Violence Awareness

In his arrogance
the wicked hunts down the weak…
Victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under the strength of the wicked.  Psalm 10

womanDVhandprints

 

Gracious Deliverer,
Who hears the cries of the vulnerable, the murdered, the abused, the bullied, the crushed members of our family?  Are we deaf? Are we blind? Are we heartless? Why are your children so cruel to one another? What is accomplished by blaming victims?

Collect our tears. Tame the wicked. Heal our wounds. Give us peace. Amen

Resources:

Domesticshelters.org
Free, online, searchable database of domestic violence shelter programs nationally
www.domesticshelters.org

The National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
www.ndvh.org

Men Can Stop Rape
1-202-265-6530
www.mencanstoprape.org

Men Stopping Violence
1-866-717-9317
www.menstoppingviolence.org

Biblical Grit – A Time to Heal

Purple Splash Cross

Remember: Don’t lift more than God can handle

Week 3: Biblical Grit – A Time to Heal 

“Hello, my name is (Name) and I am a sinner.

Have you ever wondered why addicts identify themselves by their addiction? The road to recovery begins with acknowledging our secrets and weaknesses.  Admitting our weakness takes away our secrets’ power.

What issues are on my list of hurts? Am I an alcoholic or addict?  Am I a cancer, rape, abuse or divorce survivor? Am I a victim? Or a bully? Do I struggle with the truth?  Do I gossip?  Do I wrestle with anger?  Am I in an abusive or dysfunctional relationship? Am I abusive? Is my body disappointing me? Have I been plagued with diabetes, mental illness or a chronic illness? Do my children, spouse, family or friends disappoint me? Who else has been hurt by these issues and where am I in the healing process?

Do I have support? Am I a good helper?

  1. Discuss how you react to a crisis. What problem, challenge or condition made your life unmanageable? Are you happy with the way you react? Why are you attending a bible study about overcoming challenges?

Acceptance is the first step of recovery. Acceptance doesn’t mean we celebrate bad things, declare them good or believe we can handle them.  It simply means we accept the truth, whatever that truth is. Acceptance acknowledges we are powerless over things beyond our control and ready to shed our secrets. We are ready to heal.

Denial, anger, bargaining and depression are all part of the journey to acceptance (Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, MD). Identifying ourselves by our weaknesses reminds us how fragile and precious we are.  It keeps us from slipping back into denial.

  1. List and discuss bad things out of your control.

Cancer, illness, abuse, addictions, death, poverty, natural disasters and other people are all out of our control.

By admitting we are powerless over the hurts that make our lives unmanageable, we stop pretending we are strong enough or able to heal ourselves. We put our burdens down, cry out for help and rest while we wait for our rescuer.

Read Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

God is always there to listen to our pleas. God hears our cries.

Read Psalm 55:17

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and God hears my voice.

Admitting our weaknesses invites Jesus to join us in our suffering. Recovery begins when we give up, call out for help and embrace our savior.

Accepting things we can’t change allows peace from a waterfall of grace.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

                                      ~ Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

  1. Turn to your neighbor and introduce yourself and discuss how it feels to admit your hurts.

“Hello, my name is (Name). I am powerless over my hurts. I admit I am weak. I am tired of pretending. I need help.”

Read 1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Healing Relationships

Read Matthew 19:26

Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.”

 

  1. Describe a healing relationship. List and discuss comforting advice and help.

A healing relationship provides support, listens to our hurts, relieves our burdens and gives us strength. It may not heal us but it lightens our burden and provides hope.

Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 The Value of a Friend

Two are better than one.  They are more productive. If they fall, one will lift up the other; but the one who is alone and falls, does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. And with God our relationships are not easily broken.

Unfortunately, most of us keep going to the same dried up wells for help and support:

  • Advice Masters: Lots of suggestions. “Maybe you should try…” No help!
  • The Fan: Lots of compliments. “You can handle it!”  “You’re strong.” No HELP!
  • Exploder:  Goes ballistic. “It’s not fair!  I’m so angry for you.” No Help!
  • Blamer: “You made your bed now lie in it.” No help.
  • Helpless: Feels too inadequate to help. Can’t help.

