Rerturn to faith


My abuser was a member of my Church. I had not long come into the Church (age 11) when he started abusing me. His main tactic was to tell me God loves me and the things he was doing to me was his way of showing God's love to me. He even abused me in the Church. I was very involved in the Church and had plans to become a minister or missionary. However, just prior to entering Training College I became aware of the abuse I had repressed. I, of course, reacted severely and left the Church over the hypocrissy of teaching God's love and a man who was abusing me as his way of showing that love. I hated the Church for so long and put it down at any chance I had.

A friend of mine and shared stories of issues with the Church - her's was around being a lesbian, I didn't tell her about my abuse but shared that I was also gay and we shared that. We agreed to try out a local Church called Metropolitan Community Church which was founded as a Church which accepted people of all sexualities. It was a very positive experience and I got right back into Church and taking on leadership and ministry roles in it. I had planned to go on to be a minister in that Church. Sadly, one of the ministers was arrested for abusing two boys (son's on two lesbian congregants) and jailed. It triggered all my hate of abusers and the Church so I left it and my sense of vocation to the priesthood.

I left and went aimlessly among all kinds of faiths and spiritualities (even things like Wicca and Rosicrucianism) lost. Eventually, I came back to the mainstream Church, this time the Anglican Church. I got interested in Church again, started taking on ministry roles again and feeling comfortable in being in Church again. I also joined an Anglican Religious community. Later, I decided to pursue my vocation as a priest and was ordained and then took on the role of a School Chaplain. I feel so comfortable with my faith journey now and I'm glad I reconcilled my faith jpurney as being seperate from my abuse journey. The key to this for me was while on a men's retreat a Sioux Medicine Man, Grandfather Black Elk, said to me something to the effect of "as long as you look for God outside of you [as he placed his hand on my heart] you will always be dissapointed and let down by men; seek God in your heart for their lies the truth". This lead me to realise the Church as an extremely fallable human institution; corrupt and prevasive with things that are against God's law and compassion for humanity. It freed me to accept my faith even in the face of hypocrissy.

I think it has helped me to be more human and more compassionate to those who I serve. I'm grateful for the reconcilliation on my faith and the effects of the abuse I suffered.
I also had to reconcile my faith after I was driven out of a church for being gay. It took me YEARS to find faith again. I also became a Wiccan before returning to Judaism.

I love what you have written here.
I'm reminded of the Zen teaching story about an American man who was leaving a Zen monastery in Japan to return to the United States. In his final meeting with the Abbot he received a gift. When he opened it he found a bible. Alas, my trip to the East for spiritual sustenance did not prompt a reconciliation with the church of my youth. I wasn't sexually abused by anyone related to the church but I certainly didn't feel as a traumatized boy acting out some of his pain that I was welcomed. It was a light version of hell and damnation theology, but enough so that I left as soon as I could. Yes, years of searching led to a bit of a reconciliation after a lovely Jewish man with a love affair with St. Francis led a group of Americans first to Glastonbury, England and then on to Assisi. That prompted a re-examination of Christian mysticism as well as Orthodox teaching. But Buddhism and Hinduism provide everything I need spiritually without any of the narrow mindedness one finds all too often in Christianity. I'm still a fan of St. Francis, however and receive daily meditations offered by a Franciscan priest named Richard Rohr. He touches the faith lightly with ample respect for the perennial traditions. That works for me.

Finding comfort spiritually is wonderful, especially for those of us carrying so much pain from early sexual trauma. It is easy to encounter shame and heart centered compassion is the best antidote.
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