In the previous blog the Adverse Childhood Experience test allowed us to see where we stand on the perspective of abuse. Now we will look at how entangled these issues become in our life.

The idea that we were adversely affected by our childhood and therefore we aren’t responsible for the choices we make is wrong. As adults we should know right from wrong learned through teaching from the Bible, our parents and normal life events. Sometimes it takes awhile for us to recognize what we thought was normal is not. The purpose of recognizing these problems is not to dishonor our parents or grandparents but to recognize the obstacles we face caused by damage from our family’s past.

The following is an excerpt from Beth Moore’s bible study “Breaking Free”  page 86;

“Idolatry involves anything or anyone we worship, use as a replacement for God, or in any way treat as our God. Only Christ can set us free, all other gods or idols can only enslave; therefore, enslaved parents teach their children how to live in bondage even with the best of intentions to do otherwise. For many years I have kept an excerpt from “It’s Always Something” by the late Gilda Radner. The last few paragraphs share a lesson on life every parent should heed.

When I was little, my nurse Dibby‘s cousin had a dog, just a mutt, and the dog was pregnant. I don’t know how long dogs are pregnant, but she was due to have her puppies in about a week. She was out in the yard one day and got in the way of a lawnmower and her two hind legs got cut off. They rushed her to the vet and he said,  “I can sew her up, or you can put her to sleep if you want, but the puppies are okay. She’ll be able to deliver the puppies.”

Dibby’s cousin said “keep her alive.”

So the vet sewed up her backside, and over the next week the dog learn to walk. She didn’t spend any time worrying, she just learned to walk by taking two steps in the front and flipping up her backside, and then taking two steps and flipping up her backside again. She gave birth to six little puppies, all in perfect health. She nursed them and then weaned them. And when they learned to walk they all walked like her.”

In Numbers 14:18 we read “ the Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ Exodus 20:5 tells us “The sins of the fathers increase the vulnerability of the children to the third and fourth generation. God is merciful but until we acknowledge idolatry, those who follow us will learn what our idols are and follow them. Thankfully it doesn’t have to be this way when we turn from idols to God.

A class of drug addicts found one common denominator in their family’s, all of them had at least one alcoholic parent.  The parents weren’t all using drugs but their children learned to use an idol to cope with life, just as their parents did. 

Things that happen to us as a child that have nothing to do with fault or blame, such as loosing a parent, could leave us vulnerable to insecurities about who will be there for us in our needs. It could cause us to seek care in areas that are unhealthy.

Challenge yourself and ask what bad habit or baggage are my children learning from me?We all have something. Thankfully we should all have something of value they are learning from us as well. Hosea 8:7 tells us “if we sow the wind we reap the whirlwind.”

These facts can leave us scared, but we can’t forget there is only one perfect parent and that is God. It amazes me that with his perfection, he stilled loved me with all my imperfections. It should make us more aware of what we might be leaving behind as well as looking back to see what we might have learned from those ahead.

This study humbles me when I realize how I have made many mistakes in my life as well as in parenting.  The study also encourages me to know that I don’t have to stay in bondage to idols, God can set me free.  I am thankful to say I have found freedom from some of my chains and I know it is possible and it also is a wonderful feeling. It really is not a negative thing even though it might mean some hard work facing these giants. More of being set free in another post.

Here is a link to a successful chain breaker! https://www.foxnews.com/media/roy-castro-dana-perino-strive-new-york-rundown-podcast

What is your ACE Score

Way back on November 5th, I posted an article regarding those who struggle. Maybe you know a loved one or you yourself struggle and don’t really know why.  This is a study that was done a number of years ago but seems to be bringing help to those who educate and care for children and adults with a past of trauma.  I copied the test for those who don’t want to click onto another site. For those who do want to you can find the test and more information at https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/  

Got Your ACE Score?

What’s Your ACE Score? (and, at the end, What’s Your Resilience Score?)

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — racism, bullying, watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, involvement with the foster care system, involvement with the juvenile justice system, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.

The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
  2. No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  3. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
  4. No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  5. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
  6. No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  7. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
  8. No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  9. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
  10. No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  11. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
  12. No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  13. Was your mother or stepmother:
  14. Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
  15. No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  16. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
  17. No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  18. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?                        No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  19. Did a household member go to prison?
  20. No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score


Now that you’ve got your ACE score, what does it mean?

First….a tiny bit of background to help you figure this out…..(if you want the back story about the fascinating origins of the ACE Study, read The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — the largest, most important public health study you never heard of — began in an obesity clinic.)

The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Studyuncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide.

The first research results were published in 1998, followed by more than 70 other publications through 2015. They showed that:

  • childhood trauma was very common, even in employed white middle-class, college-educated people with great health insurance;
  • there was a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as depression, suicide, being violent and a victim of violence;
  • more types of trauma increased the risk of health, social and emotional problems.
  • people usually experience more than one type of trauma – rarely is it only sex abuse or only verbal abuse.

A whopping two thirds of the 17,000 people in the ACE Study had an ACE score of at least one — 87 percent of those had more than one. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have done their own ACE surveys; their results are similar to the CDC’s ACE Study.

The study’s researchers came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress. You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems. (Of course, other types of trauma exist that could contribute to an ACE score, so it is conceivable that people could have ACE scores higher than 10; however, the ACE Study measured only 10 types.)

As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; attempted suicide, 1,220 percent.

(By the way, lest you think that the ACE Study was yet another involving inner-city poor people of color, take note: The study’s participants were 17,000 mostly white, middle and upper-middle class college-educated San Diegans with good jobs and great health care – they all belonged to the Kaiser Permanente health maintenance organization.)

Pain where we least expect it

4ba2eb56-9b6a-4be0-b8b8-77eab832335dA few years back I started a blog called “Hope for wounded hearts.” I have never shut the blog down since in the back of my mind I really wanted to write again.  It has nothing to do with me thinking I am a great writer or that I have a wealth of knowledge to share.  The opposite is more like it.  One thing I do have and that is a passion for wounded hearts. When someone knows pain and the difficulties that come with that pain, it leaves a  mark that stays for life.

Thankfully today, I understand healing as well and the relief that comes with that. My life verse is Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.“ I believe the mark is on my heart that I might never forget the wounded and broken hearted. Since I have told my story many have come to me with their story or the story of someone close to them.  It is very sad how prevalent it was even among so many of my peers and yet no one knew the other one was experiencing the abuse.  With time and training I recognize the signs of abuse much easier today.

