People who have been wounded in their childhood have always known the reality that life is not safe; that things which sometimes seem safe are not. They wonder why people say that families are important to the stability of society, when their family has self-destructed, leaving broken souls and broken bodies in its wake.
Jesus said, “Would any of you who are fathers give your son a stone when he asks for bread? Or would you give him a snake when he asks for a fish?” (Matthew 7: 9-10, Good News Bible).
To this question, the victims of childhood or adolescent abuse or neglect would reply, “Of course a father would give a son a stone or a snake. My father always did.”
Experience has taught them that their parents are not able to provide their basic needs, let alone protect them. They have grown up knowing that the world is an unsafe place at the best of times, and people–especially those in authority–are not to be trusted.
So, in summary, if we hope to create a place for restoration to begin, we need to remember these important concepts as we prepare to bring healing to wounded hearts:
- the kingdom of God is a safe place;
- the church is often regarded as an unsafe place;
- safety is not first of all a matter of policies and procedures; safety begins within, with who we are;
- experiences with unsafe people affect our ability to choose safe people;
- experiences with unsafe people affect our ability to trust God.
All of us want to gravitate to the “ten easy steps”–better yet “five easy steps”–to freedom. But that is the law. And as Christians we know that the law brings death. We’d like to find a pattern that will give us control over life and make sense of it. God’s pattern is that healing of past soul wounds must come through relationship.
If people with wounded hearts are to experience God as a safe person and find healing, they won’t find the answer in mere programs and techniques, helpful as they are. They must first experience that safety in us. And that brings us to the most important principle of all as we prepare for soul surgery.