When you want to help…

It’s funny how telling the truth can open doors for you.

My sisters and I spent 4 hours yesterday talking to a girl whit a very similar situation to the one we got out of. Same kind of abuse, mostly, same hiding behind the church, same manipulation. Same fear too.

She seemed relieved just to be listened to her. Like us, she’s had people blow her off one too many times.

It’s hard to hear other people’s stories, knowing they are still suffering, but haven’t been able to break free yet. We encouraged her to have a plan, and reach out for help, but we can’t do it for her, not without proof.

I don’t know where it will go, but I do know she seemed a little lighter after unloading all that. Just not suffering alone can be helpful.

It’s funny, between being at home, the life of a victim can be pleasant by turns, just like anyone else’s. What makes abuse a little hard to explain is that you can seem like you do normal things, and the twistedness is always in how it’s just not done the way other people do them.

Like while we talked her parents must have called at least 4 times to ask if she was okay, but she was with us the “Super Christian purists” as her mom thinks, at a cafe two minutes from their house, just talking.

I was like “what do they think you’re doing to do? Drugs?”

But that’s her reality.

At least I didn’t have to deal with that, my dad was paranoid, but didn’t really care about me enough to check in most of the time. Only if I was out past 10pm usually. He did try to discourage me from liking most of my friends, and boys…and anyone who wasn’t in his circle.

Well, comparing stories is useless except to sympathize.

I could see plenty of myself in her experiences, and some things are worse. The physical abuse is worse for her, the emotional abuse was worse for me, but, really, it’s just as damaging either way.

It’s so sick to think how normal this is for so many people, and how often it is even in the church. I don’t blame the church for what these people do, just for not being open about talking about it so that people can seek protection there, like they should be able to do.

My church is better than many, and I can’t speak for every church, of course, just none of the other ones I went to were useful, but since my dad did pick the churches we went to, that may be a symptom more than a cause. He always picked ones where he could get away with it.

Perhaps other people may be wondering what it’s like for us to talk to others with similar experiences, knowing what we know now.

I think the hardest thing is, knowing how much to say. There are somethings I was only ready to hear after months of therapy, recovery, and healing. There are some things I was only willing to accept once I had already decided to trust God.

What I told her is what I think I needed most to hear when I was stuck:

That, I didn’t get explanations and answers until I had already chosen to trust. Understanding does come, faith does come, once you have left that up to God.

I also mentioned that I don’t know why some people get saved from these situations supernaturally, and others don’t. But that God did work in our lives, and I can’t deny that. Why do some people get the fairy tale rescue and others get the action hero type where you’re trained to do it yourself, who knows? Could have something to do with ones calling.

Not everyone who has been abused is called to help other people get out of it, but the girl in question is already one of the healers, I think, and like us, it could be she is supposed to learn how to overcome it so she can help other people.

Let’s be real, for every Christian in this situation, there’s probably 100 non Christians at least, if not more, in a similar or worse situation. Christians may still get abused, but, it can’t be denied it happens to us less often. It would be very strange if it didn’t.

To be able to enter that field and understand the kind of pain and damage those people carry, and knowing how God fixes it, you have to have felt it yourself.

I like to quote Betsie Ten Boom “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will believe us because we have been here.”

We were there.

I am still recovering. New breakthroughs in defeating anxiety are still happening for me every month. New memories that are losing their power. New things I realized about freedom. I am not the same person, but also, I have always been this person.

I tried to give our friend hope. I said “It’s not easy to choose that path, but if you choose it, years from now, at the other end, you will be a new person.”

It’s up to her and we know that. As much as I believe it’s morally wrong to give in and choose hatred and bitterness, I know it can not be forced to forgive and heal. You have to want that.

We told her how we wanted a better life than that, well, I did. And how I fed myself with stories about it so I knew there was something better out there, so I had something to hope for.

I still do that to this tday.

I read Webtoons obsessively sometimes, and sometimes just casually, I know they aren’t very realistic for the most part, some are better at that.

But what it does is constantly put before my eyes a best case scenario, a better version than what I saw growing up.

To the point where my idea of marriage is far more connected to what I believe it should be, than to what I saw. I realize that is actually rare for someone in my position.

I didn’t realize it till recently, talking to other people, and seeing how they hate men, they hate marriage, and they hate relationships, all because of that association with their past.

Like Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, I was not informed just by my own family.

Trashy romances (of which many webtoons are not by the way, all due respect to those authors) have few uses in this world, but if you read it with an eye for what is real, even amidst what isn’t, you can begin to dream.

