A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Family – is blood is thicker than water?

“Blood is thicker than water” is often used to coerce victims of abuse to comply with the sinful beliefs and behaviour patterns within a family system.  It is used to intimidate and extract loyalty from a member of the family whose conscience is more active and biblically guided than the rest of the family – to get the person to conform to the evil and sin being done by the controlling members of the family.

It is far better be redeemed by the blood of Christ than to have one’s conscience and actions bound and constrained by kinship ties (family bonds) in this fallen world.

To give you an example, I’ll speak personally. None of my family members are genuine Christians. When I was in my twenties I came to saving faith. I know Christ as my personal Saviour and Lord. My family don’t want me to talk about Christ: they are typical western-world unbelievers in that they’re resistant to the gospel. I try to show love and care for all my relatives. I do consider myself committed to their well-being for the rest of our lives. I value and prioritise my relationships with family in a different and more life-long way than I do with friends. That is where ‘blood is thicker than water’ has a grain of truth for me.

I try to show my family members love without condoning their un-Christian habits and beliefs. It’s a tough call; I know I get it wrong often. And I am fortunate: none of my blood relatives are so toxic that I’ve had to go no contact with them.

With my now-ex husbands, I had to go no contact. I’ve been married twice. In each case, when I stated the marriage was O.V.E.R., several of my family members put pressure on me to relent and reconcile or be softer on my husband in some way or other. Several relatives reprimanded me for ‘the way I ended the relationship’ or hinted that there was something wrong with me for getting myself abused. None of them actually said to me “blood is thicker than water” – but that platitude was implicit in what they were saying.

“You can always come home to your family.”

“You can always go home to your family.”

It sounds so comforting. So reassuring. A victim can be lured by the carrot-promise that he or she need not end up homeless and begging on the streets. But if your family has heinously and serially abused you, intermittently showing fake repentance to soften you up again, but demonstrating overall a pattern of serial unrepentance, “You can always go home to your family” is just a manipulative refrain in the evil chorus.

Many people quote “blood is thicker than water” in conjunction with the expectation/demand to blindly overlook family evil, abuse, unrepentant attitudes and behavior.  And it’s more twisted and abusive when a family has ‘evangelicalism’ in the mix.

Finding Answers said:

I grew up hearing “blood is thicker than water”. I stopped believing the saying when I saw how it was used to manipulate people into keeping silent.

The “blood is thicker than water” sounded vaguely threatening, rather than loving and / or supportive.

If the family is a loving family, why would the saying be necessary? If a family is Christian, rather than professing ‘c’hristian, I doubt “blood is thicker than water” would be relevant.

As Jeff Crippen wrote in 2013:  “The ‘water’ with which genuine Christians have been washed (as symbolized by the water of baptism) is thicker than the blood of all earthly relationships. And where it is not, we have every right to question whether the Lord Jesus is present at all.”

Jesus said emphatically that blood ties with family are less important than following Him

A great number of people went with Jesus, and he turned and said to them, If a person comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, and moreover his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-26 NMB)

I’ve heard preachers say that the word ‘hate’ in that Luke 14:26 means ‘love less’. I don’t know whether they are right. I did some research to see how much evidence they have for that assertion. The Greek word is μισέω which means to hate, pursue with hatred, detest; in the passive form it means to be hated, detested. The only time it is used in the NT to mean (by extension) to love less is in Luke 14:26.

Matthew 10 conveys a similar idea to Luke 14, without using the word ‘hate’.

Whosoever therefore acknowledges me before men, him will I acknowledge also before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever denies me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to send peace into the earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves his father or mother more than me, is not meet for me. And he who loves his son or daughter more than me, is not meet for me. (Matt 10:32-37 NMB)

So we must wrestle with this notion that in following Christ wholeheartedly, a believer may have to ‘hate’ his or her family. Certainly a believer is called upon to love their family less than they love Christ. What does this mean in practice? For me it means that when I am torn between  showing my family that I love them in ways they will recogise as love, and showing my family that I love them in ways that they will reject and hate because I’m exhorting them to repent from their sins and follow Christ, I must choose the latter.

I must be wise and brave in how I do this. Wise in not caving in to the ‘family norm’ when to do so would violate my conscience or betray Christ. Wise in not self-servingly or cavalierly saying things to them to prick their conscience. Wise in when I apologise; when I remain silent; when I assert or defend my views. Brave in being willing to face the bristles from my family when I say or do something that pricks their conscience.

The Bible urges us to pray that Christ will return quickly. I have often felt it hard to pray that prayer. I don’t want Christ to return while my daughter is an unbeliever. I don’t want my family members to end up in hell. But I increasingly see the darkness and evil rising and coming out into the open in this fallen world. And I want Christ to come quickly to wind it all up and punish the evildoers.

I’ve realised that I can put these two commandments of God’s together. He tells me to pray for Christ’s quick return. He tells me to hate my family—to love them less than I love Christ. I can pray “Lord, come quickly” more wholeheartedly because I am also commanded to hate my family. Understanding this, I am more wholeheartedly wanting to obey His Word and trusting Him that His timing will be perfect.

Whose blood?  The blood tie of family?  Or the blood of Christ who died for my sins?

An ACFJ reader emailed me saying:

I think of Jesus’ response to people who came to Him once when He was teaching the crowds, saying that His mother and brothers wanted to speak to Him.  He replied that those who do the will of God are His mother, brothers, sisters.

I long for Heaven and to see Jesus personally.  One major aspect of our new Home being perfect (sanctified, healed) fellowship, perfect relationships. There will be no hierarchy of any kind – only God Himself.

I imagine “relationships” there will be so different – better, purer, Holy Spirit empowered – that we can’t even conceptualize them. I’ve speculated on the ramifications of the fact that “there is no marriage in heaven; we will be like the angels.” Perhaps that means our earthly marriages and family members coming from/connected to those will be radically different than what we know of here. Perhaps instead of age and experience differences (i.e., grandparents, aunts and uncles, children) we will all be adults and of equal status. No “lonely, single, divorced, widowed or married with kids” status, at all. Just all the redeemed, together/mutually/on an even plain loving and worshipping God.

***

Further Reading

For Christians, Water Should be Thicker than Blood by Jeff Crippen

34 Comments

  1. Suzanne

    As I read this I was struck with the hypocrisy of this phrase when used against those who are abused by their own family members. If blood kinship is so important to abusers, why do they persist in hurting their own relatives? Does it only go one way? Are they not obligated by these relationships to refrain from hurting the people in their families? Why is it ok for them to abuse, but wrong for their victims to protect themselves from that abuse? It’s irrational as well as cruel.

    • Helovesme

      The quote from Finding Answers in the original post, and your comment run along the same lines. If a family is (supposed to be) so tight knit by reason of DNA and biological bonds—-why choose to hurt them?

      “Blood is thicker than water” implies to me that if you hurt one of your own family members, you are actually hurting yourself (and the rest of your family) just as much, if not more as well. You are separate people, but you experience the same things as a unit.

      Bring it back to their same astute observations: then why are you hurting one of your own? Aren’t you pretty much hurting yourselves as well?

