A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Undiminished — a guest post

A thesaurus tells my story…

I read a sentence today that literally jumped off the page at me.

I am just me, undiminished in size or power.

I kept reading it over and over. It was like I was seeing myself in a mirror for the first time in years. I was recognizing the true me for the first time in what seems like forever, noticing the changes time has brought. Not in a distasteful way, but a way that recognizes things are different and appreciating the beauty of the wisdom that has replaced the youthful glow.


What was it about that sentence? It was the word undiminished. So I looked it up in a dictionary AND a thesaurus. And there before me was my life.

 

diminish  /dəˈmɪnɪʃ/ verb

1: to become or to cause something to become less in size, importance, etc.
2 [+ object] : to lessen the authority or reputation of (someone or something): to describe (something) as having little value or importance.

This has been my life. People at all stages of my life making sure I understood that I was of little to no importance, other than to serve their needs. It was imperative that I be reminded that I don’t matter and am profoundly insignificant, lest I step forward and (gasp!) shine brighter than my surroundings. I have been treated with such astounding levels of indifference that I completely believed the lie.

Now I am entranced, so I looked up diminish in the thesaurus and was blown away not only by the words that describe my life, but the antonyms that clearly show what I was promised. The thesaurus suggested another word with the same meaning as diminish — the word abase. That word told the rest of the story.

Main Entry: diminish
Part of Speech: verb
Definition: belittle
Synonyms: abuse, bad-mouth, cheapen, cut down to size, decry, demean, depreciate, derogate, detract from, devalue, dispraise, dump on, give comeuppance, knock off high horse, minimize, pan, poormouth, put away, put down*, run down, tear down
Antonyms: compliment, flatter, praise

Main Entry: abase
Part of Speech: verb
Definition: deprive of self-esteem, confidence
Synonyms: belittle, debase, degrade, demean, diminish, disgrace, dishonor, humble, humiliate, lower, mortify, reduce, shame
Antonyms: cherish, dignify, exalt, extol, honor, respect

These words perfectly describe my childhood. They perfectly describe my marriage. But I am no longer a child. Soon, I will no longer be married. So do they perfectly describe me?

As I said, I believed the lie that I don’t matter. Until one day I stopped believing. It was a small event and one no bigger or more hurtful than the hundreds before it, but somewhere deep within my heart the switch flipped. The dim light that had been shining in my soul, darkened by others too afraid to let it shine, broke through. And that light illuminated the facade I had been living behind, the lies I had believed and the lies I told to create this false front of “all is well.” I used that light to step out and start on a new path.

It is my time to shine and declare, “I am just me, undiminished in size or power.”

***

This post is by the woman who wrote Survivor’s story in response to Texas church shooting. We thank her very very much!

For further reading

Honoring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships

The Art of War, by A New Free Life

17 Comments

  1. Seeing Clearly

    Thank you for giving us all a gift, reminding us that we do matter, just as we are. That has been God’s intention since we were created. So many years wasted, settling for so much less.

    Looking back, I should have divorced my ex the first time he made his diminishing statement. I heard it many more times over the years. “It’s mind over matter”. I (ex) don’t mind and you (me) don’t matter. It served to keep me diminished.

  2. Anonymous

    Beautiful post, guest blogger. I think this encapsulates most all of our experiences and also provides a meaningful testament to what we all should be seeing in ourselves instead of the diminished self the abusers create in us and inflict on us.

    In counseling, I was told again and again that “I count” and “I matter” and finally that I am “worthy”, as well as I am “not alone”, but it didn’t take. Words had lost their meaning after living with a monster set on killing me. I practically married the devil, himself, now that I think about it and the fact that I am still breathing is no small feat.

    But what a lovely post, because when the victims start to make their way out of the pit dug for them by the abusers, especially the super slick, ‘hands off’ psychological, emotional, and verbal abusers, the scarring is there and the false beliefs, lies, and other items of brainwashing and indoctrination need to be cleansed and replaced with some message such as this one, Guest Blogger.

    God Bless You!

  3. Helovesme

    I can’t thank you enough for posting this. It greatly encouraged me. My circumstances are similar but different, but I related so much to your words:”People at all stages of my life making sure I understood that I was of little to no importance, other than to serve their needs.” Well, they were wrong. Darn wrong. I was made in His image, born again into the image of His Son—and I am precious to Him. There’s no “hierarchy” in His kingdom, so I am just as much His child as anyone else. Not a stepdaughter or an illegitimate one. Full child.

    Unfortunately that lie followed me into my life as a believer, and the Lord has slowly been untangling me out of that lie. There is great joy in being His servant and serving others. But no one should treat us as secondary, second best or second rate. We don’t want the spotlight for serving Him, but we do ask to be treated with respect. Being an open, loving, gracious, generous person in Him (and through Him) is wonderful and fulfilling. But never buy into the lie that that entitles others to treat you like dirt. The system of grace never allows for that.

    There is a reason why Satan is called the “father of lies.” Lies steal, kill and destroy. We must flush out and expel the lies out of our system through the cleansing work of the Spirit. They are like a cancer in our soul. They eat up you inside and try to steal your joy—not to mention take away everything good and clean and healthy from the Lord. I encourage all of us who, like me, feel so defeated at times. When others demean you, it is discouraging. It can lead to depression and an overall attitude of despair. Cling to Him. Focus on His Word (those are NOT lies. They will set you free from lies). Cry out to Him. They minimized Him to no end during His time on Earth. Treated Him like scum (see Isaiah 53). But He had the last word!

  4. LH

    This is great – thank you for writing it!

    • I cannot unsee what I see now

      Thank you so for beautifully putting to words what so many of us have experienced! May we live in the truth as the lies fall away.

  5. Momto7

    That was beautiful and brought me to tears. Tears of sorrow for the time lost believing the diminishing lies, and tears of joy for the fact that it is in my past as well.

    The stronghold of those lies was broken the day I stopped believing them, just as you said. The day I told my daughter “I would leave but I don’t know how.” That was the first day I spoke the truth, rather than my usual answer to her query of why I stay. The usual answer of how you have to work on marriage, stick it out, etc. How marriage is hard sometimes and takes commitment. But those are lies, too. Because yes, marriage requires work. But that work only has positive results when both husband and wife are doing it. When both husband and wife have the same commitment towards each other to love and to honor and cherish each other. It becomes a lie when one is working to build something that the other is constantly tearing down.

    And the only way to stop the lie from living in your heart is to stop believing it and speak the truth. And the day I spoke the truth was the day I started to be free. And God is so faithful to have brought me to this place of freedom. To believe His Truth after 25 years of believing the lies. Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder.

    • Seeing Clearly

      “That was the first day I spoke the truth”…. I just love that sentence. It seems to act as an announcement to ourselves, God, and Satan that we have every intention to move forward, to set ourselves free!

      • Anonymous

        Yes, Seeing Clearly, an announcement…. I like that concept.

        I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God said it. I believe it. And if the abuser/reviler/monster/bully says otherwise, well, that’s in keeping with their character as liars, just like their devil-father is.

        Pastor Sam Powell has a sermon on sermonaudio.com that is about shame and how it is a weapon of the devil. Internalizing the abuse and getting an inner gremlin who grows louder and louder comes with the territory of being victimized and abused and listening to Pastor Powell’s sermon was helpful.

      • Hi Anonymous, can you give an exact link to Sam’s sermon about shame? It would help other readers to have an exact link.

  6. Anonymous

    I don’t know how to add a hyperlink but here is the copied and pasted address…..

    Shame: The Devil’s Weapon
    https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=927161141531

    It is Pastor Sam Powell’s sermon I talked about in an above comment.

  7. Anonymous

    Also, his sermon is about shame being used as a weapon by the devil. But, in clarification, my comment of

    “Internalizing the abuse and getting an inner gremlin who grows louder and louder comes with the territory of being victimized and abused…….”

    that’s my opinion…… not something that Pastor Powell says in the sermon. It was just something I learned apart from Pastor Powell’s sermon concerning shame.

