I’m all about making sense of things. If a movie has a gaping plot hole, then no other redeeming qualities can redeem that movie for me. If a song can be interpreted a dozen different ways, then I don’t really want to listen to that song.
Needing to make sense of things is one of my best qualities. It’s also one of my worst qualities.
I’ve been told that my strength is analysis. People send me articles or teachings, asking, “This feels off to me. What’s wrong with it?” and I explain what’s wrong with it, and sometimes I make a blog post out of it, and they’re grateful. This is because I look at things logically, see how terms are being misdefined and Scriptures are being misapplied, where things make sense and where they don’t.
So when things in the world don’t make sense to me, they can lay me flat. (That’s where the “worst quality” part comes in.) It used to be when this happened, I would ignore them. But in the past ten years or so, I haven’t been ignoring them any more. This means my natural response is to strive to try to get them to make sense, but in this particular battle of “reason,” I’ve been driven to prayer again and again.
In 2006, when I first stepped into the world of domestic abuse in the church, green as a gourd, not even having a working familiarity with terms such as “abuse” or “PTSD,” as I listened and listened, some things still made a lot of sense.
It made sense to me that my friend’s thoughts would be scattered. I thought to myself, “Well, if I’d been through what she went through for 25 years, my thoughts would be scattered too.”
It didn’t make sense to me at first when she told me something happened at 5:30 but then corrected herself to say it happened at 5:27, and I told her anyone would say 5:30 was just fine. Well, I got a lesson that day, that an abuser would not say 5:30 was just fine, and would accuse her of lying for saying 5:30 when it was really 5:27. Then it made sense to me that she would work to be precise to the tiniest detail in every account she gave about anything.
It made sense to me that she took a lot of notes in the meetings that I attended with her with the Christian counselor, even though the counselor seemed to think it was somewhat eccentric. I knew by then that her own words had been twisted and her abuser had denied saying things he had said, so she needed to have a record of everything. It made sense that she would want to have that record.
In 2012 when I began to learn about sexual abuse in the church, embarking on an even steeper learning curve, I studied diligently to try to make sense of phenomena such as flashbacks, nightmares, and dissociation that I was seeing or being told about. I attended many conferences and listened to seminars and online lectures, I read many books, and I listened and listened and listened to the abuse survivors themselves. Over time, the phenomena I was seeing made more and more sense.
But three things didn’t make sense. And they laid me flat.
1. One of those things was the inhumanity of man against man. I was hearing first-hand, from the survivors themselves, about acts of such utter degradation (and in some cases such unspeakable torture) that I didn’t even understand how the human mind could devise such acts. And yet . . . they were being done by the deacon, the choir member, the Sunday school teacher, the homeschooling father, the pastor husband, the college professor, the check-out clerk at the grocery store, the charming entrepreneur, the head of a large business.
Of course, well, yes, of course I knew about the Nazis. Of course I knew about the North Koreans. Goodness, I knew history and could tell you that the Assyrians killed people by skinning them alive.
But that was there. That was then. That was “them.”
This was here. This was now. And this was “us.”
I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I was laid flat.
2. And how was it that Christians could be so complacent, so uninterested? How could church leaders turn away? How was it when Christa Brown, for one example of many, tried for so many years to stop Baptist predators, the leaders of the Southern Baptists treated her like an annoying gnat they needed to wave away? How could that be? How could church leaders mock, not just ignore but actually indirectly mock those who had been sexually abused as children?
I was absolutely sick. It didn’t make sense.
3. And why wasn’t God intervening? Why wasn’t He changing this? Why wasn’t He stopping the abuse, calling predators to account, calling the church to wake up, calling more and more people to be willing to suffer the secondary trauma of entering this world, to walk with the abused and to fight the abuse? Where was He?
My world was shaken.
Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.