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Archive for January, 2014


Your Abuse Had a Purpose

Refer to Step 6: I make a commitment to turn away from my pride and refuse to become like those who have abused me. I abandon my desire to spread malice because of my pain and anger, and I chose to relinquish my right to be self-absorbed.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here is a question for you: to whom does the Kingdom of God belong? This isn’t rhetorical. Understanding the answer is the key to your recovery, and you’ll flounder until you grasp the answer.

It belongs to the poor in spirit—to people who don’t think more highly of themselves than they ought to think. It belongs to paupers. The politically correct term for this would probably be “the homeless.”

God’s Kingdom—the only place that really matters—does not belong to those who are beautiful, successful, or wealthy. It belongs to those who are broken—to those who have been crushed, discarded, and cast aside. It belongs to those whom the more affluent consider to be expendable and useless.

When you first experienced your abuse, isn’t that how you felt—broken, humiliated, and discarded? Even if your abusive experience was some time ago, isn’t this description still occasionally accurate?

If so, then the Kingdom of God belongs to you. Or, more accurately, it can belong to you. Your experience has probably left you spiritually bankrupt, which can be helpful. It means you’re half way there, but that’s all—just half way. In some ways, it’s the most difficult half. Having been abused and shattered, you know what it’s like to have your spirit broken. The difficult part is realizing that this was a good for you and not bad.

It allowed you to recognize suffering in others and allows you to be less self-centered. It makes you more interested in your fellow human beingss. By having experienced abuse, you can develop empathy and compassion for others, which are character qualities woefully lacking in most modern day Christians.

The righteous cry and the Lord hears, and delivers him out of all his troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18)

Jack Watts

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Refer to Step 4: I choose to believe what God says about Himself: that He is good and can be trusted. I recognize that God is not the abuser; rather, people who misuse their authority are the abusers.

I do not want to die . . . until I have faithfully made the most of my talent and cultivated the seed that was placed in me until the last small twig has grown.

—Kathe Kollwitz

For most people, after being subjected to a pattern of verbal and emotional abuse and—occasionally physical, sexual or financial abuse—life never really returns to health and normalcy. Deep emotional scars cripple the abused person to the point that his or her life never regains the richness, fullness, or contentment it once exhibited.

It doesn’t have to be this way, however, and this type of outcome is most definitely not God’s will. God loves you exactly the way you are—in your brokenness, in your despair, and in your uncertainty. He has not given you a spirit of fear. That comes from being abused and not from Him.

He has given you a spirit of love, power, and of a disciplined, sound mind. It resides just below the surface of your troubled heart, waiting for you to do the work necessary to appropriate the inner power that rightfully belongs to you—just as it does with all of God’s children.

It’s not easy regaining your composure after experiencing deep wounds from being abused; but if you do the work necessary to heal, you will not be as good as you once were. You will be better—perhaps much better.

Joy will return to you but in a different, far more meaningful way. It will be tempered with humility, discernment, and wisdom. This is not an idealistic outcome. It can be your experience, if you allow God’s healing touch to restore you. You’ll be more valuable than you ever imagined.

I’m not guessing about the outcome. I’ve seen it happen repeatedly. The choice is yours. You can go through life crippled by your debilitating abusive experience, or you can allow God to use it to become everything He ever intended you to be.

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (I Timothy 1:7)

Jack Watts

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A Plea for Restoration

Father,

Sometimes, life is so hard.

Doing the right thing seems easy enough,

Until it comes time to do it,

When dread of the consequences

Becomes an overwhelming concern.

Why can’t life be easier?

Why am I “so special” to You that

My life is constantly filled with difficulties?

Why can’t things go easily—just for a while?

Why me, Lord? Why me?

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining,

But I know that I am. I’m complaining

Because my shoes are too tight,

While others have no legs.

I know I should be more grateful,

But I need a respite from my pain,

From my despair, and from my sorrow.

There is nobody who can help but You.

The “Be warmed and be filled crowd”

Smile and offer meaningless platitudes,

As I nurse the emotional wounds

I fear will destroy me.

