There’s a verse in Proverbs that says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son,but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” This text was originally written in Hebrew. There have been many different translations, and much interpretation; but, in this case discipline was meant to teach or guide, and it was not supposed to be used as a punishment.
I was often “disciplined” by my step father; but, looking back…it was definitely a punishment and not really a “teaching” moment. His way of disciplining varied from speaking harsh words that I was worthless, to physically hitting me, and he often sexually degraded me. I never really knew which form of discipline I would be receiving; therefore, I was constantly on edge.
The anxiety that I experienced as a child was often due to the fear of punishment. My thoughts would be when would my step father come again? What have I done to deserve this? Will I ever be good enough to warrant praise? I thought I must be very bad to be so punished. I would often feel guilty for upsetting him enough to do such things. I would associate feelings of guilt with being punished. Even today, I may apologize for something that I did not do (although I do lots of things that need apologizing for).
Child sexual abuse is the use of sexual behavior in a way to control the behaviors, or actions, of a child. Sexual abuse acted upon a child can have lasting effects that can carry through to adulthood. One of the main reasons is that the victim keeps the abuse quiet, and does not tell anyone. In a child’s mind, if there are no witnesses…who is going to believe them?
Sexual abuse can be quite confusing to a child especially when the one who is doing the abusing is supposed to be doing the loving and protecting. It’s a harsh reality and confusing when this takes place.
Looking back, I would say that no one really knew I was being abused. I had bruises, and when others asked me about them…I would just say that I got them playing sports…or I fell down. I feared being found out which could lead to more potential pain.
My step father had ways to keep me quiet. He told me I was worthless, that I was tainted, and that no one would want me. This caused a great fear of abandonment within me that I still have trouble with today–when I get depressed. Many feelings have remained with me stuck in the back of my mind. It is a sick situation–fearing that no one will want me, like me, or that I will have a spouse to take care of me. It’s a horrible feeling!
My step father said he would beat me up if I told anyone, and since he already hit me…I did not tell anyone. I seriously did not give out the gory details until my pastor and his wife recommended a book called “The Wounded Heart” by Dan Allender.
It has been three years this month (October) since I began that life changing journey. I was afraid, even as old as I was, to tell my heinous secrets from my past. I was living in darkness hoping no one would find out. The problem was that my secret was beginning to take root inside of me and weeds were beginning to grow. I was letting the darkness consume me. The lies I had heard for most of my life were turning me into a sad, broken girl.
I know I have mentioned this before; but my pastor, Tom Gibbs, once told me that, “By giving into the fear of darkness, it will only compound the pain and evil of what has already happened. By you keeping things hidden it will gain power over you. Remember, that God is Light and there is no darkness in Him.”
The Urban Dictionary has two definitions for a broken girl. A broken girl (lower case) is a girl that has tattoos that show or unconventional piercings. The bigger, or more of them, the more broken she is. A Broken Girl (capital letters) is a term the redwings use to describe a girl who… is not reputable to tell any of your friends about at all and no one would want to know about.
To me, I felt as if I was the broken girl defined. I had been told I was worthless. I felt as if I were a disgrace. I felt misunderstood. There are days I still feel like this…of course from my own doing. On occasion I have a little help from others; but, for the most part…it’s just the lies of my past.
Matthew West has an amazing album out. He took stories from other people’s lives and he wrote songs about them. His album, and tour, is called “Story of Your Life”. He did a great job writing theses songs about various experiences, and tied them to how God loves us. Some stories were of praises, and some not. There is one particular song that he wrote about a broken girl, and it was very real to me. The good news is that he talks about the Good News. Matthew talks about how God is Love… figuratively and literally in this song. He says that Love sees us differently. Love sees beauty, and He can’t be taken away from the broken girl. Matthew’s words struck a chord with me, and here are part of the lyrics of a “Broken Girl”:
Look what he’s done to you
It isn’t fair
Your light was bright and new
But he didn’t care
He took the heart of a little girl
And made it grow up too fast
Now words like “innocence”
Don’t mean a thing
You hear the music play
But you can’t sing
Those pictures in your mind
Keep you locked up inside your past
This is a song for the broken girl
The one pushed aside by the cold, cold world
Hear me when I say
You’re not the worthless they made you feel
There is a Love they can never steal away
And you don’t have to stay the broken girl
Those damaged goods you see
In your reflection
Love sees them differently
Love sees perfection
A beautiful display
Of healing on the way tonight
Like Matthew, I want to reiterate that God is Love. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:7
God loves those who are crushed in spirit. One of my homework assignments when I first met with the Gibbs’ at their home, was to find verses where it said that God loved me. I found out that I was His Beloved. I learned lots of things that I had never known. No one had really taken an interest in me spiritually since I was 16…this was 30 years later. A lot had happened over those years. A heart became hardened. Roots of bitterness were taking over.
