How to Treat Abusers With Love And Honor Even When They Don’t Change

Deep breath.

I see you. I see the hurt and the scars and the longing for wholeness. I see those tears and all those nights you spent with something cold and metal against your skin hoping that any sort of release would help the hurting pain escape.

God sees you. He sees you deep deep inside. The things you never speak about. The lies you let define you. He sees it all.

And still he asks us to love.

And still he reminds us that we are only ever here because of Grace in the first place.

Still he bends low and wrestles his way into our brokenness. He is kind but he is also relentless. He is also thought-filled with thoughts of love for you.

Guess what?

The Gospels give us wisdom for dealing with abusers…abusers who never change. You know, the hardest kind.

Jesus met abuse and injustice head on. He did not apologize for setting boundaries or for calling out sin or for reminding an abuser of the consequences of their sin.

He wept over injustice.

He pleaded with abusers to change, to repent.

You know ONE THING Jesus never did??

He didn’t name abusers.

He called them “vipers” and “religious leaders”. But he did not call them by name.

But he did call Matthew and Nicodemus and Mary Magdalene. He named the people who changed…

There is a beautiful and sobering message in this: is your name known?

Will we allow the God of Creation to cast himself on us so fully that he calls us by name? Will we one day stand before a Holy Throne with the ink of our names written boldly before us? Or will we chose to turn our backs and go our own way and miss the face of the Messsiah standing right in front of us?

We aren’t so different from those biblical characters after all. We have that choice too: surrender or succumb.

This is how you treat abusers: the same way Jesus did.

You tell your story and you speak out in love and truth and boldness and you do not make yourself small so that evil can make itself seen.

You speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.

And when you are met with cold stares and hard hearts you weep just like Jesus did and then you turn and shake the dust of their words off your feet and leave them to their sin: because they chose it.

But always you love. And always you bask in the wonder of the Blood that bought you.

And then you turn your face to the sun…because Jesus made you free…and the darkness of all the hate and abuse and neglect and lies and fear and control-tactics and manipulation are behind you where they belong…

Fear is the Final Defense Tactic Against God’s Goodness

Every single good and worthy thing I have ever done has been preceded by fear. A lot of fear.

Fear is a tool used by Satan to debilitate. It is his last ditch defense against God’s will for us, against God’s blessings, against injustice being addressed.

And the lie is that we have to wait for fear to dissipate before we can act.

Except, who ever changed history devoid of fear? When did God ever shy away from showing us a fear-filled hero?

You see, our fear is the stage God displays HIS might upon.

…like Peter stepping out onto uncertain waters

…like a proud Syrian Commander who could not fathom washing in a dirty river

…like a Queen who stepped out in bold humility, in all her beauty and warmth and strength, to move the heart of a stoic King

…like a prostitute who wept before the feet of Jesus in a room full of men

…like a young slave who gained the trust of a Nation and a Pharaoh and healed up the brokenness of a family who hated him

…like a boy who held out his lunch toward the hands of a kind Savior

…sometimes fear does not go away, and you have to step out and stand up and kneel down anyway.

And that’s when God moves the waters. That’s when God heals. That’s when God saves his people, and the hearts of the broken, and the nations and the families who forgot to love in the first place.

That is when God does miracles…

Don’t be afraid of fear: God is just beyond the curtain of it, waiting to do his work.

12 Things That Happen When You Stop Trying to Please Toxic People

The past year has been a journey toward Living Well and of learning firsthand that emotional healing doesn’t always come easily.

Sometimes, the people who are supposed to love us most, end up causing us indescribable pain and repeated heartache. Continue reading 12 Things That Happen When You Stop Trying to Please Toxic People

From Victim to Healed: The Journey of Lament

No matter your story, no matter the type of abuse or level of abuse you might have endured, all sin wounds. And simply because all sin wounds, there is grief in the world.

Here it is: the truth about pain: it must be grieved before it can be gone.

