By Brad Hambrick
If you missed Part 1, you may read it here.
What do we do when we feel out of control? We usually change the way we engage the situation in order to give ourselves a greater sense of control. As the following examples show, we miss the underlying issues of power and control, leaving the abused vulnerable.
- We focus on the parts of the situation we understand best and seem most open to change, the garden variety elements in the struggle, so that we feel more competent. “It sounds to me like you guys need to think about how you handle your schedules since your most explosive conflict is about the challenges related to your children’s activity calendars.”
- We interact with the parts of the conflict we know what to do with as God’s top priority because we want to regain our grip on a situation that is starting to feel slippery. “I can tell how much respect means to you and it sounds like it is becoming an idol. The most important part of any life struggle is to make sure that God is in first place in your life.”
- We focus on the failings of the most cooperative person in the room, the abused, because they’ll respond favorably to our instruction. Tragically, this comes out as something like, “I think we can get some traction towards things improving if we work on how you respond when your husband is upset.”
At this point, it’s probably clear that caring for the abused is grounded in the gospel for another reason – God is going to use our role in caring for others to force us to come to grips with our own weakness, which should push us to greater reliance on him. We will come to learn 2 Corinthians 12:9, “God’s grace is sufficient. God’s power is made perfect in weakness,” as Paul learned it and as victims of abuse learn it, in our weakness.
I want to challenge you to engage honestly and fully with this study. Allow it to help you wrestle with these topics, even as they are uncomfortable, complicated, and painful. Pray that you would become more “comfortable being uncomfortable,” so that in the moments this study is needed, you will be a grounded anchor for a soul being tossed and battered by the waves of abuse in the moments they need you most.
This article is adapted from Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused. Access this free training at ChurchCares.com.
*Please note the curriculum is not intended to be legal counsel or to provide holistic training for counseling or pastoral care on the issue of abuse but is an accessible tutorial on how to respond with pastoral and ethical excellence. The curriculum gives a theological foundation for the topic, brings understanding on the issues connected to abuse disclosure and reporting, and gives practical wisdom by which leaders can navigate complex situations.
Brad Hambrick serves as the Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina.