I’ve been out of the Bible-based high-control group for 5 years, but still can’t read the Bible. Other than random verses I see online daily. I talk (mutter) to God daily, and think about Him a lot throughout each day, and desire intimacy with Him, and worship Him daily, and want nothing more than to experience more of His love and presence. But I am paralyzed when it comes to His Word.
To a Christian who hasn’t been severely spiritually abused this might sound crazy and garner the “well, you can’t be a real Christian then” response. But to someone who has been through something similar to what I have, they will probably understand that the Bible can trigger our PTSD. The Bible was misinterpreted, and used as a weapon. Used to make us miserable. Used to create deep fear, shame, guilt. Scriptures forced down our throat daily. Not to mention that the only translation we were allowed to read was the version translated by the sect founder! (Alarm bells ringing.)
The Bible was used to create such deep pain that I was depressed from age 7. Scriptures were taken out of context constantly. We couldn’t socialize with anyone “outside” the sect because of some obscure passage in Timothy. We couldn’t wear pants because of some Old Testament scripture where the verse next to it talks about not wearing clothing of mixed fibers. (I remember telling my Dad, post-sect, that I would remove my jeans – and change into a skirt – before leaving the house if he would remove his sweater of mixed fibers!)
I know that the Bible is a love letter from God to His earthly creation (I have done a lot of research on its legitimacy). But my body and mind still react in fear when I see all-too-familiar verses. After I had been “out” for about 3 years I was determined to read the Bible like a good little girl and so I printed the Bible out on A4 pages so that I would not be triggered as much because it wouldn’t look like a bound book. I still went into cognitive-mode (as opposed to heart-mode) and numbness. And I read it like a text book, with no feeling. I was still in have-to mode.
Very recently I decided to listen to the audio Bible so that I wouldn’t be triggered by reading. This was my second attempt at overcoming my fears, indifference, and disinterest. It was better than the first attempt. I felt like my heart was engaged and I was actually interested in the scriptures for the first time. However, I listened to the audio Bible once, then not again for the last 4 weeks. So, there is still a blockage.
I have asked God to remove the blockage. That the scriptures will be brand new to me, as if I have never seen them before. I am actually jealous of atheists, Muslims, etc who convert to Christianity and read the Bible for the first time. I’d love for the Bible to have no trauma associated with it. No baggage. No fear. The audio Bble I listened to was The Message translation. I chose that translation because I wanted the scriptures to sound very different from what I was used to so that they wouldn’t trigger PTSD. It helped a lot. Most of the verses sounded very different from the translation I was raised with (which was similar to KJV).
It’s still a journey to disconnect from the past. Our body and mind remembers. I have a measure of peace that God understands (although I do have the odd day where I think I’m not saved because I have indifference towards the Bible. My scrupulosity kicks in.) I crave connection with Him. And I am angry that the Bible has been damaged for me. It will pass as more healing comes. God works healing miracles every day.
I tend to stay away from Christian circles because I feel guilty – the vast majority of Christians don’t understand my predicament and look in horror if I mention that I don’t want to read the Bible. It’s too difficult to explain. I rest in the fact that true love comes from overflow, not obligation. The Father wants children, not slaves.
(This was difficult to write, and to post, because I am ashamed and feel that I will be judged. Especially as most ex-cultists seem to have no problem reading the Bible. But hopefully this helps someone know that they are not alone.)