Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

September 1, 2011

I totally love the honesty that comes across in a well known New Testament Bible story. It’s taken from Mark 9:14-27. A desperate father brings his son to Jesus for healing. In this passage, the text reports that the boy was demon possessed – but the symptoms certainly sound like grand mal epileptic seizures.

Regardless, the boy was in serious trouble and his dad was frantic. He explains the situation to Jesus and then states, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Jesus is a little sharp with his comeback when he said, “IF you can?” He goes on to tell the man anything is possible if he believes. The urgent father quickly replies, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

You see, this man had already been failed. He had already experienced dashed hopes. If you back up a few verses before this exchange, you’ll see that the father had already opened his heart and hopes that his son would find help. He took the boy to Jesus’ disciples. The dad really put himself out there by taking such a sick boy out in public. Just the fact that he did this and brought him to the disciples tells you this man had some degree of faith – or at least a little chutzpa!

I imagine he felt pretty foolish when the disciples delivered nothing. Zip. Nada. I imagine that his inside voices were laughing at him, chiding him for having the nerve to hope anything would change, and probably calling him stupid for expecting something other than a catastrophe.

That’s what happens when you experience dark things like abuse. That’s what happens when you were vulnerable and looked to family and friends for protection, but instead received abuse and exploitation. That’s what happens when you reach out for help later – help for your broken heart and body, help for your shattered soul and mind – and don’t get what you need. Those inside voices will scream bloody murder at you for actually having the audacity to expect anything but negative experiences and failure.

Abuse survivors can be a cynical bunch. We’ll usually only take risks – vulnerable risks – when we’re in so much pain we really don’t have many options left. We tend to be the “half-empty” crowd rather than the “half-full.” That’s because it’s easier to have low expectations or no expectations than to risk opening your heart up to being failed, used, or exploited again. We shrug our shoulders and say, “Ah . . . never mind.” We convince ourselves that we don’t want to bother other people or reveal our weaknesses.  Why? Because that’s a heck of a lot easier than putting your energies and heart into positive expectations. !

In other words, we generally snatch failure firmly from the jaws of success and expect the other shoe to drop – as the old saying goes. For example, if we find a partner who loves and respects us, we expect we’ll eventually be abandoned or betrayed. If we get a good medical report, we expect the doctor to call us back and say they gave us someone else’s results. If we set our sights on something that is completely within our reach – like an education, we expect the school to burn, the teacher to die, or the dog to eat our homework.

The double edged sword for abuse survivors is the desperate need to hope and the devastating reality that we have been failed and used by others. That’s the inner workings for most abuse survivors.

We’re so much like that terrified father who cried out to Jesus, “I DO believe!!” Then he followed it with extraordinary honesty, when he said, “. . . help me overcome my disbelief.”

That’s a great challenge for you in your journey beyond abuse. You measure your hopes and expectations today with the abuse and failings from the past. They are both legitimate realities and they must both be acknowledged or you will be paralyzed.

The battle for abuse survivors to be positive and hopeful is epic. Faith may come easily to some people, but for abuse survivors, it’s the story of this desperate dad every single day. But I want to point out that despite it all, that terrified dad showed up with his horrific reality, asked for help, was failed miserably by the disciples, and asked for help AGAIN until he found what he needed.

In your conversations with God this week, be honest. If you doubt and struggle, that’s not a news flash to God. If your faith is unwavering and strong, that’s not a news flash either. Either way, God gets it and somehow lifts us to our feet, like Jesus did with that sick little boy (Mark 9:27).
Written by Sallie Culbreth, Founder
Committed to Freedom – Abuse Recovery Solutions – providing people with holistic empowerment and spiritual tools to move beyond abuse and sexual trauma. This communication is provided for education and inspiration and does not constitute mental health treatment.  This communication does not constitute legal or professional advice, nor is it indicative of a private therapeutic relationship. Individuals desiring help for abuse related issues or other psychological concerns should seek out a mental health professional.


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