Brokenness doesn’t go away. It must be forced to leave. If you let it, pain it will turn your heart to ugly stone. It will rot your soul until all that comes out of you is the stink of hurt.

Hurting people, hurt people.

If YOU are hurting people. And if you find that you cannot apologize or open your heart or show true emotion. If conflict follows you and relationships fall into the crevices of pride…if you lie a lot…then you have pain in your life you haven’t grieved and it’s eating you whole. It’s eating you a hole.

Maybe your grief isn’t that complicated. Maybe it’s impossible. Maybe you can’t even say what happened to you. Or maybe you’ve let fear own you.

It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter even one second out of eternity.

Because Jesus already paid it all, didn’t he? And when he died the blood he spilled reached all the way back to the first light of the first start beam, and all the way ahead to the final light when the last beams fade.

God isn’t in time. He’s over time. So when God bled he covered all time.

And you…are…covered…too…

6 Thoughts on Young Shooters

It’s been a few days since the school shooting in Florida. The images are heart-wrenching. And honestly, I’ve barely followed the story. But I can feel the heaviness in the air and the weight of all the choices made that day and how they still linger.

A lot of people have a lot of opinions about young shooters (and just mass shootings in general)…and they should. People should think about the world and process the state of the broken and hurting in the country. Moments like this force us to ponder…

Here are my thoughts on the school shooting, but also just on young shooters specifically.

1. Hurting People Hurt People. No matter what, behind every abuser or killer there is a mountain of hurt and pain. When all that goes unseen, when entire generations overlook the broken, when ADULTS overlook the YOUNG…there is no where else for teens to turn but to hate. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Remember? We learned this once, didn’t we?

Here is my question to you….how are YOU loving young people and teens and the broken and the overlooked? When is the last time you stooped to enter someone else’s world?

If your answer is never or rarely can I say with all the love in me that you are part of the problem.

2. Policies and Laws have never been all that great at keeping abusers from harming others; people are changed when other people invest in them. Believe me when I say, that I have seen firsthand how “effective” laws are at keeping victims safe. Believe me when I say that ADULTS really don’t want to hear about abuse…not really…because then you’d have to do something about it. You’d have to face it.

Here is my question to you…do you even SPEAK to young people at all? Do you invest in the lives of the young? Do you offer financial assistance to programs and churches and missionaries who are in the thick and in the mud and in the unbelievable darkness of the lives of teens?

You can walk into just about any youth group in America and there will be stories of rape, of physical abuse, of depression, of teen suicide, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and self-harm. It’s not new or shocking. You’ve just never looked.

3. Depression and stress are absolutely RAMPANT amongst teens. After five years of walking alongside youth in our community, and several years of Young Adult Ministry, and nearly eight years of consistent involvement in our church…I can tell you with confidence that depression is an enormous burden that many, many carry. If we struggle as adults and moms and spouses…how much more so must teens struggle?

No one can or should do life alone. Including you. Including them.

4. The church is on the front lines. If you’ve never been involved in church, this will seem odd to you. But the church has been, and is still, on the front lines of the battle for our teens.

In our small community alone, there are thousands of Christians who support, volunteer, and encourage youth. We still need more. We still need YOU!

Churches often have the gift of accomplishing much with little. Help a church in your community accomplish MORE!

But also know that the most impactful relationships are the ones forged in the day to day, over lunch, and alongside the ups and downs of life.

5. When you minister to broken hearts, your heart WILL be broken. My husband and I have cried for the youth in our church so many times. Our hearts hurt and ache when we see a student give up and start believing the lies that are literally dumped on them by our culture. When you love someone, you offer your whole heart to them. You cheer them on. You cry with them. Be that for someone.

6. This is absolutely a parenting issue. And love starts at home. Healthy homes do not produce hate and violence. And there might be very differing levels of parental responsibility case by case. But there is always an element of parental influence.

