The following is a report on the practical applications of Jan Coates' recent book, Set Free: Stories of God's Healing Power for Abuse Survivors, (Bethany House, 2006).


If you suffered abuse as a child, you know what it’s like to lose your innocence and hope. The horrible experiences from your past can contaminate every part of your life today, keeping you imprisoned in despair. But you’re God’s child, and He loves you deeply and unconditionally. The moment you place your faith in Him, He will begin to set you free.


Here’s how you can break free from abuse:


* Focus on the present. Know that it doesn’t matter who you were yesterday, or what you did. All that matters is that God wants to do something great with your life today. Understand that your past doesn’t have to define your present. Recognize that you can’t change your past, but you can prevent it from controlling you. Believe that you can find new hope.


* Discern truth from lies. Refuse to listen to lies that impede your healing process. Realize that you didn’t cause the abuse, ask for it, or deserve it. Know that you’re not a worthless person who can’t be loved. Ask the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and help you recognize God’s truth. Read the Bible and ask the Spirit to renew your mind as you do. Embrace the reality that you are a valuable, beloved child of God. Surrender your life to God so you can begin your healing journey.


* Know that God wants to heal you. Understand that God is pursuing you with a desire to heal you. Realize that He heals because He loves you, so you can always count on Him to meet your needs, regardless of your circumstances. Remember that He heals in response to His promises, so get to know His promises through Scripture. Know that God heals because you demonstrate faith, so believe that He has the power and desire to heal you. Understand that He heals to bring you to Himself, so surrender to God’s work in your life.


* Pour out your heart to God. Don’t be afraid to talk with God openly and honestly about all your thoughts and feelings related to the abuse. Know that when you cry out to God, He will orchestrate the right circumstances in your life to support you. Remember that, even though you’ve been hurt by people you couldn’t trust, you can trust God completely. Consider finding a support group, prayer partner, counselor, or mentor to help you as you face the truth about your past. Write out your thoughts and feelings in a journal if that helps you sort them out. Admit the truth of what happened to you, and present your anger, disappointments, hurts, and desires to God.