      It also implies to me that there is an automatic bond between family members, by reason of genetic connections. Almost as if it is naturally “installed” within you.

      Because we are supposedly similar in looks and (potentially) as people, we should engage in and enjoy a strong sense of loyalty to one another that is above and beyond any other bonds of loyalty— -with those outside of your family.

      This is IMO. Those that have chosen to abuse their own family members KNOW this. So they are counting their victims to: never question or challenge that ultimate and absolute fidelity to your family. They know you won’t rock the boat because even though the abuser is tearing down the family, you are too conflicted with the fear of tearing down the family by speaking up.

      This is more of a description of family members “owning” one another, to be able to do to each other as they please. You are “one of us.” Our mutual last name is the “mark” of ownership.

      The “blood is thicker than water” (when used to manipulate) can also mean that because we are of the same blood, I (as the abuser) get to shed that innocent blood (of their relative), because my ownership of them entitles me to do just that.

      This isn’t unusual at all. Hollywood had to pass a specific law in order to protect child actors from, of all people, their own families. Before that law was passed, parents were free to spend the money their children earned however they wanted. And they often did just that.

      Children were nothing more than a horse or a cow, owned and worked like cattle. They had no rights, no voice, no way to protest. When they did become adults, that is usually when they found out that their earnings had been plundered. And it did not usually end well.

      How many people have told their parents or other family members that they’ve been abused, and were believed? And action was taken? (That is key. They DID something about it) Factor in that it may have been a family member who is the abuser, and it only gets worse.

      I’ve had the absolute dishonor of being in a “minority of one” with many family members refusing to stand with me no matter what. Because it might compromise their fierce sense of loyalty to others. And the majority were professing Christians.

      Let me be clear: It made NO difference if I was in the right or not. Even if that was a factor, it wasn’t enough compared to whatever (or whoever) mattered more.

      I think that they confused fidelity to the Lord with fidelity to family. They are as close to being “one in the same” to such persons.

      The Word does not shy away from warning us about the sin of idolatry, and how serious it is to the Lord. Family bonds and the marriage covenant are often idolized—-prioritized as being above the Lord or equal to Him. That is absolutely a sin.

      WHEN you stand before the Lord, you are not going to meet Him as a family. “Collective” faith in Him is not how it works. If you refused to stand in His righteousness, and stand for it, and stand UP for it—-your “defense” that you thought the family’s sense of right and wrong mirrored His own is not going to help you.

      Barb, you did an excellent job as always. Especially sharing from your own life. In another comment I’d love to share some of my own in return, since I identified very much with yours.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (13TH AUGUST 2019 – 11:11 AM) “This is more of a description of family members “owning” one another, to be able to do to each other as they please. You are “one of us.” Our mutual last name belief in Jesus is the “mark” of ownership.”

        (Strikethrough of the words “last name” and the addition of the words “belief in Jesus” done by me.)

        With ^Those changes to the original comment by Helovesme, one can see the similarities to the “christian church”.

        Helovesme also commented (13TH AUGUST 2019 – 11:11 AM) “The “blood is thicker than water” (when used to manipulate) can also mean that because we are of the same blood, I (as the abuser) get to shed that innocent blood (of their relative), because my ownership of them entitles me to do just that.”

        ^That.

        Helovesme also commented (13TH AUGUST 2019 – 11:11 AM) “WHEN you stand before the Lord, you are not going to meet Him as a family. “Collective” faith in Him is not how it works. If you refused to stand in His righteousness, and stand for it, and stand UP for it—-your “defense” that you thought the family’s sense of right and wrong mirrored His own is not going to help you.”

        ^That.

      • The brainwashed sheep in the ‘c’hurch often coerce victims of abuse with words like this: “You are ‘one of us.’ Our mutual belief in Jesus is the ‘mark’ of ownership.”

        Good application, Finding Answers!

      • Helovesme

        Finding Answers, ditto on Barb’s reply to you. Excellent application.

        I would have gone into that very territory myself but I’d been planning on saving it for later. 🙂

        His blood is the price He purchased us with. We are owned by Him, but it’s a wonderful thing, not a scary one!

        He is our Father. He is our Husband as well. Even if you are blessed to have a loving earthly father, nothing compares to Him as our Father. Same thing applies to an earthly spouse.

        When I first became a believer, it really did feel like I had gained a whole new crop of “siblings” because we all had the same Father. Of course, He created every human being that ever existed, but there is something beyond precious when you are born again in Him—-you are ushered into something that the unsaved do not have.

        My biological bloodline was not one that I was proud of, considering the dysfunction and suffering that ensued from it.

        But the joy of being born again because of His blood gave me hope. I knew that I still had plenty of problems because of the family I was born into, but now I had a chance to make a clean break from it. And maybe I did not have to be or become a product of all that pain, because in Him I had the resources to carve out something better.

        I could have left that home and told myself that I left behind all the abuse as well, but that was not the case. You can escape it on the outside, but escaping it on the inside? That requires the supernatural! It did not come naturally to me (and believe me, I tried).

        Back to the “siblings” statement, gotta give props again to Finding Answers for inserting this from the original post (and in bold, too!):

        “And where it is not, we have every right to question whether the Lord Jesus is present at all.”

        Just because they claim to be your brother or sister in Christ, does not mean that they really are.

        I have two earthly siblings. If anyone else, besides them, came forward and told me that they too are my siblings, I’d have to ask for proof before I believed them. I’d refrain from showing any real joy or inviting them into my inner circle. I would hopefully not be rude and crude to them, but I’d hold off on showing a ton of affection or attention.

        I’ve foolishly trusted people way too easily. I was so desperate and needy (coming from a broken home) that I’d get carried away with the notion that I had all these brothers and sisters that looked nothing like me, but we were a family in Him.

        I also tended to feel safer with my church family. I never felt safe with my own family. Abuse robs you of any sense of security or stability that I would have done anything to have.

        However, I was not aware (at the time) of spiritual abuse or the many, many forms of spiritual manipulation that did not mirror what I experienced growing up, but the results were the same: brokenness.

        Barb wrote beautifully on Facebook about how the “true” church DOES exist in this world. You might have to search for it, but it’s out there. You DO have siblings in Him, and you ARE a part of His family. I love Hebrews 2:11: “So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters”

        What a joyful verse. I don’t know if I will ever feel totally safe around anyone anymore, but my Savior is not ashamed to be my Brother as well. That’s more than enough to keep me going!

  2. Finding Answers

    From the original post ““Blood is thicker than water” is often used to coerce victims of abuse to comply with the sinful beliefs and behaviour patterns within a family system. It is used to intimidate and extract loyalty from a member of the family whose conscience is more active and biblically guided than the rest of the family – to get the person to conform to the evil and sin being done by the controlling members of the family.”

    ^That.

    From the original post “……before my Father who is in heaven…….”

    In my family of origin, my “dad” believed he (my “dad”) was ^That.

    Suzanne commented “……If blood kinship is so important to abusers, why do they persist in hurting their own relatives?…..”

    ^That.

    Suzanne also commented “……Does it only go one way? …..”

    ^That.

    Suzanne also commented “……Are they not obligated by these relationships to refrain from hurting the people in their families?……”

    ^That.

