On the other side
The sun will shine
On the other side
Everything is fine
On the other side
We’ll learn to be content
I know where the grass is green
We’ll step ashore and the air is clean
So weep no more
Leave your troubles far behind
On the other side (The Seekers)

While being on the ‘other side’ of an unhealthy church experience won’t mean everything will be OK with total contentment and no crying or trouble, one can truly get to a much better place than was experienced.

On the ‘other side’ of all the yucky parts of dealing with the negative aspects of our experiences, there is a good place. There can be a happy ending to your story. And you know what, you’ll appreciate it to a greater degree than others. Why? Because you’ve experienced the ‘wrong side’ of religion. And when you’ve experience the ‘wrong side’ of religion, you thoroughly love and appreciate the ‘other side.’

You’ve heard certain teachings over and over and over and not much of any meat. You’ve experienced the image of an uncaring God, just ready to bust you over the head should you dare step out of line. You’ve experienced a minister who does not have the heart of a servant. You’ve experienced a works related salvation. You’ve experienced a place where the love is most often dependent upon you keeping the rules. You experienced a time where your initial joy at coming to know the Lord was slowly squeezed from your being, to where you may have even become a judgmental person.

BUT…on the ‘other side’, you can experience the REAL thing. God loves you simply because he loves you. You can’t do a thing to make him love you any more or any less….but you may find your love for him growing as you break free from the faulty teachings and untrue image of God. You’ll find there is no whip or baseball bat in his hand, ready to pound you at the least infraction of a rule. He is a patient, long suffering God. You may find that the Bible will open to you anew—-and you will look forward to reading it because of all that God is revealing to you. You read it before but missed so many wonderful truths because it was twisted and used to manipulate you. You might develop and use your gifts and talents so you may help others; many had them squashed in their former churches. It’s kind of like being a kid all over again and getting to go to that place you just couldn’t wait to get to!

Will things like these happen right away? I wish I could say that they would. It takes time and patience while you work through all the issues involved in leaving an unhealthy church. It may be difficult at first to not view God as a harsh taskmaster or to be able to read the Bible without past sermons screaming in your mind. As you discover who you are in Christ and learn of God’s grace and start to experience it, things will change. It is a much better place than the one you left. It isn’t a place of striving to obtain favor with God, it is one of knowing you already are accepted by him. It isn’t a place of trying hard to measure up, but one of resting in the completed work of Jesus Christ. It isn’t a place of being shamed, humiliated or degraded, but a place of love, joy and peace.

Our prayer is that all who have been subjected to spiritual abuse and unhealthy churches will come to a place of healing and be able to break free from the tangled mess of deception and lies of their former churches.