My healing came in many different phases of my life and that story is told on my blog: hopeforwoundedhearts.com  One of these phases was connecting with a group that has had a real burden to help healing begin in the lives of many victims.  They have done extensive work through the books and resources of Mending the Soul.  Steve Tracy, ThM, Phd and his wife Celestia Tracy, MA, LPC. This couple is a devoted couple to the wounded and have used their gifts to bless many. Their website is mendingthesoul.org 

What caused the desire to write again to day is a clip I watched today that speaks some very sad truth. Abuse where we never expect to see it – in the church. The sad fact remains we all come short in living life as we should but it somehow seems worse when we see people who claim to be representing God before others and all the while are living a dark side of their life that only their victims know.  My heart hurts for this large family.  I find it hard to believe how the abuser was given so much support while his family that was hurting badly were basically ignored.  If this is an area you are interested in or have experienced yourself you will want to watch this 25 min video.  http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2019/january/the-pedophile-in-the-pulpit-how-a-respected-pastor-abused-hundreds-of-children-for-40-years-and-no-one-knew?fbclid=IwAR3vYfUCRWxGCb0nRe83aj2KhwxC2awoq0pjxLTi-sjG2UqbjYVyWoIqp54

I hope to republish my blogs and add more to this page in the coming weeks.  Since I wrote the blog I have had further training regarding children and teens. If you would like to talk to me about any of this please feel free to email. eemdockdl606@gamil.com


As I come to the end of  the Mending the Soul books, I find myself struggling to get this written.  Not because it is hard but because the truth in this chapter is so amazing and gives so much hope and speaks peace to wounded hearts. There is far more in the books than I can write here, but I am using mostly quotes from the book to tell the story.  When I see the brokenness in so many people and realize none of us have to be trapped there, it shines a light of peace and bright futures.  God can take the  ugliest of situations and redeem them into something beautiful for Him.  For the thirsty soul looking to break free of the bondage of abuse, there is hope.  So forgive me for using so much of the book, but I feel I cannot add much to a job well done.

Often when we share our stories of abuse with others, the first thing we’re told is that we must forgive our abusers.  However, although forgiveness is essential, it must come at the end of our healing rather than at the beginning.” Cellestia Tracy, Mending the Soul Workbook Page 229 copyright 2015

“Some Christians claim that biblical forgiveness means letting go of the offense so that there is no longer any fear, anger, or mistrust toward the one who hurt you.  This, however, is a harmful, incomplete, and unbiblical model of forgiveness. Scripture does describe forgiveness as letting go of a debt, but it also demonstrates that there are consequences for the offender. Nowhere does the Bible say that trust and reconciliation will always be granted. It’s important to realize that trust cannot be demanded – it’s earned. 

There are three types of forgiveness.  The first is forgiveness that can only come from God and that is Judicial forgiveness and this is a complete pardon of all sin, which happens only after a person has acknowledged their own sin and repented of their sin and have accepted Christ and his work done on the cross to cleanse those sins.  Proverbs 28:13 tell us that He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Cellestia Tracy Mending the Soul Workbook Page 220 – 221 copyright 2015

Religious leaders and even family members are often quick to tell victims they must forgive, regardless of the circumstances of the abuse or the posture of the abuser. Sadly, insensitivity to the complexity of the biblical doctrine of forgiveness and ignorance of the dynamics of abuse often lead Christian leaders to inflict much additional damage on survivors of abuse. Abuse victims need clear direction about the biblical doctrine of forgiveness and what it means for their relational healing. More specifically, they need to know what Christian forgiveness means for their relationships with their abusers, particularly if an abuser is unrepentant. This is what I seek to provide in this chapter.” Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 3397-3403). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Judicial forgiveness involves the remission or pardoning of sin by God. It pictures a complete removal of the guilt of one’s sin (Psalm 51:1–9), and it’s available to abusers and all other categories of sinners (Psalm 32:1–5; 1 Corinthians 6:10–11). The judicial forgiveness of sin by God lies at the very heart of Christianity and the salvation experience. God’s desire is unequivocally to forgive and to heal those labeled by society as the worst, the most hopeless, and worthless sinners, a prospect that was as odious in the first century (Matthew 9:9–13) as it is today. Modern society’s repulsion toward abusers, particularly toward child molesters, is well-known and in many respects quite logical. I vividly remember calling a close friend to inform him that a mutual friend had been discovered to be a molester, and that he should take extra precautions to protect children from this man. Upon hearing that this man was a child molester, my friend’s first words to me were, “As far as I’m concerned, Bill can’t die and burn in hell soon enough.” I certainly understand my friend’s visceral reaction to this shocking discovery, but as soon as we consign abusers to the ranks of the irredeemable, we distort the message and ministry of Jesus. What’s more, we threaten to impale ourselves on our own sword of justice, for those of us who have never molested children are surely in need of God’s mercy and his forgiveness for other kinds of malicious acts, as well as other kinds of sexual sins.” (Matthew 18:21–35).  Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 3461-3474). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Psychological forgiveness is the inner, personal category of forgiveness, and it has two aspects: negatively, it involves letting go of hatred and personal revenge; positively, it involves extending grace to the offender. Letting go of hatred and revenge; Some philosophers have persuasively argued that bearing resentment against those who maliciously harm us is necessary to maintain the moral order and to maintain respect for the victim. Furthermore, resentment often feels psychologically necessary for abuse victims. Letting go of resentment toward an unrepentant abuser feels like letting go of justice; it may also feel like letting the abuser win and may appear to justify his or her evil. These arguments against psychological forgiveness cannot lightly be brushed aside. I’m clearly not equating all anger with undesirable hatred or resentment, nor am I letting go of justice. Anger can be a healthy and appropriate response to evil, for Jesus himself became very angry, particularly at those who defamed God and hurt humans made in God’s image (Matthew 21:12–17; Mark 3:5). Many of the psalms contain vivid expressions of anger toward evildoers (Psalm 5; 10; 69). Abuse victims can and should be angry at abusers, whose evil also angers God. The kind of anger prohibited in Bible verses such as Matthew 5:22 is the “deliberate harboring of resentment” with a view toward personal revenge. Hence, Paul in Ephesians 4:26 indicates that one can be justifiably angry but must be careful not to let this disposition turn into sinful resentment. Thus, forgiving abusers at this level means letting go of settled bitterness and rage and committing abusers to God, who is both loving and just. The way victims are able to do this is by entering into God’s point of view, for all humans—abuse victims as well as abusers—are individuals for whom Jesus Christ died. At the same time, God will execute justice against all evil. This approach to forgiveness overcomes the objection that letting go of resentment demeans the victim and undermines justice. At a practical level, letting go of bitterness means letting go of the right to personally exact revenge. In other words, forgiveness is letting go of my right to hurt another person for hurting me. This is a cardinal element of forgiveness. Letting go of personal retribution, however, doesn’t mean letting go of justice or the desire for it. Rather, justice is intensified. By letting go of my right to take personal revenge on my abuser, I am relinquishing the roles of judge, jury, and executioner over to God. His judgment toward unrepentant evil will be perfect and indomitable, making my feeble attempts at revenge appear quite puny. At the same time, in letting go of my right to hurt the offender for hurting me, I am implicitly expressing the desire that he or she would repent and experience God’s forgiveness and healing, so that eternal judgment might be precluded.” Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 3389-3517). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Extending Grace It is not enough, however, simply to define psychological forgiveness in negative terms as the withholding of retribution, for there is a positive side to this as well. ..Psychological forgiveness also involves the willingness to extend grace and goodness to those who have hurt us. This doesn’t mean victims give abusers free rein to hurt them again, for that would make a mockery of forgiveness. Rather, it means—based on the mercy and grace of God I have experienced—I’m willing to extend kindness even to my enemies (Matthew 5:43–47), with a view toward their own repentance and healing. For abuse victims, one of the most appropriate expressions of this type of forgiveness is simply the extending of grace through the inner desire and prayer for their perpetrators’ healing.” Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 3532). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Relational forgiveness is the restoration of relationship. It is synonymous with reconciliation. From a biblical perspective, this forgiveness is always desirable, though it’s not always possible. God’s desire for the human race is for healing and reconciliation, both individually with himself (2 Corinthians 5:18–21) and interpersonally with other humans (Ephesians 2:11–14; Colossians 3:10–13). Stanley Grenz, a leading theological researcher on the nature of the church as a community, summarizes the twofold reconciling work of God in human history: The vision of the Scriptures is clear: the final goal of the work of the triune God in salvation history is the establishment of the eschatological community—a redeemed people dwelling in a renewed earth, enjoying reconciliation with their God, fellowship with each other, and harmony with all creation. Consequently, the goal of community lies at the heart of God’s actions in history. Though reconciliation is always the desired goal, many abusers cannot be given relational forgiveness, for they refuse to do the painful work of repentance. We must not soften the conditional force of Jesus’ words in Luke 17:3: “If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if [emphasis added] he repents, forgive him.” Jesus goes on to say that if this sinning brother repents repeatedly, he or she is to be forgiven repeatedly. Paul gives a similar teaching in 2 Corinthians 2:5–11, where he commands the Corinthians to now forgive the man they had excommunicated for his brazen sexual sin (1 Corinthians 5:1–13), as the excommunication seemed to have served the desired purpose of creating the shame and loneliness that stimulated repentance. Thus, Christians are to offer relational forgiveness when genuine repentance has occurred. Some argue that forgiveness is not given at any level until the abuser repents, but this approach fails to recognize that the biblical repentance demand applies to relational, not psychological, forgiveness. In other words, there are ways abuse survivors can offer forgiveness to their perpetrators that don’t involve reconciliation or the establishment of a relationship.” Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 3532-5252). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.


