Spirit Sunday: The Light and Dark Spectrum – Episode 1

The souls is but a hollow which God fills.  Its union with God is almost, by definition, a continual self-abandonment.  An opening, unveiling, and surrender of itself.  A blessed spirit is a mold ever more and more patient of a bright metal poured into it.  A body ever more completely uncovered to the meridian blaze of the spiritual sun.”  – C.S. Lewisa-good-and-evil-light-dark-angels-demons-hd-wallpaper

I’ve been contemplating much as of late on the analogy of light and dark as it relates to the concepts of good and evil.  The imagery is all throughout both scripture and culture, with God being the fullness of light (1 John 1:5) and evil being personified as darkness.  I find so many perfect parallels to this imagery that once again, as so often happens, I can’t help but to stand amazed by the wisdom and sufficiency of scripture to speak the truths that nothing else seems able to explain or even touch.

One of the reasons I love psychology so much is because it deals with the topic of God’s highest and most complex creation – us.  Of all created beings, only we have the ability to reason.  Only we have that thing called conscience.  And only we have that thing called free will.  We are not just a collection of atoms thrown together at random.  We are the highest and most complex life forms walking the earth.  And I am fascinated by the study of how God created this thing we call mind.

I’ve always been fascinated by this.  I’ve studied and analyzed behavior since before I can remember (probably due in large part to being brought up in a home where the people and behavior never made sense).  But I went on to obtain both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology for this reason.  Yet, for all my secular study, I cannot separate the study of how we are mentally and emotionally wired from the study of who God is and how he created us to be.  To me, it’s the same as any other science.  Biology is the study of how God created the earth.  Psychology is the study of how God created the mind.  And to exclude God from that picture is to throw away the depth of meaning and insight to be found in the study.

The Bible speaks of good and evil and is very clear about what constitutes both.  It’s very clear on what good and evil looks like.  Psychology may use different terms to describe the same behaviors, and there are plenty of areas in which the Bible and pop psychology disagree.  However, there are many places in which they agree.

I’m going to start spending my Sundays reflecting on this interchange between Scripture and Psychology and I’m going to start spending more time writing and creating videos to discuss the topic.  Today I started off by comparing this imagery of light and dark to the psychological principles that make up what we, as Christians, would call good and evil.  I hope you find it insightful.


BA Recovery

The last couple months have been a whirlwind, to say the least.  Personally, professionally, spiritually, and emotionally…nothing is the same today as it was even just a couple months ago.  And for many reasons, I am grateful for that.

Last June I started a YouTube channel.  The goal at the time was simply to express my millions of thoughts, feelings, and experiences as the victim of emotional and psychological abuse.  More specifically, abuse by Narcissists (the diagnosable kind) and Psychopaths (or antisocial if I’m being clinical).

It’s an area of life I’ve never been able to fully understand or express until these last few months and as I’ve been finally understanding all the intricacies of the abuse I’ve experienced, I’ve needed to bring expression to the feelings, insights, and understanding I’ve gained.  For the first time in my life, I finally have the words and context to understand all the pain I’ve experienced in my life.  And I have this burning conviction that this knowledge needs to be shared with others who are also suffering.

Honestly, I didn’t really expect anything to happen the the channel other than the opportunity to share my story.  But as the videos got more views, I started getting a lot of feedback from viewers.  I started receiving emails from men and women expressing that they were finding both comfort and insight from my experience and knowledge of these disorders.  I have been nothing short of blown away by the outpouring of appreciation I have received simply from sharing my experiences and the psychology behind them.

What blows me away is that I have studied psychology for over a decade and yet only recently have I put together the pieces of information I’ve needed to understand my own experiences with this kind of abuse.  So, I figure if I can have a master’s degree in psychology and still not have any clue about what these disorders are and how they damage other people, then there’s a really good chance others are in great need of the information as well.

As I listen to people’s stories and try to answer their questions, I’m finding yet another way that God is bringing purpose to all of this pain.  Every comment and email I receive from other victims and survivors shows me that there is most certainly a reason why I have suffered so intensely and for so long.  Now I want more than ever to be a light, however dim it may be, to others who are drowning in the darkness of their emotional and psychological pain.  And that at the hands of abusers who they often times can’t even recognize as such.  For the first time in my entire life, I both see and feel the reason why God has allowed me to survive such horrendous suffering.  I know there is a reason and that reason is going to bring a whole lot of people healing.  And for the first time, I feel real hope in that.

So that’s the first big project I’ve been working on (there’s another one coming up soon, so stay tuned 🙂 ).  I’d be honored for you to visit my YouTube channel and look around.  If there’s anything there that relates to you or someone you know, please feel free to share or leave your feedback.  It’s my heart to bring light to the dark and comfort to the broken.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Cor. 1:3-4

Turning Pain Into Purpose

purpose - isolated text in vintage letterpress wood type stained by color inks

Right now it feels as though my heart is going to explode.  It feels like it’s going to explode with love and joy and a depth of emotion I haven’t felt in such a long time.  I sit here amazed, not even knowing what to write.

