Significance of Story Part 3
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Ann Maree: Hello and welcome to the  Safe to Hope podcast. My name is Ann Maree and I’m the executive director for HelpHer and the host of this podcast. I’m the  Safe to Hope. Hope Renewed in Light of Eternity podcast. We help women tell their story with an eye. For God’s redemptive purposes. All suffering is loss, but God leaves nothing unused in his plans.

We want to help women see his redemptive thread throughout their circumstances, and then look for opportunities to join with God in his transformational work.

Ann Maree: We’re back talking with Darby Strickland about story for the  Safe to Hope. And last time we spent a good amount of time talking about the importance of language.  As women talk about their stories. This time Darby’s going to share with us a little bit of God’s heart for sufferers in his word.  Maybe if we could just start out with this question, Darby, how does God connect our stories through his word.

Darby: Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s, He invites us in to rub our lives up against Scripture, right? Scripture is actually a personal invitation to understand your own heart and to be connected with the Lord. And one way I think is just recognizing that the invitation of His word  is, to create a relationship with Him, right?

His – God’s words. Even if we just think about the word incarnate, the whole purpose of them is a pursuit of His people. And so we wanna teach sufferers how to connect with God’s word in a way that is personal, where they see their lives, their suffering, their anguish, their joys on the pages of Scripture.

Ann Maree: Yeah. That’s good.  You’ve even said that the gospel rewrites our story. Talk about that a little bit.

Darby: Yeah, I mean, even if we think about that just from the point of an Old Testament narrative, you know, we. . We read the story of Joseph very differently as New Testament Christians. Hmm. We read the story of Ruth, where God is absent very differently, understanding what a kinsman redeemer is now that we have a redeemer.

And so I think it’s just. One – another way to understand the process of a victim. They have a history and they have a story, but until they make certain connections about God’s heart for them, His desire to rescue them, His desire for redemption and restoration, they can’t see the whole of their story.

Right… things, and details don’t always make sense.  But when they start to understand more of God’s heart and His character and His pursuit of them they begin to tell their story in a different way. Different details matter. They can see little rescues that happened along the way, even in the midst of great suffering.

So yeah.  In a sense, the telling of your story in light of Scripture is a process with many layers. And we also see that unfolded in Scripture itself. If we think about  the narrative on of oppression by the Egyptian slavery of the Israelites, how many times was that story retold throughout scripture?

And every time it’s told, it’s to remind us that God has come to save His people from other people’s sin. And He is this pursuing, loving God. And, and it’s told again and again and rehearsed and rehearsed in the Old Testament. And then when it’s told again in the New, there’s just different layers of detail and understanding of what that rescue really looks like.

And, so Scripture’s really repetitious. Right.  Because there’s such great value in what we’re learning about the Lord. And I think I wanna encourage, you know, people listening to victim stories is to hang with them through their first and 50th draft. Right. And. . And so, yeah, let’s just see as, as they organize it more, as they understand things, as they’re starting to use more biblical categories, as they’re making connections that they never wanna make.

You know, sometimes a victim, you know, you’re working with them for several months and they realize. Well, how come my mother didn’t protect me? How come my pastor sided with my abuser? They have so many things they have to process and try to make sense of.  And so we, … what sounds like it’s repetitive to us is really them trying to sort it out.

And if we teach them to use God’s words to pray when they’re in agony, in distress, this is what Christ did, right. When he was in agony, in distress, He prayed the psalms, right? So we have all these beautiful ways that even the way Jesus uses Scripture that we just wanna teach people that we love how to connect to the Lord using His own words.

Ann Maree: This is like sitting in a masterclass with Darby.  That I’ve never thought of that before, I mean, the Scriptures, because you’re so right. We do see Joseph in a whole different perspective because of where we, you know, which testament we decide we sit on.  And that is what we’re hoping our counselees and victims and survivors are going to do as well. Interpret it  in light of, you know, in light of both what happened prior and what happened now, but also in light of eternity, which is, you know, part of the tagline for our podcast.

So here’s, here’s a question for you though. Many, unfortunately, victims, especially if they’ve grown up in the church and that’s where they were  assaulted or victimized  Scripture has been used negatively against them. And you don’t always know that. And, and you might see a visceral response in the, in the person you’re trying to help. How, how do approach somebody who’s been abused, or I should say the Scriptures have been misused or used – the right subject verb, right – the Scriptures have been misused against them. How do, how do you help them?

