[From Julie] At the end of June we dealt with the seventh video and chapter of the Real Marriage book (Sorry to take so long getting this up on the blog. It’s been bananas around here lately!). Our small group will be taking a break over the summer and then picking the video curriculum back up in the fall. Admittedly this is not the best practice for small group cohesion but it seems to be the best option for our group at this point. For those of you who are reading along with us feel free to continue with the book and watch for later posts in the fall. I hope it’s been helpful for you thus far.
Chapter seven in the book deals with sexual assault and the issues that result from that experience. It’s a trauma with long-lasting effects and Grace has been very open about her own road to recovery as she learned to deal with her past hurts. Our group spent a lot of time discussing the issue of shame which is a common feeling surrounding victims of abuse. Everyone has done something in their life which resulted in shame. It is a common emotion that we can all identify with. The difference is that abuse victims feel the shame of an action that they are not responsible for. The feeling of being dirty and unworthy is paramount in their lives and affects every relationship.
Part of the recovery process in Christian circles is learning to find new identity in Jesus. We are loved not because we are worthy but because God says we are. We are children of God not abuse victims, not lairs, nor thieves. This is incredibly difficult to comprehend. We are not what we do or what we experience at the hands of others but who God says we are. Dearly beloved children whom Jesus loved enough to die for.
If you are an abuse victim you need to find help. You need to surround yourself with patient, safe people who will protect and support you while you heal. If you haven’t already, you need to find an abuse recovery program that will walk with you through the process and help you make sense of your reality. If you are married to an abuse victim you need to learn all you can to help in this process. You will need to learn to be supportive and very patient. This is a process that will take years and in some ways will always be a part of your marriage however it can be a bonding experience as you demonstrate unconditional love to your partner. Learn to ask helpful questions and find out where you can help along the way. This is a recovery that in many ways has very little to do with you. You are the support person while your spouse works through this with God. He has bound you together for this purpose. Ask your spouse what you can pray about and then pray. Make your relationship safe so that your spouse will feel that they can discuss the recovery process with you. As you learn to move forward as a couple my prayer is that you will find deeper intimacy and freedom. This is hard work perhaps the hardest you will ever have to do as a couple. Hold onto the promises of God. He will bring beauty from ashes. He takes away all shame. He holds you in the palm of His hand. He sets the captives free. He has a better future for you.