Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

There is a popular adage that says, “hurt people hurt people”, which is simply an acknowledgement of our human tendency to hold on to the pain of the past, and over time, to act out of that hurt.  Indeed, many of history’s most notorious abusers were first victims of abuse.  And though we have little control over the things that happen to us, we do bear some responsibility for how we respond. 

There is also phrase that speaks of, “nursing a grudge”, which effectively points to another common pattern of human behavior, which is to keep issues alive that would otherwise wither and die, if they were left unattended.  While a victim can rightfully claim that they didn’t start the fire, adding wood and gasoline to the flames eventually breeds some level of accountability for the resulting damage. 

Finally, there is the term, “triggered”, which describes a moment in real time (i.e. right now) when we make an emotional/intellectual/spiritual connection to an experience from the past, and we react out of that former hurt, instead of what is going on presently.  In such moments, the magnitude of our reaction can reach well beyond what is reasonable for the current circumstance.  Ironically, this term also seems to acknowledge the weaponizing of our hurt.  While there may not be malicious intent, acting out of our hurt only serves to perpetuate the damage.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he specifically calls out anger, but goes on to include every form of malice (e.g. bitterness, rage, slander…).  While he acknowledges that we can experience these emotions, he urges that we not let them take hold of us, allowing them to become sin (Eph. 4:26).  He further warns that entertaining these negative emotions will give our enemy a foothold within us (Eph. 4:27).  If we carry this woundedness long enough, it weaves its way into our identity, becoming a conduit for the enemy to sabbatoge every effort, and/or relationship.  Inevitably, the idea that we’ve always been this way evolves into the belief that this is just who we were created to be. 

I believe that this is why we so often see God give characters within scripture a new name.  He is in effect saying, the world has viewed you as Jacob, but I see you as Israel; you have been taught that you are Simon, but I call you Peter; you have thought of yourself as Saul, but I think of you as Paul: your experience has led you to believe that you are the least of the least of the least, but I know you to be a mighty man of valor.

Too many of us, who are called by His name, know that we are wounded, routinely act out of that hurt, and have even passed that damage on to the next generation.  Often times, our difficulty in letting go of the pain of the past is rooted in unforgiveness.  No doubt, the demons that we’ve failed to conquer in our own lives have snuggled with our children.  But part of the transformation that the Lord has authored for us (2Cor.3:18) is the renewal of our hearts (2Cor.4:16), and minds (Rom.12:2).  Receiving this healing is an essential part of fulfilling God’s purposes in our lives.  It is also part of the abundant life (John 10:10) Christ died to give us.

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In my nearly half a century on the planet I’ve found that life rarely unfolds in the way that we imagine it will.  God, in His sovereignty, has His own unique way of making things happen and I’ve learned just to yield when I sense His hand at work.  In those moments it is best to be as a little child, who simply trusts the direction of his father, regardless of whether he really understands the purpose of it all.  And so it was one evening, a few years ago.  As I walked through the living room and saw about 15 seconds of a commercial for a new reality show about children’s pageants and the people who participate in them.  Within that snippet I saw a young girl (maybe 4 or 5 years old) sobbing, and her mother angrily venting her disapproval and bellowing, “I’m doing all of this for you!”  Rightly or wrongly, my immediate sense was that this woman was deceiving herself and no doubt doing untold damage to her child.

As a father of four (two boys and two girls) I was sickened at the thought of a parent who would be willing to crush their child under the weight of their own unfulfilled expectations.  Though I’d seen fathers do this to their sons on countless ball fields/courts, it was somehow even more startling to watch a mother do it to her daughter.  As my own heart grieved I sensed the grief of heaven join in and I quickly became overwhelmed with emotion.  As I closed my eyes to pray I began to feel the broken heart of this girl.  Strangely, it was not her heart in the instant that I had witnessed, but her heart years later, as she stood at the threshold of adulthood.  As I lingered in that moment, words began to flow and the following verses emerged.

Pageant Girl

Want you to know that I don’t blame you

You just wanted “the best” for me

You sacrificed so much to make me a winner

You deserved better

If I just could’ve stood a little straighter

If my hair wasn’t so stringy

All those cute little outfits

To you, sexy just meant playful

But playful meant something different to them

Anything you serve like an hors d’oeurve is bound to be devoured

If only I had been a better singer

If I just had fuller lips

I tried to smile for the camera

It’s what happened when the camera was off that made it hard

Thank God for makeup

The bruises & scars never showed

Maybe if I had been smarter

If I wasn’t so clumsy

You always said there was a price to pay

And I’ve tried hard to “live the dream”

Guess I must not have wanted it bad enough

You deserved better

If only I had been taller

If I wasn’t so flat-chested

Always in the court, but never the Queen

At nineteen, it’s already too late for me

The “1st Alternate” to the winner is still just a loser

Who could want me now?

If only I could have lost more weight

If my eyes weren’t so close together

I’m sorry for letting you down

For leaving the stage before the show is really over

I’m sorry about all of this blood on the floor

But as it weeps from my wrists, I feel strangely free

If only I could have been a daughter you could be proud of


It is hard to describe the profound nature of experiencing these emotions as though they were my own and maybe even harder to explain why God would allow me (a forty something year old man) to have such an experience.  The one thing I felt sure of was that I should try to legitimately speak from the heart of this precious child, and, in as much as I knew how, that is what this piece was about for me.  But after the emotion of the moment ebbed, I was faced with the daunting question of what to do with all this.  While I hoped that people might be touched by the devastating consequences of the unrealistic expectations that are so often heaped upon our children, I couldn’t help but wonder how I might answer the practical questions of where this writing came from and what made me credible to be its author.

Like a coward, I thought about sticking it into one of my many notebooks, where no one but God and I could find it.  But a dear friend reminded me that if God had indeed facilitated this experience, it must be for someone.  So I said a little prayer and posted it on my blog www.bryancorbin.com where someone might stumble upon it.  Within minutes, I received a response from a young woman, half way around the world, who said that she felt as though it had been written specifically for her.  She shared her own heartbreaking poem with me, where she cries out to a father who’d made her feel like a disappointment.  While I tried to share some uplifting words with her, our exchange was brief.  But knowing that someone had profoundly connected with it was all I needed to validate that there had been some purpose behind the whole experience.

Until recently, it has remained tucked away in the archives of my website and frankly, I had no plans to do anything more with it.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have plans of His own.  Like fresh leaves in springtime, there seems to be new life emerging from these roots and hopefully the branches will reach even further in this season.  Upon reflection, I can see that this was about more than just girls who’ve suffered through the pageant circuit.  It is really for any child who’s been made to feel like they are less than what they were created to be.  And now, instead of simply being a stark picture of the pain that comes with that, a counterpoint of hope has been set upon the horizon.  With the benefit of hindsight, I realize that all I had was a single piece of the puzzle and that it wasn’t until that was combined with other pieces that a clearer, more beautiful picture emerged.  Such is the patience of God.  I pray that all of this will be a seed of hope and healing to those who would receive it.

Please go to http://youtu.be/KQSsXAsZGX0 to watch the video put together by our dear friends Vincent Wigh and Jose Bosque, and featuring the beautiful song, “You Know Me” by Steffany Frizzell.  If this touches you, please share it with others.  God bless.

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