Sadly, spiritual abuse in churches and religious organizations is not that uncommon. Jesus said there would be wolves in sheeps’ clothing, and He spoke truly. These people abuse their power in a malicious way, deeply wounding innocent people. For some people, growing up in a shame-based religious environment where Scripture was mishandled, has created distortions in their thinking about themselves or God. The scars left – especially if the abuse of power took place during a person’s formative years – can significantly impact a person’s view of God, their sense of safety in the world, and the way they relate to others. Of course, it also impacts a person’s ongoing spirituality.
However, if you have difficulty feeling close to God, are afraid of Him, or if wounds from your past prevent you from experiencing God in a healthy way, therapy can help heal those wounds and “clean the grid” through which you experience God. Dr. David Eckman of Becoming What God Intended Ministries (www.bwgi.org) has said that “Feelings don’t authenticate truth; but feelings do authenticate our understanding (or experience) of truth”. In other words, you may have really good theology, but if what you know to be true does not connect for you in real life, then like any relationship, your relationship with God will be impacted by that disconnect. Therapy can help both to resolve the dilemma, and to develop a more truth-based way of thinking and of experiencing God.