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Abusing Abuse? | Guest Post, Part 2

So...are we making a big deal out of nothing? Have we made ourselves into victims, casting blame on well-meaning parents and spiritual leaders, not "owning up" to our mistakes or claiming responsibility for our own problems and sins? After all, there is REAL abuse out there...just look at all the shelters for battered women. But as all counselors will tell you, abuse takes many forms. It is unfortunate that the Body of Christ seems to place more importance and validity on the kind of abuse that endangers the body while neglecting the kind that endangers the soul.

Just because spiritual and emotional abuse is subtle and often unseen except by the victims, doesn't mean that it is less important than physical abuse that can be seen. Who are you to look at someone who is hurting and tell them that their pain isn't as important as another's? To look at the girl who wonders if she has any value in God's eyes and tell her "Well, buck up, take responsibility for your life, and be thankful you weren't beaten"? How are bruises on the body worse than bruises on the soul?

I refuse to play the my-problems-are-worse-than-your-problems game. Pain is pain. It hurts, it debilitates, it affects every area of our lives. Anyone who lives with chronic physical pain can tell you this. And those who struggle with spiritual pain know all too well. May I even suggest that wounded spirits have far more profound impacts on people's lives than wounded bodies? Perhaps because a heart that is whole can live a beautiful life even in a body that is broken. But it doesn't really work the other way around.

Yes, healing is our choice. But we first have to recognize the wound in order to apply the correct balm. Ignoring it, or telling yourself to "just get over it" won't work. If I've grown up with the belief that I am only pleasing to God if I perform correctly, then I must see the lie in that message, and apply the correct truth. The lie: that any works of righteousness can make me acceptable to God. The Truth: "for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" and "when we were still without strength, Christ died for the ungodly" and "He has made you accepted in the Beloved".

This is not a "blame game". We do not believe in sitting around and blaming our parents, church, friends, whomever for our pain and the consequences thereof. But the fact is, there are things passed down to us from our parents that contributed, if not outright caused, certain wounds in our lives. This is true for everyone, regardless of religious beliefs. Acknowledging this, recognizing it, and discussing it is not the same thing as blaming others. I believe in family wounds and generational curses/pain. A woman who was told she was never good enough is going to pass that lie to her daughters and they to their daughters unless it is acknowledged and healed by the Healer. I can see some lies and strongholds in myself that were present in my grandfather. I am not blaming him, just recognizing where the lie started and looking at all the heartache it has caused in subsequent generations. I also know that it does not have to be this way. That lie and the wounds inflicted by it can stop with me. I do not have to pass it on to my children. I will not; I refuse. I'm sure my mother would have said the same had she but known to even look for it. Had she not been told "You're fine, get over it."

This is why we even bring this up. Not only so that we can live from a healed, whole heart, but for our children and our children's children. Broken people produce more broken people. It is an endless cycle of pain and brokenness and the Enemy of our souls loves it. Ignoring it will only perpetuate the pain. The Church today has very little understanding about matters of the heart and this has to stop. It is because of people saying "Buck up, stop blaming everyone else, get over it" that there is so much brokenness and dysfunction among Christians today. We've ignored our pain and the causes for too long and are now reaping the harvest of broken people, broken families. Christ's little ones are stumbling and falling and being told to "get over it" because their wounds aren't visible to the world. These things ought not to be.

Jesus said "Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest". But how can we get that rest unless we first admit we need it? How can we leave our burdens with Him unless we first admit we have a burden? Ignoring the burden or downplaying its effect on our lives will not make it go away. It will only cause us to live a half-hearted life and when we die, to pass that burden on to our children. Brothers and sisters, I beg you, do not perpetuate pain by ignoring, comparing, downplaying, and telling others to "get over it". And stop criticizing those who are recognizing wounds, denouncing lies, and inviting healing into their pain-wracked hearts. Be cautious lest you find yourselves fighting against the very God you serve. In the words of a very wise man, "And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it ~ lest you even be found to fight against God." Acts 5:38,39

Darcy is wife to a good man and mother to three beautiful children. Her passions include music, organic living, coffee, homeschooling, and Truth in the Person of Jesus Christ. Due to being raised in a spiritually abusive church, extreme fundamentalism, and other ills of the Dark Side of the homeschool culture, she is also passionate about freedom, finding healing in Jesus' grace, and leading others to the Healer of hearts and the Restorer of souls. She blogs at Darcy's Heart Stirrings.