    Suzanne also commented “……Why is it ok for them to abuse, but wrong for their victims to protect themselves from that abuse?……”

    ^That.

    Suzanne also commented “……It’s irrational as well as cruel.”

    ^That.

    From the original post “……“The ‘water’ with which genuine Christians have been washed (as symbolized by the water of baptism) is thicker than the blood of all earthly relationships. And where it is not, we have every right to question whether the Lord Jesus is present at all.””

    (Bold added by me.)

    ^That.

    From the original post “A great number of people went with Jesus, and he turned and said to them, “If a person comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, and moreover his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-26 NMB)”

    ^That.

    A headline from the original post “Jesus said emphatically that blood ties with family are less important than following Him”

    ^That.

    From the original post “It is far better be redeemed by the blood of Christ than to have one’s conscience and actions bound and constrained by kinship ties (family bonds) in this fallen world.”

    ^That.

    From the original post “……Perhaps instead of age and experience differences (i.e., grandparents, aunts and uncles, children) we will all be adults and of equal status……”

    ^That.

    From the original post “……Just all the redeemed, together / mutually / on an even plain loving and worshipping God.”

    ^That.

  3. Interesting historical note – the proverb “Blood is thicker than water” doesn’t actually make a lot of sense. It has been twisted from the original form. The original form is this:
    “The blood of covenant is thicker than the water of birth” – meaning exactly what you said. It has taken on the opposite meaning in its twisted form.

  4. Clockwork Angel

    Dear Barb,

    Totally off-topic question. I read David Instone-Brewer’s more academic book on divorce and remarriage, and was shocked to find that he didn’t know for sure if wife beating counted under the Exodus 21:10-11 grounds for divorce, at least according to the Mishnah. On further research, I realized that what we do have from Rabbinic sources (in the medieval era) is mixed. Some Rabbis don’t think that wife beating is grounds for divorce, but will treat it as assault on a stranger and fine the husband. Some Rabbis are okay with physical chastisement of wives (i.e., beating them) if they don’t do their chores/duties or disrespect the husband’s parents. Others are 100% against all physical chastisement. For a short period in medieval times (particularly in Germany, but not in Islamic countries), women could get the court to beat the husband into giving her a get if she was being beaten for any reason. (Of course, they tried to get the husband to stop beating her first before they allowed divorce.) This right to divorce was later rescinded. None of them use Exodus 21:10-11 as the underlying Torah text for allowing divorce for beatings.

    I emailed Dr. Instone-Brewer this morning about whether we can know for sure that Exodus 21:10-11 really does forbid wife beating for chastisement purposes, and here was his reply:

    It is true that Exo.21.10f does not specifically outlaw abuse, and it is tricky finding this in rabbininic literature. However, I would understand the strange rules against making one’s wife tip waste onto the midden, and forbidding her visiting relatives as the minimum degrees of abuse. That is, citing these rulings, they could say: My husband does worse than this, so I demand a divorce. Using the normal rabbinic legal rules, this should be successful.

    So, basically we don’t have any Rabbinic court case proof of using this passage to get a divorce by saying that “any beatings are worse than this other abuse” would be considered a valid case.

    I am stumped. I had been so relieved when I had discovered Instone-Brewer’s layperson’s version of his work, but now that I’ve seen the Rabbinic reasoning for myself and read his more academic work, I don’t know for sure anymore if God meant for wife beating to be grounds for divorce. Even Instone-Brewer admits that the emotional abuse derived from this passage is from the Mishnah, which does not date from the first century, so he’s guessing that the idea was around in the first century.

    How can I know for sure the Torah [i.e. the five books of Moses, the original “Law”] forbids wife beating of any kind? Let alone divorce for it? Even if the New Testament forbids wife beating indirectly by telling husbands to love their wives as their own bodies and to not be harsh with them, without the Torah providing wife beating as clear grounds of divorce, then we can’t confirm that the New Testament does either.

    I feel like the rug has been completely pulled out of me. I just want to off myself now. The only thing keeping me here on this stupid planet is my Mom and my dog. Without them, I’d be six feet under right now. Why didn’t God make sure that a patriarchical culture in the ancient near east knew that wife beating for physical chastisement was wrong? The entire ancient near east would have assumed that this was okay. What was to prevent Israel from likewise assuming it was okay? How can I know God wants to protect women all the way, versus only a little bit?

    I feel like I don’t know anything anymore. My whole life has been turned upside down. Please help me see that God cares in Torah and does indeed have these grounds, and not in some bizarre roundabout way. Thanks.

    • Hi Clockwork Angel, please forgive me for only just now reading your comment and publishing it. I will reply in more depth when I’ve assembled my thoughts.

      I am very glad you are not going to take your own life. Please stay with us – we need people like you who dig deep to do their own research and double-checking. 🙂 Your voice is really important, as is your cry of pain and anguish. There are probably other survivors who are feeling similar anguish to you who are not (for whatever reason) speaking their thoughts and feelings out loud, but they will empathise with you and be very grateful that you are speaking out about how you are feeling. 🙂 They won’t feel so alone.

      Regarding the various opinions of the rabbis, let me share with you something I heard years ago from a Messianic Jew: “If you have two Jews you have three opinions.” In other words, Jewish people have a tendency to love to engage in debate and argument with each other. As I Christian, I don’t take as “divinely inspired word” whatever the rabbis said or did not say about how they interpreted and made ‘legal rulings’ in applying the Torah.

      • Clockwork Angel

        Thanks Barb. No worries. Take your time.

        Dr. Instone-Brewer got back with me on my own question:

        I agree that they would be unlikely to regard a beating ‘for chastisement’ as abuse. Beating was regarded as a teaching method in ancient cultures, both in OT & NT times.
        The point of these two examples of abuse is that they were unnecessary suffering. There was no need for the wife to get herself dirty by pouring liquid on the midden (though admittedly the meaning of this is uncertain) and refusing to let her visit her family was similarly cruel. So, if abuse did not occur for ‘educational’ reasons I think this would be regarded as cruel.

        I agree that the dating of those example of abuse are not datable to 1st century but it makes it like it that this principle existed even if these specific examples are later.

        Gosh, this stinks. 😦

        I just can’t imagine why God wouldn’t put even one law against wife beating down in the Torah itself.

      • Hi Clockwork Angel, I’ve sent you an email. 🙂

  5. Helovesme

    Suzanne wrote: “Does it only go one way?” and “It’s irrational as well as cruel.”

    Her comment packed a lot of thought-provoking questions and statements. There was so much to dig into.

    When I first read Barb’s post, I honestly thought she was reading my mind. I too have struggled with asking the Lord to delay His coming back. I am the only believer in my family.

    The section where she describes the desperate need for wisdom as she navigates relationships with her unsaved family was as spot on as I’ve ever heard described. And how we wrestle within when trying to “work out” how to make sure Christ is at the top, and everyone else is secondary, while still projecting His love to those that need Him so badly.

    It would take too long to describe my own ups and downs in this very tricky, very troublesome and very tiring journey. Christ saved my soul, but in accepting that, I “blew up” any flimsy (but still existent) bridges with my family. I did not know if I’d lost any sense of a “safety net” with these people, in order to embrace the safety of my soul with my Savior.

