I first wrote this and shared it with a victim of rape. She was deeply hurting, feeling victimized and of course dealing with shame. If the enemy of our soul can keep us in shame and victimization, he will keep us from future effectiveness. Perhaps something written below will speak to you and help with something you still feel from your past or maybe a friend is in need of it.
- You are not a victim. Victims give up influence and assertion. Victims do not know who they are because victims are lost in insecurity and suffer a loss of identity. But, because the believer’s identity is not in himself, it is already lost to Christ and the power of His resurrection. (See II Corinthians 12:9 – His power is made perfect in your weakness.)
- God’s plan is victory. Sin is a part of the Genesis three world we live in. Victory means that God takes the evil of this world and turns it into something victorious. Being a Christian does not mean we do not experience the evil of this world because it rains on the just and the unjust. It means God has a bigger plan, a greater story.
- You are not responsible for someone else’s sin against you. True guilt leads us to repentance. Shame leads us to condemnation. True guilt followed by true repentance leads to life. Shame leads to death of one’s spirit and soul. Shame leaves us feeling exposed, injudicious, inadequate or defective in some way. Shame breeds condemnation and condemnation breeds more shame. Jesus took our shame on the cross, as well as, our sorrows. He spoke to you from the cross, “Shame off of you.” We must ask ourselves: What am I responsible for and what am I not responsible for? What is the responsibility of the offender? What am I learning about myself through this?
- What boundaries did I break or do I need to instill in my life? Perhaps we realize that we broke our own boundaries or had not thought through God’s boundaries. We need to search His word for His boundaries and His values that He gives us for protection. God’s boundaries are not as the world’s boundaries because He has our best interest in mind.
- Do not repress your anger. Often we have a tendency to go inward with our anger after severe hurt(s). Anger can erupt from feeling powerless and out of control, wanting to “make someone pay”. Allow your anger to be a positive force for healing and personal change. Anger does not make a better athlete or person, but a more careless one. If pressed down, it leads to bitterness and self hate. (See Job 7:11 and Ephesians 4: 26-27 where we are told to not allow our anger to cause us to sin.) Talk through and work through the anger so you are not stuck in its grip. Keep moving through the sadness so you can reach the acceptance piece of godly grief.
- Obsessions of thought. Watch for thought obsessions turning into actual physical obsessive compulsions. Maintain life balance through prayer, worship, counseling, talking to parents and trusted friends who are confidential.
- Forgiveness pursued. Watch for defense mechanisms, e.g., rationalism, denial, unforgiveness, becoming the fixer or the peacemaker. Matthew 18:21 says to forgive continually. There is a difference between extending forgiveness and complete forgiveness. Not forgiving or forgiving only partially will initially cause us to feel power over the perpetrator, but it will only punish us in the end. Take steps to forgive the perpetrator as God gives you the grace to do so. Forgive yourself; He has forgiven you. You cannot change what decisions you made, but you can forgive yourself and move on so you can grow from them. Forgive God rather than allowing bitterness or anger at God. Because of Jesus, God understands our disappointment. Remember Jesus said from the cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
- Move on and mature in God. Allow a tragedy to become a springboard for a better future. For example, we will never know why we were born into the family we were born into, but we do know that God has used it to make us who we are today. (Isaiah 43:2)
You cannot change this situation, but you can let it change you to become more secure, more compassionate, a stronger and more loving person used by God to bring healing to others.