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!
“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back? There are some things time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold.”
Because of my past sexual abuse, I have a few things from my past that the hurts go rather deep. I’ve thought…could they ever really mend?
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 hope in my brokenness is through the Light of Jesus; because through His Light all darkness shall go away.
My pastor also told me that I had been standing–waiting in the dark.
I have ignored the Light for many years. While I had been waiting in the dark, I remembered that there was a light that had been behind the “door of my heart”. I had been longing and hoping for the Light of Jesus to be shed on me.
Come to find out–Jesus’ Light had been there the whole time. I just needed to turn around, truly see Him, and let Him into the dark places of my heart.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ~Psalm 34:18
Looking back, I suppose Jesus allowed the memories of my past abuse to resurface because it needed to be dealt with. Maybe the Lord was reopening these wounds, so that I could truly forgive my self, and others.
For years I felt intense anger, and had tried to ignore my emotions. I was angry at my stepfather for the sexual abuse he had committed. I was angry about the memories that I had been left to deal with. I also felt guilty about being angry.
After studying Psalms, and learning about God’s emotions, I began to learn about my own emotions. It helped to see some examples of how God felt about certain things; therefore, I was better able to understand, and was able to let some anger go as well.
It has been a slow process; but, I have made some progress.
I’m not going to lie, opening wounds, is a lot of my own fault! No one makes me hold onto the past. The last few years I have been searching as to why I have harbored so much pain deep within. I don’t want to pick at my wounds keeping them fresh; but, sometimes I find myself doing just that. While keeping them open, it has caused pain for myself, and others. It’s a vicious cycle that had potential to consume me.
In my desperation to find out answers of why others could not understand me…I began hurting them. I hurt the very ones I cared about. I might verbally be abusive, and this only compounded the feelings of guilt that I already felt. I began to feel that I was not worthy. I felt that I was a mistake, or a disgrace, to all that were around me. Once again the cycle was in place and continuing to gain force.
Sometimes, I couldn’t stand myself for what I had done; thus, on occasion I hurt myself. I felt that if I hurt myself–there would be some restitution for hurting others verbally. However, most did not know that I had sought restitution…within myself.
I began isolating myself. I thought that isolating my self from others–would “save” them from me. In my mind this is how I thought I should “handle” this type of situation. But, in isolating my self, it caused much pain of feeling abandoned…even if I was the cause of my own abandonment.
I have a friend Joey who recently told me that, “the one who abuses is usually the one holding onto their own personal wounds. They never really heal because they keep picking at the scabs, re-opening the hurts of the past and keeping them fresh. Then they lash out at whoever is closest to them, because the ones that originally caused the hurt are usually long gone. The wounding then becomes transferred to another victim. It becomes a vicious cycle unless the abused can short-circuit the circle of pain; thus, the need for a professional counselor to help me. His name is Jesus and I thank Him every day!”
These were some words to mull over. These were strong words of wisdom.
I began to continue picking at my wounds–keeping them fresh and open. I felt few seemed to understand me. I felt others didn’t believe that there was great suffering in my past. I felt I had to defend myself to others so they could understand. I felt since they had not experienced that kind of abuse…that they may feel how that could have happened. I also felt worse when some didn’t want to understand my past at all…to be discarded. I felt they were extremely insensitive. I let these feelings cause great confusion within me.
Now, pondering what my friend said…I realized that Jesus is the best counselor. My pastor and I had also talked about how the Lord had given me His Holy Spirit–to be my counselor/comforter. He had been with me always, even when others were absent. He walks with me right now!
I definitely need to hold onto this truth, even when my way seems very dark. I know that there will be brighter days!
Knowing this I began to feel safe enough to take steps forward toward healing, and understanding Him. I have learned that I could trust, and not all would judge me—no matter my mistakes. I was beginning to understand that I was not a misfit.
I tend to see things in night or day. I am a perfectionist about some things and lack concern about other things. My pastor told me that Jesus was less interested in me being perfect than in me knowing His mercy and grace. The very mercy and grace that covers all of my mistakes.
Through great wisdom of many, I have begun to replace my thoughts of guilt with thoughts of His joy, truth, and grace.
Finally I am beginning to feel that I am loved, valued, and treasured.
I know there have been many prayers for me, some like “Lord, keep Beth from lying to her self. Pray that she will begin to see Your truth—Your Light. Prayers like, “May You be a beacon of Light for her in dark places, when all her other lights go out.”
Right before Jesus died on the cross he said, “Into Your hands, Father, I commit my spirit”.
I need to commit my spirit to Him. I should no longer be powerless or broken from my past guilt. Through Jesus, I have the same power to resurrect myself from my pit of darkness, brokenness, and despair. I should no longer feel guilt over my past.
Physically, on Earth, God could not carry my guilt; but, He told me to release it, let Him carry me, and finally be rid of it.
One of my favorite parts from “The Return of the King”, is when Samwise and Frodo are at the bottom of Mt. Doom. Samwise begins talking to Frodo about the ring and says, “I can’t carry it for you! But I can carry you! Come on!”
The ring had caused open wounds around Frodo’s neck because of the weight of the ring. Frodo needed to get rid of the ring; therefore, Samwise carries Frodo up Mt. Doom. Eventually, Frodo was able to throw the ring into the fires…where it was destroyed.
God is telling me that He will carry me. God would not have brought me to the abuse, and then back to the memories of it, or healing of it, if He could not bring me through it. His eyes are fixed on me. Like the “refiner’s fire”, God begins to purify me of my past guilt, so that I can be made new in His Light.
Praise Him for His great strength, and Light!