Empathetizing with My Abuser

Dear Lovelies,

Yes, you read the title right. No, I haven’t lost my mind (not yet anyway). Just, let me explain.

During a conversation I had yesterday with a friend, I realized why my abuser left Christianity. It was because of people who claim to be genuine Christians but are hypocritical, graceless, and so close-minded to anyone who does not believe what they believe, or believes exactly as they do, that they damn them to Hell (his words, not mine). I used to tell him weak arguments like “Not every Christian is like that” and “You can’t blame God for what Christians do in His name.” Now I see the foolishness of those statements. While it may be true that not every Christian is like the ones described, enough of them are so that it turns people like me away from their message.

Here’s how the conversation went yesterday:

Me: How do you deal with nonbelievers?

Her: Pray for belief

Me: Why?

Her: That’s the only way to have hope and meaning in life, through Jesus. Without Jesus, there’s no hope.

Me: …So every atheist and nonbeliever is just slowly dying of depression and has no morals?

Her: Yes, because you can’t have hope without Christ!

Me (internally): I call bullshit

Me externally: Huh, okay.

Thinking about that conversation now, I have to chuckle. It’s funny, not in a hilarious way, but in a “this is the sad reality of many people” way. I didn’t start the conversation to argue with her, I just wanted her to think a little, but blind faith is powerful I noticed. The whole ordeal goes back to my last post. How can Christians expect those outside of their circle to come into the circle, if that be desirable, if they are graceless and close-minded to those who have a different mindset, or background, or methodology from them? In this, they often exclude the ones they’re trying to convert. I can speak with some authority on this because I used to be like that when I was a Christian. Now that I’m on the opposite side, I have to say, it’s quite frustrating. It’s similar to being institutionalized: When you’re in a mental hospital, you’re not a human, you’re a patient in need of controlling; likewise, when you’re a deconvert or nonbeliever, you’re not a person with your own story and ideologies, you’re a potential candidate for conversion.

So, where I could not empathize with my abuser previously, I do now. It’s an interesting realization. One that helps me see him as a whole person instead of “the man who hurt me.”  And ironically, or maybe not, it helps me be gracious and patient with those who are graceless towards me.

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