For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)
I cannot tell you how many, many years I was blind to the fact that (1) I was dealing with abusers, and (2) They knew exactly what they were doing when they carried out their abusive tactics. When they told me what I was thinking, they were intentionally abusing me, craving that power and control that is their diet. When they accused me, they were intentionally abusing me. When they lied and re-wrote history, they were intentionally abusing me. They knew exactly what they were doing and they knew precisely why they were doing it.
And yet, here comes Jeff the very next day after one of their attacks, running into them again and greeting them, being long-suffering, letting bygones be bygones — you all know the drill. Why? Why did I do this? I did it because I did not yet understand what they were and how they worked their evil. I thought I was dealing with a brother or sister in Christ who was simply “difficult.” How do you deal with a “difficult” person? Well, you are patient. You are forgiving. You respond to them as if they knew Christ but were still pretty rough around the edges. And there are people like that. The problem is, many of these “difficults” have been “difficult” for decades!! Where is Christ in them? Where is their growth into His likeness? One “Christian” lady I once knew even boasted of her “German General” stubbornness and then laughed about it, claiming to have been a Christian for decades. I think not.
But, you see, when we wake up to the truth and realize that who we are dealing with is an abuser and that abusers KNOW full well what they are doing when they launch their schemes and attacks, that changes the whole playing field. Right? Now when I run into such a person there is no more smiling and forgetting and handshaking. Oh no. Now I hold them accountable because I know their wickedness is intentional and planned. I identify by the appropriate label what tactic they used on me — or tried to use. It still isn’t a cake walk for me, don’t misunderstand. But you know what? I find that there are fewer and fewer of these evil ones in my circle of relationships now. In fact, I don’t know of a single one. You see, abusers tend to clear out when they know they are exposed.
Your abuser didn’t slip. He didn’t unknowingly do what he did because of some unconscious childhood event leftover in his psyche. He did what he did with intent. And that means he is culpable. Guilty. Someone to be held responsible.
He wasn’t just having a bad day.
One of the most natural and universal human impulses is our desire to get people who have wronged us to recognize what they did and admit that it was wrong. We want to hear a certain soft sound in their voice, see sadness in their eyes, showing that they feel genuinely bad for having harmed us. We want them to understand that we didn’t deserve their actions. And then, if it’s at all possible, we want them to actually do something to make up for the damage they caused.
Unfortunately, this natural longing for justice can sometimes backfire. When you have a destructive partner, the desperate need you feel to have him see what he has done is, ironically, part of what keeps you trapped. If you end the relationship, then he is never going to admit how badly he treated you, and he’s never going to make it up to you. And that reality can feel unbearable.
But the alternative is to stay involved with him, where he will keep harming you more, and the pile of things he needs to face up to will just keep growing. Longing for justice can keep you roped into unhealthy circumstances.
Start letting go of the hope that he will see. Even if he admits one day that he was wrong, he’s likely to just take it back in a few weeks or months. See if instead you can focus on: (1) Knowing — really knowing — inside yourself how deeply wrong his behavior has been; and (2) Building close relationships with other people who can really get it and express it to you.
Someday this pain will pass, and you’ll stop caring what he thinks; hundreds of women have told me that this is what happens. Have faith.
[entry from Lundy Bancroft’s book, Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? (*affiliate link) p318-9]
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
Once upon a time a young man who liked dogs decided he wanted to own one. He had spent time around other people’s dogs and had even checked out different breeds of dogs, so he knew what he wanted. He was amazed by the way that dog owners could show their dogs and make them do all sorts of tricks, and how obedient the dogs were. He liked the fact that the dog did everything it was told and seemed happy to do it. Of course, the owner always gave the dog a treat and patted it for a job well done. A lot of the dogs were even on TV on international dog shows and had won many prizes and had become famous!
