Do You See This Woman? by Elizabeth Whitfield Sherrell teaches readers how to use their faith to understand, curtail, and survive domestic violence and abuse. In the article below, Rev. Liz offers the five core principles which make up the foundation of her book and of her practice at Hope’s Door, a faith based counseling organization she’s founded with her daughter, Michelle Sylestine, in Chelsea, Alabama.
Five Steps for Healing From Domestic Abuse
1. Practice forgiveness of others and also of yourself.
Forgiveness is not an option–but do not feel condemned if you do not “feel” it or cannot do it right now. Ask Jesus to help you by working forgiveness into your heart. Say the words “I forgive” and with the power of the Holy Spirit the release
will come in time and you will know you have forgiven.
Forgiveness does not mean you condone that person’s behavior. Forgiveness does not mean you must have a relationship with that person
Again, if you have problems forgiving, ask Jesus to forgive through you. Don’t be too hard on yourself; it takes time. Just keep focusing on forgiving. Stop holding yourself and others hostage. Let go of expectations.
Here’s the key: Use it to unlock your heart and let the bitterness go and let healing flow in. Free yourself from needing certain expectations to meet your needs. Forgiveness is not about meeting your needs but about setting you and others free from having to meet anyone’s expectations, free to give yourself over to the Holy Spirit. Think about when you first experienced abuse. Lay your hand on your heart and ask God to heal the trauma and release your captive spirit as you forgive those involved. You can pray this simple prayer of healing emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically for all trauma you have experienced.
2. Commit to building a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
John 3:16. He died for you. All your shortcomings, failures, sins are covered If you will only believe and accept Him as Lord, they will be removed forever. “Waste” time with Him. Hang out with Him. Talk to Him, talk to the Father, talk to the Holy Spirit all day. This is what communion is and it can be and is meant to be constant.
3. Know who God says you are!
This will be your greatest asset and strength to know that you know who He says you really are!
- You are the apple of His eye!
- Deuteronomy 32:10You are engraved in the palms of His hands!
- Isaiah 49:16He knew you before you were born and formed you in continuous fashion in thet he womb. Psalms 139: 15 and 16.
- You are accepted in Him.
- Ephesians 1:6You were designed by Him to shine for His glory. You do that by making time to be in His presence (just like the moon gets its light from absorbing sunlight and reflecting it back to us).
- He will keep you forever. Jude 24
Now you look in the mirror every day and repeat these affirmations until you believe this is who you are!
4. Practice renewing your mind.
Put off old thinking and put on new thinking. Ephesians 4: 22-24
He has a future for you, you are not just an accident upon this earth. You are not to be trampled on, used or abused. And you are not to do that to yourself. Renew your mind, put off, put on. You are worthy because you are His unique creation. He meant for you to live now at this time and become all you can be in Him. As His child, you inherit the good things of God and heaven Itself. You are designed by him. Make new friends who are like-minded. Forge new habits.
5. Ask God for a new vision of yourself.
His plan is for your to succeed and have hope, his plan is for your face to shine and not to be sad and depressed. Psalm 42:11
Start by recognizing moments of pure beauty and joy. Philippians 3: 8 Beauty really does surround us. The simplest things can bring me to a standstill. A bluebird landing near me in blazing blue plumage. A redbird suddenly bursting on the wing from a low bush nearby. Hawks and egrets, herons standing patiently on one leg in the still edge of a pond at twilight. A lawn full of lightning bugs on a summer night. Classical music, music by Steve Green, the voice of Julie True in worship, my daughter singing, songs by Selah, instrumental harp and piano, even oboe. The sound of a shofar. A sunset, a sunrise, a moonrise which is especially beautiful in late summer over the lake. The hush of new-fallen snow in winter. A baby’s soft cooing. A happy child who has just accomplished something for the first time. The blue of an October morning. The colors of our mountain in fall. The sweet tears of release of a person who has found healing through prayer. My husbands chuckle when he is teasing me. Moments of deep worship when I know I am in His presence. You get the picture. The bible tells us repeatedly to rejoice. It is necessary for our health and it is possible!