I’m sure we can all come up with more.  And if we are honest, we may play these roles deliberately or subconsciously.

We also may find ourselves glad when we find out someone else is hurting because everyone doesn’t get their fair share of adversity. And we are grateful to know we’re not alone.

People say foolish painful unhelpful things because they don’t know what to say.  They don’t want to be hurtful.

Scared TurtlePeople who don’t adjust well model the same ineffective techniques they learned in bad situations. The ones who disappear learned to run away or seek shelter in a crisis.  They may believe time heals all wounds and are waiting for you to magically heal. While time does heal, it isn’t the cure for all wounds.

And people who make everything worse are also doing what they think you need or want.  They want to help but don’t know how.

Rarely do we suffer alone.  Adversity strikes families and groups. It may be difficult to help each other during a crisis. Personalities clash as one may try to pull everyone up while others need more time to sit in the dust. Conflict is common during crisis.  Without intervention we may grow together or apart.

Recovery includes forgiving others for their failures.  Forgiveness heals. It doesn’t make what they said or did right.  It simply acknowledges we all have weaknesses.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God  Romans 3:23

None of us would seek a team of cheerleaders to fix our car. We would seek a mechanic.  So let’s seek professionals for our other hurts.

The number one expert in suffering is Jesus.

Jesus suffered. Jesus was born poor, out-of-wedlock in a barn. He wasn’t attractive, popular or wealthy. Jesus was bullied, beaten and crucified. He lost friends and loved ones to death.  Jesus understands our pain. Jesus weeps for us. Jesus meets us in our suffering.

God knows our hurts. God was there when we were hurt.  God followed us into our darkest moments. God stayed with us and is still with us. Confessing our hurts to God is simply acknowledging God was there when we were hurt.

We weren’t alone when we were hurt, we’re not alone now and we will never be alone in the future.  God promises to always be with us.

  1. Say out loud together Mark 1:11 to remind yourself of God’s love for each of us. Discuss how it feels. God says to each of us

“(Name)_ you are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11

Communication is a key ingredient in a healing relationship. Healing begins with prayer. Talk to God about your hurts.

Read Matthew 7:7

[Effective Prayer] “Keep asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will open for you”. 

Every misfortune has a psychological and spiritual impact. Our emotions alter our body’s ability to heal. We rarely have control over our emotions or how we will react to stress.  We need help. We need psychological and spiritual helpers on our team.

  1. Discuss why church people are afraid to share their hurts and seek help.

Chronic pain and other physical illness sufferers are reluctant to seek psychological help because they fear seeking psychological help affirms the accusation they have a mental illness and not a “real” illness. They are afraid their affliction is not treated or respected as a “real” illness.

This attitude unfortunately perpetuates the faulty belief that mental illness is less traumatic, painful, harmful and real than having a cold, cancer or any other physical hurt. The “it’s all in your head” attitude also implies that people with mental illnesses have control over their illness and can heal themselves. Also not true, not biblical and not scientifically supported.

Family members often refuse to seek mental health support because they don’t believe they have a problem. They have the faulty belief that they don’t need help. They fail to recognize the psychological and emotional toll their family member’s illness has on their health.  They also have the faulty belief that their life will suddenly become manageable if they could just get their family member into treatment. They become so focused on other people’s problems, they lose sight of their own. And how their issues may hurt others.

Read Matthew 7:3

“Why do you worry about the speck in your friend’s eye and not the log in your own?”

God knows we can’t handle it alone and God doesn’t want us to handle it alone. God wants us to cry out for help. We shouldn’t be ashamed to admit we need help.

As a community of faith we have the power to remove the stigma from seeking help.  We begin by establishing our churches as recovery centers.

  1. Discuss your church as a recovery center. In what ways does your church help you and others?  How could it become more helpful? Discuss ways your church could remind members weekly that God’s house is a place for healing.

As a church we can offer local counseling resources.  We can share our recovery stories.

Read Hebrews 13:1-2

Loving one another.  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some have shown hospitality to angels.