    I come from an abusive home. I don’t think anyone on this site would presume something like: they were abusive, so why would you care about jeopardizing or ruining relationships with such people? You never felt safe with them anyway.

    Ironically, even though fellow believers celebrated my conversion, I also got a strong and rather suffocating sense that I could “have it all” if I just prayed with faith—-faith that can move mountains! (Matthew 17:20). What’s more powerful than that?

    So, with prayer and patience—my family would either come to support me or become saved. Imagine the burden this put on a newly saved believer, who was also traumatized AND very much alone—-feeling “orphaned” more than ever because of her conversion.

    This would take long too describe, but there was a strong narrative that without the blessing of your family, you did not have the blessing of the Lord. So you should not, and could not make certain choices unless God either confirmed it via your family, or worked it out so that they gave you their blessing.

    I don’t believe anyone would dare to put God and family on the same tier. But they were still very closely connected. God’s blood saved you, but the blood of your family is a high priority to Him. Separate from your family to follow Christ (no one would have told me NOT to), but don’t fully separate yourself from them. That would dishonor Him. It would grieve Him.

    In the beginning of the post, Barb indicated how the “permanence” of family is stressed. No one is “happy” to be an orphan, either literally or figuratively. I fell into the latter category. I had felt orphaned my whole life, but in coming to Him, I felt mega-orphaned. I had been branded as a “troublemaker” as a child. Now I had only confirmed AND enhanced that narrative when I became a believer.

    I didn’t know the Word very well yet. I picked up on needing to make a clean break from my old self (reckon it “dead”) in order to fully embrace my new one in Him. I also picked up on making a clean break from everything and everyone from that life, in order to fully embrace what He wanted my life in Him to look like.

    No, this did NOT mean I automatically dumped my family for the “cause of Christ.” It meant that regardless of consequences, I would stick to Him like Velcro. I had no interest in hurting them or anyone else, but I’d be willing to risk that in order to fully cleave to Him.

    And (gasp!) this applies to ALL born again believers. Even if you grew up in a home that professed Him, when you are born again in Him, this must be or become a reality.

    You might find out awful truths about your supposed Christian family, when as an individual, you choose to follow Him. Christianity is NOT a “family business.” It’s not a “tradition,” like all generations of your family go to a certain college or choose certain professions.

    Being of the same religion often binds a family closer together. It promotes unity and strengthens the already strong bonds among its members.

    But that is all it might be to them. It’s a religion, not a relationship. If you find that the Holy Spirit is tugging you in one direction, and your family of professing believers is tugging you in a completely different direction—-you will need His strength to make the right choice.

    Nothing. Else. Matters. But. Him. He is your Life, your Love, your All in All. He means everything to you. You don’t ever want to be without Him. You can’t imagine life without Him. You want to see Him again and hear those blessed words: well done, good and faithful servant.

    Back to Suzanne’s apt observations. One way relationships, familial or otherwise, are not Biblical. They drain the life out of you. I’ve been involved in enough of them to attest to how they take the joy that relationships can and should project and promote.

    And don’t let anyone tell you that the only joy that matters is the joy of loving others. Yes and no. Yes, there is nothing better than loving others. But that is not where it ends. If that were true, then why is the first and greatest commandment involve loving Him who loved us first in return?

    Promoting narratives that are irrational AND cruel is not Biblical. It was not fair to put heavy yokes on me to somehow “poke” Christ into doing my bidding, even if that bidding was a good thing (reaching my family).

    Over 20 years later, I am mortified by some of the things I was taught in word or example. When you come to Christ, you do not give Him a “to-do” list: God, this is what I want, how I want it—-I have things all mapped out the way it should be. So I’ll pray it into existence, and everything will turn out great. Let’s do this!

    I did my best to throw everything OUT the window when I met Him. I tried to give Him a blank slate (this was easier said than done). What kind of arrogance propels a person into thinking they can “order” God around? You ask of Him, but He is ordering your steps, not being ordered by you. .

    Ironically, some of the most push back I have received has been from professing Christians. Why doesn’t your life look like this? What’s wrong with you?

    I’ll end with something that I realized just recently. Idolatry is a form of dehumanization. Idolatry is an abusive narrative. Putting a person or persons (or institutions like marriage and family) on a pedestal is putting them in a place that they don’t deserve to be put. It works in reverse, too, where abuse dehumanizes its victims, putting them in a place they don’t deserve to be put.

    No doubt I’ve idolized my family—I saw them as I wanted them to be, not as they really were. Or, I placed so much importance on getting their approval—-I placed it at a much higher priority than it deserved to be. I brought myself down very low, in a place I didn’t deserve to be, as I lifted all these other things up so much higher that they didn’t deserve to be.

    In coming to Christ, I was put in a place with Him that I didn’t deserve to be, but desperately needed, and was graciously given. That is not only enough, it is MORE than enough.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (17TH AUGUST 2019 – 12:04 PM) “…..I am mortified by some of the things I was taught in word or example. When you come to Christ, you do not give Him a “to-do” list: God, this is what I want, how I want it—-I have things all mapped out the way it should be. So I’ll pray it into existence, and everything will turn out great. Let’s do this!”

      ^That.

      Helovesme also commented (17TH AUGUST 2019 – 12:04 PM) “……What kind of arrogance propels a person into thinking they can “order” God around? You ask of Him, but He is ordering your steps, not being ordered by you.”

      ^That.

      Helovesme also commented (17TH AUGUST 2019 – 12:04 PM) “Ironically, some of the most push back I have received has been from professing Christians. Why doesn’t your life look like this? What’s wrong with you?”

      ^THAT!!

      Helovesme also commented (17TH AUGUST 2019 – 12:04 PM) “…..It works in reverse, too, where abuse dehumanizes its victims, putting them in a place they don’t deserve to be put.”

      ^That.

      Helovesme also commented (17TH AUGUST 2019 – 12:04 PM) “…..Christianity is NOT a “family business.” It’s not a “tradition,” like all generations of your family go to a certain college or choose certain professions.”

      ^That.

      Helovesme also commented (17TH AUGUST 2019 – 12:04 PM) “…..You don’t ever want to be without Him. You can’t imagine life without Him……”

      ^THAT!!

      Helovesme also commented (17TH AUGUST 2019 – 12:04 PM) “…..I too have struggled with asking the Lord to delay His coming back……”

      ^That, but for different reasons than Barb and Helovesme. I am FAR less concerned about my abusive family of origin than I am about the multitude of Christians who for MANY reasons have been driven away from the “church”.

      • Helovesme

        Wanted to say thank you Finding Answers. It’s very encouraging when you read and respond as you do to myself and others.

    • Suzanne

      The divide between my family and I was brought back into focus this week with the death of a man who was both a friend and the brother of my sister’s husband. I have 4 siblings and all are married. In a supreme irony I have always gotten along well their in-laws, better than with them. So it was with great sadness that I learned of his death. My husband, sons, and I would like to honor his memory by attending his funeral. But that would risk a scene with my mother. Her ongoing abuse forced me to finally cut off all contact with her but she hasn’t stopped trying to hurt me with a smear campaign and by her cruelty to my daughter when she was going through a difficult time. So I have no reason to think that she’d pass up the opportunity to embarrass me publicly at this funeral. And I won’t subject my family and myself, or the others who’ll be there, to her verbal abuse.

