Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:1–3, The Message
The gospel according to abusive parents is that we are going to set no joy before you, and we are going to fix your eyes on shame for the rest of your life. We often identify abuse as harmful physical actions or words, but in reality, abuse takes many forms. Let’s take a few minutes to look at examples of abuse so that we can identify it more clearly.
Here’s what abuse can look like:
- Abuse ties on guilt by reminding the child of past sins. “I know what you’re like–I see it all the time, day after bad day you do the same thing…”
- It makes dire predictions of the future, plants bitter root expectancies and judgments that affect one’s spiritual outlook for life. “You’ll never amount to anything…”
- It labels the sinner and not the sin. “You are bad—that is who you are.”
- It doesn’t welcome back the child, but banishes him. For example: the silent treatment.
- Abuse ties on guilt by giving few rewards, compliments, or incentives to look forward to something good.
- Abuse allows no self defense. Godly discipline gives the child a voice and declares the child innocent wherever possible.
Abuse provokes a child to feel and then doesn’t allow any emotional outlet. But God encourages us to find emotions outlets. Read Psalms 77 and 78. When his people cried out in distress, God “cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.” (Psalm 78:77)
More examples of what abuse can look like:
- Abuse erases all individual boundaries.
- Abuse always sees disagreement as defiance and punishes it even in terms of personal taste. For example: Mom wants her daughter to wear the green dress. If she chooses the pink dress, she gets punished for it.
- Abuse is coercive unless you are in an emergency situation. Spiritual authority is never coercive. If authority is coercive that is known as spiritual abuse.
- Abuse doesn’t respect personal privacy, physically or emotionally.
- Abuse doesn’t allow a child to be himself—his likes/dislikes, talents, and abilities. Instead, the child must mirror the parents.
Read Revelation 3:20: “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” God comes into our space when he is invited. He respects us and have given us the ability to choose.
Children’s brains aren’t fully developed or able to function in full capacity until the age of 18–that’s the way God designed it. He also tells us to “train up a child in the way he should go.” We have to balance both instructions as we raise our children.
Friday we will start to learn how to heal from abuse.