A Cry For Justice

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

There we sat down and wept — Psalm 137

When they could snatch a bit of time at the riverbank, out of eye or earshot of their masters, the captive Israelites didn’t have to sing happy songs on demand. There they could sit and weep.

By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, / when we remembered thee, O Sion.
As for our harps, we hanged them up on the trees that are therein.
For there they that led us away captive required of us a song, and they that plundered us a melody: / ‘Sing us one of the songs of Sion.’
How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,  / let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, / yea, if I
prefer not Jerusalem in my mirth.
(Psalm 137, Myles Coverdale’s translation, Book of Common Prayer)

The riverbank must have been a relatively safe place for the Israelites who were living in exile in Babylon, under the thumb of their oppressors. There they could take refuge for a little while from the humiliating demands of their captors.

Picture the Babylonians ordering the captives: “Obey us! You have no rights here! You should smile and laugh when we tell you to! Take that miserable look off your face! Put on a joyful face! Stop looking unhappy! Sing us songs of mirth! Entertain us! Make us look good!”

Over to you, dear readers. Do you have memories of being ordered to smile when you wanted to weep? And for those readers who cannot weep because your abusers wiped out your natural functions so you cannot physically shed tears, feel free to answer in whatever way is most appropriate for you.

By the way, I have recently moved the comments form to the top of the comments thread. I did this to encourage more newbies to comment on posts. I hope it doesn’t deter people from reading all the comments. Feel free to give me your feedback on this.

***

Further reading on the topic of tears and weeping

Whose tears are covering the altar in Malachi 2?

My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law

 

 

43 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    For some of us, the more we are bullied, abused, threatened, or frightened, the more we lose our ability to sing.

    We are silenced.

    We are voiceless.

    We are unable to sing.

    Perhaps, rather than weep, we could finally find our voice.

    • Helovesme

      Finding Answers just wanted to quickly thank you for your comments and replies before I shut my laptop down—-your words about the “voiceless” were wonderful.

      You take so much time and trouble to give of yourself that you deserve real thanks, and for me to take the real time to say thanks. 🙂

  2. Kind of Anonymous

    What I remember about crying and tears is that when I had reached the maximum amount of pain and heartbreak that I could manage, I shut down. It happened the day my dad drove his second wife of three months back to her parent’s farm. These were the grandparents who accepted me as their own and bought me a horse for Christmas. I was so hurt and angry that day at my adults. Why couldn’t they stop being so selfish and do what was right for us kids? Now I was losing a second family. I was beside myself and the tears and cries began to come in ragged shrieks. I was sitting behind the garage in our backyard. It dawned on me that my shrieks were getting immediately louder and out of control and that someone might hear me and I might get carted off to the nuthouse. So I determined I was not going to feel anything again. I visualized a metal garbage can and I mentally imagined shoving all my emotions and pain into that garbage can and welding the lid shut.

    From that day forward, I never felt normally again. We were often told that if we didn’t stop crying we would be given something to cry about. So we could be standing there while dad raged and threatened us and he would be forbidding us to cry. He was raging at us once at the table and forbidding us to cry and the food was tumbling out of my sister’s mouth because she couldn’t cry and hold food in her mouth at the same time and he was telling her to stop crying or she was going to get something worse.

    The one time in my later years I attempted to heal our relationship, I went to stay with him and his third wife. I was holding in all this pain and I needed him to comfort me, to say that he regretted it all too and for us to be able to begin the process of unpacking these broken things and for him to take responsibility for helping heal the damage his violence and abuse had done. I started crying and he held me for two seconds and then pushed me away, which resulted in my being shut down entirely. Then he and his wife both began lamenting about how they had screwed up kids. So I was something miserable they had to deal with but not something they were responsible right now to do anything about. The two of them had a very co-dependent relationship which often resulted in them justifying extremely selfish me-first behaviors and covering up some very wrong things. I wound up being sent back to my mom after this visit as the problem because I had unwittingly exposed abuse of his stepdaughter. It was supposedly an incident that was not ongoing but it had happened. I was accused of coming there to sabotage his happiness. I was only 18 and had no such thoughts. I just wanted my father.

    Later on when I became introduced to Christianity, I asked my Christian friends why I didn’t have a normal range of emotions. If I cried it would usually last for a few seconds. But I couldn’t cry that kind of crying that brings release and cleanses one’s heart. If something good happened I would feel about two seconds of joy and then feel immediate shut down or guilt or I would feel as if I were going to throw up. The question made them uncomfortable. These were people who also had a lot of past hurt in their lives. It was commonly taught then that if you had become saved, these things shouldn’t be an issue because you have forgiven them and should have found healing in Christ. So it seems to me that either that is a wrong idea, or somehow the church isn’t teaching people HOW to find healing in Christ, they just expect it to be instant. I mean I don’t see in the NT talk about years and years of needing to process painful emotions so I am not sure what it is that we are missing. But at that time in my life all this was so buried and there was no way to release it. I had no idea how.

    Sometimes I would hear of fellow Christians who went through a season where they would just be up at the altar and wail and wail. All they did was cry. It seemed to bring the healing. But somehow, I was never able to have that experience of release and was on high alert all the time, could not calm down and feel safe, etc. I didn’t know why because I was always being told by my mom that I had no real significant problem. But it would probably feel good to be able to release the frozen trauma that is still bothering me.

    • Finding Answers

      Kind Of Anonymous,

      You wrote (13TH JULY 2020 – 10:46 AM): “Later on when I became introduced to Christianity, I asked my Christian friends why I didn’t have a normal range of emotions….”

      Many Christians / “christians” have been taught MASSIVE quantities of misinformation about emotions.

      Some examples of emotions from the New Testament:

      Remember when Lazarus died?

      John 11:33-36 New Matthew Bible (NMB)
      33 When Jesus saw her weep, and the Jews who came with her also weep, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled in himself, 34 and said, Where have you laid him? They said to him, Lord, come and see. 35 And Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, See how he loved him!

      Remember when Jesus confronted the money changers in the temple?

      Matthew 21:12-13 New Matthew Bible (NMB)
      12 And Jesus went into the temple of God and cast out all the people who sold and bought in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of the people who sold doves, 13 and said to them, It is written: My house shall be called the house of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves.

      You also wrote: “… If I cried it would usually last for a few seconds. But I couldn’t cry that kind of crying that brings release and cleanses one’s heart. If something good happened I would feel about two seconds of joy and then feel immediate shut down or guilt or I would feel as if I were going to throw up. The question made them uncomfortable….”

      Again, many Christians / “christians” have been taught MASSIVE quantities of misinformation about emotions.

      I have read about individuals who cannot hear certain phrases / “proof-texts” / etc. from the Bible without cringing / wanting to throw their hands up in the air (in sorrow, in pain, in joy) / vomit (in fear, in excitement, in awe) / run / dance (in pain, in joy, in prayer) / etc..

      You also wrote: “….These were people who also had a lot of past hurt in their lives. It was commonly taught then that if you had become saved, these things shouldn’t be an issue because you have forgiven them and should have found healing in Christ. So it seems to me that either that is a wrong idea, or somehow the church isn’t teaching people HOW to find healing in Christ, they just expect it to be instant….”

      Not everyone finds instant healing in Christ.

      Can (general) you imagine being told in the evening (general) you are pregnant, and THE VERY NEXT MORNING finding a newborn baby in (general) your cradle / bassinet / whatever? (Although there are SOME folks who find foundling babies and DO become instant parents. 🙂 )

      Do (general) you think the Triune God would expect ALL humans to heal instantly?

      Do (general ) you think ALL (extremely) traumatized individuals could face ALL their trauma in an instant? (I know I couldn’t have faced all my extreme trauma in an instant!)

      You also wrote: “…. I mean I don’t see in the NT talk about years and years of needing to process painful emotions so I am not sure what it is that we they are missing. But at that time in my life all this was so buried and there was no way to release it. I had no idea how.”

      (Bold / strikethough of the word “we” / addition of the word “they” done by me.)

      Perhaps “they” are missing Jesus the Man, Who was NOT afraid to feel His emotions.

      If “they” were missing Jesus the Man, how could “they” show you Jesus the Teacher?

      If “they” were missing Jesus the Man, how could “they” show you Jesus the Healer?

    • Helovesme

      K of A as always, it’s like you read my mind, even though our circumstances were truly different.

      One thing I really like about your comments are the detailed descriptions. You deserve great thanks for that, because you have to relive those memories in order to put them out there for us to read.

      I tend to “shun” that sort of thing because it is very hard to do, but in reading your bravery, I am encouraged to offer a more detailed window into my own abuse.

