Please read Part 1 of this article by clicking on this link: Part 1
In my effort to purge myself of my unbeknownst sense of shame and guilt, I attended various types of churches from hard line fundamental, to non-denominational, denominational, charismatic, full gospel and Four Square assemblies. I sat under pastoral teaching and submitted myself to what was taught. I concertedly attempted to apply what I was learning, in order to gain favor with God and with those individuals with in the church I was attending. My motive was to be accepted and approved of through measuring up to the expectations set forth for me. My efforts to measure up to the literal interpretation of the Bible proved to be inadequate and the legalism only reinforced my sense of shame and guilt. I listened to various teachers declare that the letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives life. As I sought to learn from the leadership of those churches, I heard other conflicting messages.
One such double message told me that God loved me and wanted me to have life and have it more abundantly, however I could not have an abundant life and receive the love of God with out fulfilling specific expectations. Performance based acceptance and love appeared to be the underlying premise. Consequently, I continued to feel inadequate and unlovable in many church settings and fellowships. My experience with in these religious settings reflected the message that I had become all too familiar with in my life experience: Come close, Go away. The impact of the come close, go away messages created confusion and reinforced my experiencing emotional duress. I found myself wanting what I could not have and seeking to be in relationships with an emotionally unavailable God. The crazy making behavior of come close, go away kept me trapped in a sense of inadequacy and unpredictability.
Because I experienced harsh criticism while growing up and then by actively participating in shame based spirituality, my relationship with God suffered greatly. Rather than being encouraged to draw upon the love of God, I was conditioned to avoid displeasing God, because if I displeased God, He would go away. My motivation was driven by fear, rather than by love. I believed based on my experience with my Dad and through my experience with the church (His representative on Earth) I could not satisfy the requirements to be in a relationship with a loving God. Subsequently, I found myself being cut off from the very source of my healing and courage. I believed that my hope could not be realized because I was not able to consistently measure up to the criteria set to be accepted and loved by the God of my understanding. To read the 3rd and final part of this article series please click on this link: Part 3.
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