There is a cost for every choice. And what you sacrifice or willingly offer up either wounds your soul or else repairs it. Because you are not just flesh and bone and blood pumping through veins. You are spirit. You are soul. You are deeply and irrevocably eternal.
If you are going to heal something eternal, you’ll need an Eternal Healer. And if you are going to step into that wild unknown of Healing Waters, you will learn impossibly hard lessons as you go deeper into wholeness and newness and life.
Let me just start by saying that I’m so sorry you can relate to this topic. There is so much wounding that occurs behind closed doors. And many of us who have endured years of hidden abuse hesitate to speak out or stand up for ourselves.
Abuse thrives in the darkness. Abuse thrives in that hope that everything will just “get better,” that if you just do your part, it will end. Behind every survivor of abuse is this pattern of longing for affection. You try and try and try to win the abuser’s affection, approval, love. But no matter what you do it is never enough.
You expend enormous amounts of energy planning for and anticipating moments of affection followed by moments of withdrawal and manipulation. Ultimately, those who learn to live in this cycle, children especially, find themselves so exhausted that when they finally enter into adulthood, they have little to no energy left to invest into themselves and their future. These young adults will spend years getting their energy back, because their bodies will have become so depleted by the cycle of abuse.
For me, the exhaustion came from working toward goals I could never quite accomplish. And so I spent my entire childhood, college years, young-adult-hood, striving to just get love from my abusers. I though, gosh, if I can just get a 4.0, if I can just lose weight, if I can just play through this recital without making any mistakes…
I learned at a young age that the level of affection and approval I’d receive directly depended on the levels of perfection I was able to achieve. And when I failed, I was told over and over how unlovable I was, how lazy, how incapable. I was laughed at. Teased for not practicing enough. And called every name imaginable. Succeeding became overwhelmingly vital. I rarely succeeded.
It was devastating.
At some point I learned to accept the truth of what was already there: that my abusers never loved me and never would. I learned that love always hopes, always believes the best, always encourages, always spurs another on toward greatness and mostly it is never ever self-seeking. Abuse…abuse never hopes, believes the worst, only encourages when it is in the self-interest of the abuser. Love brings life. Abuse brings death.
It sounds like such a horrible thing to say about your own parents, but it is absolutely true. Not on my wedding day. Not when I miscarried a sweet angel baby. Not when I birthed children. Not when we were called into ministry. There was never that tenderness I longed for.
Honestly, all I ever wanted was for them to hold me tight and tell me that they loved me for just the way I was. But it never happened.
It is crushing to admit this.
It takes my breath away.
It is physically painful.
But here’s the thing…you don’t need the false-affections of people incapable of love in order to matter or in order to be worth common decency. Simply because of the fact that you are in existence means you are invaluable. Remember? You are not just flesh and bone and blood pumping through veins. You are spirit. You are soul. You are deeply and irrevocably eternal.
You will never be able to please an abuser. NEVER.
You will spend your life just trying to get through to them. You spend enormous amounts of energy trying to get them to see you, to like you for who you are and not for what you’ve done for them (whatever that might be).
In the end, they never apologize. Never repent. They usually won’t even acknowledge the pain they cause.
In the end…no one will ever change unless they want to.
And they don’t want to.
Listen. I’ve said this dozens of times, and it freaking sucks…it does! But the truth is…abusive people DO NOT WANT TO CHANGE! Maybe they have a mental illness or maybe they hate themselves or maybe they are just too proud to even admit it…but they will never change. They won’t “get better”. They’ll just “get better” at hiding their abuse. Which is why sometimes, you’ll see an abuser go months or years without, seemingly, an incident, and then all of a sudden they explode.
They were never better during that time…they were just controlling all their crap better. Putting a big red bow on their shame and smiling for all the cameras while they go off to some foreign land when in reality they never stopped a single bruise from being pressed into your skin and left there to fade slowly over time.
This doesn’t mean you hate them. It means you hate the abuse.
This doesn’t mean you don’t forgive. It means you just don’t trust them. Because patterns of behavior over the course of three decades speaks louder than the fake tears that fall when they are cornered.
Mourn this. Because child abuse, because hidden abuse of any kind is shameful and wicked and God’s heart burns at the injustice of it.
The truth is that you will never be enough for someone who has only ever offered you conditional love. They simply aren’t capable of it.
But God…there he stands, with the weight of eternal love in his palms and he is enough to sustain every empty space inside us. He fills emptiness to overflowing.
For His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods—of elation or depression. The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change. It is reliable. And always tender.
Brennan Maning – “The Furious Longing of God”
Stop settling for brokenness and pain. Instead. Go and be changed by furious love that never stops or gives up.