Valley of the shadow part 2 the victims take. Please pardon my spelling english is my fourth written language. I also write from the heart. As a result my words are not always as eloquent as others but they are mine and spoken true. From my heart to yours.
A friend of mine pastor Dan Ledwith is writing a series about the responses to victims and I felt the message important enough to highlight here on my blog as well. Here is his introduction and what he will be discussing. Introduction . In part two he began discussion the reaction to someone suffering Reaction to Pain. I figure I have a few things to add and support his discussion.
First thank you to Pastor Dan for being my friend and thank you for what you are attempting to do with this series of posts. I can’t speak for all victims but I will speak of my personal experience and why some of the help offered may have been missed or even refused.
Pastor Dan talks about platitudes that are offered and this point kind of stuck with me. I wasn’t sure why this word kind of bothered me but I will try and explain. The word use was perfect in honesty but it bothered me because I don’t believe this is what a good person of god wishes to do. I kind of felt like this word meant they didn’t care when in reality they may be trying.
The advice offered is often thought to be encouraging words. Words of wisdom like “Give it time” or “Time heals all wounds”. These seem on the surface like a platitude. But I believe they are in a way a defense mechanism. We as humans fear pain, even that of another. I believe the platitudes offered maybe a defensive means to keep a “safe” distance from that pain that stands before you.
It’s natural to want to avoid pain. That is what our nervous system is built for after all. Our brains are wired to avoid pain as well. But the platitude at the time the victim is coming to you may seem (did for me) as a denial that the pain exists. An invalidation of the victims feelings.
I’ve learned both as the victim and as someone trying to help other victims that we must listen with our hearts. We have to open up and feel some of what the victim feels. For them the pain is deep and internal and you will have it much easier. By allowing yourself to open and hear with your heart you will validate to the victim “it’s ok”, it’s ok to hurt.
When a victim is talking it’s good they are letting it out. Just listen, be the shoulder for the tears, don’t be afraid to cry yourself. If it hurts and they know that you hurt they also know they aren’t alone in the pain. Remember the most important thing is they let it out.
Some take longer than others to heal so other platitudes like “Haven’t you been crying about this long enough”, “be strong”, and others only cause the victim to suppress the tears and keep the pain internal. I wrote about this in I am little, I am broken, I am good. After fifteen years the message it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be broken got through and I cried for several days. I missed some work because of it. I’m seeing a psychiatrist now because of it. I’m healing now because of the message finally being heard. It’s OK.
The victim needs to hear by your action it’s ok. They need to hear it from a place of genuine caring like your heart. Words are not enough to begin the healing. There will come a time for your words but your heart will tell you when that is. Their pain will tell you when they are ready to hear you.
Another thing Pastor Dan covered is the Christian platitudes not just in general. I’d like you to remember many times when they come to you as a person of faith they are questioning god. Biblical platitudes will not help. They may even drive a wedge deeply between the victim and god. This is the last thing you should want after all who can actually heal their heart.
When the victim is seeking Why? They are often questioning their faith. I know I did. After all my god is perfect, loving and great. How could he then sit and watch as I suffered and continue to suffer? I asked why he didn’t take the pain away. Why he let this happen. Why me. So many questions and my answers were. “It was God’s will that this happened”, “God has a plan for your life”, “his is all going to work out” and “Just give the pain to god”. What do you think I was trying to do?
Honestly when a victim is asking why their faith is seriously shaken. They are in spiritual pain and well as physical and mental pain. In my case I was dealing with the pain of broken ribs and pubis bones, a shatter cheek bone that they replaced with plastic, massive bruising, I was also now pregnant. My mental picture of myself was in shambles, my self-esteem destroyed. My physical self altered to the point I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror.
As if that pain wasn’t enough I was questioning god. I questioned his very existence, his goodness, his justness, and weather I was actually his daughter. I questions what I did wrong. Yeah what I did? I questioned so much and no answers came. The best I got was platitudes because people were afraid of the pain I was living.
The result you might ask?
Good question. Read my series “Inside me deeply” and you will see the wounded girl now addicted to cutting because to survive with that much pain the only thing you can do is shut it down. Once you do pain becomes the only real emotion and I became addicted to the need to feel. I became a cutter and only recently have I the feeling I can beat this addiction.
I’ve made an attempt on my own life when I believed god had abandoned me. I have suffered for a decade and a half because at the critical moment I questioned god I found none listening with their hearts. The wedge driven by my rape and beating was driven deeper when I sought answers.
Even the answer of “I don’t know why but I know something and that is god loves you and so do I” would have helped some. Things happen sometimes and we can’t explain them and it’s ok to admit you don’t know why. But in that same break assure them you and god love them. They need the acceptance during this moment. They need to know I am safe here now.
I needed to know it was ok to cry. I needed to know I didn’t have to be strong and that god didn’t do this. He didn’t will it to happen and didn’t let it happen. Man’s free will caused this not god. The moment the victim asks why did god do this they are at a critical juncture. It must be handled with care, compassion and an honest heart not afraid to let some of the hurt in.
I think to help the victim we need to put aside our fear of the pain and let some of it onto ourselves. We are whole and the victim shattered and a little pain will roll of a whole child of god because we know it’s not ours. But not being afraid lets the victim pour some of that pain out and lets healing begin. So put aside your own fear of the pain because for you it’s temporary and listen with your heart.
If it hurts to much then cry and the victim will see your honest tears and they will know they are not alone. They will know this pain is real and it’s ok to cry and let it out. Tears are the water of the soul and water is essential to life.
Remember this after Why the victim falls to bargaining with god and then to blaming. When they reach the point of blame you may have lost them forever. Their faith is critically broken and the path home becomes much harder. Stopping it at why, when their faith is shaken but not shattered is optimal.
You can stop it with your love and by demonstrating not just saying “I love you” because you are my brother, my sister in god. Three little words demonstrated through action can change a person forever. You can be the key to letting the pain out and healing in by showing the victim they are worthy of love because YOU love them.
Pastor Dan hit is squarely on the head. Open your heart and listen. Keep the mouth closed until you have felt the pain and heard their cry. Reassure them it’s ok to hurt, it’s ok to cry. And don’t just quote the bible we have all read it and the victim knows those quotes. If all that was required was some quote then the victim would have no need of you. When you speak be truthful and speak from your heart. Don’t try and fix them just try and add a brick to the foundation.
We do this how you might ask. When a foundation is crumbling and trust me after a horrible event like mine the foundation is crumbling on all fronts. Physical, mental, spiritual. Reassuring them with action, truth and your heart will show them something they are doubting right now. LOVE.
Love conquers pain so show them love. Honest love isn’t afraid to be hurt. When you love them and open your heart god will see what you do. He will see their pain and your genuine desire to end it. Honest words from the point of the pain and a heart not afraid to open can heal or begin the healing. It may also save them from wandering away from god. As I did for far to long.
“what so ever you do to the least of my children that you do unto me” Live this and love the broken for they are the least of his children.
~Michelle Styles – December 13, 2013