A Series on Abuse:To Love “Our” Own Abusers? Only Maybe.

Yesterday one of my “get-me” girls shared a thought that I’d like to start with today. For backstory, this all started with the following that I shared before writing yesterday’s post:

“I’m loving reading all the posts y’all are writing, about the hurt, the redemption, being at the table…

the fire in my bones wants to tell another side of the story. the side i can contribute to right now. But i’m afraid. 

i want to write about how abuse needs to be labeled. normalized. how we need to be able to say “abuse!” when something happens because if you treat cancer like a cold, you don’t get you don’t get the necessary intervention for the malady you have, you treat a symptom that is far from the problem. 

and i want to write about how, in that, we are called to love abusers. 

which holy hell and God almighty, that means a lot of things. 

what i want ot write here is that i am NOT NOT NOT calling anyone to a blind forgetting that others would label as forgiveness. I am NOT diminishing anyone’s story. 

i want to talk about my struggle in this, in fighting  what i want to do, which is take a bat and kick the shit out of abusers and get survivors out of there. I want to talk about how violence breeds violence and i want to fight to stand in the gap. to somehow use Christ’s call as an instrument of change. 

what i’m saying here is: I want your thoughts and reactions. the real ones. and if what i write hurts or stings or offends, i want to know. because it’s all so sickeningly complex. 

so… now i’m going to go try and write about labeling and loving abusers. im sure it will be a series.”

dear triteness, you are sometimes true and good. not now, though.

dear triteness, you are sometimes true and good. not now, though.

to which I got a lot of amazing, encouraging replies. The one that I’m chewing on right now is this:

 “I love your heart. I love your honesty and your gift. Like E said, I trust that The Spirit is working this out in you. And you’re right- it’s a complicated issue. Have you read Wounded Heart? My honest first reaction is I’m glad it’s you and not me being called to this (how is that for honesty). If I’m not mistaken, the biblical definition of abuse is to treat or use someone for a purpose other than their created purpose; aren’t we all then, abusers? I believe we need to find ways to love the very worst offenders. But, I don’t believe it’s a general call on all Christians to love their OWN abusers (not to say God won’t call one of us specifically to do that ). Of course, we now need to define ‘love’ and on and on it goes. I think it doesn’t really matter what I think. Go write.”

So for today’s post, I want to just say that as I chronicle some more musings on this, I am not suggesting that anyone feel or act out of the burden of facing his or her abuser with open arms. Like my friend said, God may call us to do that. But if he calls you to that, he will also equip you for the task.

The specific message I am trying to send in this series is that as people, as groups, as a society, I think “we” would all benefit each other by taking the time and effort to look at people who abuse as just that: PEOPLE. A person who abuses is a person. A human, made in God’s image, with unique traits to bame, I need the time to step away, put down the bat, and remember who my enemy really is,

and who it isn’t.

boundaries are one of the keys to my ability to act out of love for this person

boundaries are one of the keys to my ability to act out of love for this person

To be practical and transparent, I’ll use myself as an example again. In my life, I have found that some of the abuse I survived was committed by persons who I have learned to love well and freely(ish. boundaries are actually the key to my ability to act out of love toward this person). But some of it was different.

When I was 4, 5, and 6, a tiny, innocent little thing not much for sticking up for myself or making a fuss about…anything, really, I spent the summers with my daddy in Tennessee. We were neighbors with my Pawpaw, whose mere memory brings me so much joy that it’s quite difficult to put him in the same sentence with the following the other people living with him: his wife and stepson, the latter who was just 10 years older than me. During this time, I spent a not-unusual portion of my days at and around Pawpaw’s house. Around his stepson. Where he lived. Where he has access to me. Where he would hurt me. The sexual molestation I faced in that time was just the beginning of the pain in my life as a result. The years and years of aftermath, or lack thereof, created a deep and ugly place in me. And God gift of healing has touched it. That place is, by his mercy and through counseling and the love of others, mostly rebuilt into something strong, something beautiful.

But if I ever saw this man, at this point in my life, I would have to fight to keep vomit down. It would take all my strength, and no small amount of the strength of my support system, not to let rage boil in my heart. Because I am finite and weak, in the grand scheme of things. And it is too close a thing to my heart, the deep and treasured parts of me, for me to handle with a necessarily-detached grace.

