Tag Archives: God’s plan for our lives

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

25 Comments

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

Protective or Not?

Las Vegas Strip, Author David_Vasquez (PD)

Hotel clerk, Danielle Jacobsen, expected a routine shift.  The middle-aged woman approaching her desk looked like any other Vegas tourist.

But Virginia Paris was decidedly out of the ordinary.  Explaining that she had been kidnapped, Paris asked that Jacobsen contact police without alerting her kidnapper who was standing nearby [1A].

“She was like, ‘Uh, I need help.  I’ve been abducted.  I’ve been missing since Friday.  It’s pretty serious, can you please pretend like you’re checking me into a room please and get the cops on the phone and get them here?’ ”

-Danielle Jacobsen on her encounter with kidnapping victim, Virginia Paris [1B]

Despite an Order of Protection, Paris had been kidnapped by her former boyfriend, Joseph Hetzel.  Jacobsen managed to contact Security inconspicuously.  Paris was taken to a room for safety, and Hetzel later arrested.

Orders of Protection

An Order of Protection from Abuse (also, known as a Restraining Order) limits or forbids the subject’s interaction with a particular person.  Such orders commonly arise from allegations of domestic violence, harassment, and/or stalking.

Statistics on Protective Orders have not been publicly available.  But there are thought to be over 1 million in effect in the United States on any given day [2].

Experts disagree on the effectiveness of Protective Orders.  A 2010 analysis in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law concluded that they do serve a role in managing threats of violence [3].

However, an earlier analysis had determined that Protective Orders were violated an average of 40% of the time.  Some women maintain they were beaten for having obtained a Protective Order. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Law, Religion, Violence Against Women

Becoming Ourselves

Photo of artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz (PD).  Though O’Keeffe’s vision was compromised by macular degeneration in later years, she continued to work well into her 90s.

It has been said that we become more ourselves, as we grow older.  Superficial beauty fades, and a softer (or, in some cases, starker) beauty takes its place.  This incorporates our scars, evidence of the life we have lived, with and without our consent.

We long, in youth, to be part of a larger whole – the beloved or a noble cause, perhaps.  The paths we take determine greatly – and depend greatly on – whether or not that happens.

The heart calls us to venues and ventures we would never have thought ourselves capable of pursuing, let alone achieving.  Sometimes though it seems we are being led.  Not by our desires alone, but by some external force.

“…[H]e made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver” (Isa. 49: 2).

Most of us must deal with tragedy, along the way.  Some lives are cut short by it.  Grief and loss can arise from many causes in this imperfect world:  abuse, racism, poverty, and violence, to name a few.

We are shaped by these experiences, and can be broken by them.  Chances are, we will be forced to make difficult choices.  Almost everyone is.

For a tree branch to be made into an arrow, it must be stripped of leaves (John 15: 2); fired, so as to become pliable (Isa. 48: 10, Rom. 5: 3 and 8: 28, James 1: 2-4, 1 Pet. 1: 6-7); straightened (Eph. 2: 21 and 4: 15-16, Heb. 10: 24-25); sanded (Heb. 12: 7-11); and oiled (Ps. 104: 15, Gal. 5: 22-23, Eph. 5: 18) [1].

Ultimately, the arrow finds its target.  So, too, will our lives, in God’s hands, find their intended target…even if that target is not what we originally supposed.

We can rely on that.

[1]   All credit for this information about arrow construction, and the biblical citations associated with it goes to Fountaingate Christian Foundation. See, ChurchLink, Bible Study Warehouse, Series:  The Call – Lesson 7,  “Preparation for Ministry”,  http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink/bible_studies/call/call7.html. Copyright © 1981, 1996 Paul Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved.

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

 

13 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Poverty, Religion, Terrorism, Violence Against Women

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

9 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Religion, Violence Against Women

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

“Christ and Child” by Carl Bloch (1873), Sankt Nikolai Kirke, Denmark, Author Jurgen Howaldt (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.

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: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

8 Comments

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