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I have recently realized that I have given myself permission to seek spiritual safety. All through my personal development, I have been in places, often churches, where I felt uncomfortable due to the tone of the preaching, the anger of the Sunday School lessons, or the disguised judgment in conversations.

It caused me to leave the Church for a time,
but I never allowed it to let me leave God.

Over the years I see and hear others who have experienced similar sadnesses at the hands of religious folks; people who function from a strict binary system that only allows for either/or thinking, black and white thinking, because there is no room for color, shape, texture, or and/but thinking, and this is sad to me.

So much damage has occurred in my life from people who felt very strongly about their beliefs, so strongly that their beliefs were more important than who I was–who I am. The damage comes at the cost of losing faith in the Church–the place that is to be a sanctuary for all.

I have so many people in my life who were raised with a similar religious tenor, and they have left the very place where they want to be–in a spiritual sanctuary–where they can be who they are and feel God’s grace and love and hope. To me, this is what the Church offers when it is working well, when it looks healthy.

Since I have made peace with the binary view of Christianity, with the religious system by which I was raised, I have given myself permission to seek out places where I feel spiritually safe.candle-single

I have the right to kindly leave a conversation, a church service, a lecture, a book when I feel the anger, judgment, and binary-ness that accompanies condemnation. It has freed me to claim my voice, and not to open myself to more spiritual abuse that hurts and causes me to feel unnecessary shame, guilt, or sadness. I refuse to be in a situation where I feel the rising tide of someone’s anger over the “state of the world” when there is no love present. I will no longer be in the midst of darkness disguised as light. I have no use for experiences that make me doubt God’s love and the largeness of who God really is.

I offer this same permission to you, if you need it. Our spiritual selves need our protection; for this is the very place where Spirit speaks to us. It is a travesty to allow it to be wounded–for it is through our very breath and essence that God is present. Why allow anger into such a tender place?

May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power
of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

Further reading on the topic of spiritual abuse written with expertise from a gentle and safe perspective:

  1. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing & Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority within the Church by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen
  2. Soul Repair: Rebuilding Your Spiritual Life by Jeff VanVonderen, Dale & Juanita Ryan

A new (to me) perspective of Christ based on wholeness and unity–seeing Jesus in his context, not through ours:

The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind–A New Perspective on Christ and His Message by Cynthia Bourgeault