“Am I crazy to think God saved me from my abusers?”

Hi, John. This is in response to your post, As a Christian, Must She Forgive the Brother Who Raped Her?  I just want to say thank you—from me, for that lady, and from every single other person out here like us.

I want to know if you think that the woman who wrote that letter is right about it having been God who saved her.

I had an experience similar to hers, with God being with me and talking to me while I was being abused. And I know that most people think that is crazy. But I still believe that God was there with me during the terrible times, and that that is the only reason I am alive today.

It meant a great deal to me to hear other people say that God was also with them during such trauma in their lives. It makes me feel less insane. Why not believe God was there? It’s not hurting anybody. What did hurt me was the abuse that I suffered—first as a child, and then later at the hands of the man I married (who almost killed me).

Every day I have to deal with what they did to me. Why not also believe that God cares about me?

While I was being abused I could not handle what was happening to me, but God could. And God helped me escape what was happening to me by convincing me that I didn’t deserve it. There is no way that could have been a product of my fragile four-year-old mind. Even now, I believe that God is the only thing convincing me to hang in there every day.

Anyway, I was just wondering what you thought about God being real and helping me the way I think he did and is still. Thanks again.

In a nutshell, who cares what I believe? You believe that God saved you then, and is still saving you today. That, my dear friend, is virtually all that does, can, or should matter. The only two persons in the world privileged to know what’s going on between you and God are you and God. That relationship is exclusive, closed, two-way, and inviolately private. Ain’t nobody’s business but yours and his/hers.

That said, no, I do not think you’re crazy. I absolutely do believe it was God who delivered you from your moments of ultimate terror, grief, and shame—and who is every day now guiding you toward an ever brighter and fuller life.

Given your experience, I think it would be insane for you not to believe that. What more could God have done to prove to you that he was there and protecting you? The only more “real” way God could have saved you would have been to actually, physically manifest before you. And that would have opened a can of crazy you do not want in your life. (Because then—to mention just one reason God did you a favor by not physically appearing before you—you’d have to either spend your life trying to convince people that you really had seen God, or—by way of avoiding, or at least staying out of, the insane asylum—you’d have to live with the crazy-making secret that you did see God.)

God was there for you: he/she gave you that gift. Why question the origin, value, or reality of that gift? Where does going down that road take you?

Stay on the road you’re on: the one God is every day laying out before you. Going on that journey, one day at a time, is … well, let’s just say not a bad way to spend your life.

Life is ridiculously complicated and intense. God is waiting to bring to any of us the ultimate miracle: making life simple. All we have to do is accept that, get out of the way, and let it happen.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://www.hurricanes-and-trainwrecks.blogspot.com Amy

    During the sexual assault I endured as a 13 year old, I felt that I actually left my body and went into a quiet, grey space where a presence I believed was Christ was with me. There were no words exchanged, just shared time and the awareness that something terrible was happening to my body but that my soul was separate from that, my soul could not be damaged; it was protected, and it was with God.

    Many years later, when the man I dated became abusive, I had a dream that led me back to my belief in God and gave me the strength to escape the relationship.

    There’s nothing crazy about what the writer of this letter believes.

    • Nicole

      Beautiful.

  • Adara Pallady via Facebook

    Agree, agree, agree.

  • Tim

    Exactly

  • Jackie Weiss via Facebook

    Wonderful article

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kelly-Withee/100001922106189 Kelly Withee via Facebook

    Amen.

  • Diana A.

    “Life is ridiculously complicated and intense. God is waiting to bring to any of us the ultimate miracle: making life simple. All we have to do is accept that, get out of the way, and let it happen.”

    Love this! Love the whole thing, but especially this!

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

    I am one of many who can personally relate. Thanks so much John.

  • Nicole

    An excellent, encouraging post, John!

  • Valerie

    How wonderful and tragic that it takes a horrible situation to realize that God loves us and is with us all the time not just in the good or bad situations but all the time! We talk about guardian angels that protect us from harm and we don’t even know it most of the time but the fact that God loves and protects us in his arms every hour of every day is mind boggling. Peace and blessings to you letter writer.

  • Brian W

    Incredible….