We can also show our understanding that everyone isn’t able bodied in our bulletins and announcements by explaining and giving permission for people to refrain from our church work-out routine.  Specifically explaining that we sit, stand and kneel throughout our service as part of our recovery.  We sit and kneel to show our humility, our weakness and need for a savior. We stand to praise God for sending us a savior (John 3:16). We recognize that exercise heals and all are encouraged to sway or dance to the music.  But don’t feel obligated to participate. This is a healing church.  We are all on a road to recovery. God knows our hurts whether we are standing, sitting or kneeling.  God meets us wherever we are.

Read John 13:34

Jesus says, “Love…as I love you”.

Reprogram the voice in your head. Shake off well-meaning criticisms of our quirks and differences. Shed negative false non-biblical beliefs.  Replace them with the truth. Bad stuff happens to good people. Adversity isn’t a punishment.  It is a reality of this sinful fallen world. I can’t do it alone.  I need help.

DepressionCelebrate tears.  Tears are a testimony of love.  They have healing powers. Being sad doesn’t mean we failed.  It simply means we are grieving.  If we never cry, how would Jesus count our tears?

Psalm 56:8  You record my troubles. You keep a list of my tears.

The same rules apply to being a good helper. Don’t be afraid of tears.  The best thing to do when someone is crying is hold their hand.  We don’t need to say anything or even ask questions.  It doesn’t matter what they are crying about. They need comfort. Physical presence is the greatest testimony of love.

Pray: Talk to God with and for your loved one.  Pray with them; right then and right there.  If I receive a request electronically, I respond electronically such as writing out prayer on their Facebook page if they’ve asked for prayers.  And I keep praying for them, every time they enter my mind.  Not sure what to say:

“God be with (NAME), hold them, love them and give them your grace. Amen”

Here are a few other tips to comfort your neighbor when they are hurting:

  • Keep It Simple:Grieving people are rarely looking to join a bible study, nor do they appreciate being hit with scripture or reminded of their blessings. They aren’t looking for an apology unless you caused their pain. They want comfort.   If you don’t know what to say.  Don’t say anything. Just sit with them.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

  • Speak for yourself, not GOD. Before quoting God, make sure you know the chapter and verse in the bible.  Don’t make it up. Just admit, “I don’t know why bad things happen to good people”.
  • Speak Love:The bible is a love letter, it says that God loves them. God weeps when we weep and God wants to comfort us.

Romans 8:38-39

Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • Look for God: God will be there.  Christ promises to weep with us, count our tears and comfort us. When chaos strikes, look for the helpers. Identify the highs of the day by noticing the helpers or the things that made you smile. Seek help. Look for the people who feed, comfort and clothe Christ.

Matthew 25:35-36

I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your house.  I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

  • Accept help: Our strengths serve others while our weaknesses offer opportunities to serve us.
  • Expect setbacks: Setbacks are part of recovery. It is normal to take a step back before moving forward. We all need moments to catch our breath before moving forward or time to look back to see how far we’ve come.

Recovery is a daily process.

Read Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Healing isn’t guaranteed in this world nor is closure always possible. We may never stop missing the people we’ve lost and or the person we used to be. The bible doesn’t encourage closure in this world.  We miss what we have lost and yearn to be whole again.

When Christ was crucified, Jesus conquered death and all our other weaknesses on the cross.  We were rescued from death and promised to be reunited and restored.

The tomb was empty.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference. Amen

                                        Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Healthy Relationships 101: TOXIC Love

Healthy Relationships 101: TOXIC Love

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love __(Name or Relationship)_ as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 (NIV)

Toxic LoveI hadn’t anticipated discussing toxic relationships on Mother’s Day but I guess God had a plan and a sense of humor. Many like me have a toxic mother. So this post is dedicated to everyone who struggles with a healthy relationship with their mom.

Toxic relationships are by definition NOT healthy. They are harmful, destructive and dangerous.  They don’t work. The participants hurt each other and should be kept apart.

The good news about creating a bible study about toxic relationships is that the bible is full of toxic relationships. The hard part is choosing which ones to include in a one hour study.

