Survivor

As an abuse survivor, I began looking back at my life to see how I got there. I didn’t just wake up one day in an abusive relationship. The layers I am peeling back are a much longer story, but it started with my definition of love being distorted at a very early age. For me, it wasn’t one big thing that happened, as a child, that I can point to that caused me to become that person. It was a million little things. That were just subtle enough to not be perceived as a problem at the time. But overtime, layer upon layer they escalated into the big thing-my darkest moments.

I still couldn’t recognize it- until I was out of it. Looking back- hearing the truth about love- real love, biblical love; God’s love. I began the process of peeling back those layers- digging in and taking a deep dive to figure it all out. I still don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, but I can see the big picture forming. I know it’s going to all come together someday, but it probably won’t be this side of Heaven. I do know all of Heaven is celebrating with me each time my healing goes a little deeper. I also know the enemy is lurking and attacking me each time I get a little closer, because he knows I am that much closer to helping someone else.

I feel compelled to share what I am learning about the subtleties of abuse, and the red flags, I could only see in hindsight. I share my story to make others aware, to break the generational cycles and repetitive abusive relationships, that will only continue if we don’t shed light on them. I will shout it from the mountaintops if I need to- just to be heard. It’s important to speak up and speak out to help other women who might be experiencing some of the abuse I endured and allowed in the name of love.

Not all abuse is as obvious as a black eye. In my case, the abuse came in the form of control and manipulation. The abuser knows all the right things to say- it’s called ‘grooming’ their prey/victim. They learn all too well how to sweep us off our feet and make us think they are in love with us so they can put us in a position to do anything they ask so we won’t be rejected. This type of emotional and mental abuse can ultimately lead to other forms as well including physical or in my case sexual abuse.

Here are a few of the red flags I experienced:

  • Said ‘I love you’ too early in relationship
  • Overly romantic
  • Verbal criticisms (loss of self-esteem, belittlement, shame)
  • Picked out all my clothes
  • Wanted to know everything about my past and then used the info against me
  • Said if I loved him, I would do anything for him
  • Isolation from friends/family

This is not a complete list- if you are interested in learning more about the red flags and read more about my experience – you can request a free copy of my e-book, From Victim to Victor- recognizing the red flags of abuse.

For me, a big key to my healing has been validation. I blamed myself for so long- but it is never the victims’ fault. I hope something I said shined a light on other forms of abuse- awareness and recognition are important to help break the chains.  If you resonate with any of these signs in a past or current relationship, please seek a counselor or other professional for help.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. I Corinthians 13:4-5

Protection

As I was driving to work one morning, focusing on the road in front of me, a car horn blew from somewhere nearby and it startled me. I began to think about all the distractions we have as we go through life every day that keep us from focusing on the path ahead of us.

Our car provides protection to surround us in case someone hits us. The seatbelts are designed to provide extra security if something did happen.  What if we didn’t have these protectors in our life to guard us against the potential harm that could come to us?

I began to think of it like the armor we need to put on every day to protect us from the enemy. God’s armor is our protector from potential disasters. He surrounds us with His protection if we are putting on His armor every day as precaution.

The seatbelt could be the belt of truth – the more we are in His word the more we know His truth and can guard our hearts against the lies of the enemy.

Our body armor is God’s righteousness. For shoes, we are to put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so we are fully prepared. In addition, He says to hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.

He says to put on salvation as our helmet and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God with us every where we go. We are to stay alert, so the distractions of this world don’t get us off course from the path He has set before us. We are to keep our focus on Him and seek the kingdom above all else.

That is the only way we can deter the enemy and deflect his lies.

(Ephesians 6: 14-18, Matthew 6:33)

Faith Floats

Doubt sinks ships, but faith floats and carries us to the other side.

If we let our faith be our guide, there is absolutely nothing to fear.

At a time when I needed to rely on my faith to carry out what God had put on my heart, God pointed me to this scripture.

