Jesus began to remove me from an abusive relationship in 1989. At the same time, He began to heal my heart, mind, and soul. As I thought about the various steps I’d been through – then considered others who’d been through the same thing, I realized that there is a progression that we all went through, with some variations.
Because I’ve read many blogs by people who are in various stages of recovery and restoration, I thought I’d share what I learned. If you’re somewhere between “nothing” and “You,” perhaps it will give you hope for wholeness, and some idea of what you’re shooting for.
The phases are these:
Phase 1: nothing
You have made even your back like the street for others to walk on. (Isaiah 51:23) We are a raggedy mess, victims, and very needy. We feel worthless, useless, hopeless, perhaps even desperate.
There is a sense of detachment from what happens to us. If we saw someone else being treated the same way, we’d defend them; but we believe we’re only getting what we deserve. We are deceived and don’t know truth from lies. We believe that if we could just do/be better, maybe they’d change.
Truth breaks in, and we finally begin to understand that our perpetrator is the one with the problem. We’ve made the break and are ready to begin healing. This moves us to the next step.
Phase 2: MINE!!!
This is a very self-centered phase. Realization comes that the treatment received was wrong, and that we have power after all. Because it’s our first time to experience this, that power feels absolute…and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
In Phase 2, we are all about our rights, our wants, having things our way. The result is that we go from being a simpering wimp to an absolute b*tch. I searched for a more acceptable word, but I couldn’t find one that captures the essence in the same way. It has to be this one. For a guy the term is “a**-hole.” They’re loud, obnoxious, demanding, and opinionated.
Common phrases spoken during this phase are these: “No one is ever going to treat me like that again.” or “I’ll be d*mned if I’m going to put up with that.”
While we’re in this phase, we are in the most danger of doing to others what has been done for us, and feel justified in doing so. We wield our new-found power like a bludgeon, damaging anyone who is perceived as a threat.
If you’re on the road to healing, please don’t get stuck here! Move right along…you’ll be tolerated, but not especially liked while you’re in this place!
I “lived in this place” for about five years. At the end of that time I had no – count them…zero…friends. Everyone grew tired of trying to meet my demands and being bossed around. One by one they left until I stood completely alone.
It wasn’t until I had no one else to turn to that I finally learned how to connect with Jesus. He moved me to the next level of healing.
Phase 3: Me
During this phase the primary focus is “my” healing. It’s a time of learning what’s healthy, what’s not; what’s appropriate, what’s unacceptable. It’s kind of like the phase a child goes through from age 4 to 12. This is a time of taking baby steps faith-wise. Each time we trust God with some small thing (and at this point they will usually only be small things), and He proves faithful, we are able to trust Him a little more the next time.
This phase is still fairly self-focused. I’m learning how to communicate with Jesus, and don’t want anyone to interrupt our relationship.
To walk by faith is easier at this phase. We’ve seen the Lord do some amazing things in and around us, and learned that He can be trusted with some bigger issues than in the previous one.
Phase 4: We
Sufficient healing has taken place and focus begins to shift to include those around. Less self-absorbed, this person begins to make small steps toward more meaningful relationships. We learn to work well with others, to extend grace and acceptance. Peace and joy begin to be part of our experience in this phase.
Phase 5: You
This is the place of maturity. We’ve learned that serving others brings the greatest sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. The focus here is on ministering to others with wisdom and integrity.
Religion is replaced by a true, intimate relationship with Jesus, and is evidence by a life fully surrendered to Him. We are filled with the Spirit to overflowing, and fruit of the Spirit is in abundance, providing nourishment and encouragement to others.
When we reach this phase, we can serve others even when they are treating us like slaves without being offended. Because we have healthy boundaries, we are free to decline invitations to join every ministry that comes down the pike, regardless of others’ manipulative or “guilt-inducing” tactics.
We are also able to withdraw from others in order to be alone with the Lord.
What a wonderful place to be! No matter if we are wealthy or dirt poor, with all the “stuff” we could ever imagine, or living in a hut with a dirt floor, we are rich! Relationships are deep, our service to the King of kings is deeply satisfying, and we understand what Jesus meant when He said that He came to give us life to the full.
This is certainly not a complete picture, but more of an overview. It is my hope that it will give you some idea of what to expect as you move from “victim” to “victor,” for
Jesus is always victorious!
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13, 14