Life in FOCUS Blog

A Time of Testing

pablo (5)When someone has sinned against us, we must choose our response carefully. We may hear various voices from church leadership claiming to know what we should do. Forgive and forget are often the words they choose to say followed by a forceful push toward reconciliation.

This approach places a heavy weight of guilt on the victim of abuse if she does not comply. Shunning occurs and support is lost. In Scripture, we are told to guard our heart, yet the victim is put in a position of vulnerability without seeing evidence of change by the perpetrator. Read more ›

Posted in Betrayal, Insights, Reconciliation, Spiritual Direction

“Pit Living”

Pit LivingThere are days when we seem to be caught in the fog of life. Dreariness shadows our every move. Directional signals telling us which way to turn in our present situations allude us. So we wander aimlessly and fall head first into the darkness of the pit, the pit of despair.

Walls seem to close in on us. We grope around trying to get our bearings. The surface of the walls feels rough and jagged. One false move and we scrape ourselves. Fear and anxiety begin to engulf us. A beam of light shining from above is the only thing visible. The only way out is to make it to the top. But how?

Have you ever been one of those “pit people”. Maybe you have fallen into that pit so many times that now it has become the norm, a familiar place to dwell. We begin decorating the walls with pictures throwing a bit of color here and there. We decide to move in furniture just to make it cozy. We rename our circumstances as “pit living”. Read more ›

Posted in Betrayal, God's Faithfulness, Grief, Insights, Shame, Spiritual Direction

How Big is God?… How Big is The Mountain?

IMG_0054We live in an era of uncertainty for the future. A sense of security seems lost and life’s problems loom like dark clouds overhead. Media pictures doom and gloom causing us to sink into despair and fear. Are these times any different than the ones found in Scripture?

  • The Israelites facing the Philistines (giants)
  • Moses facing Pharaoh in Egypt
  • Israelites’ fear after scouting out the Promise Land
  • Captivity of the Israelites in Babylon

The circumstances in each story appeared to be impossible to resolve. The future seemed to be uncertain and unknown. Yet the God of the impossible was there all along showing His glory and faithfulness. He wasn’t vacationing on some tropical island. Read more ›

Posted in Insights, Resources, Self-esteem, Spiritual Direction Tagged with: , ,

Lord, Are You Still There?

iStock_000005459695XSmallWith her dreams in her hand and hope for the future, Pat walked down the long aisle of her church to marry a Christian man who was well liked. As she gazed into his eyes, a moment of doubt flashed before her. Dismissing it as wedding jitters, she spoke her vows with a smile on her face. After all she was older and much wiser now.

She headed for her new life leaving an excellent job, friends, family, and church to move to another state foreign to her. As they drove up the long driveway, she noted the remoteness of the area. The promise of a house on the lake slowly slipped away.

As she moved her things into his house, she realized how damp, cold and dreary it was. She determined to make it a cheery place. She soon learned there were limitations placed on her by her new spouse. The words, “there’s no money” rang in her ears. When she offered to get a job, she was told that a submissive wife does not work outside the home.

Read more ›

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Domestic Violence, Effects of Abuse, Insights, Self-esteem, Spiritual Direction Tagged with: , , ,

What Color is Your Elephant?

Hope

Wherever I go, I see evidence of God’s most beautiful and unique design in creation in the women I meet. With just words, each woman was designed by God. Actually if you think about it, God was and still is the first HGTV program (House and Garden TV). HGTV is one of my favorite TV programs. It is amazing to me with just a dash of color and certain arrangements something is created from basically nothing.

I admire people who have the gift of seeing the potential in a room or house. I can view the beautiful results but cannot create it myself. The decorators remove the blemishes, cover up flaws, and add flair from their own design.
Read more ›

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Domestic Violence, Effects of Abuse, Insights, Self-esteem, Shame, Spiritual Direction

Take Heart, Daughter!

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. Matthew 9:20-22

This woman was clothed in shame from the illness she suffered for twelve years. Year after year she had been considered unclean. This affected any kind of relationship she would have. This had to have caused immense isolation and loneliness.
Read more ›

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Effects of Abuse, Insights, Self-esteem, Shame Tagged with: , , ,

Responding Wisely to a FOOL

After identifying our Fool, we may ask ourselves “Now What!” We can once again turn back to the wisdom of scripture to learn how to respond while heading its warning.
Proverbs 24:25: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.”
Wisdom: Over time we can become like the angry person when we continue to be in relationship with them. The longer we stay connected the more entangled we become in their behavior.
Proverbs 13:20: “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Wisdom: Physical injury and/or mental damage will occur to the companion of a FOOL. Stay away from the FOOL. We will grow in wisdom if we choose to be a companion with the wise.
Proverbs 19:19 “A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.”
Wisdom: Don’t keep the FOOL from suffering the consequences of their behavior. If you rescue them, you are enabling their behavior to continue and you will have to rescue them over and over again.
Proverbs 17:12: “Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly.”
Wisdom: Keep your distance from a FOOL otherwise you will experience fierce, frightening actions that are worse than a mama bear fighting for her cubs.
Your FOOL could be your husband/wife, mother, father, sibling, your son/daughter, friend, employee, or your boss. For various reasons you may feel these individuals must remain in your life at some level.
You can begin to see the effect they are having on your life. You know you cannot change them (although you would like to fix them), but you can change how you interact with them.
The first step you can take is to DETACH. You may not be able to physically remove yourself from the FOOL’s presence, but it is important to emotionally detach. Words will still come at you from their angry lips but tell yourself “I’m dealing with a FOOL This is their foolish behavior. Their words are lies.”
Emotionally detaching is not an easy thing to do and will take practice and time for it to happen. When angry darts fly at you, try to remove yourself from the FOOL’s presence. Do something that you consider as self care. One woman went into the bathroom and turned on her radio to listen to music so she could not hear the words.
If the FOOL is at your place of employment, you may have to busy yourself with your job responsibilities. In some cases, you may have to get a new job.
Try not to lash back with angry words. You will only be adding fuel to the fire. Your words will be used against you presently as well as in the future.
Since the FOOL repeats his folly, you can in calm moments develop responses that could be options to relating to the difficult person the next time an incident happens. This will help you not to become so entangled in their behavior.
In summary:

