Used and Abused

This post is about how to begin recovery from being used and abused – and it is mostly relevant to women. But first, let’s get the bigger picture clarified….

The sexual liberation of the 1960’s and beyond has left millions of women “used and abused”. What might have seemed like ‘liberation’ has become ‘slavery’ to many. Instead of new and unbridled freedoms, people are now trapped in pain and the aftermath of abuse and exploitation.

Sexploitation

Men exploit women. Since women were made as a ‘helper’ (Genesis 2:18) ‘for the man’ (1Corinthians 11:8), womankind is predisposed to fit in with the expectations of the men in their lives. This makes them vulnerable and dependent.

This vulnerability and dependence leaves women open to sexual exploitation, or “sexploitation” as I refer to it. The men who are meant to protect women can be overcome by evil. Lust, sensuality, selfishness, eroticism, pride and other forces can invade a man’s life (assuming he has not invited them in anyway) and cause the man to think of himself, rather than his moral responsibilities before God.

Moral Responsibility

Humans are created beings, morally accountable to their creator. God is perfect and holy. So everything He made must be measured against God’s holiness. We are commanded to “Be Holy, just the same way our God is holy!” (Leviticus 19:2).

We all innately expect people to live with moral responsibility. We expect parents to care for their dependent children. We expect people to respect property rights and to restrain themselves from harming others. We expect people to tell the truth, keep their word and to meet their commitments.

When we see people who do not do these things we regard those people as out of order, criminal and socially unacceptable.

Yet the Sexual Liberation of the past half century has promoted an alternative morality. Instead of people learning to restrain their impulses, as a matter of responsibility, they are encouraged to indulge their impulses. Pleasure has been exalted above morality.

The prevailing morality is the notion of “happiness”.

Happy Little Cretans

I recall an older couple telling me about their son’s second marriage. He abandoned his first wife and his children and took up with another woman. Rather than see this as morally wrong, the parents celebrated his actions, because now he was “happy”.

The fact is that his first wife and his children are not happy. They were abandoned. He neglected them out of self-interest. His first wife, it seems, did not always please him. That was sufficient justification, it seems, for him to act in an abusive and selfish manner.

So, as I said earlier, “Happiness” has become the prevailing morality. People evaluate their choices based on what they think will make them happy. This is the very opposite of living by the code of moral responsibility.

We encourage the value of happiness in our children by giving in to their demands, offering them needless choices and telling them that they must please themselves.

Abuse Abounds

Just as in that case of the “happy” husband, millions of people are abusing others, in the quest of their own personal happiness and fulfilment. Anyone who does not fully meet the expectations of another (even if those expectations are delusional) should expect to be thrown over in the other person’s quest for self-indulgence.

Now, more than ever, women are “sexploited”. The men in their lives are far less likely to act on the basis of moral responsibility and thus protect the women. Men are much more likely now to act in pure self-interest, abusing and exploiting the vulnerable people around them.

You don’t need a degree in sociology to realise that what I am describing is tragically real.

Protecting the Gals

Protecting the womenfolk has long been a cultural and legal requirement. For centuries the law penalised a man for “Breach of Promise”. If he caused a woman or her family to believe he intended to marry her, and then abandoned that course, he was able to be charged for “Breach of Promise”.

This law was to cause men not to play with the emotions of women. It slowed down the hasty flirtations of a man, since he could be creating expectations which would come back to bite him. In Australia the statute which overturned this law of Breach of Promise was not enacted until 1971. So this is not simply an ancient and obsolete notion, but one which prevailed into the modern time.

Nowadays women rely on capsicum spray, assertiveness training, flame-throwers mounted under their car (as I saw advertised in South Africa) and their heightened wits to navigate their way through a more jungle-like modern culture. Women are no longer respected and protected, but abandoned to their own devices or used by those who can take advantage of them.

Emotional Vulnerability

Women are not only the physically weaker sex they are emotionally predisposed to look for affection and care. Some men have become effective at winning the confidence of a woman, lying to her about their intentions, playing on her emotional needs and seducing the woman into exploitation.

