We Can’t Ignore Abuse Any Longer (Part 2)

This is part two of Jennifer Harris’ post about helping the abused. Please read yesterday’s post to catch up.

It is devastating to learn that someone you trust has taken advantage of that trust and harmed your children. One of the hardest issues for me was coming to grips with the fact that such traumatic abuse was part of God’s plan for our family from before the foundation of the world, and that it was part of His perfect plan for GOOD in our lives.

After wrestling through tough issues about God’s sovereignty, goodness, and love, that has now become most comforting. I am so thankful for a church family and dear friends who made a “safe place” for me to wrestle through those things, and who loved and prayed us through those days (and in the case of our pastor, preached a lot of “deep waters” sermons!). We are commanded in Scripture to bear one another’s burdens…and we have experienced that in so many ways.

We need to provide that “safe place”. We need to be those loving, praying, burden-bearing people helping others deal with similar trauma, pain, and questions. We also need to realize that we have no idea what others may be experiencing. For most of our most difficult days, almost no one knew what our family was going through. We went to church, put on our “everything’s fine” happy faces (some times more successfully than others), and prayed that we wouldn’t fall apart before we got home. It’s easy to cause unintended pain in such situations.

We need to realize that there is much hidden pain in our churches, and realizing that, we need to extend grace whenever possible. Rather than assuming that the child who balks at participating in an activity is being anti-social and should be pushed to conform, we need to realize that there may be very legitimate reasons for their reluctance. Rather than feel slighted when someone passes us in the hall without speaking, we need to understand that they may be carrying a heavy, invisible weight that has rendered them completely oblivious. We need to react to possible trauma-related behavior issues in ways that cause children to feel safe and loved.

God has so been working in me in this area of extending grace . As I’ve typed this post, He’s convicted me of areas in which I need to extend grace, even as I encourage others to do so. {I love it when my blog posts step on my own toes while I’m still in the process of typing them…ouch!}

Abuse can touch any family. If any family should have been immune, ours should. Billy and I met through our careers in Child Protective Services. We were, and are, super-protective. We have learned that while we need to do everything in our power to protect our children, we cannot protect them from everything. My heart is heavy for others, known and unknown, dealing with long-term issues of abuse. I pray that the church will be the hands and feet of Jesus to love and minister to them.

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