Saturday, September 17, 2005


Part 6 of 7

Like grieving, the healing process takes time, but God is patient with us in that process. He is faithful to bring healing during that time when we turn to Him.

My experience has been that there are three main steps to healing:
1. Acceptance and validation
2. Forgiveness and letting go
3. Moving On

The first step is accepting the painful reality of what happened. I personally spent quite a bit of time in denial, wishing that it weren't true. To be validated in any way during this time is very helpful for healing.

People who have experienced abuse need permission to talk about what happened to them and the right to the full range of their emotions during the healing process. Within christian circles, there is an uneasiness in talking about this unpleasant topic. Victims are often shamed into keeping their stories silent.

The next step is forgiveness. I forgive because I must. I don't want to be linked with the person who abused us through anger and bitterness. I will extend the mercy God has shown me to those who hurt me.

It took longer for me to understand that I needed to relinquish my demand for justice. Seeing my demand for justice as a function of law rather than grace helped me to let go of my desire for vindication.

I will trust God to deal with each person's heart, knowing that I want His mercy when He searches my heart. I don't expect Him to judge someone more harshly than what I would want for myself.

The final step is moving forward. I hear concern from some christians that people who have been abused want to stay stuck in their woundedness. I have trouble imagining why anyone would want to do that. It seems to me that most victims of abuse are doing their best to recover.

As we make peace with our wounds and scars, Christ's life can be revealed in the healing we've experienced. When we dare to reveal our wounds, other victims can hear that there is hope beyond their sorrow.

In the end, I'm okay. Shaken, but we survived.
Washed up? No, just washed ashore somewhere other than where we expected to be.


Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Again, this resonates very deeply with me. You said:

"People who have experienced abuse need permission to talk about what happened to them and the right to the full range of their emotions during the healing process."

This is so true and essential. When South Africa was addressing the injustices of apartheid they instituted the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. The "Truth" aspect was essential. It wasn't enough to address injustice as an abstraction, but people were given a forum to express the full reality of their brokenness. It has powerfully impacted the nation in its continuing process of healing. We can ask for nothing less for all of lifes wounded.

This series ranks among the most important and authentic I have read online. Thank you for it.


Tammy Jo said...

I agree with Jamie. This is vulnerable but vital sharing. Truly speaks to my own fresh wounds. I am going to send my own friends and readers here.

Robbymac said...


You have definitely chosen an appropriate online name for yourself. This series is so balanced, gracious, vulnerable, and so vitally needed.

You are also a gifted writer.

CaseyD said...

This is authentic authoritative teaching. May God give you 'gracious' opportunities to share and extend purpose to peoples pain.
I went through this process myself several years ago now. Yet the journey still continues.

Angela said...

You're so right about the moving on! In the first months of our grief I went through all the classic stages that are associated with losing a loved-on. Even after the pain began to subside, I was still scarred and would occasionally relapse into the grief. It wasn't until we moved-on and began ministering in a healthy environment that I was able to leave the past in the past. But let it be said...Don't move to fast! There definately needs to be sufficient time for healing!

Pam Hogeweide said...

Grace, I love your commitment to forgiveness and healing.

People hurt people. Some people get hurt and stop trusting, stop loving...we need encouragement from one another that forgiveness and healing is possible when we are devastated by betrayal.

I heard a preacher one time explain that he would not let his heart stop trusting in the goodness of people. Yes, he admitted, he'll likely get hurt again. But, he pointed out, God can heal him again. He would not allow himself to live in a place of mistrust or cynicism. He'd rather get banged up and healed up than become iced over.

I'm glad you are not getting iced over Grace.

Your warm words, I'm sure, are thawing hearts throughout cyberspace. Keep writing.

grace said...

Jamie, Tammi Jo, and Robbie, thank you for your continually supportive comments. They have meant a lot to me.

Thanks casey. Blessings to you in your journey.

Angela, very wise words about not moving too fast. We have many "I'm glad we didn't..." comments now about things we considered doing in the months immediately following our abuse.

Thanks for your kind words Pam. I'm still "in process" on the forgiveness and trust issues.

David Cho said...

What I have struggled with is, what constitutes "moving on." I spoke of the culture of exclusivity, but I stay on the fringe because of my trepidation of "getting involved." Does my gun shyness mean I have not moved on?

grace said...

David, my opinion is that moving on is a journey and not a destination. The first's steps of the journey being letting go of the past and choosing to not be completely identified by it.

I'm not sure that I would say that "getting involved" is the line you have to cross to say that you have moved on.

Does that make sense? I know I haven't "arrived" in the moving-on journey, but I know that I have begun taking steps in that direction.

Learning to trust ourselves and others after being betrayed takes time.

Trailady said...

"People who have experienced abuse need permission to talk about what happened to them and the right to the full range of their emotions during the healing process. Within christian circles, there is an uneasiness in talking about this unpleasant topic. Victims are often shamed into keeping their stories silent."

This is SOOOOOO true. I guess that's where a lot of my feelings of anger come from. Too many people telling me to shut-up, to stuff it all inside and plaster a smile on my face. I'm so DONE with plastic churchianity. Venting is part of the process of healing. I think blogging is an excellent and the most considerate way to discuss your abuse. I mean, most of the people who read your blog are complete strangers. I'm SO glad I found you in cyberspace. God bless you- again and again!!!!

Sharon said...

These words were so helpful to me as they respresent strongly how I feel but I am not at the "moving on" stage yet (though I so much want to be there). I keep running through a range of emotion every day. My husband also is very angry and upset (to put it mildly) at the way I was treated. It all seems so bizarre and unbelievable.
It's sickening.

I know that God opens new doors and that all things work together for good but pastors and leadership should not sweep these dirty little lies under the rug. God gave us clear instruction on how to deal with sin - and it was never followed.

All these things make you feel so unloved and yet I know that I have the greatest love of all in Christ Jesus. Still your connections in the Church Body mean so much and when you don't attend the church anymore - it really changes your world.

Dr. John Setser has been a great help to me... I have read his book "Broken Hearts Shattered Trust" Workplace Abuse of Staff in the Church.

One of the hardest parts is not having anyone to talk with. This is why I have sought help over the internet.

Your words here have been a great comfort to me.

Thank you.