    • TruthSeeker

      Oh that gremlin that gets in. The abuser is gone, but the gremlin remains. It criticizes every little mistake and interjects into any conflict. “You are worthless, that was so stupid, how could you, you ought to be ashamed, it was your fault, you don’t really matter. ”

      When does the gremlin go away? How can I make it shut up?

      • Anonymous

        I wonder if the inner gremlin isn’t better thought of as the devil’s voice. Revilers are of the devil. Bullies are wicked and the evil they speak is vile. That oppressive inner gremlin that gets planted is doing what it can to grind you down. I don’t know how to shut up the inner gremlin but it sometimes helps to think about someone I care about and view the mistake as though they did it and whether I’d tell them what a stupid, worthless, shameful, to blame person they are (and no, I wouldn’t, nor would I think it, either).

        It’s really hard to believe God’s Holy Word, in that I am His precious child, someone who is fearfully and wonderfully made, and so forth, but the alternative is that I’d be claiming God is lying if I don’t believe it to be true and God does not and cannot lie. God is not a liar. He said it. His Holy Word proclaims it, so I had better believe it!

        I think the devil comes in every possible way. Attacking from all sides. Smooth as butter, flattering words, little lies, big lies, reviling, intimidation, anything and everything, so long as it works to win the fights, battles, and war against us, our faith, and God.

        Thank the LORD for this blog, the words of wisdom from the pastors, Barbara, TWBTC, and others. This site is a lifeline.

      • Eagerlabs

        I’ve heard of…hear that gremlin! I call it the devil himself. May help some others but I’ve heard it described as the rivets on a record. That even though you may stop playing it by getting out of abuse or stopping the drug habit or whatever one’s antitruth is, the rivets are still there and need to be cut out..or cut anew so different pathways are created and treaded. How to is a lot easier said than done but simply, not playing the old or rather not feeding it *while* playing the truth to replace it or a repeat/replace-of-same-crap will occur. Satan and their followers lie and use fear. F.alse E.vidence that A.ppears R.eal to keep being fed their untruths (thanks to a quit smoking guy for that gem!;). Only through Christ do we find truth so praise the Lord, those who love Him are FREE !! 🙂

  8. Finding Answers

    After being led by the Holy Spirit to comment on other posts earlier today, He leads me here. I was left shattered, and not knowing how to get from the comment copied to the Guest Poster’s phrase.

    Anonymous commented But what a lovely post, because when the victims start to make their way out of the pit dug for them by the abusers, especially the super slick, ‘hands off’ psychological, emotional, and verbal abusers, the scarring is there and the false beliefs, lies, and other items of brainwashing and indoctrination need to be cleansed and replaced with some message such as this one, Guest Blogger.

    Guest poster wrote It is my time to shine and declare, “I am just me, undiminished in size or power.”

    I need Him to show me the way.

  9. Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

    I have felt all my life I have been trodden on. I am not a tall 6 ft, dark and handsome guy, lol, but inside I have such a massive heart. ( My chat up line – that’s a joke btw 😄)

    Seriously though, I could not have put this better, and as the post says, diminishing and abasing behaviour is abuse. I think probably until now, I would always have called it just bullying or negativity. However, after enduring years of abuse verbally, mentally even spiritually, I am coming to realise patterns of things that happened throughout life to form me into a person “ripe for the picking!”

    I’m not tall or big and muscular and I was shy as a child and timid. I was liked by most, but there were always those who bullied and made life difficult (including certain teachers) to say the least. You get picked on and the abuser delights to ruin your life and physically and mentally tortures you. I have come to realise negative criticism all your life and being given constant correction, you quickly become a person with low self esteem and worth and although outside you try to appear normal, inside you are screaming and crying in confusion, and there is a massive cloud of misunderstanding who you are. Recently my self worth and self esteem have been rocked and almost crashed out…..off the rails. If it wasn’t for ACFJ and Barb, I do not know where I’d be, truthfully. Clinging to God and taking steps at a time each day, I will mentally get there. I think those around do not see our hearts and our minds. The diminishing and abasing has created us great at covering up emotion. What people don’t see, they often cannot perceive either or understand. We go undetected until we begin to crack under pressure and must let off steam or take a stand. Physical abuse, people can seem to just get your pain. It is visible. Sexual abuse, they know how hard it can be for them if in the same situation, but mental abuse, etc nope don’t get it.

