In the world we live in today, we all have to encounter some sort of mistreatment. This is nothing new, of course, but in the age of technology, the mistreatment and abuse spreads farther, wider, and way faster. On some level, this makes us all victims, but we each have the choice to remain victims, and continue to grow more bitter every time something new happens or reminds us of the times we were wounded.
Hurt is Multidimensional
Sometimes this mistreatment is intentional, but there are a lot of times, people don’t know that what they are doing hurts us. Miscommunication plays a huge part in many of us getting hurt. We must also never forget that we play a role in hurting others as well (sometimes for this very reason as well). It’s not a one way street. We can’t know what we don’t know, but if we know that we hurt someone, we should aim to make it right whatever that may look like for the person and situation we are dealing with (Matthew 5:23-24).
Unfortunately, if you are reading this, you have most likely come across a lot more intentional mistreatment as opposed to unintentional, but the unintentional injuries pile onto the already overwhelming amount of pain you have endured.
I am right there with you. It’s hard to forgive people who don’t ask for forgiveness, act remorseful, or even continue to add insult to injury, salt in the wound. So, how do we get away from hanging on to the hurt, anger and pain, even as it continues to go on with no end in sight? We have to choose to not stay stuck in the victim mentality.
We Have Choices at Every Turn
The first things we have to acknowledge is that forgiveness, contentment and thriving are all choices, so is staying a victim. These are not easy or natural choices, but they’re not impossible. I have learned a few things so far through my process to reach forgiveness and contentment, being pulled out of my victimhood.
- Mistreatment and abuse says more about the abuser (or person doing the hurting) than it does about me.
- Forgiveness and contentment don’t just happen by me saying that I am filled with either or both.
- Forgiveness and contentment aren’t feelings, but the feelings can (and usually do) come.
- Becoming a victim is never a choice, but what I do with my victimhood is my choice.
- Even if the mistreatment lasts my entire life, life on earth is short if you look at it in the perspective of eternity. There is an end in sight, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
- Finding what I am thankful for, in the midst of my pain, gives my heart the perspective I need to continue on.
- Truly trusting what God promises in the Bible releases me from so many burdens and work that doesn’t belong to me. I can find rest.
How do I Dig Out of This Victimhood?
Instead of trying, in our own strength, to get to contentment and forgiveness, leaving victimhood behind, we have to turn it over to God to get His wisdom, perspective, strength, and rest. This might sound overwhelming, frustrating, and unattainable to many of you. Please understand that this is not an overnight transformation. So, don’t try to take all of this on at once, it won’t help, and it won’t last. Find a couple things you can do to help you get one step closer, and start with those. Making a commitment to lean into God, spending more time with Him, handing your burdens over to Him, letting go of that control is the best place to start. I know for me, I often grab my burdens right back if God isn’t handling them in the way I want or in my timeline. The hurt and the anger can be so overwhelming, it’s hard to do the right thing with these feelings. We go into protection mode, fight or flight. We feel alone, we feel panicked to save ourselves from further injury.
Putting not only our burdens in God’s hands, but placing our hearts in His hands is the most important, yet most difficult thing we could do in these situations. Placing our hearts in God’s hands does not ensure that we will never be hurt again. It just gives us the confidence in knowing that when we are hurt, we can go to the One who made us and knows us more deeply than any other. He promises to guide us, to use our lives if we let Him, and that our trials will not have been in vain. I know of no other way that is as comforting as going through the worst of my days, and my Father promising to use it for my good and my growth. His promise is that if I seek Him, He will be found, if I see Him with my whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
Are You Ready to Thrive?
So, the question lies, do you want to remain a victim? Or, would you rather be, not only a survivor, but a thriver? What does thriving look like to you? What is defeat of victimhood, even when and especially when we are still victims? It is not letting the offense or the person who committed the offense to have power over your life. This doesn’t mean you will never think about the incident(s) or that you will automatically be happy all of the time. It is perfectly healthy and acceptable to be upset, sad, grieved, and sometimes even angry (if we do not sin in that anger – Ephesians 4:26) at the same time we have the joy of the Lord, and are content in every circumstance. God is a God of justice. He does not appreciate or approve when we treat one another treacherously. But, many of us get stuck in the phase of “why?” and/or “why me?”. All of us will question this, but if we stay here or continue to return to it, we will remain victims forever. God does not make evil things happen to us, but God created us with free will. This means He will not pick and choose who “deserves” free will and to make choices for themselves because none of us deserve it. We have all proven to be failures in the category of making good choices all of the time. We have each fallen short, and He knew we would. Whether we want to see it or not, we are no better than our abusers. Our choices overall may have proven to be better. Sometimes we may be righteous as opposed to foolish, but not all of the time. We all need a Savior.
I’m not calling you to be in an active relationship with your abuser, leave it to God to do the calling and equipping. But take a moment to consider asking God to help you see yourself and others the way that He does. Coming out of victimhood can be very empowering, but we never want that to cross the line into pride because nothing can be good if it is absent of God. God won’t control us, but He will do all that we let Him do to turn our awful experiences into a glimmer of hope for us and for others. That is enough for me to continue on victorious over victimhood even when the days continue to be hard.
If you want to be free from victimhood, please comment below, shoot me an email, or reach out via social media.
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National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233