As we saw with Saul in our last article, abusers might employ a barrage of emotional abuse tactics that can make it very difficult to know how to spot a non-apology. Those tactics can make conversations about harm and responsibility very confusing. To cut through that...
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.
Jesus talked about the difference between good and bad people with directness and clarity we don’t often hear repeated. He certainly never claimed we could be perfect. He died, willingly, knowing that was the depth of our need for God’s help. But at the same time, Jesus was very clear about standards of behaviour that we could follow, despite our imperfect ethics. He continually reinforced how critical it was for us to follow those standards, for the sake of others.
“Deep calls to deep, in the roar of your waterfalls”
I’ve written earlier about the experience of having significant disagreements with God. I’d like to suggest some of those ongoing disagreements might demonstrate we are listening to his image in us. If we are moved by compassion and concern for others, doesn’t that sound like an expression of the fruit of the Spirit?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
We have been looking at some of the ways we can sift the lies from the truth despite the mess created by abuse, and the story of Elijah gives us some clues. Much of what God did with Elijah was simply care for and affirm him. But God also helped Elijah refine his understanding of what was happening around him.
It’s possible Elijah was experiencing some degree of hypervigilance. There was certainly cause for that. Elijah was on the run for his life.
How can we hear God’s voice more clearly when there is so much noise? Even though Elijah was well-practised in listening to God, he had great difficulty hearing God clearly when he was in the midst of trauma.
If even Elijah struggled to hear clearly, we can take comfort when we struggle. Perhaps that’s one of the no doubt many reasons why we have been gifted with his story. I am confident at least that while it was happening God was already conscious of our current situations. Way back then, he knew.
Listening through the mess created by abuse is difficult for most.
In the previous post, we touched on some of the ways abusers disrupt our capacity to hear clearly. Those tactics can create significant, even overwhelming, internal noise and confusion.
One of the beautiful things about Jesus’ engagement with Mary and Martha was his respect for their boundaries after Lazarus died. Even though he was the Son of God, a recognised teacher with a large following, and a man, he still asked for permission to enter into their emotional world. Even though he hadn’t done anything wrong, he listened to and respected the pain his actions had caused. He asked for consent.
"Sons of Belial" is a Hebrew term that can help us find stories of abuse in the Bible. There are many examples of abuse in the Bible, but as mentioned previously, the Bible doesn’t categorise abuse in the same way we do now. It refers to abusive behaviours as specific...
In his book, Principle-Centred Leadership, Stephen Covey wrote about the difference between the power and influence that come from coercion and structures, and what can come from character. It appears that in his time on earth Jesus waived his structural...
Yesterday we started looking at Hophni and Phinehas’s behaviour with the women who served at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Was it sexual assault? The strong power imbalance made consent unlikely. If you missed it, you can read about it here. Hophni and Phinehas...