Stephen Tracy lays out 5 steps to forgiveness:

1 Clarify the offense (s) and the resultant negative emotions

2. Determine appropriate boundaries to check evil and stimulate repentance

3. Deliberately let go of the right to hurt an abuser for the hurt they have inflicted.

4.  Reevaluate the abuser and discover their humanity

5  Extend appropriate grace.

He goes into each step in depth in his book.  This is both  challenging and rewarding.  Learning to let go and forgive brings great freedom.  Walking through this personally to grow and learn more of God is a blessing beyond comprehension.  As healing happens you will be  an instrument that God can use to help others.

Since I have been writing this blog, it has become more evident how widespread the tragedy of abuse is in the lives of so many.  When you wonder at irrational behavior of some it can often be traced back to abuse in their past.  As thoughts and information come my way, I will still post blog post about this issue.

Restoring Intimacy with God

Rebuilding Intimacy with God

This is the second to the last blog that is directly related to the Mending the Soul book by Steven R Tracy.  Since the blogs have  been spread  over weeks of time, a review of the points might be helpful.  Following are the titles of each chapter to refresh our memories:

  1. A wake up call regarding the extent and power of abuse
  2. Abuse as a perversion of the image of God
  3. Profiles of Abusers
  4. Portrait of an abusive family
  5. Shame
  6. Powerlesness and deadness
  7. Isolation
  8. Facing the brokenness
  9. Rebuilding intimacy with God
  10. Forgiveness

This week we will discuss “Rebuilding intimacy with God”.  Remember, my responsibility to you and every other person I come in contact with, is to bear the image of God.  When I fail to do that I damage the image of God. Without even realizing it, when we are hurt by someone, particularly in extreme abuse, we become angry with God.  Often these reactions come from people who really know very little if anything  about God.  Even those who know God personally can go through times of doubts and struggles where they wonder if God is really there for them or if he really cares about them.  It is hard to have intimacy with God when these thoughts are clouding our mind.

From the Mending the Soul work book copyright 2015 by Celestia G Tracy on page 201 she writes:

Our most basic need is relational – we were designed to be in intimate relationship with God.  The greatest tragedy in human history is that sin alienated us from God our Creator and separated us from each other.  We were doomed, but God sent Christ into our world in order to bring us back to Him (2 Corinthians 5:19) God so valued intimacy with us that He was willing to pay the greatest imaginable price in order to meet our greatest imaginable need. God did this in spite of the fact that we can’t give Him anything – He lacks nothing. He has enjoyed perfect intimacy to His own divine Being since before the beginning of time. Such is the incomprehensible beauty of God’s love: He delights in intimacy with us – no matter how messed up and mixed up we are.

As I was going through the Mending the Soul book and workbook, I would finish by writing my thoughts and feelings about what I had just read.  I want to share it here:

I have spent much of today doing the work book on this chapter and once again I love what it is saying and it is so encouraging.  I have seen how the sinful fallen man has damaged his relationships with  others, thus distorting God, but God sent his Son to die on the cross and bear our sins that our relationship with God might be restored.  We can walk with God and learn more of Him in this new relationship.  A relationship where we learn of God’s faithfulness in spite of our unfaithfulness, we learn of God’s grace when we haven’t been full of grace, we learn of God’s love when we haven’t been easy to love.  We see God’s wisdom in all that he does and says in his word and how powerful his word is in meeting our needs.  We learn of our sinfulness and sinful ways, how we turn to other things for comfort, and how God the true answer has been there all along waiting to walk with us through our sinful ways.  We are reminded of our need of Him in all that we do.

We can take our fears to Him and cast all our cares upon Him.  We can seek His face for guidance and direction.  We can confess our weakness and know that he will strengthen us in our needs. There is no other source we can turn to that knows what lies ahead and cares about what is best for us and has the power to direct and orchestrate what lies ahead.  I am thankful for the stripping away of that which pulls me down and keeps me from enjoying the fulness of God and all he has for me.

The hymn comes to mind that speaks so well of the intimacy I need with God:

“I need thee every hour most Gracious Lord

No tender voice like thine can peace afford,

I need  thee Oh I need thee every hour I need thee

Oh bless me now my savior, I come to thee.

I need thee every hour, stay thou near by,

Temptations loose their power when thou are nigh,

I need thee oh I need thee,

Oh bless me now my Savior I come to thee.

A recent facebook post also says so much:

Do you find your own heart sensitive to the Lord’s presence, or are you among those who are “samplers” and “nibblers”? God help you if you are, for the child of the King isn’t a sampler and a nibbler—he’s a sheep who loves his Shepherd, and he stays close to his Shepherd. That’s the only safe place for a sheep—at the Shepherd’s side, because the devil doesn’t fear sheep—he fears the Shepherd. Your spiritual safety and well-being lies in being near to the Shepherd. Stay close to Jesus and all the wolves in the world cannot get a tooth in you… And above all things, “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (1 Chronicles 16:29) A.W. Tozer —

There is much more that can be said about restoring our relationship with God.  In at least a small measure, I pray you can see having a right relationship brings us all we really need in life, it brings peace, it brings joy and it produces worship in our hearts.