I want to serve You with gladness,

But there is no joy in me—

Nothing that could sustain me for more

Than a few moments at a time.

I don’t want to be a plastic automaton,

Pretending that everything is okay,

When I know things are dreadfully wrong.

My future is in Your hands,

My days, which are numbered by You,

Are passing before me, and it all

Seems like a terrible waste.

Intervene, Lord. Allow me to know

Joy and gladness once more.

Fill my days with peace and prosperity,

So that I can tell other of Your faithfulness.

Jack Watts

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Father:

In my pain, I have acted in ways I’m ashamed to admit.

I want to keep them secret—to hide them

From You and from everybody else.

I didn’t intend to be like this—

To become the person I know I am,

But my sins have exceeded my coping capacity,

And I am unable to control myself,

Which I foolishly believed I could.

Journal: Take a few minutes and write down the actions you have hidden and want to remain secret. Be thorough and honest. Once you’ve written it, thank God for His forgiveness, and rip up the paper, knowing that you have been forgiven.

Like most infomercials, people’s testimonies are over-sold and under delivered. Because authenticity is missing, many dismiss these testimonies as being overstated, while others reject Christianity because they recognize the hypocrisy of believer. Here’s the question that needs to be answered: Wouldn’t it be better to tell the truth scrupulously, and allow the chips fall where they may, rather than live a life that’s essentially a fraud?

Journal: Write about your Christian testimony, being scrupulously honest.

The mindset behind prayers that ask to be spared from the natural consequences of actions isn’t something that God will answer in the way you want. He simply doesn’t operate this way. God doesn’t deliver you from trouble; He delivers you through trouble.

Journal: Can you think of a time when God walked you through a crisis rather than saving you from it? If so, write about that experience.

This is why the 11-step approach is singular and not plural—I and not we. There is no way for a group to heal your relationship with God. You have to do it that yourself, in the quietness of your own heart. Although each person’s experience may be different, the road back to God isn’t. It’s the same for everybody.

Question: What does the road back to God look like for you? Think about at least three things it entails.

 

After having been abused, our perspective undergoes a radical change. We begin to learn the simple truth that an act of kindness performed at the right time, for the right reason, may be more meaningful from God’s perspective than something calculated to bring us notoriety, fame, and fortune. We begin to recognize that God values small things—where nothing is expected in return—more than grand things well publicized.

Journal: Think of a time when you performed a selfless act—a kindness performed for no reason other than to help someone else. How did that make you feel? Were you able to keep it to yourself? Were there any long-term ramifications from it?

Jack Watts

 

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Sometimes, a Little Can Be a Lot

 

Refer to Step 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to provide me with the power to carry it out.

 

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves—Amelia Earhart

 

Christianity is brimming with people who want to do great and noble things for God. If you ask them, they’ll tell you how much they are capable of accomplishing. Their aspirations are usually altruistic, noble, and grand. The problem is, more often than not, God doesn’t usually want what they do.

What He wants is for people to do simple, mundane things for others—nothing ostentatious or glamorous. The goal of Christians, who are grandiose, might be to “speak about God’s love to the multitudes,” but that same person might not be willing to run an errand for an indigent person.

That’s the problem. God has far too many men and women who are willing to be exalted, but few who are willing to be menial servants. Many are willing to do grand things, but few are willing to be simple, living their lives unaffectedly just doing the “next right thing” day by day.

In twenty-first century Christian culture, we have a worldly attitude toward service, routinely calculating:

  • What’s in it for me?
  • How will this further my ambitions?
  • How will this enhance my image with others?

After having been abuse, however, where the spiritual wind has been knocked out of us, our perspective undergoes a radical change. We begin to learn the simple truth that an act of kindness performed at the right time, for the right reason, may be more meaningful from God’s perspective than something calculated to bring us notoriety, fame, and fortune. We begin to recognize that God values small things—where nothing is expected in return—more than grand things well publicized. A small thing is a small thing, but faithfulness in doing a small thing is a big thing.