The bible is the first tabloid. The bible spares no one. It reports everyone’s dirty laundry.  Mental illness, sex scandals, murder, rape, incest, addictions, betrayal, rags to riches, riches to rags, lies and all other criminal activity is described in great detail. Here are a few that hit the tabloids:

  • Adam Humiliates Eve: The first marital spat leads to the downfall of humankind. Eve despises Adam for humiliating her in front of God. She never forced him to eat the fruit, she didn’t trick him and he lied to her about the rules of Eden. She wants a divorce. But he’s the only guy. Genesis 3
  • Brother Charged with MURDER: Sibling rivalry goes wrong. An unthinkable homicide, Cain kills Abel in cold blood.  Why couldn’t they get along? Genesis 4:8
  • Bye Bye Joe: Another family feud. Hostility high, brothers sell favorite child for twenty pieces of silver but he was worth so much more. Genesis 37
  • NO Justice for Rape Victims: More rape than on a college campus. Dinah, Tamar, Bathsheba and nameless victims. Genesis 34, 2 Samuel 11, 2 Samuel 13, Judges 19
  • Bad Dads: Abraham blames God for attempted murder of Isaac. Isaac plays favorites. Lot offers daughters to be raped by angry mob. David worse biblical father ever. Solomon missing in action. Genesis 19, Genesis 22, Genesis 25, 1 Kings 11

Aside from Jesus’ relationships with his disciples and family, every relationship in the bible is dysfunctional. Our relationships seem healthy compared to our biblical family.

However before we start throwing mud, it is really important to get grounded in truth.  All relationships are occasionally dysfunctional.

We live in a sinful fallen world. Everyone has flaws. We all sin. We all fall short (Romans 3:23). Therefore our relationships fall short.

While the Good Samaritan is a great story to teach us how to love a stranger, it provides little help in getting along with your mother, brother, spouse, friend, in-laws or boss. Some people are mean. Sometimes we are mean, grumpy and difficult.

If you surfed the internet for quizzes to determine if your relationship or someone else’s is toxic, chances are it is dysfunctional if not toxic.

  1. How do we know if our relationship is healthy?

 

A relationship is healthy when both individuals feel loved and supported.  They know they are loved.  They respect each other.  They appreciate one another’s gifts and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. They communicate.  They spend time together. They are able to resolve their differences or agree to disagree. The relationship works.  It is functional.

  1. Describe a dysfunctional relationship. What makes it dysfunctional?

 

A relationship is dysfunctional when it is not working.  The participants don’t feel loved or supported. They fail to communicate, spend time together and treat each other with kindness. They can’t express their differences or come to an agreement. They may bicker, fight or ignore each other.

A relationship can start dysfunctional, become dysfunctional or have periods of dysfunction during stress or change. Dysfunction is usually related to differences in personalities, cultures, expectations and the way we adapt. Typically, a dysfunctional relationship can be improved with intervention. The relationship may not need to be ended.  It needs an adjustment.

  1. Describe a toxic relationship. What makes it toxic? Have you ever been in a toxic relationship?

Toxic relationships are poisonous and may be fatal. They will not get better on their own, get worse when challenged, they require professional intervention and separation. A toxic relationship may be physically, sexually, emotionally or psychologically abusive.

Toxic people should come with the warning labels:

CODEPENDENT: I am constantly seeking someone to complete me.  I can’t be alone.  I am either the savior or victim.  We hold each other hostage. As the savior, I enable addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. I’m always helping, making excuses for my partner and don’t see myself as part of the problem. As the victim, I am stuck in my past, lack self-sufficiency and suicidal.  I turn to relationships or other addictions to show my brokenness. Both need professional help.

BullyAbusive: I am controlling and jealous.  I am a bully at home, school, work and on the highway. I have no boundaries. It isn’t personal. I feel responsible for controlling everyone in my environment.  I treat everyone like a servant or child.  You will have to ask permission to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone. I will find your weakness and humiliate, blackmail and shame you. My threats are real.  I will hurt you, the people or things you love. You don’t control me.  It’s not cheating if I sleep with someone else. It is your fault I lose my temper. I will do whatever I have to do to control you; including rape or murder. Don’t tell me you’re leaving. I won’t take it well. You will need help, a safety plan and protection to get away.  I need to be incarcerated with at least three years of treatment and a lifetime of monitoring.