      So when you wrote:

      “He was raging at us once at the table and forbidding us to cry and the food was tumbling out of my sister’s mouth because she couldn’t cry and hold food in her mouth at the same time and he was telling her to stop crying or she was going to get something worse.”

      It brought to mind the MANY episodes of abuse at our dinner table. Good gravy that is supposed to be family time, sitting together for a specific purpose, and it’s used for anything BUT nourishment. I would often get physically beaten or verbally abused at dinnertime. I don’t recall meal times as times for a meal at all. I don’t think I ever felt fed at such times.

      “I was only 18 and had no such thoughts. I just wanted my father.”

      I tried to kill myself when I was 18, so I can understand what you mean. I just wanted my father’s love that night, and all he did was pour on the hate, yet again. He never changed, never let up. If he wasn’t going to love me or could not find it in myself to even try, then why bother living at all? I did not know how I was going to continue to live without a father’s love, which I finally had to admit I was desperate for. It wasn’t optional; it was imperative. It wasn’t just reserved for others (anyone but me), I had to have it as well. I was sick of the deprivation. Imagine starvation finally reaching the point of no return. I was that starved for his love.

      No matter how hard I try, I can’t put into details what I have recently faced. But the exact same thoughts apply: “I just wanted my father,” and I was driven away—-most unexpectedly I might add. I was not prepared for the poison that spewed at me. I couldn’t believe the level of both passive indifference AND active hostility poured out on me. I could only remain if I gave in to the toxicity and accepted impossible demands as a result. And I couldn’t do that. I was branded as you spoke of, K of A: “I was accused of coming there to sabotage his happiness.”

      Worst part is, after I left things settled down. No more me, no more trouble. This has happened time and time again in my life.

      I would try to cry but no tears would come. Then other times the tears would not STOP coming. Same with anger, pain, bitterness, resentment—-and overall agony that this was what my life had become, and it was NOT how I had imagined it at all.

      My “best” times have become times of near numbness. You spoke of lacking a range of emotions—which I understand quite well. It got harder when I couldn’t even understand either the limited range, or the wide range! Imagine a box of Crayola crayons. When I was young, I loved the bigger boxes of crayons; more colors to work with, more shades of colors as well. The smaller boxes were nice, but you were limited in your choices. I would take different colors and try to combine them to get the color I wanted, but it wasn’t as good as having more choices at your fingertips.

      I couldn’t really “draw” out my emotions, and illustrate them on paper with such limited colors. Say I was feeling “blue” (literally!)—but a certain SHADE of blue. I might take the blue and the yellow to get the exact “periwinkle” shade of “blue.” But, I could never get it just right.

      Connecting that to what you spoke of in attempts to discuss your emotions with believers:

      “The question made them uncomfortable… It was commonly taught then that if you had become saved, these things shouldn’t be an issue because you have forgiven them and should have found healing in Christ. So it seems to me that either that is a wrong idea, or somehow the church isn’t teaching people HOW to find healing in Christ, they just expect it to be instant.”

      That’s exactly it. For me, I haven’t been able to push past the shock and enormous weight of pain my soul was burdened with. I can’t get “past” it in order to do the real work of forgiving and healing. It has nothing to do with being unchristian or shunning the Word. I’ll push into the anger and rage but it will be too much to handle and I go back to square one. I was and still am “stuck” in a sort of paralytic state of pain—and I just need prayers, not to mention patience and wow—some compassion. I don’t want to be “stuck” in this mud forever!

      We don’t bully and berate comatose patients, or those in a coma, who are in such a state due to extreme trauma. Any idea why those in a spiritually “technically alive but mostly not alive” are treated with such disgust and disdain? Do we praise spiritual “zombies” because they walk around as if they are alive but inside are devoid of life?

      I once read that zombies are caught between the world of the living and the dead. They are heading the the realm of the dead; it’s just a matter of time—they aren’t going to come back to life, and those in the land of the living shun and fear zombies. They don’t want to be become one of them. Dehumanization is the worst thing to happen to human beings.

      That is how I feel when I try to connect or communicate on this sort of scale with others. You have to find particularly mature, empathetic human beings who don’t see you as a diseased zombie, looking to “prey” on their lives in order to survive—no, they just want to be humanized, not demonized, dehumanized, and denied human affection and attention.

      Okay I WAS once as you described: “fellow Christians who went through a season where they would just be up at the altar and wail and wail. All they did was cry. It seemed to bring the healing.”

      I can only speak for myself, but no, the healing never really came. Crying HELPS, don’t get me wrong. But crying doesn’t melt the icebergs of “frozen trauma” (as you described). It’s a START, but I never got past the tears to the actual trauma. Imagine crying over a broken leg because it hurts like crazy. Okay, nice to admit that you are in serious pain. “Mind over matter” didn’t work; the pain was too real! But getting an X-ray for that broken bone, having it wrapped, letting ti heal and going through the right steps—I never got there. The brokenness therefore remains. And ironically, you never really STOP crying because it always hurts if it hasn’t been restored to full strength. So now you have a “limp” of sorts when you try to talk. You can’t put much weight on it because it can’t handle it. You are denied the fullness of something as simple as walking freely. And it SHOWS. You’re lagging behind while everyone else is running, skipping, dancing ahead of you.

      To end on a note of HOPE, however, God’s not interested in performance based Christianity. You might as well remain unsaved if that is what it means to an unbeliever. Trading in the bondage of one lifestyle of sin (living as a rule breaking rebel), for yet another lifestyle of sin (living as a legalistic rule keeper) is not the “fullness” of life that He promised.

      If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed. Stop living as a slave, start being His child.

      • Kind of Anonymous

        Hi HeLovesMe, thank you for your open response. I read it with great interest and most certainly related. Much you said caught my eye, including the part about zombies and how it seems we are rewarded somehow for agreeing to be somewhat numb or dead because then we don’t present a problem to those who like their family photo airbrushed and photoshopped. I am glad that the bible says things like “they have healed the wound of my people lightly” and “weep with those who weep” and “Jesus wept” etc, because without that there would be nothing with authority to say to those who require of us that we put on a good image, “Hey, wait a minute, this is NOT the true gospel”.

        Your words about realizing that your father’s love was imperative as opposed to “gee wouldn’t that be nice” sort of optional really resonated with me too. At some point in my life I realized I had been trying to live my life as if having my father’s love was not necessary and didn’t really matter. But it wasn’t true at all and eventually I let a little of the anguish and longing squeak past the heavily guarded walls around my heart to the surface and admitted it. I needed him. And he didn’t care, wouldn’t do what was right and wasn’t going to wake up and say “my daughter is so precious to me that I am going to correct my ways and walk through whatever fire I have to to get to her and make things right between us”. Of course in all of this of the last decade or so, I knew that there was One who DID do this for me but somehow I still wanted my father and I found it hard to accept that and not try to have some version of that with the men in my life, because I knew that other people DID have that. If it was not wrong for them to have it, why was it wrong for me? It set up a life long obsessive battle with idolatry.

        I am glad that my writing speaks to you and in some way is useful. When I write about these things I do have to touch the painful emotions and memories and try to zero in on the emotions, freeze framing them so I can “capture” them. I hope it helps others put words to their own griefs, sorrow and longings. It took years before I had enough conceptual language to even describe any of this to another human being. It just came out in bitter complaining for a long time because I couldn’t bring things to the surface and wasn’t encouraged to do so. Blessings to you HeLovesMe.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (18TH JULY 2020 – 2:41 PM) “….Imagine a box of Crayola crayons….”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…. I loved the bigger boxes of crayons; more colors to work with, more shades of colors as well. The smaller boxes were nice, but you were limited in your choices….”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….illustrate them on paper with such limited colors. Say I was feeling “blue” (literally!)—but a certain SHADE of blue. I might take the blue and the yellow to get the exact “periwinkle” shade of “blue.”….”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “We don’t bully and berate comatose patients, or those in a coma, who are in such a state due to extreme trauma….”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….Dehumanization is the worst thing to happen to human beings.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “That is how I feel when I try to connect or communicate on this sort of scale with others. You have to find particularly mature, empathetic human beings who don’t see you as a diseased zombie, looking to “prey” on their lives in order to survive—no, they just want to be humanized, not demonized, dehumanized, and denied human affection and attention.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “To end on a note of HOPE, however, God’s not interested in performance based Christianity…”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed. Stop living as a slave, start being His child.”

        ^That.

  3. Kind of Anonymous

    More thoughts about weeping. My time of living with my dad had come to an end after a situation where he was doing his usual buildup to a rage, and I decided I’d had enough of him making me afraid. I decided the only way to beat him was to be crazier than him. It worked as far as interrupting his rage cycle. It got me sent back to live with my mom too, probably with the help of his manipulative girlfriend, who realized at some point that I functioned as the moral rudder for the family and dad’s support.

