Ok yesterday I shared a post from my friend Wally, I made a new friend in Melissa. Here is that post and should you want to read the comments that is what this post is about the comments. It’s a long post sorry.
Ok, so here goes:
Tildeb start us off in a unique direction with this quote:
You don’t need any god to feel thankful. That’s a diversion from where those thanks truly belong: where they are deserved.
Ok why do I thank god for the good things I have? Because those good thing make my life worth living. It’s really that simple an answer but I’ll go on for the sake of clarity.
Does he cause the good things? No. Does he cause the bad things? No. Can he intercede? He created the universe so I believe yes he could. Does he? Perhaps but we as humans would never understand when or if he does.
I don’t believe god causes people to do things because I believe first and foremost a few things.
* God is all loving, all good and perfect
* God being perfect gave us free will and those man directs his/her own actions
* Free will is the force in play on this earth for both incredible good and horrible evil
So I firmly believe god is watching but not interfering because of the gift of free will. He is no puppet master, he is not a micro manager, he did not plan our lives start to finish. I also firmly believe if we as humans can focus on the good we can change evil events to something wonderful and beautiful. I believe god and my faith play an important part in MY changing my past to a wonderful and beautiful thing.
That said I do credit Sarah with the first aid she rendered and with getting me to the hospital with a shot at life. I credit the doctors with not giving up on me and saving my life. All true. None of these don’t mean I can’t thank god for my life or for all the good I enjoy in it.
This game is loaded to favour god and blame victims. It’s not life affirming and it is not self-empowering. It’s harmful.
You say it’s “harmful” and I call that bunk. Here is why.
By remembering to pray every day and be thankful for the good in my life I set my focus first thing on the good things I have. I set my focus first thing on the fact I am loved. It sets my focus for the day on a positive stand and when little bad things hit it helps me remain focused on all I have and not what I do not have.
I do not blame god for my rape nor credit him for only the good. I do credit him for my life that he gave me. I do believe he loves all life as evidenced by my personal stand on abortion.
What I believe is we are free and sentient beings. A grand experiment if you will. Yes he started it all off, yes he watches us, yes he loves us, no he does not control us or our lives, no he is not responsible directly for the good or the bad, yes he is responsible for our lives coming into existence.
I believe it more harmful to steel someone’s faith than to simply allow them to be happy with their own faith.
My big question would be this, well more than one big question. Answer me this “How does my personal faith which focuses on being thankful for all the good in my life harm you?” “How does focusing first thing in my day with positive thoughts harm me?” The answers are or should be It doesn’t affect you in the least and it doesn’t harm me as a matter of fact it aids me in starting the day focused on what’s important. If your opinion varies here I’d love to hear it.
Faith becomes harmful when one gets a sense of moral superiority or absolute right. These lead to bad places including excuses for genocide. But personal faith expressed and testified to the good of god and not to one’s own supposed superiority harms no one and may even remind others to be thankful for all they have.
1> I could wake each morning still blaming the men who took literally everything from me. If you know anything about rape you can read “those fucking cracks” and see a very small partial list of things that were stolen from me in a single moment!
2> Or I could wake and say dear god thanks for this day I have all the things that are good and right in my life. Beginning the morning in thankful reflection and happiness to be alive. A life I personally believe was created directly by and brought into this world by god.
“Which do you think is more productive to my personal wellbeing?” I certainly believe the later is and it’s proved truth by the fruits it’s bared in my life.
Praising god for my life and thanking him but denoting all the good that I have is in no way victim blaming. It’s a mental stretch that reminds me of the good and that’s a positive way to start every day. For me my relationship with my heavenly father is personal as a child to a parent.
Does it make sense? Nope. Is it faith alone? Yup. Does it require anyone else’s approval or praises? Nope. It is mine and mine alone and is real to me and that is enough reason for me.
They need the tools to alter brain function into producing a healthy and life-affirming means to cope with the very real stresses and suffering in life.
