Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When God Separates

There are many reasons why relationships end. Some people grow apart, finding that they really don’t have enough in common to sustain a relationship. Others die a painful death that can be much more complex or difficult to process. This article is written to help people understand that there are times when God just wants you to know it’s ok to let go. As TD Jakes would say, “If a person’s going to walk out of your life, let them walk!“ “Don’t beg them to stay, don’t try to convince someone to love you…let them walk, because they are not a part of your destiny!” This is so true. Some people are not a part of the bigger picture; they are there for a reason or a purpose but when that is fulfilled, often that is when things may begin to fall apart. Some people also don’t understand the quality of loyalty. They are loyal to themselves above all others, often viewing others as expendable. This too is ok. You don’t really want or need that type of person in your life. If they don't value you for who you are, let them go. Sometimes the situations that occur in our lives that end up breaking relationships are for the best, and even if we can’t realize it at the time, often we do later on.

There are also times when God pulls people apart because the relationship(s) are unhealthy for our spiritual growth and will actually turn people away from Him if those relationships are left together. You cannot be yoked to dead weight and expect to move forward with the Lord. Toxic, destructive relationships will damage people’s spiritual walk with God and injure their faith. It is my hope and desire that this article will help shed some light on things that may have occurred in your life that have left you with unanswered questions and unhealed wounds.

So many people struggle with “church” hurt, disappointment from people they expected more from, or broken loyalties that leave people feel completely rejected, abandoned, abused and an outcast. God does not abandon His children, but He will separate and allow offense to burn the bridges behind people so that they cannot go back to unhealthy, toxic relationships. It’s painful, but necessary. Some people might say otherwise, that we are to make amends and try to patch things up, but that is not always what God has in mind. Yes, we can try to make amends, but what I’ve noticed is that not everyone wants to make amends and put things under the blood; they just want the satisfaction of trying to continue to place guilt, shame, condemnation or other yokes upon people that God has not approved. Jesus came to set us free, not keep us unequally yoked to others that insist on dominating people and making victims out of others, even to the point of oppression and bondage. God separates because not all people are ready or willing to grow spiritually. Those that do will probably find themselves facing some turmoil as God prunes certain relationships from their lives. Some have even bought into a toxic faith system that keeps them loyal to the wrong people, relationships and elements of contaminated faith that actually works as a thief in their life, robbing the individual of self esteem, genuine faith, and they end up placing their loyalties in the wrong camp. A toxic faith system is made up of perpetrators, co-conspirators, enablers, victims and outcasts.

Here are some behaviors and character traits to help you recognize the various roles: (these are taken from the book “Toxic Faith” by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton).

Characteristics of the Persecutor:

* Frequently defends own problems
* Feels the need to embellish the truth
* Feels the need to be in control
* Speaks boldly about sinful behaviors, even when involved in that same behavior
* Projects own wrongs onto other people
* Has an attitude of superiority
* Feels they are owed something
* Was probably born into an abusive or neglectful home that appeared wonderful to those outside the family
* Is extremely self centered
* Contorts God’s word to fit own beliefs
* Surrounds self with people who are insecure and easily swayed
* Manipulates others using guilt, shame and remorse
* Attempts to make others accept responsibility for own mistakes
* Is very angry
* Is compulsive
* Blames others for own failures
* Feels disappointment in God, self and others
* Fears not measuring up or losing image
* Refuses accountability
* Possesses an observable compulsion such as hard work that appears admirable to the outside world

The Role of the Co-Conspirator

* Assumes the role of the ultimate team player
* Feeds the persecutor’s ego
* Keeps things going within the toxic faith system
* Typically is a small person that feels big when in on the action
* Ensures that everything is taken care of responsibly
* Willingly deceives to maintain the persecutor’s power
* Is good at lying
* Enjoys being rewarded for willingness to distort the truth
* Usually felt inferior as a child
* Is viewed by outsiders as trustworthy, conscientious, competent, mature and reliable
* Protects sense of self worth by protecting the persecutor
* Is sincerely deluded
* Lives to be appreciated and recognized by the persecutor
* Ties person feelings of value to another person rather than to God
* Addicted to the caretaking of the persecutor

Characteristics of the Enabler:

* Allows victimization rather than promotes it
* Supports victimization with silence
* Is dedicated to not rocking the boat
* Does not trust God enough to allow family turmoil or destruction of a ministry
* Appears powerless
* Receives praise for sainthood in being able to survive under severe persecution
* Can be perceived by co-conspirators as the enemy or a threat to the co-conspirator’s position
* Allows the persecutor to be in denial
* Covers up the harm done to the family or the organization
* As a persecutor beings to lose credibility, will start to develop other skills, such as obtain degree in counseling, knowing the system and the family may fall apart
* Feels very little self worth
* Goes along with group consensus
* Is addicted to the persecutor and the system
* Becomes a caretaker of the persecutor
* Has the primary goal of maintaining peace and the status quo
* Inwardly is angry at living an unfulfilled life
* Outwardly appears loving and supportive of the persecutor
* Has great difficulty thinking for oneself
* Needs someone to intervene

Characteristics of the Victim:

* Makes tremendous sacrifices out of a combination of a desire to serve God and a very low self esteem.
* Wants to feel a valuable part of something important.
* Was often victimized as a child
* Is easily manipulated by persecutors and co-conspirators
* Feels victimized when the truth about toxic faith ministry is revealed
* Is often threatened by co-conspirators and persecutors to keep the victimization a secret
* Often abandons spiritual journey upon discovery of abuse by an exploitative leader or parent
* Bears the pain of existing in a world of lies and deception
* Refuses to doubt questionable activities; instead rationalizes why exploitative things would be necessary for the ministries survival
* Often has a martyr complex
* Sacrifices a wonderful family for the sake of a toxic leader
* Though astute in business and other affairs, naively practices a blind faith
* Resolves to protect and defend the toxic leadership and ministry
* Sometimes leaves one toxic faith ministry and goes to another
* Looks for someone to make salvation easy
* Becomes isolated and lonely once disillusioned about a ministry or family
* Is reluctant to stop the victimization for fear of looking foolish
* Often is involved with a toxic faith ministry out of a desire to be or look important
* Willingly pays a high price for acceptance

I would mention that although there are various roles and characteristics of each participant, in the end, all are victims. The enemy plays to win souls and damage as many people as possible through his various tactics; none are without the high cost of emotional pain and trauma. How often those that are victims eventually transform from victim to persecutor and even that of a predator. The enemy continues to reproduce the cycle of pain and the toxic beliefs into anyone that is none-the-wiser to his course of action.

The book goes on to say ( and I quote), “Of the five roles in the toxic faith system, only one is not a religious addict or bound by toxic faith. In most toxic systems, someone can usually see the problem and confront it. Unwilling to play the games of the persecutors and co-conspirators, the person becomes an outcast.”

“These people who stand up for what is right and challenge the system lose their jobs, friends, and church. They become lone voices in the wilderness, crying out for change that will not come as long as the persecutor dictates power, the co-conspirators manipulate the system, the enablers allow it to continue, and the victims fall in line with blind faith. When outcasts surface, they are identified as troublemakers and pushed out of the system as soon as possible.”

… “Outcasts who challenge the delusion of the system are discredited immediately. The toxic faith system creates a lose-lose situation where the outcasts must give up perception of reality or be willing to face complete rejection. Abandonment becomes the reward for trying to correct the ministry (or leader).”

“Outcasts can interpret reality for themselves. Even when their perception of reality contradicts that of hundreds or thousands of followers, they can clearly see the problems and press for solutions to those problems. Outcasts are unimpressed by position or personhood. They love God and want to protect his people and his institutions from spiritual fraud.”

“Those who are so dedicated to God have little difficulty seeing others’ dedication to egos and empires. Yet they are forced to suffer for what they see because they refuse to watch people live a lie and abuse others. No toxic faith system can handle this keen insight and dedication to truth. They must place their jobs and the church they love on the altar of sacrifice as they are forced to move on to a place free of toxic faith.”

Characteristics of the Outcast:

* Is not a religious addict.
* Does not possess a toxic faith
* Willingly stands alone
* Stands up for what is right
* Is willing to be rejected by others in the toxic faith system
* Can discern right from wrong
* Commits to leaders having integrity
* Refuses to be victimized by false teaching and a lack of integrity
* Speaks out for truth
* Usually loses a job within a toxic organization over concern for it
* Suffers rejection by friends after challenging the leadership of those in the toxic faith system
* Often is treated like a leper
* Sees the truth and acts on it even if it produces great personal pain
* Is motivated to protect people from spiritual fraud
* Endures shame for actions
* Interprets reality for self
* Others respect them for their courage

“Toxic faith exists within an unhealthy family or system of people trapped in roles that addict them and destroy their relationships with God. …Where toxic faith exists, everyone is affected. Everyone is hurt by the counterfeiting of faith in an all powerful, loving God.”

These are some powerful excerpts from the book “Toxic Faith,” and this is a very well written book about breaking free from the unhealthy, co-dependent roles that support and keep a toxic faith system alive. Many people question things enough to know that something isn’t right, but don’t have the courage to confront it and make the changes that are necessary so that they can get into a place where the Lord can heal them from toxic relationships. If this article has spoken to your heart, I pray that you seek the Lord further on this matter, and I highly recommend this book so that you can read it for yourself. God wants to shine His light on those things in each of our lives that hinder our faith from growing and maturing, but until we are willing to confront certain things with truth, until we are ready to allow God to show us things in our own belief system that don’t line up with truth, we are not ready for change. We have to be willing to surrender all that chokes out our faith, and allow God to make those crooked places in our understanding straight again. I pray that this is your day for salvation! The Lord is standing at the gate, waiting to lead you out into green pasture. He is waiting to lead you out into an open field where your faith can flourish. The question is, “Do you want your future more than where you are at right now?” “Will you take Him by the hand and allow Him to guide you into the truth that will set you free?” You are stronger than you think. It’s time to stand up for what you know is right and not be a victim any longer. It’s time to overthrow the enemy’s yoke of oppression and come into the life God has for you!

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