    It had been four years of terror, anger, craziness and unpredictability, sick to your stomach fear. When I got off the plane at the airport I hugged the walls, trying to be invisible. My mom met me and we got my luggage and left in her car. We didn’t say much. Emotions were raw and I felt sick to my stomach. Mom told me that my grandparents, aunt, and cousins were at the house. I somehow had the hope that when I walked in the door, I could put down the other “luggage” I was carrying. Four years of fear, pain and sadness I had been holding in. When I walked in everyone looked at me and I looked at them. I had hoped someone would say “Are you okay” and thus give me permission to give release to the grief and stress of those four years. But I realized that everyone was looking to me for a cue as to how to respond and so I cracked a joke. I acted funny, happy, goofy. But inside I felt ill. I had missed the opportunity to let it out and to receive comfort, and now I did not know when the next time that “heart window” would be open again.

    To Finding Answers: I have always wondered why so many churches seem to produce the feeling that it is just isn’t okay to be real about what is going on in your life and as if only positive emotions are allowed. I remember watching a spoof of a Christian television show once, something like the PTL club. The actors portrayed cheesy, happy Christians. One asked the other ‘Oh, praise the Lord, how was your flight” and the other said ‘Oh, it was just WONDERFUL, praise the Lord, because I flew with Jaaayyyyssssus” and on and on it went. It was pretty hysterical the way they nailed the canned fake cheer.

    But somehow though my Christian friends had gotten saved out of the hippie movement and were I believe sincere Christians, there were deep areas of their hearts that seemed to be untouched by their salvation. They couldn’t show me what they had not experienced. This is a state I hope to avoid from now on, that whole inch deep / mile wide brand of faith that is so common.

    • Finding Answers

      Kind Of Anonymous,

      You wrote (15TH JULY 2020 – 10:26 PM): “I have always wondered why so many churches seem to produce the feeling that it is just isn’t okay to be real about what is going on in your life and as if only positive emotions are allowed….”

      ^That.

      You also wrote: ” I remember watching a spoof of a Christian television show once, something like the PTL club. The actors portrayed cheesy, happy Christians. One asked the other ‘Oh, praise the Lord, how was your flight” and the other said ‘Oh, it was just WONDERFUL, praise the Lord, because I flew with Jaaayyyyssssus” and on and on it went. It was pretty hysterical the way they nailed the canned fake cheer.”

      My ex-“husband” did VERY accurate spoofs of the folks you describe.

      My ex-“husband’s” “friends” thought he was funny, but his humour was cruel.

      In reality, my ex-“husband” was more like the torturer who enjoys watching butterflies impaled on the end of a pin.

      You also wrote: “….there were deep areas of their hearts that seemed to be untouched by their salvation. They couldn’t show me what they had not experienced….”

      ^That.

      You also wrote: “….that whole inch deep / mile wide brand of faith that is so common.”

      ^That is SUCH an accurate description of so many Christians / “christians”.

      Perhaps Christians / “christians” have gotten so used to the “go big or go home” that they really don’t understand much about God / faith / etc..

      I wonder how many Christians / “christians” these days have taken the time to know God on their own terms, rather than the terms dictated by an abuser / “christian” / “pastor” / “etc.”.

      • Helovesme

        I am so grateful to Finding Answers because she pointed out the “inch deep mile wide brand of faith” from K of A’s comment, and I had honestly missed it! I don’t know why, it was smack dab at the end! But that was an amazing description that IS truly common.

        Finding Answers pointed out cruelty in humor and boy, can I relate. I am still ashamed of myself for either using humor to cover up for how cruelty had hurt me personally (minimizing the pain),

        AND using humor to be cruel to others in an attempt to minimize THEIR pain and (worst of all), get attention. Negative attention is better than no attention at all and shamefully, I had no idea how to harness and garner sincere, true positive attention.

        If you’ve ever seen a reality show, for example, this principle usually rules. The badder the behaviors, the higher the ratings tend to go. Even before reality shows became such a big thing, I feel like I was starring in my own version of a reality show—which was (as in actual reality shows), NOT based on reality at all. But I wanted everyone to think it had—I was there to entertain them with a show, not embrace or be embraced by them, as a real person.

        Your “ratings” are usually reflected by their reactions. If you got a strong response, your sense of worth went up. If you didn’t, you felt ignored and neglected. Time to “up” your game, right? Oh, goodness, when the Lord told me to stop using humor as a shield (to protect myself) AND a sword (to hurt others)—-boy, did I need that, and had it coming.

        What kind of an example was I setting? This is NOT how “freedom” in Him works. You are now free to spread the fragrance of LIFE that is in Him, not free to spread whatever fragrance YOU decide on. My fragrances were no perfume at all—they reeked of pride and ego.

        I was once a part of a church that put on a play that was supposed to illustrate the reality of the afterlife. You had various types of persons who had died, and the play revolved around where they were going to spend eternity.

        There was an entertainment “spin” to it but it was a serious production. At first I thought it was great! You could bring your unsaved loved ones and hopefully it would speak to them. And certainly I got a lot out of it. The first one I enjoyed a lot, but the SECOND one mortified me because of the immense lack of Biblical accuracy. I felt they had taken it too far in order to make a serious point.

        An example is this: four persons, all family, died in a car accident. The adults were saved, the kids were not. One of the adults pleaded with the kids: did you accept Christ? In front of the adults, the kids were “taken” by the devil. He tried to take the adults, too, but he couldn’t. After that horrible scene, Christ came and took them to Heaven, with cheers from those adults.

        I don’t believe this is truly accurate as to how things will be. I understand there are glimpses of this (Lazarus in Heaven and the rich man in Hell, for example). It is all right if others reading this disagree with my assessment, by the way.

        I realized how mortifying the first one had been as well. It was actually more mocking of the unsaved, which I truly do not find to be humorous OR entertaining at all. I kept thinking that if it got people thinking, wasn’t that all that mattered?

        No, not at all. It’s like saying: as long as we are laughing and acting happy, we must be having a good time. No, that’s not true at all!

    • James

      Hi Kind of Anonymous

      I’ve been pondering your comments. They are very poignant and speak to me. I had to smile when I read of you ‘out-crazying’ your father. It is familiar to me.

      My family was very dysfunctional yet they thought they were fine and I was the crazy one. The surviving members still think I’m a bit weird. They even had me thinking I was crazy for a few years. But in my mid twenties I saw a film based on the clinical work of a psychiatrist named R.D. Laing.

      In the film, a troubled teenaged girl is brought for therapy by her caring, concerned parents. And, indeed, the girl’s behaviour appears quite irrational. But as the film unfolds it becomes apparent that her behaviour actually makes sense and that it is her parents and siblings that are the crazy ones. They hold irrational beliefs and engage in harmful behaviours but they have zero insight into themselves.

      The girl, on the other hand, sees it all as she is far more intelligent than the rest of the family but has no way (or therefore has no way) to communicate the family lunacy to the other members. All she can do is act out that family madness.

      It was a great relief to me seeing and understanding this dynamic. I dare say that this is the sort of situation you and many of the readers here experienced, either in childhood or later in adulthood or likely both.

      The family, church, and / or society are dysfunctional, crazy and harmful. Plus, they have little or no insight into their irrational and harmful behaviour. But you do because you are on the sharp end of it and you are intelligent enough to know how wrong it is. But they don’t. And that’s a problem.

      By “you” I mean everyone reading here. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t looking for answers to the needless, harmful lunacy around you.

      I could go on but I had better stop there! Thanks for writing, KoA

      • Finding Answers

        James,

        You wrote (16TH JULY 2020 – 12:18 PM): “….they have little or no insight into their irrational and harmful behaviour…..”

        For me, ^THAT phrase REALLY stood out.

        How many of the individuals making the accusation(s) of “lacking insight” (or whatever) are the individuals who are actually lacking insight?

        ^That list is truly endless.

      • Helovesme

        Hi James thanks for that reply. I know what it means to think you must be the crazy one, because you seem to be the ONLY one who sees what is going on around you, or at least suspects that something isn’t right.

        OR you don’t think you are crazy, but you feel helpless because no one else sees things as clearly (or semi clearly as you do).

        You have two choices (mainly). Stick to your guns but don’t fire (in order to survive). Or submit to the majority mindset (in order to survive).

        Both of those options carry consequences with them. Serious ones. I DO think the former choice is more hopeful; your mind is your own and no ones owns it but you. Don’t let anyone take charge of your mind; it belongs to you and you alone.

        But there is a measure of shaming and blaming that comes with that choice. Not only will you still be abused, you will likely suffer in ways that are avoidable if you had instead chosen the latter option.

