Unbiblical, Part 4 – Trusting God, Self, and Others

Detail from “A Girl Comes to Christ” by Fritz von Uhde (1884), Museum der bildenden Künste (Accession No. 550), Germany (PD-Art, PD-Old-100)

Trusting God v. Trusting Self

Christians talk casually about God’s plan for their lives and the lives of others.  This can be grating to the ears of abuse victims (especially those new to, or unfamiliar with, the faith).

As victims are inclined to see it, God’s plan for them included abuse.  Whether He caused that abuse or merely allowed it to occur, He failed to protect them against it. And they have the scars to prove that.

The issue of innocent suffering is a profound one, and cannot be papered over with a handy Bible verse.  For abuse victims, coming to terms with it may be a lifelong struggle.

Trusting themselves can be as great a challenge.  Abuse has effectively “taught” victims not to rely on their own judgment, their own instincts.  This is something they must unlearn.

It is not helpful for Christians to urge victims to trust in God, rather than themselves.  Such trust will come with time.  It cannot be rushed.  There are deep wounds which must be healed first.

Trusting Others

Christians should be sensitive in the language they use around abuse victims.  To victims of incest, even the term “Father God” can sound disturbing.  To those who were sexually abused or tortured by siblings, the term “brothers and sisters in Christ” may be equally threatening.

Christians should not pressure victims to drop their defenses, and should not hug or make other physical contact with victims without their permission.  Victims may experience either as invasive, and shy away.

Christians should allow abuse victims to take the lead, insofar as relationships. Friendships should not be forced.  These will develop as victims gradually come to see they will not be harmed.

Originally posted 3/29/15

This series will continue next week with Self-Sacrifice v. Codependence

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

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25 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

25 responses to “Unbiblical, Part 4 – Trusting God, Self, and Others

  1. Thank you for this. I am writing my memoir and I just finished writing about an abuse that happened more than sixty years ago, when I was four years old. I have never written about it before. I have only ever told one or two people about it in my life, and very briefly, without going into a lot of details.

    After writing about this for the first time ever, I needed something to distract me from wanting to scream. So I clicked on my Fire tablet to my WordPress feed, and there at the top was this post. and it’s exactly what I needed to read, right at this very moment.

    Thank you.

    • Though it is distressing that you were abused, I could not be more pleased to learn that this post provided some small solace. Abusers often rationalize that young children will not remember something as “insignificant” as abuse. Your experience clearly demonstrates how false that assumption is. Your courage in forging a full and meaningful life is an inspiration to us all.

      • Yes, as you said, abusers do often rationalize that a young child won’t remember the abuse. It seems to be a common misconception, even in some scientific circles, that very young children lack the capacity to form long term memories.

        But, as a Harvard study discovered not too long ago, the brain of the average child develops the ability to form long term memories somewhere between the ages of one and two. And I know this is true, because my first clear, detailed memory in my life is of a powerful earthquake that caused the pictures on the walls and lamps, knicknacks, dishes, and other items to crash to the floor, while everything was shaking and banging all around me. According to the geological records of the earthquakes that happened in the part of California where I was born, that earthquake occurred when I was 19 months old.

  2. The age old question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people is one I fear we shall never fully understand. That, of course, offers little to no solace to those who have suffered abuse.
    The thought that perhaps we are somehow called upon to be a modern day Job also does little to ease the pain,suffering,and bewilderment caused by perpetrators bent on inflicting evil.

    I find no answer that satisfies my simple intellect as to why these things happen. Indeed,to say all we can do is continue to have faith in God seems cruel and heartless. Yet, in the final analysis what other choice do we have? It is if as though the Almighty has backed victims of abuse in a corner,leaving them with but one option: to trust Him.

    I am thankful Anna that God has raised you up for such a time as this,that you might call attention to this subject in an honest,open,and heartfelt manner. Surely the Lord is with you in a mighty way.

  3. Well said, Anna. I dislike how we in faith sometimes tell people don’t trust yourself, ignore your feelings, don’t follow your instincts. Those are our defenses, those are the things that protect us, and abuse usually tears them down and invades. If God is in us, we have the Holy Spirit speaking to us in a myriad of ways and so we need to relearn how to trust in Him and in ourselves.

  4. Sensitive and sincere post.Lovely Anna , your suggestions are noticeable for everyone.Great job👍👍❤️

  5. Anna well said. I find religions to be intrusive and not to offer what is really required for people who have experienced any kind of abuse. The most important for me is to follow my Soul, my inner intuition if you would prefer to call it. The Soul guides us with Divinty not religion. I agree about hugging and touching people there is too much formality with informal situations. Even shaking hands is too much for me. I have not been sexually abused as such, more emotional abuse through controlling parent. I find negative and aggressive people difficult to be around. I prefer not to have to interact with them just to please those who do things because it is expected. It is expecting too much for me. In this day and age I believe it is time for people to back-off and give others their space. I always have the question of WHY to God did you allow it to happen to the good people on Earth. OK we have lessons to learn but do they have to be abusive. Why was evil allowed to become too powerful? I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  6. Though Abuse is SO often reported in the media, my Anna, I Do believe Indians keep it bottled up, and Do NOT share it or speak out about it.

    In my life as a Priest and Bare-foot Counsellor, have had only Two men, both above 50 now, who have shared of this.

    But it Has been my Privilege to help out Many who have been Traumatised by life in many different ways.

    MOST of these occur across Religious platforms, – their approaching me as a Priest. It is here that my Own life’s experiences, many of the Very Bitter, and the End Result Now and Today, which they assess from my behaviour and life, prove useful in their beginning to Trust (More) in the Lord, who can help More than Anything else, I believe.

    Hearty Regards to You, my Good Friend.

  7. Great advice Anna.
    I often tell people that God can change any situation, without realizing many hurting souls do not have a relationship with Him..

  8. Really good, Anna. For those of us who have wrestled with God in difficult trials like abuse or, in my case, ALS, we learn to be very careful about choosing our words and quoting scripture. It’s ironic because Mary and I were discussing Romans 8:28 (God causes all things to work together for good…) and I was telling her that we have to be careful about casually quoting that verse. We both know that the verse is true, but I don’t think we’ll see all of the good that comes from our trials in this life. Regardless, I would never casually quote that verse to a new Christian trying to overcome childhood abuse.

    • Clearly, your own experience w/ suffering has made you sensitive to the suffering of others, Bill. I am reminded of the false consolation Job’s friends offered him. As Christians, we must avoid making that mistake.

  9. Dealing with abuse victims is not an easy feat. Sometimes, it feels like walking on eggshells even though one means well for them. From following you, I have been learning a lot. The key technique to counseling abuse victims is to allow them to “take the lead”, as you rightly put it, while providing them with all the necessary information they may need. Thank you, Anna, for another wonderful post. ❤️

  10. When you’ve been wronged by others, trust must be earned, not freely given.

  11. Jesus Misfits

    I have pondered a lot on this as I have been a victim of this as well. I have to tackled it properly and I still ignore it even if it’s really affecting me these days. I still try to hold on to Gods word even if I feel pain but it’s not always easy. Thank you for this series!

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