Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

‘The Week’ website recently published an article by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry entitled, “How Christianity Invented Children”. http://www.theweek.com/articles/551027/how-christianity-invented-children

Gobry claims that one of the notorious practices in the ancient world was the sexual exploitation of children and points to paganism as the original perpetrator of the sexual exploitation of children. He goes on to say that “Christianity’s invention of the cultural idea of children as treasured human beings was really an outgrowth of its most stupendous and revolutionary idea: the radical equality, and the infinite value, of every single human being as a beloved child of God.”

But if that is true, then it seems that we have reverted back to the culture of ancient Rome.

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are now sexually abused before age of 18. Child sexual abuse is a prevalent issue in the United States even within the confines of our schools and churches—The very places where our children should be the safest!

Nonetheless, there’s one form that is especially revolting and shocking—The act of sexually molesting a child by a family member. And it often occurs to children in a blended family. Statistics show that a child is 33% more likely to be sexually abused in homes where their biological parent is living with, or married to someone other than the child’s biological parent.

When a child is molested by a family member, denial is a natural response since no one likes to think about a family member abusing their own children this way, but worse yet, is when the child victim is accused of making it up and is pressured into recanting the abuse.

It’s important to remember that although the abuse was done by a close family member, it does not erase criminal liability. In fact, this type of molestation should carry the greatest punishment among all forms of child abuse. If this happens to your child, do not hesitate to call the police, because when a molester is tolerated, it’s guaranteed that he or she will do it again. And you could be charged with child neglect and/or child endangerment.

It is also important to remember the damage this causes to a child’s life and soul. Many victims become depressed, have feelings of guilt, shame and distrust, and may cause them to fall into all kinds of risky behavior. Especially as long as lenient judges continue to pass down soft sentences on perpetrators of these types child sex offenders.

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Although it is important to address the issue of forgiveness when the abuser is caught and confesses and then asks for forgiveness, this can be difficult for not only the victim but also for other family members.

Certainly we should forgive; However, it is important to remember that molesting and sexually abusing children is a type of sin that, even after repentance and forgiveness, there has to be accountability and justice to ensure the safety of all children that the abuser could come into contact with.

If someone shoots one of your children you must forgive them—but it doesn’t mean that you invite them back into your home so they can shoot the other ones.

How can you protect your children?

Watch your kids – Keep a watchful eye on your children. Kids get distracted and often don’t think about something that’s happened to them while at play. Know what to look for.

  • Changes in behavior, extreme mood swings, withdrawal, or fearfulness
  • Bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed, or other sleep disturbances
  • Acting out inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Changes in toilet-training habits
  • A fear of certain places, people, or activities
  • Bruises, rashes, or poorly explained injuries
  • Pain, itching, bleeding, fluid, or rawness in the private areas

Talk to your kids- Parents are one of the single most effective tools in the fight against child sexual abuse. Set time aside to sit down and have a discussion. This may be an uncomfortable subject, but remember, you aren’t talking about sex, you’re talking about personal safety. You can use other safety issues as a ‘lead in’ to this topic.

Listen to your kids- Even very young children need to be able to tell you their feelings, thoughts and fears. Make sure that you take the time to listen to your children and assure them that you’re there to protect them.

Teach your kids- Teach them about “good touch, bad touch” and make sure your children know to tell you if something does happen, or even if someone just makes them feel uncomfortable. Teach them to trust their own feelings and instincts. Tell them it’s okay to say “no” and to be rude to anyone in order to protect themselves. Teach them that keeping secrets is not only wrong, but dangerous. If you don’t teach these things to your children, then you are leaving them open for the predator to continue molesting your child unrestrained.

Let your child know they can trust you- It is difficult for a child to come forward with accusations of sexual abuse. So the worst thing you can do to a child who has been sexually abused is to question them or doubt that what they experienced really happened. They need to know that you believe them and that you will protect them from further abuse. They came to you because they trusted you. If that trust is broken because you refused to believe them, chances are slim that they will report future abuses that may go on for years.

While physical abuse might be the most visible, child sexual abuse leaves deep, lasting invisible scars that can carry over into adulthood. There are signs you can look out for that a child is being sexually abused:

  • Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious.
  • Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
  • Trouble walking or sitting.
  • Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age.

Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives, but by learning some of these common warning signs of sexual child abuse, you can catch the problem as early as possible and get both the child and the abuser the help that they need.

Of course, just because you see a warning sign doesn’t automatically mean a child is being abused. It’s important to dig deeper, looking for a pattern of abusive behavior. But if you do notice a pattern, report it.

For more information visit: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect.htm

According to many mental health experts, anxiety and depression are both considered mood disorders that many people struggle with today. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older. That’s close to 18% of U.S. population!

Mental health experts have prescribed everything from avoiding caffeine and alcohol, to getting more sleep and exercise, to prescription drugs—with little or no results. Many doctors suggest that antidepressants are not addictive because they don’t give you a buzz that you chase after like alcohol or cocaine. However, most pharmacists consider any antidepressant a controlled substance that requires a doctor’s written request every time a person refills their prescription. And if you discontinue an antidepressant abruptly you can experience withdrawal symptoms. (Sounds addictive to me)

Do you often deal with anxiety? Are you consumed with worry? Even well-meaning Christians will suggest that you can learn to manage these emotions by simply meditating on Scripture, pray, and focus on Jesus. All of these things can be helpful in overcoming depression and anxiety, but I don’t believe that it’s that simple.

Depression is something that has been around for thousands of years. Before I went through my own valley of suffering and depression, I would read the Psalms. I can’t tell you how thankful I was that God recorded King David’s struggle with depression in His Word. Because now I could identify with his suffering—I cried out those same cries and felt those same pains of despair. It somehow brought me comfort just to know that I was not the only one who ever experienced depression like this.

