A Preemie, A Bible and Spiritual Abuse
Updated: Sep 14, 2021
Last week I was at a friend's house getting help with my GED and the name Karyn Purvis was mentioned. I knew somewhere that name was connected to a memory in the past but I couldn't think how or where...
Dr. Karyn Purvis was an advocate for "children from hard places" and there is an institute of child development named after her which you can check out here: https://child.tcu.edu/
My memory connected to her was from several years ago when I was at a friend's house. She had, in the course of the evening, handed me a paper from her studies as she was training to work at a troubled children's facility. It was a list of similarities between children who were preemies and children who were adopted. (I haven't found it yet in my recent searching but can perhaps share it if I find it.) I don't remember what was listed on the paper but I just know it was a relief because it helped me to understand that some of the things I struggle with such as identity and belonging could be tied to being a preemie. It also helped me understand why I can identify with adopted children's stories as well.
*My dad's hand on my parents first visit to see me after I was born.
I've been told by a former counselor that I don't need to figure everything out which is human nature because we want answers and some things just won't have answers. I understand that but I also know that no matter how painful something is, just being able to put a name or reason to it brings it way down in size and intensity. It becomes easier to deal with because now it has a name.
It is no longer a fearful monster.
Now say that I would've grown up in a loving home where connection was valued and I was loved for who I was. I'm quite sure that I would not be having all the struggles I currently have.
Lately it's been bothering me so bad that I cannot sit down and read my Bible. I cannot engage my heart. It is as though my heart goes off and hides as soon as I even begin thinking about how I should be reading my Bible because that's what is expected of me and that's what is assumed by certain people in my life. It hurts bad. I want to but its just too hard. I can listen to sermons and go to church and read verses on social media etc but as much as I want my whole being engaged, it just doesn't happen.
Luke 10:27 says:
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
This is what God wants but what am I to do when I can't? Especially not all at one time in everything? Because we live in a broken, sin-cursed world. Despite this I'm sure there's healing, its just frustratingly slow. As I sat in church last night it was mentioned several times how we are to be in the Word and to not be afraid despite everything going on in the world but rather trust in God and have faith. I so wanted my heart to be saying Amen to that. I know in my head that its true but I hate that there's such a separation inside of me. It makes me want to just get up and walk out of the building and yet I know that's not the answer.
But I think it's just like God to be able to reach a person in the midst of such a situation. God knows how to find ways to speak to people, of that I'm convinced because He does it for me. He did speak to me last night in the midst of the sermon. In the middle of the story of Gideon. Something I don't remember noticing before. As my pastor mentioned it I felt it reaching my heart, as though for one instant my being was connected. And there was life. Encouragement. Relief. Hope.
That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp.
Fear and anxiety has been a part of my life for so long that it makes me feel guilty now when I hear someone say anything about trusting God or how the devil has a hold on me through my emotions that I'm only learning to accept and deal with properly after a lifetime of squashing them into the darkest corners of my soul. I know people mean well and I feel bad for them at times because they have no idea how horrible their "encouragement" makes me feel at times, the guilt trips it puts me on, the discouragement it causes and the tears I cry because of their good intentions. I try to brush it off but most times I'm not very successful.
On a side note as to what damage spiritual abuse can cause: I was with my counselor the other day and she mentioned how coloring helps her release her emotions. As she was showing me I had a faint recollection of a memory. I don't remember how long ago it was but probably within the last 6 years. I don't remember if it was through a counselor or a friend but someone got me started on making a collage out of old magazines.
If I recall right one evening I was listening to a sermon from a well-known Pentecostal church. I don't remember any of the sermon at this point but I remember the actions I took because of it. There was a couple in my life that I had learned to trust but because of many factors there was a lot of spiritual abuse. Some of it was the focus of moving on from the past, which in itself is necessary, but for those with childhood trauma it is an exceedingly long and hard journey where so much as another person's actions or even tone of voice can trigger a "fight or flight" response. Looking back now I am quite sure that they had no idea how to mentor someone like that. It was as though they believed if you prayed hard and long enough the past would no longer affect you in your present day life. It was really confusing and as much as I wanted to move on I didn't have the professional help I needed. What ended up happening was that in the name of "living in victory" the past was seen as "what's in the past stays there". Thinking that one way to do that was to burn all my old journals and everything that was tied to the painful part of my past. I was on the fence about it for quite a while till that one evening where I heard a sermon that basically said the same thing: burn the past and leave it behind. I burned all my old journals that I had written and scribbled in when I had no words. I must have burned the collages as well because I couldn't find them the other evening when I wanted to look at them. And then I regretted. Deeply. That I had been so brainwashed into thinking that that would get rid of the past and I could live in victory with a smile on my face at all times (like they told me I should have, to be the proper Christian witness) that I burned all those things. I regret it so deeply now but it is too late.
If you don't know what a collage is, here is one. This is raw stuff but I won't tell you what it is about. I know that there will be people reading this with whom it will resonate and if you are that person; be encouraged, you are not alone. There are other people who feel this way.
I am aware that it takes time to heal from any kind of abuse but sometimes I get so frustrated with the slowness of it and the pressure I feel from people to arrive at a place that I am not at at this point in my life. I have anxiety attacks basically every day and it's so frustrating because my body seems to be in a different world than my head is. I got so frustrated that when I got home from church last night I tried to see if I could find anything to help me heal a little faster. I found some interesting articles that I would like to share:
I found this on very interesting.
Another good one.
There was one that I cannot find now that mentioned love as being the main healing factor and I believe that is true. I know how much it helps me when I am in atmosphere of being loved and accepted for who I am.
I am reminded of the other day when my counselor asked if she could pray for me. I said she could. When she finished she noticed that I wiped some tears away. She asked if I was ok. I said yes and explained that it is encouraging to me when someone prays for me when I feel no pressure or criticism from them. People mean well when they say something about trusting God and encouraging me to have faith or they say that the enemy has a hold of me through my emotions that I'm only learning to accept and deal with in positive ways after spending most of my life "squashing " them into the darkest corners of my being. Sometimes I feel bad for others because they have no idea how the things they say with well-meant intetntion to encourage me actually puts me on guilt trips, discourage me, cause shame and fear and often puts me in tears because I just cannot seem to reach the bar they seem to hold up for me to reach. I try to let it roll off like "water off a duck's back" but more often than not I don't manage very well. I came across this the other day and it was just what I needed:
I woke up early this morning after a nightmarish dream of being confronted by an aunt I haven't seen for several years asking me who gave me permission to make the changes I have made in the last several years. My answer was, nobody, it was the Bible. That is still true today. Those of you who are not pleased or approving of the changes I have made in the past year I want you to know that it was the Bible that gave me permission to change. Yes, God did and still does use people but in my mind the Bible has the ultimate authority in changes I make. I'm sure there will be some who read this who believe I have erred and am on the way to hell because what I wear or don't wear. I just want you to know that if you contact me with questions in a respectful and open minded manner I will be glad to discuss it with you or tell you my side of the story.
Looking at my life now, it's almost as though God kept me from realizing the effects of spiritual abuse until I had researched and studied out most of the basic and important things that I had been indoctrinated with. I'm sure there's still more. I have so much to learn. Its almost like relearning everything again because what I learned was wrong. That realization is hard and painful. I'm not sure I have fully accepted it yet.
I need to get ready for work now and I think I've mentioned all the things I wanted to mention. I hope you enjoyed this conglomeration of tidbits from my life and hopefully it will help somebody. I believe God can take the pain from the past and turn it into something beautiful like a diamond. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope you have a great day!