Perpetrator and Victim: Part Six

Fallen in a Hole)

I’ve spent the last several posts talking about the situation of both perpetrators and victims of abuse. I have considered the various false narratives they start to live, lies that seem more palatable than facing their soul-wrenching reality. I have mentioned how these lies must be surrendered, though, and the harsh truths must be faced. Perpetrators must fully appreciate their wrongness and victims must fully appreciate their brokenness.

With most of our actions, if they take to places that we do not like we can reverse our steps to go back to where we were before. This is not the case with abuse, though, where our steps carry us over an edge and we fall into a hole, and no matter of walking around the bottom of that hole is going to find us a way out of it. Both for the enactor and the receiver of the abuse, they have been carried by choice or by force into a place that they cannot get themselves out of. And it is a damned place, a place that can only be described as godless. In that dark pit we will be made to understand what the very definition of hell is.

That might seem a harsh thing to say of the victim, who has not brought this travesty upon themselves, but it is the reality that they live even so. Like a dark cloud descending, their connection to God seems to be blotted out, and it is not at all unusual for those who experience this trauma to find their faith and core belief systems crushed.

Our Common Fate)

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.- Matthew 5:48

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. -John 15:11

See in the verses above what God intends for each of us. He calls us to be pure and to be joyful. But pure is the one thing that the perpetrator of abuse cannot be, and joyful is the one thing that the victim cannot be. They cannot live in the light and glory of God because they are in the hole, and neither of them has the power to get themselves back out of it.

At some point in our lives, each of us is going to receive harm from another. At some point in our lives, each of us is also going to harm another. Thus at some point all of us will be a victim and at some point all of us will be a perpetrator. That isn’t to say that we will all receive or inflict harm to the same degree, but each of us will break and be broken in some way or another.

And in that moment we will begin to understand—really understand—why it is that we all need to be saved. We will understand how helpless and hopeless we are on our own, how incapable we are of getting ourselves back up to the light.

We will find that our friends and families, no matter how hard they try, cannot piece back together our broken soul. They might alleviate some outer pains, might provide some worldly needs, but they cannot resolve the inner despair. They have no access and no power in the most secret places of our heart. Indeed, now that we find ourselves down in the pit, for the first time we will realize just how many of them are also right down there with us!

In this situation, whether as a victim or a perpetrator, the only one that can help us is a Savior. The only one that can help us is one who has never fallen into the pit, so that he may lower us a ladder, but one who has leapt into the lowest depths of the pit, so that he can mend our heart where it is. The only one that can help us is one that can take our hopeless and dark truth, swallow it within himself, and in return give us a new and bright truth.

I realize that I’ve leaned heavily into metaphor with this post, and perhaps it’s starting to sound like hyperbole. Frankly, it’s that I am struggling to find more straightforward words to communicate the ideas that I am trying to get across. My own experiences in the dark hole have literally fueled my nightmares, which perhaps lends to the language I have used. I shall finish, though, by summing up what I am trying to say just as plainly as I can.

As I mentioned before, I have been in that hole myself. It was a horrifying place. Without exaggeration, it was my greatest suffering in life, and I was totally unable to save myself from that hell. Even so, and much to my surprise, I was rescued from it by am unseen being. And I have seen this drama play out in the lives of many others, and I know that it can for you as well.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 36:40-43

40 And these are the names of the dukes that came of Esau, according to their families, after their places, by their names; duke Timnah, duke Alvah, duke Jetheth,

41 Duke Aholibamah, duke Elah, duke Pinon,

42 Duke Kenaz, duke Teman, duke Mibzar,

43 Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: these be the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he is Esau the father of the Edomites.

This genealogy concludes by naming another set of dukes that came of Esau. These are not the same dukes that were named among his sons and grandsons, so my assumption is that these are the dukes of a later generation, perhaps the generation when the Israelites returned from Egypt.

Finally, we get this emphatic exclamation “he is Esau the father of the Edomites!” Like Ishmael, Esau did not inherit the covenant, but he was still the father of a great people. Unlike Ishmael, though, it is not clear where the people of Esau are today. Were they defeated by one of the many powers that rolled through the land of Canaan? Did they intermingle with other cultures to the point that their bloodlines were dispersed throughout the world? Are they a people that we now call by another name, not even aware of their heritage? I do not know, but for the rest of the Biblical record they will still be frequent actors in the unfolding drama.

