Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s book Rid of My Disgrace dispenses grace to the victims of sexual assault through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have sought to give hope to the victims of sexual assault by encouraging them to speak positive self-statements about themselves. The Holcomb’s point out how this strategy short-circuits.
The following quote from their recent book holds true, not just for those suffering from having been sexually abused, but for victims in the widest possible sense:
Tragically, positive self-statements “have more impact on people with low-self-esteem than on people with high self-esteem, and the impact on people with low self-esteem is negative.” The consequences are that positive self-statements are likely to backfire and cause harm for the very people they are meant to benefit–people with low self-esteem.
What victims need are not self-produced positive statements but God’s statements about his response to their pain. How can you be rid of these dysfunctional emotions and their effects? How can you be rid of your disgrace? God’s grace to you dismantles the beliefs that give disgrace life. Grace re-creates what violence destroyed. Martin Luther writes that “the love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it.” One-way love is the change agent you need. Grace transforms and heals; and healing comes by hearing God’s statements to you, not speaking your own statements to yourself. (p. 45)
God’s word to you is more powerful than any kind of word to yourself. No matter what kind of a victim you are–be it from some kind of abuse or fraud or oppressive sin by another of any kind–God’s gracious word to you in the Scriptures and in His Son is always better than any self-statement you could generate about yourself.
Self-affirmation never goes deep enough to transform. The hope it kindles is too small because it is confined by self. On the other hand, the gift of the God of the universe redeeming you through the work of Jesus and making you his beloved child goes farther than self-affirmation ever would. Being for yourself is one thing, but God being for you is another thing altogether.
God’s revelation is infinitely more liberating than self-pronouncements. If you’re a victim go to the Scriptures and go to Jesus to find the healing that you really need.