      My mother is approaching her 90th birthday, unrepentant and unsaved. I fear for her soul and I sometimes wonder if I did the right thing in removing myself from her life. I was the only Christian (Spirit-filled follower of Christ) she knew. Did I have an obligation to endure her abuse in the hope that she’d finally come to salvation through my witness? Or was it my sin to remain as long as I did, enabling her to sin against me? This has often occupied my time alone with God in prayer. And here is what He has impressed on my heart: my mother is a free agent who has freely chosen to be abusive. It’s not my place to make those choices for her, even if that was possible. She isn’t ignorant of Christ or the Bible, she has simply chosen to go her own way. She has ignored my witness; in fact, she has ridiculed me for it. So I do what I can from afar and pray for her. I pray for my siblings and their families too. It’s not just the only thing I can do. It’s the best thing I can do for them. And to do otherwise, to continue to endure their abuse (my siblings enable our mother and have even joined in with her when abusing me) makes a mockery of what family is meant to be. It places family relationships on a pedestal they don’t merit. It makes an idol of them.

      • Sounds like you have made a wise decision, Suzanne. Good on you for being steadfast!

      • Suzanne

        Thank you, Barbara. Although I believe I’ve made the right choice, it’s always good to have validation from those whose opinion I respect. We survivors have had so little of that in our lives.

      • 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Helovesme

        Wow Suzanne I can’t thank you enough for your comment:

        “I sometimes wonder if I did the right thing in removing myself from her life”
        “my mother is a free agent who has freely chosen to be abusive”
        “It’s not just the only thing I can do. It’s the best thing I can do for them.”
        “abuse….makes a mockery of what family is meant to be.”

        I am so sorry for your loss, first of all. And even sorrier for the hard decision you made to not attend. And I echo Barb’s words; good for you for such steadfastness.

        There will be others at the funeral who should be respected as they grieve. It would disrupt the solemnness and sadness of the event should she choose to make a scene. Abuse causes ripples of suffering, and not just for the victim. Abuse is primarily trained on hurting people as individuals, but make no mistake—-the consequences are felt by others as well.

        I have made hard and beyond painful choices to withdraw from my husband’s side of the family in the last few years. They are mostly professing Christians. It would take too long to properly articulate the twists and turns that led me there, and it would be impossible to describe the anguish and agony as well.

        Coming to that decision, first of all, felt like a punch in the gut (many punches in the gut, actually). I had to actively seek God and be ready to accept whatever He had to say.

        And then contemplate what that would and would not look like. I would actively and purposefully withdraw from them. Any relational bonds I had made with any of them would be left to disintegrate.

        When you bond with people, it’s personal. There were “spaces” in my heart with their names on them. I had carved them out specifically for them. Now, I would “evict” them out of my life, and those holes would remain empty and vacant.

        One might say: just fill them up with new persons! No, I don’t work that way. Those areas in my heart were specifically for them. If I bond with others, they will get their own place in my heart. These particular holes are going to remain empty, and I will ask God to shrink them down until they are closed up for good.

        Ironically, YOU might be the one who is labeled as “irrational and cruel” for choosing to cut yourself off from them. Their hurts are likely the real deal, but it is not based on truth (not the FULL truth, at least).

        Suzanne pointed out the fallacy of one way relationships. If I withdraw my hand of fellowship, and the relationship withers away, isn’t that proof positive that the bond was primarily one sided? And therefore “irrational and cruel?”

        You’re not upset about a “lost bond” with me. Because there WAS no real bond with me, not from your end. You’re upset because you’ve lost an arrangement that was very beneficial to you, and very much worked in your favor. But at my expense.

        If I’m not worth much sacrifice from your end, you’ve just confirmed that the Lord is leading me in the right direction—-away from you and anyone else like you.

        The distance is excruciating at first. I picture it like sailing away on a makeshift boat or raft from a tiny, isolated island that you have been trapped on for a long time. You managed to survive, but it became unbearable to remain. So you spent any free time you had gathering materials and putting together a way to escape.

        It’s hard to leave solid ground and even scarier to head out into the unknown. But as that wretched island gets smaller and smaller until you can no longer see it, you start to experience new sensations.

        The wind in your face. The smell of the water. The sun warming your skin. Yes, it’s lonely because it’s just you. But only when you were away from that tiny island, did you finally start to realize how trapped and uneasy you had felt for so long.

        If you’re like me, you got used to feeling cooped up and imprisoned. You had to cope, right? You have to learn how to survive, right? You had to find a way to accept the unacceptable, because it was all you had at the time.

        I don’t miss any former “relationships” (in quotations because one way or imbalanced relationships are no relationships AT ALL)—-but it took time, and it’s still taking time.

        But I never got over (and likely won’t) wishing things had been different, so they might (or might not) have ended up differently. My hopes and (hopefully) reasonable expectations were thwarted, frustrated and eventually defeated for good.

        I tried to set an example for them, as the Bible commands. I prayed for them constantly and hoped they would be compelled to stand in, stand for, and stand UP for His righteousness. I don’t feel that it’s my failure, but nevertheless I feel the sting of failure.

        Bottom line is this: trust is the foundation of relationships. If, for ANY reason, you do not feel 100% comfortable in trusting someone, don’t do it. Do not force yourself. Your trust is your treasure to give out, not theirs to take.

        It does not matter who they are or if they claim to follow Christ.

        The reason why I say “100%” comfortable is because it needs to be that way. Trusting someone always involves a measure of risk, but you should be 100% willing to take that risk. It is not anyone else’s right to demand otherwise. If anyone ever tries to do that, you might consider that they’re not worth the risk.

        I have a very hard time trusting others. I am not proud of that, but I am also not ashamed of it. I will only lower my guard to whoever I choose to. It’s locked up pretty tight for now, but when I DO lower that “drawbridge” to welcome someone into my life, it will be out of my choosing, not anyone else’s.

        This is one of the many reasons why the Lord is so worthy of our praise. Our trust for Him is such a treasure to Him. When we give Him our trust, I believe He treats it with the most gentle care and most loving of response. His children should follow THAT example!

  6. Kind of Anonymous

    Potential Trigger Warning

    I was going to chime in on the blood/family idea but saw Clockwork Angel’s anguished questions. Boy can I relate. My comments may be triggering, please be aware.

    I have often wondered why, if abuse is grounds for divorce, including emotional cruelty or just even basic treacherous and dishonest dealings that occur repeatedly and thus remarriage is permissible, did Jesus not just say so?

    Surely He who is omniscient would be able to look forward in time and would know what a difficult issue the whole marriage divorce remarriage thing would be. He appears to give the Pharisees one reason for divorce namely sexual unfaithfulness and leaves it at that after telling them that remarriage for any other reason constitutes adultery. I’ve thought that perhaps Jesus was getting at the idea that these guys were using the divorce permission in the law as a cover to dump their wives and trade them in for a new model whom they were already having an affair with behind the scenes.

