Guilt. It’s a part of the human condition, a reminder of our imperfection that we can never seem to get rid of or escape from no matter how hard we try. We have all experienced the debilitating effect that guilt can have on the soul that sins but is also longing for redemption. Whether it’s a matter of life and death, faiulre and accomplishment, sickness or health; in every realm of human existence we are reminded that there has been an exalted standard set forth by God Himself which was borne out in the life of His son Jesus Christ.

In His great wisdom God created us with a desire and hunger for perfection, though we could never hope to achieve this apart from Him or His power. Sin entered through Adam and Eve and their fall from grace. The consequence was death. Later, after the flood of Noah God graciously extended a covenant of His mercy and love, showing all of creation that He would not abandon us but instead gave us His Word- the Bible- to instruct and direct us into the way of righteousness.

So then as time moved along and history unfolded, people became a little more aware of who they were as individuals and how they fit into the scheme of things. Wise men such as Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Job, etc…tried to warn of what would be if mankind continued in its sinful way and turned away from God. Great prophets of God such as John the Baptizer preached to Israel and were rejected, but were eventually proven to be true, once again offering words of warning of judgment to those who go on sinning without repentance.

Then in the fullness of time came Jesus Christ, come down from heaven to earth because of his love, to save man from himself, and to show us what was possible even in the worst of circumstances. Again the people turned, whether because of fear of their traditions and the religious leaders of the day or for other reasons, and even tried to kill him-and so he suffered, died, and rose again-being vindicated by God the Father for his sacrifice. Though none on earth deserved to be saved by Grace, God went out of his way to do it anyway. The heavens opened up wide, declaring that his Son was the Messiah, the Savior of the world. So then at last, upon the stage of eternity is played out the drama of man’s constant battle with sin, and the only answer for man: God. (insert Amen) But oh wait, now comes the twist.

What? It’s just too good to be true!

Ever heard that saying “if it’s too good to be true then it usually is”? Well, today I want you to see just how far that saying and its application can go when it comes to Christianity. You see in order to have faith and believe the good news you need to become a Christian, then you must put your faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. And then at that point life seems like pure heaven, until the moment you realize that the Christian life is nowhere near what we’ve made it out to be. “Why” you ask? Because too many people have taken advantage of new Christians, mostly in religious circles, and especially those that are currently established within it. Why? Well, I think many don’t fully understand just how much damage can be done when someone becomes a Christian because of this manipulation through guilt and shame tactics. However, I also think these same people ddon’t really want to know anything about this either because it will mean having to face the truth, and as most of us know, the truth hurts.

I know it hurts because I experienced it first hand when I became a Christian. I have come to learn over the years that when something doesn’t feel right, you better take heed and listen to your instincts. Our mind, body, spirit, and senses can tell us a lot, and sadly in too many cases we choose to ignore them. Now what does any of this have to do with guilt? Everything my dear brothers and sisters. If you’ve ever experienced guilt on a spiritual level then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Also, if you’re currently involved in a church and it feels off, whether directly or indirectly then you should listen to the warning signs that all around you. Don’t discard them, look closer. God’s not lying and neither is your conscience! If you’re being mistreated, lied too, talked about or degraded in any form or fashion then you had better get out of there quickly while there’s still time! This is where I need to get personal very quickly.

My Story

First off, let me say that this wasn’t always easy for me to write. In fact, it took a lot of courage and strength to do so. I doubt myself often times but despite it all I must tell you that in the end my conscience is clear to tell my story. When I became a Christian in 2003 I had no idea where I would end up in life. All that I knew is that I needed salvation from my past sinful behaviors and lifestyles. I wanted change and I wanted it bad. So much so, that I was willing to lay down everything to make it happen. And it did, hallelujah! “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”- Romans 6:23

After having successfully come to terms with the fact that my guilt for my previous life was in essence completely gone thanks to God’s amazing grace and forgiveness, a few months later I joined the First Presbyterian Church in Ocala, Florida, USA. At the time I thought I was doing okay because here I was going back to church after not attending for sometime, and now I was in a church that had worship and seminars that seemed focused on making people healthy spiritually. So I thought that doing this would put me back on track but not in reality, and it would cause issues for me because I was already being a victim of abuse by then. This same cycle of abuse would continue in others churches and ministries that I would have supposed fellowship with. The manipulation through guilt and lies began here. I would find out later on that “they” really cared less about helping people and would sometimes actually hurt or lie to others in order to gain control over them. How sad yet how true. Yes, my brothers and sisters, it’s a known fact that as long as the victim stays then they will continue to earn money.

But, however, I have witnessed what happens when you speak out, and get out. You see I stayed at certain churches and ministries longer than I should have, and I was always told what they could do for you, how important I was, and blah, blah, blah. By staying I was giving them the legitimacy to maintain and then build on the false image of respectability that they have created for themselves. However, once I stepped outside the box and confronted them, it was as if the spiritual world as I knew it almost came crumbling down around me. This is exactly what they feared would happen if anyone confronted them or challenged their authority. They didn’t want to be held accountable for their actions because in many casse it would meant their own downfall. Confrontation for me meant freedom. Now I can say without reservation that after speaking out against the evil that was happening in the church and ministry that my family and I belonged to, that I am finally free to live again and to know that I am loved by God and everyone else. Let me tell you, the feeling is amazing, liberating, fulfilling, and joyous. I feel like I have “life and have it in abundance!” Now what could possibly go wrong? I know you’ll probably tell me one day, “the sin principle that dwells within,” and you’d be right but at least now I can defend myself against it with truth, help others, and finally get well physically, emotionally, mentally, and most importantly spiritual heal. That’s not to say I haven’t thought of returning to the old ways of the Christian-church-centric life because in the back of my mind I do wonder if in some fashion the old church system will change or if I’d revert back to my old ways, but one thing that I do know is that for the first time in a very long time is that, “I’m free to think for myself, and to ask questions of those who claim that their Christianity isn’t so much about serving me and taking me for granted anymore, and that I’m now well and truly ready to serve God.” (Insert a loud “Amen”)!

It’s with a sense of confidence and faith in God that I can say that after all that’s happened, from 17 years of abuse and other miscellaneous forms of physical and mental torture that the Lord is opening doors for me to get ahead and not have to worry about being guilted again or being shamed. No, this chapter in my life is officially closing, and guess what? Praise God, this brings closure, not only to the various chapters of my past book but to a new era of freedom