And there is freedom in that. In knowing my heart is not yet strong enough for a call I have graciously not been given. So if you are here, and you are hurt, please know: that is not what this is about. Maybe you cannot love your abuser, no matter what that means. May you are not ready to receive love for the abuse you committed. Okay. It’s okay. We’ll get there, loves. God is not through with us yet.

More tomorrow on what I do actually mean. :)

a new “about me”

i really don’t feel like my “about me” works anymore. which, what does it say about me that i need a new description every-so-often?

 

i will not engage. I WILL JUMP OFF THIS TRAIN.

 

::ahem:: however (comma) the fact remains that i think my about page needs a re-do,

and i don’t want to do it.

 

who is that girl? exactly.

who is that girl? exactly. also webcam has tools i didn’t know about. just…wait for it.

i asked a few writers if any of them wanted to do it for me. one said, “I’m not smart enough to write your “about me” #incongruent” which, false, she’s brilliant, but i appreciated the hat tip for what i assume was vocabulary. plus #ilovecasualhashtags so, theryago.

 

another suggested, “maybe it should just read – I want to be cohesive” #hrm….. ::sigh::

 

and so, like most muse-y moments, I vacillate.

 

how many words, how many photos, how many details? How do you summarize what is difficult to describe? what is true and what do i want people to know. and…how good of a photo do i choose because….if i look to good then people will be disappointed if they see me IRL.

cause sometimes, i look like this (it's okay, the kid distracts with his cuteness. no really. cover him with your hand - see? totes different.)

cause sometimes, i look like this (it’s okay, the kid distracts with his cuteness. no really. cover him with your hand – see? totes different.)

so….

 

 

anyone have any suggestions? or anyone want to contribute? maybe i’ll just make a compilation.

someone tell my brain to acknowledge my body. or don’t.

SOMETIMES RICHARD WATCHES WHAT I DO.

okay. I’m in class and my classmate says he sees me surfing the interweb instead of paying attention. of which i am not proud. but prouder than if I fell asleep. Which is PRETTY MUCH my only other option. So that header was for him. Here’s the real blog.

It’s getting pretty warm here in the ATX. Which, if you know me (and, if you don’t, hello! welcome!) you know means I am half happy camper half OHMYGOSHWHYAMIINSIDERIGHTNOW. Does anyone have a pool at their apartment that’s open already. Mama needs to swim.

Speaking of, I went out for Facu’s graduation party (Facu is short for Facundo which means something, probably, but I don’t know what other than it’s my friend’s name) which was at Sculpture falls, somewhere we had to hike 2 miles to get to. In other words, heaven. I took exactly zero pictures because I left my phone in the car. Good thing, because out of the 7 of us who went, only 1 didn’t TOTALLY EAT IT AND GET SOAKED on their way across the water. And I was NOT that person. (But did I hold on for dear life to his arm on my way back? yes. yes i did.)

This weekend was chock full of body image issue questions the answers to which I’m not even close to having. I could wax and wane and philosophize OR i could just tell you about it. Hmmmm. If you’d prefer the former, you should stop reading.

fair warning: this is like a first-round set of thoughts.

Issue number one was i had to put on a bathing suit and find a cover up that fit…even though last summer I was 15 pounds heavier and 6 sizes bigger than I am now. I ended up wearing a 2-piece (because to be honest, wearing a one piece, for me, is still borrowing someone else’s conviction and because my cute one-piece from last year now falls off when it gets wet. lit-ra-ly. anyone want it?) and feeling very comfortable, especially because I was with the Banner Year boys, who habitually take care of me but keep me out of the category of “girls I wan to someday cavort with” so I knew I was safe and NOT objectified.

But then on Sunday, I got to get my bridesmaid’s dress for The Dancer’s upcoming wedding (2 MONTHS!). Last wedding I was in, I got a size 12 dress from david’s bridal. So i figured this time maybe an 8 or 10. They measured me at a 4 (dont worry, mom, their sizes are OFF, and i ended up in a “6” by their standards).  But these numbers don’t really mean anything to me about what I look like. They’re just numbers.

unrelated, i got bangs. acutally, i got a mullet. and i LOVE it.