        The latter option will still cause much suffering. You will still be abused, but you will try to normalize it, convince yourself that it’s not unreasonable or even sinful (depending on the circumstances of course). Convince yourself that you are getting what you deserved and even if you DON’T think you you deserve it, you find ways to accept it and adjust to it.

        For example, if my abuser was coming after me to hit me, I’d turn away from him so he would hit my back, less painful than if he hit me across the face.

        Bullying in school was so normalized I really and truly thought I must be insane. I could not believe that anyone in their right mind could find ways to condone the bullies, condemn the target or targets. The grown ups in charge were incomprehensible to me.

        I was a child and I wondered if this is what happens when you grow up. Does your conscience, your sense of empathy diminish as you supposedly grow into maturity? Why are they seemingly believing AND behaving more like the bullies and / or turning blind eyes to them? They are supposed to lead and guide the children, but then they seemed to be acting like children themselves. Lacking in maturity, lacking in setting an example, caring for ALL the kids, not just a handful or majority of them.

        I would interact and engage with professing Christians, especially when I married into such a family. Over the years, I thought (again) that I must be insane at the beliefs and behaviors I was witnessing. I thought there must be something wrong with me, because (as James pointed out in his example) no one else seemed to bat an eye or be bothered. I was both appalled and angered, but I wondered if I was the irrational one. I came from an abusive family; maybe I didn’t know what a functional family looked like? Especially a Christian one, since I was not raised as a Christian.

        Make no mistake, these people could absolutely be kind and caring persons, which only added to my confusion. BUT, if certain buttons got pushed, if certain issues were brought up, it was certain to cause much provocation—-and that is where you saw the inner layers that were just underneath the surface.

        Think of it as an anti-antiperspirant. If you use one, it doesn’t really go into effect until you start to sweat. Until then, you smell like a rose. When you do something active, or even when you experience anxiety, that product works hard to keep you smelling like a rose, even as all that sweat challenges that purpose. Even the best products, however, can’t keep up if you are eventually dripping with sweat. It can’t cover up or compensate for the amount of perspiration you are emitting.

        I got up close and personal to those inner layers when something made them “sweat.” If they got “worked up” or “worked out” a lot (depending on what was going on), they eventually stopped smelling like roses, and I instead smelled something very foul.

        No matter HOW they tried to convince me that that ugly, foul smell was really a lovely, rosy scent, my “spiritual” nostrils eventually would not buy into that.

        “Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)

        I thought I must be the one spreading a bad fragrance, and I was the one that needed to fix myself up so I smelled like them, or approved of how they smelled. If I couldn’t be like them, I better at least accept them and not rock the boat.

        I couldn’t quite see HOW I was so problematic, except that no matter how hard I tried, I seemed to cause trouble. My conduct wasn’t always stellar and spot on, so I wondered if I had messed up in “auditioning” to be a part of the family I had married into.

        Technically, you are family (aka one of them) but in reality, you are an outsider for a time—you don’t know them very well yet and vice versa.

        Present day, I do not think I am AS insane as I once thought, but I am still working through it since it was (and still is) incredibly painful and traumatic. Even the persons in that family that I thought were “above” the rest, were actually not much different from the rest, and worst of all—may have been the ones setting a bad example. Previously I had thought they were aiming to influence via setting a good example. I wondered why the others didn’t seem to be AS influenced as they should have been. The example James pointed out: caring and concerned, right? Well, dig a little deeper and you’ll see how they start to “sweat” when you start a poke a few holes into their cares and concerns.

      • James

        Finding Answers, it is a long list, indeed!
        I find the hardest people to communicate deeply with are those of ‘the professional class’ – doctors, dentists, lawyers and pastors/ministers.

        What they know is often true but there is usually a lot of knowledge that they are totally unaware of and they have no clue that that might be important.

        So, because ‘they know everything there is to know’ if you say something they are unaware of, you must be talking rubbish! It’s obvious . . . to them.

      • James

        Helovesme, you said a bunch there! You described well the double bind we often find ourselves in.

        Do we stand up and get shot down or do we sit down and get sat on?
        Do we speak up and get shouted down or do we shut up and then shut down?

        There are other options though that often end up worse. Children can tell their story of abuse through their behaviour as I mentioned in the film. Though the danger is being diagnosed as insane as happened in the film. (The film had two titles. One was “Family Life” the other was “Wednesday’s Child”. Not for the faint hearted, btw. It’s harrowing.)

        Another option for adults is DIY Brainwashing. You described this well with the adults at school and your in-laws. These people relieve their internal stress at dealing with a contradictory (insane) situation by shutting down their concerns and normalising everything.

        But this, in the end, brings more harm for everybody than the “Shut-up” or “Stand-up” options.

        It’s a pickle, for sure. I’ve been wrestling with this one myself these last weeks in the face of contradictory (insane) pronouncements ‘from above’.

        But I like your reference to Paul talking about our actions being a fragrance for Jesus. And I like KoA’s suggestion of seeking guidance from God rather than seeking first to give voice to our egos and spout our opinions.

      • Finding Answers

        James,

        You wrote (22ND JULY 2020 – 5:52 AM): “….I like your reference to Paul talking about our actions being a fragrance for Jesus. And I like KoA’s suggestion of seeking guidance from God rather than seeking first to give voice to our egos and spout our opinions.”

        ^That.

    • “…I did not know when the next time that ‘heart window’ would be open again.”

      Thank you KofA for those well-put words. There have been many times when my ‘heart window’ was ready to open and longing to open, but I shut it down because of the off-putting vibes from others. I did not open up the grief gates; I held it down and put on a fake face.

    • Helovesme

      I just have to give props once again to K of A in her comment:

      “I believe sincere Christians, there were deep areas of their hearts that seemed to be untouched by their salvation. They couldn’t show me what they had not experienced. This is a state I hope to avoid from now on, that whole inch deep / mile wide brand of faith that is so common.”

      When I lost a loved one, I truly believe it helped me to understand others who grieve as well. I could relate to them on a far more personal level, having experienced it personally. Before that, I could factually and somewhat naturally feel for those who had lost loved ones; that is not a huge reach.

      But the specific ins and outs of the horrors of daily life without that loved one—that I knew nothing about. Once that area had been “awakened” in me, I was never the same again. Once that part of you that was once asleep is woken up, it can never fully be put back to sleep again. And boy, do you wish you could. NOW you understand something not in theory, but in reality.

      This is not quite as you described—-grief is not the exact same thing as “untouched by salvation!” But the attitude applies, I think.

      I continue to be “touched” by His salvation as He works through my many “untouched” layers that well, were never touched before He rescued me! I had no idea how afraid I was to let Him touch me at all (spiritually speaking) because being touched in any way usually led to pain and suffering. Even when my abuser would open his mouth, I feared the words would be nothing helpful, only hurtful.

      So I was afraid to let Him get close to me AT ALL. Please don’t touch that private area of pain, please don’t SPEAK about that private area of pain. His love had compelled me to become born again, but imagine it like this: I took a leap of faith to get married, compelled by the belief and hope that it was “true love.” But then, I was afraid it had all been for nothing, that I had only tricked myself into believing such lies—now a life of coercion and power struggles were all that remained.

      This is hard to describe. If I was so afraid of Him showing me that true love I had desperately wanted, needed and believed in—-why did I become born again at all? If someone expresses that level of love for me, didn’t I want to actually experience that love?

      Sounds like I regretted my decision? Then undo it—leave Him behind and realize you didn’t have a strong enough belief in His love, to actually LIVE in that love. You have serious doubts, right? And if you don’t really think His love is faithful to you, you can be faithful to Him in return. You’ve made a mess; get out before you end up making an even bigger mess of your life. Go BACK to the mess you were as an unbeliever—it was horrible, but at least it was familiar. It wouldn’t be so hard to go back; you barely left it so it’s still close by.

      This is how I felt when I read about His people leaving Egypt in Exodus. For all their crying and wailing about the bondage of enslavement (and it WAS truly horrendous), when it was finally time to leave that wretched life behind, I think they realized it was not as simple, or easy. They kept wanting to go back, even “fondly” remembering having certain foods and comforts available to them that were not available in the wilderness. They were also afraid of dying—well, better to be a slave and live, rather than be free and die. What good is freedom if it is only a death sentence?

      Even though God showed His power and majesty in previously unimaginable ways (the plagues, parting of the sea, provision in the wilderness, God Himself being a cloud by day, fire by night)—-embracing freedom involved a change of mind, not just a change of location. Not even strong, huge and mind boggling visible, miraculous signs from Heaven are guaranteed to undo an enslaved mind.

      So, NO—I didn’t want to go back to a condemned life as a slave. But I also didn’t want to be or become WORSE off as a free person: self-pitying and rather ungracious. If I truly believed He was for me, and not against me—if He had patiently drawn me to Himself, might that just mean that He would continue to be for me, and continue to patiently deal with me?

