I know that title is HARD to swallow, but hear me out… I’m not a licensed counselor, but I’ve gained experience from abuse and hard-won freedom that a licensed counselor may not have.
Am I altogether healed? I’m not sure that I ever can be in this life where sin is ever present. Am I mostly healed? By God’s grace, I believe so. I’m fixed on His face and daily continue in the direction of healing. I still experience anger and sorrow, but it’s unwise to think that these feelings should ever be entirely removed from me in this life. I’m still human. I’m still in a fallen world. I also need them just as much as I need laughter and joy.
So, what should I expect healing to look like and what do I need to help me? My experiences up to this point have shown me that victims of abuse need interaction with 2 types of people.
The first type is people who support and validate our experiences. Abuse victims need all of this they can get, especially when we are first beginning to break free and stand on our own. We are our own worst enemies, questioning every decision we make, sorely lacking courage and confidence, so lots of people throwing us a lifeline of support is what we need most. These safe, precious people are such a gift from God — like good Samaritans who see we’re beaten, robbed and dying in a ditch, desperate for kindness and compassion, not judgment.
Once we’ve gained LOTS of strength and insight into our situation, and there’s plenty of distance between us and the abuse — we need people who refuse to believe us, validate or support us. Some go so far as to blame us for what happened. I’m NOT saying to pull these people in close and hang with them. No, they’re dangerous enablers. They’ll strip away our confidence and have us a slave to abuse all over again. I’m saying, get practice dealing with their voices in a healthy way and letting it go.
I’m not saying I always do this well. Of course not. Sometimes, I have great patience and sometimes I’m a daughter of thunder, wanting to call down fire from heaven. I need to confess that weakness to God and practice standing firm in freedom and truth with patience and love, again and again and again…
As victims of abuse, we have already shown that we are dangerously immature and vulnerable to being controlled by others. A HUGE part of freedom and healing for us in NOT needing to be validated by someone else any longer. We have to accept that there will always be people who are critical of our decisions and DO what we see GOD leading US to DO, anyway.
We need to practice letting go of bitterness, not just toward our abuser, but also toward those who kept/keep us there, including our very selves. We can’t practice freedom, confidence, maturity and forgiveness if we exclude every voice that isn’t the same as our own. We all have people in our lives that range from safe & healthy to dangerously toxic and everything in between. We have to be experienced dealing with all these different voices and relationships and setting boundaries as needed. Victims of abuse do not know how to set boundaries, especially with authority figures, so we need lots of practice.
It’s okay to be angry toward injustice. This does not mean we aren’t healed. If that were true, God Himself would not experience anger, but it’s not necessary to start WWIII with naysayers. Instead, accept them as an ever present fact in a fallen world, likely needing escape from abuse themselves. I’m not saying we can keep them close, but let’s see them as a necessary part of our heart-cleansing, healing and maturing process. With lots of practice doing what is right, we can go be someone else’s good Samaritan.
Courage, dear heart. Healing looks like courage.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1
In life, faith & art ~Jamie