As abuse victims, we can be tremendously hard on ourselves. The slightest misstep, the smallest error may seem a catastrophic failure. More than that. An unpardonable sin disqualifying us from love (even, in a spiritual sense, from Salvation, itself).
The feeling of “sinfulness” — that vague sense of guilt with no real cause — is just one of the scars left by abuse. We relive the trauma of having been treated as worthless. This opens wide the door to depression.
The feeling of “sinfulness” rebounds from the abuser to us because there is no punishment this side of eternity sufficient to fully offset the harm done to us. The best we can do is strive to forgive and move on.
It bears repeating that abuse victims were innocent victims. But acknowledging this intellectually will not always translate into our accepting it emotionally. A childhood filled with negative experiences must be overcome.
Though the feeling of our own “sinfulness” can at times be overwhelming, the conclusions drawn on the basis of that feeling may not be accurate. The situation is complicated by the fact abuse victims must re-learn as adults to trust their own feelings.
Unfortunately, some Christian sects feed into this by emphasizing Salvation through works, i.e. through our own unrelenting efforts, rather than through faith in Christ alone. This can readily morph into legalism (a focus on the letter of the law, at expense of the spirit).
Legalism marries well with the perfectionism to which abuse victims are prone.
But being unworthy of Salvation is not the same as being worthless. Christ died for our sins despite our unworthiness — victims and non-victims alike. That actually highlights our value in God’s eyes.
We were never worthless, except to those who abused us. Continue reading