I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

You’re Responsible

In an adult Sunday school, I’ve been teaching a series on our bodies are God’s holy temples. (The Bible calls them that.) What surprised me was most class members remained passive about their physical health.

If you have a headache, take an aspirin. Aleve keeps it away for 12 hours. Restless leg syndrome? There’s a pill for that. Heartburn after eating spicy food? TV screens show several over-the-counter liquids and pills to remove the discomfort.

I noticed the TV ads for prescription medications. Many of them end with these words, “Ask your doctor for . . .”

I’m not against medicine or doctors. But I’m against being passive about our physical health.

I am responsible for my health. I have the right—the duty—the responsibility to take care of myself. Too often the sick passively put themselves into the hands of a professional and look for pills or surgery to take away their symptoms.

Instead of immediately seeking a professional, why not start by asking yourself: What is going on inside me that makes me ill? For example, instead of taking Tums or Nexium for acid indigestion, why not avoid spicy foods? It’s often that simple.

My reason for stressing responsibility is simple. If we truly want healing and to rise above our abuse, we have to work hard at it. Too many men give up and medicate themselves with frenzied activities or anti-depressants, or seek the therapist who can set them free.

As an illustration, I’m a professional writer and have taught in more than 200 writers conferences. One of the benefits to conferees is that they are able to set up appointments to talk with the professionals on staff.

Rarely have I gone to a conference without at least one writer showing me a manuscript that’s been rejected countless times. Instead of trying to figure out what they’re doing wrong, they keep seeking. One woman said, “I know that one day I’ll find exactly the right editor, and I’ll sell this book.”

It works like that with healing from our traumatic childhoods. I am responsible.

I am responsible for my own healing from abuse.


Andrew Schmutzer said...

SA is a good illustration of how we struggle (believers and non-believers) to live holistically with our bodies. On a spectrum, one group denies embodied realities of life as part of "the world, flesh, and devil," while the other end lives out their mantra of physicalism: "I am my body." Both are dangerous reductionisms.

As a Professor of Biblical Studies, and a survivor, your reminder is important at several levels: (1) there is no healing if we use a disembodied theology. The atonement also paid for our bodies which are slated for resurrection. (2) Our bodies are necessary for discipleship. We serve and live out our obedience to God THROUGH our bodies. (3) Pain is often viewed as failure and weakness. Because society has lost the dignity of the body (e.g., giving animals or robots 'human' rights). In Christian theology, we ARE the image of God, we don't possess it like a container. But because so many think this way, our bodies can be medicated and manipulated at our whim, since it's just a collection of chemicals...and it's MINE! ("You are not your own, you were bought with a price, therefore, honor God with your Body" 1 Cor. 6:20).

I teach a Sunday School class also, and I'm not surprised that even there it is a challenge on this topic!

Mark Cooper said...

For some of us, myself included, taking responsibility means including counseling and medication as part of our healing. For me, medication has taken the edge off of life-long depression so that I am able to face what needs to be dealt with.

I have run into some dangerous mindsets that say "Just trust Jesus" when it comes to dealing with depression and abuse recovery. This s the same mindset which would tell someone to throw their glasses away and "Just trust Jesus" for better eyesight. Or advise a heart patient to "just trust Jesus" rather than have a pacemaker installed, or tell the person facing a life-threatening illness to "just trust Jesus" rather than pursue medical treatment.

I am happy for all those who can pursue healing and recovery without needing medication or counseling, or the other supports that some of us need. I am also very thankful for wise doctors who use medication, not to "fix", but rather to help support those of us who need it. Were it not for medical intervention, I might have died.

There is not a "one-size fits all" for how each of us need to take responsibility.

Thank you Cec, for this thought provoking post.