      I used to run away from Him at the drop of a hat when He would get what I thought as “too close for comfort.” NOW, while it is still hard—I run TO Him for that closeness and comfort. PLEASE get closer to me; it’s the only way to receive that comfort that can handle the pain that is truly too close tor discomfort!

      I hate being poked in uncomfortable areas that are truly painful, but unless a person gets close enough to where it hurts, how can they help you? You can’t put a Band-Aid on a wound without looking at it, assessing it AND touching it as well. This happened to me personally when I fell down the other day—-okay, it’s bleeding but don’t touch it! Well, the bleeding is a good sign that you NEED to be touched, in order to make that bleeding stop!

      This is exactly what would happen with my late fur angel baby. He would take MUCH longer to heal due to his insistence that I help those hurts without actually touching those hurts. To be fair, he was scared and I at first I tried to be gentle—-but his trashing around didn’t really make that possible!

      My attempts to literally get close to him caused him anticipatory fear. No joke, I wouldn’t even have touched him (yet) and he’s start screaming. So I’d try to be firm and “in charge” and that usually started a rumble.

      Then I tried to reason with him: don’t you trust me? You know my voice, right? I guess not: he knew me when I would feed him, didn’t know me when I would try to heal him! I was a hero when he wanted his tummy filled, a villain when he needed his tummy pills!

      So, I did whatever it took to heal him (stuffed his pills into pill treats), however long it took to heal him (stuffed MY impatience into love for him). He was worth it; a healed beagle is a happy beagle. A happy beagle is a happy beagle owner. 🙂

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (18TH JULY 2020 – 3:57 PM) “….If I truly believed He was for me, and not against me—if He had patiently drawn me to Himself, might that just mean that He would continue to be for me, and continue to patiently deal with me?”

        ^That.

  4. Helovesme

    No, I like how you moved the commenting to the top; just a little less scrolling which is always nice!

    As I read the post I was reminded of Nehemiah, who was the king’s cup bearer. It was dangerous to appear sad in the king’s presence; apparently his servants were required to be upbeat and uplifting to the highest power in the land.

    So when the king asked why he was so sad, Nehemiah was quite terrified, and rightly so. I have a feeling he may not have realized how his face had given him away! To his credit, he chose to answer the king honestly, which got the main purpose of the book of Nehemiah going—rebuilding the wall.

    I met the Lord through a charismatic college Christian group, leaned towards Pentecostal. It encouraged freedom of emotions, but I would add that It DID lean towards expected and emotionally charged displays of the “joy of the Lord.”

    Keep in mind we were on the younger side; that exuberant energy wasn’t always so hard to work up and work with. But I started to wonder if it was going to my head (kind of like a emotional high, NOT necessarily from the Holy Spirit). The discernment wasn’t obvious, because on the outside it looked like dancing, arm raising, hand clapping “joy of the Lord.”

    I was going through a LOT of sorrow; and while I truly attempted to deal with that pain, I found myself “putting it all aside” in order to worship Him AS IF I was not in pain. And in looking at me, it was as if I didn’t have a care in the world! I had cast all my cares onto Him so I was light as a feather, free to dance and sing with no heaviness in heart or soul.

    I soon started to tire, both physically and emotionally. Worshiping the Lord with song and dance is perfectly legitimate, truly. But I realized that true worship of Him revolved around trusting Him, in song and dance and apart from song and dance. Believing that while sorrow is real, the joy in trusting Him without boundaries has nothing to do with pushing the boundaries in voice volume!

    I used to have a much more upbeat personality, and then I realized that I was using humor to cover my pain, or even to deal with it. Laugh it off, right? That is NOT the “joy of the Lord!”

    When I was being abused, I did my best to not cry in front of my abuser. I would go into the bathroom nearby after and cry my eyes out. Ironically, I think they could hear me. I would stay in there a long time. Or I’d go upstairs to my room. But nowhere was truly private. My abuser was allowed to show a range of emotions; everything revolved around that demand. My emotions were stifled and suffocated as a result.

    Often, I didn’t KNOW what emotions I should or should not display and that was the worst part. I KNEW I was expected to know how to “perform,” but I didn’t know exactly what was required out of me. It was like trying to act without a director giving you cues or direction. So you guessed, and if you were wrong (I often was), punishment was sure to follow. Emotions were a form of bondage—strings being pulled and yanked at will, often unexpectedly, often carelessly, always painfully felt.

    Posing for family pictures, being forced to go to occasions and pretend, putting on an act as if nothing was wrong—all of that required lying to myself first and foremost so I could lie to everyone else.

    Ironically, this all become worse as I grew up and grew in Him. As I dealt with more and more sorrow and suffering, pain in my body AND soul demanded to be heard, and felt and realized. They were demanding the freedom that I had denied them in the name of “joyous Christian living.”

    The message became: cry on your own time in your own home. In public, cover that all up—use as much makeup as necessary (both literal and metaphorical). You need to look good so you can look happy and look like you’re having a good time.

    It made people uncomfortable to be around me when I was hurting. Or, if I tried to talk to them or admit real suffering, it drove them away. I wondered if things like intense trials were like a disease; contagious—-they were bringing everyone down!

    These were mostly professing Christians which is why I tend to NOT open up in personal and private ways in general. I’m more guarded. I would struggle in my walk with Him but couldn’t find any encouragement. The attitude of, how disappointing, we thought you had such strong faith. You set an example for others, now you’re letting us down. You encouraged others, now you aren’t being so encouraging anymore.

    The message? We didn’t think you had needs like the rest of us; we didn’t think you experienced real depth of pain and agony. We didn’t think you were a giving, gracious person, but we never anticipated being expected to be giving, gracious receivers. OR that we owed you anything at all—-you owe us anything and everything.

    Now I am far less social because well, Christ is not like that at all. I do not need nor want anyone in my life who claims Him in belief but shuns Him in behavior. I did not became a believer to be put on an different act, I came to Him because I was TIRED of putting on an act, PERIOD.

    I was ashamed for so long—I hated myself for crying, hated others for not letting me cry. Or not caring about my cries. I still struggle with that, but NEVER when I am with Him, crying my eyes out. I can feel the embers of shame in me stirring, but then His love attempts to smother them before they can burst into flames.

    Those that shunned me for crying, all they did was push me further and further into His arms, that NEVER shun me and always welcome me—tears and all.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (18TH JULY 2020 – 1:47 PM) “Often, I didn’t KNOW what emotions I should or should not display and that was the worst part. I KNEW I was expected to know how to “perform,” but I didn’t know exactly what was required out of me. It was like trying to act without a director giving you cues or direction. So you guessed, and if you were wrong (I often was), punishment was sure to follow. Emotions were a form of bondage—strings being pulled and yanked at will, often unexpectedly, often carelessly, always painfully felt.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….I am far less social because well, Christ is not like that at all. I do not need nor want anyone in my life who claims Him in belief but shuns Him in behavior….”

      ^That.

    • Helovesme, thanks for pointing out Nehemiah having a sad face in the king’s presence. I had not thought of that application, but it is perfect for the topic of this post. 🙂

      (Nehemiah 2:1-4) And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King [a]Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.”

      So I became dreadfully afraid, and said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?”

      Then the king said to me, “What do you request?”

      Contrast the king’s non-lecturing compassionate response to Nehemiah, with how pharisees (so-called Christians) respond to believers who are displaying sadness of heart because they have been abused and oppressed. The king asked Nehemiah an open ended question: “What do you request?” — in other words “How would you like me to help you?” If only more professing Christians would ask such questions when victims of abuse disclose their suffering!

      • FaceReality

        I really appreciate this post. I just came to the site looking for something else and clicked on this post in the right margin. How timely! I have just been shamed for a third time by an advocate for abused women, a couple of times on a group call and now on a forum. It is for me in all cases a clear lack of compassion and also lack of interest or effort to take the time to maybe ask another question gently to get context from a victim instead of just plowing through with an “I’m right” bulldozer attitude. In my mind it is totally possible to correct or give truth without shaming, but it requires interest and time and other things I guess. And I am not a counselor or anything I am just an abuse victim but have listened to many hours of counseling of victims and it’s easy to see when someone doesn’t take the time required to get context from a victim or minimally apologize if they don’t have the time and then offer to address the need through another means.

        Thankfully I feel like I can discern what’s happening. But it is unfortunate for me and others who then need to get over being mistreated in a way by an advocate of abuse victims as well as dealing with the recovery from being abused by a spouse which is why we went to the advocate in the first place.

