I would like to welcome everyone to the Spiritual, Emotional & Sexual Abuse Workshop. DvoraElisheva is our leader today. She is joining us from Israel.
Being raised in a Christian home did not protect Dvora Elisheva from physical, spiritual, or sexual abuse. As an adult, her memories were more like short video clips with significant parts of the plot missing. In 1982 she moved to Israel. She became friends with a Vietnamese-Chinese family that had found refuge in Israel during the Vietnam war. This led to her 20+ years of work amongst Chinese students, teaching English using the Bible as a textbook.
After having built up a successful life in Israeli hi-tech and within her spiritual community she met her husband over the Internet in 2006. They married in 2007 and she relocated to the US to be with him and a new ready-made family. In 2010 her husband died and in 2011 Dvora returned to Israel.
Well-acquainted with grief and loss, Dvora has been transplanted back and forth between America and Israel, is a Messianic Jew living in a land that views such faith as a betrayal, and plays an active role in a Chinese church in Israel.
She will be speaking. After she finishes speaking the floor will be opened for questions. There will be four sessions on Saturdays in January. January 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2017
Session 1: Accepting there are disconnects in our lives
(Getting past the fear…. Disconnection is not just about dissociative disorders — its about us being disconnected from the past, present, or hope for the future. Perhaps we have disconnected relationships, or our relationship with God seems bad. Perhaps it is memories, feelings, the refusal to deal with something… all these lead to disconnects in our lives… I will share scriptures that helped me move from fear of dealing with things to being willing to face things… )
Let us open in prayer…..
We ask Your mighty blessings upon this workshop and Dvora as she leads us. We ask that you break down all walls preventing people from entering the chat rooms. Bind satan and his minions. We ask that You fill this room with Your Holy Spirit.
In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Dvora, you now have the podium
Before we get started, I’d like to stress that I am with you on this journey to seek connection. If you’ve read my book, you saw that many strange and scattered events did indeed connect into a comprehensive whole. However, my story is not over yet, and I still have a lot to learn. I am not going to say I HAVE the answers, rather I will point to THE answer, that is the God who made us and loves us, and our common salvation in Jesus. I hope you all brought pens, paper, and your Bibles. You will need them.
I’d like to get started with a question for you to answer. Please write down synonyms that come to your mind for the phrase: “Disconnected Life” (on your papers)
Then, if you feel comfortable doing so, please your synonyms here with us.
Member #1 Distant
Member #2 99 sided peg in a 100-sided world
CIR Host confused
Member #3 lonely but not knowing it
DvoraElisheva These are great answers…
Member #4 fake
DvoraElisheva that too!
For me, disconnection can be synonymous with hiding. Sometimes disconnection is good. We “disconnect” from the world when we pray. This is good because we are CONNECTING to God. But in my past, and even in my present, disconnection came about because I did not want to connect what was going on around me. Sometimes I was not at fault for what was happening, but sometimes I was. I wanted to hide from the event, the memory, the feeling. I did not want to be connected with what had happened.
So now I have a question for you. What was the first major disconnect in the Bible?
Member #2 Adams blaming eve
DvoraElisheva Good, anyone else? Something BEFORE Adam blamed Eve?
Member #4 Adam and Eve hiding from God
Member #3 eve being tempted
Member #1 Eve blamed the snake
DvoraElisheva Adam and Eve hid from God. We will look at that in a minute. Now, what happened BEFORE they blamed anyone?
Member #2 guilt/shame
DvoraElisheva Yes, but something someone DID, caused the disconnect. What was it?
Member #3 disobedience
Member #4 Sinning against God, disobeying His commnand
DvoraElisheva VERY GOOD. Put simply, Eve disobeyed God.
Now what was the very first thing Eve did after SHE ate the apple? (well fruit, not neccessarily apple 😉 )
Member #1 Gave it to Adam
Member #2 gave it to Adam
NOW we have a combined response of the two… and I need to scroll to see who said it… maybe you can say it again. What did they BOTH do?
CIR Host blamed others
Member #2 both disobeyed
Member #4 Hid from God
Member #1 Hid
DvoraElisheva Exaclty – they hid from God.
Member #4 They wanted to try to pretend it didn’t happen
But most people don’t notice something else. They didn’t only hide from God. Their first response was to hide from each other… they noticed their nakedness and they needed to clothe themselves
The problem with disconnections is that, while they may be a natural reaction or result of sin (our own or against us), or a self-protective response to abuse, it leaves us feeling less than whole—spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and sometimes even physically.
All of these feelings combined make us want to hide. In my case, I hid from myself, from others, and I thought I was hiding from God. But just like Adam and Eve’s attempt to hide from God failed, so did mine. From their perspective they were in a very dangerous situation, hiding…
But how did God respond to Adam and Eve’s “disconnect”? Or lets look at it another way. Did God hide from Adam and Eve?
Member #1 No
Member #4 He actively pursued them, asking Where art thou?
You see, the problem wasn’t that God saw them. The problem was that Adam and Eve truly didn’t “see” what had happened. They had entered a new normal that they would pass on to all humankind. This new normal was separation from God. For most or all of us here, this is not new. We all know the account.
But sometimes we are quite unaware the implications for us. You see the disconnects in our lives can become a new normal too. This makes them dangerous for our well-being. We struggle with the feeling that something isn’t right, but we have no idea what it is. That is perhaps why we too long to hear God’s voice saying, “Where are you?” Yet when we hear Him calling to us, the disconnect is too big and we try to hide.
