Because We are Good

As I struggled to comprehend how God could love me, I struggled with an equally troubling question, “How could God love the family members who hurt me?” 

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“How could God love the family members who hurt me?”

Note: As I prepare to launch ticket sales for my upcoming Equipped for Recovery Workshop, I’m reminded of why I began the journey of sharing my story with the world. I want others to know the peace and contentment I’ve found along the path to recovery from trauma, addiction, and mental illness. I’ve not held a workshop in years and I am excited to get back to what I love. This post, from a few years ago gives a glimpse of things I learned about love, hope, and healing. 

As I struggled to comprehend how God could love me, I struggled with an equally troubling question, “How could God love the family members who hurt me?”  Such questions are common among women who experienced abuse as children.

For many years I simply could not understand why God did not stop my family’s abuse.  I was angry at God, yet I never lost hope that someday I would understand.  I wish someone would have pointed me to St. Thomas when I was overwhelmed with anger and guilt.  Now, do not misunderstand, I eventually forgave and moved on. However, I think St. Thomas’ argument about the basic concepts of ‘being’, ‘good’ and how He views sin may shed new light to help women who struggle with how God’s love extends to their abusers.

We are beings created in God’s image and hold a place higher than every other creature.

The initial question is: Does God love all things equally?  The answer is no. When you consider all the things God created, He definitely has a hierarchy.  He loves humanity more than animals or rocks or trees.  Why, you may ask, because humanity is rational and created in His image.  We are second only to the love God has for Christ.  We are beings created in God’s image and hold a place higher than every other creature. God came to earth as a man, not a rock or a tree. He did not come as a dog or a cat but as a man.[3]

How does this affect a survivor that questions God’s love for their abuser? First, as we determined in Part I, God loves all things. Secondly, He loves humanity more than other things because we are beings, not things. As I stated in Part I, we know that every being that God creates is good just because God creates it out of His perfect goodness. Based on the definition of ‘being’ in the glossary of St. Thomas’Shorter Summa, being means “that which is, whether actual or potential and whether in the mind (a ‘being of reason’) or in objective reality (a ‘being in nature’).”[4] In other words, a being exists as an entity that has qualities and potential.

What changes is God’s love of our actions and choices, which affects our relationship with Him.

What happens after creation does not change the fact that God created beings that are good beings.  Even a being who makes choices that lead to evil are still beings, which exist no matter what choices they make. God’s love for that being that He wills good to does not change. What changes is God’s love of our actions and choices, which affects our relationship with Him.  No matter what, the good being still exists.  God still considers the creation good.  He still loves the being (person) that He created.

However, as C.S. Lewis describes it in Mere Christianity with each choice we make, we either become more a heavenly creature or a more hellish creature.[5]   If we think of it as two aspects, the person, and the choices that change the relationship, we might understand the concept better.  The person(being) is always loved because God created us.  However, the choices we make either bring us closer to God or move us farther away.

God knows the potential of each person and wants us to receive the fullness of the good that He desires for us.[6]  He desires this for all His creation including abusers.  He loves them because He created them and they exist, but He does not love what they do.  The more they sin, the more they lose the humanity God created in them. Sin decreases their ability to experience the fullness of life and removes their desire to know God.

In all of this, God loves them as the being that He created. When they yield to evil, He cannot interact with them because evil does not come from God.[7]  While this explanation may seem too rational for some survivors, for me, it clarifies how God could love those who abused me.  Knowing that God loves all His creation, but not their sin makes sense to me.  When I combine that knowledge with faith, I understand that even when I feel ill-equipped to show love to those, I care about, I can ask Him to help me love them.  He will empower me with His strength.  He will be there. Perhaps understanding that God loves all things and that we are second only to Christ in His hierarchy will help you accept God’s love and the fullness that He desires for you. Perhaps you can fully comprehend John’s statement, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are.”[8]

[3] Peter Kreeft, A Shorter Summa: The Essential Philosophical Passages of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica ; Edited and Explained (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993),  86.

[4] Ibid, 28.

[5] Lewis, Mere Christianity, 86.

[6] Kreeft, 85.

[7] Ibid.

[8] I John 3:1-3.

EARLY BIRD TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW!

Want to learn more, have an opportunity to practice some of the tools I’ve used over the years, hear from others about their journey and what has helped them, and network with like minded peers? Join me at Equipped for Recovery on September 10, 2022. Get Tickets here.

Upcoming Events

Equipped for Recovery Workshop

Save the Date!

Tickets available soon! Watch for announcements and updates!

“Recovery is commonly defined as the process of getting better from an illness or otherwise returning to a state of physical and mental health.” –Lives of Substance

In observance of National Recovery Month , Charlotte Thomason is hosting, Equipped for Recovery-Utilizing the Tools in your Recovery Toolbox.

Hybrid Event!

This interactive experience will allow you to discover tools you may not be aware of, revitalize existing tools, and practice using them to better equip you for recovery.

Celebrate Recovery, a Christ centered 12-Step program, uses the phrase, “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” to describe the program’s focus. Everyone experiences one or more of these over the course of their life, making recovery an essential part of our lives. Overcoming the inclination to use unhealthy and destructive ways of coping with life stressors, hurts, trauma, or anything that disrupts our well-being is a lifelong process. Building and maintaining a Recovery Toolbox of healthy coping tools, knowing how to use them, and using them regularly greatly improves our chances of success.

Recovery is like humanity’s journey from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.

Jesus changed how we view God’s character. Before Christ’s birth God was viewed as the law giver and rule maker. A quick overview of the Old Testament reveals a list of rules that no one could follow 100% of the time. Jesus, on the other hand, exuded compassion, and patience. As “God with us” Jesus showed us that love transcends the rigidity of the Old Covenant. He loved us unconditionally. 

Moving from the Old Tools to New Tools

Like the Israelites, recovery initially requires rules and gives you the structure(Old Toolbox) to modify your behavior, but sometimes you don’t know how to function outside of the structure. When you slowly add new copings skills (New Toolbox), your heart begins to heal as you address the emotional and spiritual issues that led to your behavior.

The Old toolbox is still there, but you no longer need the constant rigidity because you’ve developed daily coping tools that keep you grounded. Now, there are times when you return to the structure because life’s circumstances overwhelm you, so you pull out the tools in your old toolbox for a season, but those moments are infrequent.

The “Equipped for Recovery Workshop” offers the opportunity to explore your toolbox, add new tools, revitalize existing tools, and practice what you learn.

You Don’t Want to Miss this Workshop!

More details coming soon!

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