But with the sort of redistribution of exercise and eating better, I don’t think my brain has caught up with my body. Have you ever looked at a photo and been like “I didn’t realize my hair had gotten so long,” or “wow, THAT’s what that dress looks like?”  Well, when I look in the mirror,  I am mostly comfortable with my body (holla-lu-yer). That’s the best summation I can come up with. And I thought that was a healthy, helpful place to leave it. I’m getting healthier and loving the strength I’m gaining from working out and I’m just all the things people usually report after they work out (other than weight loss. Still exactly 155 lbs) like happier and i sleep better and yada yada awesome. So not thinking much about the actual shape or appearance of my body beyond putting on clothes and feeling comfortable.

Because for.ev.er (okay, no, for a few years now) my greatest goal for my body is to be healthy and comfortable when i put on my clothes. To get dresses and not worry about hiding or disguising any problem areas.

i default to looking crazy in photos with lauren, where she always looks cute-as-a-button. i value consistency. ;)

But then, getting the dress, I got a shock. Another bridesmaid, a beautiful and thin girl who I would have SWORN WITH ALL AUTHORITY was smaller than me, had to get the next size up. I can’t look at her and think she’s anything but thin (help me, Father, I even looked at her facebook to make sure) and FOR SURE I thought I was the biggest one in the wedding (sidenote: WHY IS THIS EVEN A THOUGHT THAT OCCURS?!).

So anyway, what I’m saying is: I don’t think I know what I look like. And I don’t even know if that’s something that needs to be fixed.

Telling God What To Do

A few nights ago I was on the phone with a friend in crisis.

 

She was freaking out. She’d admit she would absolutely admit she was losing her dang mind. And my hear WRENCHED for her. In the middle of her story, realizing I was lost for anything helpful to say or do, I started praying,

“God, give her strength. Give her courage, calm her heart, let her, let her…let her….”

is this a band? it's what I feel like God was telling me to do

I couldn’t pray anymore. I was all caught up. Even the words in my head didn’t make sense. I very clearly understood that I was being quieted, that there was something even more that I was supposed to be paying attention to. So I listened. I listened to her, hurting, grappling with confusion and looking for an answer within herself.

And I listened to me, hurting for her, grappling with confusion over how to help and….as it turns out, even though I was praying, looking for an answer within myself.

Even though I was asking God to accomplish these tasks, I was giving him orders. Now, sometimes it’s appropriate to ask God for exactly what you want. But that’s not what I was doing. I know my heart, pplfriends, and what I was doing was TELLING God what my friend needed so she could be okay….or more accurately (i hate to admit) so that I could be okay with where she was emotionally.

I was reminded of who and what God is: Good.

 

I closed my eyes and took some deep breaths, returning to the Lord with a renewed heart and mind. “God, I trust you. I trust you. I trust your love. I trust your will, your plan, your spirit. I trust what you are doing here. I believe you are here already. You love her more than I ever could. You are not distant. You are not gone. You are not silent. I trust you. I trust you. I love you. I trust your love.”

 

It wasn’t the magic pill that made everything better. When we got off the phone, my friend was still reeling. When we talked the next day she’s had a hard time, she was exhausted from just feeling so much. And truth be told, even though it’s been a while, it’s still not “better.”

 

But the thing is, I really do trust God. I (clearly) forget it, all the time.  I forget, just like the Israelites, that God is in control and that he is GOOD. That anytime I am concerned for anyone I love, he is MORE concerned for them. And that includes me. I forget that his plan includes all factors and ALWAYS leads to my good and His Glory. I forget all these things, and I am desperately and madly in love with the God who is so kind as to remind me of them.

i only googled trust. i like that this one came with "love"

 

What are you telling God to do? What do you forget that you need to remember? How could you pray differently, or better, for the people you love?