Well, as time went on, the young man got attached to a puppy that belonged to someone else and decided that this was the very dog for him. He spent a lot of time sneaking the puppy treats and petting her; it seemed like he treated her better than her owner at times so she really developed a liking for him. So the young man took his puppy home. He had bought a nice big mat for the puppy to sleep on and had placed it in the best place in his home. He bought the best dog food that was advertised, as well as many different kinds of treats. He really enjoyed having his own puppy. In the early days he spent all the time he could at home and would hold his puppy, pet his puppy, give it treats, scratch its ears and hug it. He would put a collar on it and take it out for walks showing off his puppy to anyone who would show the smallest attention.
He began to train his puppy to do all the tricks that other owners had taught their dogs. The first few tricks he really was patient, giving his dog a lot of praise and affection and the puppy would lick his hand and wriggle with delight because she had done something that pleased her master. She learned a lot of tricks and enjoyed the treats and attention she got. But soon she began to notice that he was not as patient with her as he was when he first bought her. But at least she still had food to eat and water to drink and a nice soft mat to sleep on.
As time went on, the young man got used to having his puppy around and it was no longer a novelty. He would come home from a busy work day and instead of calling his dog and giving her the customary pats and scratching her ears and giving her treats, he would head for his chair in the living room and turn on the TV, or go sit at his computer. She would go and sit beside him watching what he was doing, but he didn’t notice her. He would be irritated by something that happened at work or on the way home and he just ignored her. When she tried to comfort him with her presence, he would snap at her and push her away with his foot and commanded her to go lie down and not bother him. So she would go and quietly lay down, keeping her eye partway open in case he wanted her to come and play.
The times when he would take her out for a walk were fewer and farther between. He would get home late and tired and just want to watch TV. Because he had trained her to fetch he would holler at her to bring him the newspaper or his slippers. But when she did, he wouldn’t praise her anymore or show her any affection by patting her and scratching her ears. He began to holler at her when she whined because she needed to go to the bathroom, but he wouldn’t take her out just yet. She was embarrassed because she finally had an accident and had peed on the floor when she was whining to go out. Boy did that make him angry! He grabbed her leash and clipped it on jerking her head and dragged her out of the house calling her a stupid dog and fuming about having to go outside on a cold night when he was tired and work had gone bad. She had barely finished when he hollered at her to go in and dragged her into the house, slamming the door behind him mumbling “stupid dog, you’re just a no good mutt”. Boy that hurt! She wasn’t sure what she had done wrong, but he seemed to treat her like she had done something bad and caused his problem. What was it?
Later that evening as the young man sat bored with the programs on the TV, he called her over to him and gave her a piece of stale sandwich he had been eating. It did not taste as good as the treats he used to give her, but at least he was giving her something. He scratched her ears and in a little nicer voice told her she was just a dumb dog. She sat there beside his chair for a while, but he dozed off. Later, he woke up and saw her sleeping over on her mat and commanded her to come over. He told her to roll over, so she did, then waited for the treat but he didn’t give her any. He just told her to beg, to play dead, to do all the tricks he taught her, only now he didn’t give her anything. If she didn’t do what he said, he began to holler louder, ordering her in no uncertain tones that she better do her tricks or he’d give her a slap on the haunch that stung. So she would do the tricks, but she was not happy about it. When he told her to go back and lie down, she put her tail down and dragged herself into the corner and laid there with an unhappy heart, but kept an eye on him hoping he wouldn’t keep being angry at her. She still didn’t know what she had done wrong.
More days like this would go by, and sometimes he came home from work, and she could tell just by the way he walked up the entry steps and slammed the door that he was going to treat her bad. She would just go hide behind the couch or under the table, or back in a corner. She could hear him beefing about things, but now he always seemed to take his frustrations out on her. He would say things like, “stupid bitch, filthy animal, and stinky dog”. If she didn’t hide quickly enough, he would kick her; if she didn’t get out of his way, he would throw a shoe at her or anything handy. She learned to stay away when he come home. She would wait until he was sitting in his lazy boy chair and would carefully approach him with her tail lowered or between her legs so he could see that she was not sure how she needed to act. Sometimes he would almost seem like the first days and he would tell her to “come here” and he would give her a bit of a scratch behind her ears and a few “nice” pats and talk to her as though he wasn’t angry with her. But boy, those times were fewer and further between.
It seemed like nothing made him happy any more. Sometimes when he brought home one of the big Macs and fries he loved to eat, he might give her a few leftover fries or a small piece of what that had fallen on the floor. That tasted good! But mostly he would sit there eating and tell her that fries and greasy hamburgers were not good for her and would just watch and smile while she licked her chops hoping he would give her some. He seemed to enjoy watching her sitting there hoping he would give her something. Anything!
One day he read about a dog show in the neighborhood. Convinced he could have the best dog prize, he come home all excited and brushed her coat and put a new dog collar on her, and a new leash. “Sit still and quit cringing, I’m fixing you up nice and beautiful so I can show you in the dog parade,” he said with clenched teeth. She wasn’t sure if she was going to get another hard slap, a kick or what, so she was trying to be ready to run or escape if he hit her. But he kept going on about how she wasn’t keeping her coat as clean as she used to, that she hadn’t really been eating right, that she was getting flabby and should get more exercise. He kept telling her that she was a careless stupid animal and that she wasn’t doing what she was supposed to do. Whatever, she was just glad for a little currying, he hadn’t done that in a long time, but it sure hurt, and he didn’t seem to care when she winced. He just hollered at her to sit still and couldn’t she appreciate how much effort this was taking him to make her look good.
He spent an hour angrily making her do all her tricks, and she did her best. But he was convinced she was being lazy and that she was just not cooperating and that it was going to make him look bad. He hollered at her and jerked her collar and forced her to do every single trick he had taught her, but when she did he told her it was not enough and had to be better. He wouldn’t even give her an encouraging pat or a treat. She was just supposed to do everything just because he said so! He slapped her harder than he ever had and threatened to take her to the vet and have her put to sleep. He kept reminding her of all that HE had done for her when he first bought her and brought her home. He kept telling her he was treating her good and she should be more appreciative and groused because she was not responding the way she should.
When they got to the show, he clipped the leash on her collar and told her to heel. She did her best to heel, but he kept walking ahead through a crowd of people and it was hard work keeping up with him. He kept jerking her leash and saying heel, and she noticed at the same time he was smiling at the people. He even stopped and when an observer commented on his dog, and he began bragging about how he had the best dog around and that he was sure to get the first prize, and with another command and a jerk of the leash they would move on.
Well, it was time for each owner to show his or her dog and to get judged for points. She did her best to look perky, because if she didn’t she knew she would be blamed and a lot worse. She was really hungry and thirsty, though. But she did her best to walk, to stop, to sit, to beg, to do all the tricks she knew and do them right when he told her to, but she could tell by the tone of his voice that he wasn’t happy with her. It wasn’t good enough. With everyone watching he pulled a super nice treat out of his pocket and gave it to her. WHERE DID that come from? Well, she better enjoy it. It had been ages since he gave her anything. So because she got a treat she was thinking that maybe things were changing for the better. Boy was she stupid. She knew good and well that it was part of the show. He was showing off how good of an owner he was and people were clapping. He was standing proudly looking around the crowd slowly so he could soak up all the praise he was getting. Then he jerked her leash and walked her away;
The judge gave the dog a second look as the owner waved at the crowd. The judge looked right into her eyes and he knew things were not right. He could see that her fur didn’t have the deep softness and luster of a well cared for coat. He felt her ribs, and saw that her eyes were sad. He saw her tail dropping down low. He knew things were not right, but what could he do?
After they got back into the car again, the owner started shouting at her for being such a stupid dog. “You should have sat up straighter when you begged, you looked pathetic, you’re no good”, on and on and on. She had made him look bad. He should have got first prize and would have if she had not been such a “dumb bitch”. She could tell that when they got home she better run and hide quickly.
She has a dog tag on her neck. It never comes off! It has her name and his address. She wants to run away and never come back, but when she tried it once, the people saw the tag on her neck and took her right back to her owner. He smiled and thanked them, telling them how grateful he was that they had brought his prized and loved dog back to him, and he would show her some affection while the people handed her back over to him. But as soon as they were gone, boy did she get it for three days straight, “you just don’t appreciate me and all I do for you. You deserve to have me angry. It is your entire fault. If you weren’t the way you are, I wouldn’t treat you like this. I really am a nice guy.” Then he would command her to come and sit by him on the couch. He patted his leg and ordered her to put her head in his lap. When she licked his hand he jerked it away and slapped her and pushed her away. She didn’t know what she could do to please him.
He took her to the dog trainers and told them how well he was caring for her and what kind of food he gave her, etc. “I treat my dog well, but my dog isn’t obedient. Blah blah blah.” The trainers told her that the Good Doggie book says that good dogs obey their owners. They would run her through her paces and remind her that if she did it just like that her owner would be happy and there would be no more problems. Frankly, she was hoping they would take her tag off so she could run away, but no such luck. When they give her back to her owner they tell him to be sure to keep loving his dog and spending time with her and feed her this special kind of diet, and he tells them he is and will keep doing that.
Nowadays she can hardly move. She doesn’t want to. All her bones and joints ache. She just hopes her owner doesn’t make her sit by his chair because he isn’t careful how he rubs her fur, and he doesn’t remember which joints are painful. He gets irritated when she shies away from him. She knows she must be a bad doggie because she doesn’t want to do this anymore.
P.S. She ran away for good! She is staying in a special shelter where she is loved, fed, and cared for. Her fur is starting to shine, her bones ache less, and she doesn’t jump at every sound. It feels so good to be SAFE and LOVED!
This post was written by the father of an abuse victim. Many thanks to him and his wife for sending it to us.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” (John 6:26-27)
You have them in almost every church. They are apparent pillars. Eminent saints, it would seem. The “go to” people who give their stamp of approval or withhold it before any decision. They teach. They disciple. They give. They are at every meeting, every workday, and no one can imagine how the church would survive without them. However, though this description could fit a true, faithful Christian, in this case there is something else that is true about these counterfeits. They are devoid of mercy and love. Oh, they can put on outward shows of these qualities, but it is only skin deep. How do you know? Because if you will be honest with yourself and if you will let the Spirit show you, you will admit that in fact you do not feel safe nor comfortable around them. They can “go off” at any moment with judgment and condemnation. Or maybe they never ‘go off’ overtly in public but something about their manner makes you feel wary of them; you sense the judgement below the surface, you pick it up between the lines.
They are not Christians. Christ will disavow them on that Day. The Holy Spirit, if we will listen to Him, tells us that these are clouds without rain, and completely devoid of genuine mercy.
So why do they do it? Why do they bother? Why all this energy poured into church and Sundays and Wednesday night prayer meetings? Why?
They do it for the same reason the large crowds kept seeking out and following Jesus – for the food. They had filled their bellies with the loaves and fish, and they liked it. They wanted more. If that meant traveling around with Jesus out in the sticks, they would do it. They “served” Christ because they wanted perishable food.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
Many people follow. Few really know Jesus. That is, they follow as long as the “bread” keeps coming. As long as a church remains ignorant (or evil) so that the wicked can continue to feed on the bread of self-glory for themselves, these evil ones will continue their charade. And they will continue to oppress the weak and deceive the careless. Bread, you see. They love that glory bread.
Jesus would have us do what He did. Turn to them in front of all and say “You are not seeking Christ. That isn’t why you are here. You know the gospel is real and that salvation is only in Jesus. But that isn’t why you are here. You are here just for the bread. Your god is your belly, and you demand that we fill it for you. No more. The game us up.”