John 21:20-22, “Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” (21) When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” (22) Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!””
The Lord Jesus’ words to Peter contain a vital lesson for every Christian. Namely, that Jeff is the only person who can follow Christ for Jeff! (insert your own name). I cannot follow Christ for you, nor can you follow Him for me. Jesus gives His inviting command to each of us individually. I cannot even answer it for those whom I love the most. Not for my wife, or my daughter, or my son. I can encourage. I can set the example. But in the end I must set my eyes upon Christ and follow Him. I hope and pray that my family and friends will do the same, but they must decide themselves.
When you live with an abusive person, you live for that abusive person. His goal is to force you, through an arsenal of tactics both psychological and physical, to make him the default setting for every area of your life. He must be “true north” on your mental compass. Your planets must revolve around him. “What will he want for dinner? Don’t have the radio on when he gets home – he hates that. Be sure his coffee and his favorite mug (pre-heated) are there as soon as he gets up.” And on and on. Things like this, done freely and out of love for a loving spouse are wonderful. But wonder doesn’t have anything to do with it in an abusive situation. Except the continual wondering. It’s all quite intentional on his part. When you wonder, when you don’t know, when you are always on edge…. your thoughts are given to him. And that is what he wants.
Trying to see through the fog and deception of his façade isn’t easy. But, in the end, we must leave him to the Lord and follow Christ ourselves. After all of the turmoil and chaos, the years of uncertainty, of giving themselves to their abuser’s service, it is my opinion that Christian abuse victims are actually setting their eyes upon Christ and following His call when they ultimately confront the abuse and depart from it. Ironic, isn’t it? The very actions that are so often labeled as sin by her fellow Christians turn out to be obedience to her Lord. “YOU follow me!”
Because in the end, we must turn our eyes away from everyone else, fix our focus upon the Author of our faith, and walk in His tracks. We cannot follow Jesus while constantly looking back.
Romans 14:11-12, “for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (12) So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”