“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7, NIV)
I interpret this as God’s message to us that we should never find ourselves “between a rock and a hard spot.” Over the years I have been in this situation. You see I was laden with a lot of baggage from the majority of my life. My luggage was packed full of hurt from abuse (both verbal and physical), rejection, no self-esteem, and the feeling of vastly imperfect. My burden made it difficult for me to trust people and made me vulnerable to people who could see my wounds no matter how hard I tried to cover them. My baggage kept me in turmoil and pain; it kept me a victim.
I had no basis to use to when dealing with conflict. Each time I found myself in the middle of a misunderstanding, I immediately became defensive because the video of past was set on auto-play. I would fight for my present and my past during any conflict; the past met the present, remember I was the victim. Life held very little joy for me; I was always anticipating when I would have to go to war. This way of living was very deliberating. I often felt that I was riding a roller coaster until one day someone told me that I was only a victim if I wanted to be. No matter what I had suffered and was suffering, nothing would change until I changed.
Every since I was a child I had expectations that people who held significant roles in my life would one day see things as I did. Then I realized that no amount of arguing, crying or attempting to mold myself into what I thought they wanted would change the situation. In some situations it became worse because my complacency served to make me a door mat rather then a person of strength. I, who according to scripture was “wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14, NIV) was empty, sad and didn’t like myself. One day I decided it was now time for me to make some changes because no matter if I was argumentative or complacent, my expectations were not being met. Life had to have more to offer than what I was experiencing,
Little by little, I began to make some changes in me because that was the only thing over which I had control. In this process, I had to let down some walls, renew my relationship with God and accept that I was blaming Him for not removing me from some of my most painful experiences. During a time of meditation and reflection I finally saw that God was hurting with me during my moments of trail, just as He had done as He watched what the people He created had done to His Son. Pride had blinded me to this fact since I was so consumed in the fact I did not deserve the things I had experienced. A number of years ago people were displaying the acronym WWJD, “What Would Jesus Do?” It was catchy and it definitely invoked many to ponder it and make behavior changes. I assumed a different meaning for this acronym, “Why Would Jesus Die?” He died to fulfill the will of his Father and break the barrier between man and God due to sin.
This, along with being told I was only a victim if I wanted, gave me that determination to make the commitment that I was victim on the way to victory.
I had to come to the place that I accepted who I am, embraced who I am and owned who I am. As a follower of Christ, I had to accept that I would meet with adversity but I did not have to be adversarial. It takes two people to engage in an argument. Some situations we find ourselves in, home, work, and other relationships, we share with people who are argumentative 24 hours a day it seems. It is very draining to be around them; sometimes they do manage to wear down your reserve and draw you in. Just as Jesus did, I often find a quiet place of retreat to rejuvenate my spirit.
When I took my eyes off my “victimization”, I could hear God’s voice and I could also see the plan He had for my life. My past experiences have given a good foundation to understand the many problems our youth face. I know that God wants me to share with them that no matter what they have been through, with determination and support they can rise above them. God wants me to show them hope. As I show them the face of hope, I feel my hope and faith increase.
There is one thing that I have to remember and pray about constantly. When I allow myself to become the victim, I am drawn away from God’s plan for me and more importantly, it is very difficult for a victim to share. I can separate my past from my present and recognize that I can only control myself when conflict ensues. It is in these moments that my testimony is spoken, not through words, but through action. Make no mistake, I sometimes give in to my own pride and ego but I seek God’s forgiveness and ask Him to get me back on track. I know that God is working with me and through me every day. This knowledge gives me victory over the thought of always being a victim.