•••

You don’t have to be a pastor to make a world of difference. Just step outside your comfort zone and love on a kid with all your heart. And you will see the world change.

5 Lessons I Wish I Hadn’t Learned About Abusive People

Life is full of lessons. Some lessons change you for the better. Some…some you wish you’d never learned.

These are the hardest moments in life. These are the moments that teach you to cling to our Heavenly Father in ways you never knew you could.

1. The people you love the most, will hurt you the deepest. The people you spend a lifetime trying to impress, to endear to you, will hurt you in ways that no one else could. They will laugh at you and manipulate you and lie about you and bring you to tears on your wedding day. They will refuse to celebrate you, and use all the things and people you love most against you: including your own children.

2. Just because a man says he is safe, and volunteers at church and has kids and a wife you adore, doesn’t mean he is actually safe. That man will teach you that fear is stronger than your physical ability to react. Stronger than even instinct. And that gut feeling you had for so long…it was real.

3. Loving an addict and seeing the best in them doesn’t mean they will change. You can’t make someone change. You can only be there to cheer them on.

4. Love of one’s self is often disguised with masks of generosity. I’ve found that some of the most outwardly generous people are deeply selfish. And nothing is harder to change than pride.

5. The most dangerous abusers hide in plain sight and go to extensive lengths to cover their behavior. And they are really, really good at lying. And even better at manipulation. But eventually they make themselves known by the trail of brokenness they leave behind in the dust.

What The Past Decade Has Taught Me

When I turned 20 I couldn’t imagine myself at 30. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure I would survive the next ten years: depression was so dense around me.

I knew God was good and there, but I just couldn’t seem to reach him. Like he was an ever-moving target…and there always seemed to be a veil in front of me.

I’ve since learned that God isn’t far away at all, he is near. He bends down so low to reach us that the wind carries his breath on wings invisible and the dark tones of the sea surface are merely mirroring his infinite depth.

I’ve learned that a good friend is worth the weight of gold. Because when life is full of wonder and new babies and delight, you need a Celebrator beside you. And when life is dim and heartbreaking and everything rips apart, you need a Champion beside you. A Shoulder.

And no one ever told me that Love could change you so: sometimes its feathers and you fly, sometimes its heavy and you grow. But oh! how it changes just everything.

I’ve learned that losing a pregnancy is a strange kind of grief…because only you felt it and only you know that someone is missing from the day-to-day. And every once in a while a flutter reminds you that there is a little body absent from the dinner table. And you wonder…How is it possible to miss a soul you never met? But I’m grateful that it is.

I’ve learned that Motherhood is mostly just the practice of repetitive release. Release of expectations. Release of yourself. Release of controlling the outcome. Release of all the opinions…until you finally find that life you always wanted. Until you finally find the joy in Motherhood is in the imperfection of it, because that is where God meets us most bold.

I’ve learned that hard work is a given. Pain is inevitable. And grief is a part of life. But also so is joy!

I’ve learned that the people who love you, who actually love you, will always want the best for you and not just for themselves. Selfishness is rampant and generosity rare. Be rare.

And I’ve learned that confrontation often reveals true character…on both ends.

I’ve learned that vulnerability is scary but worth it. And I’ve learned that being the same person at home and in public is both possible and freeing. But most of all, it’s what we are called to: humble authenticity.

Here is where the story unfolds…here at the end of a decade that began with sadness and all the empty things but ends hand-in-hand with a good man and three precious little children I get to call my own.

Here…where I learned that God isn’t just enough. He’s too much. He’s everything. And everything is perfect, because that’s exactly what I need.

This is what 10 years taught me, the sacred lessons that all the brokenness tried to keep from me: God doesn’t weave in and out of our lives like a bird diving underneath the surface over and over, beads of wet slipping off it’s feathers…God simply resides with steadfast love so deep it overflows and reaches out from the furthest crevices of the universe.

God is

And that is the most profound lesson of all, isn’t it?