I am in the early stages of recovery of the spirit after clerical malfeasance. In answer to the question of how to return to spiritual practice, here I have recorded a few thoughts.
The cure for the disease of clerical malfeasance will not be the same as the venom of victimization. What I mean to say is that whatever pathway you choose to recovery your spirit from the ruins of abuse, it will likely look very little like whatever was used during the course of your abuse.
If the offender sexualised certain passages of scripture, chances are you will be keen to avoid that writ. If sacred songs were used to groom; if prayer was used during predation… it is normal for these things now to make you shudder. NO one should expect you to feel spiritual warm and fuzzies in the face of the sword that was used for your slaughter. You will rightly see is your own blood on it.
I prayed at length during each abusive season I endured. I prayed for the offender. I prayed for me the victim. I prayed for the secondary victims. I prayed for the bystander. I prayed for the sin; the shame; the savagery; the sorrow. I prayed for it to stop. I prayed to die. I prayed to live. I prayed to forgive. I prayed and I prayed and he preyed. My prayer life is a current source of sorrow for me. A river of ruin runs through where communion used to be. Me who rarely lacks words, me for whom communication and communion is like the air I breathe. I sit before my maker mute most days.
I used to listen to modern evangelical music. I cannot stomach most of it. What was a source of elation and nourishment now has in it the bile of brutality. I want to consume. I cannot. My teeth are yet clenched together in the agony of abuse. No, worship music no longer slips over my lips. My evangelical song is silent. The wings of my broken spirit alight on ancient music, often wordless music… it accesses one of the rare places he didn’t break.
I was never much for the modern day prophet. After surviving several rounds of the cancer of clerical malfeasance I find listening to the living in the pulpit untenable. I wish to listen. I cannot. It seems safer to me to read the dead. So the dead I read. They cannot, as it were, stand for the applause. Neither can they rise and prey. In the dead I have no fear of maniacal manipulation. The dead remain so. The dead cannot eat, therefore I cannot be eaten. These things make me partial to the deceased prophet, poet, and pastoral person.
So many of those slaughtered by clerical malfeasance understandably walk away from the faith. The singular reason I have remained a “Christian” is because the Christ that the elite in Christendom purport to serve… they slaughtered.
Look carefully at what He loved. Love it.
Look carefully at what He hated. Hate it.
Look carefully at what He pitied. Pity it.
Look carefully at what He elevated. Elevate it.
Look carefully at what He gave no regard. Disregard it.
Look carefully at what He valued. Value it.
Our Christ and our Christendom are oft not the same.