Reinvention through Resurrection
By: Susan Deborah Schiller
"...Hope knows that if great trials are avoided, great deeds remain undone and the possibility of growth into greatness of soul is aborted.… When tragedy makes its unwelcome appearance and we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own agony, when courage flies out the window and the world seems to be a hostile, menacing place, it is the hour of our own Gethsemane. No word, however sincere, offers any comfort or consolation. The night is bad. Our minds are numb, our hearts vacant, our nerves shattered. How will we make it through the night? The God of our lonely journey is silent." — Brennan Manning
Jesus calls us to pick up our cross and follow him. For survivors of the most horrific domestic violence – sociopathic abuse – we often have no choice but pain and death. The good news is it can be a time of resurrection to an even better life.
The Cross: Your abuser is relentless and has projected his own twisted mind onto yours. Sometimes it really seems like he believes the accusations he's projected onto you.
Up seems down and down seems up, and it feels like you've been dropped onto an alien planet. When people you love and trust buy into his lies, your self-esteem is smashed to bits. You become as dangerous to yourself as your abuser is, because self-hatred, even if you're not conscious of it, is creating a spiritual auto-immune disease that may even manifest physically, commonly fibromyalgia or even cancer.
I'm not saying this will happen to you, but many of us lose nearly everything when we escape to freedom. Losing your reputation, your assets and finances. Losing your home, your family, your identity… it's like a crucifixion… a time when you pick up your cross and follow Christ on the road to Calvary.
You're being dragged through hell backwards and there's no two ways about it!
All my attempts to maintain peace and security failed. I lost my identity in the process and my heart is so numb I can barely feel anything, even the pain of this loss.
Who am I? Why am I here? Who do I want to be? Where do I want to be? Who do I want to be with? What will my future look like? — an excerpt from my diary, summer of 2011.
I had truly loved my abuser and I asked God point-blank: "Where does all the love go?" I knew I needed to cut myself off from my abuser. He began to show me that it all begins with restablishing my own personal identity, in Christ, as one who is radically beloved by her Creator.
"Define yourself radically as one beloved by God," writes John Eagan.
Reading from Brennan Manning: "… The true self claims identity in its belovedness. We encounter God in the ordinariness of life: not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary mystical experiences but in our simple presence in life." (The Rabbi's Heartbeat)
"God created us for union with Himself. This is the original purpose of our lives. And God is defined as love (1 John 4:16). Living in an awareness of our belovedness is the axis around which the Christian life revolves. Being the beloved is our identity, the core of our existence… If I must seek an identity outside of myself, then the accumulation of wealth, power, and honors allures me. Or I may find my center of gravity in interpersonal relationships. When I draw life and meaning from any other source than my belovedness, I am spiritually dead."
The Resurrection: I began to see that living with a sociopath had its benefits… it was the guaranteed quickest route to the Cross, to my own certain death, and onward to the resurrection. Today, my new life is better than it ever could have been. Not because I no longer have trials, but because I know how to run to the Light for healing.
My mentor via his prolific writing, Brennan Manning, says: "In boundary moments such as these there is only one place to go – Calvary. Stay there for a long time and watch as Abba's Only Begotten dies utterly alone in bloody disgrace. Watch as He breathes forgiveness on His torturers at the moment of their greatest cruelty and mercilessness. On that lonely hill outside the city wall of Old Jerusalem, you will experience the healing power of the dying Lord."
And so I did. I vividly recall a worship conference I attended shortly after my first church-quake. With my arms raised and eyes closed, I was just basking in the atmosphere of praise and worship – soaking into the very cells of my soul and body healing for the psychological beating I had just received from a church pastor. I got lost inside that worship and suddenly I was taken to a different place. I found myself elevated off the ground, my arms no longer raised but extended horizontally. My feet were nailed to a cross and I should have been in great pain, but there was Someone behind me. He took me to the Cross with Him over 2000 years ago, and I felt His loving embrace as He absorbed all my pain. He didn't let me take the full blow. I suffered with Him, yes… but on that Cross, that day, He took all the pain and I received comfort and healing.
"The recovery of passion starts with reappraising the value of the treasure, continues with letting the Great Rabbi hold us against His heart, and comes to fruition in a personal transformation of which we will not even be aware," reminds Brennan Manning.
We are transcending the evil that manifests outwardly by addressing it first internally, in our own hearts.
We are getting our lives back. It's radical soul recovery.
We cannot afford to be silent any longer. Every story matters. Your story matters. Sharing your story may save someone else's life, even if you feel you play such a small role. Never underestimate the power of an encouraging word, even if you've never been abused. Together, we can end abuse and turn this around, beginning in our own families.
Nothing valuable in life comes to us for free. There's hard work to be done. We are finishing the work Christ began, taking up our own cross, and following Him all the way Home.
May we pray together?
Whenever I question who I am, please help me to see my identity as "the one Christ loves". Let His nature be mine. As I go through my day, please keep reminding me that my life is hidden in Him. Help me treasure time to meet with You alone, to know You intimately. I praise You for these great trials and thank you for the full benefit of living with a sociopath, for being on the accelerated path to the Cross and Your resurrection power. Thank you for bringing me Home to You on the narrow path that leads to Life.
That You for holding out Your nail-scarred hand and walking with me in all the dark places. Thank you for causing me to grow into a fuller, deeper, richer life with You as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Thank You for taking my pain and making me whole and free. To You be all the glory, the honor, and the power… forever. Amen.
To be Continued: Living with a Sociopath: Can Anything Good From It?
With all my love,
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