Recently, a friend of mine was writing about her experience with domestic violence. One of the things she wrote that resonated with me was, “Domestic violence is a form of imprisonment.” Truer words could not be spoken. She was speaking in terms of the way she felt captive to a lifestyle she did not choose because of her fear. Her words made me think about the ways domestic violence can manifest that bondage.
Domestic violence doesn’t just imprison you physically, though often it does just that. It also imprisons your mind, heart, and spirit. That is why it isn’t enough for family, friends, and advocates to help survivors get away from their abusers in terms of physical proximity. Survivors’ levels of danger do not begin to lessen until their minds, hearts, and spirits begin to step into freedom again and learn the dynamics that put them in bondage to begin with.
Domestic violence is not centered around the abuser, but around the power and control dynamic. This helps us understand that not only is dysfunction within the abuser a contributing factor, but dysfunction within the abused also contributes to the equation. As survivors, we must strive, through diligent self-care and self-discovery, to understand those parts of ourselves that need the healing of Christ in order to prevent falling into subsequent abusive relationships in our personal lives, and even in our professional lives.
I (quite erroneously) thought that I had myself figured out and that I was stable enough to not let that happen to me again. However, I fell into a very abusive professional relationship at one point, and it was the catalyst for me realizing that I wasn’t completely healed of the brokenness that caused me to fall into abusive relationships one after the other. I was merely avoiding intimate relationships in an effort to avoid abuse…so it manifested in my job.
Will I ever be healed completely on this side of glory? I don’t know. That is why it is essential for me to take daily self-inventory and ask myself what is in the closet of my heart. That is why it is so essential for me to give Christ lordship over the whole of me, including the closet space where it is sometimes uncomfortable to let Him in.
Let’s face it. Jesus is not a “good house-guest.” He likes to plunder through the medicine cabinets, take inventory of the closets, and ask uncomfortable questions about what has been swept under the bed or stashed in the corners. Basically, He likes to set up residence like He owns the place—because that is precisely what He intends to do—own the place.
Jesus may not be a good house-guest, but He is the ultimate homeowner. Often, we treat his ownership as an intrusion. But, the truth of the matter is that He is good at healing us, making us whole, and protecting us from the results of our own dysfunction if we are willing to let him have his way. One of my professors signs the bottom of his emails, “God gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him.” In my experience, that has held very true.