dinsdag 31 december 2013

Domestic emotional abuse: Are you being abused?

Domestic emotional abuse is very common in our socities, and is also found among families in our churches. The perpetrators can be men, women, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, or other family members. Their victims are usually the soft, gentle, sensitive, dependent and vulnerable members in the family. Sadly they themselves are usually also victims of abuse and their unresolved pain serves to victimise others:

Watch out dear Christian, to love your neighbour as yourself does not mean you should allow someone to subjugate, enslave, abuse and humiliate you, it means you do not love yourself the way God loves you. It means they have become an idol in your life and no-one can both please God and a rival human god/goddess:

The typical abuser feels superior and better than the other members of the family or extended family and will always demand or devise ways to receive special privileges and treatment.

A typical abuser demands respect and obedience but himself or herself shows little respect and often treats other family members with contempt and subtly communicates to them their only value is to serve and obey.

A typical abuser is very manipulative and makes sure that he/she takes centre-stage in our lives all the time. He she may oscillate between being dominant, aggressive and pitiful, clingy and needy. Like a shape shifter the abuser may change from a tyrannical dictator into this pitiful, self-depreciating, depressed and very needy person who cries and begs for comfort, attention, validation and affirmation. Any thing can be used to make sure he/she stays at the centre of our attention.

The abuser demands total obedience to his/her ever changing rules and wants his/her ever -changing needs catered for. At the same time the abuser is willing to give very little and feels that any demands on him or her are either unfair or humiliating. 

The abuser wants total unconditional freedom but demands unconditional obedience from everyone else in the family. The slightest hint of disobedience is perceived as rebellion and any mistake or error will be blown out of proportion and may be told for years, preferably publicly to keep you feeling small and subjugated so you remain dependent on him/her.  Failure to obey the excessive and ever changing demands are met with contempt, humiliation and punishment. However, the abuser is to be treated as if he/she never makes any error.  If he/she clearly makes an error, it cannot be discussed and should be concealed from others. To talk about it, even with a concerned friend or counsellor is taken as utter betrayal deserving of severe punishment

The abuser is quick to see fault and criticize but slow to compliment or affirm. If you do get some praise or affirmation, it is usually for something that pleases and benefits him/her. It may also be manipulative to keep someone who is insecure and with a low self-esteem addicted to their approval. Often it is also a prelude to more demands and more proof of our loyalty. Nevertheless most efforts to cater for the needs and demands of the abuser are actually taken for granted. They do not really appreciate it for they feel entitled to special treatment. When on a rare occasion the abuser agrees to be less abusive or contribute to the good of others in the family, no matter how insignificant it is, it is trumpeted everywhere and must be met with excessive adulation, adoration and attention. If sufficient praise is not forthcoming there will be sulking, resentment if not downright nastiness and meanness. 

If on a rare occasion the abuser faces the consequences of his/her errors he/she quickly shrivels and withers and becomes depressed. Usually someone else or an external factor will be blamed for the abuser fears nothing worse than introspection, to look into the abyss of his/her own damaged and hurting heart which is the wellspring of all bitterness, hate and meanness.

Instead of dealing with his/her deep inner damage and pain, the abuser vents his/her rage on others, usually indoors so that there are no witnesses so he/she cannot be held to account by outsiders and can continue to abuse he victims indoors with impunity. They suffer the aggression, the bitterness and the regular withholding of ''intimacy'', ''love'' and attention. But if suddenly a visitor arrives the abuser is all smiles and friendly and appears to be the most committed and humble family member ever.  The keeping up appearances is the most important part of the scheme for it provides the perfect cover for the abuser so he/she can do as he/she pleases for even if they speak out the victims will not be believed.

In spite of all his/her wrongdoing the abuser is terribly afraid that you will no longer love him/her and will look for ways to imprison you emotionally by means of emotional blackmail, creating dependency, being clingy, threats to you, your loved ones and even the threat of suicide.
The abuser wants subjugation and unconditional obedience, leaving you as a doormat, a slave without rights, a sacrificial lamb to the god/goddess from whom no demands can be made. No debate is possible, it is always like “Roma Locuta Est, Causa Finita Est”. If crossed harsh punishment is the rule, not the exception. Bitter vengeance and hateful behaviour where nothing is sacred is common. Anything is allowed in order to totally subjugate the victim.

In order to exercise control the abuser sadistically manipulates family members against each other so that they cannot find help or comfort in one another. It often seems that he/she derives his/her greatest pleasure from the utter subjugation of the people under her control.
The abuser is a superb actor fooling the outside world with a picture of a devoted, even self-sacrificing partner/parent/family member. In this manner the abuser can keep his/her emotional torture chamber hidden from the prying eyes of the world.