    As if He were saying “Guys, it’s still adultery even if it appears lawful when you have a woman already waiting in the wings for you”. But He had to know that people would be reading the bible many years later to see what was permitted by God and lawful and what was not. He still made the statement “Except for porneia, he commits adultery. And he who marries a woman so divorced also commits adultery.” Then there is that question that if you have in fact, wrongly divorced and are guilty of adultery if you remarried, are you guilty of a one time thing or an ongoing state unless you leave that relationship? Arrrrrgggh.

    Then Paul comes along and refers to something “our Lord did NOT talk about”, suggesting that Jesus’ black and white appearing statement is not so black and white. An unbeliever who does not wish to live in peace with a believer but wants out of the marriage either by direct intent or by actions that display that same thing. What’s up with that? Is Paul contradicting Jesus? I mean if Jesus said there was only ONE exception, how could Paul say otherwise? Not trying to argue a position here just showing how my mind goes around on this issue.

    I have always thought to myself something like “Okay, the wrong penis in the wrong vagina makes divorce and remarriage okay but incest or wife beating or just being treated like dirt and dealt with dishonestly, or any other behaviour that constitutes a violation of trust and truth and love and respect in a marriage does not?” That makes no sense that adultery is somehow considered more evil and more a violation of trust than these other things that are worse.

    Yet like Clockwork Angel, I can’t help wondering, if this is so, why on earth did Jesus not SAY SO? Why didn’t He be much more clear about such a sensitive and serious issue? He would have spared many vulnerable people terrible agony of conscience. I feel creepy about saying this because it’s kind of like taking God to task for not writing the bible properly and I am quite open to the idea that there is something I don’t understand about God or the bible that may be causing a problem. I am frustrated that such serious life situations are not directly addressed and it makes me wonder about the whole inspired word of God thing sometimes.

    Most Christians with sensitive consciences do not want to believe something just because it’s preferable to them; they want to be sure they are indeed believing something that is the truth, not just convenient. The fear of deception in an age of deception is a real one and quite understandable. I can’t help but wonder, why Jesus did not say “Abuse/cruelty/treachery that is not repented of is grounds for divorce and you are free to remarry in that situation. Here is how to know when you have reached that place where it’s time to move on and let go”. It’s especially hard when the church has taught for years that divorce is almost always wrong and remarriage is almost always adulterous disobedience. Who wants to be in that position?

    There has become such mixture of true and false Christianity that it seems impossible to tell sometimes whose opinion coincides with God’s and whose doesn’t. It kind of ticks me off a bit to be honest, not sure that’s terribly righteous of me but it’s true at the moment.

    • Hi Kind of Anonymous, I hate to sound self-promoting, but have you read my book?

      I will reply more to you later.

    • HeLovesMe

      I’m on my phone typing so I’ll keep this short but just very much appreciated your comment. I echo much of what you poured out, and I’ve read enough of your comments to know your heart. You have great courage in how you cried out and poured out as you did. And I thank you.

      I hope to reread your comment again and give it real thought. I bet others will chime in as well.

    • Hi KoA, I’m working on a post that will, I hope, address the questions you and Clockwork Angel have raised. I do sympathise with your anguish. For a long time I felt similar anguish, and that’s what prompted and drove me to write my book Not Under Bondage.

      • Kind of Anonymous

        Potential Trigger Warning

        Hi Barb, I look forward to your post 🙂 I do have a copy of your book and have read it and am going to re read it. I don’t know what the missing piece is in terms of my being able to be certain about what is true or false regarding the issue of maltreatment being serious enough covenant busting behaviour to legitimately free one of that marriage in God’s eyes. I am continuing to ask God to speak to me about the whole thing and lead me to what is true. I hope no one minds me musing aloud in a post though it’s a bit long. And of course because it’s intensely emotional, it could be triggering for some who can relate.

        Indeed, I suspect I may have plunged into a second relationship/marriage because I was afraid that the verse in 1 Cor. 7 about a wife not leaving her husband meant that I was bound to the first marriage regardless and only allowed to separate but not remarry. In other words, I did it to so offend the first guy that even if it were true God wanted me to go back to him there was no chance he would take me back. Not sure because a lot of thoughts, reactions and decisions happened rapid fire at that time leaving me reeling trying to figure out what just happened and what was of God and what was not.

        I have thought that my being stuck on the whole thing could be a number of possible factors. One is that I had thought my mom entirely to blame for what was going on in her marriage situation, when I did not know she was being regularly cheated on and hit by my dad. Both had been sexually abused; hers manifested as hating sex though acting out and his a sexual addiction and serial adultery/conquest. I’d found her carrying on a wrong relationship with my dad’s relative. He was showing her some tenderness and value and my dad had been beating her and treating her like the town pump.

        I did not want to hear about her “excuses” for her behaviour and was outraged that she had cheated on my dear daddy. Because I had also witnessed her speaking to him and about him in a way that was utterly devaluing and caustic, my heart flocked to my precious dad in defensive protection. And later on she mistreated me in a contemptuous way also. As a teen she actually competed with me for male attention and as a young married woman she hit on my husband and asked me once if she could give him a pair of thong underwear as a “joke”. Sometimes it was like having a teen or pre teen for a mother though she had an outer adult persona with a lot of drive and aggressiveness.

        As a result, I blamed her deep down and held her in judgement as being the cause for the destruction of our family from that moment to throughout our lives. I held her responsible, judged her as an immoral woman and held her to that marriage no matter what I heard about the situation. Her attempts to explain her side of the story I would not hear esp. when she would say devaluing things about my father. My understanding of the situation clearly wasn’t balanced or nuanced as I only witnessed some of it. And then I had told on her and she had been beaten by my dad, which only confirmed in my mind that all of this was really MY fault and that I was the one who caused the misery and problems by existing. This all left me very vulnerable to stuff of a spiritual nature that was awful. I heard clear accusations and wound up believing all of it was my doing and I had to pay for it by agreeing to forfeit my own existence and take on her miserable life, personality and existence as my own. This occurred when I was around three years old.

        What might be significant about this is that I have heard that sometimes our judgements themselves can cause oppression in our lives, block us and pin us down esp. if it involved a situation where we wouldn’t forgive someone or continued to hold them in judgement. I made a lot of judgements at a very young age, when I had only a partial picture of what was going on in the situation, and had a lot of hurt and anger about my parents divorce and being robbed of a family. Additionally, it seemed in my mom’s family that no one was supposed to say anything good about my dad; it was agreed that he was worthless scum and even when he died jokes were made about him being a waste of skin. That was incredibly painful for me to hear; even though he had done vile things, he was still a human being worth saving and people were acting like he wasn’t and his passing from this earth didn’t matter a whit.

        Dad married a second time and I thought I finally had a family only to find that marriage also broke down after three months. She also had a drinking problem and was drinking hard stuff by nine am. I not only lost a second mother, but a set of grandparents that treated me like their own and the horse they had given me for Christmas. I was never allowed to see my grandparents or my horse. Perhaps it is good that I was not able to be there without my dad because there was a creepy uncle but it broke my heart none the less.

