In the last few posts we have been looking at an important question that comes up for many victims of abuse: “Am I losing my faith?” We’ve had a brief look at some of the impact of depression and anxiety. I want to reiterate that these conditions can express...
There is a difficult problem in that committed abusers will seek to load their victims up with impossible burdens and expectations. It’s a game. Then, even after leaving abuse, a victim may have a massive volume of external and internal balls to juggle. It may well be...
One of the beautiful things we see in the gospels is that Jesus shows deep respect for boundaries. Yesterday we started looking at the story of Martha, Mary, Lazarus, and Jesus and got as far as Lazarus’s death, and Jesus’ failure to arrive. You might like to read...
How can I be a friend to someone in need? The psalmist wrote:
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
One of the most difficult challenges for a victim of abuse is to be believed. Even by their friends. Abusers play on it and often use tactics to perpetrate further abuse through other people. These third parties are colloquially known as “flying monkeys”, reminiscent of the servants of the Wicked Witch of the West. Some might be only too glad to join in on hurting someone, but many will be innocent and unaware of the way they are being used.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
As we come near to the end of our series on the Songs of Ascents, I feel for those who are still trapped in abuse, or who are in the early stages of escaping. We have, in the space of a few weeks, travelled from danger to sanctuary. Life is not that simple for victims of any significant trauma, let alone victims of abuse.
Abuse is complicated in so many ways. It is completely unsurprising that people find it difficult to deal with. It’s not as “simple” as just dealing with one horrific type of behaviour. A typical abuser might have dozens of types of behaviour that stretch across multiple forms of abuse. Some of the most confusing and difficult to respond to are the apparent “positive” behaviours – behaviours that help the abuser hide and deny the abuse.
Out of the depths I cry to you, Yahweh.
It is so easy to rush through a psalm without imagining the tone of voice. Even the phrase, “tearful prayers”, might significantly miss the depth of this person’s distress.
Again, out of the many names for God, the writer of Psalm 130 has chosen the name God suggested to Moses – when Moses was struggling to accept the task of bringing hope to a group of people who had been trapped in slavery. Trapped, for generations. These were people who suffered ongoing systemic, physical, financial, reproductive, and emotional abuse. Probably more.
How was life supposed to be for us? Certainly not plagued by abuse. Much of the Old Testament describes what it means to love and respect each other. Not only as individuals: it teaches us how to avoid systemic abuse by making sure the vulnerable are cared for.
God’s clear intention is for us to thrive together in every way. Our physical and emotional wellbeing matter to him. So do our ethics.
One of the beautiful things about Jesus’ choices in the lead up to his death is his constant commitment to have mercy for us. He showed it in his death in a way that echoes through history. But to read his story, told through the eyes of those around him, it becomes obvious that his commitment to giving everything he had to help us was entirely consistent with who he had already shown himself to be.
Jesus did for us what we could never successfully do for ourselves. He loved. He helped. Jesus had his eye on those who needed support, and he gave himself generously to them. Those people loved him. Not everybody did.