Jack Watts’ weekly column is aimed at helping those who have been wounded, including those who have been abused by the church. If you are in pain—or if someone you know is in pain—you will find real comfort, wisdom, and answers right here. Based on his book, Recovering from Religious Abuse, published by Simon & Schuster, Jack will teach you the value of working the “11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.” Remember, recovery is a process—not a destination. The answers are simple but not always easy. Look to the Lord and allow His Spirit heal you.
No matter where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or how you’ve blown it, God is able to get you back to a place where He can use you again—Nancy Leigh DeMoss
When a person has been verbally or emotionally abused, feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem are inevitable. There doesn’t seem to be any way around it—at least, for a while. It’s very sad, but it appears that character destruction is often what abusers intend. It’s hard to believe that there can be people who are so mean-spirited, but there are.
To recover from such malicious treatment, the abused person needs to make a conscious, concerted effort to reject the castigating message, which has undermined his or her self-esteem. It isn’t true—even if the person has done some less than honorable things.
If this is what has happened to you, then you need to know God continues to have a plan for your life. God still loves you, and everything can work together for good, if you will allow it. To do this, you need to renew your mind and tell yourself constantly and repeatedly that you have value to God, to yourself, and to everyone you know.
This isn’t simply the power of positive thinking or looking at the glass as half full; it’s the truth. God does still love you, and He does have plans for you. Tell yourself this, repeatedly. Realizing that God’s love is constant, more than any thing, will help you become everything you are capable of being in life.
If you want to renew your mind and be the person God intended you to be, join me in this prayer:
The wounds from my abuse run deep,
Creating shame, anger, and
An Overwhelming sense of worthlessness
That enervates every area of my life.
With my mouth, I deny that
This is how I see myself,
But in the recesses of my mind,
I wonder if my abusers were correct about me.
Maybe my life has little value, after all,
Precisely like I have been told.
When it happened, I was as angry
With You as I was with them.
Being in a position of spiritual authority,
I assumed that they spoke for You,
Which they clearly indicated was true.
Feeling such pain and humiliation form my rebuke,
It never occurred to me
That Your Son was also abused—
Just like I have been—
By those who were hateful and self-serving.
You allowed Christ’s abuse—just like you allowed mine.
But what His abusers meant for evil,
You meant for good, redeeming Mankind.
Without His suffering, all would be lost.
Please redeem my life in the same way,
And use it for something of value—
Whatever that might be.
Turn my weakness into strength,
And my broken spirit into something
That is strong, substantive, and purposeful.
Refer to Step 4: I chose to accept as true what God has said about Himself. He is good and can be trusted.
Be gracious to me and raise me up, that I may repay them. By this I know that Thou art pleased with me, because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me. As for me, Thou dost uphold me in my integrity, and Thou dost set me in Thy presence forever. (Psalm 41:10-12)
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:5-6)