For the last few months, I’ve been working on turning my past experiences into something useful and hopefully helpful for others.  The pain and suffering I have experienced in life often gets stuck inside me until I’m able to turn it around for good.  It feels like I’m some sort of human transformation machine where pain comes in and good must come out or else it gets stuck inside me, turns toxic, and I start to self-destruct.  The only way to find resolution is to help other people and turn it all around for good.

The first project I started was the idea of my therapist.  She saw that I was struggling to make sense of the sexual assault I experienced a few years ago and that until I turned it into purpose, I would continue to walk around the same emotional cul-de-sac of confusion and pain.  She had the most brilliant idea that has not only helped me but is also helping others.  I’ll write more on that project after it’s finished…but it’s a good one!  🙂

When I felt how much that project was helping both myself and others, I decided the principle needed to be applied to more than just the sexual assault.  I decided to start speaking out about my experiences of being psychologically and emotionally abused as well.  At first, I didn’t think anyone would care, much less listen.  But in just a few months I’ve been shown that my experiences are being used to help many other people who are also struggling to make sense of their lives.  This new reality I find myself in is both a healing balm and a huge motivator to continue.

This morning I got an email from a man saying he’s been tremendously helped by my story and experiences.  He said he felt like he wanted to give back somehow.  He offered to donate to a charity on my behalf and I told him about the charity I just went to Africa with.  He is going to donate to them as a way of giving back to me for the help I gave.  And the circle is now complete.  Except it isn’t, because those kids are going to be loved and helped in ways they will turn into good as well.  And the light of love will just keep growing and growing.

I sit here overwhelmed, with tears in my eyes and a huge knot in my chest, knowing that God is turning my pain into purpose.  That even while I am still healing from it all, part of that healing involves helping other people heal too.  And the results are overflowing to others to spread goodness and light and love in ways I never would have imagine.  All I can do is sit here in utter amazement and gratitude, knowing that God has a purpose for the pain and that my pain will be used to help others.  For the first time in my life, I can look at it with a sense of thankfulness.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28

Into The Light

Life finally seems to be making more sense.  That may sound rather anti-climactic, but for me it’s incredibly refreshing.  As someone who thrives off structure and logical reasoning, the last few years have been anything but comfortable.  In fact, they’ve been almost purely maddening.  For things to finally start making sense is more of a relief  than most people realize.

While I don’t believe our God is one of chaos or confusion, I do believe he allows our lives to be confusing and chaotic.  Realities of evil, sin, and their consequences mean that life will inevitably be both confusing and chaotic… and sometimes worse.  Sometimes it becomes downright excruciating and destructive.  My life has been lived mostly in the latter and yet my deepest pains have not come from evil actions against me but rather from not being able to make sense of them.  It’s impossible to move past things you can’t even make sense of, so understanding has always been my unrelenting pursuit.

Throughout my life, I’ve learned that all manner of evil can be endured with patience if we’re able to see the end game.  If we know the purpose of a particular pain before we experience it, the pain is much easier to endure.  For example, if I have asked God for patience and all of a sudden my life becomes annoyingly complicated, I take a great deal of comfort in knowing that God is growing my character and internal strength.  I then ease into the discomfort and find myself working with God instead of resisting him, and life almost magically becomes easier.

On the other hand, there are some sufferings so tragic, so deep, and so damaging that they’re as senseless as they are painful.  And this has been my greatest struggle – enduring pain that is not only excruciating but also seemingly senseless.  What purpose is there in being repeatedly victimized in such a way that your wounds never heal but only compound into something not even recognizable?  What is the purpose in abuse by parents, friends, or people who claim to love you?  What is the purpose in being raped?  What is the purpose in being lied to and manipulated and coerced?  Those are hard questions to answer when you’re in the thick of things.  But with time and space have come perspective, and with perspective comes a great deal of peace.  It may be over 30 years coming, but important answers are finally arriving.

In the same way that we are blessed by God in order to be a blessing to others, I also believe that we are allowed to endure great trials in order to help others through the same.  God would not have allowed me to survive the assaults on my life and very soul if he didn’t want me to help others survive as well.  And I firmly believe that one day, the balances will shift in the right direction.  That survivors from all walks of life will find their voice, speak out against the abuses they have endured, and enact positive change that shines a bright light into the deep darkness of pain that has threatened to overtake so many lives.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”  I pray that no matter what darkness you find yourself in, you’re able to gravitate towards the light.  And as you find yourself moving more and more into the light, you will become a light for others as well.