by Ellen cross posted from her blog When Church Hurts
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Can you tell your thoughts are changing?)
For those who are following the 21 Days of Healing, you have read and hopefully thought through Days 13, 14 and 15 – which are about letting go of all of the stuff you used to do and then thinking about – and doing – the things that you truly want to do.
Today, I want to encourage you to limit even those lists. You don’t have to do everything all at once and you don’t have to do everything at all. So, as you think about your bucket lists, think about the focus of one or two of those items.
For example, one of my bucket list items is to write and maintain this blog. At first, I thought my blog would be a one-stop shop for any and all spiritually abusive information out there. And there are websites and other blogs that attempt to do that. They are filled with so much information that it’s almost overwhelming to try to take it all in.
I don’t have the time (blogging is not a full-time endeavor for me) to develop an intricate blog or website, and even if I did, would that be what I should do? As I looked around at other blogs and sites that deal with spiritual abuse, I decided that my focus should be on sharing my journey. It only takes a quick Google search and many, many sites about spiritual abuse with generally the same resources pop up. I didn’t see a need to reinvent the wheel when there are others posting resources and links.
One of the reasons I am so intent on sharing my story is because my story is not one of a blatantly cultic church, an extremely charismatic church, an extremely conservative church, nor was there physical or sexual abuse – which seems to be the majority of spiritual abuse stories out there.
I believe that there are even more spiritually abused folks like me who were/are involved in what appears to be a well-grounded, servant-oriented, God-honoring church. Yet, because they have been singled out for whatever reason, they have been made to feel that their relationship with God is in question. Questioning our relationship with God because church leaders have in VERY SUBTLE ways indicated to us that we are lesser-than, don’t measure up, are unwanted, unneeded, unnecessary, etc. is the hallmark of spiritual abuse.
That’s what makes my site different from the norm. I point out that spiritual abuse can happen in the most “unlikely” places. And because of that, people often don’t believe our stories. How in the world could the pastors and leadership of such a great church really do those things? And so, we abused are the ones who are cast aside while the abusive leadership continues on their merry way.
My story, then, and my journey to healing have become my focus for the blog. This is my niche. This is what makes my blog “different” and helpful to those I am hoping to reach. I don’t need to include what other people have already put out there. If people have found their way to my blog, they have probably also found those other sites that have wonderful resources lists and links.
So, when you look at your bucket lists – or when supportive and encouraging people suggest that you broaden your scope – keep focus in mind. Whether it’s a vacation to the Grand Canyon or maintaining an exercise program, focus on an obtainable and sustainable goal and stick with it. Otherwise, you risk falling back into doing more than is healthy or, even worse, the people-pleasing patterns that many of us who have been spiritually abused get caught in.
If you have a bucket list item that you are keeping focused, I would love to hear about it.
More about Ellen: