you are trapped in.
There are arms of forgiveness waiting to help you down the path of freedom and into the arms of the true God- not the god that a crazed narcissistic woman has dreamed up.
Yes, there is life after that church.
I hope there will be justice, also.
As it says in Amos 5:24,
"But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream".God knows and he cares.
As I and others have said before-
"There is life after a controlling church."I was very, incredibly blessed in that I had a group of family and friends waiting for me when I came out of the church.
I also had the help of a wonderful psychiatrist.
He talked to my whole family for over three hours.
As we told him as much of our story as we could in the space of three hours, he told us that, based on our information, the pastor most likely has an Antisocial Personality Disorder. As I read over the many testimonies on this site, I began to wonder if that was a disorder in many of the other leaders.
Or was it just that, as in many cults, the congregation took on the cult leader’s personality.
As I read over the symptoms of antisocial behavioral characteristics, it was as if I was reading about most of the church: i.e.
1. Refuses to meld to accepted common social behaviors- total disregard to what is "lawful" and "law-abiding". (Everything the pastor says is "right" and "God’s Word". Church members have lied, cheated, renounced family because it was "God’s will").
2. No remorse when others are injured by one’s actions. (It was ‘God’s will’ that a young man committed suicide.)
3. Repeated lying perfected methods of deceitfulness. (The pastor would take other people’s stories and make them her own. When confronting my family member about a letter their ‘defected’ sibling sent them, she lied and said "God had revealed it to her in a dream". He hadn’t- I had told her of it the day before.
As I mentioned before, the congregation is eerily ‘taking on’ these behaviors- they have become their own twisted version of this pastor.
As I am on my journey of healing and learning to live anew, I find myself looking back over the progress of seven months.
When I first left the cult, I was not emotionally healthy. In fact, I was an absolute wreck mentally, emotionally, and most likely physically as well.
I would have panic attacks in the new wonderful church I was attending.
I had thought that if I could just leave, just get away from the horrific situation- all would well all at once.
Now, don’t misunderstand me- I was immediately relieved from the abuse.
When the abuse left, however, a healing process had to take its place.
A healing process that included a rage I hadn’t thought I was capable of, as well as mourning for the ‘lost’ years of exclusively doing a human’s will, not God’s.
I believe, and will continue to put my trust in Romans 8:28- "…All things work together for GOOD to those who love HIM…"
He promises ALL THINGS- all the rejection, rage, hurt… and the list goes on forever.
When I look back on twenty-four years of mental torture, I think of pain and rejection.
As I look back farther and deeper, however, I also think of a few miraculous facts:
1. I have no family at all left in that cult.
2. God always, always let me know somehow, someway that He loved me.
3. There was always someone there when I needed them most.
There are two I remember with all the gratitude in my heart: Scott, who, as
I cleaned the business he worked at, would tell me how special and beautiful I was. After living in the desert of total rejection all week-and then to come in to see someone smile at you and mean it, and give you a brotherly hug when you looked down- it was like an amazing rainstorm of hope and joy drenching your soul. I hope that somewhere, somehow, Scott will know that he helped keep a despairing soul from ending it all.
God bless you, Scott.
Then there was Randy, who while on active duty in Iraq, e-mailed me hope and strong encouragement, till I had the strength to leave the terror behind.
You are the brother of my soul, Randy. If God were to bless you a third of what you blessed me, the world could not contain it.
You were the hands of Christ to my life.
Behold what God has done! It is marvelous to my eyes!"