I’m not sure why I’m being led to post about the specific topic of family strife and emotional/psychological abuse, but I believe that there is someone out there that needs to be encouraged that there is healing for your soul.
(Before you get too deep into reading this post, please know that what I’m choosing to share is more common than you may realize. Please pray with me for the deliverance and restoration of those who are continuing to suffer in silence).
What Happens at Home Stays At Home
And that’s most of the problem. Lots of kids blame themselves for family strife. In their minds, what’s going on at home doesn’t make sense; all they know is that it hurts. They wonder if their friends at school have the same problems but because no one ever talks about it, they assume that they don’t.
When I was small, I always blamed myself when things went wrong between my parents. Child-like reasoning assumed the responsibility for turmoil and weeks of silent treatment as if somehow I could have controlled or prevented it in some way, shape, or form by just being “good” or “better”. Of course, as an adult, I realize that none of what I witnessed was my fault. People who are hurting often hurt others. Are they aware of what they are doing? I’m sure in some way they know what they are doing is not right, but for some unknown reason, they are either unable or unwilling to change or stop.
So, for those who have survived this or something similar or worse, it’s imperative that you know that none of it was your fault. Whatever “it” was for you, I am here to tell you that you couldn’t have stopped it, it was not your job to prevent or control it, nor was it a response to anything you did or did not do. The root of the issue had nothing to do with anything pertaining to you.
Healing is a Redemptive Process– Where Now?
As an adult, my healing process has been just that, a process. Has my heart been an overnight fix? No. Though this process takes time, please know it is indeed productive time.
The Lord is not bound by our measures of time or relativity. Rest assured that He is willing and able to redeem, replenish, and restore anything that you feel has been lost. Therefore, do not despise the process and run out ahead of Him. Let the cake bake before you rush to ice it.
Lately, I have started to ask God “why” a lot more. Why do I think the way I do? Why do I respond this way or that way? Why do I assume the worst case scenario? It’s not enough for me to ask and then rush off to the next thing on my list. I want to wait and remain open for His answers when He shares them. Also, I have chosen to invite Him into rooms of my heart that are still pretty painful to confront. The Lord is patient. He knows that something is wrong, but He’s gracious enough to wait to be invited into the problem that you keep having. He’s not going to bust in like the S.W.A.T team.
I thank God that I’m not where I started: enraged, angry at the world, closed-off, bitter, depressed, and confused. I’m grateful that I’m not insistent to live confined and alone in isolation, while being eaten up by loneliness and desperation for someone to love me. I’m glad that I can genuinely call home and talk to my parents or my sister and end the conversation with an “I love you” instead of holding them hostage in my mind for things that they said or did (or didn’t say or didn’t do) when I was a kid.
Conflict resolution is not always a two-lane road. Spending your time and energy trying to convince someone that what they said or did hurt you is like throwing gasoline on a fire. In essence, when you do this in your own ability, you may end up feeling just as frustrated as before you started. Unless the Lord has led you to confront someone who has hurt you, it’s best to be more invested in the repair of your heart especially if the person(s) that you want to confront refuse to acknowledge that what they did was wrong.
Sometimes, it’s okay if just you are okay. However, if the Lord does lead you to address the issue with the other person, approach this type of confrontation prayerfully. Ask God what do to, what to say, and how to say it. Ask Him to work on that person’s heart so that the conversation will be a fruitful door to growth and healing for both of you. Remember what I said about people not being willing or able to stop hurting others? Their “eyes” need to be opened to the effect that their behavior has had on others and often, this is not a natural realization. Pray that God opens the eyes of their understanding not that they would feel guilty, but that they would be able to understand where they missed the mark.
What do you do with your feelings in the meantime? I understand that question because I have asked it a million times. Those feelings need to go somewhere, they need to be heard and understood. You are not crazy for wanting justification and feeling disadvantaged when you don’t get it. Tell your Heavenly Father. He cares, understands, and more importantly He can help you move past those feelings that are keeping you locked up in your mind.
Praising God in the Process
A few days ago, I was praying and asking God about some things and it occurred to me that without His intervention, I would be a statistic. Researchers say that the majority of adult survivors/witnesses of childhood emotional/psychological abuse are more likely to:
–be perpetrators or victims of abuse as adults
–engage in self-medicating behaviors involving alcohol or drugs
–experience post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms along with a host of other interpersonal relationship barriers
The healing process that I made mention of a few paragraphs ago is not always easy. Sometimes I feel the pain of a particular memory or am tempted to feel “less-than” or insignificant especially when my social media feeds are flooded with happy, perfect, smiling families and I wonder why that couldn’t have been my experience.
You have to know that thinking negative thoughts is prime real estate for the devil to move in and try to make you believe that you are second-class, not good enough, or won’t be any more than your past. I have to choose to either allow these thoughts to remain or look to the finished work of the Cross for help. The Cross is a symbol of my inherent victory over pain, hurt, and rejection.
The victory that Jesus Christ secured over any area that would dare to trip me up is freely available to everyone who believes that He died on the Cross and rose from the grave with all power. He died for you, for me, for the people that hurt you, for the people you don’t like, for everyone. You don’t have to get “good enough” for Jesus to help you, because (to put things bluntly) you can’t. Jesus is not looking for you to try to fix up your problem before asking Him to help you; the ugliness of your issue is not going to scare Him off.
Rebuilding with Right Thinking
Healing requires you do to do something with your mind. Believe it or not, traumatic events change your perception of people, places, and things. I was listening to Joel Osteen’s message: “Dealing with the Root of The Problem” and he said some very important things regarding dealing with the past.
Specifically, one thing that stood out to me was the emphasis that we put on generational curses instead of focusing on generational blessings. For example, there are women in my family who have either been married to or divorced from abusive men. If I really stop and think, I can’t really identify anyone in my past or present bloodline who has a marriage that truly glorifies God. Given this natural observation, the devil would like for me to subscribe to the lie that ‘since great-grandma, grandma, mother, and most of the women in your family have married abusive men, you will probably marry one too’.
Instead, I choose to believe the following truth: “most women in my family may have made poor choices, but regardless of their decisions, I am destined to have a godly, blessed marriage ordained by the Lord because I am redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ and through Him, I am empowered to initiate generational blessings”. Quite often, I say things like:
— “The redemptive power of the Blood of Jesus heals me from my past hurts”
–“My sons and daughters will have a healthy, joyful childhood because of power of the Blood of Jesus”
— “I forgive my family members who hurt me and thank God that they are being healed and restored right now”
Using my own voice to confess the things that God has promised to me does two things: it breaks me out of a devilish thinking pattern and it helps my faith in God to become stronger and more consistent. Focus on generational blessings–you and I have not been forgotten, overlooked, discounted, or ignored by God. Remember, regardless of the cards you have been dealt, He will give you a new hand to play.