        I remember the absolute anguish I felt at 12 when my dad had gone to drive her back to her parents farm; I was in so much pain that I realized if I gave vent to it I would wind up shrieking and screaming like a lunatic and might get carted off if anyone heard me. So I visualized a metal garbage can and stuffed it all down inside and imagined myself welding it shut. A curious calm overtook me and I was fine. But from then on I could seldom shed more than a few tears at a time and could rarely have one of those soul cleansing cries that brought release.

        I think this made going through a divorce myself just awful because now here I was doing the very thing I was so upset, angry and heartbroken about and had held my parents so accountable for. And at the time I was just beginning to realize that there were traumatic things that I was actually affected by so that my thinking and reacting were quite skewed. There could be other reasons I struggle with being unable to fully get free of fog and see clearly as to what is what in this regard, but I have wondered for some time about the whole judgement and unforgiveness thing. Sorry this has gotten long so I will leave off for now.

      • So many things I want to respond to in your comment, Kind of Anonymous!

        You said:

        “I don’t know what the missing piece is in terms of my being able to be certain about what is true or false regarding the issue of maltreatment being serious enough covenant busting behaviour to legitimately free one of that marriage in God’s eyes. …I hope no one minds me musing aloud …”

        I don’t mind you musing aloud. Those kinds of musings help me understand the curlicues of how survivors are so often trapped in fog. 🙂

        The ‘missing piece’ — Ah, I know what you mean. I have had many ‘missing pieces’ and usually it’s only the Holy Spirit who pinpoints them and brings them to light. Sometimes He uses what people have said or written or done, to pinpoint and get me to see them. Sometimes He uses dreams. Sometimes he uses suffering that I incurred because of my own naivety to psychopaths and covert abusers. I have so much experience of my own missing pieces coming to light, and hearing about other Christian survivors’ missing pieces coming to light, that I am VERY confident that the Holy Spirit is able to bring each missing piece to light. And He knows the best way to do that for each individual case. 🙂

        “I suspect I may have plunged into a second relationship/marriage because I was afraid that the verse in 1 Cor. 7 about a wife not leaving her husband meant that I was bound to the first marriage regardless and only allowed to separate but not remarry. In other words, I did it to so offend the first guy that even if it were true God wanted me to go back to him there was no chance he would take me back.”

        Wow. I see the reasoning you used there. And reading it, I empathically winced — as if my spirit was being squeezed in a giant thumbscrew.

        “I heard clear accusations and wound up believing all of it was my doing and I had to pay for it by agreeing to forfeit my own existence and take on her miserable life, personality and existence as my own. This occurred when I was around three years old. … I have heard that sometimes our judgements themselves can cause oppression in our lives, block us and pin us down esp. if it involved a situation where we wouldn’t forgive someone or continued to hold them in judgement.”

        It sounds to me like you are on the right track re the judgement and forgiveness thing. Maybe with the help of the Holy Spirit you can unlock that garbage can and be free of the self-condemnation.

        May I offer you a scripture in case it helps? I could be off-track so please forgive me if I’m klutzy.

        For God so loves the world that he has given his only Son, so that none who believe in him should perish, but should have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world through him could be saved. (John 3:15-17, NMB)

      • Helovesme

        I can’t wait to read that post, Barbara. Thank you ahead of time!

  7. Finding Answers

    A caveat: I may unintentionally have made errors in copying and / or sequencing words (etc.) to build my comment. (Omitting details for my protection.)

    Kind Of Anonymous commented (17TH AUGUST 2019 – 5:30 PM) “I was going to chime in on the blood / family idea but saw Clockwork Angel’s anguished questions……”

    ^That.

    Clockwork Angel commented (14TH AUGUST 2019 – 5:49 PM) “I feel like I don’t know anything anymore. My whole life has been turned upside down……”

    ^That.

    Helovesme commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 12:24 PM) “I have a very hard time trusting others. I am not proud of that, but I am also not ashamed of it. I will only lower my guard to whoever I choose to. It’s locked up pretty tight for now, but when I DO lower that “drawbridge” to welcome someone into my life, it will be out of my choosing, not anyone else’s.”

    (Strikethrough added by me.)

    ^That.

    Kind Of Anonymous commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 9:51 AM “…..And at the time I was just beginning to realize that there were traumatic things that I was actually affected by so that my thinking and reacting were quite skewed……”

    ^That.

    Helovesme also commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 12:24 PM) “…….When we give Him our trust, I believe He treats it with the most gentle care and most loving of response……”

    I regularly need to be reminded of ^That.

    Helovesme also commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 12:24 PM) “…..Our trust for Him is such a treasure to Him…..”

    I DEFINITELY need to be reminded of ^That!

    Kind Of Anonymous also commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 9:51 AM) “……which only confirmed in my mind that all of this was really MY fault and that I was the one who caused the misery and problems by existing…..”

    I STILL struggle with ^That.

    Kind Of Anonymous also commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 9:51 AM) “…….I don’t know what the missing piece is in terms of my being able to be certain about what is true or false…..”

    ^That.

    Kind Of Anonymous also commented (17TH AUGUST 2019 – 5:30 PM) “……I am quite open to the idea that there is something I don’t understand about God or the bible that may be causing a problem…….”

    Perhaps when I understand ^That., my ongoing fear / MASSIVE catatonic and dizziness memories / extreme non-physical pain / ongoing triggers / sleeplessness / etc. will ease.

  8. Helovesme

    Wow Kind of Anonymous thank you for your comment, and for your musings. I do not mind at all using this forum to muse, regardless of the length of a comment.

    “This all left me very vulnerable to stuff of a spiritual nature that was awful. I heard clear accusations and wound up believing all of it was my doing and I had to pay for it by agreeing to forfeit my own existence and take on her miserable life, personality and existence as my own.”

    “What might be significant about this is that I have heard that sometimes our judgments themselves can cause oppression in our lives, block us and pin us down”

    “So I visualized a metal garbage can and stuffed it all down inside and imagined myself welding it shut…But from then on I could seldom shed more than a few tears at a time and could rarely have one of those soul cleansing cries that brought release.”

    “now here I was doing the very thing I was so upset, angry and heartbroken about and had held my parents so accountable for. And at the time I was just beginning to realize that there were traumatic things that I was actually affected by so that my thinking and reacting were quite skewed.”

    In the past, when I would dare to ask questions aloud or express personal confusion at Bible studies, it would annoy me to be given feedback that was in no way helpful. Truly, it is not always possible to know the mind of the Living God. Prayer, support and encouragement were all I truly wanted, or needed. Let the Lord move as He chooses, and let Him reveal Himself to me when and how He sees fit.

    The parts I highlighted from your comment resonated with me, so I thought I’d share how.

    Abuse is a form of undeserved punishment that has nothing to do with either discipline or correction. It has to do with infliction of pain in order to install AND assert power, control and fear into and over a person.

    But abuse can be “strange.” Abuse hurts. It is never pain free, even though we might come up with creative ways to cope and survive, maybe even lessen the pain of it or avoid episodes of abuse.

    But it caused me to self-inflict punishment onto myself, apart from what my abuser was doing to me. I would hit myself hard on the head with my musical instrument. I would cut myself with cheap razors. I swallowed some cheap perfume at one point. There are likely more examples but I’d have to dig for those memories. But you get the point.

