Tag Archives: overcoming self

The Trouble with Victims

I lived over twenty five years my life as a victim. From the time I was 14 until I was nearly 40 I was involved in an abusive relationship, and breaking free was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. During those tumultuous years, I lost nearly everything I owned and barely escaped with my life and my two girls. In the years that followed, I faced great financial loss, angry children, and continued threats on my life. I had nightmares, and found myself freaking out at things that had nothing to do with me. When I heard people around me complain about everyday struggles I wanted to laugh in their faces and say, “Are you kidding me?! That’s nothing!” I wanted the world to know that I had been wronged, and somehow come and make it right.

The odd thing is the more I complained, the less people wanted to listen. They seemed to alienate themselves from me, which made my situation even more miserable. I could have stayed in that pattern forever, but as I cried out to God I began to realize I would never be an overcomer until I dropped my victim mentality. I realized that people did not know how to handle the severity of my losses. I am sure it made them uncomfortable—perhaps even guilty that they had been blessed with an easier life. I realized that I needed to stop making my unfortunate past my identity, and made a decision to pour my complaints out to God rather than people. I chose to believe his promises towards me rather than my feelings. Although that decision did not immediately change my circumstances, it did make all the difference in the world. Today I am a victor rather than a victim, because I decided to believe him.

In the years since I transitioned from victim to victor, I have many opportunities to work with other victims. I have seen some apply themselves to the truths of God’s Word, and basically blossom before my very eyes. In those cases, it has truly been like watching butterflies come out of their cocoons. From all outward appearances their situations have seemed hopeless, but God has performed miracles for those who have learned to trust him. Trust like this involves a decision to believe God rather than emotions and past experience. I have never seen God disappoint those who have chosen to really trust him. The outcome has always been beautiful.

On the other hand, some of the women I have tried to help have refused to let go of that victim mentality. When I direct them to God’s promises, they give me a thousand reasons not to believe them. Their attitude reminds me of the man Jesus healed at the pool in Bethesda in John 5. Even though he stationed himself in the place where the angel stirred the water to be healed, he basically told Jesus it was impossible, because somebody always beat him to the water. He was full of bitterness and excuses. When Jesus healed him in spite of his negativity, he showed no joy, nor did he stop to thank Jesus. Instead, when the religious leaders rebuked him for carrying his pallet, he blamed Jesus. Jesus knew his heart and came to him later with a warning, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” (5:14).  But he simply went out and reported Jesus to the leaders. Jesus set him free, but he chose to remain bitter.

That’s the problem with so many victims, they fail to see and appreciate God’s provision in their lives. Instead, they choose to remain bitter, and make excuses for hanging on to their anger. They basically cut themselves off from God’s blessings and blame everyone around them (even God) for their negative circumstances. I love to contrast the story of the man at the pool with the healing of the man born blind in John 9. When Jesus healed him his life was changed immediately. He became a believer, and was willing to profess his faith in spite of harsh opposition. As far as outward circumstances go, he probably fared worse than the man healed at the pool. Yet, he was filled with joy over what Jesus had done for him. Like King David (who spent years running for his life) he chose to praise God in the presence of his enemies rather than cling to bitterness.

The truth is that bad things happen in this world. Many of us end up at victims at some point, and it grieves God’s heart. We suffer unjustly and it isn’t fair, but God knows exactly how that feels (Heb. 4:15). Our God is a redeemer, and nothing is wasted when we know him. He can turn our mourning into dancing (Ps. 30:11), and use tribulation to mold us into the image of his son (Rom. 8:29). But in the midst of our troubles we must choose to trust him. We must choose to let go of the bitterness that poisons every relationship in our lives and keeps us in bondage (Heb. 12:15). The problem with victims is they are often not willing to make this choice. Instead, they hold tenaciously to their right to be miserable and angry, and unwittingly finish the job their enemies began.

Rewire Me, Lord!

Good Morning, Lord. I have been so busy lately that I asked You to wake me up early this morning. Here I am, but I’m having such a hard time keeping my eyes open. As I’m half-awake, it amazes me how easily my mind meditates on things of this world—the cares of life really do seem to choke out the eternal things that should be my focus. How I hate it! Lord, like David, I want to ask only one thing of You, and that I want to seek, “that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple” (that’s me!). Why is it so difficult sometimes? It’s my greatest desire, but I can’t seem to find the balance. I have to work; I have family and household obligations. As much as I long for Your presence, my flesh seems to have a default setting on the cares of life, and I have to force myself to do the very thing I long to do. It makes no sense! I guess it’s a struggle we all have; Paul certainly seemed to indicate the same struggle in Romans 7.

“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate… For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want… For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner woman, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched woman that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 7: 15,18,22-8:2)

That is the answer Lord, I need to walk in Your Spirit. I suppose that involves more yielding than striving. Teach me to sit still and yield. I have never been very good at being still. It’s partly my wiring I think, but nothing is impossible with You. Of course, I have had many victories; many times when I overcame my weak flesh and entered into pure worship; times when I heard your sweet voice. That is where I long to stay every moment, and I don’t think it’s impossible. I think about that book I read by Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence—they made practicing your presence a priority, and trained their flesh to do it. I know that whatever You ask me to do, You empower me to do. Help me tap into your provision—your Spirit! Help me to yield my mind to You—moment by moment, and in the midst of the cares of life. Thank You for your provision!

Child, I am waiting with open arms. Run to me, remembering that I am your life. Without Me, you can do nothing, but with me all things are possible. That includes overcoming your weak and scattered nature. Come! That is all you must do. As you come into my presence with thanksgiving and praise, I will meet you to strengthen and empower you to live beyond life’s concerns. Your strength comes in quietness and trust. Rest in my goodness. You know it, and victory simply requires tapping into what you already know. So many are blind to who I am, to my love and goodness, to my heart for them. Though you see dimly as through a looking glass, you see enough. Be thankful— I have removed the scales from your once-blind eyes. Realize what a rare blessing that is in this dark world. The majority of people stumble in darkness. You have eyes to see and ears to hear. Use them, and let me shine my light through you. Learning to abide isn’t just for your benefit. It is your duty to a lost and dying world. Take that commission seriously. I loved the world so much that I gave my all. As my disciple, you must be willing to surrender all as well. Yet, when you surrender, you lose nothing and gain everything. It is a beautiful paradox that the world cannot understand. You are not of the world though. You understand the joy and peace that comes from dying to self and living to Me. Come to Me with these truths in the forefront of your mind. Let go of all the worries and concerns. I see them all, and will help you as you walk in my Spirit. Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything (every stressful and worrisome circumstance) come to me with prayer and petition. Be thankful to Me as you make your requests known. As you give your burdens to Me, I will replace the worries with peace that transcends human understanding (Ph. 4:6-7). Come now my child. I am here.