Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
So, I opened up this door and let you in. I extended an invitation for questions and you accepted. I see now that I cannot feed his sheep without the armor of God.
I admire your questions; your courage to ask. I read a desire for understanding and I am so thankful. This series is not about me. I am opening my heart to feed you. I want you to know so that you can be helped and so that you can help others.
. . . And it hurts.
There is a lion who wants to devour the sheep. He wants to divide and alienate the sheep, but the armor of God can protect us. Thus, I read your questions with God’s armor on.
I want you to keep asking. I want you to keep reading. Please, do not stop seeking understanding.
But. Hear. This.
I have extended the invitation for your sake, for those who suffer and those who overcome. I have asked for this.
Others do not.
The questions you are asking are not appropriate under any other circumstances. Some questions and statements are potentially harmful. I know that you want to understand, but others may not. We do not always think objectively when we hurt. We do not always remember the armor of God. Please keep this in mind when speaking with anyone else who has been hurt.
Therefore, I have chosen to answer one of the most recent questions next. It comes from a woman wanting to help a friend in an abusive relationship.
Are there any other suggestions you might have for me so I can help her through this?
The best thing you can do is be there and pray for her.
Unless someone’s life is in danger or a child is involved, there is little more you can or should do. If a child is in danger, I suggest first prayerfully warning the primary caregiver that you intend to involve the authorities. Every situation is different, so use discretion.
Speaking from my own experience, there is no use arguing with a person who remains in an abusive situation. When appropriate, speak about your relationship with the Savior and point to him as the only head, the only one who can save, and the only one through whom we come to the Father. This can be done in a natural, friendly way.
Once a person has escaped, they need to be patiently wrapped in love. Of course, I cannot say what everyone will experience. I was afraid of love because of what so-called love had done to my family. I was determined not to lose, however, and fought to conquer that fear. Friends and family were very patient while I worked through this.
Not everyone will be as determined as I was. If you see your friend pulling away after escape, there is no harm in asking if she is afraid of love. If she is, express understanding and ask how you can help. If not, ask if she is afraid of anything else. Even if she cannot answer right away, the door has been opened.
When anyone is in a crisis, there is one question that is always appropriate:
How can I help?
Stay away from questions that appear accusatory or belittling. For example, do not ask how this could happen or how they didn’t know. These questions sound more like, “How could you be so dumb?”
Also, avoid questions that are meant to satisfy your curiosity. These are the questions that ask for details. They are invasive and hurtful. They are not asked in love and will further victimize your friend.
If you sense that your friend is hinting at details that need to be discussed for the sake of healing, ask if she needs to talk about something. You can come right out and ask if someone hurt your friend, but assure her that she only need answer when she is ready. Also, tell her that talking to someone is good and that you will help her find someone else if she cannot tell you. Above all, believe your friend. Do not further victimize her with your doubts, whether she seems to be hiding something or telling lies.
Assure her that this is not her fault. Many people who survive abuse are quick to take the blame. It does not matter what anyone else does, no one has the right to abuse another. Ever. Encourage your friend by pointing out her strengths and help her look forward to a better future.
Finally, respect your friend’s love. You may not understand how a person can love an abuser. It is possible and common, however, and it is important. Love will lead to forgiveness and that will lead to healing. (True, godly love may need to replace co-dependency. This may need to be addressed by a counselor.)
Friends, I am so thankful for your desire to learn about spiritual abuse. If the concept of spiritual abuse is new to you, I recommend reading the post, What is Spiritual Abuse? as well as perusing the links in my sidebar. I pray that above everything else, you seek Jesus. He is the only way and the only truth.