I recently spoke with a woman who discovered that the man who had been using her had done so to at least three other women before. She was fooled by his stories and bought into the emotional promise of his affections. He then dumped her suddenly for another woman.

The code for such men is to use and abuse the woman, then “forget her”. But the woman is not playing a user game and buys in emotionally. So she is damaged, wounded in heart, rejected, shamed and unable to “forget” what she has been through.

Get Your Heart Back

A key issue for the gals is to “get your heart back”. It is easy for a woman to give away her heart. She is designed to be in a faithful, loving relationship where she invests her emotional capacities in the success of her man. So she readily buys into that personal investment, even if she is being fooled by a user.

So, if you have been used by someone who stole your heart and then left you behind, you need to reclaim the affections you gave to him. This is virtually the same as breaking the soul-tie that is set up between two people in an affectional or physical relationship.

I lead people through a simple prayer that goes something like this…

Prayer to Reclaim Your Heart

“In the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, I repent of giving my heart and affections to this person who has used me. I now break the soul tie that exists between us. I revoke the hopes, dreams, expectations, emotional investment, delight and other responses which I invested into that relationship. I now reclaim my heart and affections. I take them back off that person who is unworthy of them. I place those affections and my heart at the feet of Jesus. Lord, take my heart and my wounded affections and please heal them. Teach me how to make You the centre of my affections, so I can live for You and for Your glory. Heal me of the offence, rejection, shame, abuse, hurt and wounding which I have experienced. Make me whole and take me into Your embrace, healing me and building me to be the woman You created me to be. I ask this in Jesus’ powerful and lovely name. Amen.”

Jesus Heals the Abused

Jesus Christ met and ministered to many used and abused women, who had even bought into a lifestyle of being someone else’s sex toy. He set them free and gave them back the life He created them for.

So, Jesus heals the abused, and He is ready to heal you. You were not created to be exploited. You were not created to be used and abused. You were created for His throne room. You were created to carry His glory.

Don’t settle for less. Press in to Him and find the healing, wholeness, freedom and destiny which is uniquely yours. I command you to do so, in Jesus’ powerful name.

My Princess Be Valuable

Sweetheart, you need to make a clear distinction between being “beautiful” and “valuable”. I want you to be extremely valuable. Let me tell you why.

God created you to be protected, and as your daddy, it is my responsibility to guide you in paths that will keep you safe, even once you’ve grown into adult life. That’s why I want to explain the difference between being ‘beautiful’ and ‘valuable’.

Women Have Value

God created women to be highly valued. Women have great value and a godly woman is highly prized. The worth of a “virtuous woman” is more than precious jewels (Proverbs 31:10).

The objective of every young woman should be to rise to her highest value. I want you to be so highly valued that everyone recognises that you are among the most special women in the world. It is up to you to create and to maintain that value, so your husband, your children and all you come in contact with will know that you are a rare and most valuable person.

Beauty Cheapens Women

It sounds wrong to say that beauty cheapens women, but it proves to be true for many. Natural beauty, while it is a wonderful thing to have, causes a woman to be looked upon wrongly. A woman can have natural beauty, but also have an evil heart, a cruel tongue, a selfish attitude, an enslaved life and an unhappy future.

Yet if a woman has beauty others will give her credit for having character and worth, even if she does not have them. Lustful men will pay her attentions which will flatter her heart and give her power to manipulate others.

Beauty, on its own makes no guarantee of happiness, success, godly character, fulfilment or true value. That’s why I want you to focus on your value, not your beauty.

Proverbs warns us that “beauty is vain”, which means it does not guarantee anything. It has no lasting value in itself.

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the LORD, she will be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

Beauty must be a secondary consideration, not a primary focus or distraction.

Character Before Beauty

If a woman has beauty, but not godly character, she will be tempted to become vain about herself, thinking she has value which she does not have. Some women seek to make themselves look alluring to men, as a way to give themselves value. They think that if men look at them or lust after them their value as a woman is confirmed.

King Solomon makes it clear that a beautiful woman who does not have character does not have value, but destroys the potential value she should have developed.