Passive Aggressive:  I am an unreliable liar.  I always agree with you.  Why don’t you believe me?  Just because I agreed the cat was obese and kept feeding her after you went to bed doesn’t mean I didn’t agree with you.  I always say I’ll be there but something always gets in the way. When you accuse me of being passive aggressive or simply frustrating I am extremely apologetic, confused and hurt. Obviously I didn’t understand your instructions. You wonder if you are going crazy.  You are. You wonder if I love you.  I don’t.  I find you as annoying and difficult as you find me. I am the most challenging personality to help. If the professionals can’t help me, you can’t help me. Leave. Seek help.

DISSOCIATIVE: I am cold, frosty, dismissive and distant.  I don’t show affection because I don’t know how and you can’t teach me. I dissociate.  I don’t remember the past.  I am frozen in the present and I can’t anticipate a future. It doesn’t seem like I’m here because I’m not. I will not warm up after we get married, have children or spend time together. A stone baking in the sun will give you more warmth. I need professional help.

Narcissist: I am arrogant because I am always right because I am a narcissist. I am perfect.  I give advice to everyone else. I know exactly why I am better than everyone else.  I generously share my opinions. You can’t love me more than I love myself. Please don’t remove my mirrors.  I keep myself company by talking to myself. I am snobbish because I am a snob.  I am always the smartest, most attractive, important person.  I am special. I am unique. I know you admire me. It is okay to tell me how much you like me.  Don’t expect me to love you. I’m too busy loving myself. I’m not taking advantage of other people. I am giving them the advantage of loving me. I have no boundaries. I deserve everything I have and everything you have. I don’t need help.  You do.

Toxic people have personality disorders that were either developed in a toxic environment, inherited or both. Toxic people make toxic relationships.  Both the victim and the abuser are toxic and need professional intervention.

Healthy people know when they come into contact with a toxic person because the eerie music comes on like in the movies and their gut tells them to get away before something bad happens.

CAUTION: If you are often caught off guard by toxic people or frequently find yourself in toxic relationships, you are probably a toxic person. Get help!

ATTENTION: If you are a perfectionist, controlling, rude, critical, negative, judgmental, frequently complain, angry, interrupt others, difficult to please, hold grudges, blame others, withhold appreciation, enjoy punishing others and think you are better than everyone else. You are toxic.  Get Help!

Toxic people do not know how to resolve conflict.

  1. Who taught you how to resolve conflict? What did they teach you?  Does it work?

God gave us the Commandments to teach us how to love each other (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5). We first prepare ourselves for relationships by constantly developing our skills to love. Jesus taught us how to resolve conflict when we harm others. Read Luke 6:42

How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Jesus further advised us in Matthew 5:23-48 (paraphrased):

When we realize our brother or sister has something against us, we should immediately go, ask for forgiveness and be reconciled to them.  We should settle our disagreements quickly.  If they are not satisfied, we seek counsel.

We should seek professional help if we find we are unable to love our family, friends, neighbors or self. `

We don’t need to swear or make oaths.  We should be honest.

We should be generous with our forgiveness, our apologies and restitution. Apologize when we are wrong and restore what we have harmed.

We should love like God.  Love the people who hate us.  Greet everyone with kindness. Pray for everyone. Love.

In this way we love others the way we want to be loved.

Love is the key ingredient to a healthy relationship. A relationship without love is not healthy.  Relationships fall short when we don’t know how to love. And the most beautiful expressions of love is grace, mercy and forgiveness. Resolving conflict is the gateway to a deeper long lasting love.

Our love letter from God doesn’t advise us to pretend we aren’t hurt. God’s Word repeatedly tells us how much sin hurts.  We were born equipped with the ability to scream out for help. We weren’t taught to say Ouch!  We just did. It was a normal natural sound to tell those who cared about us that we needed help.

  1. Why is it so difficult to ask for help? Why do we avoid conflict? Why is it so difficult to express pain?

 

“They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up…” Proverbs 23:29-35

Proverbs asks “when will we wake up”. It implies that if we are hit and claim it doesn’t hurt, we must be drunk, something must be numbing the pain. When we deny being hurt those who wish to harm us will hit harder.

During our journey for the greatest truth, LOVE, we are called to make an honest assessment of unhealthy attitudes, beliefs and habits (sin) blocking our path. The Holy Spirit is trying to lovingly shake us; to wake us up.

We are called to resolve conflict, not create or ignore conflict. Conflict resolution must be rooted in love. Remember and read Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

The first step to resolving conflict is to prepare our hearts. Read Luke 6:37

Judging Others ] “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

We must forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean conflict is resolved or that the relationship is completely restored.  It also doesn’t mean we allow them to continue to hurt us.

Forgiveness frees us from the anger and resentment.  It stops the hurt. Forgiveness restores our health and makes conflict resolution possible.  But it isn’t automatic.  The other person has a choice.

We must forgive them when they repent, no matter how many times they hurt us (Luke 17:4).  But we don’t have to let them keep hurting us.  Nor do we have to maintain a relationship with a toxic person. Sometimes the healthiest way to resolve conflict is to let go.

Jesus gave us the biblical steps to resolve conflict at home, work, school and at church. Read Matthew 18:15

“If your brother or sister hurts you or someone else, go and talk to them, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

We must be in constant prayer before, during and after our conversation. We must be ready to forgive, be open, listen, apologize for our sins and restore health to the relationship. How to respond if you have hurt them, “I’m sorry.  Will you forgive me?”

We also must be fair and realize they may not be ready to restore the relationship. Read Matthew 18:16

But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

Once again, be in constant prayer before, during and after your conversation. Be ready to forgive, listen, apologize and restore health to the relationship.

Be fair and realize they may not be ready. They may have other issues blinding them from the truth.

Don’t speak for God! Things often get worse before they get better. Telling someone in quick sand to trust you and that everything will be OK doesn’t help.  Stay in the moment, leave their future to God.

Keep them in prayer. Pray that God speaks directly to them, that they will feel the Holy Spirit comforting them. If they are toxic and a risk to themselves or others. Read Matthew 18:17

If they still refuse to listen, don’t meet with them again without professional help; and if they refuse to listen leave them to the mercies of God and the world.

Remember we have a choice.  God doesn’t force us to resolve our conflicts so we shouldn’t force anyone to resolve their conflicts.  Sometimes the most peaceful and loving resolution is a healthy farewell.

peaceGod’s formula for conflict resolution comes with a promise. Read Matthew 19-20

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Amen!

Homework: Make a list of the people you have hurt or have hurt you.  Talk to God for these people.  Keep praying every time they enter your mind. Matthew 7:7

[Effective Prayer ] “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you”. 

Not sure what to say:

“God be with my _____, hold him/her, love him/her and give _______ your grace. Help me restore our relationship. Amen”

Stay Focused: You may not know what wall is preventing them from resolving conflict. Your experiences may or may not be relevant. God promises to use your experiences when the time is right.  Don’t waste time and energy sharing something personal and precious with someone who isn’t capable of listening. The rule is simple: Share your story if/when they ask for it. Or start a blog so they can read it if/when they want. Amen.

Resources

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

 

Trainwreck – Why I Stayed

trainwreckHow does a speeding train blowing its horn, heading in the right direction get derailed?

I was moving forward. I had a job, an apartment, an education and I was in graduate school.

I was “smart enough” to avoid the trap that kept following me home. I knew I didn’t want a relationship. I wasn’t attracted to him.  I didn’t like him.  I thought he was creepy.

I refused to join him in his jail.

I said “No!”

I ignored him.

I was rude.  I was arrogant. I made fun of him.

But he was persistent.

I didn’t know he was abusive but I knew he wasn’t independent. He couldn’t help me.  He didn’t want to help me. And he wouldn’t help me.

But he was persistent.

I was alone.  I let go of my life line before grabbing another. I was working my safety plan without a safety net.  My former counselor was hundreds of miles away. It was only a matter of time before I slipped and  fell.

If I was in counseling it would have been a set back but since I wasn’t – I was derailed.

