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Monday, September 13, 2010

Moving On

"Why don't you just move on?"
"You're being selfish...complaining about your past...all I hear is 'me, me, me'"
"Paul said to forget what lies behind and press on toward the goal."
"Don't let your past define you."
"Get over the 'victim mentality' and get on with your life."
"Writing about such things breeds malcontent, bitterness, and unforgiveness."
"You must not be healed completely if you keep going back to these things."

Any of the above sound familiar? Sometimes I feel like a broken record is playing.

What I want to know is, who says that those of us who write against spiritual abuse, using our own pasts, aren't "moving on"? Do they think that writing about what happened, about our own stories, means that we're still stuck in that place? That we cannot "get past it"? Why does it have to be either/or?

I don't believe it does. These people like to quote Phil. 3:13: "But this one thing I do, forgetting those things that lie behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." They claim that we are not doing this. That by not "forgetting" we are not "pressing on". But I say that we are. Do you realize that Paul, previous to saying this, spent an entire chapter talking about where he came from? Talking about his past? He obviously didn't "forget". As in denying who he was, what he'd done, and where he came from.

Are we supposed to do this as believers? "Forget" where we were before Christ saved us? The New Testament is full of such phrases as "you once were....but now you are". The writers of the epistles constantly speak of what things were like in their past and the past of their readers, while pointing to their present. Why? Because who we are is in part defined by who we were.

Think about it.

How can you write about healing without first talking about brokenness?

How can you proclaim victory without first speaking of defeat?

How can you claim freedom without first describing bondage?

How can I "comfort those who are in trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" if I cannot speak of how God has comforted me?

How can I speak of salvation without talking about what I was saved from?

How I praise God for His forgiveness if I cannot remember for what I was forgiven?

I cannot. It just doesn't work that way.

I can speak of my past sins with sorrow, but as one who is not bound by them anymore. I can speak of past pain as one who has been and is being healed. Without the perspective of the past, we cannot understand our present or our future. This isn't bitterness, though it definitely could be there. No matter who we are we must constantly be watchful that we don't let such things as bitterness and resentment take up residence in our hearts. That doesn't mean we live in constant fear of being bitter. But there is a huge difference between remembering where I came from so as to not go there again, and dwelling on the sins of others in such a way that we let hatred of them consume us. I and others who use our own pasts to speak against a vile wrong in conservative circles are not "breeding malcontent or unforgiveness". Anyone who says differently obviously hasn't read very much of my blog or my friends' blogs.

And, yes, I will always be a "victim". As my friend, Lore, put it: "I get so tired of the way people like that use the word "victim." A victim is a person who has been wronged, a person against whom a crime has been committed. The word has nothing to do with being strong or weak, or having a good or bad attitude. If someone was hit by a car, even if it was an accident on the part of the well-intended driver, that person is a victim of an auto accident. If someone's house is robbed, even if that person took every possible security measure before, during, and after the robbery, and even if that person has a very proactive response to the situation, that person is a victim of a robbery.

Likewise, if someone was subjected to a system of spiritual abuse, especially if that person's parents imposed said system when the person was a child, that person has been wronged. To borrow from the Lord's Prayer, that person has been "trespassed against."

I am the victim of a house fire. I always will be. Because it happened. This helps to explain a little about my heart, who I am, how I react to crisises in my life, and why I hyperventilate when I see huge fires or freak out when I think I smell smoke in the middle of the night. When others find out, they have a better understanding of me. Remembering the fire doesn't mean I'm still "stuck" back there in the past. It doesn't mean that I haven't "moved on". Obviously I have. I've slowly collected new clothes, kitchen utensils, and furniture. The pain of losing all of my belongings does still cause my heart to twinge every so often, but that's because pain doesn't go away over night. Healing is a process. I will never forget that memory. But it's effect on me will change as the years go by.

We're all on a journey. None of us get there overnight. Sometimes we backtrack, have set-backs. Some days we go miles, other days mere inches. But if we ever forget where we came from, we will be just as lost as if we do not know where we are going. Without the perspective of our past paths, out future paths aren't as easily understood. We talk about our journey so that others might be encouraged on theirs. We tell them "I've been there, you're not too far now" and they get the courage to keep moving on. We say "you don't want to go down that path...I did just that and let me tell you where I ended up". And some person might be saved from that mistake. We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. By the word of our testimony, others too might be saved.

