Growing up and well into adulthood, I experienced abuse, deception and betrayal by men who were supposed to protect me. That most of this was under a “Christian” banner, crushed me the worst. I didn’t have the convenience of talking about it until recently. I know all about sucking it up and shoving it down, thinking that’s what I’m supposed to do as a Christian. Forgive and forget. I’ve learned the hard way that sucking it up and shoving it down is not forgiving and forgetting. It deepens the wounds. It’s not my desire to be seen as a poor victim, but as an overcomer by God’s grace. But, how do I get there? I can’t claim to have the way all figured out or my wounds all healed, but I’ve seen a right way and a wrong way to move forward.
When we’ve suffered abuse from men, a subtle lie may be presented to us in one form or another: it’s that we (females) are equipped to lead – if not better than men, at least, as good as them. If we follow this lie, we’ll likely (subtly) begin to hold men in contempt; to be very distrustful of them. We’ll likely develop an eye that looks for error to confirm our lack of trust, and we’ll find it. Our feelings and our pride will lead us astray. We may find ourselves in the worst possible place for us to lead – the front line of battle.
I could easily digress here into the details of my personal circumstances about how a careless, selfish man PUT me on the the front line to suffer the consequences of his choices – and I could go on and on. Maybe you can, too. The problem is, I’m further slipping into my own reasonings and feelings. I need to ask myself if the details of the suffering are more important than my present healing. Since I’m choosing to heal, I continually have to step out of the snare of details. I admit, I get tripped up there a LOT!
I hate to use the word “warning”, because I know the injustice of it all, so with an urgent please, turn away from the lie that we are equipped to lead at every instance. We suffer far more if we don’t because we are not equipped for this position. It isn’t an option. We need to be behind the protection of good men. This doesn’t mean that we’re inferior to men, only that, because of our makeup, we’re more vulnerable to deception and manipulation.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8
Hear me out on this: When we think of a woman’s natural characteristics, she’s the nurse; the caretaker; the best treater of wounds; the one to “feel” our pain. She’s the soft heart that wants to protect any and every thing from pain, if possible. Don’t we ladies hesitate to pull the trigger on evil (so to speak), wanting rather to feel sorry for and sympathetic at times for really bad people? “Awww, poor thing” is the plea that comes very natural to females. This is why we aren’t equipped for the front line of battle, but rather the wounds of battle.
I realize I may be hurting the pride of some tough girls. I know – that’s me. I’m not saying that we lack toughness. I’m saying we have a different toughness: a pity and compassion for the weak that leads us to suffer and lay down our own lives to rescue them. Is that not tough? Sure it is. It’s Mama Bear, tough. Who’s messes with her? No one.
So, what happens if we women jump on the front line anyway? If we continue thinking that we can deal with the hardest blows and men are an option?
Well, prepare to be held captive to abuse again and again. Why? Because the very things that we are more equipped with (pity and compassion) will be manipulated again and again by abusers. Our unseen Enemy will see to it. Remember, he did it from the beginning. He is at it today. He doesn’t want healing for us, but deeper hurt.
Please don’t miss this: It’s men (the ones we may be holding in contempt) who are equipped to help free us from having our pity and compassion abused. They will hold firm with clear instruction: “Leave the abuse now.” We women, however, tend to hem & haw in our emotions with the shoulds and shouldn’ts – why we should just continue to tolerate the abuse and be martyrs — shouldn’t we just give them another chance? I know. I’ve done it. Unfortunately, all those biblical warnings about wolves escape us.
I can’t tell you how many times I’d come away from a conversation with a male Christian counselor or my own husband and not be completely trusting in their advice because pity and compassion was missing from their position. But now, I’m thanking God for making men specially equipped with a firm resolve about right and wrong. Thank God that they don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on evil to protect the innocent – to set captives free from abuse. It was there all along, I just needed to stop believing that I knew better than them.
Here are 5 points to remember…
- Know the characteristics of good (godly men). The book of Proverbs is great for getting clarity on the righteous vs. the wicked. One particular verse that helped free me from a destructive relationship is Proverbs 22:24-25: “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.” 1 Timothy 3:2-7 gives the qualifications for men who are capable of leading God’s people: “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”
- Let good men be on the front line. Stay behind them. Encourage them. We can find them. There are husbands, fathers, grandfathers, pastors, brothers, friends– any and all trustworthy men to lead us.
- Fix our eyes on Jesus Pay particular attention to Jesus’ interaction with women. Look for the value that He places on our makeup in every place that we can find it. There’s more than we can search out. It’s cleansing and healing to our heart, mind & soul.
- Know that we’re still tough and so very valuable. We are just a different kind of tough– a beautiful and gentle tough. Men will look to us for that different kind of tough that they can’t do without.
- Focus our energy on being a healer and encourager for others. We can rest safely in the position we’re equipped for. Let’s own this valuable position– every square inch of it!
As we see how God is using our hurts to bless us in deep ways we wouldn’t have otherwise known, we heal, and are truly able to forgive from the heart. My own feelings still often have me struggling, but I’m trusting Him through it, knowing that He will lead far better than I ever can on my own.
Fightin’ like a girl with you, and proud of it…
Your friend, Jamie =)