Hebrews 11:1-40 (V1) Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

There are thirteen verses that begin with “It was by faith….” If I counted right throughout this chapter in Hebrews. the word “faith” is mentioned at least 21 times. I had to read every one of them before I got it. He wanted me to have more faith. To trust Him fully and be obedient without fear, seeking to do His will in all things.

We need to be a tree- unmovable in our faith. Deeply rooted in God’s truth.

If we rely on our faith – He will see us through. We’ve experienced what He has done for us and enjoyed a new life – now we can rest on His promises for an even better life ahead. If we remain faithful- we will receive everything we need.

I sometimes think about the things I entrusted to men in my past. Those are the things I should have feared. Yet I trusted them. I can see now where that got me. The things God asks of me are no comparison. So why should I fear Him? I know the things God is asking are good and lead to righteousness. I just need to have complete faith and trust in a God who changed my life.

Not only do we need knowledge of His truth, understanding of His word, discernment and wisdom but once He gives us all these things, we must put our faith into action.

We need to get off the bench and get in the game.

James 2:26

Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.

Masking the Truth

I can relate to the raccoon on some level. I wore a mask in public for many years. Hiding truths in our lives can be like wearing a mask. We are masking the lies of our secret lives.

Anytime we feel we have to wear a mask in public and we are living in fear of someone seeing the truth about us, it is a huge red flag that we need to change things in our life and face the reality of who we are in private. If that doesn’t match up to who we are in pubic, it’s time for an evaluation.

I’m claustrophobic so the thought of crawling on my belly through a dark cave and running into cobwebs or worse, is suffocating.  But, that is what I did for many years by letting the truth of who I was in that season of life keep me in fear, in the dark, hiding from my truth and afraid to be seen or asked any questions. It was icky, like walking a massive cobweb that you can’t shake off.

I say in season, because at our core, that is not who we are or was meant to be. But sometimes we are in a season of life where we are allowing the world and the enemy to win the battle. We might not know how to fight the battle yet. But God will help us. He is the One person we can’t hide the truth. Even if we are very good at masking it to others, God knows our hearts and everything about us. I learned the hard way how miserable it is to live two lives. We may get away with it on the surface – but we are the ones it truly hurts. Being honest with God and ourselves brings honor and an integrity that leads to ultimate joy and peace.

Once we are free, we can stand up right and walk a straight path unafraid of the truth. That is a freedom beyond words that I am so grateful to receive.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Anticipation

In today’s world we have instant everything. We want it now without waiting for it. Whatever ‘it’ is. But we sometimes must ‘wait’ on God and that isn’t easy, mostly because we aren’t used to waiting on anything else for the most part.

We can’t run ahead of God when we don’t know where we are going or what to do when we get there. Shortcuts just don’t work out as well in this arena. It reminds me of the story in 2 Samuel 18:21-32 when Joab was sending a messenger to let David know about the battle and his son’s death. Ahimaaz wanted to run and kept begging Joab to let him go too. Finally, Joab just told him to go ahead. He took the less demanding route and got to the King before the messenger but he didn’t have the message so he couldn’t tell David anything about the battle or his son– he only saw confusion. The King told him to step aside while he waited for the real messenger.

Allowing God to lead means just that- let Him lead. Sometimes that means waiting to hear from Him or making small steps towards a bigger goal, as we trust in God to show us the next step.

Since ‘wait’ seems like such a harsh word to us I decided to look up another word to use or think of instead. I like the word ‘anticipation’ as it seems more exciting. For me, it puts waiting into perspective. If we can anticipate God’s next move with excitement, we can find joy in the ‘waiting’ if you will. It’s like when we were kids and anticipated our birthday or a surprise gift.

God won’t let us down. He has the best laid plans and gifts.

Let’s look at different versions of this scripture: Psalm 27:14

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. NLT

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God. MSG

So, you see in this illustration another way to look at waiting- as stay with God. If you look at the definition for the word wait you see 1) stay where one is or delay action until a particular time. (Merriam-Webster)

Hopefully, in looking at it in the light of honoring God and His best plan as a gift that will be for us- it will make the waiting season or anticipation easier.