A Loving Response to Abuse
I have written about this a few times before and it is something worthy to return again and again. As loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself is what Jesus taught, it means he also taught you should love yourself. This includes loving the you God made you to be enough not to put up with physical and emotional abuse.
In the sermon Strong Weakness I showed a scene from the movie Ghandi in which non-violent protestors were beaten and I said,
At this point I need to take a detour to clear up one possible point of confusion. I am not saying that someone who is suffering abuse needs to stay in the abusive situation. Ghandi led his nation in non-violent protest to overthrow the British Empire’s control of India. This is not the same as staying in a home where never know if tonight will be a good night or one of the night’s where your husband hits you or the kids. In that sort of physical and emotional abuse, admitting that you are powerless to change the other person means that you need to remove yourself and your children from harm. The strength in weakness then is to be strong enough to admit you are too weak to stay.And in a religion column Forgive Others and Unlock Your Heart, I wrote,
There is power in releasing the other person from that debt they owe you for the suffering he or she caused. Please know that forgiving someone does not mean forgetting, or staying in a place where the person can continue to hurt you. You can forgive someone of abuse even as you move away from him or her.And it also came up in the sermon Dealing with Divorce in which I noted abuse as a cause churches widely acknowledge as justifiably leading to the end of marriage.
The Bible says that you are to love others as you love yourself. So, you must start with loving yourself as God loves you and removing yourself from an abusive situation. Once free from the abuse itself, you can move to forgiving the person who has abused you.
Nationally-known speaker Mariah Burton Nelson tells how when she forgave the man who molested her, it released her as well. She no longer defines herself as a survivor of sexual abuse. That past is behind her. She is free to define herself without reference to what that man did to her.
A loving response to abuse is to get away from the abuser. Make him face his own demons (or her own demons) without you to use as a punching bag or a place to dump all of the poison in his system. A loving response is to love yourself enough to not put up with the pain. And for those looking to break free there are more resources than might be evident. Breaking free to a new life can be difficult, but it might be easier than you think.
What do y'all think?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor