I am so sorry for how I handled you. I was selfish and serving the wrong master. I took orders and followed them to lead you even when I knew the way to be hurtful and wrong, and sometimes I was just hurtful and wrong. In the personal tossing, you got tossed...
We had no right to be dictators in your life. We repent and ask you to forgive us…we repent and want you to know something. The representation of God’s heart shown to you during that time was wrong…because we were wrong.
On the excellent blog The Secret Life of a Bishop's Wife: What You may not see on Sunday, a young couple confesses their part in spiritual abuse and shows how they came to see it for what it was.
A post simply called Barry's Post, included this heartfelt account and confession. Barry offers an apology to those he helped spiritually abuse -- an apology many victims of church abuse would love to see from their abusers. I have permission to reprint his post here.
Jana Bishop runs the Secret Life site, and this separate post about her part in enabling spiritual abuse by church leadership is well worth looking at: Who's Looking out for You?
But, really…it came down to ME.
As a young man learning what it was to be a husband and minister, I was more often scared than confident. When it came to confronting what I knew to be right and wrong in people’s lives… rather than speaking up on their behalf or asking “Why should they be told that?” or “handled that way?” I buckled under pressure…the pressure to make my leaders happy. Several times I worked so hard to stifle the Lord’s proverbial “jab to the ribs” that came in the form of a racing heartbeat or feeling as though I knew what I was being asked to do or say was wrong. Rather than “question my spiritual authority” I simply obeyed.
In those instances and times when I had the chance to be a voice for the voiceless…I didn’t do it…I didn’t speak up for them. Instead, I convinced myself that I was wrong and prayed so hard for the Lord to rid me of my rebellious nature. Yet, the desire to say something or take a stand kept trying to show itself against the leaders in my life, the people who convinced me that they ”knew best.”
So the storms came. I don’t mean the outright ones that others can perceive. The storms I speak of are the ones hurled at us from inside, that FEEL as if everyone is noticing. You’re sitting in a room with dominant men who “know” their place and yours… and everyone else’s. “This is what you need to do…”, or ”You take all her responsibilities from her and have her meet with someone until we say she’s ready.” and the favorite ”Kick… his… butt, man of God.”
Inside me the wind would blow, and the ship that was my convictions would begin to toss. I would begin the mind’s struggle…”If I say anything, question any of those, I risk looking like a weak man and minister. I risk ridicule, punishment or removal. But if I don’t say anything, these people, these friends, these brothers and sisters get…tossed. “
And I would always choose…ME.
It’s been a process, but the “ship” has become stable in those storms since then. It helps having the Lord in His rightful place and people who realize my weakness and stand to strengthen me.
As I’ve recounted those years and the friends I had the privilege to walk with as a mentor and even a peer, my heart has hurt. I did wrong to many of you. If you read this and are one of these “under” my direction in those years, I am so sorry for how I handled you. I was selfish and serving the wrong master. I took orders and followed them to lead you even when I knew the way to be hurtful and wrong, and sometimes I was just hurtful and wrong. In the personal tossing, you got tossed.
Together…Jana and I have no words to mend the past, but we do offer you our sincere apology. We had no right to be dictators in your life. We repent and ask you to forgive us…we repent and want you to know something. The representation of God’s heart shown to you during that time was wrong…because we were wrong.
So, whatever the storm may be in your life…whatever waves may crash against the wall of your soul…please know this…YOU ARE LOVED.