    It’s the hidden abuse and probably the most lasting and painful of all. The hardest to overcome.

    I remember the Christian singer/songwriter Steve Hughes once wrote in a song that whoever said “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” must have been blind. It is the satanic plan – the hidden things from the darkest depths. Ever notice similarities in satanic realms apply!? Darkness, hidden, secret, always some of the tools in Satan’s closet to go undetected.

    I’ve noticed in looking back now, having come out of an abusive marriage and other secondary abuse, that there were patterns of abusiveness all knitting together to form someone who is so not wanting to hurt anyone and kind and generous and loving. Yet someone who it nearly kills inside to have to (as we do in leadership or business or in general life) make a stand for truth and justice. To stand up and be heard or speak up if something is controlling or hurtful and tell it for what it is has not been easy. Inside I’m being ripped apart, as I only want to be loving and good and not have to be firm and fair, even put it in to be aggressive in order to make a point clear and firm. Tones I don’t really want to adopt. Certainly if I rise to anger. it certainly is not me but the lion of Judah within that roars.

    My work colleagues are beginning to see a “new me.” They for years said “You need to stand up more, stop letting people get away with it. Don’t let that person speak that way. “ They don’t realise how super sensitive I am and why. They certainly did not know the persistent constant abuse going on behind the closed doors of my home for many years. They did not see the terrible struggles going on against power hungry wolves in church life.

    I have been surrounded with diminishing, belittling people (sometimes seen as a joke/banter) and abrasive verbal trash all my life.

    I am btw, extremely wary of people who banter and joke with a real jag and it can be so disguised in fun, but the comments so demeaning and belittling. This is sin and I see it so much in churches here. I’m perhaps only now for the first time piecing all those crazy times together and seeing things clearer. I always knew there were “not right “moments in the mix of normality or in midst of laughter. Bullying is abuse.

    I get this almost everyday and I’m learning to, as the old Native American chiefs would say, “pick my fights carefully!” I’m learning more how to stand up for myself and take no nonsense, but the abusers do not like it. I’ve warned colleagues over this last year, there will not be any more of what used to be. I’ve set boundaries and often some (the abusers) challenge. I’m trying to say, although I endured domestic abuse, it does not always come at home. It may be at school, college/seminary, or work. It could be anywhere. They kick against the pricks and it can be hard and dangerous at times.

    Standing up to negativity and criticism in family life is not easy either, when you have allowed them to do it for so long. I’m starting to see resistance there too at times. Sadly, we are becoming different in many ways (it really is not through choice we have been forced to take a stand) – stronger and hopefully wiser as healing takes place and recovery sets in. As I said it would not be my way if I’m honest – it kills me inside. Then we will see who really does love us as we are, and are true friends and true family.

    “You have changed” – the abusers cry, of course, that it’s our fault and it’s a derogatory remark and with it implies I want you back as the sweet, kind, loving person you were. Someone who just does without fuss. A hidden negative comment, may I say.

    No chance! Thank you for realising, yes, I am a kind sweet generous loving loyal kind person etc etc. Yes, I am glad you noticed!!! Yes, I perhaps have and perhaps I have not changed!! (smiling ear to ear, I move on) No going back! No more words! I’ve made my point.

    Still my insides hurt but in time that may heal.

    • Finding Answers

      Now Free (Formerly Struggling To Be Free) commented “It’s the hidden abuse and probably the most lasting and painful of all. The hardest to overcome.”

      ^That.

      Hidden in many ways, by many things.

      But not, fortunately, from God.

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