If you’re not familiar with me or my ministry then you don’t know that I once worked at a church with an abusive pastor. In fact I spent my last two years of high school slowly becoming more and more legalistic, more and more hateful and more and more like the man who was spiritually abusing me. With that abuse it also became ingrained in my head that no one cared about me, that no one wanted to spend any time with me and that I was exactly what I’d been told my entire life that I was a loser.
Growing up with a disability I was also fairly empathetic. I saw people who were down and wanted to help them, to bear all their burdens with them and to love them. The whole while hoping that I could feel love back, to believe for only a little while that I’m worth something to someone. Back then I didn’t believe that God loved me or that anyone else did for that matter.
This is a sort of classical conditioning, when we are taught to believe something. It happens all the time, we’re conditioned to believe the government’s going to run day to day even if it doesn’t. We’re conditioned to wear a shirt and shoes at McDonalds. These are okay conditionings, I personally am thankful that people wear shirts at McDonalds or in public in general.
Before the church I worked at turned abusive I had sat through several months’ worth of bible studies based on Cult Education. It was extremely informative and it defiantly has become an interest in my studies. To see how groups condition people fascinates me, the type of things they believe do too. Yes I know you’re thinking “oh no he’s going to try to control us.” Don’t worry, it also terrifies me, beyond all measure. After being in a controlling group you very rarely want to control others, unless you take over that group or find the control you gain to be exhilarating. Then destroying others might become a hobby for you and destructive to your friends.
The worst part about being conditioned to believe something is the difficulty in trying to forget what you’ve believed and believe what is true. The idea that I’m worthless and no one cares is so engrained in my memory that it becomes an extremely stressful activity trying to reach out to other people for help. So much so that most of the time I just shut down and don’t come out of my room for several days (except to go to class) this is destructive and it’s also hurtful to your friends.
But how do we get over this type of conditioning? How do we believe the opposite of what we’ve been taught?
One of my professors, a former cult deprogrammer gave this advice. Find a scripture to meditate on and remember Philippians 4:8 which says; “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (ESV).
This is where community comes in handy because as you come out of the programming you won’t be able to do things on your own. You’ll need God and you’ll need the people that God has put in your life. Find someone who cares, they are out there, even if you’re conditioned to believe that no one does.
So go this week and focus on what is good and right and seek God to see if you’ve been programmed to believe this. Then go and be with your community of friends.
God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries