No Longer Just A Victim

I was victimized by my family as a child physically, emotionally and sexually.  I have gone through many therapy hours seeking wholeness and I have overcome much. But that doesn’t change my history. I know women’s support groups often speak of being “survivors not victims” but that is not quite right. I am a survivor, and I have overcome, but every news story of rape or child abuse, every TV and movie plot on the topic, and every time I look at a parent and young child together, I am reminded that I was abused. I have a thought of grief or feel a flash of sadness or fear, but I am now able to not dwell on these feelings or entertain painful thoughts.  Except for an occasionally tough days the past no longer disrupts my days.  But I am still a person who was victimized, but that is not the only thing that defines me.

There was a time in my life, a long period of time when my victimization seemed to be all that defined me. Now, I am also defined by the kind of person I am, who my friends are, what I have accomplished, my goals, my gifts and my talents. Most of all I am defined by my salvation in Christ.  The very Son of God came to walk among his creation for our good, but he was abused, wounded, murdered by the world that holds together by this word and power. Yet that is not all that happened to Jesus – he rose from the grave and lives in his full glory once again. He can not be overcome by men or principalities. He is not haunted by his suffering but through it offers us comfort and kinship. He will return to reign in glory and power. Yet, no matter how holy his reign in heaven, no matter how glorious his return shall be, it doesn’t erase the suffering of his final days and crucifixion. And that is a good thing.

Because Jesus suffered and died, we have peace with God. We have salvation, we have a great high priest.  He understands our pain and betrayal. He knows the sorrow of being rejected and beaten by those who should love him. Jesus is our comforter through the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is our guide and our strength. While on this earth, I will always be affected by my victimization, but that is not the final word on who I am. Rather than deny my past, I can allow God to use it in my life to reach out to the wounded and broken. You don’t have to remain just a victim, you don’t have to deny that you were a victim, you can find identity in Christ and in your gifts and skills, in who you are as a person. You can move forward in you life.  How? by letting the one who was wounded and crucified lead you to walk beyond your suffering and touch the world with His loving kindness and grace.

Dare to be no longer just a victim!


Have You Ever Had Days Like This?

Human Being
Is anyone listening LORD?
Does anybody even hear me?
For so long I was invisible to the world
Trapped within myself
Forced by my life behind sound-proof walls
Trying so hard to be heard
Through my behavior, my poetry, my silence
But no one ever heard me screaming for help
Desperate – Afraid – LONELY
Feeling both helpless and hopeless LORD
Until you eventually sent one person who truly saw me
And when our short journey ended
You sent another and then others to help me find
Those lost parts of my-self.
To help me be visible and have a voice again
So why do some still treat me like I am not there?
Is my visibility just a dream?
Or am I so ugly from my scars they choose to avert their eyes?
Why don’t they even seem to hear my voice GOD?
Am I not worthy of their attention?
Has nothing actually changed Lord?
Am I fooling myself with an illusion of value?
Can’t I simply matter just because
I am a human being?

Taylor Shepherd

Broken People on the Outside Looking Into the Sanctuary of the Church

Imagine feeling painfully alone and wanting desperately to feel connected to other human beings, yet feeling like you are looking through what seems like an invisible force field.  This is how many abuse and assault survivors feel. Their soul so deeply wounded they feel extremely fearful and fragile. Their emotional and spiritual wounds make them seem difficult to deal with which often puts off members of a church body whose lives are so full and busy they have no time for coaxing the hurting from behind the assumed “silliness” and “attention seeking” of the person’s unusual behavior. This impatience and quick dismissal, or worse accusations of laziness or demonic influence by members of Christ’s body often  magnifies the isolation felt. I remember those feelings well.

I still remember every ignorant and cruel remark flung my way by Christians who lacked compassion for the wounded and sick, for those whose behavior doesn’t fit neatly in their box of acceptable, low maintenance behavior.  I  still feel the tightness in my chest that causes me to lose my breath as I would watch the fellowship and “passing of peace” in the opening minutes of the service. I feel the deep cut to my spirit as church members greet each other with handshakes, hugs, and hearty “glad to see you” remarks, all the while passing me by even avoiding eye contact.

How Christ must weep at every lonely, hurting heart seeking the fellowship of His body and finding none. Worshiping God and the teaching of His Word is the backbone of the church but loving those the world calls “un-loveable”, befriending the lonely, caring for bruised reeds and fanning into flame the flickering flames is certainly the flesh of the Church. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you…And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? (Luke 6:32-33). The passage goes on to say that we are to love and do good expecting nothing in return, imitating the Most High God, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil, therefore be merciful as your Father is merciful. (see Luke 6:35-36).

I am so thankful for those in my church who patiently and lovingly brought me into their lives and circle of fellowship. To some I am still invisible, there I also must show grace, for we are all under the grace of Christ.  He is continuing to work in my life and the life of His bride, the Church. The fellowship of Christ’s body can be such a place of healing and support if they are willing to be so for more than only neatly wrapped individuals.

Be challenged by the love of Christ to offer fellowship to the new, the barely familiar and the struggling in your church. Be used by God to help end someone’s “on the outside looking in” feelings. Change lives of those desperately hungry by inviting them to the wedding feast of God’s love through the fellowship of the Church, for every believer is an equal part as the bride of Christ.

Rest in Him When Trials Overwhelm You

Author M. Scott Peck opened his book, The Road Less Traveled with the words, “Life is hard.”  Anyone who has lived in this world for some time knows how true those words are. We suffer many forms of pain: loss, heartache, accidents and violence. We work hard to have a home, feed our families, enjoy a bit of fun. That is part of living life. Some have a much more difficult road that others, but we all struggle. During these times we pray to God, “Please take this pain or trial away.”  But – what if He chooses not to take it from us. How do we hold on when our suffering seems great and overwhelming, when we are asked to believe God does have a good purpose although we may not see it now, perhaps we will never see it until we see Him face to face. Are we still willing to trust Him? What if our spirit is willing but our flesh and heart seem weak, what do we do?

We encourage our spirit by reminding ourselves of the Father’s love and goodness. We take refuge in Him. We remind ourselves that we don’t need to try to hold onto God for we can trust that He will hold onto us, for “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Rom 3:35-39)  We need not fret nor worry, nor try to build up credit for good deeds. When we accept Christ as our God and Savior, the Father accepts us just as we are, forever we are His.

So do not worry: God cares for the sparrows, He will care for us “and we KNOW that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to HIS PURPOSE.” (Rom 8:28, emphasis mine). Trust God. Rest in the fact that whether you live or die, whether evil assails you or life breaks your heart, God is in control and He will not let you be lost. He holds onto you even when you have no strength to hold onto him.

Are you afraid you lack faith? Do not be afraid for Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2).

Christ suffered, He knows our pain and weariness and He holds us. Listen to His voice. Find encouragement in Him. Rest in the assurance God is with you and no one can snatch you from His hand.(John 10:27-30).

From Victim to Victor

Victim and Victory start out the same

Its how they end that makes the Difference.

You can not have a victory unless you have overcome a difficulty. Victories are viewed under many labels. Win a prize, a sporting event, a promotion, or overcome a serious illness. But the victory I speak of here is surviving and overcoming the pain of issues like: incest, childhood abuse, and rape.  The goal is to go from “victim” or “Survivor.” But how do we survive such attacks on our body and soul to begin with? How do we come to a point of letting go of the trauma and finding peace?

First we come to understand that we have physically survived because God stood with us. In the midst of our pain and torment Christ was/is with us, speaking the word “live” into our soul. He is with us through every tear, and violation and nightmare. Despite popular beliefs, Jesus did not die on a cross to make our life rosy and trouble free. Jesus died because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Our world is filled with evil. Men chose to place themselves in the place of God. They chose to make their own way, to be the masters of their own fates. And the world filled with darkness and every form of evil: murder, wars, violence in many forms, including sexual abuse of children, incest in families, and physical, emotional and spiritual abuse.

Those who believe in Jesus Christ as God and Savior have restored fellowship with God and the promise of eternity spent in the presence of God where there will be no pain, no tears of sorrow, no weakness. But as long as we are part of this world we will still suffer the consequences of evil men and women. So how do we get through it? The grace and presence of God.

Jesus stands beside us as we suffer. He knows our pain. He suffered, and He won the victory over death for us. It is His voice which softly speaks to our souls, “don’t give up”, “don’t die”, “you can do this”. During the pain of our abuse, during the pain of healing memories, Christ is our strength. He is our consolation. He knows our pain. He reminds us that while it may seem to last forever in our eyes, it is really only temporary. He gives us the hope of heaven. He gives us victory over traumas, pain, sorrows and even death. He gives us peace and hope to carry on, that we may in turn be his voice to others who are struggling in the aftermath of evil.