In my years in this ministry, I have found that there are some people who seem to be reaching out for help and insight and healing. But, after many months – even years – many who profess to want help refuse to receive it. For whatever reason, they either cannot or will not relinquish their tragic identity as an abuse victim to embrace the promising future that lies before them. These people seem quite stuck, perpetually unreachable.
Initially upon leaving an abusive relationship it makes perfect sense to share the many secrets that have been kept, to receive healthy measures of validation and comfort and direction. Sadly, the unreachable have a difficult time getting beyond that stage. They are continually undone, interminably possessed by their disturbing memories. They can recount their tragic stories forwards and backwards, inside out, upside down and sideways. Even many years after being removed from their suffering, their anguish fairly pours out of them with the slightest nudge. It is heart-breaking – a seemingly impossible scenario. The unreachable ones’ identity is wrapped so tightly around their history that they seem to have become resigned to their identity as victim.
I suppose there is some measure of comfort in revisiting pain or loss simply because of its familiarity. Perhaps the unreachable know their accounts may garner them a measure of attention or sympathy that validates their experience; or perhaps they feel obligated to forge a position for themselves as the innocent, the “good one.” I find myself at a loss to know how to help them escape from the prison cell in which they find themselves – even though the door has been left wide open. Every sunrise provides another blessed opportunity to pursue the longings they profess – where joy, peace and contentment are within their reach – yet their feet, heavy with resentment, remain wastefully cemented in a timeless past.
How I have tried to encourage many of these lost, broken people to embrace the new life and freedom they have been given by reminding them of their intrinsic value and a God-given purpose. I urge them to rekindle and embrace the unique gifts He has given them and to fight to reclaim what was taken. But my words fail. The footsteps of their abusers still haunt them; the poisonous utterances continue to ring in their ears. The abuser may be absent, but his hold on his victims’ lives remains.
I realize that, for healing to find us, there are moments when we must unbind the comforting bandages that have covered long-festering wounds, to expose our agonies to the light and air so that, in time, they may heal. The scars that remain remind us of where we have been and serve as proof that wounds will heal if we will allow it. So it is that, for each one of us, there comes a time when a solemn choice must be made – whether we will allow our abuser to claim one more minute of our lives; whether we will live out our remaining days as a victim or a victor.
We were meant for far more than victim-hood. We carry within us the potential to embody and display and inspire healing and restoration by living in all the fullness of life that surrounds us for the days that remain.
This much I know: God never intended for our history to become our identity, but rather our testimony.
With that in mind, I have to conclude that no one is unreachable; that is, unless they choose to be.
Therefore, thus says the Lord, “If you return, then I will restore you— before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman.” Jeremiah 15:19
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