2.03.2008

Belonging - healing from spiritual shame

A Sense of belonging
Prayer and Meditation in Action

When I first started praying every day, and then began to learn to include meditation into my prayer life, as a disciplined aspect of my relationship with God, this was a very private area of my life for some time. I thought I was shy and insecure about prayer and I had a lot of fear of being made fun of when it came to my spiritual life, hopes, dreams and beliefs. It took several years for me to learn that I needed to recover from spiritual abuse that had resulted in my deep soul shame.

I experience this sense of belonging today, on a regular basis, but that was not always the case. The gift of 'having a sense of belonging' results from regular prayer and meditation in my life. I would like to share the one experience that began my soul's healing, as it related to prayer and belonging. This came from the efforts of another; my shame and resentments were so deep that I could not reach out to 'connect' spiritually with anyone. It was one special day, while in treatment with 6 years sober, and through the prayers of another that brought me this gift.
I was in my room trying to write my 'assignment' that was the beginning of my treatment program, and I sat at the end of my bed with a blank mind, paper and pen. My roommate walked in, I can not recall her name today or how long she had been sober, but she has never been forgotten by me, as her gift changed the course of my recovery and my life. She asked me what I was doing and after telling her my assignment to write and that I had no thoughts to make note of, she asked me if I had talked to God about it through prayer. I laughed, that 'you have got to be kidding me' kind of laugh, as I would not be in treatment 6 years sober if I could pray.

I told her no I had not, and the next thing she did was to ask me, instead of walking out of the room, "Would you like for me to pray for you?" I said yes, assuming she would walk away leaving me with the notion that I would be prayed for, as this was what I was accustomed too.

That is not what she did. She knelt down in front of me and held my hands and closed her eyes as she began to pray for me. I was shocked that someone I hardly knew was taking the time to stop and pray with me. I do not recall what she said, but I remember those tears as they rolled down my face, recognizing the lack of shame and care in her voice as she prayed to God for my needs. I grieved, accepting the loving offer of prayer she made for me, a stranger. I had never experienced that gift of love from a stranger before, and as she finished praying she got up and walked out of the room, leaving me to write my assignment. And, I was able to do so.

Her love, time and faith encouraged me and broke through my exterior wall of protection and spiritual shame, giving me a sense of belonging for the first time since my best friend had died and I knew I was no longer alone, especially in the spiritual world. I knew that my life depended on a spiritual way of life, but unrealistic idea's, grief and pain had filled my heart with resentments, blocking my soul from the sunlight of the spirit. Her prayer was like opening a dam that had kept me in spiritual prison, letting in fresh air and light.

I have never forgotten her example of action, (even after 20 years) and the effects of spiritual abuse and shame has healed allowing me to 'come out of the spiritual closet.' No longer concerned so much with what others think of me, spiritually. I have grown, not forgetting my former spiritual isolation, shame, fear, anger and loneliness and with her example of action and faith, I became willing to share prayer with others and to pray, talk to God spontaneously, no longer believing only memorized prayers are worthy of His attention.

Today, I am willing to pray for and with others, and have found this to be the action and power that caused the walls of difference, prejudice and shame to crumble, freeing me to experience shared unity that asks nothing in return. Sharing prayer with others is the action that gives me this gift of belonging and has freed me from spiritual isolation to be one in the body of God's family.

With gratitude and in His service
Carol Ann Preston, Chaplain

2 comments:

Michael David Radin said...

I was reading this and tears came rolling down ...how many times did people ask if they could pray and just walk on by and how many times did they ask if they could pray and their prayers feel like I had trapped them by saying yes
How many times was I told I have no right to ask God for anything because of my sin
I was blocking Him because of my sin theyd say
Gods not going to hear you theyd say ...then use the bible itself to say that I searched for God out of Fear and he wont respond to a man out of fear only faith and obviously you have no faith theyd say to me
How was I supposed to get out of this catch 22?
I cant imagine the pain and suffering some of have endured in their own spiritual abuse even from well-meaning folk...but I know what I endured and wow what an awesome share when someone closes their eyes and takes your hand and prays with you and all of a sudden the presence of God is really there what an awesome experience what strength there is when 2 or more are gathered and now being able to have that quiet time with Him alone and know that God sees God Knows and God Cares and He is working it out what an awesome God what a time to cherish in His Love strength and power thank you for sharing this
In His Strength and Power Love Mercy and Grace

Michael David Radin said...

I have as well gone through spiritual abuse:
The loud voices that have cried out Oh You really think God is going to listen to you ? Your Sin has cut you off from God is what theyd say...God cant hear your fear ...you are a nasty person and God will not hear from such wickedness...God Loves you but you obviously don't love God...these are the things I have heard or the feeling you have trapped a person either they walk on by or they say a general short prayer which I myself have been guilty of...Mainly because I knew no better than I could do at the time
But when You finally feel at ease when you feel faith working not that its by feelings but sometimes you get so excited because you actually feel the Holy Spirit Moving You know God has heard and he cares and He knows where you are and You feel the love and warmth inside and tears begin to roll no more out of remorse and bitterness feeling all the things those have said that hurt and cut you and made you believe God couldn't hear you But that its a real thing going on and later even when you dont feel it but prayers are answered in a way maybe the phone starts ringing maybe a friend stops by to say hey I have been concerned are you helping my friend today are you being good to Him/her
I remember with my mom just maybe even months ago I said something to her along the lines of feeling like I jsut keep on failing and she said thats okay God knows where youre at and one day you will pass those tests
God's in Charge and He forgives and heals and holds you and does a better job tha anyone else can do basically is what she said
Sometimes its just holding on and screaming out God are you still there and some times it may not feel like it but sooner or later you find you have been heard and there are ones who God puts in your path to let ya know He heard
and your experience may just help heal someone else as you share it along the path.
Thank you for sharing your experience thank You for letting God use a time in your own life when you werent sure how to get through bring healing to someone else