Our family had the privilege tonight of participating in a prayer vigil commemorating the 5 years since Lynn Messer was reported missing. As I looked around at the crowd gathered, I was looking for familiar faces...faces from back when I knew Lynn as a teen... fellow church members... people who just 5 years ago were showing such concern for her whereabouts. Wouldn't they want to be here, as we were, if for no other reason than to show support for her sons?!
Sadly, if I have learned anything from our own experience with how the local church handles abuse, I know why they are absent and silent. Cowardice. You see, showing up means taking a side. It means adding your voice in support of those harmed by wicked people. It means you might think that man/woman sitting next to you in the worship service isn't really a Christian. "But they're at church every Sunday!" Yes, and the ones they've abused are gone.
If I'm stepping on your toes and you know Lynn's family, instead of making excuses, do these things:
REPENT for choosing wickedness by your silence.
ASK victims their story.
EDUCATE yourself (Spiritualbattles.org)
DONATE to support victims of abusers.
(Click photo below to help the Messer family.)
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"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves,
so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."
These are the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 10:16. He exhorts his followers to be both innocent of wickedness and wise about wickedness. If you desire to follow Christ's instruction in this verse, you may wonder how to become educated on the subject. Well, here are some online resources to do just that!
I have pulled out a quote from each one, just to whet your appetite for the practical teaching they offer. In fact, there are such abundant resources, that one really has no excuse to be ignorant of the human means our enemy uses to devour people. If you are learned in these tactics, you will have ample opportunity to minister to many hurting people, bandaging wounds with the balm of Christ. If you are unlearned, you will instead heap salt in those wounds.
In case you're wondering why learning about narcissism assists us in this study, it is because narcissistic people are abusive people, whether overtly or covertly, though not all abusers are narcissists.
Biblical Perspectives on Narcissism
"The primary way to discern if your narcissist is a true Christian is whether they show any genuine “fruit”. Fruit is a demonstration of whether there has been an actual regeneration of the heart which comes from true faith in Jesus."
Grace For My Heart
"So, yes, we have compassion for the pain the narcissist has suffered, but that does not excuse his/her cruelty. Don’t let your compassion compromise your boundaries!"
Light For Dark Times
"Every true Christian is hated by the world. Darkness hates the light of Christ that is present in us. But only when we realize what these attacks are, what motivates them, what their source is, do we become wise as serpents in regard to the serpent’s methods and tactics. This is really another test of whether we truly know Christ or not. People who remain willfully blind to the existence and strategies of evil, who refuse to recognize it especially as it shows up in the church….well, such people must not have assurance that they know the Lord at all."
Today is my 45th birthday and it is a day bearing grief. Not because I am aging, but because it marks the two year anniversary of the horrible and sudden loss of a precious friend. For this post, I wish to leave the personal remembrances aside and focus on just one aspect of who she was.
She was a truth teller.
Our current culture is seeking a way to be open about things that were previously hidden. My friend knew that hiding wickedness is not the same as "covering a multitude of sins". So, she humbly schooled us all in how to love through wise exposure. She succeeded in strengthening others in their individual struggle against the forces of darkness. Myself included.
I've often contemplated, just where did she get that amazing strength to speak and act? And I realize that my question seeks only to give me an "out", for it implies that she simply was given something that I was not-- strength. (Like what we do when a pianist plays beautifully and we chalk it up to talent, ignoring hours of dedicated practice.) No, upon reflection, I've come to see that it was her love of The Truth that imbued her with a quiet confidence to take the next step, say the next words, do the next thing. Nothing magical about it. Good old fashioned love and faith at work.
It is this Love and Faith from which I take inspiration today. I purpose to love the truth and speak the truth, because I love The Truth.