Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dignity, Integrity, and Boundaries discovered in Jesus Christ

For many of us who have been a victim of abuse, being the victim is all we know. We survive. Some of us even go so far as to put ourselves into situations where the abuse will happen again. This perpetual cycle of entering into abusive relationships primarily to reaffirm what we already "know" as a victim.

Upon discovering the reality of Jesus Christ, and the abuse He suffered willingly at every human being's hand through sin, one needs to find somehow the strength and perspective to begin breaking the cycles or leaving the abusive situations or environment.

The key to this is discovering that Jesus is a willing victim:

...Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron valley where there was a garden into which he went with his disciples. Judas the traitor knew the place also, since Jesus had often met his disciples there, so Judas brought the cohort to this place together with guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees, all with lanterns and torches and weapons. Knowing everything that was to happen to him, Jesus came forward and said, 'Who are you looking for?' They answered, 'Jesus the Nazarene.' He said, 'I am he.' Now Judas the traitor was standing among them. When Jesus said to them, 'I am he,' they moved back and fell on the ground. He asked them a second time, 'Who are you looking for?' They said, 'Jesus the Nazarene.' Jesus replied, 'I have told you that I am he.' John 18:1-8
"They moved back and fell on the ground." It is made very apparent to those about to take Jesus away that they were not in control. Jesus, especially by challenging them a second time, makes sure to let them know that He is going of His own will. They would not have been able to take Him away if He did not want to go.

For those of us who have lived in an abusive environment, we know where that challenge would initially lead: A flurry of violence to oppress and extinguish any more challenges. Never mind trying to challenge yet a second time!

Jesus here gives us the ability to discover that we have a right to our boundaries. That as human beings we have dignity and integrity. It is by virtue of the Incarnation that we truly come to realize those gifts. We have a right not to be violated by anyone for any reason.

Boundaries: A boundary is the line over which someone has to cross into our personal physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual space.

One generally sees about a metre or yard around one as the physical space belonging to them. We have all had the experience of having someone standing very close to us while talking to us and the discomfort this can bring about. We have the right to ask that person infringing into our space to step back. Especially if we have gently moved back to regain our personal space and they keep moving back into it.

Words and actions can be used to attempt to manipulate or abuse the other emotionally and mentally. A put down, whether as a joke or intentionally, is a classic example of this type abuse that can be commonly accepted as okay to do. Generally the one doing the put down is building themselves up at the expense of another.

For some abuse victims, the words and actions are designed specifically by the abuser to keep them in their "place". It is the emotions that are the last to heal. It is these cycles of mental/emotional abuse that are the hardest to let go of and allow Jesus to heal.

Spiritually, one who is abused is attacked by the spirits attached to the abuser. Given the nature of the ongoing battering of the abuse victim's will, these spirits eventually work their way in via the words and actions of the abuser. They entrench themselves into the heart, mind, and spirit of the victim. It is only in Jesus Christ and through the Sacraments that one can discover these spirits and their hold on the one who is trying to leave or has left the abusive environment.

Dignity: At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of Jesus. He, God, has become a human being. Read that again: Jesus Christ, God, has become a human being.

When one embraces Jesus Christ and the true freedom and healing that He has to offer, one can participate in the divine. One can realize that one is an adopted son or daughter of God the Father by virtue of Jesus becoming human. One can realize that one is heir to an eternal inheritance. One can step beyond the seeming limitations of one's humanity and embrace the divine.

One can discover that one is not another's play thing, punching bag, sex toy, or anything that takes away one's personal dignity. One discovers in Jesus that one is valued for who they are in Him. Jesus values us, places us in such high esteem, that He made sure to show us that He loves us by embracing our suffering, by accepting willingly and gently the abuse he received during His Passion and death, with such an open heart, mind, and spirit.

Jesus Christ is the true source of human dignity.

Integrity: In Jesus we can discover wholeness, completeness. Those of us that have lived in abusive environments can begin to break away from the external and internal elements that are the result of being abused, especially if that abuse spans many years or decades.

Upon discovering our boundaries and how they can be crossed whether we have allowed them to be crossed or someone has crossed them against our will, and realizing our personal dignity found in Jesus we can establish our personal integrity.

One can begin to realize how to make one's own decisions as to when the boundaries are to be crossed. One can also learn how to gently stop anyone who tries to cross those boundaries without permission.

If someone attempts to cross our boundaries without our permission, by virtue of our dignity found in Jesus, we have the right to defend ourselves. We have the right to say no. Just as Jesus did at that moment when Judas appeared with the guards to take Him away.

"They moved back and fell on the ground."

Jesus Christ is the only foundation upon which one can build one's integrity.

It is in Jesus Christ that one can discover the true meaning of being human. It is in the innocent little Child at Christmas that we discover this: Incarnation. It is in that Man standing in the Garden that we discover the true meaning of our suffering and being a victim.

Lord Jesus, help us to discover the true meaning of humanity. Help us to discover in You the value of who we are. Jesus, deliver those who live under constant oppression and abuse. Heal the abuser, heal the abused.

Thank You Jesus for the gift of life. Thank You Jesus for becoming human and redeeming us. Thank You Jesus for bringing us back to the Father. Thank You Jesus for opening the door to heaven!

Jesus, I love You!

Pax vobis,

J.E.

2 comments:

Fr. Joseph said...

Excellent post which should help many people - sorry about forgetiing to sign previous comment regarding yesterday's post - keep up the great work.

Hector said...

Sorry, this is not necessarily related to your wonderful post. I just came to say thank you for joining us in prayer for Sara this weekend. She is much better. God bless you!