I’d never been safe so I couldn’t find safety without the help of a professional.

He was persistent.  He was lonely.  He was dysfunctional.

I was fragile.  I was vulnerable. My family was dysfunctional. I was grieving the suicide of my favorite brother.  I had no friends.

I had no therapist.

He was persistent.  He either followed me home or was waiting for me when I pulled into my parking lot. He was waiting for me to fall. He wasn’t planning to pick me up.  He was just waiting for me.

But I didn’t let him in until…

My second brother died.  Just one year after the first.

After he died, I shook my fist at my oldest, dearest and only friend – I turned my back on God.  I was already angry at God for allowing my brother to end his life. I was angry about my abusive childhood.  I was angry about being raped.  I was angry about being alone.

I hadn’t forgiven God.

I felt God’s presence and didn’t hold back telling Him how angry and disappointed I was. I thought He was a terrible, weak, ineffective God.

God was cruel to take another brother so soon. I stopped talking to God. I was too angry to speak. God wasn’t worth my prayers.  He wasn’t listening. No one listened to me.

If I had a therapist, they’d probably say I was depressed. But I didn’t have a therapist.

I still had my apartment. I still had my job. I still went to school. I still didn’t like the guy but I threw God out and let the stalker in. I shut the door on God. I went off track. But didn’t care.  Tired, numb and out of breath I thought I’d take a moment to rest.  I didn’t realize how long I’d sleep.

Why did I stay?  He became rough.  Everyone who cared about me was rough.  Even God.

I ran from him and locked myself in the bathroom. I didn’t like him. I should have been afraid but…

I was numb.

#WhyIstayed: We weren’t living together.  “Stay” was abstract. I had my own apartment. I was moving forward.  I avoided him after he was rough. I thought I was taking care of myself. No one else cared about me.

I guess I wasn’t “smart enough” to avoid or end the relationship.  I was a victim. Victims aren’t very smart.

Violence is loud.  It is hard to think with all that background noise. We need an emergency crew to pull us from the wreckage.

And he waited patiently  until I invited him in. He was very persistent. And it would be many years before a crew arrived on the scene.

Have you ever snuggled with the devil? Share your story.

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak…
His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.

Important Points:

Seek professional help

Abused? You’re not alone

God is with us even when we are angry

Related Post:

Bruised at the Altar…Why I Married Him

Say NO to the Mess!

Need help?

The National Domestic Violence Hotline    1-800-799-7233

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

An Open Letter to My Sister

Sister crossIt is tempting to write a fictional ‘sisters make the best friends’  letter to you. Facebook gives me the opportunity to ‘like’ ‘I love my sister’ posts and linger before moving on.

I do love you. I wished my best friend and sister to be the same person.  I pray you and your family are safe, healthy and happy.

I am deeply envious of anyone who the description “she’s my sister” means they have someone to protect, defend and love no matter what.

But this isn’t that kind of letter. That type of letter may bring you swooping back in my life with our mother in tow and that is not safe. The very thought causes a panic attack forcing me to wait before I continue.

It has been over eleven years since I walked out of your life without a word. I didn’t slam the door because I would never return to finish the conversation.

I never thought I’d be writing one of these letters.

My therapist encouraged me to write a letter for the “therapeutic” benefit. She thought a letter would help release ‘repressed’ anger.  I tried to write the letter but I wasn’t angry so I wrote a letter to our father instead.

I’m still not angry and don’t see the point in confronting you.  I believe we have different realities of the past. I don’t want to fling dirt at you nor do I want to synchronize our stories or reconcile our differences. I wish you peace.

I never extended forgiveness because I don’t know if you feel you did anything wrong.  If you seek forgiveness, I forgave you.

As you know, we were never close.  Not because we didn’t live in the same house but because we were mean to one another.

While we did some normal loving sister stuff, your actions and words screamed you hated me.

I assumed you were relieved by my absence but it is not fair of me to assume anything.

I wasn’t a good sister.  I didn’t defend you when our brothers hurt and abused you.  Instead, I laughed and made fun of you. I know our relationship will not magically improve.

I am sorry for the way I treated you.  I hope you forgive me. However, this is also not that type of letter.