  1. Thank you Darcy. As a person who has had to face the lies and wounds of my childhood, and as a mother who has (unintentionally) hurt my own teens, I say "Amen"!

    The problem is not those who speak up about a problem! The problem is the problem (misogyny, doctrine over person, etc.). And the problem is exacerbated by ignoring it, letting it fester and grow, and be passed on to yet another generation.

    Parents, I have this to say: suck it up and accept responsibility for the pain you have caused in your daughters' hearts. Jesus said when we confess our sin and forsake it, we will be forgiven, cleansed and prosper in our lives.

    But when we say we have no sin, and try to cover our sins, then judgment remains: a heavy emotional burden will weigh us down. None of our other relationships/projects will prosper until we own up to our sins.

    This bothers me more than anything about the many Christians I have known: a refusal to care about the hearts they have hurt (inadvertently or intentionally).

    Our Savior addressed both sides of personal conflict: if we are offended with out brother we are commanded to let him know, and if our brother is offended with us we are commanded to do whatever it takes to make it right.

    That means admitting our fault. Even if our intentions were goed, is we have done harm we need to own up to it and apologize. We need to express our hearts (hopefully hearts of love!) to those we have offended, and explain ourselves.

    Example: "I hear you saying that you are afraid of men and that it hurts you that you are unable to trust your brothers in Christ because *I* raised you to think all men were evil and only thought about sex. It grieves my heart that I allowed MY REGRETS and MY FEARS to govern so many parenting decisions, instead of the letting the love of God be my motivation. Here's what made me think like this (insert your own traumas here- you know you have them mom and if you're honest you'll admit that they motivate many of your life choices). But I love you, these things didn't happen to you, and they probably never will. I see now that in trying to protect you I actually hurt you, and I am so, so sorry. I want only good for you." Then you could pray together and ask the Lord to heal your daughter's heart, your heart, and your relationship.

    Instead, so many religious people act like you are in sin if you go to your brother who has offended you- the total opposite of Christ's command! And, instead of being reconciled to their offended brother, they attack the one who made them uncomfortable with the reality that they are guilty (willfully or not) of causing pain to another's heart.

    Here's chapter and verse for anyone to whom that it may be important: Matt 5:23-24; Matthew 18:15; Luke 17:3-4 (note that confrontation comes before forgiveness).

  2. For people who've dealt with these issues, but feel shame for wanting to address them, fearing they'll be causing a division in the body of Christ...

    The fact that these issues are real and exist is the evidence that there already is a division in the body of Christ. Ignoring that division doesn't mean it isn't there. In fact, it's likely to grow through avoidance.

    I applaud those of you who are tackling this head-on (and doing so far more capably and gracefully than I ever could). Few things of merit come easily.

  3. Splendid!

    "It is unfortunate that the Body of Christ seems to place more importance and validity on the kind of abuse that endangers the body while neglecting the kind that endangers the soul."

    Even worse when our religious code-words and cliches unwittingly enable it.

  4. Darcy and Shadowspring,

    What kind and understanding message you bring here.

    Having followed some of the recent commentary on the blog over the past couple of weeks, it is very important to point out that no loving parent ever intends to do harm. But because we are imperfect creatures with limited insight and understanding, when someone comes along with a plan of how to be incredibly wise, or even if we just follow our own family traditions, we make a choice which involves risk. Sometimes those choices and risks create or result in unintended pain for those we love.

