Recently I had the privilege of listening to Christa Black Gifford address the concept of the “victim mentality.” She was speaking, and she asked a question that resonated inside of my head. She said: are you the kind of person where things happen to you, or do things happen for you? The example she gave is how in relationships, we attract partners who recreate our childhood wounds. I know personally, having grown up in a very dysfunctional home, I lived this out completely. And I did have the mentality of all of these things happening to me. I was abandoned, abused, neglected by the people who were supposed to care for me. And as I grew into a young adult, these situations replayed themselves. But who was the common denominator in these situations? Not the people around me, but ME.
As I have begun to experience healing and freedom through my relationship with Christ, and really explore these parts of myself, I can see now that all this didn’t happen to me, to give me some sort of twisted test or to see how much I could bear. These things happened for me, for my healing, for my freedom, for me to experience Jesus Christ in a profoundly personal and powerful way. These wounds and hurts and trials – they are treasures, gifts. They provide me with the opportunity to lean on the One who can bear me through anything. They give me the chance to stop striving and trying to be better, do better, change people around me, change circumstances, and to be and rest in the goodness of God, even when things don’t feel good.
And because of what I have experienced, I will never stop offering hope to others. I will never stop reaching out to others to be healed by the power of Christ. I may get rejected, people may choose to ignore me, or to go a different way, but once your life has been changed the way mine has you can’t help but keep offering, keep hoping, keep trying. Because if even one person can be liberated, all the effort is worth it. Freedom can happen in your personal life, like in situations of abuse or betrayal. It can happen with your health, in your family life, in the breaking of strongholds and addictions. But you have to stop portraying yourself as a victim in your own mind.
And my friends, I do not mean things that happened to us as children that we had no choice over – children truly can be victims. But as adults, who have the power of choice, many times we choose, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to keep playing the victim because that’s all we know.
I will never forget the moment that I realized I was making a choice to be a victim.
I was reading Danny Silk’s book Keep Your Love On, and watching the videos that go with it and I came across a quote very similar to this, although I cannot locate it now. It will be forever etched into my mind, though, as one of those pivotal, world-rocking epiphanies:
“Once you realize that what is happening to you is wrong, you cease to become a victim. Now you are a volunteer.”
World. Rocked. Right there.
Seriously, try telling that to somebody who has been in an abusive relationship for the past eight years. But instead of protesting or justifying my decisions, I realized the absolute truth of that statement. I was no longer a victim.
And once I owned that, and took full responsibility without blaming anybody else, I was able to find the courage and the strength to stop volunteering.
Today I stand proudly in the light of Christ Jesus. No longer cowering in the darkness, in fear and shame. I know what has been done in my life has been done through Him, and although leaving my abusive situation was the hardest thing I had ever done, although it was a miracle that I found the strength, it was only the beginning. Taking responsibility for my own choices and my own life was like throwing a rock into a pool of still water. Getting free from abuse and fear was JUST THE FIRST RIPPLE.
I can’t begin to explain all of the miracles, the restoration, the healing, the redemption that has kept happening in my life and in the lives of my family. From my husband’s healing to my children’s, to the resurrection of things in my life I thought were dead. God wants to do “exceedingly abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20). He wants to put to work in our lives the “incomparably great power for us who believe…that power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19-20)
I know it because I’ve lived it.
And I encourage each and every one of you to live it. Live in the power of taking responsibility for your choices, for your faith, for the thoughts you think and the words you speak. Because in that freedom is open to you, if you only allow God to work.