Healing from abuse is a long, painful process. I wish that wasn’t true. I wish there was a magic potion we could take, or we had a fairy godmother who could wave her magic wand and it would all be better. Sadly, this isn’t how it works. Healing takes time, but it doesn’t just take time.
You might have heard the old saying “time heals all wounds.” Well, we know from experience that isn’t true. We only have to look around us to see all the broken people of the world, those who were wounded months, years or decades ago, and are still in that bitter, broken place. These sad friends are proof positive that time isn’t all that is needed to heal the wounds we have received from the person we thought would love and care for us, and instead abused us.
So, what do we need? Well, we need a lot of things, and many people, as I mentioned in my blog last week. I wrote an entire book describing the elements I believe are necessary for healing from emotional abuse. (A Journey to Healing After Emotional Abuse)
But, today I am going to talk about something I’ve never talked about before, and that is acceptance. I didn’t come up with this idea myself. I came upon it while reading a great little book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend called Divorce and Lost Love: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do.*
So, what do I mean by acceptance? Cloud and Townsend say there are two possible responses when we have a problem in our lives. One is to stop dead in our tracks, and to feel stuck and become hopeless. The other is to welcome the problem as a gift God gives us that helps us become better people. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating we put on a fake smile, pretend that being abused is OK, and that divorce is a wonderful experience. Heck no! Being abused, and leaving an abuser must be one of the most painful things a person could ever experience. In my book, I recommend you fully experience your grief in order to move past it.
But, once you have spent time grieving (a lot of time), you will be happier if you can move to a place of acceptance. Tweet This
In our western society, we have come to believe we should never experience pain. Have a headache? Pop a pill. Feel lonely? Hop on social media. Bored? Turn on the TV. Breakup with someone? Find a replacement ASAP! We have come to think if we are in pain, something is wrong. In the past, and in other countries, people did/do not believe this. In other cultures, people expect pain. We should too. We will all feel pain at some time in our lives. For those of us who have been abused, we have had more than our share, but we are not alone in the human condition. Our pain may be different, but can you tell a mother whose one-year old just died she is not in pain? How about your friend dying from cancer? Or the homeless mother with three small children sitting on the side of the highway?
If we can begin to accept that we will all experience some kind of pain, we can move from helplessness to hopefulness. Tweet This
In order to really heal, we need to stop protesting about how unfairly we’ve been treated. Yes, being abused was unfair. No, our abuser should never have treated us this way. Yes, it was wrong of him/her to behave that way. But, hanging onto that doesn’t alter the reality that we were abused, and now we find ourselves divorced, or left alone, possibly with hurting children to care for. Only when we accept this fact can we learn what choices, paths, lessons and opportunities we have now. We can accept that pain is part of life, and we don’t have all the answers. And we can begin to put our trust in God.
We can look at Jesus’ life, and the way He suffered. He loved us deeply, and because of our sins, he chose to suffer greatly for us. But instead of finding a way out, he worked through it. He endured it because it was the only way to bring us life. He is our model for dealing with our pain. Identifying with his pain draws us closer to him, to see life as it really is, and to patiently take whatever steps are necessary to resolve our problems. Following His pattern deepens and matures us.**
We don’t need to accept that the pain we feel will always be with us. No. We will adjust and grow, and our lives will improve, if we work with God to make the changes in our lives that need to be made. It may take longer than we would wish, but one day, we will wake up, and our lives will look better than they do today. Remember in John 16:33, Jesus said,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (emphasis mine)
Have you experienced the truth that accepting your pain is one of the vital steps to healing from it?
I pray God will walk alongside you as you wade through your current pain, and that you will feel his love.
* Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend, Divorce and Lost Love: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do – God Will Make a Way (Brentwood, TN:Integrity Media, 2005).
** Divorce and Lost Love 27 – 29