Why do the victims not leave?
You may wonder why anyone stays in such a situation, why partners, or the children don't leave and look for help.  However, after years of abuse they may have been brainwashed it is like that in every family, or they have started to believe the abuser's lie that they somehow deserve it. They may have also started to believe that they are helpless and cannot escape. They may have a very low self-esteem and be insecure and afraid to be abandoned, not only by the abuser but by the outsiders who will not believe their story. There is also the lie that the abuser cannot help it because he/she is weak/ill/ignorant/unable to change so he/she needs you. Yes, the above behaviour is sick, it is a sign of weakness, ignorance, psychological damage and illness, but the abuser is not helpless, if he/she really wants he/she can get help and can change. He/she does not need you, he/she just wants to possess and use you. Yes, your abuser needs help, yes he/she needs our pity. Yes it is good to forgive him/her, but do not add to their sins and guilt by allowing them to abuse you. If you truly love your abuser because you know that deep down there is a nice, warm, vulnerable person, if you want her/his true self to be released from her/his prison and get help, then stop helping him/her abuse you. You are facilitating and possibly even fueling the abuse by allowing it to continue. No, it is not your fault you fell victim to this, but it is your fault if you allow it to continue because of your fears or own interests. You cannot help him/her no matter what he/she says or promises. Even if you had the knowledge and qualifications, the very fact that you are trapped in this situation disqualifies you. You need to get out and reflect on your vulnerabilities that trapped and work on dealing with them you so you won't get trapped again.



zaterdag 28 december 2013

Food for thought

Even the biggest hypocrite enjoys being treated with love, demonstrated by compassion, respect and kindness. The difference between a true Christ-ian and a hypocrite is that the true Christ-ian seeks to demonstrate love in the form of compassion, respect and kindness to everyone, even his or her enemies. The other, however, is knowingly and intentionally selective and conditional in to whom he or she shows love in the form of compassion, respect and kindness.

 43 You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” 44 But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. 45 Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. 46 If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. 47 If you greet only your friends, what's so great about that? Don't even unbelievers do that? 48 But you must always act like your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:43-48).

Turn away from wrongdoing

19 But the solid foundation that God has laid cannot be shaken; and on it are written these words: “The Lord knows those who are his” and “Those who say that they belong to the Lord must turn away from wrongdoing.” 20 In a large house there are dishes and bowls of all kinds: some are made of silver and gold, others of wood and clay; some are for special occasions, others for ordinary use. 21 Those who make themselves clean from all those evil things, will be used for special purposes, because they are dedicated and useful to their Master, ready to be used for every good deed. 22 Avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help.  (2 Timothy 2:19-22) 
Jesus replied: If anyone loves me, they will obey me. Then my Father will love them, and we will come to them and live in them. But anyone who doesn't love me, won't obey me. (John 14:23-24)
If we truly love Jesus we will obey Him, not because we are able to do so consistently in our own strength, but because we will be joined to Him by His Holy Spirit who pours out His love in our hearts (Romans 5:5). The very love that motivates and enables us to obey. When we are joined to Him we will bear much fruit (John 15). It is not so much making an effort bearing fruit, rathe rit is the natural outflow of a heart joined in love to Him so that His life-giving streams of living water flow in and through us, producing as fruit an obedient life. 
Loving Jesus and remaining joined to Him in love entails that we turn away from wrongdoing. True love does not intentionally wants to hurt the other. If we do seek to intentionally hurt the other in a relationship then our love for them is not genuine, it may be little more than self-love which is concerned with how the other can benefit me rather than with how can I serve and please the other.

Maybe you recognize too much self-love and too little genuine love for God in your own heart. Maybe you are convicted in your heart that truly you often do not obey Christ because you do not love Him enough? It is never too late to turn-away from wrongdoing and to admit to God "I want to love and obey you, but I am unable to do it in my own strength. Please help me draw closer to you, please fill my heart with true love for you so that I will eagerly and joyfully seek to obey you.



zondag 24 november 2013

Another gospel

1 Cor. 9:22-23

22 When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. 23 I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings.

Col. 2:20-23

20 You died with Christ. Now the forces of the universe don't have any power over you. Why do you live as if you had to obey such rules as, 21 “Don't handle this. Don't taste that. Don't touch this.”? 22 After these things are used, they are no longer good for anything. So why be bothered with the rules that humans have made up? 23 Obeying these rules may seem to be the smart thing to do. They appear to make you love God more and to be very humble and to have control over your body. But they don't really have any power over our desires.