He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)

Jack Watts

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One Trusted Friend

 

 

Refer to Step 8: I will share my experience and my own wrongdoing with a trusted friend, confessing the exact state of my heart.

 

 

Go often to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.

—Recovery Slogan

 

When you read the steps for Alcoholics Anonymous or any other 12-step group, you’ll notice that they are plural and not singular. In step 1, it says, “We came to believe” and not “I came to believe.” In recovery from substance abuse, the shared experience of the group is often the most powerful component for achieving sobriety.

In recovery from religious abuse, however, it’s a little different. Although the wounding comes from a religious leader, God is nearly always blamed for the abuse as well. This means the person’s relationship with God becomes the primary problem and the relationship that needs to be mended first. Without getting straight with God, nothing else will work well—that’s for certain.

This is why the 11-step approach is singular and not plural—I and not we. There is no way for a group to heal your relationship with God. You have to do it that yourself, in the quietness of your own heart. Although each person’s experience may be different, the road back to God isn’t. It’s the same for everybody.

At the same time, you will need at least one trusted friend to act as your confidant along the way. Learning to trust God again is essential—so is learning to trust another human being. Both, working together synergistically, will make your journey much less burdensome—and with fewer detours.

Until you’ve accomplished both, nothing else will work very well. When you bring your situation before God, you can be assured He will always be available and accepting. Bringing it before another human is not as easy, but if the person is in tune with God’s will, the end result will definitely be empowering.

 

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12:13)

Jack Watts

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Learning How to Pray

Refer to Step 4: I choose to believe what God says about Himself: that He is good and can be trusted.

If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is “thank you,” that would suffice.

—Meister Eckhart

When an insurmountable problem or difficult circumstance comes into your life, what do you do?

You pray, but what do you pray for? If you’re like most, you pray for God to spare you from what is about to happen—from the consequences of your actions. That’s the agenda most follow. You want God to rescue you from whatever unpleasantness is about to transpire. Initially, you ask. Then, you beg. Finally, you abandon all of your pretentiousness and plead your case, insisting that God intervene on your behalf.

Then, when your prayer isn’t answered in the way you want, which it usually isn’t, you question God, entertaining all sorts of negative thoughts.

  • Does He really care?
  • Does He think you’re not worth the effort?
  • Is He really active in your life?
  • Why didn’t He come through for you?

But you probably never took a hard look at what you were praying about.

Here’s the problem. The thinking behind prayers that ask to be spared from natural consequences isn’t the type of prayer that God answers in the way you want. He simply doesn’t operate that way. God doesn’t deliver you from trouble; He delivers you through trouble. This isn’t parsing words.

There’s a big difference between the two. If God delivered you from your problems, you would never grow up, and that’s not what He wants for you.

He wants you to be mature, stable, and resilient. He wants you to have childlike faith, but He doesn’t want you to be a perpetual child. Almighty God is not a rescuer—not in a codependent way, and when that’s what you are praying for. When you pray like this, don’t be surprised when your requests are not answered in the way you want.

Because God wants you to be an adult—to attain your full stature as one of His children—He is more intent on having you learn your lessons from self-defeating behavior than anything else. That can only be accomplished by going through troubles, heartaches, disappointments, and suffering.

While you are going through your difficulties, however, He never leaves you, and He never forsakes you. That’s a promise He always keeps. That’s where you learn to trust Him, and it’s also where you learn to grow up.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Jack Watts

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Many Have So Little Impact

Refer to Step 2: I refuse to continue living my life pursuing self-defeating behavior.

It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life to perfection. 

—Ancient Saying

The central focus of Christianity is about a person developing a relationship with Almighty God. This relationship is defined as a personal, intimate one, which is eternally safe and secure. As such, the literature describing God’s nature and Man’s nature is deep and authentic, especially when it comes to how sinful men and women relate to a holy God.

It’s why the Scriptures are so rich with wisdom—God’s revealed truth.