Darby: Yeah. First, I wanna do as best I can because they’re not always aware of it. I wanna ask them that directly. Are there certain passages that have been used to shame you? Are there certain passages in conflict that were used against you? Are there certain ways the church has talked about God and His word that have been harmful to you? So I’m trying to locate particular passages or themes so that I’m aware of the landmines. That’s one thing that I do.  Conversely, I will say, what, where can you go in Scripture and be loved and at peace. Like, do you have a life verse? Is there a story or a hymn? I’m asking to them, what are they carrying with them already that’s resonating and, and has a little bit of hope and healing to it?  Oftentimes I think what’s wonderful about even considering story and the narratives in the Bible is when I think about the majority of people who have been abuse by someone misusing Scripture. They it…they don’t use narratives. They typically use the commands. They use a lot of the Pauline letters, unfortunately, right? They, they use sections of the Scripture. Narratives typically aren’t one of them. And so sometimes the Bible stories are safer places to park people, actually.

And they can ponder God’s heart because those stories tend to have a complexity to them, right. And they want us to be discerning and, and so, Yeah, and, and they’re, again, the details, they can often relate to their own experience. The other place that I often takes people to is the Psalms, but I probably say, and you probably do this too, Ann Maree, you know, let’s try to find a Psalm that you can live in for a few weeks or a month, and let’s, let’s find one that fits versus me saying to them, you know, Psalm 55 is about abuse. So, right, it’s no. I want them to resonate, so I wanna help them find it, but I want them to find the passages and the places at work. And, and I do that because I trust the Lord will bring that to their attention. Right. And that’s just so freeing that I know He’s wiser and smarter and He is on the move in their life. And I can trust that he’s gonna bring them their word, the word that they need.

Ann Maree: Yeah. And, and you’re right. I mean, so often we hear things like that and we we’re reminded as advocates not just counselors, but how important it is to restore a victim’s agency,  but, and so in, in missions, I’ve read that you have to, you are to avoid paternalism at all costs, never do something for somebody else that they can do for themselves But also what that does is it involves them in their care. And it gives them kind of an ownership in their own care. And I appreciate that. And I also appreciate, I, I love the idea of one verse. I get a little itchy when I hear people at the beginning of the year say they’re gonna read the Bible through the year. I’m like, no, just read one book. You know, one verse. Just one verse. If we can just, you know, like you said, camp out here for a little while on this one verse, and you know, sometimes you can pull a verse apart in phrases, and there’s such richness to each phrase. And of course the Psalms are gonna do that, and of course the laments are gonna do that.

I’d never even thought, yeah, narratives, you’re right. You know, it’s usually  what do you call it, like, fiery dart kind of scriptures that are thrown at victims. And not narratives. Sorry, go ahead.

Darby: Yeah, no, I just think there’s so many ways that Scripture connects to people.Yeah. Even just hearing the words that they’re using and the things that they’re valuing or longing for, particularly wounded by, sometimes that helps us be more directive in making a connection for them if we’re listening well.

Ann Maree: Very important. Listening well, which is a lifelong learning how to do right.

We’ve been talking about walking with sufferers towards a new place as it relates to their stories. To their circumstances. Of course, Scripture provides that place as we read and listen to God’s heart in His word for his people. Darby has done such a great job leading us to hear Him, even when His words have been misused.

When we return again in a couple weeks, we want to touch on relationship and the process of care and story.

You can learn more about Darby’s books and find a link to purchase in our show notes. For women wondering if what you are experiencing is domestic abuse, Darby’s book, Is It? Abuse is incredibly helpful. Those who minister in the church will also find her work beneficial.

Safe to Hope is a production of HelpHer. Our Executive Producer is Ann Maree Goudzwaard. Safe to Hope is written and mixed by Ann Maree and edited by Ann Maree and Helen Weigt. Music is Waterfall and is licensed by Pixabay. We hope you enjoyed this episode in the Safe To Hope podcast series.

Safe To Hope is one of the resources offered through the ministry of HelpHer, a 501C3 that provides training, resources, and the people necessary in order for the church to shepherd women well. Your donations make it possible for HelpHer to serve women and churches as they navigate crises. All donations are tax-deductible. If you’d be interested in partnering with this ministry, go to help her and click the donate link in the menu. If you’d like more information or would like to speak to someone about ministry goals, or advocacy needs, go to help her That’s help her

We value and respect conversations with all our guests. Opinions, viewpoints, and convictions may differ so we encourage our listeners to practice discernment. As well. guests do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of HelpHer. It is our hope that this podcast is a platform for hearing and learning rather than causing division or strife.

Please note, abuse situations have common patterns of behavior, responses, and environments. Any familiarity construed by the listener is of their own opinion and interpretation. Our podcast does not accuse individuals or organizations.

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Link to purchase any of Darby’s books.

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