It would be my prayer that your appetite has been awakened and you will search out this special relationship with God. If you want to talk, I would be most happy to have a conversation that might help get you started on the  path  that rebuilds intimacy with God.

Facing the Brokenness


One of the most important things I have learned from the Mending the Soul book and work book, is facing the past.This is hard but so necessary.  Since I have been available to help any that would like to  go through the material, I find many who come close but really can’t quite put their feet in the water to carry through with facing their past.

I have often heard the scripture used which is found in Philippians 3:13 – 14 “but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on… To  my shame I had never really connected this scripture to the verses prior, in which  Paul acknowledges who he was before coming to know the Lord as his Savior. He tells us he was a persecutor of the church.  He came to see things differently, took responsibility for his past, and then he pressed on.  He didn’t wallow in it, he moved on.  Until we come to see our past for what it really was, we keep getting on the same merry-go-round.

For myself I came to realize that the patterns of my life had come from a form of coping.  I was protecting myself from further hurt or pain. I found a measure of comfort in my coping skills but I had created obstacles and challenges that kept me from being able to move on into healthy relationships.  These also keep me trusting in these coping skills rather than trusting in God.  My relationship with God was far from what it could and should have been.

One of the things I remember after I faced my issues, is feeling like a fog had been lifted from my mind and I was able to enjoy my time with my bible and my Lord, far more than before.  My understanding of God’s presence with me and his care over me and his faithfulness to me became far more evident to me.  I haven’t reached the pinnacle yet so I press forward for what lies ahead and know that God wants to be a part of my life in every way.  He wants to keep me as the apple of his eye.   Read the bible passage that tells about God keeping us as the apple of his eye, it illustrates to me what it means to walk out of the fog and into his keeping presence though life. The Lord alone guided me, no foreign Gods (or no self made comforters).

He found him (me) in a desert land,

and in the howling waste of the wilderness;

he encircled him, he cared for him,

he kept him as the apple of his eye.

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,

that flutters over its young,

spreading out its wings, catching them,

bearing them on its pinions,

the Lord alone guided him,

no foreign god was with him. (coping mechanisms )

He made him ride on the high places of the land,

and he ate the produce of the field,

and he suckled him with honey out of the rock,

and oil out of the flinty rock.

Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock,

with fat of lambs,

rams of Bashan and goats,

with the very finest of the wheat—

and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape.

Deuteronomy 32:10 – 14

That is the difference it made for me in facing my past and then pressing on.  When I did my Mending the Soul classes with Johnna, I faced something that had really been hurting me for years and I found so much peace from expressing what was on my heart and dealing with it.

The goal of facing our brokenness is not to wallow in the past but to reclaim it in such a way that it loses it destructive grasp on the present. Trauma symptoms are not healed by ignoring past trauma but by facing, processing and reinterpreting the trauma. Facing this is also necessary to experience healthy relationships.’

Denial can and does happen with abuse. Amnesia is a lack of memory and hence doesn’t involve fully conscious deliberate denial.  Denial is a technique used when abuse survivors admit they were abused,  but claim  they weren’t really hurt  or affected by the abuse, claiming to be resilient. Sometimes we see the abuse in homes affecting others but not them, or denying that the past abuse has little impact on them today.  This allows the abuse victim to deny the full painful reality of their abuse and impedes their healing and growth.

In my own instance of abuse it was over 30 years before I came to recall and connect what was going on in my life at that time to what happened to me in the past.

On page 138 in Mending the Soul “in short, unless we face the pain and truth of out past victimization, we will not be able to experience healthy relationship in the present.

The following is from Mending the Soul Work Book by Celestia G. Tracy copyright 2015 page 184;  “When we refuse to face our brokenness, we’re essentially saying that God isn’t powerful enough to heal us. Denial is an affront to God. It assumes that a false reality is better than the truth(Dan Allender, Wounded Heart). and that He is not good enough or strong enough to be with us through the pain of recall and recovery. In the case of trauma, out of sight is not out of mind. Just because one has been able to repress past trauma does not  mean it is no longer embedded in the brain, having significant impact.”(Mending the Soul, 136)

On page 156 of Mending the Soul by Steven R Tracy copyright 2005: “It is only when we have the courage to truly face the hurt, disappointment, and loss created by abuse that we meet God face-to-face. Ironically, mourning the losses from past abuse allows us to meet God in the present and provides hope for the future. As abuse survivors learn to face their brokenness, they can meet God in the midst of their pain and loss, and in meeting God, they can find miraculous hope for the future.”


This blog post is about Isolation that so many feel because of abuse as well as their fallen sinful nature.  It is self protection rather than God protection.  It is something I have only come to understand  in recent years.  With this understanding comes the understanding of the damage done to the abused.  Barriers are put up in relationships to keep us safe ,but at the same time we are losing out on the God given privilege and responsibility of bearing God’s image to one another.

Those who struggle with the affects of abuse have found ways to protect themselves.  One of the ways is lying. As a young child finds triggers that will cause the adult in their life to respond in a negative way, they will lie their way out of situations as often as it works.  This pattern of lying will continue in life to make people react to them in the way they have concluded is the best for them.  These patterns don’t change as we grow old, instead they become more imbedded into our life’s relationships.  The sad part is that we also lie to ourselves and reality is hard to see.

Another way of protecting yourself is by just keeping the distance, staying away  from the abuser as much as possible.  Little children will hide in closets, older people will stay away from home as much as possible.  You can hide in a crowd, by making sure you are not alone with the abuser, making sure others are around to ward off the wrath or confrontation. You can hide in activity, finding something to keep you occupied rather than engaging with others. You can hide by finding ways to numb your soul ,with  food or alcohol or any addictive substance.

In a devotional by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called The Quiet Place, she tells about the giant redwoods in California. Some of these trees reach 350 feet in the air and are more than 2,500 years old.  You would think they would have an enormous root system extending hundreds of feet into the ground. But the  fact is their roots are very shallow, no deeper than six to ten feet.  One could wonder how these massive trees could stand up under the the storms and wind that come in that part of the country.  They stand because their roots intertwine with  each other and they are not standing alone.  Each of them supports and protects the other.

This picture show us our need for one another.  We were designed to grow in community together as believers, not in isolation, but having our root system intertwined with each other, providing mutual nourishment, protection and support.

“God’s design is that the lives of believers-particularly within the local church- should be characterized by this kind of interdependence, not merely present in body but actively involved in sharing and giving and serving and learning – together.  We need accountability and encouragement from each other if we expect to keep ourselves vertical.  It’s not an option; it’s a matter of survival.” Nancy Leigh DeMoss

This illustrates  the damage done to the abused person who feels they can only trust themselves to take care of their needs.  They can’t trust others or God to meet them.  Larry Crabb calls this the sin of self protection. This is sin because we are engineering our own life and perceived needs rather than looking to God who knows what our needs are far better than we do.