  • Identify the FOOL in your life
  • Seek God’s wisdom in dealing with and responding to your FOOL
  • Detach or physically distance yourself from the FOOL
  • Pray for your FOOL that they will allow God to work in their heart and renew their mind so their behavior changes.
  • Forgive your FOOL

Paula Silva

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Domestic Violence, Effects of Abuse, Insights, Spiritual Direction Tagged with: , ,

Can a FOOL Be an Abuser?

An abuser may be male or female from any culture or from any racial or socio-economic background. They may appear normal, charming, or religious. They may be the usher, the elder, or even the pastor at your church. Abusers come from all walks of life. Each abuser though does exhibit certain common traits. These traits are found in the Word of God as we look at the word, FOOL.
Let’s look at some passages of scripture and note the traits.
Proverbs 12:15: “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.”
Trait: A Fool thinks he is always right.
Proverbs 28:26: “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.”
Trait: A Fool trusts in himself alone, but may profess he is trusting God.
Proverbs 29:11: “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”
Trait: A Fool vents his anger without concern for how it affects their partner.
Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
Trait: A Fool despises accountability for his actions and is offended when consequences are given.
Proverbs 18:2: “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”
Trait: A Fool is opinionated and does not desire to understand someone’s point of view.
Proverbs 26:11: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”
Trait: A Fool exhibits a destructive pattern of behavior that repeats itself over and over again.
Proverbs 15:14: “The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly.”
Trait: A Fool’s consistent destructive behavior feeds his need for control and power.
Proverbs 29:9: “When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, the foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.”

Trait: A Fool is not interested in resolving conflict and will not listen to reason.
Proverbs 13:20: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Trait: A Fool in relationships causes others to suffer with his destructive behavior injuring body, soul, and mind.
Psalm 73:6-8: “Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment . . . They scoff and speak with malice; they threaten oppression.”
Trait: A Fool is mocking and threatening, violent in some form, and is malicious in their relationships.
Fools can be compared to rough sandpaper that does not beautify anything it scrapes up against. Instead it creates deep gouges that mares the original beauty of the object.
Take time to think through these scripture passages and identify those that are Fools/Abusers in your life. Knowing what you are dealing with is the first step to relational wisdom.
Paula Silva

 

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Domestic Violence, Insights, Spiritual Direction Tagged with: , ,

What Would Jesus Do?

What a novel idea! Set aside the church’s self-prescribed “principles and practices”, and search the living Word to find out what Jesus would do. Here are some things Jesus would not do:

Overlook, dismiss, or hide abuse

When a church or family ignores spousal abuse, it enables the abuse to continue and flourish, and allows the abuser to perpetuate his criminal behavior. For many churches, it is easier to pretend everything is okay than to admit failures and dysfunctions within the congregation.

“If another believer sins, rebuke him . . .” (Luke 17:3 NLT) Jesus would expose the sin, offer grace and forgiveness to the sinner, and allow him to experience the consequences of his sin.

Make blind or unwise assessments

Even though she had a black eye from the beating by her husband, the pastor told her “your husband isn’t a wife beater.” He suggested that she submit to the elders of the church as they worked out this problem with her husband—who was the pastor’s close friend and largest financial contributor of the church.

Jesus would say, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” He would show the abuser the truth about his own wickedness, offer him the choice to repent, and then walk with him on the path to restoration and healing.

Place more value on the sanctity of marriage than the safety of women and children and the sanctity of life

Women who are battered should not have to choose between safety and the support of their church. However, many times they are reprimanded for leaving an abusive husband and coerced into quick forgiveness and reconciliation before the abuser has truly changed his behavior.

Excerpt from What Would Jesus Do? 1998 FOCUS Newsletter

Copyright FOCUS Ministries, Inc.

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Church Response, Domestic Violence, Insights

New Light on a Common DV Perspective

I have been pondering something. Whenever we educate the church about domestic violence, we often note that there is a high possibility that 1 in 4 women in their congregation have or will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Let’s look at this from a different perspective. If we say there are 1 in 4 women victims, that could indicate that there are 1 in 4 men in the congregation who are perpetrators.

This could be generalized so we don’t leave out males who are victims of domestic violence. We could say 1 in 4 people in the congregation will be or are victims of domestic violence and 1 in 4 are perpetrators.

Would we look at domestic violence differently in our congregations if we viewed it in terms of possible perpetrators? Would the church more readily enact responses of accountability for those who perpetrate abuse?

Paula Silva

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Church Response, Domestic Violence, Training Tagged with: , , , ,
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