Side note: I took the photo on a tripod with a timer cuz no one else was home at the time. >.<” At first I was a little unhappy with the focus being on my eye and the part of me behind the hand, but then I realized that that’s how it should be. The focus should be on me, not on the things that happened to me. My life isn’t about my past. It’s about my redemption. *end fluke philosophical soapbox moment*
I struggled with calling it abuse for a long time. First of all, it came from those I knew as family. We’re supposed to be loyal to each other, right? So everything said and done should be beneficial even if it shames us in the moment. Right? Secondly, it wasn’t physical. That’s what abuse is, right? Thirdly, when it was, it only happened once. So it can’t be abuse… right?
Emotional abuse is abuse.
And abuse is abuse no matter where it comes from, no matter how many times it’s done.
No matter from whom it comes from.
I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience. I don’t pretend to know the magnitude of your suffering. But please, let me empathize. And let me give you the truth that I need just as much as you.
You are dearly loved.
Not only by warmhearted friends that have become family, but by the God who created you. He knew you before you were born, knit you together in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). He loves you enough to settle the debt you owe Him—the debt I owed Him: when we were rebelling against Him and breaking His heart, He died for us (Romans 5:8). He loves you enough to create you with a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). He loves you enough that He will be found by you if you seek Him with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
Do not doubt that you are loved. Do not doubt that you deserve love. No matter how much has been denied you, know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and wonderful are His works (Psalm 139:14).
I had difficulty naming it.
But I name it now.
I was abused.
I was dehumanized. I was made one-dimensional.
Because they needed me to be for their sake. Because if I were human, it would be abuse.
But no matter how much someone tries to take your humanity away, they can never do so. It is not for them to take but for God to give. He made you in His image—no matter what gender or ethnicity you are, you bear the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
You bear the image of God, Beloved!
And He has an adventure in store for you.
Please, do not allow your abuse to become your identity. It is not. It only has as much power as you’re willing to give it. There may be a small sense of control in making it your identity, but it is not real. Owning the shame will only tear you apart.
Letting go of that identity will not be easy. It will probably be the most terrifying and powerfully freeing moment of your life. And it will hurt. Very badly. But He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). The battle will not overcome you because He is with you to rescue you (Jeremiah 1:19). And He will redeem your past for the glory of His Name.
As He did with mine.
I once heard at church a woman quoted saying, “My past explains me, but it does not define me.”
You are not your abuse.
Your identity is only given by the one who created you, who died for you to live (1 Thessalonians 5:10).
I am not my abuse.
No matter what I’ve been told, no matter what’s been done to me, I am not my abuse.
My identity is in Christ. By His wounds I am healed (1 Peter 2:24). I am His daughter, made in His image. It’s an identity I’m still trying to grasp. But it is an identity with a foundation and a promise.
I am not my abuse.
I am redeemed. I am loved. I am spoken for. I am bought with the blood of an innocent Man.
I am not my abuse.
I am a child of God.
featured in WitnessLA May 2013