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With the guidance of your pastor, you might also consider seeking professional Christian counseling. Here are some national ministries that we can recommend:

Christian Care Network
presented by The American Association of Christian Counselors

New Life Ministries

Rapha National Network

Emerge Ministries

Spiritual Life

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7 Steps to Healing the Hurt

By Sandra D. Wilson
New Life Ministries -- 1. Begin thinking about God as Jesus. If you are serious about healing your spiritual abuse wounds, make an intentional choice to begin seeing Jesus whenever you think or talk about God. As I said earlier, the beginning of change is calling a thing by its right name. So, start by calling God Jesus rather than by the name of your father, stepfather, grandfather, or uncle.

Read and study the Gospels to learn how Jesus interacted with people. How did He treat people who were struggling with sin? Ill give you a hint. Jesus was astonishingly kind and gentle with people who knew they were sinful and amazingly confrontive with those who thought they were perfect.

2. Learn about Gods general attributes. Learning to see God as He is revealed in Scripture most clearly in Jesus, of course will help you replace distorted God-concepts with the truth. And this will help you love and trust God more.

3. Learn about God as a loving parent. God wants us to know that He is not like hurtful human parents. Even though our own parents forsake us, he will receive us (NIV) or take [us] up (KJV) (Psalm 27:10). That seems to picture God reaching down and adopting us as His own child, like a loving father would do for a child abandoned on His doorstep. In fact, Scripture repeatedly emphasizes Gods tender concern for the fatherless and for orphans (see Psalm 10:14; 146:9; Hosea 14:3). Those verses have always been especially precious to me, a fatherless child.

4. Write about what youre learning. Use your personal journal to write about how God differs from the perception you have of Him that was shaped by your parents. How would that truth change your life if you began acting upon it? One Christian adult raised by hurtful, perfectionistic parents made this observation: I am blown away by Jesus description of the father in the Prodigal Son parable. He is entirely different from my dad. I have been afraid and very reluctant to confess my sins to God because I always pictured Him with His arms folded over His chest, a disgusted look on His face, and shaking His head back and forth just like my dad. I think I can pray more easily if I can hold onto the picture of God as loving and forgiving.

5. Get help to deal honestly with the pain of the pain. When we begin to mourn our childhood losses and to feel the grief and despair, the pain can be debilitating. It can feel like dying. And the worst part may be the pain of the pain.

The pain of our pain is that God allowed it. I will not insult refugees from childhood hells by offering easy answers to the imponderable questions that such experiences raise. I dont know why our loving Father God permits children to undergo such unspeakable suffering. But I cling to my belief that somehow in ways that are light-years beyond my capacity to understand God will fulfill His promises to comfort the mourning and bring joy out of the pain (see Isaiah 61:2-3 and Psalm 30:11). If the pain of our pain is that God allowed it, then the joy of our joy must be learning that God can heal and redeem our pain and lead us into lives of genuine joy.

6. Choose to trust God in the midst of your pain and questions. If we insist on waiting until the pain and doubt go away before trusting God, well never do it. God never promised pain-free lives in this sin-stained world. But He has promised to be with us and to comfort and strengthen us in the midst of our pain. I invite you to examine His record of faithfulness to that promise and, after doing so, to purposefully decide to trust God. If you are willing to practice this choice (or even willing to be made willing), ask God to empower you.

7. Choose your church family. We couldnt choose our birth families, but we can choose our church families. Deliberately evaluate your churchs spiritual health and decide whether you should stay. Make sure you are in a church that has the biblically balanced emphasis of 2 Peter 3:18, which tells believers to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Many churches put all their emphasis on the latter while neglecting the former all the while calling themselves Bible-believing. It is possible to find churches that balance both; I know because I am in one. Ask God to lead you in this critical choice.

From the book Hurt People -- Hurt People by Sandra D. Wilson

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