The following will be excerpts from Celestia G. Tracy Mending the Soul work book copyright 2015:

Page 164:  Isolation occurs when we maintain relational distance in order to feel safe.  The trauma of abuse and the emotional damage of neglect create isolation in myriad ways.  The unhealthy relational patterns you learn when you’re a child stay stubbornly with you into adulthood.  If you have a history of broken relationships, you may feel safer keeping others at a distance-both longing for and fearing intimacy: that vulnerable joy of being known and knowing another.  We’re drawn to each other because this is how God created us.  In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.” Scripture describes intimacy between man and woman as “one flesh” because they become as one person, naked without shame (Genesis 2:25). But Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3 6-13), and the perfect connection between man and woman- as well as the perfect connection between them and God-was severed.  Experiencing shame for the first time, they hid from God, and blame shifting began: Adam blamed God and  Eve for his choices, and Eve blamed the serpent.

Page 166:   I’m Shameful Toxic shame drives us into hiding, because we believe we’ll never be loved or forgiven. Shame tells us we’ll be rejected if we’re real and honest. So, like Adam and Eve, we withdraw and hide from God, others, and even ourselves.

I’m Shattered If a child’s needs are responded to in loving and consistent ways, they internalize positive beliefs about themselves and their relationships … Neglect and abuse shatter these positive core beliefs, convincing the victim that the world is a dangerous place.

Page 167:  I can’t trust-I’m Untrustworthy Relational distrust flows out of our assumptions about life and others.  I’m safer not trusting others, we assure ourselves.  Abuse destroys trust.


There is hope and Steven Tracy writes about reconnecting and healing Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse Pages 125 – 126

RECONNECTING AND HEALING The bad news—and the good news—about being a human made in God’s image is that we are profoundly affected by our relationships with other humans. When people misuse their power and abuse others, tremendous long-term damage is created. Abuse damage is particularly evident in abuse victims’ relationships. Abuse creates shame, mistrust, and emotional constriction, all of which undermine abuse survivors’ relationships. Abuse isolates victims. The good news is that healthy relationships have tremendous power to nurture the soul and heal the wounds of abuse. The power of human relationships to heal is an expressly biblical concept. It was a loving relationship with his new bride that healed and comforted Isaac after he lost his mother (Genesis 24:67). It was David’s intimate relationship with his friend Jonathan that helped him endure physical abuse and attempted murder by King Saul (1 Samuel 19–20). It was Barnabas and the disciples at Damascus who took the risk to love and disciple Saul, the very man who had been persecuting Christians (Acts 9:1–30). Shortly before the apostle Paul (the man formerly called Saul) was executed, it was Timothy and Luke who brought him help and comfort when others had abandoned him (2 Timothy 4:9–17). God has designed the church, the body of Christ, to be the matrix in which healing and sanctification take place. Believers are to love, restore, and care for each other because they are all part of the same spiritual body through Christ.38This is a particularly powerful principle for those who have experienced abuse by family members because, in spite of what one has experienced from his or her physical family, God has given a spiritual family of fellow believers who can love and nurture and aid in the process of healing. There are two principles that come into play as we encourage abuse victims to reconnect with others. Friends and family members of abuse victims must recognize the critical role they play in preventing and healing abuse damage. Their response to abuse will largely affect the extent to which the abuse will create long-term damage. For instance, parents’ and caregivers’ harsh, disbelieving, or apathetic responses to a child’s abuse disclosure can be as damaging as, or more damaging than, the original abuse, whereas supportive responses can mitigate abuse damage. 

This principle is true for adult survivors of abuse as well. One of the strongest findings in a large-scale study of female sexuality and abuse was that women who were raped as adults were far less likely to destructively seek to control their sexual desires (shut down, etc.) if they had felt very close to at least one immediate family member in childhood.In another study of adult rape survivors, the reported length of time required for recovery was directly related to the quality of intimate relationships the women experienced in the present. Survivors who had a supportive, stable relationship with a spouse or partner recovered more quickly than those who did not.41 Friends and family members of abuse survivors must be patient, recognizing that shattered trust is rebuilt very slowly. They must also be strong and gracious, for in the early stages of recovery abuse survivors often lash out most severely at their closest allies. It’s very helpful for loved ones to realize that much of the abuse survivors’ rage is displaced rage at their abusers.

The second principle is this: Abuse victims must, with God’s strength, learn to develop safe, intimate relationships. They must learn to resist the temptation to hide and pull away. They must learn to give God and the healthy people he puts into their lives a chance to love them. They, in turn, must learn to love others, in spite of the fact that the world is not always a safe place. They must learn to resist distrusting God and good, safe people because of what an evil, unsafe person did to them. Lori Tapia illustrates this principle as she summarizes the lessons she learned in her journey of healing from incest. In particular, she notes the way God healed her sexuality and her marriage after several years of complete shutdown, isolation, and rage: All our hard work and perseverance in the flow of God’s presence had paid off. The fruits have been profound joy, hope, true faith, and yes—great sex! Not only did genuine intimacy become possible for me—it even became enjoyable. . . .Learning to trust has been the most important step for me. I didn’t know how. Step by excruciating step, I learned to trust [my husband] more each time. . . . The process has convinced me of the capacity of the human heart to respond to persistent love. I believe we want terribly to believe that love is real and that we are loved. Maybe we’ve just never seen it lived out. Or maybe we have, but our souls were so wounded that we could not receive it. At some point I had to choose to believe. The payoff has been worth the risk.

 Lori’s comments set the stage for the next and final section of Mending the Soul. Now that we’ve surveyed the profound soul damage created by abuse, we need to discover the process of healing. In the next three chapters, I’ll map out a path so that those ravaged by abuse can experience emotional, spiritual, and relational healing. End of Quote

The next three chapters are the reason I wanted to write this blog.  There is healing and hope all because of God’s love and grace!

Overcoming Thoughts That Hurt

After writing last weeks post on Shame Good and Evil, I was blessed to hear a series on Revive our hearts by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth titled Overcoming the Curse of Words.  She put into words so beautifully what I was hoping to convey.  You can following this link to the first of a 5 day series. https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/overcoming-curse-words-day-1/   I believe it will be well worth your time listening to.  Parents, grandparents, teachers or leaders of any kind can profit from what she says in these messages.

I do not share this because I think I have been such a good example, I would say it is just the opposite, I see my failure but long to learn to do better.

One other thing I want to share, which I have said before, It is not my desire to make victims from what is said in this blog.  There are so many people who have been through hurtful things and have grown because of the hurt they have been through and have gone on to be a blessing in the lives of others.  Yes, we have been mistreated and I will say for myself, I chose the wrong things to bring me comfort from my hurt and soon those things that have brought me comfort are unhealthy sinful responses. But, when I understand what I am doing I than become responsible to find the right response, which is bringing that hurt to God and finding in him my comfort and hope. This is where God wants us, leaning on Him, communing with Him and finding our joy and comfort in Him.

The following will just be some excerpts that have stuck a cord with me.  As so often the case, they standout because I see my own failure.

Nancy: I have a friend who’s now a wife and mother of several children, who has talked to me a little about her upbringing. She was adopted as a little girl. Her adoptive father was involved in spiritual leadership in their church. But during her growing-up years in this adopted family, she experienced a lot of verbal and physical abuse.

