Tag Archives: faith

Fighting Demons

Pittsburgh Steelers v. New England Patriots (2005) (CC BY-SA 3.0 Gen)

Pittsburgh Steelers v. New England Patriots at Heinz Field (2005), Author Bernard Gagnon (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Fighting the demons of anxiety, depression, and PTSD is a little like playing football [1][2].  We make headway then lose ground.  But the fight never really ends, not the way a game of football does.  There is no score.

We win by surviving another day.

Across Decades

It can be enormously discouraging to wrestle with the scars of abuse, decade in and decade out.  Surely, we must after all this time have made progress.

But progress is not linear.  Despite the passage of time, and an extensive list of medications – not to mention therapy – familiar demons can resurface.

Factors Impacting Our Success

So, are anxiety, depression, and PTSD ever really “conquered”?  Can they, at least, be fought to a standstill?  The answer depends.

The factors include the length and severity of the trauma we sustained; our particular genetics; the quality and extent of our medical treatment; our psychological and spiritual resources; the emotional support we have available; and the other stressors to which we are subjected.

None of these can be quantified.  Most can and do vary over the course of a lifetime.

The Struggle

Why not just throw in the towel (to mix sports metaphors)?  After all, the struggle is exhausting.  The struggle, however, is life. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Sports, Violence Against Women

Jellyfish

Cyanea jellyfish, North Sea, Author Ole Kils olekils@web.de (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported, GNU Free Documentation License)

Jellyfish are equipped with stinging tentacles used to paralyze, capture, and kill their prey.  The largest known specimen, the lion’s mane or giant jelly, has tentacles which can reach 120 feet in length.  That is longer than a blue whale.

The sting of a jellyfish can be agony.  In humans, that sting can cause burning and blistering of the skin, difficulty breathing, changes in heart rate, chest pain, abdominal cramps, vomiting, muscle spasms, numbness, weakness, and collapse.

The tentacles can sting, even after a jellyfish has died.

The Tentacles of Abuse

Like jellyfish, abuse has long tentacles.  Rather than extending into deep water, those tentacles extend across the years.  But their sting can still be agony.  Like the tentacles of jellyfish, the tentacles of abuse can paralyze, capture, and in some cases kill.

Real Wounds

Whether we suffer with physical ailments and visible scars or with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, the wounds stemming from our abuse are severe and real.  We are not weak.  We are not malingering.

It is, in some ways, easier when our wounds can be seen by the naked eye.  Burns are recognizable as such.  By contrast, the wounds of many abuse victims cannot be bandaged or sutured.  Invisible, those wounds can yet be deadly.

Long-Term Damage

Because it was inflicted early in our lives, while we were most vulnerable, the damage done by abuse is long-lasting and multi-faceted.  Victims must endure it for decades, across the full range of life activities.  This can be exhausting.

Eventually, we may feel overwhelmed by anxiety or depression, as if we were drowning; may feel trapped by our past, despite our best efforts; may feel wrongly that ending our lives is the only way out. Continue reading

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Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 2 – Faith and Fault

We continue this series on abuse in Christian marriage with a few more of Satan’s lies.

“Abuse in a Marriage Is the Woman’s Fault, a Result of Her Sin”

Not only are women frequently blamed for the abuse to which they are subjected.  A Christian woman may be told that, as a sinner herself, she cannot criticize her husband’s behavior. If anything, it is her duty to reform him.

While a clever way of shifting blame, this is circular logic. It has no basis either in fact or Scripture.

Abuse – physical, emotional, financial, or sexual – is a deliberate act by the abuser. It is not the woman’s fault, and not her sin. No one deserves to be abused – not a “witch”, not a “nag”, not a “pig”, not an “old bag”, or any other offensive term the abuser may devise to excuse his reprehensible behavior. No one.

True, a sinner will reap what he sows (Gal. 6: 7). However, it is the abuser – not the victim – who has sown the wind, and will reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8: 7).

As for reform, it may take criminal liability – if that – for an abuser to change his lifestyle. Continue reading

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Greater than We Know

I’d like to tell you the story of two women. It is a true story, not a fairytale. Both these women faced hardship and loss. However, they responded differently which is the lesson for us at the heart of their story.

Naomi was an Israelite woman who moved with her husband and two sons to nearby Moab, during a time of famine. Naomi’s husband soon died. The young men married Moabite women with pagan beliefs. Ruth was one of these.

To Naomi’s sorrow, after about ten years her sons, also, died. Hearing that the famine at home had ended, Naomi decided to return. She urged her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab, and rebuild their lives.