        Thankfully I have been shown compassion by others and another advocate for abused women. There is such a stark contrast in the approach of these two advocates and it also makes me feel humbled I guess. I mean how I should be more open myself to seeing my impact on others. So all in all, if I can take the hurt and process it and then hopefully be in a place where I can reflect and see where I hurt others and ask God to help me be advocates for those around me instead of hurting them especially when I am vulnerable because they have hurt me. Like, it’s delicate I think with each situation how we have sometimes just a few moments to think or wait before responding.

        Thanks again for this edifying, affirming and comforting post.

      • Reaching Out

        Hi AbusedByAdvocates,

        You appear to have used your first name when submitting your comment.

        For your safety and protection, I have changed your screen name to AbusedByAdvocates.

        If you would prefer a different screen name, email me at reachingout.acfj@gmail.com and I will change your screen name.

      • Reaching Out

        Hi FaceReality,

        As you requested, I have changed your screen name from AbusedByAdvocates to FaceReality.

        Thank you for taking the time to reply to me, as I prefer individuals have the screen name they have chosen.

      • Hi FaceReality, welcome to the blog and thank you very much for your comments! 🙂 I am pretty sure there will be other survivors who relate to what you’ve said. Being hurt by a so-called advocate can be really distressing. When the very person you expected to help you, hurts you, it can be really distressing!

        I admire your response to being hurt by that advocate. You have reflected on what happened and used it as a learning experience to grow in discernment and wisdom and godliness.

        You said “each situation is delicate…” — that is so true. I hope you continue to comment at this blog. We can all learn from each other, spark each other to new insights, and give each other support and encouragement.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you Barb, I had the honor of going through Nehemiah with a study guide which is likely why your post brought that narrative to mind. Nehemiah is a wonderful illustration of so many key issues, so many common experiences we as Christians can relate to.

        Nehemiah’s prayers, pleading with the Lord, preceded his conversation with the king. THAT likely made a big difference. Before he said anything to the king, he went to the King of all Kings first.

        Actually, Nehemiah didn’t even initiate the dialogue with the king. I do believe the Lord’s hand was working. Pagan kings didn’t have “suggestion boxes” or an “open door” policy for servants.

        I was blown away by the king’s favorable response to Nehemiah. He was also quite generous as well, once Nehemiah made his requests known. Again, that took real courage to not only admit you were sad (will I lose my life if I do?), but answer him honestly when asked what he wanted (will I lose my life if I do?).

        I encounter this many times. I know or I suspect someone is sad or in need, and I ask them what they are sad about, or what they need? But they don’t always answer honestly. Sometimes they’re the ones who admit they have needs, but have a hard time articulating them.

        I don’t think they are afraid of being killed. But their pride may be in danger, which is usually serious business, to both the saved and unsaved. And when I say “pride” I include “false humility.”

        Imagine if Nehemiah had responded to the king: King, don’t worry about me. I’ll be happy in your presence from now on. If I’m sad, it’s my own problem, not yours.

        There’s no way that Nehemiah could have gotten the ball rolling on rebuilding the wall without the king’s permission to actually GO back to his land, had been given resources and materials, and even his blessings to do all of that meant a great deal.

        Why did he bother fervently praying for God’s help, if WHEN He opened that door to receive that help, Nehemiah slammed it shut and kept praying for His help.

        I don’t know if Nehemiah knew exactly how He would answer his prayers. Perhaps he had his doubts when the king approached him. I don’t think any of us can be 100% certain on how He will respond to us. Is this the hand of God moving, or will this lead to hands that will murder me? Have I angered the king, or is the love of the King? That is why I appreciated the Word letting us know that Nehemiah was truly scared at first. What should he do? How should he respond? And make no mistake, he HAD to answer the king with something, and since it came out of nowhere, there likely wasn’t a lot of time to think it out.

        That is one of the reasons I love the book of Nehemiah. His honesty, passion and frank descriptions of his ups and downs made him so relatable, plus it all resonated with me.

  5. Helovesme

    Replying to Kind Of Anonymous
    18TH JULY 2020 – 9:09 PM:

    Thank you so much for the kind reply. Your own description of wanting your father was eloquent and once again, mirrors my own longings.

    The Bible verses you pointed out were wonderful. One thing I don’t think we notice enough is how passionate the Lord is—there is nothing mild or mellow or minimal about Him. When He loves, He loves to the fullest. When He gives grace, He gives to the fullest.

    He is not one bit passive, indifferently sitting on His throne, nice and high up above this wretched world gone horribly wrong—-safe and sound, untouched by all the sorrow and suffering going on down below.

    The opening verses and first few chapters of Isaiah don’t leave any room for doubt. I’m paraphrasing here: your so called sacrifices are not only displeasing to Me, they’ve become a burden. Stop bringing them to Me, until you learn what it means to worship from the heart.

    You don’t care about anyone but yourselves; you do not plead for and defend the fatherless and the widow.

    BINGO! Can any of us relate? If our fathers were our abusers, we experienced that lack of a loving father. If our spouses were our abusers, we experienced a lack of a loving spouse. Orphaned and widowed does NOT always mean a lack of a physical parent or partner. So often, they ARE in existence, but it takes much more in order to fulfill those roles than just being in existence.

    Isaiah 1:15: “Your hands are full of blood!” This is not a God, sitting up in Heaven, untouched and uncaring. You can come to no other conclusion with such verses, that our suffering is serious business to Him.

    When I read Isaiah 64, the pleading prayers of humanity that admits how fallen they are, but pleads with Him to not give up on them. Perhaps responding in passion to His passion is something we could all learn to do.

    You mentioned a “life long obsessive battle with idolatry.” I understand that only too well. That was huge in the books of Jeremiah and Isaiah. The Lord’s righteous jealousy refused to tolerate His people spreading themselves around to the many, when He rightly expected to be the only One. No, you don’t put Him at the top, and the idols are below Him. No, it is just Him and only Him.

    Christ said that those that refused to believe in Him had no room for Him in their hearts. Love of money, praises of man, love for themselves left no room for His words. Actually, if they let His words in, all those idols would have to “move out.” He would not only come to live in their hearts, He would “evict” anyone and anything that didn’t belong there.

    Paul spoke of there being no room for male or female, Jew or Gentile because we are all one in Him when He comes to live in us. [Paul was referring to] the things about us that we possibly put TOO much focus on. Being male or female are ways to describe us, not ways to define us. When you are defined in Him, those other descriptions do not deserve that level of focus.

    I was most convicted of sin when you spoke of “bitter complaining.” I have already been praying about this for a long time now. I have noticed myself struggling to remain patient and long suffering over the last 5 years or so—I am growing weary of getting hurt, being traumatized, and trying to maintain a level of maturity and sanity!

    I am a big believer in NOT using personal suffering to justify and therefore inflict personal suffering on others. There has to be a much healthier, manageable way to communicate pain without inflicting pain in the process, if that makes sense. But time and time again I find myself struggling with bitterness and resentment—-I’d love and appreciate any and all prayers because there are times I truly fear the darkness will swallow me up. It hasn’t happened yet, and I maintain a measure of hope in Him, but the support would mean a lot.

    • Hi Helovesme, I edited your third last paragraph a bit because the wording was unclear. If I didn’t represent your ideas accurately, please let me know.

      In your second last paragraph you spoke about how in the last 5 years you have been repeatedly hurt and traumatised. I’m wondering whether it might be a good idea for you to go ‘no contact’ with the people who are repeatedly hurting and traumatising you. (It’s just a thought. I don’t want to patronise you; no doubt you’ve thought of that option already. And there may be reasons why going ‘no contact’ is impractical or impossible.)

      • Helovesme

        Thank you Barb—I re-read my comment and didn’t see any real differences; I apologize if something wasn’t worded right that you re-worded to make it right.

        Thank you for caring about me. Yes it’s your last part that said it best: impractical or impossible. But I’m doing my dang best to go as “no contact” as possible, but it would take some real time to explain the circumstances that have been out of my control.

        But thank you so so much for caring and for saying what you did, which shows how much you obviously care. I’ve been wanting to reach out to you personally and try to explain some specifics to you—-just for a listening ear, nothing more.

        It means a great deal to me to know you cared enough to say what you said, bless you.

  6. Kind of Anonymous

    I am thinking about FaceReality’s comments about being abused even by abuse advocates who are supposed to know better. That’s the last place we should find abuse. It’s somewhat like getting stabbed by a paramedic.

    Once again, it really makes me think about how I have often wished (and I do mean OFTEN) that those who profess faith in Christ would learn to stuff a sock in it and instead of responding first with their ideas and opinions, ask God what HE thinks or wants them to share, especially when dealing with a person’s heart. Most people are so full of answers they don’t need to ask questions. Arrrrggggh.

