What happens when someone you think you can trust starts abusing you?
Abuse? How can that even be defined?
Maybe you’re just annoyed, or confused, or wrong. Maybe you’re too easily offended, or simply sensative, or maybe that is just a trigger for you.
Maybe it’s you.
Maybe you are not being abused. Maybe you just have your own issues clouding your mind and thoughts and opinions.
Believe me when i say that there is no way on earth, that anyone can travel 11 countries for 11 months and not have something from their past come up to pain them.
In some form or shape, emotional or physical, theres going to be something that triggers memories and emotions from the past.
In some respects, this kind of volunteer trip creates opportunities to face and deal with personal issues that may be affecting ones normal life, outside of ones normal life.
We get new people to break, create, and practice skills and habits with – who we dont have to go home with; so nothing lost, and much to gain.
We get the chance to be who we have said we claim or desire to be and we get the time to try and root ourselves in that lifestyle.
We get the chance to encounter almost any possible experience, sudden unexpectedness, and surprising joys and sorrows we could ever hope to come across. We get to have fresh eyes and opinions encourage and build us up in ways we never have been before, and we get the chance to confront the worst about ourselves without lowering ourselves before those who we want to save face with back home…who, honestly probably already know the worst about us – despite our own ignorance.
So, getting back to the “triggers” that can arise on the race…
I’ve had – and seen different of my squad mates on the race have – moments where old pains, griefs, and fears have arisen. Those have not been the easiest or the prettiest moments of the race, but they’ve been both teaching and growing. (And despite each of our reactions to it, ive also witnessed and experienced Gods grace all over those moments …His presence urging us to go through it with Him into healing…)
One of those moments was when a man looked one of my teammates in the face after she’d shared her testimony of suffering and the Lord being with her through that really difficult time of abuse, and without any hessitation told her he believed 90% of people who say they were abused were not, – and that he knew this for a fact.
So, i know that each person is at a different stage of spiritual life that only God can know, and convict, and change our hearts about. But at what point do you stand up and say, “No, you’re wrong!”? At what point are we enabling abuse with our silence? At what point do you let God deal with them, and at what point do we deal with them?
…Because there has been many moments in my life where i have allowed people to verbally abuse me, or spiritually abuse me, and that has in the past led me to allow physical abuse at certain times at certain levels because i hadn’t known where my boundaries were…it’s been an ongoing battle for me.
This same individual that so unnecessarily and innapropriately stated his opinions about my friends testimony, asked my team another time to explain to him what it meant when God told us to turn the cheek, because he stated, “Jesus certainly didn’t!” which made me question the mans understanding of scripture because the two ideas (of being unoffensible as children of God, and Jesus – the holy and righteous- judge calling the Pharisees and temple sellers out on hypocricy and missuse of Gods people) are not remotely the same thing.
However, the question has been swirling around in my mind: Which cheek should i turn in cases of abuse?
The one that seems enabling?
“But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matthew 5:39
Or the one that sets boundaries?
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Matthew 10:14
The World Race seems like this amazing race that is so not normal life.
That’s not true.
It’s normal life.
It’s just normal life in another country. Normal life with normal problems and normal issues both challenging, and blessing.
People are people, no matter where you go in the world.
…Yea, of course there’s little norms i know that are not norms in the country we’re in, and norms they have that i’m not even aware of!…
But people issues don’t change because they’re from a different country or theyre a different ethnicity. And neither do mine – just because im on the World Race. None of my issues dissapeared when i drove away with just a backpack to live from for a year. None of my issues dissapeared when my funding for the world race reached eighteen thousand and seventeen dollars. Nothing changed when i arrived at each new country or changed to a new team. Nothing changed.
So my questions and my triggers remain.
What happens when someone you think you can trust starts abusing you?
What do you do about parents or church authorities or important relationship people that use their authority and power to abuse you in some way?
How can you define abuse done to you? How can you sort out what’s abuse and what’s just you?
I have come to some small conclusions in regard to what ive experience on the World Race:
1. Stay in community. Allow people to experience life with you and in doing so they will have valid opinions so they can speak into your experiences.
This means that if you have community, and you are in a situation that is not good for you, then you will have people who will help you remove yourself from a situation where you may be enabling or endangered!
2. Talk to God about what you think and feel about things that upset you, and journal a lot. Journal what you felt, feel, and what you feel God is telling you about your feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
Talk to God before talking to others so you can see if God confirms some of the things you think He’s telling you through others.
3. Read Gods Word so you can know what God thinks about things. I’ve met a lot of people on the Race, both in ministry and on my squad, who have very little idea about how God feels about things because they havent read the testimony of what people have done, what God said about that, what He said He feels about it, how He says He made things to be… and then, sometimes i forget myself.
I can’t tell you how many times i have been encouraged and reminded by people on my squad and how humbled ive been as Gods used those – who “dont know” a lot about what Gods said/done/thinks- to speak into me and remind me who He is and who I am.
Sometimes people who are abusing people need grace. Sometimes you know when it’s time to shake off the dust. Sometimes you know when its time to let them take another strike and show their true colors or be self convicted with shame.
But sometimes…you dont.
Sometimes you just need to wait. While you wait, invite community into those spaces and places, pray, and read God’s Word.
Sometimes because you wait and do those 3 things God reveals the answer to you. And sometimes the person comes and appologizes. Sometimes waiting gives God time to work. And puts you there to extend forgiveness on His behalf.
The World Race is nothing more than life experience. A way to experience life and carry some new perspectives with you “after” the race.
And for this i am grateful.
Thanks for being part of my community this year! Thanks to each one of you that have responded to my blogs, continued to support me in prayers and financial gifts, letters, and private emails! You cannot know how you have encouraged, taught, and brought healing to me!
Please pray for me that i will continue to invite in community, find peace in prayer, have my eyes opened to more of who God is in scripture, and that i would patiently wait with grace.
Please pray that i would be a person of forgiveness, and that any roots of abuse that have found their way into my own tendencies would be dug out and abandoned for grace.