But Ruth had grown especially close to Naomi, and was determined to follow her back. Ruth’s beautiful words have come down to us, over the centuries:

But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you. For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God’ ” (Ruth 1: 16-17).

Naomi was an embittered woman, angry with God for what she had been through.

Ruth, on the other hand, is remembered as a woman of faith and integrity. Without complaint, Ruth went to work in the fields to sustain herself and Naomi on their return, in the process, winning the love and admiration of a man who would become her new husband.

We are not promised that Prince Charming will ride in on a white horse. Tragedies will befall us in this broken world. Our dreams will at times be dashed, and our hearts broken. But we can rest assured our lives will have purpose, even when we do not see that purpose.

Abuse can be devastating, its scars lifelong. But the violation is not the sum total of our lives. With God, there is always hope. Sometimes, in fact, God’s plans for us may be greater than we know.

Ruth could easily have become bitter when her first husband died. She could have doubted God’s plans for her life. When she chose to remain with her mother-in-law, Ruth had no idea that she would remarry…or that she would become the great-grandmother of kings, and enter the lineage of Christ [1] [2].

Yet she did.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29: 11).


[1] Ruth is documented in Scripture as having been the great-grandmother of King David, and the great-great-grandmother of King Solomon (Ruth 4: 13, 17, 21). She is expressly included in the geneology of Christ (Matt. 1: 5).

[2] Though scholars continue to debate its significance, archaeological evidence for King David appears to have been unearthed at Tel Dan, in northern Israel, on a stone stela dating to the 9th Century BC.

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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“Opportunities in Trials” by Bill Sweeney

There is no doubt that abuse victims have suffered.  If we look around us though we will see that there are many others, also, suffering…with cancer, with cerebral palsy, with epilepsy, with infertility, with schizophrenia.  The list is nearly endless.

This post is by a man who has for 18 years suffered from ALS (Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also, known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”).  Bill Sweeney is paralyzed, using a computer to write with his eyes.  Yet he consistently writes about hope. 

You can find the original post at Bill’s website, Unshakable Hope, http://unshakablehope.wordpress.com/. I highly recommend the site.

“In the midst of a trial, the greatest temptation we face is to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. I don’t believe this is ever God’s will.

We tend to view trials as a kind of imprisonment, thinking our life is on hold until the day we’re released from the grip of the life challenge. ALS has made me a virtual prisoner of my own body for the last 18 years. It has been a very cruel warden. But I look around me and see other people fighting illness or trying to overcome addictions, depression, abuse, debt and so many other cruel masters.

We must continue to hope and pray for freedom from whatever is trying to ‘hold us,’  and we should do everything in our power to move toward that goal. But, in the meantime, we should look for opportunities for God to use us right where we are. This is what the Apostle Paul did, and I’m convinced it’s what God wants us to do.

It was from prison that Paul wrote the following: ‘Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel…'(Philippians 1:12)

We don’t usually associate the word ‘progress’ with imprisonment or any kind of trial, but I believe that we should. If we wait until we ‘have it all together’ before we try to help and give hope to others, many will go without help and die without hope.

Would I be a hypocrite telling people that God still heals when I’ve been held in the grip of a terminal disease for 18 years?

Let me answer that with another question: Was Paul a hypocrite for writing about freedom in Christ from the depths of what was likely a rat infested dungeon?

Paul was almost stoned to death by an angry mob and severely beaten other times. He also suffered from what he called ‘a thorn in his flesh’ (many Bible scholars say this ‘thorn’ was poor eye sight). Regardless, it’s unlikely that Paul was the handsome and strong man depicted in the Bible movies. After spending much of his time in prison and enduring countless beatings, he was likely pale and scarred, and probably in pain 24/7. Yet, God used this suffering servant to heal and give hope to others.

The Apostles faced the same trials, temptations and human frailties that we face. Yet, in the midst of trying to overcome their own trials and temptations and battling their own demons, they were feeding the poor, healing the sick and giving hope to others by spreading the good news.

People don’t care about how much we know until they know how much we care. Maybe we wouldn’t have truly learned to care apart from our suffering.

I hope you’re successful in keeping all of your New Year’s Resolutions, and 2015 is the best year you’ve had so far. But we cannot wait for all of our hopes to be fulfilled before we offer help and hope to others.

We overcome as we help others to overcome.”

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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The Book of Job

For years, I was an atheist, unwilling to believe in or do homage to a God who would allow suffering by the innocent.

My view was a direct result of the abuse I had endured, and the suffering of all kinds I saw around me. I could not reconcile a good and just God with the many injustices in the world.  Faith was a fool’s game.

