Dear Partners in Christ:
Tonight, we have our Celebrate Recovery Service at the Heritage Theater 7PM. If you have any friends that make it please let them know about the powerful opportunity that we have to gain our healing in Christ! Two weeks ago we began to explore the dynamics of the Fourth Step which is established by the Principle Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. There is not a person who I have encountered on my journey who struggles with some form of addiction who has the need to justify their behavior. The person who is the victim of abuse whether it be physical or emotional, begin to develop a very different perspective of the world. After being deeply wounded often enough, they give up on expecting to receive love or goodness. If you combine the mindset of one who is addicted also being one who has been victimized the consequences of this type of thinking is devastating to the maintaining of healthy relationships. They become very self absorbed only using coercion and manipulation as a way to posture themselves in what they consider to be healthy relationships. They are angry and cling to an insistence of justice on their terms being served.
If there is not the ability to pause and consider their own behavior they will intuitively develop a scale in their lives by which they weigh events. They hope to discover a balance of enough good things happening to them and enough punishment inflicted on the ones who have made them victims. This type of mindset leads to blame shifting as well as for one to see people and circumstances as “all good” or “all bad.” With the individual who struggles with a victim mentality they will view people on the positive side of the ledger until they disappoint them in some way and then they become part of the “all bad” list. People with a victim mentality are very difficult to live with and they often do not have a great sense of self esteem for themselves.
Robert S. McGee and Pat Springle give a pointed description of the “victim mentality.” The victim mentality is based on a mixture of perceptions – many of which are based on past truth and half-truth. Yet the person is full of assumptions about future relationships. The “victim-mentality” is characterized by a combination of the following assumptions.
• “They’re out to get me.” – The pain in a person’s past is very real, and those wounds often lead to a subtle paranoia for the future. Victims feel that people – especially those who have inflicted pain in the past – desire to hurt them again.
• “Nobody understands me.” – Victims feel lonely and abandoned. They believe that no one understands their pain. However, this sense of isolation can get the victim to literally smother relationships by which the individual begins to violate boundaries because they feel that the person does understand them. They will use that relationship to triangulate negative information concerning another person or they will reinvent history of conversations to their understanding.
• “My problems are your fault.” – Though others may indeed be responsible for much pain, victims typically blame virtually all their problems on others. The shifting of responsibility makes them vulnerable to additional pain when people “don’t come through” as they anticipate.
• It’ll never change” – Victims may loudly express a desire for change in their situations, but may have reached a state of hopelessness. They have ceased to believe that life will ever be different. This hopelessness may be true depression, or it may be a way to exert power over others, manipulating them through self-pity.
• “I have to be right.” – The penchant for justice leaves little room to admit wrongs and errors (This is the great challenge to Step Four). Most victims are terribly threatened to even consider that they might be wrong. They are quite insecure and feel that being wrong will transfer much needed points from the plus side of their negative scale to the negative side.
• “I have to punish him or her.” – Deeply wounded people often experience a double whammy of feelings: the compulsion to punish offenders, and guilt for thinking such things. They believe that no one else will serve justice, so they have to punish by either aggressive or passive-aggressive behavior. But if they do anything which genuinely hurts the offending person, they may feel guilt, shame, and self-condemnation.
• “I deserve for things to go well.” – The expectation for the scales to be balanced is reflected in the attitude that we have somehow earned the right for people to treat us nicely. This way of thinking leads to cycles of feeling “up” or “down” depending on the perceived fairness of circumstances and people (Robert S. McGee and Pat Springle, Getting Unstuck – Help for people Bogged down in Recovery, Word Publishing, Dallas Texas, 1992, pp. 99-100).
The challenge of this mindset as it relates to the fourth step is that is that one insists on justice and punishment for others without looking at themselves and at our own sinfulness. The constant cycle is that everything that is wrong with me is somebody else’s fault. This will normally get projected on our view of God. One will view God as demanding or distant. What will get constantly rehearsed in the belief system of this individual is that God is not fair, He won’t come through when I need him, I have to do everything right for Him for Him to help me.
The psalmist, Asaph, felt that he was a victim of God’s untrustworthiness. In Psalm 73, Asaph recounts his perspective of wicked people prospering while good people (like himself) suffered. He was confused and angry. He concluded:
They are not in trouble as other men;
Nor are they plagued like mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
The garment of violence covers them.
Their eyes bulges of fatness;
The imaginations of their heart run riot ….
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure,
And washed my hands in innocence (Psalms 73:5-7, 13)
Later, Asaph understood that God would ultimately balance the scales in His way and in His timing. He recalled his intense anger and God’s patience with him during his anger.
When my heart was embittered,
And I was pierced within, Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before Thee.
Nevertheless I am continually with Thee;
Thou hast taken hold of my right hand.
With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory (Psalms 73:21-24).
God is a good God! He really does have our best interest in mind. Next week I will discuss how we can work the fourth step in order to gain a more accurate picture of the heart of the Father towards us.
Your friend on the Journey,
Spritual Growth Pastor