Sunday, June 8, 2008

One After-effect Of Abuse...

There are many lingering effects of abuse. Abuse messes with our entire perception of the world. It messes with our entire perception of ourselves. This week, I unexpectedly came face-to-face with one of those effects...


I have known for years that we all have our perceptions of how God is toward us colored by the way we were treated by our parents. Children who are abused can really get a warped sense of how God views them. As I have said in other posts, I grew up thinking that God was perpetually mad at me - that I was never measuring up to His expectations and that he really only tolerated me - loved me - because He had bound Himself to do so. There was a period - from around 7 years old to around 14 years old, that I actually thought he hated me. Why? Because of what was done to me. You see, at the time,  I viewed what was done to me as 'what I did.' I still struggle with that.

In the last few years, I have come to a place where I knew that God loved me, but there was still a battle - a feeling like I was always disappointing Him. He actually had to come out and audibly say to me that He loved me for it to begin to sink in. But I thought I had a handle on that issue - not done working on it, but at least recognizing it as an issue. Then He went and did something this week that has really messed with me... 

What did He do? To those who were not abused, it may seem strange - silly even. My friend's response when I told her was, 'Of course He does!" My aunt was surprised, when I told her, that I didn't already know this. It seems that to many, this is not an issue - it is a given. But to me, it never even occurred to me that He might...

Here's what He did. There is a follow blogger - a brother *smiles* - who goes by abmo and writes at the blog "Windblown Hope." He posted a blog titled "My discernment will kick your discernment's ass." I left a comment - we commented back and forth. He said that God loved me, and more than that He liked me. It didn't really sink in at this time. Then a couple comment exchanges later, abmo posted this comment:
"Hi Katherine,

Sometimes my mind will wonder around and then settle on somebody and that is the person I'm praying for. At the moment, that person is you. And all I'm getting from our Father is that He likes you a lot. I'll pray that this will become a anchor in your life.

God bless"
I just began to cry. God likes me? Why? This messed with me. It is still messing with me. I have asked Him several times over the last few days - why do You like me? I am realizing that I have never really thought - or expected - anyone to like me. I wanted them to, but I didn't think they did. I have mostly thought that at best - the really nice people would just tolerate me to be, well, nice. I realize this is somewhat insulting to the people who do like me. It is not meant to be. It is just where I have always been. It never occurred to me that anyone would genuinely like me. It never crossed my mind that God actually liked me. 

This is causing some fundamental shifts deep in me. I have only begun to think about it - talk to Papa about it. You like me? Really? Why?

Is this something other abuse victims have dealt/are dealing with? In talking with my aunt - my friend, it seems to have never crossed their minds that God wouldn't like them. Hmm... 


21 comments:

traveller said...

Thank you for the insights from your life. They teach me things outside my experience and I appreciate it.

One reason God likes you is that you are his creation. He created you....because he wanted to do so. He knows that, you, along with the rest of us, are not yet what he created us to be, but that one day we will be the fully human people that he intended from the beginning. Then we will enjoy fellowship with him and each other as it was meant to be.

Also, I suspect he will show you other reasons as well. I hope you share those with your readers.

Today may you know the love of God, the Father, the grace of the Lord Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Katherine Gunn said...

Traveller~

You're welcome *smiles* and thank you.

Anonymous said...

"He knows that, you, along with the rest of us, are not yet what he created us to be, but that one day we will be the fully human people that he intended from the beginning."

Nice comment, something to remember every day.

Thank you, traveller, and thank YOU, Katherine!

Valorosa said...

I hear you ...
It was a long time before I realized just how deep His love is for me.
And He is walking me down another road right now that is going to bring us deeper and closer.

The feeling of complete acceptance just as I am. No matter how the pages of my life have turned and no matter what is written on those pages.

I am loved always even though I still mess it all up.
He helps me make it right again. There is nothing impossible to Him.

Katherine Gunn said...

Anonymous~

You are welcome. :-)


Valorosa~

Thanks. It's odd. I believe you can love someone without liking them. That is the case right now with my mom and me. That is what I thought was the case with God and me - He loved me, but it never occurred to me that He would like me. Love me? yes. Like me? Wow! I'm not sure I can even put into words the difference and what it means to know that He not only loves me...

abmo said...

Hi Katherine,

Abuse takes us to a place where we put ourselves second, not because we are humble, but because we are not worthy. We hide in the shadows because that's where we belong. We know full well that other people are special, but life taught us that we are not.

Then we meet God. We allow some of His light in and believe God loves us, but only because it's in His job description. And then one day, because He needs to break those darkness-walls around us, He comes and makes the whole thing personal.

"I LIKE you Katherine Gunn"

That little word "like" has a different meaning for us. We know love, but like? How could He possible "like" me? Love yes, because we equate love with "He tolerates me". "Like" implies delight. "Like" implies great pleasure. "Like" implies joy. "Like" implies a closeness. And somehow, that is not something we can cope with. How the hell can He find joy in me? Does He not know what I am? But He is relentless. He WILL take you out of the shadows because He did not design you to be there.