“As a jewel of gold in a pig’s snout so is a beautiful woman with no discretion.” Proverbs 11:22

Ugly Duckling

You will remember from the delightful play, “Ugly Duckling”, by AA Milne, that the princess was thought to be plain to all except the one who was to be her prince. This is a very good situation to be in.

The Princess had been under a spell by a caring godmother, to look plain until her wedding day. This was done because the godmother “didn’t want me to grow up spoilt and wilful and vain, as I should have done if everybody had always been saying how beautiful I was.” “The best thing in the world was be quite sure of yourself, but not to expect admiration from other people.”

By being thought of as the Ugly Duckling, even though she was really quite beautiful, the princess was able to explore life without distracting concerns about her beauty, or of having to deal with shallow attentions from those who only saw her beauty.

The Prince saw both her beauty and the delight of who she was as a person. That’s an ideal situation.

Remember, you will only have one husband. He is the only one who need think of you as beautiful. If everyone else pays you no attention for your beauty you will be spared the process of being cheapened by the cheap self-interested attentions of shallow men.

Find Your Value

Girls who fear that they may not have real value will easily become sidetracked by their attempts to look attractive. They will focus on their external appearance rather than their internal worth.They will compare themselves with other women only in terms of appearance, not in terms of character.I don’t want you to do that. I want you to find your full value and live it to the full.

Find your value by being a woman of God. Be a virtuous woman, for there are too few of them. There are so few of them that all who fit that description gain the highest value.

If you find your heart being drawn away to thoughts of your own beauty or your power to attract  attention from men, then you are in danger of losing your true value.

Be a woman who fears God.

I have more to say about this topic, but I’ll save that until next time.

Note: These “My Princess” posts are for all those young ladies who are preparing for their adult future. I am writing them with my own daughter in mind, so they come from my heart and contain matters that I consider very important. Dads are welcome to use these articles with their own family, and young ladies are welcome to look for them to receive godly counsel they might not find elsewhere.

Damsel in Distress

The fairytale princess in the tower, being rescued by her knight in shining armour, evokes images of “happily ever after”, with all the sweet and colourful imagery of a children’s book.
But not every damsel in distress wants to be rescued. Some damsels devote the whole of their life to distress, no matter how hard their shining knight tries to make them happy. Instead of riding off to “happily ever after” they end up at a place called “Why can’t you make me happy?!”

What’s the Problem?

Why is the damsel in distress?
The fairytales suggest that damsels are both beautiful and happy, but are prone to being locked up by ogres, cruel step-mothers, dastardly uncles, dragons, witches, jealous queens or the like.
So the fairytale blames an external source for the damsel’s distress.
If only she could be saved from her home, her restrictive parents or some similar external constraint she would sing like a lark.

In reality, however, there are many damsels whose distress is completely self-inflicted. They have fallen prey to their own emotional vulnerabilities, selfishness and untamed spirit.

Stay Home White Knight

If the dear damsel is in distresses of her own making, then the knight in his shining armour, on his trusted steed, should head home immediately and close the shutters until some unsuspecting fool effects the rescue.
Let someone else trouble his life with a complaining, implacable creature who is ruled by selfishness, irrational feelings and untamed will.

If the damsel can’t come to terms with her present circumstances, then she will continue to fail in that area.
She will fail to come to terms with her disappointments with her ‘all too human’ knight.
She will fail to happily come to terms with the hard moments and tough challenges of married life and raising a family.

The poor fool who thinks he can rescue such a damsel will find himself seeking solace in the commiserations of his drunken companions. Only failure will rain upon him for decades to come.

Immune to Distress

The best bride to find is one who can sing her way through her limitations and the frustrations in her present circumstances. A damsel who accepts today’s problems with faith, courage and cheer will never truly be a damsel in distress. She will be a damsel in delight.

A damsel who is immune to distress will bring her cheery presence into her marriage, family and home. She will be a delight to her husband and a blessing to all who know her.

Knight Beware

So, dear young knights scouring the hillsides for maidens trapped in towers, please heed the following warning.

If she is in distress – take heed – she may be happy to live there. If distress is her tune, she will likely play it again and again. If she can sing a lament, how can you be sure that won’t be her favourite tune for the rest of her life?

If she is immune to distress, then she won’t really need you. She will not try to manipulate or control you. She will not demand that you make her happy.

The problem with young knights is that they love the fairytale notion of saving the maiden in distress. Her cries for help and her dependence on his strong arm, fire the young fool’s imagination with visions of grandeur.

You’ve Been Warned

What you do is what you will do. I take no responsibility for your determination to avoid happiness. Go and seek your desperate damsel. But just remember, if she is in distress, you may never rescue her from it!

My wish for you is that you will accidentally stumble across the woman in delight, who doesn’t need you, but chooses you as worthy of her great strength and enduring qualities.
When you find her, don’t dump her because you hear the faint cries of someone in a tower!

The Neglected Wife

A beautiful young wife recently asked me how she could resolve her feelings of being neglected. Her husband is a delightful chap who is actively serving the Lord and who also works part-time to supplement the family income. The bride is caring for a baby and the husband enjoys his sport as a way to unwind.

Feeling Neglected

The young wife struggled with feelings of being neglected, yet she knew that her husband is a wonderful man. He is serving God, helping others, working to meet their own family needs and enjoying life with his friends. He loves her and helps her out with the baby and her other needs when he can.

Still she felt neglected and at times became angry toward him and said things that expressed her frustration and hurt feelings.

Now she was feeling guilty about being such an unworthy wife. She felt that she was out of order to carry the feeling of being a neglected wife. She did not want to burden her husband but to bless him. However she just could not get past the feelings of being hurt.

She asked me what I would suggest she do.

The Husband’s Challenge

I appreciated the heart of this delightful young lady. What a sweet attitude, considering herself to be wrong and willing to do what she could to change. I commended her approach, but I then directed my comments toward her husband.

I pointed out that one of the common crimes men commit against their marriage is to ‘neglect’ their wife. The tendency to neglect the wife is so strong and natural for men that if they are not consciously avoiding it then they are almost certainly doing it. Men are compulsive neglecters. It comes naturally to them and they will dismiss or justify their actions, despite the way they are hurting their wife.

This young man was very willing to receive my instruction so I ventured to point out what he needs to do.

What is Neglect?

Husbands are commanded to love their wife, and when they do not do this they are neglecting her. Neglect is what happens when a man does not make the wife the centre of his attention.

If the husband is distracted, absent, uncaring, dismissive or otherwise failing to focus on his wife he is neglecting her.

Some men are busy. Others feel that their wife’s concerns are of no real substance and are unworthy of the attention they demand. Some don’t want to have their time with their wife dominated by the wife’s emotional issues, but would rather pursue physical intimacy and her joining in their interests.

All of these things constitute neglect.

The Opposite of Neglect

Neglect is possibly best seen by looking at its opposite.

When a husband stops what he is doing to give his total attention to his wife and then engages all his powers to meet her needs as the highest priority in his life at that moment, then he is loving her and not neglecting her.

When a husband is attentive to the real needs his wife is struggling with and does all that he can do to meet those real needs and bring her to a place of security, feeling his total love and commitment to her, then he is not neglecting her.

My Advice to the Neglecting Husband

I suggested to this young husband, in the hearing of his wife, that he needs to be attentive to her needs. Even though he is busy he must allocate special time that belongs to her, where she has 100% of his life. He will not always be able to give that to her at the time she feels the need for it. So he must find the first opportunity, such as in three hours’ time, when certain processes or meetings are completed. When he commits to give her his undivided attention at that time she will feel secure and be willing to wait. She will appreciate the elevated status in his life that his commitment gives to her.

When she comes to him he is to give total attention to her needs. He is to concentrate on listening to what she is saying and hearing her underlying emotional needs. He is then to offer her his understanding and care.

Sometimes all the wife needs is to have her emotional tank topped up. The husband is her best source of emotional recharge. A loving hug and assurances of his care and commitment will do much to lift her over her emotional hurdles and give her energy to press on.