Elizabeth Ellen’s An Open Letter to the Internet and a brief exchange with the bold, radical author inspired me to write this open letter to help you and perhaps others understand why their siblings may have ended their relationship.

In short, it was about my children, my husband and me.  I wanted to become a healthy, functional adult, wife, mother and friend. I wanted to be a loving daughter and sister. The only way was to cut ties to my childhood and start living my reality.

I am not suggesting that everyone who leaves their childhood family shares our story but simply that the separation is for their own sanity, safety and happiness.

STOP reading now if you don’t need any further explanation.

When I shared with our parents about being raped, they became hostile and blamed me.  And our brother invited my rapists to his wedding and our parents supported their attendance.  After all they were his friends. We obviously did not share the same reality or agree on the proper response.

While siblings fight and some sexually experiment with one another – age, consent and other factors decide whether the behavior is normal or abuse.

We were both children.  You were starting puberty. I am five years younger than you.  I was only in second grade. I wasn’t old enough to consent to what happened in the privacy of our bedroom.  I was not physically able to defend myself.  I was confused, disgusted and afraid.  I was traumatized.

I respect that we may not share the same reality of the past.

Unfortunately, our adult relationship wasn’t warm or loving.

When my children became anxious around you, I was advised to separate for a few months for professionals to assess their safety.  Our mother was told but responded by taking the children to your house and refused to take the children home after our son threw up in her car when he found out where they were going. He was afraid. My children were traumatized.

Because our mother didn’t tell us she was taking them to see you and didn’t bring them home until after midnight, my husband decided our mother would never be permitted to take them again. She responded by inviting you to their soccer game.

As a result, the experiment was over and so was our relationship.

While I respect that you may think you have done nothing wrong to be banished from our lives, the choice was not yours.

Although I tried to get our parents’ and brother’s support, I didn’t have the energy to seek the support of anyone else.  I told my therapist it wouldn’t be fair to ask our friends and family to make a choice.  I wasn’t ready to tell the neighborhood our secrets.  Not because I wanted to protect you or our parents.  I wanted to protect myself.  I left to protect my children. I was afraid. I was ashamed. And didn’t want to admit I was abused.  I couldn’t believe I put my children in harm’s way. I was afraid.

I am no longer afraid.  I am no longer ashamed.  I didn’t leave because of you. I left for my children, my husband and me.  I ran and never looked back because I wanted to become a healthy, functional adult, wife, mother and friend. I left for my sanity.  I left to walk in the truth of my own memories. And since the day I said good-bye to our father – my children and I have lived a happily and safely ever after.

I pray you and your family enjoy the same reality.

Christ’s Peace,

Your Little Sister Karen

Related Post:

Just Walk Away – A letter to our Dad

Friendly Friday Proclamation

Whereas, my friend and blog follower told me she likes my posts but said quite frankly my recent Domestic Violence (DV) posts are depressing.

Whereas, my DV posts are written for victims and survivors as on on-line support group to say ‘we’re not alone.’

Whereas, if they were overly upbeat and optimistic, I’d need my head examined.

Whereas, I don’t want my readers to feel they need to take antidepressants before reading my posts.

Whereas, I love my friend and believe her opinion may be echoed by other readers.

Therefore, I planned to write a rainbow, unicorn, happy face love fest today for my friend.

Whereas, a daily post inspired me to make it a Friendly Friday feature.

Therefore, on the tenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, I issue this proclamation to my beloved friend and readers.

Therefore, while I had a few darker posts planned for a Friday or two during Domestic Violence Awareness month, I declare that I will publish them another day or night of the week.

Therefore, I promise to only publish warm, positive, upbeat posts on Fridays with one exception – Good Friday.

Therefore, I promise to all my fellow victims and survivors that I will never post a “I’m so glad I was raped” or “How rape is part of God’s plan” post. Not happening.

Now therefore, by the power invested in me by WordPress as a blogger, I, Karen P. Simpson, call on my readers to help me with this endeavor by providing me inspirational pictures or stories of Christ in action.
Prayer

Karen P. Simpson
Sisters of Christ