Does spiritual abuse affect my view of God? of me?

He listens

Amy hated her drinking and hated waking up in the arms of men who told her what she wanted to hear.

She hated her choices because she knew the difference between right and wrong.

After all, she had heard it her whole life. 

Eventually she ended up in a counselor’s office. The more she told her story, the more that a picture of a central character emerged: her father

He was a pastor and the church people thought he was delightful.

However, his smile and good-natured public persona was different from the man who lived behind closed doors.

Amy learned early that her father was God in her life.

That became clear the day she told him that she felt God leading her to a short-term missions trip. She was 16 and her fear of her dad meant she rarely disagreed with him, but she tried to explain that God was leading her to this specific trip. With a red face and veins bulging in his neck, her father backed her up against a wall and screamed, “To you, and in this house, I AM GOD!”

This taught Amy a couple of very deeply ingrained lessons:

  • She couldn’t think for herself, much less hear from God.
  • Her voice and personal power was the price of faith.

Sadly, neither of these are scriptural.

1st Samuel 3 tells us that God does speak to us. 

So, today this is permission to begin to listen again.

To trust that when you are still and you listen, that you will hear from Him.

To know that God does speak to you, and for a reason, to know that you are on His heart. 

What about your voice or personal power in faith?

Amy felt that she would never measure up, so why try? And yet she hungered for God. She was sick of being sick, and not knowing why. It is what led her to a counselor. It is what led her to not only heal, but to begin to lead others out of spiritual abuse and into healthy relationship with their Savior.

Not everyone takes the same path when faith is distorted. For Amy, it led to a destructive path. For others it leads to striving to please God. Or deeply ingrained anger at God.

Regardless of where it leads, it’s key to look toward truth as we mend.

Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Psalm 116:2  (NLT)

Imagine this scripture. Make it real. God Himself bends down to listen to you. He knows you. He created you uniquely and with a purpose. That’s our personal power and it’s not about us at all. It’s surrendering to the knowledge that God knows you so well that not only will He listen, but invites you to talk with Him.

To be honest about the distorted truth that lead you far from where you wanted to go.

To invite Him into those hurting places to scoop out lies and replace them with truth.

To see yourself as He does, and to give flawed humanity their proper place in that equation.

Read 59 – 66 in The Mended Heart. How do you identify with Amy’s story?

Write down Psalm 116:2 (or print out the jpg above) and place it where you can see it every day for 21 days. Let it soak in until it becomes truth.

If you have not talked to God, or have been angry at Him, or your fear has kept you away, initiate that conversation today. He’s bending down. He’s listening.

Thank you for helping me share this study with others.

{Click to tweet→} Amy believed that she couldn’t think for herself, much less hear from God. Neither are scriptural. #themendedheart

{Click to tweet→} Today I gained freedom from spiritual abuse. #joinme #themendedheart

Tomorrow I’ll share a 25-minute radio interview with Debbie Chavez where we take this topic, and others about mending, deeper. On Friday we’ll look at how we begin to heal from spiritual abuse.






  1. Priscilla says:

    “…He bends down to listen…” what an image of our loving, attentive, gracious Daddy. I love this verse! (Psalm 116:2) The Lord spoke directly to me and warmed me with these words. He continually amazes me.

  2. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for stepping into deep and forbidden waters with topics that cry out to be addressed! When I was 14 I told my controlling mother that I felt God calling me to mission work; her response was that if He was calling me He would have told her since she was my mother. So I had to be wrong. Among other issues centering around my relationship with her this set me up for years of doubt and then anger towards God that led me into quite a destructive path….but He is truly the only reason I am alive today. And He is leading me along a new path of restoration, scary sometimes, hard for sure but exciting and glorious! I absolutely loved “Unburdened Heart” and already planned to grab “Mended Heart” ASAP
    Love and Blessings to you

    • Melanie, my prayer is that God will imprint new truths on your heart. I don’t know why your mom did or said what she did. As an adult we can look back and see that there was brokenness, or fear, or issues of control. Whatever it might be, there was a human being that didn’t know what to do, or did the wrong thing, but there’s a God that takes that and shows us how to heal, and even to offer compassion for those who did the wrong thing. That in itself is a turn-around in our heart, allowing us to focus on what God has for us right now! <3 So thankful you shared your story, and that you are hanging out with us in this study. You are a blessing.

  3. All I can say is help me Lord. For so long I’ve wondered what was wrong with me, what was I doing wrong, why couldn’t I get it right. This chapter speaks to so many things in my life. So many instances where I was made to feel that I couldn’t be good enough, so many years spent trying to do more, please more, until I lost me. No one else knew, I didn’t even know, I just knew something wasn’t right. On the outside, everyone saw the person who worked for the Lord, and was a good Christian. While on the inside, I felt like I was sinking into a pit and dying. I know God loves me, but it seems like I can never get things right. I pray that the Lord will continue to open my understanding in this area and help me to let go of the hurt, bitterness, and pain. That he will heal my broken heart and give me the strength to live in His love and to forgive others. Thank you Suzie for including this chapter.

    • Debora, Let’s celebrate this Light-filled moment. Soak it in. With the help of the Holy Spirit, your God just spoke truth into your heart.

      Let’s break it down.

      You are made whole and cleansed by the love of Jesus.

      Your work in faith is beautiful, but God desires you more than your work (Hosea 6:6 God’s Word version – I want your loyalty, not your sacrifices. I want you to know me, not to give me burnt offerings.)

      He came to give life, not death. The author of death (John 10:10) is a liar. God came to give life, and life more abundantly.

      Lord, thank you for Debora. Thank you that all the lessons learned that had nothing to do with you are replaced with truth. Thank you that she’s enough because You’re enough inside of her. Wipe the slate clean. Begin to teach her. Rather than focus on the past, today is a new day to begin anew and learn all that you desire to show her. Thank you that she is loved, treasured, known by You. In Jesus’ name.

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