The other kind of radical

This  post is also being published today at the blog of Give Her Wings, an organization that helps and supports women leaving abusive spouses. Please visit their site.

We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

Last September for my Birthday Reflections post (an annual tradition), I wrote about going down into the dark valley called The Valley of Weeping.

Today, though, I want to express my boundless praise for the gift God has given me in that valley, the people I’ve been privileged to get to know there. I want to shout out my thanksgiving to God for the faithful trauma survivors He has put in my life. Most of them were traumatized by people who claimed to be Christians, even Christian leaders. But in spite of that, these women are still following God, or longing to follow Him, in faith.

My heart swells in even thinking about them. I would far rather sit at their feet than at the feet of the most popular speaker.   

Many of them will never stand before a microphone and speak. Many of them will never write a book. Many of them will not have any sort of following at all, because they are simply trying to live their lives. If we take David Platt’s Radical as a mantra, then the Radical for these people is simply that they have not turned their back on God. The Radical for many of them is that they are still alive. The Radical for them is that they still hope.

I’m filled with thanksgiving for the one who as a child was prostituted by a religious relative and used for child pornography. She has several children in heaven, but only a few of us know to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She lives the life of the mundane, working a regular job and going to a church where almost no one knows her story. She suffers the physical effects of the abuse to this day, and together we pray for her physical healing. She continues to hope in God.

I’m filled with thanksgiving for the one who took her six children to escape from a man who was sexually abusing them (I need to say allegedly, even though she saw it happening), only to find that she has to share custody with him. She works to give her children tools to fight spiritual battles while she continues to hope in the goodness of God and His rescue from this Egypt. Together we pray that her young ones will be delivered and be able to recover from the effects of this great harm.

I’m filled with thanksgiving for the one who, having been horrifically abused as a child, tried and tried and tried again to get help. She didn’t give up. She didn’t give up, in the face of blamers and shamers and bumblers. And now, in a good church where she is finally receiving help on the road to recovery, she is learning to know the presence of God.

I’m filled with thanksgiving for the one whose charming pastor husband walked out on her into the arms of another, who finally came to see that her husband was a narcissist and an abuser, who speaks about how God has given her grace and will redeem her story.

I’m filled with thanksgiving for the one who came to the Lord in salvation only months before she married Mr. SuperChristian who turned out to be a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing extreme abuser. When she finally was able to get her children away, she was worn, sick, and traumatized. She never ceased hoping in the God she had just gotten to know and was finally able to spend time getting to know again, and continues to trust Him with her head until her heart can fully feel.

I’m thanking God for the one whose life for 25 years was like living in a concentration camp, whose haggard face, when I met her, still shone with the light of Christ. I’m thanking God for the one who, in a controlling patriarchal family was taught to study the Bible by her father, who truly did study it and there found out who Jesus Christ really was. I’m thanking God for the one who got out of her abusive marriage and went on to establish a Christian ministry to help others coming out of abusive marriages. I’m thanking God for the one who said, “If I can just know who God is at the end of all this, it will be worth it.”

These are the Radicals to me because they get up each day to care for their children or their clients. For some of my friends, their “not wasting their lives” takes the form of not committing suicide today and living to see tomorrow. These are the ones who, like the saints in Hebrews 11, may not see fulfillment of the promise right now, but they dimly see something in the future, and hope in God that it will come to pass.

There is no preaching conference with a stellar line-up, no stack of books by big-name authors, that I would trade for the friendships God has given me with these women who are simply living unwasted, hopeful, mundane, radical lives right where they are.

***

Though this song was posted for those who have suffered persecution in other lands, I post it now for my friends right here, around me, around you. This is dedicated to them.

Beautiful Scars

Words and music by Amy Shreve

 I’ve heard your story. I think you are brave. And I can’t imagine half of your pain. Your eyes bear the mark of a child of God. Whether near or far, you’re here in my heart. Whether near or far, you’re here in my heart.

And I cry when you have been wounded. And I die when your blood is shed. I am a part of you, and I can see Jesus through the beautiful scars you wear.    

So don’t think it’s hopeless or yield to despair, cause I want to help you, and God hears our prayers. The morning will come when there’ll be no more harm. Till then I hold you here in my heart. Till then I hold you here in my heart.    

And I cry when you have been wounded. And I die when your blood is shed. I am a part of you, and I can see Jesus through the beautiful scars you wear.

Which one is Radical?

The Radical one here is not the one doing the foot washing. The Radical is the one with bloody feet who still hopes in Jesus Christ.

4 thoughts on “The other kind of radical

  1. Beautiful post, Rebecca! Made me cry.

    I consider myself a survivor of abuse, but I admit there are times when reading of such horrific abuse others have endured that I question whether what I dealt with was really so bad.

    There were no outward bruises only soul crushing wounds. But when I do begin to question whether I didn’t try hard enough; whether I just wasn’t a good Christian wife bowing down and submitting and respecting no matter how my ex treated me; whether I didn’t have enough faith to stay and watch God do a miracle — when I begin questioning those things all I have to do is look at where I am today compared to 20 years ago and I know without a doubt that God did work a miracle in my life by setting me free and delivering me from evil.
    Psalm 118:5

    Thank you for your ministry.

    • Beautiful thoughts, Amy, thank you. And the survivors in my life are at all places on the spectrum, with a very wide variety of abusive experiences, some with an abusive parent (or two) and then a loving supportive spouse, some with good parents who try to help them escape their abusive spouse, some with perpetrators or possums every which way they turn. Some who were used in the most despicable ways imaginable, some who were crushed in their souls, which affected their bodies indirectly (and the body always keeps the score). One important thing, I think, is not to compare–“hers was worse than mine, so I don’t have a right to speak or even feel bad.” That’s not what it’s about at all. I hope you truly know that in the deepest places of your heart. Love to you!

  2. I have no words. This post is amazing and means so much to me, a childhood sexual abuse survivor. I read this on my break at work today and almost teared up. Thank you so much for fighting for and loving people like me.

    • Oh, Lisa, thank you for your encouraging words. I hope you have trustworthy and supportive people in your life. You are a beautiful soul.

I welcome your thoughts