There may be some underlying mental disorders that can contribute and even exacerbate depression and anxiety, but I believe that the key to overcoming depression and anxiety that most people suffer with is forgiveness.

We all know how bad it feels to have someone judge us harshly, and refuse to forgive. It’s unfair, and it makes us feel sad, angry, and depressed. One of the sad facts of life is that we all make mistakes. We all hurt people. We all sin. None of us are perfect, so to expect perfection of yourself or others is an exercise in futility.

There are so many people who are carrying around the baggage of unforgiveness. Without forgiving others, the pain that they inflicted on you never leaves. It can’t heal because you won’t let it heal. The people who hurt you aren’t being hurt if you hold onto the pain, and refuse to forgive them. That only hurts you. A wise man once said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

But what do you do when the person who hurt you is yourself? You must forgive yourself too. Sometimes we judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else does. It’s sometimes more difficult to accept our own imperfections. But in order to forgive ourselves, we have to accept them. Think of the pain you feel when you’ve hurt someone else, and that person refuses to forgive you. Well, believe it or not, it hurts even more when you don’t forgive yourself. The pain is there, but until you realize that it is self-inflicted, you can’t let it go. Regrets and unforgiveness create pain, anxiety and depression, but you don’t have to allow it.

King David was “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) and Israel’s most illustrious king—a giant killer, and yet, here was a man given to depression in the midst of his suffering:

“My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.”
(Psalm 102:4-7 NLT)

But David later acknowledged his sin to God and was forgiven—and in turn forgave others. (And himself) Just as I lamented about my depression before God, I am thankful that I could also join in singing out the same praises as King David did:

“I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40:1-3 NLT)

If you are one of the many people who has been beating yourself up for things you’ve done in the past, or something someone has done to you, it’s time to stop it right now and forgive! Even if it’s not possible to forgive someone because of death or inaccessibility to the offender, speak the acknowledgement anyway—and mean it. Repeat it as many times as you feel necessary. Over time, the unforgiveness, as well as the depression related to it, will ease, and eventually, your heart and mood will become much lighter.

The most important step in forgiving is to simply to make the decision to do it. You don’t have to “feel” it yet. That will come with time. You don’t have to wait for the person you hurt to forgive you either. In fact, they might not ever forgive you. But if they choose to hold onto that pain after you’ve tried to make it right, you are not responsible for their unforgiveness. You are only responsible to ask for you. Just remember that forgiving doesn’t mean that you have to have Thanksgiving dinner with the one who hurt you. Nor does it mean that you allow yourself to be abused, or that you must continue to subject yourself to the hurtful actions of others. You must forgive, but a continued relationship with the person who hurt you is completely up to you.

I always encourage my readers to contribute personal stories, poems, or testimonies. The following appeared in a blog written by a good friend of mine and she gave me permission to post it here. I pray it will bless and encourage you:

HE REMINDS ME by caryjo-roadrunner

I was saved Friday, April 15, 1966, 6:30 PM, in Tacoma, WA. In the early ’70s, I heard a song on the radio in Redwood City, CA, and it roared into my heart, filled me with joy.

The song was written by Dottie Rambo… and what’s amazing? … I-net info indicated it was written in 1966. Many, many people have loved it, but obviously the Lord, with that special timing, had it written just for me, doncha think?

The main lyrics have to do with the Lord pulling back curtains for memory.

When sharing my testimony, person to person, in particular, this has meant a great deal. The reason: I never want to forget what my life was like…and how blessed to be redeemed by my Lord.

When I was in my late teens … 1964 and 1965 in particular … I was headed for real trouble. As a heavily abused child, I was extremely angry at life, and took it out on a lot of people. I was a fighter… both for and against others. I had begun drinking beer nearly every evening and definitely every weekend, headed deeper and deeper into that -ism. I had a reputation as the filthiest mouth-person around, “dirty joke queen” at my office. I had been sexually assaulted, and was using it as a way to assault others. Not a nice girl, believe me.

I knew I was headed towards death in one of three ways: violence, alcoholism, or suicide. My depression was increasing and exploding, day by day, minute by minute. People knew I was a good worker, when the job was something that kept me interested, because I was smart and wanted to learn more. But they also knew that if I became upset, I could ruin them and everyone else.

It was a miraculous manner in which the Lord broke into my life in March, 1966, and then drew me to Himself, bit by bit, step by step, for just a few weeks. After my salvation, I didn’t become anything perfect… still struggled with some of those sinful elements, still dealt with serious depression … but I DID grow in Him and remained His daughter, and could never desire to be anything different … ever, ever, ever.

NOW, that song, “Remind Me, Dear Lord” is one that always touches my heart. I’m not who I was in nearly any fashion. I’m married to a generous and caring man. I’m blessed by many, many dear ones … both natural family and international family gifts — from Uganda, Burkina Faso, and Nepal. How could I be happier? To be honest, I still deal with depression, but it is far less than anytime in that seriosity-based past.

When I listen to that song I’m simply reminded where I had been and how blessed I am now, because of His sweet insistence of “pulling back the curtain to remind me.” It keeps me from becoming stuffy and snooty and “perfect” when viewing the lives of others.

Dottie Rambo, Reba Rambo-McGuire , and Destiny Rambo McGuire harmonize on a classic Dottie Rambo song.

Just like my friend, we too, need to be reminded of where we came from and how blessed we are now because of God’s great mercy and grace. And hopefully, it will help us to be more understanding when viewing the lives of others.