Abuse and the Miracle of Recovery
During my childhood I was abused sexually, emotionally, verbally and physically. Many of you have also been abused, or you deal with someone in your life who comes from an abusive, dysfunctional background.
What does abuse mean? It means "to misuse, to use improperly, to use up or to injure by maltreatment." The effects of abuse can be devastating and long-lasting. Many people never recover from it. Let me give you a brief definition of the four types of abuse.
Sexual abuse: considered to be the most degrading and offensive; consists of rape, molestation, incest, exhibitionism, voyeurism and obscene phone calls.
Emotional abuse: consists of withholding attention, loving touches and words of acceptance. Love is only given based on acceptable performance. Abandonment is a type of emotional abuse and can occur when one or both parents leave the child physically or mentally. Adults can also experience abandonment if important people in their lives leave suddenly or violently.
Verbal abuse: can be overt or covert. Overt: aggressive, angry words that say you're flawed or unacceptable. Covert: loving words of acceptance that help you develop properly are withheld.
Physical abuse: consists of beatings, unfair discipline, being locked in closets or dark rooms and withholding food.
Although I appeared to function normally in society, I had multiple inward problems and complicated personality disorders. There were several things going on in me at the time that prevented me from receiving and experiencing the righteousness, peace and joy of God's kingdom (see Romans 14:17). But Jesus came so that we could have and enjoy kingdom living.
I was bitter about my past and had a chip on my shoulder, which caused me to have the attitude that everyone owed me preferential treatment. I was full of self-pity, especially if things didn't go my way. I was controlling, manipulative, fearful, insecure and harsh. I was just plain hard to get along with and often downright obnoxious. I was judgmental, suspicious and very negative. I experienced a lot of guilt and condemnation. I had a shame-based nature; therefore, everything I attempted was poisoned. Since I didn’t like who I was, I spent many years trying to be like someone else. I'm sure you get the picture—I was quite a mess!
Now, what I'm getting ready to say is important. I was born again and actively involved in church life. We attended church regularly and did church work. Our lives revolved around the church, but I was not getting victory over my problems. In fact, the really sad part was that I didn't even understand that I had a problem. I thought everyone else had a problem and that if they would change, I would be happy.
In 1976, I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 speaks of receiving God's power to be His witnesses. Notice it does not say to do witnessing but to be witnesses. The Bible says we are to be living epistles and read by all men (see 2 Corinthians 3:2), light in a dark world, and the salt of the earth (see Matthew 5:13-14). Doing is a different thing than being. I had my outside polished up, but my inner life was a wreck. Quite often the inner turmoil exploded, and then everybody could see I wasn't quite what I appeared to be.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my life gave me a real love for God's Word and an ability to understand it like never before. Second Corinthians 3:18 says looking into the Word of God is like looking into a mirror which transforms us into His image from glory to glory. I have been changing ever since. I have changed and changed and changed. And I'm still changing! Most of those problems are completely gone, and the rest only flare up occasionally. I even look different—younger, happier, more peaceful.
Second Corinthians 5:17 says that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; and all things are made new. But that really doesn't mean everything from the past just vanishes. The Amplified Bible brings it out this way: Behold, the fresh and new has come! In other words, without Jesus there is no hope for newness of life. The past always affects the future without the power of God to overcome it. But even with Jesus, we are not automatically free from the past. When the fresh and new comes, there is opportunity to be free. But we must give the Word of God an exalted place in our lives. We must face the truth as it is revealed to us in His Word, and then the truth will set us free as it is acted upon.
I want to encourage you to keep pressing on! Philippians 1:6 says that He who has begun a good work in you is able to bring it to completion. You will keep changing if you stay in God's Word and keep looking to Jesus, who is the author and the finisher of your faith (see Hebrews 12:2). Now I am enjoying the kingdom living of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And no matter what you've experienced in your past or how many problems you have, God will do a miracle for you! He will change you into the image of Jesus Christ and give you a new life worth living!
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