    But as Darcy aptly notes, "Pain is still pain." Talking about the hurt is not a total repudiation of our faith or our intent. It speaks of our need for a Savior who can shine through our weaknesses so that He can show Himself strong and glorious. We all have weaknesses and we all need His healing strength which works all things together for good and for the salvation of many. It is our testimony that God uses to overcome evil.

    I'm so glad, overflowing with gladness, to see so many on this blog articulating this so well in posts and comments. Addressing our weaknesses and hurts allows God's healing to complete His good work in us.

  5. Good post again, Darcy. My grandmother tried to say that its disrespectful if we say our parents left us any wounds, and then she said its just easier to pretend that they never happen. In context, I was not even saying she had given our family wounds but was talking in general about lies.

    Wow. I could really see how the lies were passed down in my family. No one was allowed to feel pain or hurt.

  6. Darcy, you inspired me!
    Just wrote a post called "Show Me The Blood"...Thanks for addressing this issue! Hillary, thanks for hosting her!

  7. Ignoring wounds does not make them go away. Imagine trying to walk on a broken leg or something. Aggravating the wound won't help either. That's like lying around for six months moaning about how your leg hurts instead of getting it set and put in a cast.

    We definitely need to face the wounds and abuse that are there. We need to admit to the pain and the resulting consequences. But we also need to seek healing, not revel in our pain.

    Healing takes time. I am so thankful for the ones who have walked beside me and supported me in this journey! They have given me time to heal, but also been honest when I needed a gentle reminder not to wallow in the mud of pain. They have listened for many hours while I tried to process the good and the evil. And I have often done the same for them.

  8. I would also add that, as a parent, I would not consider it honoring in the least for my children to ignore the pain I caused them nor pretend that I did everything perfectly. To me, "honoring" would mean my children embracing that which I gave them that was good, acknowledging the mistakes, and having an open communications regarding their up-bringing. I am only human. No matter how hard I try I will not be the perfect parent. I hope to God that my kids don't get told they aren't "honoring" me if they speak up about the problems in our family. It is those things that are hidden and never talked about that have the power to hurt us, not the things that are brought into the light for healing.

  9. [two part reply, hate word limit, arrrgh]

    "be diligent lest a Root of Bitterness springing up cause you trouble and many are defiled thereby", Hebrews [going by memory, just I know it's in there],

    but anyway, there is another way of looking at this that I'd like to share,

    the Reason I fell away, in my twenties Was because when I first asked for prayer about the abuse by my mother and I was in a lot of pain, I had the you just need to forgive and shut up about it pretty much and if you still hurt then you obviously haven't forgiven, so,

    I forgave [so I thought] and it festered, and festered, and festered, and then I married an abuser and more festering until one day I said, to hell with Christianity and pretty much didn't believe in Jesus, believing On his Words, believed He died but not His Words, so over time I went from believer [I think shallow conversion but IF I had of had the discipleship/and Seen real love and not religious pharisee bunk I might have actually Truly converted over and not have been deceived] but anyway,

    I went from hurt/denial to a child of hell, literally, [why I spoke out a lot on another blog against the other extremes, though I did understand it, I also know how the atheists and world [how Satan works] to pull women away from Jesus] because I've been there--and believe me That is far worse to recover from spiritually and emotionally than the abuse, why I speak up.

    But to make matters worse, due to that denial and not dealing with the pain, and then falling away [or not truly converting] I in my liberalism and rebellion [esp against authority] passed down a lot of iniquity to my own daughters,

    oh yea, and so like NOW I not only have to deal with My sinful past, but the fact that I even though maybe not deliberately, was a worker of Satan towards my own kids, girls and like now I have one daughter who is 18 that is fornicating and refuses marriage and though I've talked to her, she in darkness.

