Monthly Archives: November 2015

“Lust” by Dr. Dan Allender

Many men and women, molested as children, become sex addicts. This excerpt is from an article by Dr. Dan Allender dealing with the spiritual aspects of such addiction. Dr. Allender is the author of “The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse” (1990).

“…God made us with desire – desire for intimate relationship with Him and for meaningful service in His world. The Fall perverted those desires. The quest for intimacy was replaced by a desire for its quickest counterfeit: illicit sexual pleasure. Our God-given desire for meaningful service was twisted to a lust for power over others. The longing for impact became a lust for control.

These counterfeits appeal to us because they seek to replace God and His high standards with something that is familiar and undemanding. Paul says fallen man did not worship God but replaced him with the creature (Rom. 1: 18-23). The creature does not require repentance or gratitude. The creature does not demand brokenness or service. Creature worship only requires denying the true emptiness inside and hiding the shame that arises in turning our back on God and others.

…[Changing this form of lust] not only requires giving up something that has worked, to some extent, to fill our empty hearts, but it also necessitates embracing a God who invites us to experience what we deeply despise – brokenness, poverty, weakness, and dependency…Even if the lust is destructive and life-threatening it may be preferable to a God who calls us to love those who harm us…

[T]wo contemporary Christian routes for dealing with lust …at times make the problem worse. These two routes – self-denial and self-enhancement…often lead to even greater struggles with lust and addiction…

[The first can result in] self-hatred, shame, and contempt which lead to increased sexual struggles. After decades of failure many with this view either conclude they are oppressed by demons or doubt their salvation. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Wrestling the Python

Python at California Academy of Sciences, Author Wa17gs (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Photographer Richard Avedon in the 1980s took what became an iconic photo of the German actress and model, Nastassja Kinski, with a Burmese python.

Pythons are non-venomous, but lethal regardless. These powerful snakes initially use their teeth to grasp prey. Pythons then coil their long, muscular bodies around the victim and squeeze. This interferes with breathing, ultimately suffocating the prey. Once the victim’s heart has stopped beating, pythons will swallow the lifeless body beginning with the head. They will then digest the body, bones and all.

Depression is much the same. Those unfamiliar with the illness may be tempted to dismiss it as a “mere” mood disorder. But it can be deadly.

Depression can squeeze the joy from life, and the life from us. Once depression has gotten a hold on us, it can be difficult to dislodge. Thwarted, it can recur, despite our best efforts.

A life and death struggle follows, in which even the smallest tasks can seem overwhelming. Everything is colored a more somber hue. We give up on life, believing ourselves unworthy of love and acceptance. Ultimately, the darkness can consume us.

Our best defenses against depression are psychiatric treatment and/or psychological counseling, preferably early on in the illness. Anti-depressants are not, however, for everyone.  No one anti-depressant fits all. And these drugs can have serious side effects.

Remaining in touch with friends and loved ones is vital.  We need human contact and emotional support, whether we believe we “deserve” them or not.

The list of those who have led meaningful lives despite depression is a long one. It includes Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, John Keats, Edgar Degas, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, Isaac Asimov, Bob Dylan, and many more.

With help, we can wrestle the python successfully.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God” (Ps. 42: 11).

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Faking Normal

A plank in the 2012 platform of the Republican Party called for illegal immigrants to leave the United States of their own accord. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate that year, took quite a bit of flack for supporting the approach (grandly titled “self-deportation”) [1].

But this is not really a post about illegal immigrants.

What abuse victims have in common with illegal immigrants is that we both self-monitor. We are, in other words, inclined to observe ourselves closely in the effort to project an acceptable image, an appearance of “normalcy” and control, whatever the turmoil within.

“Travel Caution,” Author Jasonctillman (CC BY-SA-3.0 Unported)

By itself, self-monitoring is not a bad trait. Even people who have never been abused worry, from time to time, whether their feelings and responses are normal. We are taught from childhood to play nicely with others, and not run with scissors. Those unwilling to adjust their behavior to society’s norms are likely to be aggressive and uncompromising.

For abuse victims, however, self-monitoring involves more. For us, it provides camouflage, and is the tool which allows us to fake normal.

Self-monitoring is a natural response on the part of victims long berated for their thoughts and actions, for their very existence. Victims cling to it, rather than trusting themselves to behave in an appropriate manner. That is understandable. Like illegal immigrants, we would prefer to go unnoticed.

Unfortunately, ongoing assessment of our own performance distances us from the present moment, depriving us of real enjoyment and the zest of living. Every thought, every word, every action must be guarded, as we continuously analyze and re-analyze ourselves in the attempt to “fit in”.

