I have been recuperating from some unexpected surgery while visiting another country. I haven’t really been up to thinking much…just sleeping. But during one of my waking moments, I began to reminiscence about J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series that I have read over the last few years. Though fictional, the Harry Potter series has touched me in many different ways. I enjoyed going to see the last movie with my family. I chuckled when my oldest growing up with the Harry Potter series said that her childhood was officially over…I chuckled because I thought the same thing about myself…hahahahaha!
Thinking, it occurred to me about how verbal abuse can overwhelm my mind with lies.
I began thinking about how Voldemort and Harry shared many series of thoughts; very little were good, and most were bad. I thought about how Voldemort desperately wanted Harry to think that he was evil and responsible for much of other’s pain. Voldemort tried to fill Harry’s mind with horrible thoughts and lies. Some of those lies took control of Harry’s mind… at times filling him with great despair.
Then I remembered how Dumbledore asked Snape to train Harry in the magical art of “occlumency”. This was an effort to keep Harry’s mind from being penetrated and influenced by the dark lord (our Satan).
Although occlumency is fictional in the series, it has some useful parallel points to the way I should change my way of thinking.
“Occlumency is the act of magically closing one’s mind against Legilimency. Legilimency is the act of magically navigating through a person’s mind and ‘twisting’ one’s findings to make them feel shameful.”
~ Severus Snape said to Harry Potter (on the difficulty of learning Occlumency): “I told you to empty yourself of emotion! … Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked this easily — weak people, in other words — they stand no chance against his [satan] powers! He will penetrate your mind with absurd ease, Potter!“
Now with the above vision in my mind, and since I have seen the movies and read the books, I can begin to understand how verbal abuse has the potential to harm me. I know that many times I think I can deal with these sorts of intrusions on my mind and emotions. I think to myself…I’m older. I’m not a kid. I know the difference between truths and lies; BUT…unfortunately, I don’t believe I truly have the power to deal with such abuse alone.
The reason why I know I can’t do this alone is, like Harry, I depend on “love” to carry me. The problem is the love I expect to carry me is my own or sometimes “false” love from others, rather than His abounding love. My kind of love is not what will “fix” the situation. Only His love that is able to fully cover me–will be the kind of love that will be able to truly carry me.
Because I’ve been verbally abused in the past, and hurtful untruths have been told to me, I have often believed what had been said to me…or the person I should become. I absorbed the lies! They seemed to be have said in a most forceful way, and they were retained in my memory…as if they settled deep within my mind…crossing over many layers of my memories. The lies eventually overwhelm my truthful memories and have left me with a memory of guilt and shame that has filled me with the feeling of being a disgrace.
This is an example of how I have let verbal abuse damage my soul.
So what happens if my memories are filled with lies; with vicious destructive untruths that demeans me? Sometimes I think…I know that these lies are not true; but, other times I obsess over the lies and begin to believe them. The lies literally make me sick!
I love what my counselor, Clifton Fuller says, “If someone says your stupid…your IQ does not go down; unfortunately, if they say you are smart…your IQ does not go up either”.
Indeed I know many things spoken to me are lies. Even knowing some are lies, they still bother me. My memory, in context to the way I think, provides me with the only perspective I have of myself and how I deal with the outside world. I also tend to connect those lies to my spirit within.
When I think about myself, my thought processes automatically refers to my memory. My memory may become filled with the concept that I am a guilty, shameful person who is a disgrace to others…no matter how untrue it may be. It won’t matter–because that is what is left behind in the layers of my mind. My thoughts have become distorted, and my conclusions about myself reflect the negative, ugly lies embedded in my mind. No matter how much I try to deny the lies, they become a part of how I see and think about myself. My thoughts are no longer realistic.
There becomes a point where it’s almost impossible for me to think about myself without bringing the lies within my memory to the surface. In essence, I believe that I am those things. I tend to act upon those lies; which may bring some of them true…which makes the damage even worse…which causes a vicious cycle!
I feel my spirit has become violated. My spirit (or feeling of strong emotion) stems from within. I want to be good, and deserving of His grace. It is a feeling of fulfillment, and my life calling to be worthy of His grace. When my spirit finds itself immersed in a negative view of myself; then, I become that guilty shameful person full of disgrace.
The lies are like darts penetrating my thin skin taking root deep in my soul. The roots take form as depression. I literally let the verbal abuse make me sick!
Yes, I’m a sinner. I deserve to be corrected, and I must be taught that I can’t control everything…especially the way I think I should control things. I should not be so co-dependent on others; but, I do think that there are a few that could be confidants. The problem is that I need to be able to discern what others say…to be able to learn and to discern between the lies and truths.
There have been a few that have tried to convince me that I’m a disgrace…that I’m not worthy of His grace. There have also been those that have tried to convince me not to believe the lies I have been told so many times over the years.
The One who has consistently been by my side…is the One I should listen to always. Jesus is for the brokenhearted, and He would never feed me lies. Jesus, Himself, knows how lies can hurt. In fact, my lies pinned Him on the cross.
Despite who I am, or who I may want to become…I must not believe the lies! My counselor has really helped me to envision myself putting on the full armor of God.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” ~Ephesians 6:10-16
Harry was successful at extinguishing the flaming darts of the evil one. I, with Jesus‘ help, can also extinguish the flaming darts. I definitely need lots of practice, and to stay focused. Thank goodness for His words that tell me how to equip myself for battle.
Praise Him for His love and mercy!
Over the years, I tried to mend my wounded heart by myself; unfortunately, I did not seek help in the most appropriate way. I have learned that I can’t be, nor anyone else can be my savior; thus, often resulting in feeling rejected which created a low self-esteem…leading to despair…because in my mind, I could not be fixed or saved. Therefore, I must come to the conclusion (on my own & my own time) that no one can “fix” me; except, for Jesus.
My Pastor, Tom Gibbs, once told me that I must learn to let Jesus love me, and I must love Him in return. If I don’t do this…it will be impossible for Him to pull my weeds and replace them with flowers. I have really come far despite my abuse and lack of knowing a lot about the Good News; but, I can cultivate a bigger garden if I let Him help me, and others are willing to continue to mentor me.
I will say that learning to relate to God as a new creation is a difficult concept for me. I want to attempt to hide my very being from Him. I am ashamed of my past. I feel guilty. I don’t feel safe. The safety issue brings several things to my mind…how could He let all this abuse happen (past and present)? What kind of sick dad sends His only Son to be killed? That is no way to protect, or make someone feel safe. Because of my past…these thoughts have crept up in the back of my mind. How can I feel safe knowing that He will take care of me…when these things have happened?
The Biblical truth is that I can feel safe with Him. I am safe to succeed or fail. I also understood that there is truth to making individuals feel safe in church, or community. Through communities the restoration for my brokenness can take place. For people like me, I may think that others do not have problems that they have it all together because of the hiddenness within our community. Often times the ones that are struggling–try to become more hidden, or withdraw, from the community because of fear that their secrets might be “found out”. I finally understand that. First, I was told to tell my secrets, and now…don’t tell them except to one who claims he can’t help. So what is the point? I am so confused! Telling my secrets only brought more pain with no outlet to deal with them.
Unfortunately, telling past secrets doesn’t get rid of the pain …it actually just opens the door (which is not understood by most) to help begin the process of healing. When left undone, it causes much more pain and anxiety. So what’s wrong with learning the process of helping others? That is what I want to learn how to do, so that I can use this brokenness as a gift to help others. Unfortunately, I have been discarded as “too needy” and not worthwhile to nurture to bring out such a gift.
There are lots of beautiful broken Christians that are at battle with a real war inside of them. I know that I did not originally want to reveal my past with a select few for fear of rejection, and not feeling safe enough to be forgiven when my sins of my past were exposed. I almost felt that because I screwed up with trusting some that the lesson I learned is not to confess my sinful past, or abuse, because now I no longer feel safe. I keep telling myself that it would have been best to have kept things hidden; although, hiding would not have changed any of the abuse, then or now.
I feel this safety issue is a very sensitive topic. Is there a question that some may take advantage of this thing called grace? Should one be walked through the healing process of confessing, being forgiven, and eventually being restored? Could there be a difference between immaturity (lack of understanding Him) and someone’s sinful nature of worshiping idols? Or is it a combination? Should they be forgiven or just discounted as a failure to abide by certain rules or time frames?