"I LIKE you Katherine Gunn"

Yes, He does......a lot.
Yes, He does......extremely.
Yes, He does......great deal.
Yes, He does......a whole heap.
Yes, He does......greatly.
Yes, He does......enormously.
Yes, He does......exceedingly.

You might as well make peace with that :)

Katherine Gunn said...

Abmo~

:-) I will make peace with it. But first, I am just trying to comprehend it!

Thank you. Deeply - thank you!

Molly said...

Yes. He does.

It took me a long time to realize this too.

One night I was sitting on my bathroom floor really late one night, crying in fear---fear because I was leaving fundamentalism and was worried that, if I was wrong and God really was the angry God that demanded right performance, that I was hell-bound for SURE because of the questions I was asking.

All of a sudden I had a vision of the prostitute coming and weeping at Jesus's feet, and His look of tenderness toward her. I can't explain it, other than to say it set me free. SHE certainly hadn't "performed" up to par, and yet He obviously cared for her. It was like I was transported to His feet and my tears were hers and I finally realized that He actually liked me----that it was even possible. That even if I *was* really messed up and wrong and hadn't "performed" properly, that He looked at me with compassion and tenderness and delight, too.

It was a first big step into finally being able to see that He really does love/like *me*. First big step. So much began to change from that point, though. I began being able to be secure in His perception of me, instead of other people's (or even my own). And that enabled a lot of behavior to change. Feeling secure, feeling safe, is amazing!

Funny how we can sing those songs about God loving us, when we were kids, and how we can talk about "God's love" when we wax theological, but it takes a supernatural gift of grace to get us to actually realize it's all TRUE.

Katherine Gunn said...

Molly~

Thank you. ;-)
Like I said, there is a shift going on - but it is a process. But it does change everything. :-D

Tracy Simmons said...

Katherine, I had this same realization about a year ago when I was reading Brennan Manning's book, "Abba's Child." He LIKES me. It floored me. I cried for days. I knew He loved me, but LIKED ME? WOW! That brought so much healing in my life.

By the way, I've added your blog to my spiritual abuse web resources page.

Katherine Gunn said...

Tracy~
Yeah, I am still processing the idea.
And thanks... ;)

Cinder Ella said...

It's a wonderful thing to be able to fathom how God sees us. I can understand why it would be a process.

Katherine Gunn said...

Ella~
*Smiling* Yeah, it is wonderful.

JL said...

I never doubted that God loved me, but when I read first read that He liked me, I was actually annoyed with the writer who suggested the concept. I thought it suggested a lack of discernment on God's part. God knows me; He can't like me.
Also,if God likes everyone, does that mean we should as well? If I struggle to love the man who beats my friend, how am I supposed to like him? That wasn't going to happen.

Now that I have kids, my understanding of "liking" has changed. My oldest is 2, and I like her personality, I like what makes her unique, and I enjoy her--quite apart from her behavior/performance. I thought liking was something one had to earn. Now I can (sometimes) imagine God liking me as I like my daughters, delighting in me, His unique child, regardless of my performance.
(Perhaps if I were more godly I would like more people, but I still don't feel compelled to like everyone.)

Katherine Gunn said...

JL~
Thanks for stopping by!
Yeah, I have struggled with the concept of having to like everyone. I don't think we have to. It's not required - He doesn't require the impossible. I'm not sure that He even likes everyone... not sure. ;-)

Sue said...

I think for people who have been abused, the idea that God likes them, when it's taken hold, goes even deeper, if possible, than for those who have had great parents.

It just seems to be the way with God. The deeper the wound, the deeper the tying up, binding up.

Enjoy, Katherine Gunn. Feels like life just goes so amazingly better when you know God likes you, when the big cosmic Other is looking with favour and liking and love on ... you.

Pretty amazing isn't it?

Katherine Gunn said...

Sue~

I think you are right - the deeper the wound... yeah.

I am still wrapping my brain around this, but is changing everything. =D

Aida said...

When I think of God loving me, I think that he has to. After all, he's love. It's his job description but, when I think of him liking me, that's totally different. I think jl's description of liking his daughter's personality and her uniqueness is good.

Father made us exactly the way he wanted us. He took great pains to make us just the way we are and he's very pleased with the finished product.

That's hard for me to understand because I see so many things about myself that I don't like. I think until we're able to accept ourselves the way we are, we'll have difficulty believing in his acceptance.

Katherine Gunn said...

Aida~

Hmm... I think you are right. ;-)

Tara said...

KG- I found you over at erin's site. Wow! Sister we have so much to share. I just just broke off a long term relationship with my best friend/fiance' who had turned into a spiritual/emotional abuser. The church thing...I just have to stay peripheral. I can't get to close. Those people are not ready for me and my realness. I guess somewhere in the religeous walks of the 'holy' ....messy became unacceptable?? *roll my eyes*... it's good I found you. It feels safe.

Katherine Gunn said...

Tara~

Welcome!

The institution of church and those who worship it will never be comfortable whit those who want a real relationship with God. They don't want real relationships with each other...

I'm glad you feel safe. ;-)