When a victim enters a crisis center it’s important to use every tool available to help them right then and there. If they already have a faith (be it Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu or whatever) you should immediately move to strengthen their faith. It is a powerful tool that is or can be used for healing.
My personal experience has seen this first hand. People like Linda who had been sexually, physically and mentally abused at home for a decade before coming to our center. She was Christian and I told her story here.
By strengthening her faith then and there and not with bible quotes, not with platitudes but with real love and a personal relate-able story. She bounced back very quickly, finished high school, went to Europe and started college. She is one of very many success stories from our center. Her faith was a key to her recovery. Had I taken the time to destroy her faith and trust me I could have, she’d be farther from the healing she has known.
But it’s not about me, her faith, my belief or non-belief. It’s about making the victim stronger and every tool available should be used including faith.
My personal experience is found in my posts “inside me deeply” and in them I talked about the harm of losing my faith. I talked about the decade in darkness looking for answers and my eventual return to faith. Ultimately I only began getting better after returning to faith. First I needed to reconcile a good god vs my brutal beating and rape. I came to understand free will in a way few do. And needless to say I’ve reconciled these two things.
“How different might my life had been if I got the spiritual help I needed and I didn’t lose my faith?” I believe with all my heart and by all I’ve seen that had my faith been strengthened right then and there that I’d have recovered much, MUCH faster.
I have witnessed 1,000s of girls and women, all victims, come and go from our shelter and our crisis center over the decade plus I’ve been doing this. I can say personal observation and personal experience is having a faith strengthened will help a victim recover faster.
To add to that I can say my professional (education only at the moment) experience in psychiatry (yes I am working toward a masters and maybe a doctorate in Psychiatry) also explicitly demonstrates using all tools including ones personal faith will aid in recovery. Every expert in the field says virtually the same thing. They are also in consensus it has to be the victims faith and not yours which is used. In other words as an example a Muslim pushing faith on a Christian victim is not helping the victim.
I can also say when one loses their faith at a time of crisis like rape that the results are frightening. For me it meant fifteen years of this:
I’ve talked about cutting at length in many posts, if interested just search for cutting and you will have plenty to read.
It meant two suicide attempts. But by staying positive and using my faith to accomplish that I’ve seen tremendous strides in my own recovery as of late. How is getting better and stronger because of faith harmful? The world will never know.
My faith in god is not harmful, to the contrary it is and has proven helpful to me and as a tool to my recovery. The faith of victims I have know and many for years after as survivors and friends has proven helpful not harmful as well.
Waking and thanking god for your life and all the good begins the day on a positive note which I then use the tool of my faith throughout the day to remain focused on those good and positive things. It makes it harder to bring me down, easier to stand back up when knocked down and it makes me stronger as a person. The down side? I see none.
I have however seen people rob others of their faith in many ways. Sometimes it’s because like yourself “the other person doesn’t believe in god and works to stop the harmful belief as they see it of the victim”, or they believe “in a different god than the victim”, or they just push the victim away causing a lose in faith. I have seen by example and experience the danger in this. I have seen it ruin lives and condemn the already suffering victim to more pain and darkness. I’ve seen it lead to suicides as well.
Words hurt and there is certainly a time and place you can discuss believe, non-belief in god(s). But to a victim who is currently suffering or struggling. To someone recovering and using faith as a tool. That is most certainly not the place or time. That is a dangerous time to insert your own beliefs or non-beliefs in any god. Causing a lose of faith in such a darkened time has always lead to pain, darkness, suffering and even death. ALWAYS..
I personally am strong enough now to withstand critic of my faith. Why is that? Because I’ve realized faith is personal, it needs no proof, no approval, no accolades, it only needs me. I don’t worry who approves or disapproves of my faith but we can certainly talk about it’s merits and affects on me personally or even on the world in general.
But in the years following my trauma would not have been the time because once my faith was lost my last shred and connection to my own human existence became meaningless and I was relegated to life without hope, without dreams and with pain my only true companion. And those are facts I personally lived.