It saddens me when I encounter people who have left an abuser, but do not seek healing within themselves. I understand the pain and the fear that pushes at them. But they are settling for a life of continued bondage.
Abuse damages our thinking; it plants buried bombs in our minds, hearts, and souls. Ending an abusive relationship is great—a huge improvement in quality of life—but it will not automatically heal internal wounds.
Some people have told me they can’t bear to remember abuse and just want to forget and move forward. It is good to move forward. Your forward movement, however, will be moderated by how much healing you seek. Are you willing to marry another, but never trust your spouse fully because of what a former spouse did to you? Do you want to attend church, but still have a chip on your shoulder because God didn’t help you the way you wanted him to when you were in an abusive relationship? Do you settle for loneliness and isolation because you are fearful and suspicious about everyone’s intentions? These are all common issues for those who have been abused. Having the issues is a natural by-product of abuse—but what to do with the pain is a choice.
If you desire to thrive, you’ll need to seek healing for the past wounds. We know this to be true in the physical realm. A broken ankle can be ignored. If it is ignored, it may do partial healing on its own. Doing nothing to support the healing process only works to a small degree. The most likely results will be a lifelong handicap, a limp. If on the other hand, someone breaks an ankle and then seeks healing help it will lead to setting the bone (which hurts), casting (which is time-consuming and irritating), and physical therapy (which often involves more pain and then improvement and strengthening), and then finally the reward of fully restored walking without a limp (which is the result of an ankle becoming as strong as before or almost as strong). Ignoring pain seems easier and can be quicker—but the results are not enviable. Facing pain and seeking help has a price at the front end—but desirable results. We have a choice. I’d rather walk, skip, or run as I desire, rather than have limited function for the rest of my life. How about you?
Are you willing to accept help and short-term pain to seek full, long-term healing?