I am someone who easily adapts to different cultures, circumstances and people. For me to be a Jew with the Jew and Greek with the Greek is actually something I enjoy. However, there is a big pitfall there and often I have fallen into it. To be able to adapt is good but one should be careful what one adapts to, and for what purpose. Paul’s focus was Christ and the Gospel of Christ. With that focus in mind he was willing to give up a lot of his personal freedoms and preferences in order to save some. However, we should not adapt to other people’s wishes and preferences simply for the sake of wanting to be liked. Nor should we adapt out of fear of rejection or abandonment.  This is one pitfall I have often fallen into and in the process also compromised my walk with Christ. The word of God warns us not to become unequally yoked with unbelievers. This does not just mean those who are not Christians, but includes those who call themselves Christians but do not live a Christ-like life. It also includes those who follow a different gospel than the gospel of grace and love taught by Christ.  I have realised that in relationships, even within Christian ministry I have often compromised and adapted too much and gotten myself entangled and unequally yoked with people whose gospel consists of ‘don’t do this’, ‘you shouldn’t have done that’, ‘you must do this’, ‘you must be like this....’. Such a gospel may have the appearance of godliness but it is characterised by self-righteous perfectionism, pretending to be better than thou. The followers of such a false gospel condemn or look down upon those who err, magnify the errors of others but hide or down play and even deny their own wrongs. It is a false gospel which sadly can be found in virtually every Christian tradition. Those who live according to the gospel of grace and love, and the gospel of no-condemnation for those who belong to Christ (Rom. 8:1ff) should be careful not to get unequally yoked with them. If we take their heavy yoke upon ourselves rather than the yoke of Christ (which is light) as we adapt to their rules and demands we may end up heavy laden or emulating their judgemental attitude which has more in common with the Pharisees than with Christ who in compassion and grace says, I do not condemn you, but go and sin no more.

woensdag 20 november 2013

Be born again

Being-born again is not a magical process which changes you from an unsaved law-less person to someone who follows a set of religious rules and regulations which befitting a middle or upper-class gentleman or lady. Being truly born-again means that our inner philosophy, the inner conviction we are driven by is changed by the Holy Spirit who fills us with the love of God. This love is poured out by God’s Holy Spirit in our hearts when we surrender our lives to Christ in response to the gospel of God’s love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for us. This love then enables us to live in accordance with the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ. Sadly many self-confessed born again Christians are actually driven by other driving forces/motivations than the love of Christ. They may in truth be driven by idols such as a desire for status, respectability, success, control, influence, power, money, possessions, material security, being liked, being admired, being loved, sex and so on. No-one who is an idolater can be full of God and the love of God, for God is a Holy God and He does not share our hearts with idols.

zondag 10 november 2013

Do we need revolution?

In a world where government structures are often oppressive many people want to fight the system. However, the more we fight the status quo, the more likely we are to embrace it for by our very fight we validate its existence and affirm its powerful influence. It is the same process that makes it more likely for children of alcoholics becoming alcoholics themselves even after having vowed never to do so. So we see marxists becoming even worse capitalists than the ones they fought and liberation fighters and anarchists becoming worse dicators and setting up more oppressive systems than the ones they fought. Victims become victimisers and so on. Jesus, however, did not start a revolution fighting the system but he provided us with a different way of viewing and living reality from the perspective of the Kingdom of God. It is when we learn to view and approach all things from His perspective we ourselves will be revolutionised and make a constructive impact in the world.

donderdag 24 oktober 2013

Gods vision for healthy relationships

Discover God's Vision for healthy Relationships.

Gods vision for relationships is guided by the philosophy of Christ, namely love God first and from your relationship of love with God you love your neighbour as yourself. If we love another person as God loves him or her, our greatest desire is to see that man (or women) conformed to the image of Christ. In order to contribute to this desire being fulfilled we seek to work with the Lord to bring forth qualities in us that reflect His character and gifts that enable us to help others draw closer to God and become more like Him. On our part this requires us to be emotionally disciplined and seek emotional fulfilment in God rather than in the other. We must be willing to trade emotional dependency on people for emotional dependency on God. It also requires us to stop allowing people to make themselves emotionally dependent on us and to encourage them to find the fulfilment of their emotional needs in God. Not everyone will take kindly to this. Some people will respond with clinging behaviour, manipulation, anger and retaliation. However, it is not just in our best interest to do so, it is also in their best interest that we stay strong and do not give in. Also the need to be needed is on our part an emotional need that should be fulfilled by God and not by people who are emotionally dependent on us. To do so is tantamount to idolatry as we seek our ultimate emotional fulfilment in people and not in God and His love. To choose for obedience to God and to discipline ourselves emotionally might make or break a friendship. When we exchange another's best interests for our own neediness, we run the risk of losing the relationship. However, if we continue to maintain or pursue an exclusive emotional involvement with this person, then our desires are in conflict with what the Lord wants. We need to ask ourselves, "Am I working with God or Against Him in the person's life?”.  A healthy godly relationship is characterised by a desire to see the other conformed into the likeness of Christ rather than to see the other conformed to our wishes and desires.

See also:  http://yacrisishotline.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/emotionalinterdependency.pdf