A Quick Top Up

A wise husband will look for opportunities to give his wife a quick top-up, to keep her emotional reserve tank full and ready for life’s challenges. When a husband sees that his wife is a bit distracted or a little titchy he should be attentive to her inner needs.

When he asks her how she is going she may well say that all is fine. But if he thinks that is not the case he should persist to encourage her to tell him what she is thinking or struggling with.

He can then hug her and share in her concerns, offering whatever help he can. It may be that he can only join her in prayer for God’s wisdom. He may have nothing to offer from himself. But that very act of caring enough to join her in prayer over the unsolvable problem will be very precious to her.

Regular input from the husband, investing his 100% attention to meeting her inner needs, understanding her thoughts, feelings and concerns, and then doing what he can to help her resolve them, will give her the quick top-up that will keep her in a healthy emotional state.

Strong hugs, caring words, supportive attitudes, attentive listening and expressions of affection are very valuable to a wife and will help her overcome the feelings that she is being neglected in the competition for her husband’s time and energies.

The Spirit of a Marriage

Have you damaged the spirit of your marriage? Do you know the current health of your marriage? What is the ‘spirit of the marriage’ and how can it be damaged or healed?

These are the questions I will open for you, so you will be attentive to some things that may have escaped your attention up until now.

Hidden Person in Your Spouse

The Bible tells us that each woman has a “hidden man of the heart” which is a source of true beauty for them. Peter advised women not to be distracted by their external beauty tricks, of tizzing up their hair or wearing jewellery. Instead, he advocated that the woman allow her inner beauty, the “hidden man of the heart” to come forth.

“Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (example) of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” 1Peter 3:1-6

Hidden Things in Your Marriage

Each person has a hidden, inner life. We do not readily expose our inner self to others, and in fact our inner self is at its most special when shared between husband and wife. The wife is encouraged to reveal to her husband the hidden person within her heart.

Many people never see the hidden person in their spouse. But worse still, many people damage their marriage by offending the inner person in their spouse.

Hidden Damage

Marriage creates the most intimate level of relationship possible on earth. Two people receive a divine status as one physical entity, enabling them to share intimacy in the sanctity of God’s own morality. This unique relationship should be the place where two people are able to share their most hidden thoughts and feelings with each other in complete confidence and security.

However, when husbands and wives offend each other they cause the other to lock away their most secret thoughts and their hidden person, so that they never show the other the “hidden man of the heart”. This becomes a hidden damage in the marriage.

On the surface the couple may be happy, cooperative and exemplary. Yet one or both will have closed off their inner person from the other.

They may enjoy frequent and fun-filled physical intimacy but the intimacy of the soul is rarely if ever enjoyed by them.

Hidden Man Intimacy

Every marriage holds the potential for a level of interpersonal fellowship and sharing where both husband and wife trust their most secret and sacred self to the other. That is a profound level of intimacy

When a couple has intimacy at the level of the hidden man they are reaping richness from their marriage which others simply do not know exists.

The Spirit of the Marriage

The spirit of the marriage is that wonderful potential which your marriage can enjoy if only you both love each other with the level of commitment and openness that enables both to readily reveal the hidden man of the heart to the other.

This spirit of the marriage is damaged when the couple hurts and offends each other. When a husband or wife feels that their spouse does not respect, love, cherish and trust them the spirit of the marriage is damaged.

If, for example, the wife feels dismissed by her husband, and that he does not care for her inner thoughts and feelings, just that she make him happy, then she will shut down part of herself and that will damage the spirit of the marriage.

Auditing Your Marriage

Your marriage may be a happy and delightful relationship where the two of you get along with great companionship. That’s great. But even so it is possible for you both to be missing the richness of the spirit of your marriage. This will be because one or both of you have damaged the inner man of the other and caused them to close off their ‘hidden man’ from the other.

So how is your marriage going? How is the spirit of your marriage? If you have damaged your relationship and your spouse is not opening to you the depths of his or her heart and soul then you are the poorer for it.

Don’t settle for less than a rich and wonderful depth to the spirit of your marriage, where the hidden man of both of you is trusted in the hands of the other. I pray that your experience be that of a blessed spirit of the marriage.