Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Forgiving God

It may seem sacrilegious to think about, let alone talk about, forgiving God. We know that God doesn't sin so how can we forgive him? But, nonetheless, forgiving God is a very important step along the journey of healing from abuse.

I've never met a victim of abuse who has not been haunted by God questions sometime along the way. Where was God? Where was he when abuse happened to you or to a loved one? Why didn't he just stop it? He's all powerful so he could have stopped it. Why did he choose to allow it?

The questions are real and cut deeply. Were we not valuable enough to save? Didn't God care that our world was being torn apart by physical or emotional violence?

Some of you have heard of God rescuing others from a horrible crisis--so where was He when you needed him?

My heart goes out to all those who are in this spot. I've been there too and I know that it hurts. It hurts so much that I wouldn't look at it for a long time. When I finally did go there, I had a wise person tell me, "It's okay to tell God that you are angry and that you don't understand." I took the advice literally.

And God was okay with it. Over the months and years that have since passed, God has answered my questions. Not with placating or triteness. Not with politically correct answers. He answered with truth and with love. He answered using my personal Bible study, the sermons at church, things that children said, words on the radio, beautiful music lyrics, and the words of caring friends. He helped me to hear why He didn't rescue me in the way that I longed for.

Instead of finding a hollow, useless God, I've learned that God is more compassionate, more kind, more wise, and more powerful than I originally thought. I also found out that he cares about me in a very personal way and loves me more deeply than I ever would have thought possible. God does not leave us alone. He is with us in everything--even the most horrifying moments.

I also learned:
  • God doesn't force people to do things; he invites them. We are not puppets--and neither are abusers. We all have free will. So sin happens.
  • God abhors oppression and bondage. He hates violence.
  • God is just, and justice will be done. God is never fooled. Mercy will be given to those who seek God--and justice will be given to those who cling to evil and refuse to seek God with sincerity.
  • God instructs husbands and wives to treat each other well.
  • God is never wrong, never fails, never lies, never breaks promises, and never abuses.
  • God understands us better than we understands ourselves.
  • God is good.
  • God is pleased when we talk to him, even when we're mad.


Anonymous said...

I went through a lot of the questioning God and being angry at him when I was in my teens. I couldn't understand why God could not make it all stop. Once I understood that everyone has free will and God will not force his will on us, it started to make more sense. God never failed me, the people who hurt me and those who chose to look the other way were the ones who failed me.

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Jamey, thank you for your comment! I think many will relate to what you said.

Isn't it interesting how much anger we feel for the one(s) who looked the other way? Getting in touch with anger took me a really long time, but when I did, I discovered that I felt as much anger at the one who looked the other way as I did toward the one who raped me. It surprised me. But it was authentic and needed to be felt, so that I could move onward in my healing.

I felt a huge relief when I realized, deep in my soul, that God had not failed me and that I could live with the horrible reality of what some people did to me in the past.

Tracy said...

This is exactly what I've been thinking about lately. I have been questioning where God was, and trying to come to terms with it. I guess I finally understand that God was there... because things could have been a lot worse. I struggle with not knowing WHY I have had to deal with the issue of abuse. As I look around at nature though, I can't help noticing that trees don't grow in perfectly straight lines. And sometimes the ones that seem to have had the hardest time (being all twisted up) are the most interesting. Which still doesn't answer the why, but it does seem to make it a little better somehow. I love what you said about the way God answered you. I need to work things out with God myself. Your words are very helpful, and I am grateful to have found your blog. Thank you.
- Tracy

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Tracy, I'm so glad that my thoughts helped you. Hang in there. I really encourage you to keep on "working things out with God."

Spending time looking at nature is healing for me. I believe God made it all and that his ways can be seen in His created things. I've looked at what I call "survivor trees"--trees that grow out of a rock. Often smaller trees than neighbor trees that grow in the dirt. I admire their tenacity. I've also noticed really thick trees growing right by a stream or river. Their roots are feed daily with life-giving water. When I think of myself I can see seasons of being similar to each type of tree.

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft