Okay. My previous post “The Winding Road” included excerpts from Celebrate Recovery material that were quickly thrown in there without any examination. Let’s take another look at it.
“Sexual/Physical/Emotional Abuse: The Problem. Our common background is a history of abuse and our goal is to enter into or maintain recovery. Recovery for me is a two-fold issue. I need healing from the traumas done to me at sometime in my past; and I also need healing from the influence these past experiences continue to have on my present life.
Most Survivors of Sexual/Physical/Emotion Abuse …
- Are hesitant to identify themselves as victims of abuse.
- Feel isolated, depressed, worthless, shameful and helpless to change.
- Are struggling with feelings about God in relation to their life experiences of being abused.
- Condemn themselves trying to deny that being abused in the past somehow affects present circumstances.
- Feel out of control; defeated in areas of compulsive behaviors.
- Feel angry, bitter, rebellious, and have trouble with authority figures.
- Feel a lack of self-worth.
- Are preoccupied with thoughts of what it means to have a “normal” relationship with others.
- Question their own sexual identity and may experience confusion regarding their own sexuality
- Question self-reality: “Who am I?”
- Question whether life has a purpose for living.
- Feel “at home” in crisis situations.
- Struggle with perfectionism or “all or nothing” thinking.
- Desire to have victory through Christ over the life experiences of abuse.”
End quote. I changed the bullets to numbers to facilitate this discussion.
So, these are some of the common effects of being victimized. These are the fallout of the abuse. These are the consequences. These are the curses. I don’t really find them interesting to talk about except as I mentioned in my previous post, I can relate with all of them at one time or another in my life, and frankly still struggling with most of them still.
But worthy of more discussion is the proposed solution, because when we can work on the following list, we can say we are transitioning from being a victim to being a survivor:
“A survivor of Sexual/Physical/Emotional Abuse CAN EXPERIENCE RECOVERY WHEN…
- I recognize that I am powerless to heal the damaged emotions resulting from my abuse, and I look to God for the power to make me whole.
- I ask God to lead my life and working the 8 principles and 12 Steps.
- Form an Accountability TEAM: Sponsor, Accountability Partners.
- Weekly attend the Open Share Group.
- Commit to a daily quiet time in the Celebrate Recovery Bible to find my identity as worthwhile and loved human being.
- Read about this area of recovery.
- Understand the root of each core issue I identify with and become willing to experience grief, forgiveness, and acceptance.
- I acknowledge that God’s plan for my life includes victory over the experience of abuse. I move from being victim to a survivor!
- I understand that the persons who abused me are responsible for the abusive acts committed against me. I will not accept the guilt and shame resulting from those abusive acts.
- I am honestly sharing my feelings with God and at least one other person to help me identify those areas needing cleansing and healing.
- I accept responsibility for my responses to being abused.
- I am willing to accept God’s help in the decision and the process of forgiving myself and those who have perpetrated against me.
- I am willing to mature in my relationship with God and others.
- I am willing to be used by God as an instruments of healing and restoration in the lives of others.”
End quote. Again, I changed the bullets to numbers to facilitate this discussion. What these steps means to each individual is likely to be as varied as the individual themselves, so I can only speak from my perspective.
Number one has two parts. Part one says, “I recognize that I am powerless to heal the damaged emotions resulting from my abuse.” Hmmm. Not sure what to think of that. I’m looking for hope. But before we can proceed we need a quick history lesson on Celebrate Recovery.
John Baker is the founder of Celebrate Recovery and he and Pastor Rick Warren, D.Min., wrote wrote the Celebrate Recovery curriculum. Pastor Warren also wrote the foreword to the Participant’s Guide. In it he writes, “Based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory, this recovery program is more effective in helping change than anything else I’ve seen or heard of.”
I have two problems with Pastor Warren’s statement. Why would Jesus’ words and psychological theory not be in accord? Though I’m not sure what he means by psychological theory, we can probably agree that psychology is a science, and science, to put it simply, is a method used to explain how things work. Why is he apparently discrediting or discarding psychology in a program that has everything to do with psychology (among other things)? If God made us in His image, then wouldn’t an understanding of psychology help us to understand Him (and us) better? And just like medical doctors (which, by the way, psychiatrists are) help us to live healthier longer lives, wouldn’t the application of psychology do the same? Incidentally, in case it’s not obvious, you can’t have psychiatrists without psychology.
The other problem with Pastor Warren’s statement is that describing the program as more effective in helping change than anything else that he’s seen or heard of seems disingenuous. He talks about how he’s seen the program, that’s only been around since 1990, “transform literally thousands of lives” when other 12 step programs, like AA, have been around since the 1950’s and have helped millions of lives according to a Google search.
Why does it matter? Without taking into consideration psychology, I’m not sure how sound the program is. Let me give you an example: when you have appendicitis and need your appendix removed, it’s probably a good idea to see a doctor. I would argue the same thing about psychological issues. To remove psychology as a tool seems reckless and dangerous. And then to make an exaggerated claim of it’s effectiveness could lead someone to not seek the help where they need to get it from.
Where does that leave me at the moment? Stuck on #1. But what about those who were victimized who don’t believe in God? What are they to do? There is hope for them, too. Most of the steps to healing have nothing to do with religion. Religion or faith in a higher power has nothing to do with healing, unless that sort of thing helps you. There are many resources and they are available to everyone. If one source doesn’t work, keep looking for one that works for you!
Thanks for reading.
Wishing you much love and peace,
“Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ― Mother Teresa
Pope Francis, I appeal you to meet the needs of survivors of clergy sexual abuse by making reparations commensurate with the damage, emotional or otherwise, caused to survivors. I have ideas on how to do this. If you can’t do this, then I respectfully ask, on behalf of the Church, you to stop receiving communion until such time that the Church does. Because until the Church does, it will not be in communion with the saints. Sincere contrition is meaningless without reparations in kind. Demonstrate to the world that the Catholic Church is catholic; that is, the Church Jesus established with Peter as the rock, the first pope; that the Church practices what it preaches.
Ps: Have words of encouragement or a testimony to share? Does/has this blog helped you in some way? Know of additional, valuable resources? Suggestions for topics? Post a comment or you can also send me a private message by using the “Contact” page on my website or message me on FB.
Consider sharing this blog with others. Victim/survivors of abuses, more often than not, carry this burden silently alone, not knowing how to deal with it or where to turn, but need hope. Loved ones and caregivers also need support. We never know who is or wants to reach out for help. This blog might be of help to caregivers and loved ones of abuse. Silence is deadly and if together we are able to help or save just one life, isn’t that worth it?
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It has been great to meet and talk with you Matt… I look forward to reading long or short versions of any topic, story, thoughts or emotions you touch on.. I hope they help other survivors in their healing journey.. I know talking about it helps me.. be well !
The other day I shared a story on FB about losing two teeth in an accident, and someone said everything isn’t everyone’s business. I said, it was a burden and shame I was holding onto and I no longer wanted to carry it. God told me to turn over my burdens and turn them into … Continue reading Tamirra H.
In reaching out to others, you are Christ’s hands. It takes courage and broad shoulders. I will continue to pray that the Holy Spirit guide those open hands into a thriving ministry…Don’t let yourself fail prey to discouragement. It may be your calling. God bless you!