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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity and child abuse’

****** religious triggers *****

I have been reading the book The Shack by William Paul Young. I have been focusing upon different words of wisdom in the book that can be applied to survivors of child abuse. See my first post for more information about the book.

Today, I would like to focus upon the following quote. Mack is asking God about where He was while his daughter was being abused and murdered. Here is God’s response in the book:

Mack, she was never alone. I never left her; we [the trinity] never left her, not for one instant. I could no more abandon her, or you, than I could abandon myself … [T]here was not a moment that we were not with her. ~ The Shack page 175

Many child abuse survivors struggle with where God was while they were being abused. I truly believe this quote from the book. I believe that God was right there, giving me the strength and courage to survive it. I also believe that God is the one who blessed me with the ability to dissociate and gave me the gift of dissociative identity disorder (DID). No, God did not stop the abuse, but He gave me the tools I needed to survive it, and he rubbed a healing balm over me to help me heal the pain as an adult.

Over at Isurvive, I posted the following words to someone who is struggling with this very issue. So, if this sounds familiar to those of you who frequent there, that would be why. :O)

We child abuse survivors get angry with God because we see Him as the only one able to stop the abuse, but really it was the people in our lives who let us down, not God. I believe that God grieved mightily, with tears streaming down his face, as He saw me being harmed. I also believe that He became angry with the adults in my life who ignored His instruction in the Bible to protect the children.

I don’t believe that it is God’s job to protect my kid — It is MY job to protect him. I protect my kid because I love him. I was not protected because I was not loved. That’s a choice of men, not of God.

Despite all of that, God made me strong and gave me the gift of dissociation to enable me to survive the abuse. God is the only one who helped me — my parents sure didn’t. God was also present in the teachers who took me under their wings and my sister, who gave me love.

God has also taken something as horrible as my abuse and brought lots of good and beauty out of it. Because I survived it, I know that others can survive it, too. Because I am healing, I know that others can heal, and I encourage them as they heal.

No, I would never choose to experience abuse or for anyone else to experience it, and this is why I take my job seriously in helping any child abuse survivor that I can. I am also active in helping change society to protect children. I believe that is how God works — through people caring enough to make a difference.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Chapel (c) Lynda Bernhardt

On my blog entry entitled Feeling the Need to Coddle or Protect My Mother/Abuser, Zoe posted the following comment:

I struggle in the same ways somewhat. i dont know how to reconcile it. especially in view of Christiianity which is a huge part of who i am. and shapes the way i think about everything, it presses heavily upon me.

I cannot think of a way to address this comment without including religion, so I will post a trigger warning.

***** Religious Triggers *****

A faith in God is supposed to be helpful in healing from any pain, so why is Christianity often a hindrance to healing from child abuse rather than helpful? I think the problem is that organized Christianity is interpreted in a way that does not leave room for situations like child abuse. Child abuse, particularly by a parent, goes against the grain of the organized Christian view of a family, and organized Christianity does not know quite what to do with it.

One of my biggest hurdles was the requirement to honor your father and mother. How was I supposed to “honor” my abuser? I wrestled mightily with this commandment and finally chose to allow my mother to write to me monthly as my way of “honoring” her.

Another big hurdle was in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Some church folks would say that God would not forgive me unless I first forgave my mother. And, to many church folks, forgiveness meant reconciliation, so my options were either to invest in a relationship with my abuser or burn in hell. What a choice!

As I have grown deeper in my relationship with God, my searching has led me to a much deeper understanding of the Bible. Many of the truths that I have discovered run contrary to organized Christianity’s interpretations of the Bible. I chose to reread the words that Jesus said as if I was reading them for the first time and removed any preconceived notions or teachings that I learned from the church. I found that the faith in the Bible is much deeper, richer, and significantly more freeing than what I have been taught in church.

While I do not fully agree with the interpretations of God in The Shack by William Paul Young, I think that Mr. Young’s view of God is closer to my own than what I get in a church service. I believe that God wants to free us from bondage, not make our lives even harder. I believe that God is the only being who fully understands how deeply I have been hurt, so He is going to be compassionate about my struggles rather than judgmental.

For example, the Bible says that gluttony is a sin, so there are people who would call me a “sinner” for struggling with binge eating. However, because God knows how deeply I have been hurt, he understands why I do it, so His focus is going to be on helping me heal the underlying pain, not on stopping me from “sinning” through gluttony.

If Christianity is a hindrance to your ability to heal from child abuse, take a step back from the church’s interpretation of the Bible and, instead, go directly to God. Pray about the issues that are bothering you. Read the Bible anew and remove the filter that organized religion has placed upon your interpretations of the Bible.

God cannot be contained – not in a box, a church, or an interpretation of who He is supposed to be. God is who He is, and you don’t need a pope, priest, pastor, or preacher to be a middleman. Take your concerns and questions directly to God, and He will open your eyes to the truth.

If you will go directly to God, you will find that your faith can run much, much deeper than has been recognized in a church building. God’s healing power cannot be limited.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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