We are all a victim of something. Every single one of us has had something bad happen to us. There is not one single person on earth that can claim to have walked through life unscathed. It’s the nature of a fallen world. Whether we’ve been the victim of abuse, divorce, injury, illness, oppression, poverty, natural disaster, you name it, we all have a story to tell. And…we want people to hear it. Sharing our stories helps release a lot of the pain. It helps us to air it out, examine it, and find ways to deal with it. The most important thing, though, is that we learn to move through our victimhood–we don’t want to stay there.
When I was counseling, I quickly discovered that there are two types of people in the world: Those that do not want to be stuck in their victimhood and those that prefer to stay there. That seems crazy to think that people would really want to stay in a place where they continually live out their victimization, but it’s true. In a weird way, the pain of past hurts can become comforting and it is difficult to let go of it. Our victimhood becomes our main identity and we feel lost even thinking about letting that identity go. What I have found is that often times victimhood is the only identity many people have and they don’t want to relinquish it for fear that when they look in the mirror they will have no idea who they are.
When something bad happens to us, it’s imperative for us to acknowledge that something truly bad did happen. I’ve counseled people that refused to see that a loved one was abusing them. They refused to acknowledge the abuse, which in turn, kept them in unhealthy situations. However, once you do acknowledge that something bad has happened remember to work through your feelings and never bottle them up inside. You never want to stay stuck in this spot.
You always want to move to a place where you acknowledge the past, you learn from it what you can, but you don’t let negative things that have happened to you, define who you are. The biggest, most important thing is that we never–ever–let our victimization give us an excuse to not thrive in this life. This thinking cripples us. Where once we may have been hurt by something or someone else, we take the reigns and hurt ourselves repeatedly.
So often in this world, I see different people using their bad past experiences as an excuse for why they haven’t moved on in life. They give power to the bad and refuse to take control and truly desire a life of greatness. I’ve even seen where people use their victimhood as a reason why they haven’t done anything with their life, which is terribly sad, because they are made for so much more.
We all will have our battles. We all will have our bad times. Some of us will experience more bad things than others. Some of us will come from families where bad things seem like the norm more than the exception. But, this is one of the challenges of life: To find a way to persevere, to overcome obstacles and still find a way to become who God made us to be. That is where true greatness is found. Those that have walked through the fire and come out on the other end with some singes–even some major burns–are some of the most inspirational, amazing people. They allow the bad experience to transform them in a positive way and, amazingly, they have the ability to become better people. The gift they give to the world is their wisdom, empathy, compassion, and insight. The fire that they walked through almost has a way of making them shine.
If they had lived a perfect life, they would never know how to reach out to those in need. They would lack the ability to feel another’s pain, never having experienced any pain themselves. Empathy is a beautiful human quality and one that is most needed.
Often times, though, people walk through the fire and let it consume them. All that is left is a shell of what could have been. The pain becomes a weight that burdens their spirit. It doesn’t have to be this way. Everyday is a chance to turn it around, but we have to be honest with ourselves. Do we want to cling onto our victimhood because it brings us a warped sense of comfort? Do we use bad things that have happened to us to let us “off the hook” from having to really do anything with our lives? If the answer is “yes” to either of these questions then we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves.
We all have a path to take in life and along the way it is going to be littered with some small rocks that cause us to trip and stumble. There are also going to be huge boulders that nearly block our path. Sometimes, boulders will fall from the sky and practically kill us. The good news is, is that every one of us has what it takes to fight through each one of these obstacles. With God’s grace, we can overcome them all with time, patience, a lot of tears, and a lot of honesty. Miraculously, that pain which once threatened to consume us also has the ability to bring about great things in us.
I hope that we can all realize that each of us has had our own set of pains that are uniquely personal. I hope that we look at each other with eyes of compassion, mercy, and understanding. I, also, hope that we encourage each other to never stay locked in our victimhood, because each one of us–and our special gifts–are needed in this life. We need each other to find out who God created us to be.