While constant self-monitoring deprives us of spontaneity, it does facilitate acceptance by others, at least on a superficial level. Self-scrutiny to such an extreme can, however, become an obsession. We may inadvertently craft a new form of bondage for ourselves, censoring every breath [2]. Continue reading

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“Letter to My 14 Year Old Self” by Marie Williams

This is a letter by Marie Williams, a gifted writer and abuse survivor. Be aware that there is difficult subject matter addressed. Despite that, Marie retains little or no rancor.  We should all extend such kindness to the child within.

You can find more of Marie’s work at Come Fly with Me – Dispensing Compassion Through Poetry http://www.mariewilliams53.wordpress.com and Blow Me Out of the Water http://www.riceandpease.wordpress.com .  

Dear Marie

Yes, you, come on now, try not to let things get you down too much. I promise life will get better. I know that you’ve had it really rough and I know that you wish your first suicide attempt at age 11 had worked, but it didn’t and that’s because you are here for a reason. I know that you can’t see that now, because all around you is chaos, but you are a divine spirit and you need to know that.

Try not to internalize the pain. I know that you feel that you have no-one to confide in, but you do. Speak to your grandfather. I know he is no longer here. I know he died in 1959, but his spirit is with you. Speak your pain and he will hear and he will try to smooth the path for you and make life a little easier. I know you’re thinking, “rubbish!” But seriously, he came to help you that painful night when you were 11. It was him you saw, when he hovered over you. It was not a figment of your imagination. He came to make sure those pills did not work.

You’re destined for great things Marie. Look at Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou – they suffered too but look how they have turned their lives around. They have have used their abusive pasts to build a solid framework in which to change their lives for the better. OK, so you’re never going to be Oprah or Maya with their very public profile, but you will be Marie blogging on WordPress, “sharing, hoping to inspire and motivate” others.

I know you think I’m crazy, and that this will never happen. Yes at 14, with a mother who clearly finds you an irritation and a father who gets a kick out of battering you, sending you to school with bruises on your face and body, with the explanation “If they ask you what has happened to you, tell them that you fell over some wire in the backyard”, makes the above paragraph seem like the ramblings of a mad woman, but honestly, you will survive.

People that you don’t know now, will be reading your poetry and will write to you telling you how much they love what you have written. People all over the world in France, Austria, USA, Australia will be commenting on your poetry.

There will be something called the Internet which will allow you to connect with others in a way that you can’t now. The world will be a smaller place in terms of contact and there will be vast opportunities for you to grasp and take advantage of.

I love you Marie and I want to take care of you in the only way I can. This is why I am writing to you, aged 14. I want to give you hope. I want to let you know that I am there for you.

Yours sincerely

(A much older) Marie xx

http://en.gravatar.com/mariewilliams53

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Surrender

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2: 20).

Recovery from abuse involves more than just flight from an abusive childhood or a past abusive relationship. It involves defining our own space, and rejecting further abusive behavior, whenever and wherever we may encounter such behavior.

In light of this, it is hardly surprising that the Christian concept of “surrender” should have ominous overtones for victims. They have had enough of surrender, enough of a power differential which invariably favored their abusers.

Spiritual Surrender

Spiritual surrender to Christ (also, known as dying to Him) is illustrated by foregoing the natural inclination toward revenge and instead “turning the other cheek” (Matt. 5: 39), behavior for which genuine Christians are known [1].

By Their Fruits

But surrender to Christ does not imply submission to petty tyrants and counterfeit saviors. Nor does surrender to Christ imply complicity in evil. Victims should be justly wary of those seeking to confuse the two. In the search for love and support, many have fallen prey to false messiahs and destructive cults (including cults misappropriating the label “Christian”).

The Bible tells us, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7: 16). This is a useful test both for identifying cults and abusive individuals. Regardless of the label or language used as camouflage, actions will give away a group or individual’s real intentions.

True Value

To reach the point Christians call surrender to Christ abuse victims must first rediscover their true value. Christ affirms that value, revealing how precious they, in fact, are to Him. Only having confronted that amazing reality are victims ready to lay their natural selves down at Christ’s feet.

“The Christian life is a life in which an indwelling Christ casts out, and therefore quickens, self. We gain ourselves when we lose ourselves. His abiding in us does not destroy but heightens our individuality.”

– “MacLaran’s Expositions of Holy Scripture, From Centre to Circumference, Galatians 2: 20” http://biblehub.com/commentaries/maclaren/galatians/2.htm


[1] Note that revenge and self-defense are distinct from one another. Scripture permits Christians to defend themselves and their children. Criminal prosecution, society’s response to the wrong, is yet a third alternative.

With thanks to Susanne Schuberth

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women