Its also good to read true stories of happy couples, realizing they really do exists, and not listening to bitter people who’ve never made a relationship work tell you that it never happens.

My father spoke very negatively of marriage, though he said my mom was the most wonderful woman in the world, he also referred to her “jokingly” as his slave, made fun of her weight, her singing, and would gross us all out on purpose and tell us stories we said we didn’t want to hear, if we protested, he got upset.

If I went by that, I’d think men were just what the angry feminists say.

But I’ve also read of men who are much, much more considerate, and been treated better by other guys I know, and had some stereotypes called into question even by my cousin.

Heck, men can be more emotionally damaged than women a lot in this country because of our gender stereotypes about them. At least people will believe me if I say it happened.

I don’t hate men. I do detest the kind of men who do thinks I detest, I detest women like that too.

I’m lucky. I was shown the foolishness of doing that much sooner than many women are. But I also wanted to be fair.

I think really, it’s all in what you want to be true.

Someone who really wants it to be true that true love exists, that gentlemen are not extinct, that women are actually compassionate (some of them), that freedom from trauma happens… that person will not give up until they find those things. The odds are, in this life, they will eventually, if you live long enough.

Someone who has already accepted that it’s all a lie will stop looking, and if you don’t seek , you don’t find.

Jesus promised that everyone who asks receives, everyone who seeks finds, and to whoever knocks the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:8)

He didn’t say it happens the first time you ask, he told us to ask again and again until we get it.

He also said he who endures to the end will be saved.

It maybe that some people do not make it out, but I believe, if they seek, if they ask, if they knock, either they are delivered in this life, or in the next. Usually in this life.

Lucky for us God also controls the next life.

I suppose that could sound naive, childish, and even crazy to many people.

Many people are bitter and jaded, and have never understood God to begin with.

To the true believer, the knowledge of God provides something that makes all this suffering worth it. What can we explain about it? It’s like breathing, or like sleeping, it’s not something you really overthink while you’re doing it, you just are.

Of course we have times of questioning if it really is worth it, but it’s my understanding that anything you really love in life, you only really love if you do it when it’s not fun, and believe it’s worth doing even when you’re not getting rewarded for it.

I don’t write for attention, though I do appreciate every view and like that I get, but it’s not why I write.

Just the same, I don’t believe in God and walk with him to get out of pain. I do get out of more pain because of that, I get through pain because of that, but it’s not why I do it.

Getting credit for hard work is the proper reward for the work, but so is just doing the work itself and seeing what you made. In the same way, getting to know God is the proper reward for putting effort into it, and relief form suffering is just the other natural outcome of doing it.

I mean most things have more than one good result. Sex gives pleasure in the moment, but it also creates new life, that takes a little longer doesn’t it? And it’s a lot more work to bring that to fruition than it is to have sex (so I hear) but neither one nor the other is unnatural, or bad. Only one might argue that the long term, harder pleasure of having children is more valuable than the short term pleasure of sex. I’d agree there.

Sometimesknowng God is like sex, exhilaritng, and instantous, and the eoffrt is met with a reward in the moment, you cna’t distuibngis them. (of course there’s going tob e some margin for erro here, just like in real life, not like the movies).

Sometimes knowing God is like having a baby. Plenty of pain, discomfort, and confusion before the final miracle happens, and that miracle tens to just start another series of miracles in the form of child rearing.

Not everyone likes children, not everyone likes sex, for that matter. Ad not everyone likes God. But it doesn’t change how the natural order of things works, and to my mind, whether I am liking it or not, this is the way life works.

If it seems naive, then all I can say is I’ve tried cynicism, and it didn’t do anything for me. Perhaps child-likeness is better in the long run. Cynicism doesn’t make you happy, only self satisfied, and that pleasure just isn’t worth it for what you sacrifice along the way.

all this is osmehting y firend is going to hav eto elarn for herlse,f htough, ad so will anyone else. All I can do is pointe them to wehre this could go, if you are willing. I can’t walk for them.

There are times we have to carry each other, but at some point, all of us will have to stand on our own tow feet and choose what to do with our lives. Love, or Fear; Forgiveness, or Hatred. Complaining or Patience; Depression, or Gratitude.

We can’t make that switch all at once, but in one moment, we can decide what we’re going to aim for. And get as close as we can until the day we die.

And that’s whay I’ve learned about it. I don’t know if oeopel will take my adivce or not, but it’s the trueht. And here, even secular thearpay agrees to a certiane xtent.

Hope this helped, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

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