Scratch -n- Win

I’ve been sittin on this for a while because I just got done telling you how I didn’t care that much if people said I’m pretty, and because there is NO way that I can say this without at least SOMEone thinking, “Oh, is there something going on?” Well, no, pplfriends, like we’ve established based on all my previous full disclosure, I will tell you when something is going on. This is just some cuteness I wanted to share. Cause who doesn’t like cuteness? No one. (No one who likes me anyway. Ya see what I did there? :)

SO, the other day, I was putting on makeup before leaving for dinner with a friend, a hard headed goose who likes to complain about things. ;) So I said,

“Can i put on make up or are you going to yell at me?”

“Do you think you need make up?”

“No, I just want it.”

“Well I honestly think you’re prettier without makeup.”

(i totally miss the fact that he calls me pretty, even though we’ve known each other longer than some of my friend’s kids have been alive, and he’s never called me pretty. In fact he’s called me fat. So pretty’s pretty much the other end of the spectrum.)

“Can we compromise on mascara?” (why are we even having this fight? I’m so dumb, I should’ve just said, ‘sorry, i need a sec to finish getting ready.’)

“I mean, why?”

“WHY DO YOU HATE MAKEUP?!”

“I don’t hate make up. I just think girls who wear too much make up are like scratch-n-wins, sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t.” (and let me tell you, what I hear is “you wear too much make up and I’m comparing you to something cheap and chancey.”)

“Whatever, I’m putting on mascara because I like it and you can just wait, okay?”

At which point I finally realize he said I was prettier without makeup, which at least is CLOSE to a compliment, so I poke my head out of the bathroom and say,

“Thanks, I mean.”

But later we’re talking and he mentions the scratch-n-win thing again and I’m like “WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, WEIRDO?!” Except I say that in my head. Out loud I say, “Uhm, I really am not sure I understand what you mean.”

“Well, you look pretty without make up.”

“So i don’t look pretty with make up?” (yeah, i’m this dense.)

“NO! I didn’t say that. I said you’re pretty without it. I told you, girls with too much make up (i ALMOST butt in to ask why he thinks I wear “too much” make up but I let him continue. Probably cause there is food in my mouth) are like scratch-n-wins. You win some you lose some. But you’re definitely a win.”

“…”

“…”

“So…are you saying that girls who look pretty with make up, you never know if they’ll look pretty without, but i look pretty either way, but you just prefer without make up?”

“Yes.”

“jeesh. okay. NOT what I got out of this conversation the first time. Thx, dude.”

“yeah.”

And that, that cuteness, typifies my life.

Go and be cute. And sin no more. Or whatev. ;)

Wherein I Call Myself an A-hole, then Contemplate Clients

::let me start by saying that this post has some language-ish, that google image searching “trite sayings” is a GOLD MINE (trite saying intended) and that this person says kind of what I’m saying and is also funny, but has more language. and i stole some of her images.::

it's not my fault that lolcatz are so useful

Launching into story…now:

Waiting for my friend to respond via text on whether or not we could skype was getting rdiculous, and didn’t involve enough neurotic forms of communication, so I emailed my apology.

“You weren’t being trite, I was being an a-hole.”

“i was being an a-hole.” Oh, such true words. Much oftener than I mention them. I want to believe that I am kind. That I am patient and graceful and that my insights are thoughtful, thought-provoking, and useful. I want to believe that I believe all of that yet remain beatifully, stoically humble. The problem with all of that is it is FALSE AS PAM ANDERSONS BREASTICLES*.

The other day I was told “you aren’t necessary.” ::EXPLOSION OF THE PRIDEBOMB:: And without getting into the background, I have to say that for the point this girl (not someone im close to, but someone who can speak in to my life)was making, she was right. I am not necessary. I am used by God’s grace, but God doesn’t need me. (Now, as part of the body of Christ, the church, the body needs me to be properly functioning in order for the whole body to properly function, but that’s not what we were talking about.)

So anyway, in reference to being not necessary, and other things from the above interaction, I was hurting and a friend, knowing basically that I’d been told something true but that I didn’t particularly like, wrote me a sweet, encouraging message. And then signed it with something to the effect of “Keep your head up and keep trucking along, God will use this too!”

INSERT CAT SCRATCH NOISES HERE. CLAWS OUT!! “please don’t pastor me like that. you’re better than trite wrap-ups….” Wow, did I say that? Way to go, Valle, nice job on the being “slow to speak and quick to listen.” (i have that backward but whatevsies)

Insert record-scratching noise in my brain, here.

Insert “wait-a-minute-i-was-just-learning-about-this” here.

For a while in one of my classes, I’ve heard people mention that the trite (even if you believe them) maxims such as “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” or “God has a plan for this.” or yes, even, “It’ll all work out in the end.” Are, if ill-timed, NOT helpful, but in fact hurtful. Instead of encouraging (which, if we assume the best of people, is what is meant) these sayings are hindering. They, at the wrong time, can cut people off, seem to say “I hear that you’re hurting. But it will get better, so let’s not have any more of this talking about it.”

I have to admit, i didn’t get it. An optimist at heart, I thought my classmates needed to lighten up a little, expect the best of people, understand that they meant well and in a little while, these sayings will bring comfort.

And a VERY WISE friend of mine once mentioned that in the dire straights of life, the absolute pits, that’s when she wants to hear the promises of God to cling to and remember. So I was like, “people need to hear this stuff, y’all. They’ll thank you later.”

But, people do not always need to hear this stuff at every moment. There is a time to say “God has a plan for this.” But in the middle of a break down or some innocent wanderings about the greater implications of a lesser idea may not be that time. And if you say it at the wrong time, you may not be thanked for it later….you might be hated for it always. Which, FTR, is not a great statement to be made of a helping professional.

VOMBOMB (that's a contraction of vomit and bomb, just in cases you wondered)

So while I’m sorry that I was a cat-scratch-fever-a-hole to my friend who meant only to relate and comfort, I’m glad I learned this distinction – the distinction between words that are true and speak truth, and words that are true and cut off healing. The distinction is, often, just timing.

Now, determining that timing, that I’ve yet to learn.

*not that i don’t l.o.v.e. me some animal-caring-for, admits-her-faults-and-can-laugh-about-it Pam Anderson.

I see Him in them

I have the best friends. yeah, I know, I say it all the time, but it’s true and I can’t help it.

Instead of file-ing again, for today’s post, I’m going to wrap all my friends up in one. I’m going to forgoe the act of separation because they are marked with a distinction oh a common origin. The mark of their maker. Even if they do not know him, they often represent him. They show me his face, they remind me of his pierced, scarred, redemption-earning arms. So for today, for the sake of pronouns and poetry, I’ll make “them” a him, a single entity in many states, like the One they represent.

He, this friend that all my friends would be if they were one person, is amazing. This shadow I see here on the earth that reminds me of my One Great Love, shining in the heavens and beckoning me ever closer to his heart.

And I love when I see him (this friend, all these friends) and “he” hugs me and I know that thought he may not truly know a dang thing about me he cares, and that, in this moment enough. The warmth of his arms and his smile call to me, calm me. I am okay.

To be hugged and cared about.

It wouldn’t be enough. Not if I was looking for him  to “fulfill” me. or looking for anyone to.

I have this basic (gulp) need to be known. And beyond that (for what is more terrifying than the alternate) to be LOVED by the knower-of-me. The one who holds my secrets and still looks me in the eyes and says, “Lovely, I love you.”

I need that. Without that, I die. I become cold and sad and shriveled. I lose hope, heart, even hunger for more. If I am not loveable, if I am not loved, what more is there?

But I am loved. The wars waged against me, while in this world still working themselves out, have one final end: I have been won. I have been redeemed, I have been pulled out of the muck and the blood and the desolation. I’ve been cleaned, matured, made specifically to love and to be loved. It is the very basis of me. Who am I is about whose I am. (His.) And this royal heritage, this prized geneology, this marrying-up, it sustains me.

So though I cannot, here on this earth, see with my physical eyes those above-truths, I know them in my heart.

And I am reminded of them when I see him. When I see Him in them.