Finally when she was a senior in high school, she got up the courage to go and talk to her pastor. She waited one night until the end of their youth group activities and then stayed after to talk to the pastor, fearing that since her father was one of the leaders in this church, the pastor would be concerned about this.

She talked to the pastor who basically told her, “You’re going to have to wait it out. You’re about to graduate. Just hang in there.” This was not particularly encouraging to her. But then, worse, when she got home late that night, somehow her parents had found out that she had been talking to the minister, and they had waited up for her.

This is what she says happened when she got home. She said,

They didn’t lay a hand on me, but for the next hour or so they told me repeatedly about how much I was an embarrassment to them, that I was ugly as dirt, that they wished they had never adopted me, and that I would never amount to anything.

All I remember doing was sitting there and crying. Finally, after saying those things over and over to me, they let me go up to my room. I fell on my face and cried out to God, and said that I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to die.

How many of you remember something that was similar—or maybe it was quite different—that was said to you as a child? Maybe it was said by parents, maybe by a friend (or someone you thought was a friend) or maybe by a classmate or teacher or a sibling . . . something that was said to you that hurt so deeply that you look back on it and see it as a curse of words. You still remember it, it still affects you today. How many of you have something like that that you can think of in your background? Most…

Whatever that curse might have been, however it was placed upon us, whoever may have placed it upon us, there’s hope that we don’t, as children of God, need to be in bondage to these curses that have been placed upon us in our childhood. For some of you it’s not your childhood. For some of you it’s in your marriage. Some of you are still living in a home . . .

Then remember, realize, that if you are a child of God, you are blessed, regardless of what others do or say to you. Something again, that you need to realize, others may have cursed you, but you have the blessing of God on your life if you are His child.

Then, realize that the blessing of God in your life is more powerful than any human curse—no matter what anyone may say to you, no matter how they may curse you.

Day 2:

As adults, part of becoming an adult is searching out the truth. And how do you do that? If you’re a child of God, you get into the Word of God. And you say, “I have a responsibility to find out what’s true and not just to let those things that were said that were untrue continue to dominate me and control me and haunt me. I’m not to live under the power of those things.”

That’s why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13: “Become an adult in your thinking, when you grow up you think in adult ways. Put away childish things and renew your mind with the Word of God.”

I think that’s why in Philippians 4 where Paul says “Whatever things are true,” that’s what he puts first, then pure and good and lovely and of good report.

But the first thing is true. Whatever things are true, think on these things. And if you do, the peace of God and the God of Peace will guard your heart and will guard your mind, will put a protection around your mind and will deliver you from the attack and the assault of those things that may have been said as a child (see Phil. 4:8–9).

Day 3:

Think about how you’re raising your children and the way that you correct them, and the way that you react when they do wrong. Are the words that come out words of blessing?

Now that doesn’t mean you bless them for sinning. But as you’re correcting them, are you doing it in a way that blesses them and edifies and builds them up? Or do you do it hastily in words that curse and put down? Do you say things that, if you stopped and thought about it, you would know were going to be so damaging?

If you don’t want to ask your husband or your children or your parents, ask the Lord. “Lord, are there ways that I’ve been using my tongue with the people I’m closest to, to curse rather than to bless?”

I think we’re so often clueless about the impact of our words. Let me say again that it’s especially true in the family. Parents don’t realize how the things they say to their children in private or in public . . . I hear some things said to children in public that I think, If they talk that way in the store, how do they talk at home? They’re not thinking. They’re clueless. They don’t realize the impact. And so many wives who don’t realize how their words curse their husbands.

Day 4:  

As parents, this is a fine line we’re talking about here. You want to encourage your children to do their best, and when they’re not doing as you know they could, part of parenting them is leading them to be all they can be. But there’s a fine line you can step over where your children feel that they’re always being evaluated or criticized, that they never do well enough, that they can never perform well enough.

I’ve watched some parents, who often come out of perfectionistic or performance-oriented backgrounds themselves, who tend to be more prone—I think—to do this with their own children. He could always do better. He could always do more. . .

In their heart they love their children. Their heart is not to curse their children. But ask yourself, are these words that make that child feel accepted? affirmed? Now, again, as a parent, you don’t want to affirm your children in sinning. But I’ll tell you what. Your correction of your children, when it’s needed, will probably be a whole lot more fruitful if it comes in a context of their having heard you express that you’re pleased with them—that their efforts, what they have done, are acceptable to you.

It’s amazing how many people carry over this performance mentality into their relationship with God—always just trying to perform. Living under the law, living under the bondage of trying to be good enough. It’s a form of cursing that you can give to your children, that constant criticism and evaluation.

If you sow blessing, you will reap blessing. If you sow cursing—even if that’s what was sown into your life, you sow it back—that’s what you’re going to reap. You may reap cursing from that person that you’re cursing back, or you may end up reaping cursing from others, but you will reap what you sow.

So refuse to return cursing for cursing—no matter who the person is, no matter what they’ve done, no matter what they’ve said. Instead, ask God to show you how to return blessing—a positive, proactive, powerful blessing . . . to return blessing to the very ones who have cursed you.

Day 5:

There’s a transforming power in blessing, much as there’s a transforming power in cursing. I look at family relationships, many that I know today, and I see such breakdown of the family unit and men who aren’t being men, who aren’t providing for their families and who are being vulgar and vain.

I see women who are being immoral, and they’re in the church. So where does all this come from? Well, we can never excuse our behavior by what has been said to us, but I wonder how much of the way people are living is that they are living out things that have been said to them. The curse of words.

I wonder how different their lives might be had they been under the blessing of words, words of blessing. End of Nancy’s words.

I hope sharing these few passages from her radio program will encourage you to listen to it all, but if you aren’t able to find the time, I think you get the idea of the power we have with our words to bless those in our lives or to curse or harm our loved ones.  We are always needing to learn and grow in our relationships with each other and it is never to late, with the help of God, to turn some of the hurt around. I  have watched relationships where someone longed to get things right with a family member and this longing was so deep, the very first actions of a softening caused them to run back for reconciliation, much like the Father in the story of the protocol son found in Luke 15: 11 – 24. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15%3A+11-24&version=ESV 

 Of course this is not always the case where there is such a desire for restoration, but I can’t feel if we bless with our words and actions we will begin the softening process in hard hearts.  I have also witness cases where the blessing of words could not reach their hearts and as Nancy said you could see in their past very hurtful relationships.

May the Lord bless each of you who read this, whether the hurt is in your own life or if you seek to help other hurting people.  My guess would be if you are seeking to help other hurting people it is because of the hurt you have felt in your past and now desire to bless other who hurt!

Shame Good & Evil

First let me apologize for the long gap in posting on my blog. Fall is a very busy time in this part of the world. It is very lovely so just say I have been enjoying all the blessings of the fall season.

Shame is a very powerful emotion and because of that can be used to shape our minds and hearts, for good or for evil.  A person can experience shame when they commit an offense that they know to be wrong. That is a good thing since if we respond appropriately it can correct us to do better. Shame can be felt when we don’t measure up to an expectation such as in athletics or academics. A person might be giving it all they have but still not be able to measure up, particularly if they are  performing in front of a group or someone who will pass judgement on their performance.  This kind of shame has more to do with our own expectations of ourself. Shame can also be felt by outward expressions of disapproval from others when they judge our performance against their expectations, when otherwise we would not have felt any shame. This would be to humiliate a person to act in accordance with the person passing the judgement.

