Surrendering to Rest

Surrendering to Rest

By: Susan Deborah Schiller

This week's prompt is "If you surrendered to ___ what would happen? Dwell in the possibilities. Allow yourself to dream." I am replacing the blank with the word "rest". What word would you use?

I like to take a mental vacation, if only for a few minutes. In my imagination I'm hiking along a path near my home in the hills, surrounded by trees, and near a lively stream. This is my quiet place. 

David, in Psalm 91, calls it the "Secret Place". It's a mental refuge and spiritual retreat, all in one. David was pursued by a religious and political sociopath. Since God called David, "A man after My own heart," I know David had caught onto something powerful – the ability to rest, even when you're being persecuted by a psychopath.

Here in America women suffer persecution for their faith behind closed doors, at the hands of "Christian" husbands. I know of a woman today who is all alone. Her husband, a pastor, forced her out of their home after threatening her life. Her sin was praying for the children, not tolerating abuse, and speaking up on behalf of the children who suffered horrific abuse by their father.

 She would return home from church and the verbal knives tore into her soul There was nowhere to hide. She put on a smile, for the sake of her children, and she kept on keeping on. 

She read books, attended conferences, and begged for counseling. She hoped and prayed without ceasing. She spoke well of her spouse to others. You lifted him up, encouraged and supported him. But nothing changed. 

The abuse escalated. Why? To a sociopath it's a Game.

Your church leaders tell you to submit, even to the abuse, for in doing so you are submitting to God, and he will handle it in His own way, they say.

But the side effect of false submission, as commonly taught in churches, is brain damage.

Your ability to make decisions, to think for yourself, to take care of yourself is disabled. If you don't escape, you're in danger of losing your soul.

Gradually, as parts of your mind and heart are gouged out, you become an automaton. 

Subconsciously you know all the right things to say and do and so you live by routines and rituals, doing what you are supposed to do, but the real you is somewhere far away, in a spiritual coma… or tortured.

One woman describes how she went to a nuerosurgeon for an EEG, and the doctor kept asking her, "Are you awake?" Each time, she replied, "Yes, I'm awake." The doctor said, "The machine says your brain is asleep." That is how she survived repeated verbal and physical abuse. Her brain was damaged and she was constantly in a fog; her heart frozen and numb.

A pastor's wife, highly intelligent and talented, her life had been reduced to routines and rituals, just living in a numbed state, like a Stepford Wife*. 

I know of only one cure. Tell your story. The more I told my story the more I healed. Facing reality bridged the gaps in my broken mind. Telling the truth, even if only to myself, woke me up and set me free. Love from God and true friends thawed my icy heart. I began to feel emotions, empathy, and the ability to welcome and embrace my real self.

Being an automaton is a living death and a powerful cure is tell your story.

The reality of an automaton is portrayed well in the 1975 movie called *The Stepford Wives. While a fictional drama, there is much truth in this tale. The beginning is a little slow, but don't give up – it's well worth watching. There is a more recent version, but the original 1975 movie is the best!

Many of us are a product of patriarchal programming, and we need to retrain our brains. I have had to learn to think for myself, after first deconstructing my previous beliefs. Telling my story exercises the truth-telling muscles while exorcising the lies that imprisoned me in the world's system.

I've seen too many victims lose their faith. What is actually happening, when they say that, is that part of their heart is missing. What they need is intensive care. 

Like the victims of a massive car wreck, they suffer bloody holes in their minds and hearts. They are in comas. They are numb. They bear invisible wounds and outwardly appear "normal" – even "well". There is often no healing for them, because doctors and therapists too often don't know how to treat victims of sociopathic abuse and our churches, in misunderstanding, further abuse these victims. When a victim seeks help, that is when the abuse escalates, endangering her life far more than when she was passively silent.

When survivors of sociopathic  abuse do go to doctors and their pain is identified as psychosomatic or "all in the head",  they are given medicine to help with anxiety, insomnia, and depression… but it's not a cure.

Where is the CURE?

"You need intensive care, Susan," said pastors and leaders I knew and trusted. That was in 2010 and I agreed with them. But how do you rest when you are the target of unrelenting sociopathic abuse? I had broken my silence and asked for help. That intensified the abuse. I was isolated from friends and family. Smear campaigns prevented me from getting support. Gaslighting kept me confused. Stockholm Syndrome kept me trying doing the same things, hoping something would eventually work. Insanity!

To be told, "Why don't you go to the ocean for a couple of weeks and just rest on the beach," is good advice. If you are wealthy. 

Where can you go to rest, to heal, to get your life back? I was homeless. I needed to work. I needed to get my truck fixed. I needed shelter. Most victims of sociopaths are destitute, attacked on multiple fronts, and fair game for the next predator who comes along. There is a cure – the same one David used while being chased by Saul:

Rest and Retreat, as a means of offense. Rest is an act of violence.

I drew sustence in solitude and silence. My provision came as I followed my passion, even when I was living alongside the Big Horn River, bathing and washing dishes outdoors.

I got my life back as I told my story.

Telling my story is the overflow from that restful place of surrender. I believe its the best cure for the brain damage that inevitably results from sustained domestic violence and spiritual abuse in church. 

There is a cure: Be you. Live free. Tell your story.  Is there something you would like to surrender to? What would happen, if you did?

My Full Story     What I Believe    Contact Me

With all my love,


Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.  
Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.

Copyright © 2010 to 2015 Team Family Online, All rights reserved.   For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller

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