At the same time, Christianity in America, especially in the twenty-first century, has many commonly held assumptions, which contradict biblical teaching and the reality of life. One of these false assumptions is that, once a person invites Christ to come into his or her life, all of their self-defeating behavior changes quickly and permanently. This definitely isn’t true, and it places legalistic, self-defeating burdens on all new converts.

Nevertheless, churches parade new converts in front of the entire church to “give their testimony” regularly. Like an infomercial, these testimonies exaggerate the truth as much as a middle-aged man exaggerates how far he jogs. Invariably, the person giving the testimony overstates the depth of their depravity before inviting Christ to come into his or her life. With equal hyperbole, the person describes how exemplary they have become since becoming “born again.”

There is no rigorous honesty to any of it. It is ineffective and disingenuous, despite the efforts of evangelists to manipulate the process. What is real is real. What isn’t isn’t. Exaggeration never works; being candid always does.

The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (I Timothy 1:5)

Jack Watts

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Having a Contrite Spirit

Father,

Having been wounded at the core of my being,

I have stopped seeking You,

Stopped praying, stopped looking to You

For wisdom, guidance, and discernment.

I haven’t wanted anything to do with You.

I’ve been so angry, so hurt, so humiliated.

In my pain, I have acted in shameful ways,

Which I have attempted to keep secret,

To hide from You and from everybody else.

I didn’t intend to be like this—

To be the person I know I have become,

But my sins have exceeded my capacity to deny,

And I am unable to control myself,

Which I foolishly believed I could.

My self-defeating behavior consumes me,

And I can no longer hide from the truth.

I am weary of hanging my head in shame—

Of churning my anger and bitterness.

I know I have fed my rebellious spirit,

But I don’t want my future to be controlled by the past.

I want to change—to regain control of my life.

I am in a deep pit, from which there seems no escape.

I have often blamed others for my plight,

Choosing to embrace the role of a victim,

Convincing myself that I have been faultless,

But I can no longer justify my poor behavior.

I have been wrong and need to admit it to You and to others.

Help me, Lord. Cleanse me and restore me to wholeness.

Jack Watts

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Father,

Through my circumstances,

You shake me to the core,

And I am undone.

As You begin your relentless pruning,

At first, I don’t recognize what’s occurring,

And I cry out, ”Why me, Lord?”

I don’t like what is happening,

And I resist Your efforts to make me

Who I am supposed to be.

I want to be your man,

Strong, resourceful, and resilient,

But I want it to come easily,

And it never does.

Question: Have you ever felt like this? Perhaps this is how you feel right now. Take a few minutes to tell God how you feel.

By allowing your wounds to fester, you become the prisoner of the person responsible for your abuse, and they don’t care what harm it’s doing to you. If they did, they wouldn’t have abused you in the first place. Although it doesn’t seem fair—and it isn’t, the responsibility for getting back on track is yours and not theirs. By waiting for your abuser to “make things right,” you’re wasting your life—not theirs, yours. It’s like saying; “I’ll get even with you by hurting me.” It’s illogical and ineffective.

Question: Are you still angry with your abuser? Have you forgiven, or is this not even a consideration? Being completely honest with yourself, tell the Lord the exact state of your heart.

Concerning giving, you need to examine your own heart. When you give, is it really giving, or are you actually expecting something for yourself? If it’s the latter, it’s materialism motivated by greed, which Christ never desires. Such behavior doesn’t count for anything. To believe that it does reveals nothing but a lack of discernment on your part.

Question: Answer the question in the paragraph above, and be completely honest with yourself.    

Hurtful, scolding words make indelible imprints on our minds and on our hearts. The wounds they inflict may last a lifetime. Unfortunately, apologies don’t erase them from our memories—nothing can. The Scriptures tell us that no man can “tame the tongue. It’s a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” The power of words is incredible, especially negative, abusive ones.

Journal: Make a list of everyone you have rebuked sharply and, if your conscience bothers you about what you said, prepare yourself to make amends to that person.

Everybody has trials. Everybody has disappointments. Everybody has failures. It’s what you do with it that counts. If you chafe, becoming bitter and petulant, you will have failed to mature in an area where you need to become an adult. This means you will need to repeat the exercise—like a student who is required to retake a failed course. The choice is yours: you can either demonstrate wisdom, by counting it all joy, or you can go through the experience again.

