From Victim to Overcomer (#650)
It's a horrible thing to feel like someone else's victim, especially with wounds that have held on for decades. When others have been the conduit of evil to attack our lives, it is easy to get sucked into the idea that we are their perpetual victim and stay captive to whatever harm they did to us. After Wayne fills Brad in on his recent weekend in Ukraine, they find themselves in a conversation about helping others move beyond victimhood to find that God is bigger than whatever trauma others have caused them and to discover the way he would lead them to overcome. He still has joy for each of us, in spite of what others have done to us. Of course, it is really helpful when we see God as the rescuer in our story, rather than the cause of our pain by something he did or didn't do.
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Probably one thing that might be helpful is to try to enter into another’s experience. Hard as that may be, I think what some who are or have been marginalized experience from others, is this desire to help them get over it versus sitting with them in their pain. Particularly if one is not part of a marginalized community, there’s a learning curve as to how that experience looks and feels. It’s quite simply outside of their scope of reality. I think first that needs to be acknowledged versus rushing in with what a person feels works in their context of privilege. Just sit there for a while, absorb and try to feel what it must be like from their vantage point, which includes a world that operates very differently from the world in which you live, and don’t be in a hurry to get the person to the getting-over-it part (as well-intentioned as that may be). Not that growth and movement away from the hurt isn’t valid, but for some, like myself, a part of the healing process is the need to sit in the pain and feel its depth before moving beyond it. For some, that is an uncomfortable feeling and so in their desire to ease their own discomfort they rush to help people move on. But it’s not about our feelings or our own timeline of how quickly people need to move on, and that’s one thing I never feel from Jesus–this pressure to move on. I feel like He sits with me in my pain and patiently waits as I grow through it. Humanly though, I think we struggle with the feelings of hopelessness at not being able to solve a problem or ease someone’s pain. But maybe what we should do instead is drop kernels of truth and trust that those will blossom and bring forth fruit in due time. What this requires is probably more time and effort than many are willing to put in. We’re wired for doing the work and getting results.
You’re absolutely right, Pat. “Weep with those who weep,” is still great counsel. It doesn’t say, “Push toward healing those who weep.” Healing has to come in our time. I hope underlying our discussion is the assumption that the “victim” is ready and wanting to find their way out of their way to great freedom and is asking for help. This is a great reminder. Thanks for adding it. I love what you wrote here.
Pat, your words are so life giving and healing! I heard Dr. Anita Sawyer say, “when people feel understood, they feel connected, and when they feel connected, they start to heal.” Also, Brene Brown has said, “…the truth is rarely can a response make something better; what makes something better is connection.” Your words, Pat, sound similar to these two individuals, and are soaked with love and compassion and empathy.
I find the paradox of healing is that it often occurs with being known, understood, experiencing compassion and empathy, and not by attempting to move somebody to another place that they are not ready to move themselves. And in that space of being present no matter where one is over and over…the individual finds healing little by little; likely not even aware of what is transforming in their soul until a later date. “The years reveal much that the days cannot not see.” (Got that from a fortune cookie).
fyi, I couldn’t see search option you mentioned using IE. When I switched to Firefox it was there. Great to have search capability. maybe other listeners have same problem.
Thank you for this podcast Brad and Wayne … it sort of is an extention of Jesus not only forgives my sins against others, but also the sin of those who sin against me.
I am also thankful for “Pat’s” comment …
Pat, your words really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing.
I have been reading and studying about childhood trauma lately, and its long-term affects on health. Officially there are 10 categories which are used to measure the amount of trauma a child experiences, including having an alcoholic parent, being chronically humiliated by a parent, experiencing sexual or physical abuse, losing a parent through divorce, etc. Doctors and geneticists have been discovering in the last few decades that these adverse childhood experiences (referred to as ACEs) actually physically change a person’s DNA. It changes the grey matter in their brains. These people grow up to develop heart disease, chronic illnesses, cancer, depression, and anxiety at multiple times the rate of people who never experienced an ACE. Childhood trauma changes your body, and ultimately it can change the outcome of your life because of this. And the numbers of people who are in this category are astounding.
Now, the relevance I see here is that… I don’t look at people who consider themselves victims of everything to be the whiny, annoying, ungrateful people that most people see. I see people who were hurt in some way as a child, and who haven’t been able to overcome that pain. I see people who lack the coping skills needed, who are, much like someone with a physical disease, unable to truly realize themselves as anything but a victim. I have pity on them. Can someone in that position change? Absolutely. Sometimes I believe it is only through God’s healing power and love. Sometimes people need intense therapy and a willingness to be open to change the way they have been conditioned to live. It feels safe to be a victim, as ironic as that sounds. It feels dangerous to gain a voice and to change a coping mechanism that you’ve been able to hide behind.
Anyway, some food for thought.