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.
I will be transparent and vulnerable—Recovery Aphorism
I will live what I teach.
I will do what I say.
I will say what I mean.
I will be honest with others.
I will put what is best for others ahead of what is best for me.
For your recovery to have a real, substantial, and positive impact on others, it has to be based on attraction rather than promotion. This simple truth runs contrary to nearly everything Christians in America believe. In churches and ministries, the message is promoted far and wide. It’s a methodology that often works, but certainly not for everybody.
For those of us in recovery, including recovery from religious abuse, we don’t promote anything. It’s never an option or even a consideration, which is very freeing. Instead, we live our life simply and unaffectedly, helping all who ask—never seeking anything in return. This is how to develop character. As we progress in our recovery and our relationship with God deepens, each day we become a little more like the person God created us to be. This means we are patient rather than petulant, seek to be kind rather than self-serving, and enjoy others—never looking for ways to use or manipulate them.
As our lives demonstrate proven character qualities, we become increasingly attractive to others—not physically attractive but emotionally attractive. Because others recognize that we are “safe people,” our opportunities to help become endless.
We know that attraction works—long-term and consistently. Promotion rarely does. It’s like a fast food commercial for a hamburger. What you get never meets the standard of what you’ve been promised by the commercial.
Once someone works the 11 Steps and begins to live in the freedom of recovery, there will always be people who want and need help. That’s how the principle of attraction works; and you don’t need to learn any pious platitudes. All you have to do is be real and genuine, eschewing sanctimony like the plague.
If you desire reality in your life, join me in this prayer:
Sometimes, life is so hard.
Doing the right thing seems easy enough,
Until it comes time to do it,
When dread of adverse consequences
Becomes an overwhelming concern.
I want to know why can’t life be easier for me?
Why am I so special that my life
Is constantly filled with such difficulties?
Why can’t things go easily—just for a while?
Why me, Lord? Why me? Why? Why? Why?
I don’t want to sound like I’m whining,
But I know that I am. I’m complaining because
My shoes are too tight, while others go barefoot.
I know I should be more grateful,
But I need a respite from my anguish—
To be far from despair and sorrow.
There is nobody who can help me but You.
The “Be warmed and be filled crowd” of believers
Smile and offer meaningless, glib platitudes,
As I try to nurse wounds that I fear will destroy me.
I want to serve You with gladness and joy,
But there is no sense of hope within me—
Nothing that could sustain me for more
Than a few moments at a time.
I don’t want to be a plastic automaton,
And pretend that everything is fine and joyous,
When I know that things are dreadfully wrong.
My days, which are numbered by You,
Are passing before me, and it all seems
Like a terrible, meaningless waste.
Intervene, Lord, and allow me to know
Joy and gladness once again.
Fill my days with peace and purpose,
So that I can tell others of Your fidelity.
Refer to Step 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me as well as the power to carry it out.
Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:5-6)