The Captive Heart- Summary

The purpose of this study was to consider all the different ways in which we become lost or broken, and how the atonement of Jesus Christ addresses each of these issues. Through this study I have gained a greater appreciation for how multifaceted that sacrifice was, and how it fulfills many laws and overcomes many challenges and defeats many enemies all at once in order to rescue us.
For each one of us has been lost and broken in many and unique ways, and your remedy must be different than mine. We require a surgeon who is prepared to care for every kind of wound, and every combination of wounds.
I was also struck during my study by how deeply aware the gospel is of this situation. I found that the scriptures, which written millennia ago, already held the answers to questions that I only thought to ask today. Let us review what those questions and answers were.

We Are Broken and Lost in Diverse Ways

As suggested above, we are each wounded in unique and diverse ways. During the course of this study I broadly described those wounds under three categories: wounds that we inflict upon ourselves, wounds that are inflicted on us by others, and wounds that are inflicted on us by the fallen world. Without exception, each of us is broken under each of these categories.
But, of course, each category can itself be expanded into innumerable instances, each of which comes with its own individual heartache. The regret of telling a lie is different from the guilt of giving in to lust, which is different from the pain of being insulted, which is different from the shock of losing a loved one, etc.
Heaven is a place of perfect cleanliness, perfect peace, and perfect joy. And as such, we are ill fitted for it if we are filthy, or conflicted, or even sad. Which, of course, we all are. Not only that, but we are filthy without the power to clean ourselves, conflicted without the power to mediate our own peace, and sad without the power to give ourselves lasting joy. We are not only lost, we are lost without any power to find the path back.
Isaiah 53:6- All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.
John 5:6-7- When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

Being Broken is Mandatory in a Fallen World

Our hubris is that we so often think we can do something about this brokenness. We believe that if we exercise enough self control, we will never sin. We think that if we wall off our heart, we will never be hurt by another. We hope that if we take enough precautions, we will never fall to the misfortunes of the world. And if we have already suffered any wounds, we tell ourselves that we can work around them, or else that we’ve cured them by sheer force of will. In other words, we live in supreme denial.
Mortals trying to defy gods. Just who do we think it is that we are trying to bowl over with our grit and spunk? Our foes are Satan, human nature, and the very world, beings and forces that are immortal, that have broken men long before our birth and will continue to do so long after our death.
Which death we should make special note of. Each of us was born, and therefore subscribed ourselves to entropy and deterioration. We will decay until everything is broken. We must. It is not that it is hard to resist, it is that it is impossible. We were born into it, and the frantic way in which we try to control this world only proves how fully we live under its fear, and therefore under its power.
Isaiah 2:22 (TLB)- Puny man! Frail as his breath! Don’t ever put your trust in him!
Job 38:31-33- Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

The Laws of the World Must be Fulfilled

But then, perhaps we aren’t as foolish as all that. Perhaps all of our hustle and bustle is due to a true intuition that burns inside. Even though this world is unfair, in our hearts we know that there should be order and balance. Even though others hurt us, in our hearts we know that there should be healing. Even though we let ourselves down, we know that there should be second chances. There is a seed of divinity in us, and it refuses to accept the terms of fallen mortality.
And this is not wrong. We were given that fire in order to seek our own better nature, and to be agitated into seeking salvation from our own brokenness. We just need to stop trying to save ourselves by our own power, and start looking for a method that actually works.
Jesus Christ is the mediator between the laws of the fallen world, and the divine law that burns in our hearts. He is uniquely capable to satisfy both without denying either.
And so, even though we will sin and that sin must be matched with damnation, Christ has already endured the depths of hell in Gethsemane, that law is therefore fulfilled, and we can have the second chance that our heart knows we should. And even though we will be hurt by others, which our mortal justice requires retaliation for, that retaliation is given to Christ instead, that law is fulfilled, and we obtain healing for our hurt and forgiveness for our hurter. And even though we will suffer sickness and death, Jesus has also endured that death, that law is fulfilled, and we will obtain a resurrection.
In this life, all the demands of mortal law have been fulfilled, and whether in this life or the next, all the expectations of our divine soul will be fulfilled as well.
Luke 4:18- The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.
John 16:33- These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Revelation 21:4- And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Who Am I?- Summary

