How many people who have been abused are convinced that they caused it or deserved it? It is extremely difficult to reverse those imbedded beliefs. The same is true with toxic religious beliefs. God lifts the hand of Love and some flinch in fear; it's a conditioned response.
I think too much of religion is based on the premise that we are bad sinners who deserve to be punished. It further scars our God-given identity. That is sin. We were created in the image of divine love and this love continually reaches toward us but our self-hatred continues to push away at love for we think we don't deserve that love.
It’s not Divine punishment that defeats the toxicity of sin; it’s Divine love that overcomes the damages of sin and brings new life. Huge difference. I think much of the talk in certain church circles about grace stems from a form of religion that has convinced folks that they are bad but God is good. No wonder many people in the church act like abused animals starved for affection—they have been.
The hand of Love that formed you is the hand that continues to reach out to you, not to slap you but to hold you. Rest in that Love. Trust. You are loved. Do not be afraid.
Read the whole thing.