  • Lymis

    I think that the problem with speaking of this kind of life experience in the specific words of “God saved me from this” is twofold – first that it can far too easily imply that God took specific, real-world, physical action to step in and make the situation stop, and even more easily leave us with the idea that God deliberately chose NOT to take specific, real-world, physical action when it didn’t stop for someone else.

    That “God gave me that flat tire, and so I had to pull over, and that saved me from the 15 car pile up that killed (all those other people God didn’t bother to save.)” Or that “God stepped in and saved me from that serial killer (after he ignored the first 8 victims.)”

    This letter writer, and John’s answer to her, strike me more as speaking about God being present with us, helping us find new ways of experiencing things, ways of coping, healing, and moving on from situations. That, I can absolutely get behind. That’s about the relationship, the friendship, the Sonship, and the connection to something and Someone greater than ourselves.

    That’s where I agree with John, that God “delivered you from your moments of ultimate terror, grief, and shame—and who is every day now guiding you toward an ever brighter and fuller life.” That our relationship with God happens from the inside out, not from the outside in.

  • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

    I don’t know. Life can be unbearably painful, even for people who aren’t being traumatized or abused, so the question of whether or not God is real is important for everyone. If you have been abused tho, and felt the presence of God/Christ as a comforting spirit, one way or another, that’s what you needed to survive. It may not be crazy that that was what you experienced but it’s an honest question to ask if it was real.

    On the other hand, believing something is real when it’s not is either crazy or just a mistake. That’s what it boils down to for all of us who are on a spiritual quest: is this divine being we’re looking for (or have experience of) really there, or did we make him up because this present moment is too awful without him/her? It’s a good question, even if the answer might be a long time coming.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    I’d advise only sharing this with people you trust to a degree (even on the Internet) – This is a good place to share such a story, a place where hardcore atheists hang out is not. (Not that some won’t be kind to you, thinking that your brain protected you and that’s what you needed, but there are too many trolls, snark-artists and people who love stomping on hearts for kicks out there).

    And that brings me to my main point: Don’t worry about being “crazy.” As I see it, the whole damn world is crazy, we’re just crazy in different ways. “Sane” is like “normal” – it’s some, often arbitrary, agreed-upon social norm that even the “sanest” of people don’t always fit half the time! Seeing visions of and/or feeling the presence of God – many people call that crazy. What I call crazy is people feeling the need to incessently bully, abuse and derive power over others – it’s a kind of insecurity.

    So, if your “crazy” is a good kind of crazy that helps you to live and be a better person, go with it. Maybe it’s, in the end, the least-crazy thing in the world.

  • Linnea Sommer

    If you study liberation theology, it says that God is especially with the oppressed, the abused, and the outcasts. This is right in line with that.

  • Michael

    Ill be honest, i dont believe it was god. i think it was just luck and your subconscious mind. but i would never step on your beliefs, and you certainly arent crazy for them at all

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      You just did step on her beliefs.

    • Michael McKelvey

      I feel compelled to reply, mostly since I have been posting on this site with the name “Michael” for a while. (Not that I’m upset — I don’t own rights to the name. My fault for using something indistinct I suppose.) Also because you don’t seem to know what “stepping on someone’s beliefs” means. If one person states that they believe Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born crypto-Muslim terrorist, and another person states that they believe otherwise, the second person is not stepping on the first’s belief because they are arguing a point, and there is evidence for both sides (Okay, there’s only REAL evidence for one side in that particular debate, but you get my point).

      But the letter writer has no evidence for her belief beyond her personal conviction, and you, Michael, do not have any evidence for disbelieving her beyond your personal conviction. Your statement privileged your conviction over hers, without evidence or argument to support it. You stepped on her.

      • Michael McKelvey

        I assumed that the letter writer was female because they mentioned a husband. Not a safe assumption to make in this neighborhood, I know. My apologies if I was incorrect.

      • Michael

        this is also a reply to john since you more or less said the same thing: I didnt step on her beliefs. I disagreed with them. unlike with the president obama situation, there is no real evidence for EITHER situation. there is only speculation. im not saying shes wrong. im saying i dont believe what she does.

  • Katheryn Phillips Bilbo via Facebook

    I’ve learned that most people who worry if they’re crazy usually aren’t.

  • Michael

    I would not use the word “crazy” in this case, at all. Insanity is, by definition, pathological. Your story could be seen as an indication of a mental illness like schizophrenia, but before any competent therapist made that diagnosis, they would investigate if your beliefs are causing problems for you.* It does not sound to me like they are. Beliefs that improve your overall wellness are, but definition, sane, no matter how weird they sound to other people.

    You have a conviction that may be outside of mainstream opinion on how the world works–fine. That belief is not “crazy” unless it harms you, or causes harm to others. Lots of people who hang out on this website have beliefs that are outside the norm, including they guy with his name at the top of the page. Thank God that sanity is not determined by popular vote.

    *There are, of course, incompetent therapists who decide, contra evidence, that any deviation from “normal” beliefs is harmful and therefore diseased. That is why homosexuality was once defined as a mental illness.

    • Michael McKelvey

      After posting this, I noticed that there is someone else here posting with the name “Michael”. I am NOT the guy who made the “step on your beliefs” comment below. (We can also be distinguished by my use of the Shift key.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nea-Bryant/100000197161695 Nea Bryant via Facebook

    <3 <3 so beautiful, thank you!!! i think it's natural to wonder if you're crazy and to ask other people if they think so, too. it does make me wonder if everybody has "crazy-making" secrets. and i think that idea is really beautiful, too. <3 <3 i sincerely pray that if anybody who reads this is in any sort of pain that they find it comforting and kind like i do!!!! <3 <3

  • Susan

    Your letter writer is not crazy. Loved your response.

  • Kirsten A.S. Mebust via Facebook

    Overall, a great answer; I am arguing with a small point. God is really present with us in the worst circumstances. Our personal experience of that presence may be unavailable to others for evidence, but that’s why we have the testimony of others to God’s presence– in the scriptures, in the memoirs and ecstatic poetry of saints and sojourners throughout history and now. The pattern is very public, and God’s presence is public, for those who recognize the pattern. God is fully present and saving in the midst of suffering. This is not the same as saying God imposes suffering on us either to punish or save. It is public testimony that you are not crazy if you meet God when you’re suffering, and that God’s presence makes survival and healing possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LekKoswig Lek Koswig via Facebook

    Can I share from a reflection I was asked to write for this Lenten period?

    READ: Psalm 107.39-43
    When they are diminished and brought low
    through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,
    he pours contempt on princes
    and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
    but he raises up the needy out of distress,
    and makes their families like flocks.
    The upright see it and are glad;
    and all wickedness stops its mouth.
    Let those who are wise give heed to these things,
    and consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

    REFLECT
    Those who feel oppressed…
    How many stories might have you heard about people who have been captured and imprisoned by militia or guerrillas, confined in sub-human conditions (possibly tortured and abused) and when rescued, say that prayer kept them from giving up? Or same such captives but who have never heard God, suddenly find solace and freedom in prayer, which ultimately keeps them alive? To the chagrin of their captors, this is the last bastion of human freedom – their bodies may be imprisoned but not their minds.

    RESPOND, REMAIN, RETURN
    Thank God for freedom and liberty which is found through prayer, freedom from the ‘Mind Police’, freedom from the oppressors. Pray that others may become upright, see it and be glad.

  • Naomi G Tangonan via Facebook

    may i post the last part LK (3 Rs) in my wall..thanks.. God bless.

  • That Guy

    We too often look on the story of Exodus as if it’s purpose is to simply tell us past events, but it also deeply speaks to us now. Exodus still happens, both on a broader social level and on individual levels.

    We need to escape that which oppresses us, whether it be something like addiction or emotional trauma or countless other situations that we just need to break free from.

    Remember that as God helped his people escape Egypt, he will help you escape your Egypt. He will help you on your Exodus.

    And may you find the promised land.

    It is inspiring to hear about people like the women who wrote you and countless others whom God has helped through the roughest of times.

    I often hear about how God will wipe the tear from every I, and I find great hope in that.

    But it is also true that God is wiping the tears of many eyes right now.

    Suffering is as real as hope.


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