I’ve been thinking a lot about a one of the last comments made on my post “Groomed to Doubt Through Spiritual Abuse.” The writer said in a nutshell that the people who voiced strong disagreement with my posts were people from my real life who really just cared about me. Words like this can be “catch words”, cause us to stop and second guess… especially in the process of recovering from abuse of all kinds which teaches us to doubt ourselves in the first place. It’s not my desire to pick apart readers’ comments, but it’s the idea behind this particular comment that I want to put under the microscope.
I’ve been writing a lot about spiritual abuse, and it strikes me that so much of spiritual and church abuse happens under this confusing umbrella of “we care about you.” We want you to become a Christian because we care about you. We will confront you about sin and reprimand you with Bible verses because we care about you. We will stand you up in front of the church and tell people about your wayward ways because we care about you. We will talk to so and so and so and so and so and so behind your back and ask them to talk to you or send you an email to correct you because… we care about you.
If the person saying they care about you has known you your whole life, there’s an extra layer of confusion. Somehow, it seems like their opinion should hold more weight, as if they know everything about you. A statement like that could easily put me into a self-doubt spin. My deeper thoughts flashed through my head:, “Carla, these people say they care about you, that they are confronting you because they care. It’s pretty gutsy of you to doubt them… They’ve known you your whole life, so surely they know the real you better than you know yourself…” These doubts come from that old mentality that didn’t know my own true value and didn’t know how to define myself, myself. When I tune in to my true heart, legitimate questions put holes in their claim of “care”. Do they know me now? Have they bothered to contact me in person and have a real conversation? Do they know my true state of happiness and fulfillment in my life? Have they walked the path with me to see how far I’ve come? No, they haven’t. So when they throw accusations and corrections at my new way of thinking, it strikes me as a flat out lie that they really care about me.
I used to think like them too. I believed that pleasing the “system”, keeping myself and others within its rigid walls, would lead to my ultimate salvation. It felt easier to gauge myself and determine if I was okay or not if I kept following the rules rather than following the adventure of a free willed heart… But the truth was that living in these rigid walls was squashing me. My soul was dying a slow death because as hard as I tried, I could not find my salvation in the rules and constrictions of the system. The system DID NOT care about me. It only cared about numbers and keeping those who were blindly following, blindly following. It only cared about protecting itself.
There have been other people in my life, close friends, who have challenged me. Their challenges have not always felt comfortable. But when I ask myself the same question about them, my answer is very different. I do feel cared for by them, because I know that their aim in challenging me is to help me become all I am meant to become. They have no ulterior motive to keep me thinking the same as them or to keep me in line with their rigid, controlling system. They aren’t trying to keep me boxed in, shut down, small minded, and pliable. They want me to become more myself, stronger, less pliable, more fulfilled and deeply happy. There is a huge difference… and I can feel that difference. Real caring encourages real life, not slavery. Real caring cares about the individual, not the system that the individual is questioning.
As we grow and change, there will be those who will try to lasso us back to where we have come from. They are afraid. They are still trying to find their salvation in the systems they are trapped in and they are protecting themselves and that system. We don’t have to fall for this claim of “I just care about you!” We can doubt them instead of doubting ourselves. We can trust that our feet are taking us in the right direction, deeper and deeper into the life we were meant to live. No one has the power to stop us from reclaiming life giving freedom and reconnecting with our true hearts. No friend, no parent, no sibling, no pastor, no relative, no organization, no leader, no spouse, no in-law. I want to send big encouragement to all of you as you keep pursuing your wholeness. You are worth it and you have what it takes.
A Special Note from Carla
These past seven months have been an amazing journey, sharing my truth and getting to know and interact with all of you here. I have been feeling a strong need to take some time to focus on myself and get more clarity on a few foundational things about “me”. In the theme of true caring, I have decided to take an indefinite writing break from Emerging From Broken. I will still be working a bit “behind the scenes” and hope to share a post from time to time and stay connected. I want to thank Darlene for her amazing support in the process of me making this decision, as it really has not been easy! I also want to thank every one of you for engaging with my posts to this point, and for sharing your incredible journeys with me and each other. With much love, Carla