    A friend of mine who ministered to me over a period of years often had to listen to my perspective on people I’d been hurt by. Sometimes my view was colored by years of abuse and feeling powerless, resentful and bitter so it was skewed vitriol more than it was truth. Other times I correctly pinpointed someone as an ass and a judgmental pharisee. She said to me once that there were times she really wanted to set me straight and tell me my perspective was wrong but she said that the Lord said to her “Just listen to her. No one has ever just listened:”

    I was in a meeting once where we were discussing what to do with the additional unused land our church sat on as far as some kind of ministry outreach went. Everyone took turns heralding their opinions. It reminded me of another meeting I’d read about. In that meeting the board of a church was trying to decide what to do in a given situation. Everyone agreed that they should do X course of action. They all took that agreement to mean that it was the right decision.

    However one man said “Excuse me, but let’s inquire of the Lord”. So they continued on quieting themselves and praying. The man who had suggested this felt in his spirit that even though by the mind of man, it seemed right, it wasn’t the leading of the Spirit. Soon an entirely different course of action became obvious. However despite suggesting we as a church all spend some time praying and seeking God, everyone continued on talking the issue to death.

    I went away weary in my spirit and heart. The take away from all of this is that so often we are like the bull in the china shop, so sure we know what to say and we don’t. And we won’t until we have the tenderness, mercy and humility of Jesus. It’s so easy to get so full of ourselves. The bible says that “the fool delights in airing his own opinions”. How precious then, for FaceReality to have had, instead, an experience of meeting someone who would say “Lord what do You want me to share with her or do for her” rather than receiving judgment and shaming. Sorry for rambling on.

    • Helovesme

      Replying to FaceReality
      20TH JULY 2020 – 9:31 AM:

      I thought about advocacy in general, especially regarding abuse and its aftermath. And Matthew 5:37 came to mind:

      “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

      Abuse is not always (usually never) simple, straightforward and easy to spot. Abusers are like Olympic trained deceivers. They know what they are doing and they do it well. They can take a simple commandment to “love one another as yourself” and twist and turn and tangle it up to accuse (and convince) the victim that she is the one guilty of not loving him. If she really loved him, he wouldn’t be abusing her.

      As for advocacy, perhaps a good way to be on guard is to watch for things like “Yes, but. No, but.”

      Yes, your abuser is an abuser, but he is stressed, scared and needs salvation. No, your abuser doesn’t hate you, he loves you, but you need to love him more and more. That is putting chains on a victim, wrapping her up with more and more “words” that are in reality from the evil one.

      I’m being careful here, because I do NOT speak to those who were or are being deceived. I speak to the ones who actively and intentionally embraced the devil’s ways of adding as many words as possible to a simple “yes” or “no” in order to entangle their victims.

      It would and should be encouraging to assure the victim that yes, you were abused, but NO, you were not at fault. Yes, but you’re not at fault for not leaving right away. Yes, you see the warning signs now, but you are not a fool. You were deceived.

      I do not say that there is no room for growth in victims, post abuse. This site exists precisely to guide and grow such persons. But it is not to put more chains around us with more and more words “from the evil one.” It is to use those words to undo those chains with more and more wisdom from our Savior.

      I’ve noticed that victims are often treated as though they are fools, or suffer from excessive foolishness. You lack intelligence; no wonder you were duped. OR, you lack intelligence so your abuser and / or your post-abuse “advocate” has to tell you what to do, how to think, what to believe—-this is for your own good. Because you are such a simple minded fool.

      Okay. Look to the book of Proverbs to really understand what a fool is and isn’t—before (ironically) such foolishness is dumped out at victims. Proverbs seems to define fools NOT necessarily as those lacking in wisdom, but those that refuse to admit they are lacking in wisdom.

      Fools are the ones who refuse correction, refuse to grow, refuse to listen and refuse to admit how pain is caused as a result. Fools think they know everything, and do NOT know how to speak slowly, measure out their words and think carefully before they speak. They’re hot tempered, short tempered and highly opinionated. Not to mention having a very high view of themselves AND of their opinions, which they tout as being sure and solid, when in reality they are nothing but emptiness.

      In short, abusers are the fools, not the victims—not when it comes to being abused. For myself, I suffer from much foolishness, but I am not to blame for the abuser’s foolishness.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (26TH JULY 2020 – 12:16 PM) “Abuse is not always (usually never) simple, straightforward and easy to spot…..”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….victims are often treated as though they are fools, or suffer from excessive foolishness. You lack intelligence; no wonder you were duped. OR, you lack intelligence so your abuser and / or your post abuse “advocate” has to tell you what to do, how to think, what to believe—-this is for your own good. Because you are such a simple minded fool.”

        (Strikethrough added by me.)

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Fools are the ones who refuse correction, refuse to grow, refuse to listen and refuse to admit how pain is caused as a result. Fools think they know everything, and do NOT know how to speak slowly, measure out their words and think carefully before they speak. They’re hot tempered, short tempered and highly opinionated. Not to mention having a very high view of themselves AND of their opinions, which they tout as being sure and solid, when in reality they are nothing but emptiness.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “In short, abusers are the fools, not the victims—not when it comes to being abused….”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….I am not to blame for the abuser’s foolishness.”

        ^That.

      • Proverbs seems to define fools NOT necessarily as those lacking in wisdom, but those that refuse to admit they are lacking in wisdom.

        Fools are the ones who refuse correction, refuse to grow, refuse to listen and refuse to admit how pain is caused as a result. Fools think they know everything, and do NOT know how to speak slowly, measure out their words and think carefully before they speak. They’re hot tempered, short tempered and highly opinionated. Not to mention having a very high view of themselves AND of their opinions, which they tout as being sure and solid, when in reality they are nothing but emptiness.

        Bingo! I really appreciate your definition of fools, Helovesme. Thank you! 🙂

  7. Finding Answers

    Barb,

    In the original post, you commented “By the way, I have recently moved the comments form to the top of the comments thread….”

    In the original post, you then asked “….Feel free to give me your feedback on this.”

    For me, whether the comments form is at the top of the comments thread or the bottom doesn’t make much difference.

    For me, the thing to remember is in which direction to scroll to reach the comment form the few times I’m not actually replying to someone. 🙂

  8. Finding Answers

    Helovesme,

    In MANY of your ACFJ blog comments, the analogies you use, especially when juxtaposed with Scripture, help me connect the dots to a deeper understanding of MANY of the pictures in my mind.

    Your comment of 21ST JULY 2020 – 12:23 PM spoke volumes to me, in any number of ways, for any number of reasons.

    You provided me with SO many words / phrases / etc. from which to create a comment of my own, although in the process of hijacking your words, I have taken some of your words / phrases / etc. out of their original context.

    You wrote: “I know what it means to think you must be the crazy one, because you seem to be the ONLY one who sees what is going on around you, or at least suspects that something isn’t right.”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “OR you don’t think you are crazy, but you feel helpless because no one else sees things as clearly (or semi clearly as you do).”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “.You have two choices (mainly) a choice. Stick to your guns but don’t fire (in order to survive)….”

    (Strikethrough of the phrase “two choices (mainly)” / addition of the phrase “a choice” done by me.)

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “But there is a measure of shaming and blaming that comes with that choice. Not only will you still be abused, you will likely suffer….”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “….You will still be abused, but you will try to normalize it, convince yourself that it’s not unreasonable or even sinful (depending on the circumstances of course). Convince yourself that you are getting what you deserved and even if you DON’T think you you deserve it, you find ways to accept it and adjust to it.”

    (Strikethrough added by me.)

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “….I really and truly thought I must be insane….”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “….The grown ups in charge were incomprehensible to me.”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “….They are supposed to lead and guide the children, but then they seemed to be acting like children themselves. Lacking in maturity, lacking in setting an example….”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “I was a child and I wondered if this is what happens when if you grow up….”

    (Strikethrough of the word “when” / addition of the word “if” done by me.)

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “I would interact and engage with professing Christians….”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “….Over the years, I thought (again) that I must be insane at the beliefs and behaviors I was witnessing. I thought there must be something wrong with me….”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “….no one else seemed to bat an eye or be bothered. I was both appalled and angered, but I wondered if I was the irrational one. I came from an abusive family….”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “….if certain buttons got pushed, if certain issues were brought up, it was certain to cause much provocation—-and that is where you saw the inner layers that were just underneath the surface.”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “I got up close and personal to those inner layers when something made them “sweat.” If they got “worked up” or “worked out” a lot (depending on what was going on), they eventually stopped smelling like roses, and I instead smelled something very foul.”

    (Strikthrough added by me.)

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “No matter HOW they tried to convince me that that ugly, foul smell was really a lovely, rosy scent, my “spiritual” nostrils eventually would not buy into that.”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “I thought I must be the one spreading a bad fragrance, and I was the one that needed to fix myself up so I smelled like them….”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “….If I couldn’t be like them, I better at least accept them and not rock the boat.”