 

Journal: Write about a time when you chafed because of an unwanted circumstance. Be sure to describe what you felt, especially the results were extremely negative.

Jack Watts

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When You Are Going through Trials

Refer to Step 10: I choose to believe God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

 

 

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.

—Thomas Paine

The Scriptures teach us to “count it all joy” when we experience difficult “trials” in our lives. When you read this for the first time, however, it seems like it must be a typo. In your mind you say, Surely, God doesn’t expect me to count it all joy that I’ve lost my job, my house, my child, or my health, does He?

As difficult to accept as it seems, that’s exactly what He wants you to do—to count it all joy. Just because you can’t see a way out of your circumstance doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

Remember, God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and He already knows the outcome. From His perspective, it’s already a done deal, and all He is waiting for is for you to fall in line. The way to do this is by putting everything in His hands—especially the outcome, which you have no control over anyway.

Look to Him; thank Him for your circumstance; and fall in step. When you do, numerous character qualities will be enhanced in you. Everybody has trials. Everybody has disappointments. Everybody has failures. It’s what you do with it that counts.

If you chafe, becoming bitter and petulant, you will have failed to mature in an area where you need to become an adult. This means you will need to repeat the experience—like a student who is required to retake a failed course. The choice is yours: you can either demonstrate wisdom, by counting it all joy, or you can go through the experience again.

As for me, I’ve gone through many trials with mixed results. Like most, I’ve chafed more often than I should have, which has meant I’ve needed to repeat several painful experiences. Now, when they come my way, I accept the message of this chorus as true:

You give and take away

You give and take away

My heart will choose to say

Lord, blessed be Your name.

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Jack Watts

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The Power of Words

 

 

Refer to Step 7: I will make a detailed, written account of my abusive experiences, as well as my subsequent behavior. I commit to being as thorough and honest as I’m able.

There is a weird power in a spoken word . . . and a word carries far—very far—deals destruction through time as the bullets go flying through space.

—Joseph Conrad

Words are more powerful than most people can comprehend. No matter how much you desire to do so, you can never retract hurtful words spoken in the heat of an argument. Once they leave your mouth, those words can never be retrieved. Nearly everybody can remember hurtful words that were maliciously spoken when they were children, even decades earlier. For many, the pain from a rebuke can be felt years after it was delivered.

Hurtful, scolding words make indelible imprints on our minds and on our hearts. The wounds they inflict may last a lifetime. Unfortunately, apologies don’t erase them from our memories—nothing can. The Scriptures tell us that no man can “tame the tongue. It’s a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” The power of words is incredible, especially negative, abusive ones.

Several years ago, a survey asked mothers to keep a daily record of how many times they made negative and positive comments to their children. The results were startling. The mothers documented that they made critical remarks ten times more often than encouraging words.

Statistics reveal that in an average household, children hear “no” or are told they “can’t” more than 148,000 times by the time they reach eighteen. One school did its own three-year survey and discovered the teachers were negative with their students 75 percent of the time. The study also determined that it required four positive statements from a teacher to offset the effects of one negative statement.

Why not take a few minutes and write down the negative things you have said to someone you care about? If you do, it will help you to think before you speak, and it can also help you make a positive impact upon another. Saying something positive can help heal a broken relationship. By encouraging someone today, it will also help advance your recovery. So, be merciful to someone who is wounded—someone who is in desperate need of validation.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Psalm 18:21)

Jack Watts

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Recognizing Financial Abuse

 

Refer to Step 4: I choose to believe what God says about Himself: that He is good and can be trusted. I recognize that God is not the abuser; rather, people who misuse their authority are the abusers.

 

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.

—Winston Churchill

It’s important for everybody to learn how to recognize spiritual abusiveness. Obviously, there are many ways it can manifest itself, but one of the most common ways is financially. In this area, let the buyer beware is an appropriate saying. It’s not a Scriptural verse, but it’s certainly true.