I had to make some changes, and quick. Tom also 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 God help me.
I will say that I did question God, in the beginning of my journey, why I had to be naked and exposed? No child should have to experience this kind of pain alone. God revealed to me that I was not alone. He was with me. Christ suffered with me, and for me. The difference when Christ suffered for me was that I was in the crowd. I was the one of the ones who shamed Christ. I pinned him down with my sins. I was the one who caused His suffering and the exposing of His naked body. Jesus took my shame. He did it all for me. The truth is that Christ suffered for me, He showed me grace, and now he gives me hope.
I am more than a broken girl. I’ve survived. I have lived through things I never would thought I was capable of, and it was all because of Christ. His Love has helped me to discover that I’m worth fighting for, and He has given me strength to survive. Christ is healing me, pulling my weeds out to make a beautiful garden. I am a child of God. I’m not who I used to be.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~ Psalm 147:3
I have been thinking, and trying to pinpoint, on how to express myself on the particular topic of strength. Some kinds of strength are good. After all, it is a reflection of God Himself, and He said this is a good thing. But, I think some strength, if misused, can be hurtful. It does not have to necessarily have to be physical strength (like tackling someone to the ground); it can be as little as a look of disapproval.
Certain strengths have the potential to become an intimidating misuse of power over another person. I think it is important to know, that if gone unnoticed, strength could get out of hand and end up hurting others (like a form of bullying). My disclaimer is that I have taken part, and we probably all have taken part in a misuse of power some time or another. I myself can be rather dominating and/or manipulating. It is a control thing. It’s the power within me thinking that I can fix things on my own…instead of truly turning things over to God. I have finally realized that can become a misuse of power that I frequent.
I think that it is God’s desire for us to use our positive strength to lead our families; like the Sanctus Real song says, “To stand up for them when they can’t”. To be a wall…a somewhat pillar of strength. God’s own characteristics include strength & tenderness; respect & forgiveness through His grace & mercy. Only God can be the true judge of our life.
If we are truly made in God’s image, then we must have a desire to gain those characteristics—to be strong and loving.
There is nothing wrong with being physically strong, if one acts in an appropriate manner. I guess I am trying to say that maybe a better strength to “workout” for–would be the strength that comes from the heart. Reading the Bible, worshiping, taking part in a community are all great ways to strengthen your heart.
Strength looks different for different people. It could be a silent strength, verbal strength, strong- heroic type strength, being protective and gentle for the abused, or even having the strength to be humble.
In Genesis, we find out that Eve was very manipulative. Granted, she probably could not have wrestled Adam into eating the apple; instead, she used her verbal strength and tempted him in this way. Although, Adam had been informed of this particular tree prior to Eve being created; he chose to remain silent, or passive. Adam could have spoken up and said something to warn Eve about not eating from this tree. Eve obviously did not understand the importance of not eating the apple from the tree. She insisted, to Adam, that the serpent was telling the truth…so they ate from the tree, and we know the rest of the story.
Eve using her verbal strength to tempt Adam led to his passiveness…which led to other problems; for instance, violence followed once they began procreating. This violence started between brothers and definitely became a misuse of power and strength. I believe many have seen this kind of power misused at some point in their life. This type of strength does not discriminate!
I also believe that we have the capability to misuse our own strength of power at times. We are all sinners! An extreme misuse of this strong power can be destructive for all involved.
So why do people misuse their power?
Maybe their “good” strength was ignored, or shamed, by someone. Maybe their insecurities lead to their downfall. Maybe wanting the other person to change encouraged manipulation of others…which is a misuse of power.
I am guilty of this sin. My idol of controlling outcomes of others is one of my gross misuses of power.
God was proud of Jesus. He claimed Him as His son, and said He loved Him. Affirmation is really important! Although men and women like different kinds of affirmation, that does not mean to ignore each other because of the differences. We all feel that we don’t measure up. We are all insecure at one time or another—made vulnerable. For some, the vulnerability might come from past abuse; belittling could be happening presently. Finally, some are scared of what the future has in store for them. Will I be made fun of because of my lack of _?_ (fill in your own blank).
Abuse is a type of strength that is blatantly misused. It comes in many forms. It could be words spoken, or not. It could mean being aggressive physically, or passive emotionally (not being protected). It could be getting fired for something that one did not do—maybe simply because you’re too old. It can also come as sexual abuse. This type of abuse can have many levels of abuse: from harsh words spoken to the extreme of being beaten, or even worse things that I don’t really care to mention.
Sometimes rather than being a strong leader, we give in to our fears and insecurities. Sometimes, we are just plain jealous of other’s strengths. I know this all too well. Sometimes, I am more concerned about what people think of me, rather than worrying about how I am alienating God. I also get caught up in wanting something that I really don’t need and may want to coerce someone out of it…or want them to give it to me. It doesn’t have to be a material object; it could be as much as wanting protection, love, and respect.
When a person lashes out physically, or verbally, they feel as if they have some kind of strength (or power); but, in essence, it is not genuine strength. It is hurtful, and it might be considered bullying. Again, this could stem from their own insecurity or weakness.
This is not always true; but, some may have a deep rooted insecurity that they may not even be aware of within themselves. I will say nothing really justifies bullying, or being manipulative of others. It is very hurtful to those that are on the receiving side.
Loving accountability must take place to help achieve the goal of healing from misused strength. This can be done through community; such as with a church, some peers, or a strong group of friends. Loving accountability must also take place to help one not to misuse their “weak” strength. Both types of accountability need love and encouragement.
I will say that pointing out the misuse of power of another will usually not help. Often times, it will make things worse. Learning to love boldly would be most helpful in this situation. Dan Allender uses an example of telling a story/example so that another may see their misuse in character. It’s like a mirror; thus, one could see the reflection of their action. This may allow them to see how they are truly behaving.
The act of “loving boldly” does not always work. One may have a change of the symptom, but not of the heart. To love someone boldly takes some practice. For one thing, the mirror would have to be turned one self first before reflecting the mirror on the other person.
Good strength, or power, can lead to good things. Just look what Christ did for us so that we could live. It took great strength, courage, and forgiveness to be able to do what He did. I could never really fathom what He did at all. It was the greatest heroic act that has ever taken place.
Knowing that there is freedom in Christ, the heart will need to go under a complete restoration. One might begin with being less self-centered. I struggle with this quite often as well with many other idols. I may think that it is all about me. How I am feeling? I may not always take into consideration how the other person may be feeling, or what pain I may be causing to them.
One thing that needs to take place for restoration to occur may be admitting that a change needs to take place…especially in one’s heart. If you can’t admit your weaknesses, it will be almost impossible for restoration to take place. Blaming others will not make a change in the heart.
Now some may say that the other is too sensitive. Of course there may be times when one can be too sensitive. If others continually make others feel that they are too sensitive; then, it’s possible that the weakness of the one pointing out may hurt others.
Now a misuse of power can take place within one self. One can blame them self or have a self loathing of self due to guilt and shame. All of this can lead up to the misuse of power within one self, and will usually get worse.
There will be times that one may tell their self that another person may be the problem, and that the other person needs to get the help. This could be an excuse which seems to cover the true problem…maybe the problem is within them. Literally, the misuse of power can’t be seen by the person abusing it.
Surrendering and/or confessing your misused strength to Christ is essential. It is important to acknowledge what you have done to hurt others, and it is important to ask God for forgiveness; but, it must be sincere.
When talking with another be genuine, and give many details. This allows the other person to know that one is truly sorry. Being humble is good when it’s sincere.
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Luke).
Let God love and forgive those that misused strength. His grace and mercy should be all consuming. One must accept the fact that God can use a restored heart to further His Kingdom, despite one’s weaknesses–past or present or even future.
Again, responsibility and accountability should take place. This is one of the first steps to restoration of misused strength. It is not just enough to say sorry; but, to truly understand why. To tell the other that one is sorry, and act upon it, is a great strength. Those that take responsibility will take their consequence and learn from it to become a restored person.
Now understand that restoration may not always occur; but, when one realizes their sinful nature, the process can begin to take place. One must learn to put off “your old self” so that one can “put on the new self. To know that we are created to be like God”. (Ephesians)
God wants to bring true healing; but, it can’t happen without humility. If one continues down the wrong path they might become self-destructive, or may be the root of someone else becoming self-destructive. Being humble does not mean to let others run all over them; but, to just stop misusing the strength that God has given.
One must become totally broken and surrender to Him. God is for the brokenhearted and He will make the heart new. We are sufficient in His grace, and He finds strengths in our weaknesses; thus, we will be given strength to carry on. The kind of strength to carry on restoration due to grace, love, and humility.
“…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31
We will have the strength to carry on…with the Son, and through the Son. Power will be given to the weak, and make us strong!
I definitely seem to be in a battle of Spiritual warfare. It seems Satan is always trying to make me feel worthless; therefore, it’s important for me to surround myself with a “friend that loveth at all times.” Knowing that, I am far from being a good friend; I can definitely get wrapped up in “my own little world”.
I was thinking about this on a bit deeper level. There are people in my life who are more like acquaintances. They have really not touched the inner core of my personal being, and I seem to be able to carry on a nice casual conversation. I thought this funny that I could meet a stranger, whom I will never see again, and greet them with a certain nicety.
On the flip side, there are a few that I regard as trusted confidants; those that seem to “loveth me at all times”…even during my bad times. I am sure I catch them off guard with my “irrational” emotions. I can only imagine being my friend can be rather taxing at times. I definitely have a funny way of showing loving kindness on certain occasions. In the midst of trying to understand, or confront, my own emotions–I seemingly confront them emotionally & not always rationally.
One moment I can be positively nice, and in the next moment, I can confront them with some insidious remark. I will say this is not a normal practice of mine. Yes, I may say something totally ludicrous; but, not always hurtful. I make no excuses for this behavior when it occurs. I must be sincere in asking for forgiveness when this happens.
…Switching gears with my ADD thinking…
God tries to confront me with His goodness. Sometimes I consider Him to be “interrupting me”, and not think Him to be very important. I am not always thankful for His “interruption” in my life. Like my unwanted emotions on others, it “seems” as though God confronts me at unpredictable times.
On the other hand there seems to be times that I am encountering loneliness, heartache, and pain. During these instances in my life, it “seems” to me that God is not “interrupting” me at all. In fact, I feel as if He is ignoring me.
I have to realize that it’s not because God wants me to “suffer”; but, that He wants me to know that He has an “unimaginable” pleasure–for me. His grace and mercy covers me in these dark times. His arms are wrapped around me. I just have to keep that in mind, and not think that He is trying to “trick me”.
Satan tricks. GOD DOES NOT!
I am reminded of a quote that Westly tells Princess Buttercup in “The Princess Bride”,
“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
Again, God really does love me! He is not trying to “sell” me something. He loves me unconditionally! In return, God desires for me to come to Him, and tell Him I love Him. He is filled with great joy and happiness when I do so. He is not out to “trick” me.
My husband, Sam, had me listen to a message by Jamie Lash one afternoon. It reminded me of how I sometimes think God is “interrupting” my day. That His will for me may be “interrupting” what I desire for myself.
After listening to one of Jamie’s messages, a lady stayed behind to ask him a question. She was obviously, like many, afraid to abandon herself to God’s will. She asked Jamie, “What might God want me to do with my life?” She was worried that He might want her to do something that she really did not want to do…or that was not her will for herself.
Jamie went on to ask her, “What if your child was to come up to you, and say that he/she really loved you with all of her/his heart. Would you, in turn, laugh an insidious laugh and say, ‘I got you now! From now on you will clean the toilet every day! I finally tricked you!”
The lady was offended and said, “What kind of mom do you think I am?”
Jamie’s response was, “What kind of Father do you think God is?”
WOW! Through my brokenness, God reveals His goodness to me…even when I think He is “interrupting” my will. This is great news!! “No matter what my experiences have been with my “earthly” parents, or as parents to our children, we are to give voice to the cry within us for the Father who nourishes us and protects us.” (Dan Allender, “The Cry of the Soul”)
I think it very ironic that my experiences of pain, fear, anger, & shame (of the world I live in) actually bring me closer to the joys and mercies of God. This is the way He intended for me to really live. God delights in me! He desires me to “dance with Him wildly”. He goes to great lengths to keep me from pursuing others before Him. He wants me to desire Him as if there were no other lover. I need to remember how intimate He is…with me. I am His bride like no other.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith,
who for joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame…”
~ Hebrews 12:2
Christ is not trying to “sell” me something, or even “trick” me. Above all things, Christ bared my shame, so I could live in joy! The least I could do is praise Him with adoration, and not confront Him with irrational emotions.
After all, He was nailed on the cross and He did not laugh an insidious laugh. Instead He said to me,