Family can be tough. Abuse, especially at the hands of family is the unthinkable but an all too prevalent problem.
How do we, amidst family pressure and out-right abuse understand love? Being a victim of abuse can push one into being further victimized or force one into survivor mode and can even continue the cycle of abuse. I do not want to belittle or diminish the effects of abuse but discuss how those of us who have been the victims of abuse can think about it and live beyond it, towards forgiveness and strength.
First we are neither survivors or victims, but individuals of worth and substance as God's children first, who have been taken advantage of by predators and thoughtless people. Our abuse does not define us as either a victim or a survivor; it is but a part of who we are, part of our experience, part of our understanding of the soft under-belly of human behavior and sin. We are not a group set aside, nor are we a unable to live life due to shame or criticism. We cannot use our abuse as an excuse to treat others without love or respect.
Still we are human. We seek redress from those who often should be the ones who love us best, but we, we are broken sinners - at best our human love is insufficient to overcome the effects of human abuse.
Adelaide can guide us because she kept God and God's love before her. She persevered throughout her life and managed to do good (mainly by outliving everyone who abused her - as they say, the best revenge). In order to have lived so long with so much repeated damage from abuse at the hands of those who should have loved her means that she operated in Hope and Faith, guided by Love.
Seeking God's love first, seeking to understand through God's love, allows for the ability for us to live our lives fully even amidst abuse. We truly forgive, not in human terms but in God's terms. By not making abuse our problem we live our lives and vocations as wounded healers, compassionate healers, and faithful servants of the suffering servant himself.
If those who should love us do not, we always have the deep love of Christ to heal and set us free.
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
-- John 10:7-15