Now that forgiveness has been addressed, it only follows that this tool is part of the toolkit:
This one is no less complicated than all the others. Trust is often taken for granted.
How often did I hear, “Trust in God; He will protect you?” Or “You can’t have the Spirit with you if you hate, or are angry, because those are sins.” “God won’t help you, if you sin.” “If you fear, then you don’t have faith, and that’s a sin.” “Depression is a sin, because it means you don’t have faith in God.” “God will protect you as long as you are doing all you can do to be good.” “Trust me. I’m your church leader, and God has called me to teach you.” “God grants miracles to those who are obedient and trust in Him.” “If you had been more faithful, then this horrible thing wouldn’t have happened.” “You have to trust God, if you want His help.” “If God hasn’t helped you, maybe you haven’t had enough faith in Him.” “If God hasn’t helped you, maybe it’s because you haven’t trusted Him enough.”
All of those are comments that could be said by well-meaning people, but abusers say them, too. My trust had been severely violated by those who should have protected me, who declared repeatedly that they loved me.
Here’s the problem: An abuser teaches that they are the only one who cares about the victim. How do you reconcile the idea that only the abuser cares? So does that mean God is an abuser because He cares? If God isn’t an abuser, then He doesn’t care. Yes, it is truly that twisted. What better way to isolate a victim than to teach them that they are completely alone, in every way?
Imagine my embarrassment when I spent years thinking my sister couldn’t possibly understand how horrible my life had been because hers had been so much better, only to learn exactly how horrific hers had been? Yes, even in the same house, we were isolated. It wasn’t until we were well into our adult years that we began to share and compare stories. In fact, it was that sharing and comparing that helped us realize it was real. Our big wake up call was when we saw similar things happen to our cousin. We really hadn’t been imagining the abuse or making it worse than it was.
Those realizations were a huge step in regaining trust. Over the years, I worked at learning to trust. Funny, but I realize now that the process is also a three-legged stool. I would trust myself a little, then trust someone else a little, and trust God a little. As I grew in confidence, I’d trust a little more in each of those areas.
Not long ago, I reached a point where I decided I was tired of being chum. Chum is the bait fed to sharks. Some of it floats in the water, untouched; however, there is no way of knowing which pieces will be torn to bits and gobbled down. I was repeatedly treated with “kindness” and “love” and then seemingly without explanation or reason I’d be on the receiving end of a smack or a verbal attack.
No apology would follow. I was expected to continue on as if nothing had happened, all the while waiting for the next round of abuse and wondering every day how safe I was. In an effort to protect myself, I had to keep my defenses up at all times. It’s tiring.
I will never forget when one of my church leaders admitted that he didn’t really believe in counseling. He sincerely believed that all any person really needed was Christ. After all, Christ is the Master Healer.
I remember staring at the leader in dismay. Then I looked him in the eye and said, “How can Christ help me, if I don’t trust Him, let alone anyone else?”
I trust that the sun will rise in the morning and set in the west. I trust that when I pay my bills the companies will process them, though I check to make sure it goes through. I trust my friends that I have now will not intentionally hurt me.
To trust… or not… I’m always intrigued by God’s little “tests” to see where I’m at, at any given point in time. It’s usually something pretty insignificant.
An example of a seemingly trivial trust issue was the recent lack of a receipt in a book shipment I received. I knew that the receipt — which reveals my name and address — was somewhere, but where? Still at the company, or in some stranger’s shipment? A friend of mine got a shipment that had someone else’s shipping receipt inside it, rather than hers. Of course, I worry about identity theft. And the mind runs screaming, wildly out of control. I emailed the company, which promptly emailed me back, stating that there wasn’t any information but my name and address on the receipt, so it wasn’t as if my account could be hacked in any way.
I was still uneasy. Then I thought of all the times I’ve been told, “God will protect you.”
And I all but shouted back, out loud, “Not necessarily!”
If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn God smiled, because I felt the inevitable, “Why do you feel that way?”
“Because He hasn’t in the past. Why would He change now?”
This is a tough one.
It has taken years for me to slowly build my trust. I also must acknowledge that God is the main instigator of my lessons.
I’m learning to remind myself that though He didn’t protect me, He never, ever abandoned me. He was always there.
Then something new occurred to me. God isn’t nearly as concerned about what happens to me as He is about what I do about it. My sister pointed out: If God knows when He picks up something broken it will be instantly repaired, is He really worried it was broken?
What happens on the outside isn’t truly important. This body is only on this earth for a small space of time. It’s what happens on the inside that truly matters, because it’s my soul that will be with me through Eternity.
I found myself thinking of Job and John the Baptist, both incredibly good men, and look what happened to them. Life happens. God lets it.
What am I going to do about it? How will I allow it to impact me? What kind of person will I allow myself to become because of what happens to me?
I’ve always loved Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies with us.”
And as God is wont to do, He neatly tied it all together when I found what Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “The only journey is the journey within.”
In truth, my life’s journey has been one long test of my trust in God. Remember that directive to move out, and all the efforts I’ve gone to in order to do exactly that, over and over, all these years? Still to no avail? I’m still planning.
I was challenged to follow those little internal nudges/niggles/promptings, no matter what, for thirty days. It is something I’ve endeavored to do for years, but this was an opportunity to renew the personal promise, to be more aware of my decision to pursue the inspiration God offers.
Then, I had one of those nudges that quickly felt like a 2×4 over the head. There was something I’d been thinking about for a while, and had finally decided to do, today. I thought about taking care of it myself, but then came that 2×4. It had to be done, NOW, and only one person could help me.
I’m a firm believer that God loves a package deal. He not only helped me, but He helped the other person, too. God did bless me with peace of mind and a sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t a big deal, but it had been weighing on me, and now it’s done. What I was doing actually could have waited, but the other person had something to accomplish that couldn’t wait. Because they helped me, they were able to accomplish what they needed to do, in a timely manner.
Trusting those nudges isn’t a strong point with me, as I was taught well not to trust myself. This challenge, coming when it did, is tying in beautifully with everything else I’m working on. God likes these kinds of package deals, too.
Life is a complicated dance, with a variety of steps and turns, and at its prettiest when everything is working in harmony together. God is all about harmony and working together. It’s been a long time, but I’m looking forward to dancing more.
Like all the other tools, trust is about you. Are you learning to trust yourself? Are you learning to trust others? Do you recognize that there are people you could trust with your life, and people you’ll never be able to trust, even with your pencil? Are you learning to trust God?
Trusting God enough to turn your life over to Him means He is going to send rain as well as sunshine. Flowers don’t grow without both, and you have to learn to trust that the flowers will bloom, sooner or later.
© 2010 The Project: The Tools I Wish I’d Known About Sooner / My Abuse Survivor’s Basic Toolkit by Judy