Have you been in a bad relationship?
I, like many women (and some men) I’ve known, have experienced trauma from being abused. Whether it was physical, psychological and/or sexual abuse by someone you trusted — who was supposed to love and care for you — or a total stranger, abuse damages your soul.
It has left many of us fearful of ever wanting to be that vulnerable again.
The Enemy’s War on Us
For the longest time, I was terrified by the thought of committing myself to one man, the one man who I was supposed to trust with my life, only to have him ruin it. I’ve heard too many stories. Better to be alone than with an abusive man who would destroy my life was my secret attitude. It took decades for me to understand the implications and renounce those lies.
The enemy of our souls incites abuse, violence and terror among humans in his murderous rage to kill, steal from and destroy us because we carry the image of God in us. Failing that, he wants to keep us trapped in the past with his lies.
Yet remember this: he is a liar to the core (John 8:44). Believing lies transform us into the image of the enemy; that’s why God tells us to believe the truth. The enemy’s lies have no effect on us if we don’t believe them.
Getting Past the Pain to a Future With Love
The truth: We can have a future abounding with hope and love. It just takes time for hope and love to weed out old lies and get grounded. God’s love and plans for us are always good. Whatever the enemy did in his attempt to destroy us, God turns around for our good and His glory.
Another truth: We can find love with a righteous, respectful and compassionate man. Not all men are the same.
Here are the seven things I’ve been practicing as I’ve gone through severe trauma. I hope they can help you learn to hope. Perhaps your heart might even be prepared for love.
1. Hope in God, not man. I have a community I’m involved in, but my trust is in God alone, not in people. I’m not waiting on some man to get married; I’m trusting God’s wisdom, love and timing to get me married off. Between my spiritual gifts, my experience, others’ experiences and my training, I am trusting God to give me a man worth waiting for, who consistently loves God and me, and who would never harm me.
2. Ask for help in getting free. I had to see a counselor for a few years, ask for prayer, join support groups and relearn to how to do relationships. I’ve read a lot of good books and put what I’ve read to use. One of the biggest things I’ve learned was:
3. Forgive your abuser(s). I read Dr. Jay Adams’ book, From Forgiven to Forgiving, when I was still in undergraduate studies. The night of December 30, 1989, I forgave my parents for the terrible things they did to me as a child.
The morning after I forgave them, I literally woke up and felt a cleansing, healing sparkle in my heart. The sun shone brighter. My soul was refreshed. I haven’t felt despondent since. Never will I go back to resenting my parents — or others — for old hurts.
4. Stay enveloped in a safe community. With my spiritual gifts, personality type, and what I’ve been going through in the last few years, I have few friends. Yet the ones I have are safe and kindred spirits, all wrapped up in different skins with beautiful souls.
We are each responsible to the Lord individually, but He didn’t design us to crawl through the Christian life alone. Get some godly and safe friends to do life with.
5. Develop communication and conflict resolution skills. This is sorely lacking in most of our lives, including mine. Honing these skills will help you figure out what you want, if it’s legitimate and how to get your needs met in a positive manner. Let your yes be yes and your no mean no. Say what you mean and mean what you say. These skills will also help you do the next one:
6. Set boundaries. Definitely say NO to negative, rude, manipulative, hateful or hurtful behavior. You don’t need to accept the unacceptable any longer. Instead, pray for your would-be intruders.
7. Manage your thoughts and emotions. Not every thought that pops into your head comes from within you. Did you know that? The enemy loves to fuel our negative emotions by dropping thoughts and reminders into our awareness. Do whatever you must to learn to manage your thoughts and emotions, starting with Scripture like 2 Corinthians 10:3–6.
Go with God in His grace, mercy, peace and healing, dear sibling in Christ.