Last summer I wrote several blogs about childhood abuse. I wrote
“Your having been abused is not YOUR sin. It is a sin, but it is a sin of your abuser, not YOUR sin. You do not need to be forgiven for having been abused, because you did nothing wrong”Tough Topics, part 2
The problem is that for some of us who feel, and probably were, broken in some ways by abuse that was not our fault, that brokenness doesn’t instantly disappear when we confess our sins and accept the gift of salvation. We may soon discover that we are still broken.
That may cause some of us to wonder if we truly are saved. It made me wonder that. It still makes me wonder that sometimes.
Psychology has a name for the kind of brokenness that adults who were abused as children may experience. They call it Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).
Here’s a description – does this resonate for you? It does for me.
“Reactive attachment disorder in adults can be significant and can carry into every aspect of one’s life that involves a relationship with others. Whether it is professional relationships with coworkers, platonic relationships with best friends or romantic relationships with an intimate partner, RAD causes adult individuals to have the inability to fully experience relationships because they do not have a positive sense of self. In addition, their overall mental health could be compromised. As a result, they often have dysfunctional thoughts, feelings and behaviors, which can carry out into their relationship with others.”Reactive Attachment Disorder Diagnosis From Childhood to Adulthood (discoverymood.com)
So I want to talk about healing from this kind of brokenness, whatever you call it, as a Christian.
First, there are challenges. Because our human understanding is not God’s understanding, the Bible often talks about God’s Kingdom in analogies (Jesus used parables) to human experiences. But even at the most basic level – God is our Heavenly Father who loves us like a father loves his children – that analogy is difficult to comprehend for those of us with “the inability to fully experience relationships because [we] do not have a positive sense of self.”
Where do we start when virtually all that the Bible teaches of God’s Kingdom is revealed in terms of relationships, but our ability to form or comprehend relationships is the part of us that’s broken?
I want to reach out a beacon of hope to my Christian brothers and sisters struggling with these issues — and I absolutely know that I am not the only one.
What’s broken within us is our ability to fully experience worldly human relationships. And that may or may not ever be fully healed. But I believe that our spiritual self is what is born again in Christ. And I believe our inability to comprehend the analogies to worldly human experiences (that we may or may not ever be able to have) does not need to compromise our ability to have spiritual relationships of the kind that exist in God’s realm.
Only God knows why He doesn’t heal our human brokenness. That is not for us to know. But we can learn to accept that as being among the worldly tribulations that He knows we will experience, the ones from which we can learn and grow stronger according to His plan.
That’s not to say that our human brokenness (or broken humanness) won’t cause us suffering. It can, and it does. And sometimes that can be very, very hard. But that is not proof that God has abandoned us (or doesn’t want us) any more than a painful physical health condition proves that God has abandoned or rejected us.
Right now I believe the Holy Spirit is teaching me that we can still experience God’s Eternal Joy even when we are suffering painfully from our worldly brokenness. Of course I may come to a different understanding at some point. If I do I’ll let you know.