Bags of Adventure

I don’t wake up in the morning feelin’ like P. Diddy*. I wake up and think, once again, “Gluten is NEVER worth it. And WHY do i insist on such awful sleeping patterns?” Then: I roll out of bed (yes, actually roll, cause I’m all tangled in my blankets)

Clean up, pack, plan my day

Bank

Outlet Mall

Class (where I am now…blogging and doing homework because I want to be respectful, but listening to this man talk has the same affect as telling me to be still….an extreme LACK of stillness)

Work

Hour-long meeting about new job (starts in two weeks)

Hour-Long meeting about current job (ends in six weeks)

Lingerie party (explains the outlet mall)

Karaoke

Dancing on Dirty Sixth because I love Tenaya.

Go home and sleep until 7am, to ramp up for tomorrow’s adventures, which will involve even more costume changes than today’s.

 

which is saying something.

 

part of today's survival kit. Not pictured: my backpack full of work & class activities.

 

Because what i’m wearing now will change at 5, again at 8, again at 11, and once more whenever I get home (hallelujah).

 

In other words, my life is always an adventure, never boring, and full of bags.

 

*I almost linked to that video. Then I saw the sidebar. KE$HA IS NOT SAFE ON YOUTUBE. thatisall

Bubba and Belle

if I really think about it, if I really look at them, my brother and sister who are moving across the country and across the world, i tear up.

my heart, unbridled by TRUTH and giving in to perception, cries out along with my eyes. No.

No! Please, please don’t leave. Please don’t go away. I love you, I want you here, I want you near me.

I’ve done it again. I’ve grown attached to people. The deep veins of familial ties never truly established in blood have etched themselves in through these people, this spiritual family. They have become part of my daily routine.

They have become part of my heart.

I was not, at first, quiet about this displeasure. Especially with Bubba. With my Belle, I had more time. I knew this was her plan from the moment I met her. We’ve had years now to grow together and love and as I have supported her, i have, not thinking what it would really mean to not have her (or, in more faithful moments, believing that “what it would be like” is God’s plan – infinitely better than any alternative). So with my Belle, as the date has approached, I’ve kept myself (ever so slightly) in check with the (out loud) “OHMYGOSH DON’T LEAVE ME,”-s.

But Bubba up and made this decision OUT OF EFF…REAKING NOWHERE. (Not true. I’ve known he was thinking about it for months but literally REFUSED TO THINK (or even pray other than a randomly thrown up “oh god, tell him and make it clear….but mostly make it clear that he should stay but i mean, whatever you want, im just sayin..”) about it.

And long story short in a month, they’ll both be gone.

My sweet neighbor who I love and visit and spend time with and who is, as many have pointed out, a special friend, a brother-from-another-mother who plays with me so well that other people will miss our interactions, HE IS LEAVING.

My beautiful gypsy sister, the one who is so different from me, but SO GOOD AT LOVING ME, will be HALFWAY across the dang world and WHO  will i call to come over and have sparkling grape juice and strawberries with my while i scurry about cleaning my apartment and over-analyzing whatever is on my mind and with WHOM will i go on movie dates with my pink glittery flask (a gift from my bubby, the biological brother, the other Valle-felon) if my Belle in in TURKEY. Where the last time i was there, they kept trying to abscond with my passport and squinty-eyed at me even though I don’t have the evil eyes.

(that was a tangent. if those last few sentences didn’t make sense to you it’s only because they don’t make sense.)

This is not supposed to be a rant. this is supposed to be about not ranting.

i’ll ‘splain tomorrow. if i can pick myself out of the “what will i do without bubba and belle” despair.

Isaiah 25:8 (He said so)

I get confused at times.

like, i have trouble reading, and will sometimes read the wrong words, or just not understand what they mean. Mostly, i just need to take a moment and think a bit more on the situation, even if i’m just being asked a simple question. I don’t think it’s something wrong with me. But I do feel like I’m different. I haven’t seen many other people have to repeat a question asked of them before they are able to answer.

Have I mentioned (i know i have) that I am surrounded bu the most amazing people? People who love me and will tend to me and be patient and repeat themselves and learn to communicate in a way I’ll understand and even sometimes avoid certain things because they know i WONT understand?

Uhm, anyway… it won’t always be this way. (The way where I get confused and hurt that I’m confused, etc).

I know it’s true, because He said so.

He will swallow up death forever;

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the Lord has spoken. – Isaiah 25:8