One last thought: I am sorry for the person here who said that if their daughter were to write about them the way I write about my parents that they would feel horrible. I certainly hope you would. You should feel horrible when you have hurt someone you love. But then you should "move on". Confess your sins to them and seek forgiveness. Pray for reconciliation. Be real and open and honest about your mistakes. And let grace have its way with you. But do not be offended if they then learn from your mistakes, take them and use them to help others light their paths. Hopefully you too will be able to say "Yes, I did that, I said that, I was wrong" and let the shame roll off your back and into the gutter where it belongs.


  1. Darcy, I couldn't have put it so well!!! Thank you so much.

  2. AMEN.
    I especially love your last paragraph. Stunning.
    Going to link to this...

  3. Beautiful answer, Darcy. My response on facebook:

    As a mother who had to admit that my honest mistakes hurt my child, I agree with you 100% Hillary. It should be easier to humble yourself and ask forgiveness when the hurt was unintentional. Maybe they would feel horrible because they can... already see it is hurting their children, yet they won't let up because of some personal issue? They feel so invested in the lifestyle that pride won't let them out? For whatever reason, your response was perfect. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will find the Lord lifting them up- and that is way better than being exalted by any man, or movement, or home school group, or magazine, etc...

    (ps didn't read the facebook link closely enough to realize it was reposted from you Darcy, so I credited Hillary. =)

  4. Thank you, very well stated. Amen.

  5. I appreciate this, Darcy, since I have been struggling with the same thing myself. I'm pretty reticent in public about my past, but I still feel guilt when I admit that it was anything less than perfect. I think a lot of people who grew up like we did had it drilled into them that we should never confront or criticize because it would make our parents feel bad (or look bad). Making mom sad or upset was certainly to be avoided at all costs in our home. It's freeing to speak the truth, not with malice, but simply as a way to heal, or to help others avoid the same pitfalls.

    I completely agree that if our children point out the sins we have committed against them, or the flaws in our approach, the proper response is repentance and reconciliation, not offense. I know that I am making plenty of mistakes with my own, and I pray that I will keep a humble heart that will facilitate a loving, healing relationship as they grow to adulthood. Being on the receiving end of the "offended parent" approach is more painful than I can put into words.


  6. Darcy,

    Wow. I appreciate this post so much! Thank you for articulating some thoughts I havn't really been able to put into words so succinctly. I love your blog.

  7. hah! Some people have nothing better to do than go around the blog world and try to set people right.

  8. There is freedom in moving on in Christ!


  9. Very well stated. I don't think that I have thought about this subject with this particular view-point in mind. This humbles me more than you'll ever realize.

    ~Someone Who Cares~

  10. I really like how you expressed this! Your clarity, honesty, and earnestness shine through. I really like how you explained the Bible verse about "forgetting those things which are behind." God bless! (I love the C.S. Lewis quote in your margin too.)

  11. The plural for crisis is crises, not crisises

  12. Yes, thank you, I saw that but haven't had time to fix it or the other typos that are bugging me. :P My life is pretty crazy. Also, I figure those who actually care about what I have to say will forgive the errors of a hurried mom, and those who can't see past them...well, I guess my message wasn't for them.

  13. You said this so beautifully. I've had people say the same to me, but like you, I can't forget where I came from because it defines all of who I am today. And I can't be quiet about it because I know there are others out there that are seeking healing and looking for someone that has had the same experiences, but may be further along in their healing. I also know that be speaking out against the P/QF lifestyle, it will hopefully open someone's eyes and spare other potential victims.

  14. Thankyou. All my comments sound the same to me on your site, lol. I agree, this needs to be said, thankyou for writing it. Otherwise I would comment more. But still, thankyou.

  15. Just found your blog, Darcy, and this post is so powerful. As a survivor of BJU=brand spiritual abuse, I've struggled to convey to people that I'm not wallowing in a victim mindset when I share my experiences (or even when I vent the pent-up, hurt feelings. I don't think that's wallowing either).

    Thank you for speaking so clearly and strongly for people like me. I can't express to you how affirming and life-giving this post (and your whole blog, as I'm slowly reading it =) are to me.

  16. Thank you for this post - I get tired as well when people glibly quote those verses with no compassion as to what you may have gone through, nor why it still matters. I loved the phrase that you highlighted! Thank you!