My wife and I have different classes at church, I for walking around Rome and she for the class which has a book which…. Well, I’ll put it like this. Neither she nor I like to read books like this. Fluffy, and not in the good way, is the best way to describe books like this – BUT she liked it, and she is even worse on fluff than I. So, I picked it up. I liked it. It wasn’t fluff.
Coming from spiritual abuse – and many of you are coming from the same thing – this book appealed to me in a different way. Now, the book is not published – YET – although I think that it should be. She is being invited to others churches and groups to speak about clinging to God and overcoming abuse, so you might get a chance to see her soon enough.
While some of you may have a problem with a woman minister, let me remind you to stay in the Scriptures. But, look beyond those disagreements (read John 17, if you need too) and understand that people, especially in today’s society, are being abused and then forgotten, with too often the saying uttered, ‘just get over it and move on.’ Personally, I think that just makes us feel better to say, because all too often, we are afraid of either reaching out to others, or finding ourselves just like them. Abused.
As many of you know, those who have read this blog as I described what we came from and why, and then later reflected on the spiritual abuse that we had endured and more than that, helped to perpetuate
I asked Shauna for this interview, namely because I think it is important to get good ideas out to you and to introduce interesting and wonderful people to you. I hope that her book gets published so that I can give away a few copies. And I hope that you receive this interview in the way in which it was intended – to edify you and to help any of those who are struggling with abuse of any kind.
1.) Shauna, thank you for this interview. Let’s start by introducing yourself to the readers. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello, Joel. Thank you for taking some time for me. I am Shauna Hyde. I am a United Methodist minister currently serving as an associate pastor in a local church. I am studied the martial arts for about ten years and have been actively involved in domestic abuse prevention programs.
2.) How did you come to hear the call of God for ministry?
My call to ministry has been present most of my life. I just was not aware of it because I had always been taught that women were not to be pastors. The problem was, I didn’t with anything else! There were huge clues….I kept saying I was going to be a missionary, I requested a study Bible for Christmas when I was 13, and all the cats on the ranch (I grew up in Colorado) were baptized. I was serving a church as a pianist when they received their first female pastor and a light bulb went off in my head. I began to really pay attention at that point and actively pursuing answers. One day I was pretty sick and had been taken to the ER and I was so tired. It had been a horrible year and I was struggling to understand. I finally (in the midst of feeling sorry for myself) informed God that I just wanted to die. I railed at God for my life and why all the things that happened had happened and had a delightful pity party. Then, the room became still and calm and I felt a peace I had never known before. I am always a little afraid people will think I am crazy but I felt God take my hand and heard God say, “Shauna, I am preparing you for my work.” I went home the next day and called my pastor and got serious about being who God wanted me to be.
3.) You have written a yet unpublished book that you are using in small group discussions at the local church. Tell us about it. What prompted you to write it?
The book I have written started as a talk for a group of teenagers. I had been called at the last minute because a speaker was needed. I was desperate for something to reach them with and started to make a connection between the Christian life and martial arts. When I attended seminary, a professor urged me to write it down. When I started as the associate pastor at my current church, the lead pastor along with a good friend of mine encouraged me to turn it into a Bible study. It is a talk that I have done in countless contexts and I have more speaking engagements lined up.
4.) It is clearly about overcoming victim-hood. And of course, it comes from a physical abuse background, but do you see it able to be applied to other abuse systems, especially spiritual abuse which we is a problem that many Christians are suffering today?
I realize that I view the world through the lens of a person who has encountered poor treatment from those who were to love me, but I see a society that encourages us to treat others badly. When overcoming abuse of any kind, the same skills and techniques are applied. Society tells us that we are too fat, too short, too poor, too ugly, too religious…..if our spouses tell us those things on a regular basis we start to call it verbal abuse, yet we tolerate it on a large scale daily and say nothing. Unfortunately, churches practice spiritual abuse on a regular basis without ever realizing that they have fallen into the same trap. Some folks use religion to intentionally hurt and oppress others. I am not saying that it is easy to overcome. It takes a lot of work and practice but the bottom line is that God did not intend for us to live life defeated. With God, we are not victims, we are not survivors, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8).
5.) Shauna, I noticed that you are starting to get an old fashioned circuit for speaking. How are your audiences reacting?
My audiences seem to love it! I watch them react as they realize that they are more valuable than they knew. I watch them perk up as they realize that God loves them not only for who they are but for who they can become. I am honored to hear stories that they often have never told before as they tell me of abusive relationships (spouses, parents, verbal, physical, sexual, financial, spiritual, etc.) Once they see that they are seen and heard and can be healed they suddenly see hope. I have spoken to drug addicts, church groups, folks on retreats, abuse victims and the reaction is the same – they realize that God intended and designed life so that we could live free.
6.) What is your goal for your book?
I have cried with so many men and women of all ages as they tell me their stories that my goal for this book has become one of restoration. I want people to understand that they do not have to tolerate being mistreated by anyone. They are a human life created in the image of God and they are the most valuable commodity this world offers. They should expect more of themselves and of others when it comes to being loved and treated with fairness, love, and respect. God went to a lot of work to invest in and free humanity. God puts in a lot of work to reach us, love us, and heal us. I just want folks to see that and realize how precious they are and how precious others are then followed up those realizations with actions that insure that the people around them feel valuable.
7.) What do you say to people when they say ‘just get over it’
Ohhhhh…..I hate that phrase. It is so unfeeling and belittling. No compassion! I usually ask them what they have had to “get over” and if they were successful. We all get over things in our own time and forcing someone to our time is just one more way to exercise control over them. Those are teachable moments in which we can talk about pain in their life that is usually unresolved leading them to tell others to get over it so they do not have to relive memories and emotions they wish to avoid. Another good response is to ask them what it means to them to get over something. How is it done? Do they mean to say shut up? Are they avoiding a truth? Getting them to open up usually shows that there is something deep going on….they just need to learn a better way to express it!
8.) Shauna, thank you for sitting down with us for a bit. Is there anything else that you would like to say to the readers?
I hate it when I hear someone apologize to me for complaining because they were “never hit.” The majority of abusive relationships are not physically abusive. The greatest damage is done with words, thoughts, subtle actions, and the lack of action. Belittling people and controlling them through any means that hurts them or damages them is not what God intended – even if God is taken out of the equation it is just wrong! We tease by belittling, we have double standards and methods of controlling those who just are not “good enough.” The Church has often been silent or has allowed behaviors to continue by doing nothing or by excusing it. Telling someone that they have to stay in an abusive marriage because divorce is a sin is horribly negligent, especially if the person were to stay and be killed. Telling men that they are to be the “heads of the household” and offer them only scorn and rejection when they are being abused is cruel and unfeeling. Allowing abuse to happen within a church and not stop it is negligent and enabling. Churches are made up of imperfect people so imperfect things happen. Grace and healing is offered freely to all. The church seems to come under fire more because folks expect better from us. All I can say is that people are going to screw up and let each other down but God will not let us down. Horrible abuses happen everyday and we can sit question is all day about why it is happening. The beauty of it all is that God never abuses us by taking away our free will, by forcing decision upon us, by treating us badly; God has set up a way in which we can be healed, restored, and redeemed. God has said that we are more than conquerors.