Here are some things to always look for. When a church or ministry is obsessed with money, it’s motivated by materialism, which is not a fruit of God’s Spirit. In essence, they tell you, “Give your money to God, but be certain to use my address.” To accomplish their goal, they either make you feel guilty about not giving, or they appeal to your own sense of greed.

The former is self-explanatory, but the latter requires clarification. When you are told to give so that you can receive more, there’s nothing Christian about this. It’s greed, and there’s nothing noble or praiseworthy about it. If you believe anything else, you are deceiving yourself and playing right into the hands of those who want to take your money deceitfully. The end result is religious abuse.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of ministries eager to exploit you in this way. There’s an entire Christian faction dedicated to this, which is called the “prosperity gospel” movement. You should never give expecting anything in return. It means you haven’t given; you’re investing, expecting a dividend. Don’t do it, and don’t feel guilty for refusing.

You need to examine your own heart about this. When you give, is it really giving, or are you actually expecting something for yourself? If it’s the latter, it’s materialism motivated by greed, which Christ never did. Such behavior doesn’t count for anything and, to believe that it does, reveals nothing but a lack of discernment on your part.

But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing; that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 5:3-4)

Jack Watts

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There’s No Value in Remaining “Stuck”

 

 

Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

 

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart . . . Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

—Carl Jung

People who have experienced religious abuse become “stuck” in their anger, remaining trapped for years by the pain of their wounds. Sometimes, they remain this way for the rest of their lives. Often, you will hear them say:

  • “It isn’t me. He’s the one that’s wrong. Let him apologize first.”
  • “She did this to me, and I’ll never go back until she admits that what she did to me was wrong.”
  • “I’m right; they’re wrong—end of story.”

Wearing their hurt feelings on their sleeves, abused Christians retreat from spirituality to pursue half-lives, where festering bitterness becomes a predominant character quality.

Because we live in a society where bitterness is not condoned, they become masters of disguise, hiding their true feelings behind a facade of smiles and pleasantries, but it’s there—just below the surface, producing relational difficulties that take a toll upon everyone in the abused person’s life.

Does this sound like you? Have you had an experience similar to this? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly every abused person—whether it’s religious or spousal abuse—has had an experience like this.

The problem is that by allowing your wounds to fester, you become the prisoner of the person responsible for the abuse, and they don’t care what harm it causes you. If they did, they wouldn’t have abused you in the first place.

Although it doesn’t seem fair—and it isn’t—the responsibility for getting back on track is yours and not theirs. By waiting for your abuser to “make things right,” you’re wasting your life—not theirs, yours. It’s like saying; “I’ll get even with you by hurting me.” It’s illogical and ineffective.

To become whole again, you must make a conscious commitment to become “unstuck,” and the only way to do this is by acknowledging that the responsibility for getting back on track is yours and nobody else’s. This may not be an easy pill to swallow, but to achieve fulfillment in life, it’s the right medicine—no doubt about it.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Jack Watts

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Father,

When You want my attention,

You know how to get it.

There are times when I feel

Like You aren’t really there,

Like You don’t really care,

Like my life has little meaning,

And I am without value to anyone.

Then, through my circumstances,

You shake me to the core, and I am undone.

As You begin your relentless pruning,

I don’t recognize what’s happening—not at first.

Then, in my discomfort, I cry out, ”Why me, Lord?”

I don’t like what is happening—not one bit.

It’s painful, confusing and uncomfortable.

Even worse, it makes me resist Your efforts

To mold me into the man I am supposed to be—

The man you are diligently reshaping.

I want to be Your man. I want to be

Strong, resourceful, and resilient,

But I want it to come easily, without effort.

It never does though, and I suspect it never will.

You understand this, while I don’t,

So I chafe at Your pruning,

Which is focused and precise.

When I finally realize what is happening,

Reluctantly, I bow me knee and acknowledge

That Your hand is hard, but Your love is unwavering.

When You have finished, I recognize my progress.

Then, I realize my future will be bountiful,

And I will be valuable to myself and to others.

Jack Watts

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