As you often heard me say (if you read my previous articles): True recovery from domestic violence and abuse is an ongoing and continuous process. Many days (if not most) your recovery is safely in tack and you feel find and all is well with the world. And, in those days you can lift yourself up and march forward in hope and in faith. Other times, however, your recovery is on the backslide. The painful memories and conflicts seem to come rushing back almost involuntarily and certainly against your will.
Generally, when the painful memories and conflicts come rushing back, they do so because there has been a trigger unleashed in your environment. the trigger may have knowingly or unknowingly been fired: either way the results are the same. The trigger might have been a movie that contained abuse or violence similar to your own or it might have simply been an innocent statement made by a friend. For me, especially, the painful memories and conflicts return when financial issues or hardships resurface. For you see, in my case, my abuse ended the day my husband took his life (during his life, however, he had threatened and made several attempts on my life saying that he would never allow me to live without him--but, in the end my life was spared by the grace of God). But in the taking of his life, my husband left me with not only the emotional and psychological pain that goes along with such a catastrophic event: but also with a mountain of debt and a financial situation that has taken me years to climb out of. Even today I periodically struggle.
Given that triggers in the environment do exist and that they do cause survivors of domestic violence and abuse to relive the painful memories and conflicts: they need to be avoided whenever possible. But life is not always predictable and conflicts and memories sometimes cannot be avoided. If triggers cannot be avoided the next best thing is to learn how to successfully manage and control them as soon as possible.
To share a personal example with you, recently I found myself back in a trigger situation related to my finances. After taking several deep breathes and shedding more than a few tears I was miraculously reminded of the Bible verse that I have so frequently relied on in the past. That verse comes from Psalm 34:19 and it lets me know that conflicts happen to many good people: but regardless of their occurrence the Lord still delivers the individuals, who trust and believe in Him, out of all their particular conflicts and troubles. Moreover, there are additional supporting verses (15, 17 & 18) within the same chapter of Psalms that provide me comfort, saying:
- Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
- The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cries.
- The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
- The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite (or crushed) spirit.
And, upon remembering, by faith, all the things that the Good Lord has already safely brought me through and all the triggers and crisis that He has already safely delivered me from: I am again strengthened by His might. And, in being strengthened by His might, I am able to once again: get up and walk forward in hope and in faith. (These things are shared in the hopes that you may find them similarly comforting and that you, too, can use them as an approach to aid your recovery or backsliding moments.)
Honestly, it sometimes takes me 48 to 72 hours to regain my perspective and to let hope and faith rise again: but, the important thing is that during these backsliding moments I keep struggling to move forward and do not give in to the temptation to let my fears and sorrows get the better of me. (If it takes you longer that 72 hours to let hope and faith rise again, seek professional help. Help is always available at no cost at the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799. SAFE.)
And during my backsliding moments I force myself to remember that: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). And because I know that He has already safely brought me through the triggers and the crisis of yesterday: I come to realize, again, that He will also safely bring me through the triggers and crisis of today and those that are yet to come. And, in so remembering that the Good Lord is always the Good Lord, and that He is ever unchanging, and that what He did for me yesterday: He will also do for me today and tomorrow: I can lift my head and bravely set my jaw and find the courage to move forward again in faith to overcome the storm that is chasing me. For I know that it is by His grace and through faith that I am justified (or qualified) to receive all His blessings. And His blessings say that: He will never leave us nor forsake us. So that we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. ((Hebrews 13: 15-16).
To walk in hope and in faith is the true necessity of all who suffer. Perhaps Marlo Thomas said it best: Never face facts: If you do you'll never get up in the morning. The Bible similarly says: (For we walk by faith, not by sight.) (2 Corinthians 5:7). For if we are truly to overcome and to recover we must believe in the presence of the Living God and that His Words and Promises for healing and help are true. We must believe that the things which are currently unpleasant facts in our lives will soon give way to lives filled with blessings that we obtain by faith.
The Bible is filled with passages that speak of the importance of faith in our lives. Repeatedly It tells us that we are justified by faith, saying:
- Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
- Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
- But without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
- By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed: and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (Hebrews 11: 1, 3, 6, & 8).
- And Jesus said unto them: Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you: If you have faith as a grain of a mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain: Remove hence to yonder place: and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible to you. (Matthew 17:20).
Further, I am reminded that the founding core principle of both the Catholic (sometimes known as the universal church) and Evangelical churches are: Justification by faith. In other words, we are justified (or qualified) to receive all things by faith through the grace afforded us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore if we are in need of healing and the help needed to successfully recover from domestic violence and abuse we must have faith in the Good Lord. And we must use our faith to successfully reconstruct our abuse and violence torn lives.
At this point, I could provide some doctoral rhetoric or I could give you a ten step program that would work (and doctoral language and ten step programs do work and should be appropriately used). But underneath the doctoral rhetoric and the ten step programs there has to be a supporting foundation and that foundation is: faith. For in the end, my friend, the only truth is: you must have faith and hope that you can and will successfully recover and you must be willing to put forth the effort to do so. Susan Carlson once said: You can have the results you say you want, or you can have all the reasons why you can't have them. But you can't have both. Reasons or results: You get to choose. You get to choose the supporting foundation of faith and hope in your healing and in a better tomorrow. Or you get to choose the reasons and excuses why you don't have faith, why you don't have hope for your recovery, and why you don't have hope for a better tomorrow.
Life without faith is: life without hope. For without faith all the other things are not possible. Faith affords the hope that you can ask for and receive: the healing, the help, the deliverance, the restoration, and the recovery that you need. Accordingly, when you are recovering or experiencing a backsliding moment: pray your way through. Pray until faith and hope return. Focus not on the things of this world that currently are true or facts: rather, focus on the possibilities that lie ahead that are still available through faith.
Albert Einstein once said: There are only two ways to live your life: one is though nothing is a miracle; the other is as if everything is a miracle. Choose the latter. For regardless of what popular culture or the naysayers may say: in the end, it is only by grace through faith that we are justified and that we receive. Miracles cannot be received by those who do not believe in them. And, faith is needed for miracles.
Ralph Waldo Emerson may have believed in a similar way for he is credited with saying: All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. Said differently: If you believe, it will happen. (And, it will happen regardless of what it is.) For faith allows things to happen. It is the power that comes from a fearless and trusting heart. And when a fearless and trusting heart believes, miracles happen. And faith and miracles are needed to consistently recover from the devastating effects of domestic violence and abuse.
Perhaps Dr. Norman Vincent Peale had the best advice, saying: Frequently remind yourself that God is with you: that He will never fail you; you can count on Him. Say these words: "God is with me, helping me." And always remember that despite backsliding moments: Another day of happiness awaits. In fact, it may already be here.