I have so often said I don’t attend or serve in a physical church because of my mental illness (CPTSD). But that’s not the whole story. God has actually repeatedly affirmed His call to me NOT to return to a local church and instead to become His hands and feet to those, like me, who have been deeply wounded and even abused in our churches, as they have sought out the love, mercy and compassion of Jesus.
And upon leaving, suddenly family members, friends and complete strangers have opened their hearts and lives to me. And oh how I have wept – for them, for me, with the tears of my Savior pouring out healing for my heart, for theirs and for the generations to come. Jesus always knew that’s what would unfold. Because He walked before me to prepare my Way:
It’s as I told my youngest daughter: what sets us apart from others is what in fact reveals God’s heart to others through us. And that in turn what sets others apart from us, helps us to receive God’s love for us personally in a new way too – because we each carry a unique piece of God’s heart.
No! I will no longer declare myself a victim of CPTSD and spiritual abuse. No! I will no longer be ashamed to say I don’t attend or serve in a physical church. No! I won’t be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. For, it’s going outside the camp, just like Jesus, that’s now affirming my belonging in Christ, healing my wounds and opening my eyes to the unique and blessed calling Christ has prepared me for: to be filled with a deep awe and reverence for Him and to wake up to the Good News of salvation in Him, together with my long lost brothers and sisters who are coming home with me!
“Fear nothing and no one except Yahweh, Commander of Angel Armies! Honor him as holy. Be in awe before him with deepest reverence!”Isaiah 8:13 (The Passion Translation)
Oh yes, our God and His authority and His Name (reputation) stands above all else. Will you join me as I sing the song I sung as a teenager, tears streaming, through the ravages of spiritual abuse to declare my soul as God’s? The song my childhood friend of thirty years had playing in her car, as she picked me up to take me out to rest and love on me through my Mama’s battle with cancer. Oh He is so worthy of our trust. Our – His – broken Body is so worthy of Christ’s healing love and compassion.
You know, I don’t have what it takes to belong where I’m not supposed to belong. That just means it’s not God’s best for me. God is faithful and will show me where I’m supposed to belong.
If we need to mourn a sense of loss in our belonging place, then by all means, let the tears come. No need to push them away or cover them up. We can let them drive us to prayer, not panic. Our prayers pave our back roads to belonging. Looking in the quiet helps us take it slow and relax in Christ by hearing His voice first, not the panic monsters.Kirsten Strong, Back Roads to Belonging: Unexpected Paths to Finding Your Place and Your People, p.99 (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2019, Grand Rapids MI).