In response to my post last week about Breaking The Victim Mentality, I received an email from a friend and reader of Crossing Paths. Because I found her story to be extremely inspiring, I asked her permission to share with you some of the things she confided in me because I know it will inspire you, too.
For the sake of her privacy, I will refer to her as “Ruth”, after the character in the biblical book by the same name.
Ruth is a very warm and gentle woman. She was married with three young boys. Ruth became a victim of spousal abuse. This abuse served to change her forever. Not just who she was, but what she thought of herself as a wife, mother and as a person. As one who was abused, she felt the shame was all on her. Whether the shame was heaped on her by her husband, by society, or by herself. At the same time, she was responsible for raising three boys whose lives were being molded by the environment in which they were living.
Now, 10 years later, Ruth is no longer a victim. As she stated so eloquently to me, “it’s not that time has healed all wounds, it’s that by His wounds I am healed.”
This was a powerful statement. The passage of time, without proactively involving yourself in getting over it, only perpetuates and prolongs the victimization. But Ruth made significant changes in her life. First, she got out of the abusive marriage. I may be treading on controversial ground here, but I am a firm believer that God does not intend for us to be in abusive relationships. He does not desire for you and your children to live in an unsafe environment.
After moving on from the marriage, she and her boys began new lives. The most important factor in her life was getting back to the place of knowing who she was in Christ. So many victims relegate themselves to being lesser than “normal” people. They feel like damaged goods. They carry the baggage of victimization with them wherever they go. Ruth didn’t do this. Instead, she poured herself into healthy relationships. She poured herself into her church. She poured herself into making a difference in the lives of others who were less fortunate than herself. She poured herself into being an incredible example to her boys as to how to overcome obstacles in life, and to use them instead as something to stand upon to gain a better view of the world, reality and God’s grace and mercy.
Today, Ruth is sponsoring children in countries where what you and I spend on dinner and a movie can sustain them for a month. She goes on missions trips. Ruth volunteers each week at a center for women who are transitioning from prison back into society. A majority of these women have histories of being abused, themselves. She is making relationships with women who so desperately need an advocate. Rather than returning to lives of desperation and crime, they are finding people like Ruth who are willing to love on them and not judge them by their past. Instead, Ruth is making a difference. She’s showing them God’s love, and that they are not branded by their pasts, just as Ruth has proven.
Ruth has made the incredible turnaround from victim to someone who is thankful. She’s thankful for the friends who have walked with her through it all, who have loved her when she was unlovable, and still love her to this day. She is thankful for her now adult boys who see her as an example of how to handle and overcome life’s extreme difficulties. Instead of being ashamed of her, they are proud of who she has become. She is thankful for the strength, joy and peace she has come to find in pursuing a new life, and allowing herself to be embraced by a unconditionally loving God. In doing so, she allows God to reveal Himself to those in her life.
And right now, there are women and children around the world who are thankful for Ruth and what God has done, and continues to do through her.