Surround Yourself with Good People who See the Good in You
Healing requires surrounding yourself with emotionally healthy people who are for you, affirm you, and see the good in you because they have the Holy Spirit in themselves. Sometimes, this requires you to “cull the herd” of toxic or otherwise unhealthy friends and acquaintances. Sometimes this means developing a whole new network of God’s people.
Proverbs teaches us to choose our friends carefully (Prov.12:26; Prov. 13:20, Prov. 18:24, Prov. 27:17). We are hard-wired to be in community, but we must ensure our community is a healthy one so that we can be healthy too.
Reject the Lies and Replace Them with God’s Truth
The majority of healing takes place by identifying the lies that we have been told by our abuser, rejecting them, and replacing them with the Truth of God.
Healing from abuse is a spiritual battle. Satan’s mission statement is clear: he has come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). His tactics are deception, division, distraction, and dehumanization—the 4 Ds.
Because he is the Father of Lies, opponents on the Enemy team use lies to destroy those on God’s team. However, God equips us with His armor to defeat our opponents (Ephesians 6:10-20). The first weapon is the Belt of Truth. A person who has lived with verbal and emotional abuse has likely been told—and believed—hundreds of lies. One by one, these must be rejected and replaced with Truth.
For example, a person who has lived in verbal and emotional abuse has likely been told the lies that she is unlovable, unworthy, unable, too sensitive, too fat, or too skinny, ugly, stupid, not good enough, and that no one else would love her. But God’s Truth tells her she is:
- a beloved child of God (1 John 3:1),
- strong and capable of doing all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13),
- full of the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 9:1, Luke 10:19),
- wonderfully and wondrously made in God’s image with her own unique gifts, skills, and talents (Psalm 139:13-14), and
- cherished by the family of God (1 John 4:7).
Good people who have the Holy Spirit in them will affirm this in her.
She may also have been told the lies that she is a bad wife, mother, daughter, housekeeper, worker, or Christian. But God’s Truth tells her that He delights in her and sings songs over her (Zephaniah 3:17). It is likely that everyone else in her network affirms her too—everyone except her abuser.
She may have entered into an abusive relationship because she believed the lies that she was not worthy of someone who treated her well, she needed to settle for anyone who paid her attention so she wouldn’t be alone, it wasn’t important to marry someone who truly loved the Lord, or that everyone sins and she would be a hypocrite for expecting better behavior.
But God’s Truth teaches us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), to choose healthy relationships (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 22:24-25), and that God wants us to choose as a marriage partner someone who loves us like Christ loves us (Ephesians 5:25-33).
She may have stayed in an abusive relationship because she believed the lies that she deserved it, that her abuser would change, that if she kept praying God would “zap” her abuser into being good, or that God would be mad at her if she left or divorced.
But God’s Truth tells us to not be friends with people who choose to be hot-headed and abusive (Proverbs 22:24-25; Psalm 26:4-5). We should not even eat with them (2 Timothy 3; 1 Corinthians 5). His Word also tells us that God allows people to reject Him and follow their own destructive path—and we should do the same (Romans 1). In fact, God ordered over 100 Israelites to separate from their pagan spouses who rejected Him (Ezra 9 and Ezra 10), and God Himself stated that he divorced Israel when Israel completely rejected him (Jeremiah 3:6-8; Isaiah 50:1).
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