God and abuse find themselves at impossible odds.
God speaks and gives a voice to his people.
Abuse silences and steals the very hope of ever being heard again.
We see in the creation of the world that God is a God who has a voice and he uses it mightily to bring about his will. God speaks, creation responds. It is through his voice that God brings about his will in creation. And God uses his voice to create mankind, to create you and I, and he does so in his image (Genesis 1:26-27).
Human beings bear the image of God upon their soul. We have the signature of God impressed upon us. This doesn’t mean we simply look like him, but rather we reveal who God is in ways that nothing else in all of creation can. It means that we resemble our God more than anything else.
And God saw fit to give his image bearers in this world a voice.
Our voice is meant to be heard. Our voice is meant to carry with it authority as an image bearer of God.
Our voice is meant to have an effect.
Yet abuse, takes the voice of God’s vice-regent in this world and ignores it. Abuse silences the voice crying out in protest. Abuse negates the wishes being spoken by a voice. Abuse twists our voice and creates a new voice, one that sounds of lies, manipulation, control and violence.
Abuse can cause us to pretend that things are okay while our very soul hangs in peril within us.
Abuse can cause us to not cry for help even though we are drowning, unmercifully slowly.
Silencing can come from our abuser, negating our words with their actions. Silencing can come from our friends or loved ones, silencing our attempts for help or sometimes even worse, responding to our cries for help with a silence of their own.
If you have been a victim of abuse then in many sense you have been silenced. By your abuser. By those around you. Perhaps even by yourself.
Yet as a survivor of abuse you find yourself in a precarious position. To stay silent is to resolve to slowly decay but to speak…to speak is to face the ugliness of our experience.
Yet as a survivor you must learn to speak.
Our world desperately needs to hear the voices of those who have been silenced.
Learning to speak your story, first to God, then to yourself, then to others, will not be an easy journey. At times it will feel impossible, yet learning to speak is in itself a step of victory.
It won’t be easy.
It won’t come all at once.
Your words will never be able to perfectly articulate all that you have endured.
But imperfect words can still bring healing.
In her book On the Threshold of Hope, Diane Langberg* writes this:
“To speak is to open the door and let a ray of light in. Yes, that light will expose what is terrifying and ugly. But that light will also enable you to see the way out. To speak is to tell the truth. Yes, that truth will confront you with thoughts and feelings you have worked hard to forget. But that truth will also work to set you free.”
You were not created to live in silence.
And those who silence the hurting find themselves at odds with our Creator.
Langerg encourages us this way:
“Let me encourage you to speak, to give voice to the truth of your life. It is indeed a very difficult thin to do. You will however, find freedom there. Our God is a God of truth and light. Lies are exposed when truth is spoken. Darkness is banished when light is allowed to shine. Telling your story is not an exercise in futility. It is a means to an end. In and of itself, simply telling your story will not bring healing. However, giving voice to the truth of your life so that the light of God can shine in all its spaces will bring healing.” (Langberg 37).
If you are not a survivor of abuse, your voice matters too. We are called to give voice to the silenced and shut up, we are to cast our lot with the lowly and stand with the oppressed, we are to break down the doors of silence with our own voice and speak truth to the world.
As fellow image bearers of God we are to aid the silenced in expressing their reflection of God through their voice.
Together may the world hear our voices as we use them to reflect the one who made us in His image.
*Diane Langberg has been a licensed psychologist in private practice for over twenty-five years and is a part of the American Association of Christian Counselors. She has spent her life counseling victims of trauma and abuse.