Offer Yourself Grace

I’m on a 21 Day Journey to Inner Healing. I’m determined in this study, to stay out of my head, to get into my heart, and stay there.  The head is a much easier place from which to live. But the head is not always kind to the heart or spirit. As I was journaling this morning, something bubbled up and I believed I needed to share it. We’ve been talking about the grace of God, that unmerited, unearned favor that is so freely given to us. God is gracious. God is merciful. But Donna is not always gracious, and certainly not always merciful (just ask my students who don’t do their homework on time).  I’m learning that God’s grace doesn’t always reach my inmost being because of my own stinginess with offering grace and mercy to myself! In short, instead of being loving and kind to God’s daughter, that would be me, I have, way too often, done the opposite.  It’s definitely something to make you go ‘hmmm.’

Anyway, I hope these musings will help someone and deliver them from the same inclination.

There IS something worse than being victimized by others. It is becoming a double victim by penalizing yourself for your response to the victimization. When a woman who is raped choses not to fight back,  she is STILL an unwilling participant in the violent act. To beat herself up because she did what she needed to do – in that moment – to survive is to inflict an even greater violence. The woman who sets aside her own emotional needs when her husband’s infidelity is discovered, who, if even from a place of inner woundedness, chooses to make herself emotionally present for him, the children or the ministry; the woman who chooses to pray for her husband and for the heifer – ok woman – with whom he had an affair,  actually PROTECTED herself in those moments. Yes, she was victimized… cruelly. Yet, if she spends the next ten years angry at herself for not choosing a different path, she is guilty of inflicting more violence on herself and at a much deeper level than anyone else can reach. The daughter whose alcoholic mother forces her to grow up much too soon is a victim. Spending her days caring for her siblings, cooking meals and hiding her mother’s drinking from her father may be the only choice the daughter believes is available to her – in that moment. To give herself over to self-hatred because of this makes it very difficult for the girl to grow into a healthy woman.

Before you allow your anger to be kindled against me for telling women it is okay to stay in dangerous situations, please hear what I’m really saying, underneath. Choices are not always black or white. Sometimes a person does what she believes she needs to do to survive emotionally or physically. Sometimes, her choice may not be the one people outside her situation will believe is right, and perhaps from an external perspective, they are right. But if her choices protect her from leaping off the nearest bridge, crawling into bed and not getting out, or inflicting damage on someone else, she shouldn’t compound the violence by punishing herself once the danger is mitigated.

God wants to and can heal us from the trauma of what others do to us. But before God can intervene in the inner healing, God needs for us to stop being judge and jury and sentencing ourselves to a life sentence of hidden pain. We must stop listening to the the inner voices that make us demean ourselves. It is so subtle at times that we might not even recognize what we are doing. You know what I mean. You have the internal conversation over and over – and you are never on the winning side. You call yourself names. You tell yourself you deserved every wrong thing that ever happened to you.  You slap yourself around because you ‘let’ someone rape you, you convince yourself that your actions forced your husband to have an affair, you goad yourself because you didn’t confront your mother about the ways she damaged your self esteem.  Instead of this cycle, hold the woman that you were in your arms and thank her for doing the best she could with the emotional resources available to her at that time. Tell her that her choices, even if they could have or even should have been different,  didn’t make her weak or stupid. It didn’t make her less than who God made her, a precious daughter. Stop blaming her for not donning her Wonder Woman cape and headband and kicking some butt or rolling some heads. Love her, respect her, allow God to reach her and heal her. Then together, you and God can decide where you need to go, what you need to do now. You will make your next decision with a comforted heart, an undivided mind and a spirit that is soothed by the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

Offer yourself some grace.

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