I hear stories of husbands who used the unhealthy shame to control their wives.  Parents have used this to control their children, bosses have been known to pressure their employees, all to get the result they feel is important. I plead guilty to having used it too many times in my life.  It is such an easy way out. The Bible has many examples of shame, both good and bad.  The story  Nathan the prophet told to King David about the rich man who stole the poor man’s sheep, caused David to see his own shame (this is good shame) and caused him to repent and get right with God. You can read the story here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+11+-+12&version=KJV.

Peter grew up with shame being a big part of his life.  He always felt that his father was not happy with him and that he was a great disappointment to his father.  The father believed to encourage or compliment him was to damage him, so he never heard anything that would make him feel good about himself.  At the same time criticism was very common.  He was constantly reminded of things he did wrong or things that didn’t measure up. This caused him to feel very defeated, which made him withdraw from trying and achieving.  His heart was rebellious as he had no voice in how he felt and was never encouraged to expression his feelings.  Many of the things said to him made him feel awkward and out of place.

He grew up finding it very hard to take criticism as he sought to protect himself from further pain. He longed for acceptance which he never felt.  Even after he became an adult he had the haunting feeling that he would soon loose respect from his co workers. This was so ingrained in his head that it was hard to know fact from fiction.  He reports that conversations in his head would tell himself that they really didn’t like him and were only being polite and would soon expose all that was wrong with him. He found compliments felt more like he was being placated, they couldn’t possible mean what they were saying.  At the same time he really wanted affirmation  so that he might have more self confidence. These feeling kept him from trusting people or being able to get very close to anyone in his life. He found ways to keep his distance and was sure no one would ever want him as a life partner. Almost every task he performed he heard to voice of criticism telling him he was doing it wrong.  Failure continued to be a big part of his life. He struggled to change after receiving counseling but often felt hopeless that change would ever come, until he came to understand God’s love and acceptance of him. He was able to know with confidence that what God said was what really mattered, and he could get beyond what others were saying and rest knowing God really loved him in spite of who and what he was with all his faults and failures.

Steven Tracy in Mending the Soul helps us see where we should except blame and where blame is doing undeserved damage.

“I once served as the college pastor in a church near a state university. I met hundreds of college students during my tenure there, but Mary Beth was one of the most memorable. Bill, one of our graduate students, had invited Mary Beth to our church several times during the school year, and she finally agreed to visit. After I met Mary Beth I understood why Bill had worked so hard to reach out to her. She was neatly dressed and attractive but was so painfully shy and withdrawn it almost hurt to look at her. Her hollow eyes were focused on the floor during her entire visit. I called her later that week to invite her to have lunch with Bill and me at the Memorial Union. She very reluctantly agreed. As soon as we sat down, she informed me she wouldn’t be back to our church, as it had been a big mistake for her to visit. I assumed she had some objections to Christianity or to the lesson. I began to gear up for a defense of the faith, but in stammering words she slammed a verbal line drive into the outfield that I could not catch. She began to apologize profusely for visiting our church. She blurted out that she was so sorry she had contaminated our sanctuary, and that if we had only known what kind of evil person she was, we never would have allowed her into the church. I did my best to assure her that everyone in our church was a needy sinner, and that God loved her more than she could imagine, but I sensed my words had penetrated no farther than a fist-sized rock would penetrate the armor of an M1 tank. I was baffled by Mary Beth’s utter inability to accept God’s love until later that week when Bill connected the dots. Mary Beth had been molested for years by her stepbrother and was immersed in shame and self-loathing. She was severely anorexic and had been hospitalized several times during the previous year. Compulsive exercise had permanently damaged her knees, but she continued to jog many miles a day. When Mary Beth looked in the mirror, she saw a fat, wicked young woman who deserved to suffer for the sexual acts that had been done to her. Her brother’s abuse had filled every cell in her body with destructive shame. I desperately longed to help Mary Beth experience God’s healing, but, in spite of our calls and invitations, I never saw her again. 


I’m convinced that shame is the most powerful human emotion. It often overwhelms, directs, and transforms all other emotions, thoughts, and experiences. For instance, no matter what Mary Beth was told by friends, pastors, or her doctor, and no matter what she felt or experienced, the conclusion would always be the same: she was a dirty, wicked, fat girl who deserved to suffer. Her shame hijacked all other internal and external voices. Once a destructive shame virus has infected our mental hard drive, it’s extremely difficult to remove because it filters all thoughts and feelings that could be used to remove it. For example, when abuse victims like Mary Beth experience sensory pleasure (touch, pleasant music, and the like), they often instinctively feel guilty. These guilt feelings then reinforce the internal shame grid and strengthen the core belief that they are disgusting and dirty. This is true for positive accomplishments as well. For example, when Mary Beth received an A in one of her courses, instead of accepting that the good grade gave evidence of her academic skills and hard work, her shame acted as an emotional parasite. It sucked all the healthy nutrients out of the experience by letting the A in this course make her feel bad for all the times in her life she didn’t get an A. It might also have convinced her that she didn’t really deserve the A; maybe the teacher just felt sorry for her.2Thus, all experiences, including very positive accomplishments, indict and assault the self. While shame is universally and profoundly experienced, it is seldom understood. For instance, there’s no scholarly consensus on what constitutes shame.3But I’ll risk giving my own definition: Shame is a deep, painful sense of inadequacy and personal failure based on the inability to live up to a standard of conduct—one’s own or one imposed by others. Regardless of the subjectivity, fickleness, or rationality of the standard that was violated, if it’s a standard that we or others who are important to us value, it will produce shame. Because shame is connected with one’s failure to live up to an important standard of conduct, shame creates a sense of disgust toward self. Thus, shame makes us want to hide from others and even from ourselves.

Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 1405 -1441). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

There is healthy shame, or a nicer word would be correction.  A person who would seek to help another from sliding down a slippery slope which can lead to their harm, seeks to correct.  I like the description of this given in a devotional I read called “My Light and My Salvation” by Mark DuPre copyright 2015 found on October 22 devotional:

“Correction is part of the normal Christian life. Few people like it because few people really understand it.  Correction can be painful and when it is, the pain associated with it can cloud its benefits.  If we accept the lie of our enemy, we’ll learn to run from correction because we’ve associated it solely with pain.

But correction is simply getting us back on the right track, moving toward health and wholeness. It has a purpose. It’s not rebuke, antagonism, or reaction. Genuine correction assumes we’re heading down the right path but need the occasional adjustment to make sure we stay on the right path.

We need to learn the difference between the Lord telling us to stop something, rebuking us, chasing us, and correcting us.  It’s true that some of God’s stronger chastisements can cut deeply, but the only true damage from correction is to our pride. Pride is our enemy. Correction while painful to our pride, is beneficial  and therefore our friend.”