    This is really hard for me because now that I KNOW the TRUTH, I deal with the condemnation, yea I know the scriptures but you know to know mentally and then to SEE the FRUITS OF ONE'S ACTIONS is two different things so I really do have a lot of anger at Myself,

    however, I also struggle with the anger at many of the pharisee Christians who persuaded me with a lot of guilt that my pain wasn't valid enough nor was I important enough to deal with--so like when they would throw it up to 'oh you need to forgive' and be done with it,

    that to me, translated to: you don't matter, what your mother did was ok. Especially with God.

  10. my point is, when we plant the seeds of Indifference, rather than weep with those who weep, we can actually be used by Satan to do a lot more than just hurt one individual,

    if that individual really sees God as a harsh abusing jerk, they will rebel Then they pass that down to Their children and so forth,

    and then you really see a lineage of rotting toxin rather than Fruit.

    And like I think, IF, IF only, ONLY, the churches I went to in my twenties would have CARED more than just tossing me a bone, who knows, maybe I would have gotten the help I so needed and maybe I would have taught my daughters to Love God,

    rather than not trust anyone.

    That and them seeing me in abusive marriage, that didn't help either.

    So like, it goes down generations, it can be pharisee or Herod, [the other side of the coin which is Just as damaging] and like, I don't think people really keep this in mind, well sure because we tend to be Short sighted.

    Here's what I believe now, I believe, that my actions today, the FRUIT of such, the judgment, will BE those who have been effected by those, the whole PAY IT FORWARD,

    IF I plant toxic crap, then it will pollute many. IF I plant love, edifying, blessings, then it will build up many and THAT I think is really what the Real Fruit is,

    we either are sweet or thorny.

    Because of the denial, that root of bitterness AND the fact of my own sin nature, there is a lot of thorns I left, destruction in my wake that NOW I have to work to restore, heal and do what is right, and it is NOT easy,

    to undo serious Damage.

    And there is serious consequences and like, well, just take my warning,

    it ain't worth it OK, stop being [for those who are callous] insensitive, and go back and read what Jesus says about love, Lazarus, thorns and so forth. Because it's not how 'religious' we are,

    it's the Type of fruit we leave, the legacy, behind us, when WE leave this place,

    and if that fruit is thorns, we're in big trouble.

    Take it from one who was a thorn bearer for years. Those thorns have a tendency to whip back and slap you in the face, and when they do, they hurt. [that and the dealing with fear of judgment, condemnation, man it is NOT worth it, learn to love, or deal with the demons later...it is not worth it].



  11. I have a husband who grew up in this cultic movement & he's never exited. About 3 yrs ago, he was recruited into a bonefide cult. At the time, I had no idea that he was being recruited. To make a long story short, I felt offended hurt and crushed. How did I respond? For the most part normal, but I became obsessed with how it made me feel and obsessed with trying to rescue him. Neither plan worked in fact it may have caused him to dig deeper. Our marriage was @ a very critical place. I was offended. It got to the point where it was clear to me that I had to switch up some gears to something better. It wasn't easy but it felt so freeing. I apologized to my husband sobbed and humbled myself to him. That day was huge for us. I say this because, when my husband was being recruited, I chose not to deal with my baggage in the best way but chose to be very very offended. And instead of laying down that baggage and walking across the room to hug him I blamed him for everything. He is @ fault but that's between him & God. I feel @ peace with telling him my sins and knowing that the Lord Jesus doesn't hold anything against not matter what. I have fallen more in love with our Lord & my husband through this. I have a peace that surpasses all understand really. I am more relaxed and able to build a bridge to my brother my husband of love trust honor and of respect. ~Frogla

  12. WONDERFUL work!!! I may send this to the address given on "Steadfast Daughters".

    "The fact that these issues are real and exist is the evidence that there already is a division in the body of Christ. Ignoring that division doesn't mean it isn't there. In fact, it's likely to grow through avoidance"

    BINGO. Funny how you said this long before Stacy Mcdonald said she feared Hillary's book would tear down and divide the Body of Christ.


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