The Bible’s Book of Job, in particular, revealed the merciless nature of God. So I thought. A devout man is caused to lose his property, his children, and his health. All to demonstrate that his faith in God is not a response to good fortune alone.

I saw the God who would allow this as sadistic. I viewed the Book of Job as an obscenity, and rejected the propositions it put forward. For a long while, I preferred to rage.

When I found the law as a profession, it felt as if a sword had been placed into my hand.

But the Book of Job is a profound study in suffering. It makes the point that God is God. We are merely His creation, dearly though He loves us.

In the end, I came to recognize that we cannot substitute our sense of justice for God’s. We do not have His perspective. We cannot see the end from the beginning.

Christians do not always know why suffering takes place. Ours is a broken world, not the paradise we might wish.

Christians do, however, know the true character of God. He truly is holy, good, just, and merciful. He and only He is the God who suffered as we suffer, even dying for our sakes. Amid the severest of trials, He somehow sustains us. And we have His promise that He will use all things somehow for good.

That promise cannot be applied simplistically. No Christian would contend that good can come to a child from sexual molestation, torture, or neglect. Continue reading

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Overcoming the World, Part 3 – Pedophilia Redefined

A change in the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) heralds a trend towards destigmatizing (and ultimately legalizing) pedophilia.

Those who are sexually attracted to children but have not yet acted on their desires are no longer classified as having a psychiatric condition [1].  Only if such persons prove harmful or dangerous will they be diagnosed as having “pedophilia syndrome”.

This raises the possibility that molested children will soon have the legal burden of proving they suffered any harm from the abuse. In fact, it foreshadows a time, not so far in the future, when child molesters will not be prosecutable at all. The stomach roils in disgust.

Vernon Quinsey (professor emeritus in psychology at Queen’s University, Ontario) and Hubert Van Gijseghem (psychologist and retired professor from the University of Montreal) are two of the “experts” who have advised legislators that pedophilia is a sexual orientation, comparable to heterosexuality and homosexuality [2].

Russia has considered outlawing this reclassification, in an attempt to sidestep the controversy [3]. Iran has meanwhile legalized pedophilia [4]. A new law there permits stepfathers to marry their adopted daughters as young as age 13.

Tragically, this is not the full extent of the evil now taking hold in the world.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Co-President of the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, is promoting pedophilia as a part of his political agenda. Continue reading

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Mangers

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2: 4-7).

Every day 2715 children are born into poverty in America alone [1]. And every day 22,000 children across the globe die from poverty-related illnesses and deprivation [2].

We are surrounded by mangers. Surrounded, yet 2000 years after that first Christmas we still decline to see. Why spoil this festive season? Isn’t there another sale, another party somewhere? Pile those gifts high! We need no encouragement to put Saturn back in Saturnalia. We can manage that all on our own.

If pressed on the point, many of us would echo Scrooge’s sentiment: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” Who brought all these children into the world anyhow? Why should we be saddled with their upkeep? Who gave them the right to impose on our comfortable lives?

“…[W]ho made lame beggars walk, and blind men see[?]” to use Tiny Tim’s words. As Christians we ought to know the answer to that. We ought to live the answer to that every day. If we did, no billboards would be necessary urging that we put Christ back in Christmas. He would already be there.
___
[1] Children’s Defense Fund, Research Library, “Each Day in America,” http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/each-day-in-america.html.
[2] Global Issues, “Poverty Facts and Stats,” http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats.

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Life and Death in Philadelphia

Violence in Philadelphia has been unrelenting over the past ten years. Children as young as three are regularly killed in drive-by shootings. A few horrific incidents stand out. The rest blur together, one death as meaningless as the next.

Teenage brothers were shot to death during a home invasion. The murders, like many others, were thought to be drug related. The body of a pregnant woman with young children was found in an abandoned lot by vagrants. It had been stripped and smeared with peanut butter to attract rodents.

The horror prompts us to turn away. But that is not what Jesus would have us do. These lives are not worthless to Him, however random and pointless the deaths may seem.

Now you shall say to this people, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death” ’ ” (Jer. 21: 8).

Lord God, our cities are devastated – the lives of the men, women, and children in them shattered by violence.

Knowing that You are the Redeemer, that it is You this world so desperately needs, we plead for those around us. We cannot bear the loss of another child, Lord. We cry out to You, for there is no other hope.

Over and over, You have set before us the way of life and the way of death. Bring repentance and revival to our nation. Turn our hearts again to You that we may choose life.

Amen

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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