I know in my own life I have struggled with correction or what could be called healthy shame, I didn’t take it well and I understand better today why I had such reactions. I wish I could have understood better the purpose behind the correction and benefitted from it at a much younger age.  What I learn from this is the damage I can do with shame or the good I can do with correction when I speak with people.  I can analyze  my own motive:  Will this be for their good or will it be for the purpose of controlling them to get them to do what I want them to do.

A few thoughts from the Mending the Soul work book by Celestia G. Tracy copyright 2015 page 125: “ Shame can attach itself to our emotions, drives (such as hunger and sex), or needs (such as security, love, or attention). Typically, when a person is sinned against, it creates wounds that go very deep and, in time, can morph into sinful responses.

This is where I saw myself with the sin I struggle with, that is gluttony.  I most definitely tried to numb the pain with food.  The sad fact is when it is something that has morphed in to a sinful response and has been allowed to reign for way too many years, it is also very difficult to break away from.  If I ever got brave enough for you to see what goes on inside my brain you would find a very unstable and emotional mind trying desperately to keep me in bondage, lies of the devil because he knows how to keep me feeling defeated. For this very reason I can not stand in judgement of someone who struggles with other addictive behavior, what ever they might be. It doesn’t mean I condone the behavior, but it does mean I see and understand the challenges they face to get beyond them.

The Abusive Family

Imagine a world were we told all the truth and there were no secrets. I am pretty sure none of us would like it , and things would be a lot different than they are now in all of our homes. We all have our “little” family secrets and as well personal secrets that we do our best not to hang out and expose for others to evaluate and declare what is right and wrong about our life.Dr. Larry Crabb, an author I have gotten many helpful thoughts from, calls it Image Management.

Reading this many years ago it struck me how much I did in the public arena to manage my boys in such a way that we looked good as a family.   It was another author I enjoyed, Gary Smalley, who help me exam my reason for discipline.  Discipline should always be done for the benefit of the child, not to impress others looking on. Keeping this principle in mind helped me not worry so much about what others were thinking and focus rather on what the need was at the moment to correct the problem, not impress anyone.

There is a lot of abuse that goes on behind closed doors that many never see.  This is not the kind of thing we should be covering up but because of our expectation of privacy we are able to keep the public eye out of our issues.  Many times people do get a glimpse or more into families with issues , but we aren’t sure what is appropriate or how far we should go to intervene. There is no easy answer to this question and for the most part it is a case by case situation.

Steven R Tracy gives us a few glimpses into a family that is dysfunctional in his Mending the Soul Book. He uses the story from the Bible found in 2 Samuel 13.  He shows from this story of incest what happens in this family.  This was the family of King David a man who God calls “a man after my own heart”. So we learn from this that none of us are above doing deplorable things.

1. The Needs of Family Members Are Expendable The story begins in verse 1 with an introduction of the key players: “Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar, and Amnon the son of David loved her.” Like a well-crafted Shakespearean tragedy, this story begins by deftly introducing pregnant phrases that will soon turn sinister. The careful reader will quickly feel something is amiss in this family. First of all, Absalom and Amnon are identified as sons of David, but Tamar is simply Absalom’s sister. This is odd, since Tamar is the daughter of King David and Queen Maacah (2 Samuel 3:3). In fact, nowhere in the entire account is Tamar ever referred to as the daughter of David. In abusive families, family members are not equally valued by the parents.

Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 1064-1070). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

2. Reality Is Difficult to Discern We learn two other things about Tamar in this opening verse: she was beautiful, and her brother Amnon loved her. In a healthy family, these would be prescient statements of blessing and happiness. Not so for Tamar. In abusive families, reality is very difficult to discern. Nothing is as it appears. Beauty metastasizes into pain and shame. Brotherly love turns out to be bestial lust. What you thought was the safest place on earth—your own family home—turns out to be the most dangerous.

Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 1077-1081). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

3 The Victim is Made Responsible Amnon was specifically said to be frustrated because Tamar was a virgin and it was “hard . . . to do anything to her.” This probably refers to the fact that royal virgins were kept under close guard, so Amnon was not able to have sexual relations with her. Amnon’s “love” was nothing more than an incestuous lust he had fanned into a raging fire. The irony here is that Amnon made himself sick with his own lust for his sister, but Amnon, Jonadab, and David (with varying degrees of knowledge) all placed the responsibility on Tamar to heal Amnon’s self-induced sickness. In abusive families, the victim is made responsible for solving needs—even evil needs—they didn’t create and could never legitimately satisfy.

Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 1086-1091). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

4. Appearances are Deceptive. The family’s shiny exterior belies a dark inner reality. “Jonadab” means “the LORD is generous.” Sadly, giving your cousin a clever scheme to help him rape his sister hardly shows the generosity of God. The scheme itself also epitomizes the deceptive appearance of abusive families. On the face, it appeared that Tamar was simply being asked to provide physical sustenance (food) and comfort for her sick brother. In reality, her kindness and trust would be skillfully manipulated to shatter her physical safety and to strip her of emotional comfort for the rest of her life.

Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 1109-1113). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

5. The Truth Is Ignored  Amnon followed his cousin’s advice perfectly. He feigned illness to get David to send Tamar to feed him bread cakes. David fully cooperated with Amnon’s fiendish plan, ordering Tamar to go to Amnon’s house and prepare him food. If this was all the information we had regarding David’s response to Tamar, we might conclude he had been so thoroughly deceived that he bore little responsibility for the violation of Tamar. David’s pattern of behavior toward his children shows otherwise. In fact, David demonstrates another trait of abusive families: Vulnerable family members are not protected because no one really wants to know the truth. The truth is ignored. In other words, maintaining one’s own emotional well-being is more important than admitting that dangerous family problems exist.

Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 1127-1134). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Steven Tracy goes on to explore other traits of abusive families in his Conclusion:

Family abusers use force to get their sordid way.

There is no straightforward healthy communication, and many of the verbal messages are          contradictory and confusing.

The victim’s response is futile.

Power is abused to exploit.

Abusive families are emotionally unstable.

The victims are shamed, blamed, and demeaned.

Members are isolated and lack intimacy.

A strict code of silence is enacted.

Abusive families deny and distort proper healthy emotions.

Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-26). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 1386-1397). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

None of this is a very pretty picture so none of us would like the world to see our dirty laundry.  The sad fact remains that so much abuse is done behind these “closed doors”. The scares that come with such a home environment go on to the next home established when this kind of dysfunction is over looked or never understood for what it really is.

I know I had some very strange thinking when we started our home and family and I am thankful I was very open to learn from men like Dr. James Dobson, Gary Smalley, Dr. Larry Crabb and most important from the Bible and those who patiently taught me from God’s word.  It was that hunger to change things that helped me seek out a different mode of operation.

This kind of abuse is not isolated to families.  Anytime someone has the power over another person because of age, authority, physical strength, or finances, this kind of abuse can be found.  We have all seen examples of this in of all places, religious settings, in schools, care centers for the elderly or disabled.  You can go on to other area of life where we see this happen. In recent days I have been made aware of two stories of what can be called spiritual abuse.  I will go into this a little further in my next blog.