God and Sexual Assault

When The Church Doesn’t Understand

Finding truth.

Please know this is written not out of judgment but out of how I’ve come to understand some of the responses which occur at church or by those in leadership at the church in response to trauma history.

There was a time where it was very hard for me to hear pastors preach, or leaders lead Bible study, and make comments which invalidated my experiences or were not completely based on the truth of the Bible.

Having grown up and attended a very legalistic church for most of my life until the past few years, many comments were made that are not completely accurate. Such as being told you “Committed the worst sin by attempting suicide” or “You just need to get over your past because that’s what Paul did.” Etc. Not truth based in the Bible.

Honestly, and sadly, I could probably list page upon page of incorrect and invalidating comments made to those who endured trauma .

After years of therapy, and prayer, and asking God to show me the truth, this is what I have discovered.

Other people’s responses, which are human responses, even if they have the best intentions, can still feel invalidating. When people have not experienced our life story it’s hard for them to relate and understand where we’re coming from.

This is the same for me having endured trauma, I may not completely understand your story because even if you endured similar trauma our stories are different. Our experiences, our families, all of it is different and unique.

That’s part of what makes it your story and my story.

This unfortunately is what leads to invalidation. I try to be very careful not to make a comment I know how to solve someone else’s trauma or what they’ve been through. I share on here how God has helped me heal and the resources and ways he provided for me, but it may not be the exact way God guides you.

If I were to tell you to just forget your past and move on that would be in invalidating statement and not true.

By making that statement I would have made you feel like what you went through was not bad or horrifying, but yet it was to you.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

How others respond to my story, my life experiences, it’s more about them than it is about me. It’s about them not having similar life experiences to be able to relate and understand, and it can also possibly be their unwillingness to look at things in their own life they want to try to forget.

What I know is I have to go to God and ask Him if what I’m hearing is the truth. I compare it to His word because God is never going to contradict what He’s told us and written in the Bible. I know I serve a God who loves me so much more than I can ever understand, and when I look at Jesus life and the love He showed others, it shows me how God feels about me.

He is not judging me for my choices as a child and responses to what I went through, and He’s not telling me to get over things and move on. I know God wants me to heal, I know God wants me to see Him, and I know based on seeing Jesus reach out His hand to a leper that He loves me despite my choices in response to my trauma.

However, it is my decision and He wants me to make the choice to turn from the negative choices I have made in response to my trauma and heal. I know based on how I’ve seen Jesus react in the Bible, God is patient with me and will walk with me step-by-step.

I know He understands the invalidation I feel and part of what I’m fighting is a spiritual battle. Satan wants to take absolutely anything he can to get in the way of my relationship with God, and if it’s someone at church or even a pastor and something they say, he will twist that in my mind.

How do I deal with invalidating statements?

I take them to God and ask Him to show me the truth. I ask him to help me overcome the struggle to see the truth and to show me the way forward. I call out Satan because in Jesus name he has no power, and I trust God to fight that battle for me. It’s sometimes a moment to moment and daily battle, because Satan wants us off track, and the more we seek God the more we’re going to be attacked by Satan.

I encourage you today to take what others say to you against the truth of God and His word. Unfortunately, those leading in the church are human just like you and me and are not going to be perfect. What I do know is God is not an author of confusion.

Seek out those you do trust who know God and His word to help you process this. Which as I’ve said before, includes a Christian counselor. I cannot stress how important it is to have a trained professional helping to guide your healing who is also seeking Jesus.

Will everyone understand your story? No, but the God of the universe who created you does and loves you beyond measure. Rest in this today, sweet friends.

© 2022 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.  

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