Being safe doesn’t always mean to feel safe to fail. It can also mean to feel safe to succeed. I want to be encouraged to be the Bride of Christ, to be His Beloved, to be that Oak of Righteousness like I have heard in some sermons. There is a difference between righteousness and holiness. If I understand correctly, we become righteous when we accept Jesus into our heart as our Savior because of His death on the cross. Grace enables us to pursue holiness, once we are made righteous, by seeking His Godly character & applying it to our lives.
I must tell you that most individuals who have been abused have a hard time trusting anyone, especially Christians. There are some who would be quick to judge the abused without knowing the whole story…my story (or anybody else’s story for that matter). That was why a support system was needed to be in place, to help me learn to trust. Yes, I know I have a hard time breaking away from dependency of others; but think about it…I have had to depend on myself for years (since I was a child), and look where that has gotten me.
Why can’t some dependency be considered for wanting to truly understand His love? The support system should be built out of love & compassion; not out of pity for the abused to be labeled as a project to be worked on. Especially, if the project goes awry it could cause the building of the structure to be idled. A safe and stable place should be built for the broken and for them not to worry about performance expectations…or trying to be healed sooner because of someone else’s time frame.
Remember, the abused person is trying to heal, and for this reason one should step back & say it is not about me…it is about the child of God who carries this pain. No one really wants to be sick! I never wanted this pain of abuse, or the memories of it that often triggers horrible feelings within my soul. Far from it! I never desired to be taken advantage by a perverted man who was supposed to love and protect me…be my trusted parent.
I needed to get to a place where I could trust God and feel safe–because of what had been done to me in the past, and even what is happening now. I also needed to trust God with what I had done. People who have been abused have lost their identity, and often need to be validated by those who believe in them. It’s important to talk these things out, in my case the abuse, to be able to remove my wrong perception of the present and what might happen in the future. Yes, specialized counselors (such as mine…Clifton Fuller) are great for this; but, humor me to read on.
Abused victims, or survivors, don’t necessarily know who they are. Over the years I took on different identities as a form of protection. Many worked for me as a child; but now it is a problem as an adult. Sometimes there are those who can & will victimize the abused. They will plague them with chores, verbally abusive words, until they are completely sleep deprived from over exhaustion and utterly worn out. This allows the victim to become more easily moldable into a certain state of mind by the abuser. Does that make sense? This is when the victim “freezes up” during certain situations, and does not respond or handle the current situation with finesse. I know this tactic all too much. I have continued to live in this state of confusion for most of my life.
In searching for my true identity (in the image of God), I needed to know that I was of equal value as any other human. My brokenness may come across as being “too needy” or “desperate” for some; but in actuality, I needed to understand my value as a person–which I don’t always see in myself. For this reason as well, I feel that God might use me in other’s lives to learn how to build meaningful relationships with certain kinds of broken people like me.
In essence, my survival thus far, should be a blessing to others, and build confidence that His Kingdom can be furthered by understanding the certain kind of brokenness found within me. Those survival strategies that I learned as a child could be used as gifts to help reach others. By recognizing their strategies, or walls they built up, I might be able to be help some of them; unfortunately, I am still unlocking some of those gifts to be able to be helpful. It would be easier to unlock those gifts with encouragement.
In losing my identity, I also lost the true identity and nature of God. In a sense, I am a child (a new creation), and I need to start over with the faith process. I may need to have the basics of faith told to me more than once. I will need to have Grace explained in depth. I will need to understand God’s characteristics on an intimate level. Truth is that because of my abuse, even though others may find it hard to believe, I can trust that I am in a safe place and I will not be rejected for my past, or sins.
We are all unique, and each one brings a different gift to the table. In fact, I want to be a blessing to the community as well, and not be treated like a project. I don’t want others to feel they have to help me because God would want them to help me; but, to help me because they have a real compassion to help me for who I am…and not knowing of what or who I could become in His Kingdom later.
I need to stop hiding behind my mask and become a beautiful kind of broken.
“I shall heal your broken heart with My words of love. My truth shall prevail over all your trials and tribulations. I see your fears and sorrows; your struggles, your pain and suffering, and I shall not abandon you in your hour of need. My mighty right hand is already stretched out to heal and give peace and abundant life. I am at work. I am Jehovah – I AM THAT I AM.”