    Why? Why would I do that?? As if abuse isn’t painful enough, now I’m actively participating in it. It was as if I “agreed” with my abuser: I deserve pain so I will inflict pain on myself. Let’s make this a joint effort.

    I don’t think I was doing it so that he would abuse me less. I didn’t do these things in front of him. So that only makes you wonder even more.

    I could have tried to form relationships with people to make my life barely bearable. But even there, I only knew anger and manipulation and selfishness. I was terrified of people, and even though I was an easy target, I feared vulnerability on any level. No desire to be generous in a way that would foster trust and growth. I only knew how to push people away, even if I indicated a desire for closeness. I also did not know how to be sincere. I only knew how to act in ways that did not reflect who I really was.

    So the self-punishment went on and on. Even when I tried to do “normal” things (and I did try to), I would fail. I could barely succeed at anything. That confirmed to me that I was only worthy to not only be punished, but never bother to hope for anything more. Keep aiming downward. That is all that you’ll ever succeed at.

    These are all forces of darkness. These are apt descriptions of the “spiritual warfare” that are in the unseen, that the Bible claims are what we are truly fighting against (Ephesians 6:12).

    My abuser had conditioned me to believe nothing but the worst about myself. And frankly, my life seemed to confirm all of it. No one told me any different, so (I believe) I decided to become a product of what abuse had communicated to me. Again, I HAD tried to be and become something better than what was being told to me. But I could not prove any of it wrong. I only seemed to confirm the validity of those claims. It was supposed to be a positive effort to try to live a better life, but I had only made things far, far worse.

    Abuse is a powerful, powerful form of communication, and since it communicates nothing but lies—-it truly takes a superior Being (aka the Lord) to not only undo those false communications, but replace it with true communications. And everything He says is true, just as everything abusers say is false.

    Even there, however, I stumbled and bumbled, faltered and fumbled. I would “try” to grasp His truths, but my fingers were quite slippery. 🙂 I had no idea how to embrace anything BUT the negative. Nothing BUT lies. His truths are not always euphorically positive (you are guilty of sin does not give you warm fuzzy feelings!), but they always lead to freedom (He died for you out of His great love for you. Yes, for YOU in particular)

    Please keep sharing and musing as you see fit. 🙂 And keeping you in prayer as well. That was a lot to unload and give voice to.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 4:28 PM) “Abuse is a form of undeserved punishment that has nothing to do with either discipline or correction. It has to do with infliction of pain in order to install AND assert power, control and fear into and over a person.”

      ^That.

      Helovesme also commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 4:28 PM) “Abuse is a powerful, powerful form of communication, and since it communicates nothing but lies—-it truly takes a superior Being (aka the Lord) to not only undo those false communications, but replace it with true communications. And everything He says is true, just as everything abusers say is false.”

      ^That.

    • Kind of Anonymous

      Hi HeLovesMe, thank you so much for your supportive feedback and comments. I am glad I am not navel gazing ad nauseum though I am sure it would the case if I did it anywhere else!

      Your comments about hitting yourself with your musical instrument and sharp objects I can understand actually and they really stood out to me. I used to punch myself as hard as I could in the head. My muscle strength was pretty feeble so I couldn’t get up enough force to do much damage to myself. My mom asked me why I did that. I don’t remember what I had said to her but I remember her talking about it with her friend and saying “she turns it against herself”.

      As an abuse victim my mom understood self hatred and self punishment; she was bulimic and I suspect that bulimia somehow means “I don’t deserve to be nourished as though I am precious and valuable” among other meanings. I think there are many ways to self harm and you are right, it is spiritual warfare because we are agreeing with lies from the enemy.

      I am right now looking out there for biblical resources aimed at renewing the mind with scripture that are targeted more towards people who have had self destruction issues in their lives that stem from alcoholism, abuse, etc. I don’t know if there is any such focused program but if anyone knows of one I think more than one of us would be interested.

      • Finding Answers

        Kind Of Anonymous commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 7:31 PM) “……..I am glad I am not navel gazing ad nauseum……”

        For me, I don’t think you are doing ^That, Kind of Anonymous.

        Kind Of Anonymous also commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 7:31 PM) “……..I think there are many ways to self harm and you are right, it is spiritual warfare because we are agreeing with lies from the enemy…….”

        ^That.

        Barb commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 7:52 PM) “Those kinds of musings help me understand the curlicues of how survivors are I’m so often trapped in fog.”

        (Strikethrough of the word “survivors are” and the word “I’m” added by me.)

        ^That.

        Helovesme commented (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 4:28 PM) “Please keep sharing and musing as you see fit…..”

        ^That.

  9. Finding Answers

    Helovesme commented (14TH AUGUST 2019 – 11:11 AM) “…… but the results were the same: brokenness…….”

    No matter what I read, I used to hate the word broken or brokenness when used to describe me, or for that matter, anyone.

    Until this morning, the concept of broken had always been associated (for me personally) with the negative use of the word damaged, as in “damaged goods” (etc.).

    However, my own (personal) history of extreme abuse, most of which I have written about in MANY other comments on the ACFJ blog, HAS left me with permanent damage. I cannot change those facts.

    What I CAN change, however, is the word I associate with the permanent damage done to me by all the abusers in my life. By using the words broken or brokenness, I can relate better to Jesus’ scars after He had risen.

    He (Jesus), scars and all, was victorious.

    There is power in words / the Word.

  10. Kind of Anonymous

    Hi Barb, no you aren’t being klutzy at all. I need the reminders of what is true many times. I like how you referred to the curlicues we have that keep us trapped in thinking we can’t figure out. Thank you for your reply, it is very helpful.

    • Finding Answers

      Kind Of Anonymous commented (19TH AUGUST 2019 – 1:38 PM) “…..I need the reminders of what is true many times…….”

      ^That.

      Kind Of Anonymous also commented (19TH AUGUST 2019 – 1:38 PM) “…..I like how you referred to the curlicues we have that keep us trapped in thinking we can’t figure out…..”

      ^That.

      Barb cited John 3:15-17 (18TH AUGUST 2019 – 7:52 PM) “For God so loves the world that he has given his only Son, so that none who believe in him should perish, but should have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world through him could be saved.”

      I need to be reminded of ^That truth when I’m on another tour through the pit, especially since my hypocritical “christian families” / “churches” wielded those verses like a sledgehammer.

      From the original post “……It is used to intimidate and extract loyalty from a member of the family whose conscience is more active and biblically guided than the rest of the family – to get the person to conform to the evil and sin being done by the controlling members of the family.”

      ^That applies to “christian families” / “churches”, especially with John 3:15-17.

      Kind Of Anonymous commented (17TH AUGUST 2019 – 5:30 PM) “Most Christians with sensitive consciences do not want to believe something just because it’s preferable to them; they want to be sure they are indeed believing something that is the truth, not just convenient…….”

      ^That.

      Kind Of Anonymous also commented (19TH AUGUST 2019 – 1:38 PM) “……Thank you for your reply, it is very helpful.”

      ^That.

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