This study felt like it had two distinct halves. The first was captured in the title: Who am I? The other was: And what does that have to do with God? An unanticipated follow-up question that came up for me was: Does being God’s creation compromise by individuality?
One dynamic from my life is that I am the fourth of nine children. And many times I really felt just like that: the fourth of nine. I wasn’t sure what my personal identity was, separate from the mass. As a result, my pattern for life has not been to choose an identity for myself, but to let identities choose me. And that has led to some unfortunate results.
It is not unusual to yearn to understand oneself better, I would say it is a fundamental need that we all feel. After concluding this study, I am convinced that that need cannot be satisfied without God. Let’s examine why.

We Want There to Be an Us

There is inherent in each of us a desire to be a real person. That might seem a strange thing to say, obviously we’re all real people, aren’t we? But yet we all have experiences where we feel that we are non-persons. We feel overlooked, or lumped in as just part of a larger conglomerate, or not worth personal consideration. In times like these we receive a message that we might occupy a space, but we are not a seen, validated identity.
Being a person is essential to being a person. We cannot abide the contradiction of feeling that we aren’t what we obviously are. We feel hurt when a sense of non-personness arises in us because it is contrary to our very nature. Just as the pain in our hand teaches that touching the hot stove is wrong, the pain in our heart teaches that accepting the role of “nobody” is wrong as well.
And this is healthy and natural. When we were formed, we were designed to have this need for the self. It is neither a mistake nor a selfishness to demand that we are full individuals, that we are distinct and totally real persons, that we are our very own soul. This sense exists in us because He is a very real person, and He made us in His image.
Genesis 1:27- So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Luke 4:13- And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

We Get Lost Looking For Us

Perhaps the greatest paradox of all: no one is so lost as when searching for themself. Unfortunately we most often respond to those moments of doubting ourselves by trying to build up artificial identities instead. We try to win the attention of those that overlooked us, which most often leads to either radical conformity or radical defiance. Whether they see us because they love us or see us because they hate us, we intend to make them see us.
Of course playing for the attention of the very ones who ignored us is a losing game. The fact that we try to prove our somethingness instead proves how deeply we feel our sense of nothingness. The more we try to pour into these facades, the less real us we have to work with.
In the end the only point we prove is our sense of having no worth. We would rather be something bad than to not be anything at all. But the lie is in believing that those are our only two options.
Luke 15:18-19- Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
Exodus 3:11- And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

God Rescues Us From Ourselves

But because we have claimed these identities as our own, we often find it difficult when we hear that God refutes them. To be sure, the statement that “God loves me just the way that I am” is 100% true. But that doesn’t mean He wants me to stay just the way that I am. He isn’t that cruel.
God does not come to save me because He despised who I was. He comes because I despised myself, and He wants to prove to me that I am still worthy of love. I hated myself, and He came to help me see that what I thought was myself was not myself. What I hated was but a shroud, while my actual self has been preserved just the way it should be.
He invites me to let go of the artificial identities that gave me no pleasure. He says that it is time to stop letting these identities choose me, to let Him choose for me instead. He tells me that in His family I am neither four of nine, nor one of billions. I am just me. The only one of me that He has. And He proceeds to teach me to myself.
It goes against the grain to admit it, but there is no real me without God. It takes humility to say that I do not define myself, that He does. It hurts my pride to confess my nothingness. But as I do, I finally find my somethingness.
John 15:16- Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.
Luke 15:24- For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.

Genesis 17:5- Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham.

Count Your Blessings- Matthew 18:27-30, 32-33

Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?


I forgave all that debt, shouldest not thou have had compassion, even as I had pity on thee?
Though the servant had been granted a great gift, the gratitude of it was not alive in his heart. At least not enough to share it with his neighbor. This illustrates one of the tragic results of getting lost in despair: how it sours our behavior towards those around us. One simply cannot lift another while they are themselves sinking.
Thus it is not enough to be blessed in life, one needs to feel that sense of being blessed as well. It is actually very easy to have all the good things in this world, and still feel empty inside and incapable of showing genuine love to another.
You cannot act as one that was found, if all you remember is what is was like to be lost. You cannot live as one that is saved, if you only recollect they way you were destroyed. Many times the act of remembering how we were saved before, is exactly what we need to save us again today.