The Most Important Lesson

Through all of my lessons from life, the most important is that I can always trust my Lord and Savior. People will always eventually let you down and break your heart.  But my God will always be there.  And I can trust Him to comfort me when no one else will or can.  And because He is trustworthy, I can continue to love others fully – even knowing that someday there will be tears.

What Is Love Anyway?

In yesterday’s blog, The Fallen Father, we were exploring trust issues caused by broken family relationships.  Towards the end of the article, it was discussing the difficulty of trusting God, the Father, when our earthly father couldn’t be trusted.  And if you can’t trust God, how can you get to know Him.

If you want to learn who God is, the best place to go is His scripture, the Holy Bible. After all, this is His book. God-breathed text to tell all the history between Him and His people. It is also a book of instructions for better living filled with His promises. Some people would call the Bible His love letter to the world.

The verse I think succinctly describes God is 1 John 4:8 (ESV) which states “God is love.” Still how can this help you understand God if you don’t truly understand love? This may seem like an odd question especially for people who were raised in loving homes. But think about it for a moment. Do you really know what love is? In our broken world, sometimes the love we experience is much more like hate.

To explore love from God’s perspective, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV):

Love is patient and kind
Love does not envy or boast
It is not arrogant or rude
It does not insist on its own way
It is not irritable or resentful
It does not rejoice at wrong doing but rejoices with truth
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends.

Consider your life and relationships for a moment. Have you ever experienced this kind of love? Have you ever extended this kind of love to another? I imagine that it would be far easier to think of times and situations where you received or extended exactly the opposite. And I think that based on my own experiences especially before I met Jesus.

Let’s push on this a little further. If God is love, then the list above describes who God is. As you grow closer to Him, the more you will be able to see His love in your life, and the more you will see yourself loving others. And over time as you reflect back on your life, you will be able to see when He was there even though you did not know Him yet. He has been there all along waiting for you to accept His love and grace.

All people have a deep need for love within us. God understands this need, because He made us that way. And He is the only one who can truly fill our need for love.

Raising Awareness

In the business world when leaders are struggling with how to motivate or guide their staff, one of the major hurtles that comes up over and over again is trust. Without trust, people will never follow you. You need to develop trust, which can take years, and one false step can destroy everything you have worked towards.

Trust issues start in our homes, in our families. We are broken people, and we mess each other up with our brokenness. Whether it is living with a bipolar mom who is as changeable as the wind, a drunken father who takes his failures out on his wife and kids, the father who has never been loved so he doesn’t know how to love, the resentful sibling that strives to destroy everyone else’s joy, or the parent who betrays their spouse and/or their children, we start learning at a young age that life is not all roses and sunshine and not to trust. Seriously, if your family is supposed to love you and you can’t trust them, who can you trust?

To show some statistics about families and abuse, following are some statistics from a report, Child Maltreatment, 2014 – 25 Years of Reporting, from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children and Families Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children’s Bureau (1).

“The majority (78.1%) of perpetrators were a parent of their victim, 6.3 percent of perpetrators were a relative other than a parent, and 4.1 percent had a multiple relationship to either multiple victims in the same report or multiple victims across reports.

  • Nearly 4 percent (3.7%) of perpetrators were an unmarried partner to the victim’s parent.
  • The national estimates of children who received an investigation or alternative response increased 7.4 percent from 2010 (3,023,000) to 2014 (3,248,000).
  • The number and rate of victims of maltreatment have fluctuated during the past 5 years. Comparing the national estimate of victims from 2010 (698,000) to 2014 (702,000) show an increase of less than 1 percent.
  • Three-quarters (75.0%) of victims were neglected, 17.0 percent were physically abused, and 8.3 percent were sexually abused.
  • For 2014, a nationally estimated 1,580 children died of abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.13 per 100,000 is children in the national population.”

These numbers are based on submitted reports. I know many women who suffered in silence and were never counted. Broken arms and death are hard to hide, but emotional and sexual abuse are a different story.

Let’s look at the long list of issues within a family from another angle. All of the issues cause pain and shame. So, what do we do? We hide them! “No one can know or they may discover that my life is really messed up.” But remember, we are not alone. It isn’t just us. There is help out there; but if we are always hiding, we cannot get help. We have lived too long in a world that tells us to just suck it up and keep going. Instead, we should say this is messed up, let’s fix it so our kids don’t have to live like this.

My family yelled, “don’t tell anyone!” Nothing was discussed. I was left alone in my nightmare, and no one knows the extent of the damage. They don’t want to know. It is painful. It is stressful. It is ugly and nasty. True. But ignoring it won’t make it go away. It will only keep growing. I hope that thought makes you want to vomit. I understand that this is uncomfortable. My stomach is churning just writing this. But we can not keep ignoring that there is a serious problem. There is a hard truth that must be acknowledged. Consider, for a moment, a six year old child who is raped. The perpetrator experiences several moments of pleasure. The child will be scarred for the rest of their life. If we hide the negative consequences to the child, the perpetrator can easily convince themselves that the child enjoyed it too. We have to kill this lie. In my instance, I was told that “Everyone is doing it; they just don’t talk about. It is fine.” It is not fine. The effects are devastating for the child and impact all future life relationships and experiences.

References
1. Child Maltreatment, 2014, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2014.pdf