The HOPE of EASTER: WHY We Can Take That First Step Toward the Healing of Abuse!

Today we celebrate EASTER!  He is risen! This is why we have hope for change!

These are my thoughts today in a nutshell.  The Trinity of the Godhead…the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit….Three Persons in One….shows us how to be in a healthy relationship with others.  Theirs is a relationship with love and trust at its foundation, at its very core.

The ultimate battle between good and evil took place in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by the reality of the cross.   Jesus Christ faced the temptation to distrust God the Father’s plan, to believe that God the Father was not love, to yield to thinking that the Father was selfish and controlling!

Think of our world today!  What is the core cause of destructive events?   Lack of or broken relationship.  Divided families?  Lack of or broken relationship.    Abuse?  Lack of or broken relationship.   Wars?  Lack of or broken relationship.   The pain of losing someone to death?  Lack of or broken relationship.

How we build up or tear down our relationships will change our world for better or worse!

Jesus’ temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane was to abandon His relationship with God and to yield to what Satan had yielded to…. deciding to fix His own problems and make Himself most important rather than thinking of others and choosing to control rather than trust.   

SELF-centeredness rather than love for others.   CONTROL rather than trust.

If Jesus had given in, we would have no hope of ever knowing what genuine healthy relationship looked like.    Even the Trinity would have suffered the effects of division and divorce!

Jesus proved to us with His actions that God the Father indeed is a God of LOVE and that He can be trusted!!   God never asks for sacrifice unless there is  a much greater good that will result from it!!

Because of Good Friday which culminated in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter morning…we have HOPE!     We can be in relationship with God!!  We can know Christ!   The Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Comforter, who leads us by speaking the Father’s Words to our hearts!   We learn that God is a redemptive God!!   That He brings good out of what would have destroyed us when we choose Him with our whole heart!!

Can I explain it?  No, but the details of life and the Bible fit together!!   The more I learn, the more the puzzle pieces come together and the more the reality of my relationship with God has grown!

I’ve struggled to follow up the previous post on the effects of sexual abuse on adult relationship.   I’d rather avoid a difficult subject.  I’d rather always make people happy!

However, if we want to experience a resurrection in our own hearts, we must plow our way through  our personal Gethsemane until we can come to our own Easter!!    One author said, “Because of Jesus’ foreknowledge (His omniscience), He experienced Gethsemane before the crucifixion.   We have our Gethsemane after our “cross”, i.e. our broken trust, broken heart, or wounded soul!   For us, it requires a longer processing time.

So, because of the Hope of Easter, I’m going to press on!!

Abuse by its very nature feels shameful and depressing!!   We prefer keeping it as a blind spot or pretending it’s not happening or that it didn’t happen!!

Please don’t stop reading, comprehending, internalizing and maybe even grieving with these next few posts.  However, if you start feeling emotional over-reactions at any time, please stop and consider investing in professional counseling or at the least involving another safe, mature, wise, same-sex person to walk with you through the acknowledgement and/or telling of your story!!

Abuse is not the end.    God is a redeeming God!!   He is alive and we can be in a living, loving relationship with Him every moment!!   He will be our friend that sticks closer than a brother.    He knows us, every hidden away “room” in our heart,  and yet He loves us!!   He loves all of us too much to leave us where we are at this moment, whatever our pasts or wounded areas, victim or abuser!!   He wants to heal us! But we must answer as the blind man did when Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do?”   “Lord, that I might receive my sight!!”    Lord, please give us sight that we might see!

As our friend, Jesus will walk every step of the healing journey with us!    No depth of pain or anger that we feel will overwhelm Him or drive Him away.  He will not reject us….ever!!   Jesus has already felt every feeling and temptation we will feel.  (Hebrews 4:15)   He knows the way out….His tracks are ahead of us for us to follow!!   Jesus will never ask us to go where He has not already gone Himself!

I will never forget the moment when I was so overwhelmed with life at 35 yrs old.   I turned to God and said, “What do I do?!!!”    And He simply said, “All you have to do is obey Me one day at a time.”    The big picture was too much for me, but I could obey one day at a time…. !

Over a three to five year span God walked me through a healing process.  The first months involved “feeling my feelings”.  But then God started helping me to listen to Him and to think more rationally!!    I didn’t always obey perfectly.   Sometimes my fears won out…the two steps forward, one step back part of the process, I guess.   But overall, God helped me to obey as I asked!!   He never left me and He never led me wrong!!   God, the Holy Spirit, is trustworthy!!   The Holy Spirit speaks the Father’s thoughts to us even today!!

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.   I will be found by you, says the Lord and I will bring you back from your captivity….”   Jeremiah 29:11-14a   (we can be in emotional captivity too!!) 

I love Ezekiel 37:1-14, which is the story of Judah’s redemption…and our redemption process too!!…Ezekiel’s vision of The Valley Of Dry Bones!

With this post, I want to simply point out the first step Ezekiel took.  Verses 1 and 2:  “The hand of the Lord came upon me ….. and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.   Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry.” (emphasis mine)

Ezekiel faced reality.

The very first step!!  We must start here, but, remember,  this is not the end of our story!!!    This is true whether it’s an abuser’s story or a victim’s story!!!      God has a vision of hope!!   However, genuine healing for every one of us starts with facing reality!!

It is important to tell our story to someone who is safe!    We must face our reality!   Ezekiel’s reality was seeing through the means of a vision that these people of Judah were dead.  So dead that all that was left were dry bones!!

Likewise, we may have some “stony” parts in our hearts!   Some dead areas!   Some feelings or memories we push back or push down!    But if we ignore our reality, other ways of handling the emotional pain start showing up…. ways we use to numb our feelings!

It is said that our mind may forget, but our emotions do not forget!     Denial, co-dependency, depression, drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, eating disorders, unhealthy relationship attachments, etc. …. we are trying to fix ourselves our way, but that will never work!!  We cannot heal ourselves!   We can cooperate with the healing process, but we can’t do the healing!!   That is God’s territory!!!

When we have taken the baby steps, done the work, obeyed….suddenly we are surprised by a measure of healing!!    We know a stony part of our heart has been made flesh again!!!   That process happens over and over again until “we have taken the land!”   (Referring to Exodus 23:30)

So first, we intentionally make ourselves see the reality of our abuse… what happened, and what has been or will be our losses!!!?     We walk toward our pain by talking, reading, listening, learning in our area of hurt!.  We tell our story.

I’m proud of anyone who takes this first step….!!     First steps are always the most difficult! 

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