We recognize we have been hurt, disappointed, or abused by religion or the religious. -Step One Continued
Instruction: Recognize the damage.
Two years into teaching and writing about Religious Recovery, I went through a religious experience that left me feeling empty. I couldn’t explain what was going on or why, but something had taken my peace, confidence, and happiness. It wasn’t until a certain set of circumstances changed and I found myself removed from the religious experience, that I discovered I had been experiencing a subtle form of abuse. I discovered the abuse in hindsight.
After my circumstances changed, I felt more peaceful, happy, and confident. It dawned on me that an individual I had associated with was planting the seeds of doubt, unrest, discouragement, and even failure. I learned from that experience to look for the symptoms of religious abuse and that they can appear in different forms. When we are led to believe we are bad, disgraceful, shameful, less than adequate, or unlovable, we can rest assured there is a good chance that religious abuse could be the cause.
In today’s lesson we want to recognize the damage. Are we feeling shame, guilt, depression, despair, worthlessness, incapable of giving or receiving love, unable to forgive, or unworthy of forgiveness? Do we find ways to punish ourselves and to self-destruct? Connecting these feelings to our mental, physical, and spiritual health is not a stretch of the imagination. We recognize that religious abuse has held us back from being the happy, peaceful, balanced individual that we are capable of being—the person we were meant to be.
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.