Tag Archives: abuse and depression

Mustard Seed

Mustard seeds, Author Dsaikia2015 (CC BY-SA 4.0 International) 

Abuse is among the most depraved and destructive behaviors of which human beings are capable.

Less than Trash

We were taught as children that we were inferior, inadequate, lacking. Victims were cruelly used, abandoned, and discarded. Valued as less than trash.

Those lessons sank in deep. They continue to warp victims’ reality. Now, our inner life is marred by a pervasive sense of worthlessness. Depression is rooted in this. Groundless guilt and shame (rightly belonging to our abusers) are added to the mix.

Whatever we may accomplish in this life, in our darkest moments we see ourselves as devoid of good, and our lives as meaningless. It is not though true that the world would be better off without us.

An Act of Faith

Our supposed worthlessness is the cornerstone in a system of lies which allows us to see only our faults. That fact has enormous significance for abuse victims, for it implies we have a choice in how we see ourselves: either as worthless or as the infinitely precious children of God we really are.

Many of us lost our faith, as a result of abuse. After all, God did not rescue us. We find it incomprehensible that God might cherish us, let alone send His Son, Jesus Christ, to give His life for ours. Yet, astonishingly, that is the case.

So the Lord said, ‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,” and it would obey you’ ” (Luke 17: 6).

The feeling of worthlessness is a link in the heavy chain of sin which binds us. That link was forged by our abuse. In its place, victims are offered freedom. We are invited to step out in faith by letting go of worthlessness.

To do that, we must trust God to be greater than our abusers. In point of fact, He is.

Trusting God can feel dangerous and foreign, at first. The journey of faith lasts a lifetime. But we only need a mustard seed to take the first step.

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Necessary Anger

Abuse creates a deep wound, leaving behind many emotional, psychological, and spiritual scars. Our experience of reality is altered, our view of the world skewed.

Above all, abuse teaches victims that they are worthless.

Anger

Anger is a step in the process of recovery from abuse, in much the same way that anger is a step in the process of grieving. As victims, we mourn what we have lost – what has been stolen from us. The time, the innocence, the confidence.

Initially, victims may have difficulty “finding” their anger about this loss. They will frequently rationalize the actions of their abusers – minimizing the harm done, and blaming themselves for events (though without cause).

The rationalization is simply how victims cope with damage so profound they can hardly describe it, and emotions that threaten to be titanic.

When Christians characterize victims’ anger as unacceptable, they imply – intentionally or not – that victims are unacceptable to God. Instead of freeing victims from abuse, this affected piety on the part of Christians reinforces victims’ sense of worthlessness.  It pushes victims away from God, depriving them of His consolation.

Depression

In response, some victims will swallow their anger…just as they did in the abusive setting.  However, abuse impacts us at a fundamental level.  Denying our true feelings about it can produce numbness. When anger is denied, all our emotions become muted.

This is not a satisfying way to live. Worse, it puts us at great risk of depression which is often described as anger turned inward.

Detour to Christ

God understands victims’ anger.  In fact, He shares it.

But rage can, also, consume us. If we nurse our very legitimate grievances long enough, bitterness will eat away at our lives like battery acid. Christ offers us a better alternative.

Anger is, in effect, a necessary detour abuse victims take to Christ.

Forgiveness

And anger is a condition precedent to forgiveness, something many Christians fail to understand.

This is not to suggest that victims must endure Christ’s anger before they can be forgiven. Rather, victims must experience and release their own anger before they can freely choose whether or not to forgive their abusers, and move on with their lives.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth” (Ps. 37: 8-9).

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

A Bed in Hell

“Iron Maiden”, ancient instrument of torture, Palacio de los Olvidados, Granada, Author Dorieo Wikimedia Commons (license CC BY-SA 4.0)

Rather than providing consolation, Scripture can feel like torture to abuse victims.  We hear promises of hope and protection as lies…or “proof” of our unworthiness.  After all, God’s promises were not kept in our case, were they? So it can seem to us.

Worse still, we may fear deep down that the fate “assigned” us was deliberately cruel because of our lack of worth.  This is torment, placing the blame for our pain squarely at God’s door.

But listen to verses 7-11 of Psalm 139:

“…Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me…”

This is what it means to be a child of God.  We are not spared suffering, but remain the focus of His care and attention at all times.

Our wounds grieve God.  More than that, His hands and feet were pierced for our sakes.  We forget this when lost in our own sorrow.

Abuse victims have known the bed in hell.  For us, depression may be the form darkness takes.  Yet in the throes of that illness, we are not forsaken.  God seeks us out despite our anger, despite our despair, despite even our atheism.

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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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Religion, Sexual Abuse