    (Strikethough added by me.)

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “I couldn’t quite see HOW I was so problematic, except that no matter how hard I tried, I seemed to cause trouble….”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “Technically, you are family (aka one of them) but in reality, you are an outsider….”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “I do not think I am AS insane as I once thought, but I am still working through it since it was (and still is) incredibly painful and traumatic…..”

    ^That.

  9. Finding Answers

    Sometimes I am VERY slow on the uptake. VERY big sigh.

    Since my divorce approximately 15 years ago, I have experienced some Asperger “melt-downs” that caught me by surprise, resulting in a variety of nasty complications. (Omitting details for my safety and protection.)

    Until this moment, I have wondered how I survived almost all of my almost-six-decade-long life without having MORE humongous Asperger “melt-downs”.

    Kind of Anonymous commented (13TH JULY 2020 – 10:46 AM) “….when I had reached the maximum amount of pain and heartbreak that I could manage, I shut down….”

    When I have an Asperger “melt-down”, I shut down.

    When ^That happens, the Holy Spirit takes control of my physical body.

    Imagine, if you will, a robot.

    Or, perhaps, imagine a puppet-on-a-chain with a dog’s choke-chain around its (the puppet’s) neck.

    When I am “the robot” (or “the puppet-on-a-chain), the Holy Spirit leads me around, and helps me make the choices that are the least damaging.

    Once I calm down (which can take varied amounts of time), the Holy Spirit relinquishes His control of my physical body.

    Since my walls crumbled almost three years ago, the Asperger “melt-downs” have become more intense, especially as I process though ALL my abusive experiences. And the more I process through ALL my abusive experiences, the more sensitive I become (and I already am WAY more sensitive than most, in any number of ways, for any number of reasons, and omitting details for my safety and protection).

    You would NOT believe how much time I think I have “wasted” in not being able to keep up with EVERY SINGLE thing a single individual with no local support system, an (almost) No Contact family, etc. needs to do just to maintain the basics of life.

    I cannot imagine what it is like for the folks who have not been saved until later in life, as the Holy Spirit has led me since I was baptised and saved in a hospital at six months old.

    NOW I understand why there are times when I warn the Holy Spirit I am on the edge of tuning out or shutting down and it SEEMS like He (the Holy Spirit) is intentionally pushing me over the edge into another Asperger “melt-down”.

    The way my mind works, I connect dots from MANY different sources, and sometimes those dots connect so rapidly, I become instantaneously overwhelmed.

    If I am at home, alone, and have an Asperger “melt-down”, I am (reasonably) safe and protected.

    If I am outside my home, my risks are SIGNIFICANTLY higher.

    To keep me safe and protected, the Holy Spirit limits my telephone use to those telephone calls that are ABSOLUTELY necessary.

    The Holy Spirit limits my online interactions to email and commenting on posts, etc., since I have the time to write that does not exist in other online modes of communication.

    ^That makes for a lonely life, but I have no other choice if I want to do more than “just survive”.

    From the original post “The riverbank must have been a relatively safe place….”

    For me, my riverbank is my (safe) home.

  10. Helovesme

    I thought more and more about the comments, and in particular FaceReality’s comment about abuse advocates. This verse came to mind, as well as a fictional narrative that illustrates it very well.

    “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1

    You would have thought that He would point to Himself as the “greatest.” But since He pointed to a child, that means that He is like a child. Not “childish” in term of lacking maturity. He goes on to tell us to take a “lowly position” as a child.

    I remember a scene in “To Kill a Mockingbird” that illustrates this quite well. Scout, who is about 6 years old, is talking to her older brother Jem, who is around 10 years old. The book takes place in the late 1930s I believe.

    Scout’s current teacher also taught Jem; both of the kids liked her very much. That day, the teacher spoke of Hitler persecuting Jewish people—Scout said her face got all red and angry as she spoke. She explained the difference between democracy (equal rights for all, special privileges for none) and dictatorship, where one person has sole power and control over the entire population.

    Before the school year had started, an innocent black man had been convicted of a terrible crime. Scout recalled that SAME teacher coming out of the courthouse, saying that it was high time someone taught black people a lesson, that they were getting way “above” themselves, and she worried that soon they’ll think they can marry whites.

    She asked Jem a simple question: how could she hate Hitler, but be so ugly about folks living right here at home?

    She likely didn’t even know the word “hypocrisy” yet, or know exactly what it meant, but she saw it right away. Her child-like mind and heart knew something was wrong, very wrong with what she had witnessed, one person spouting two different mindsets, on two separate occasions, regarding two subsets of humanity.

    You do NOT have to know a lot of big words, or attend a big school or be a big shot to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Or to be able to discern between right and wrong. The Lord isn’t impressed by a vast vocabulary, He is instead honors those that seek to learn from Him.

    Mary would fall into this category, who sat at His feet and simply listened. Christ Himself obviously sets the greatest example by doing something as simple as washing the disciple’s feet, something even a child can do. (AND commanding us to do the same for each other).

    I’m not sure about everyone else, but I couldn’t wait to STOP being a child. Couldn’t wait to hit milestones like having my first menstrual cycle, learning how to drive, being able to see R rated movies. Just to name a few. All of those were signs that I was becoming more independent and could therefore make my own choices. Being worthy of those responsibilities was another matter, but at least I was on my way to being more in control.

    Before we start thinking what a bummer it is to have to change and become child-like as He commands,, keep Matthew 18:6 in mind:

    “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

    Ironically, I picture Christ’s face getting somewhat red and passionate as that fictional teacher’s did as He spoke those words—-but NOT out of hypocritical self-righteousness, but out of loving righteousness for ALL of humanity.

    Barb has done a wonderful job pointing out certain abuse “advocates” that seem to be advocating more for themselves than for anyone else, or their narratives fall short of the fullness of Scripture. She points out the holes and flaws in their faulty counseling, which aren’t always simple and obvious—-but I am sure the Holy Spirit has first and foremost installed simple, child like wisdom in her.

    It is wrong to abuse, period. If you are being abused, that is wrong. No one has the right to treat others that way, and no one has the right to be treated that way.

    Scout’s teacher wasn’t wrong when she spoke of Hitler and how evil and wrong he was. He was hurting innocents out of nothing but hate and hypocrisy.

    Scout could have tried to excuse or enable her teacher’s own hypocrisy. When her teacher was OUT of the classroom, isn’t she free to have her own beliefs and opinions? She is required to teach “by the book” at her job, but she wasn’t “on the job” when she was coming out of the courthouse. She is a individual person, and her occupation is a teacher. Aren’t those two separate things? Maybe I’m the intolerant one, not her?

    When I was being bullied as a child, and the adults in charge seemed to be less than concerned. I now wonder if thoughts like THAT ran through their minds. Shouldn’t bullied kids learn how to defend themselves? Take responsibility for themselves. Whose going to help them when they grow up? Such kids must have done or said SOMETHING wrong, no one is targeted for no good reason—so I have no real obligation to step in.

    This is something Patrick Stewart recalled from his own childhood. The authorities, in the rare instance they were called after his dad abused his mom, spoke along those lines: Well, Mrs. Stewart, you must have done SOMETHING to provoke him.

    Patrick got very impassioned in another clip and declared that it is never right, never ever to abuse another. It brought me to tears because it is so rare for me to hear adult males speak wish such conviction and clarity. No “yes or no….but” (see Matthew 5:37)

    Even though he is not a Christian I was blessed by his advocacy on behalf of abused victims. Because it was simple, straightforward, and (hopefully) sincere. That is not a lot to ask for, IMO, and it’s not too hard or too unreasonable to give.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (26TH JULY 2020 – 1:02 PM) “She likely didn’t even know the word “hypocrisy” yet, or know exactly what it meant….”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….Her child-like mind and heart knew something was wrong, very wrong with what she had witnessed, one person spouting two different mindsets, on two separate occasions, regarding two subsets of humanity.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “It is wrong to abuse, period. If you are being abused, that is wrong. No one has the right to treat others that way, and no one has the right to be treated that way.”

      ^That.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you Finding Answers, you are ALWAYS so encouraging. 🙂

  11. Bug

    I barely ever cry…. I know I need to, but I just can’t. I feel like I’m about to at times…. There are the very very rare moments I’ll cry for about 30 seconds at most, but that is only once every few years at most.

    I don’t know what the reason is, but I cannot. God is still with me, and He is healing me one bit at a time.

    • Thanks for your comment, Bug. I’m pretty sure that quite a few of our readers will relate to what you said.

      Welcome to the blog! 🙂 I don’t know whether you have checked out our FAQs. If not, here is the link: https://cryingoutforjustice.blog/faq/

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