Let’s look at how God responded to the Adam and Eve disconnect (also known as the first sin).
I’d like you to open your Bibles to Genesis 3:8-13 and read it. I will type it in here as well, in case someone doesn’t have a Bible handy
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 So the LORD God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” 11 Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 Then the man replied, “The woman You gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13 So the LORD God asked the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate.”
I have a few questions I’d like to ask. Feel free to type your answers, thoughts/feelings to these questions. There is no right or wrong answer–but it will be interesting to see how we have different answers to the same question.
Think about HOW God responded to Adam and Eve’s hiding. Did God yell at them? Did God reject them? Try to “hear” God’s voice as he talks with them. Does he sound kind? Accusing? Angry? Sad?
Member #1 He was inviting
Member #6 maybe, He felt just disappointed
Member #5 He did not yell at them. But rather wanted to hear from them
Member #2 “Looking for the problem”
DvoraElisheva So why do you think God asked these questions? (He already knew the answers.)
Member #4 he was direct and looking for them to acknowledge the root of their disobedience immediately
CIR Host he wanted them to interact with him
Member #2 for them to realize what had happened and why
DvoraElisheva Spot on! All of you! 🙂
You see, God never stopped loving them.
Sometimes we don’t want to talk about the “disconnects” in our lives. But talking with someone, like God talked with Adam and Eve can help us identify our disconnections and to get a different perspective of what has happened. It can help us get out of the cycle of blame (they, or them, or ourselves), and focus more on the real issue—our response to whatever happened.
Like Adam and Eve, we suffer from the consequences of actions—those performed against us and those we have done. Yes, Eve was deceived and shame on the serpent… but she had to admit to her role in what happened. That could not have been easy. Adam, on the other hand, followed the path of least resistance and did what his wife suggested, then tried to blame her.
Adam and Eve had to hear God’s voice to understand what was really going on… and there were consequences, but now comes the important question: Did God ever leave them or forget them?
Member #5 never
Think about this… God never left them. Instead, He revealed their situation to them and then made a first promise for deliverance. There is no time to go into the full details, but the application is this:
God knows everything, EVERYTHING about you. Everything you know, and everything you don’t know. If God still loved Adam and Eve and never left them, we need to remember that God still loves us and will never leave us. Sometimes His answers and the consequences are hard.
For me (if you’ve read my book) it was terrible to admit that I had dissociated to the point that my behavior, emotions, and memories were impacted, to the point where I had created personas to hide behind. I did not want to admit that any of this was real. In my case, God used Proverbs 18:1 to show me what HE already knew, that I was disconnected quite literally and that it was destroying me.
“He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom.” (Proverbs 18:1 NAS95)
God may use a different verse for you and your situation. The thing I’d like to point out is this: Just as God already knew the answers to the questions He asked Adam and Eve, He already knows the answers to the questions in your heart, and the questions you don’t want to answer.
God is OK with the truth. God is OK with your “disconnection.” How do I know this? Because He was OK with Adam and Eve. By OK, I don’t mean that He thought this was good, excellent, and desired. Not at all. He was OK, because He KNEW it was going to happen and He had already prepared a path of redemption, not just for Adam and Eve but for all of mankind.
By OK, I mean, God already knows the truth. We are the ones running and hiding from it. We, like Adam and Eve are ashamed of our nakedness and run and hide and try to clothe ourselves in dysfunctional behaviors.
But if God had already been prepared for what would happen, and already had a plan of salvation prepared before Adam and Eve were ever aware that they would need it—how much more has HE prepared a plan of salvation for YOU in YOUR situation?
Member #5 wow
DvoraElisheva Big wow indeed.
Read these words of Jesus:
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:31–32 HCSB)
Note that Jesus is speaking to those who believe in Him. While Jesus was talking about the truth of who He is (the promised Messiah), these verses are equally true today for any area where we are trying to hide from the truth of how badly the disconnects in our lives are impacting us. But in admitting our helplessness, we allow God to do what He could not before, because we were pushing Him away.
The disconnects in our lives, be it dissociation (like I struggled with), addictions, bitterness, forgiveness, etc. are all useless fig leaves trying to hide our nakedness. We do not need to be ashamed of admitting our nakedness before God.
I’d like you to note something, it is only AFTER the questions/answers with God, and understanding the consequences of their sin, that God CLOTHED Adam and Eve with HIS solution: animal skins. Animal skins? This required the shedding of blood—the very first example in the Bible that points to our ultimate salvation through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross.
Is there something you’ve been struggling with? Perhaps you don’t want to accept that you have been abused. Perhaps you don’t want to admit that those computer games, romance novels, or “just one drink” are an addiction. You know what that thing is in your life.
The account of Adam and Eve is but one about disconnected people in the Bible, that can give us hope for something better (check out Abraham, Jacob, Judah, David, Tamar, and more). It all starts with accepting that there is a disconnect in our lives.
I’d like to take a minute for you to write down in your notebook, areas in your life where you are aware that you have been disconnected, or perhaps you just realized it as we met here today. If something has spoken to your thoughts, please record it now (in your notebook, not here), before you forget. I’ll give you a minute… this is only for you.
As I shared before, for me, the most difficult part was facing that I had a disconnection in my life.
I knew there was “sin” but I truly didn’t understand how sin had impacted me, my behavior, my relationships with people, or with God.
Member #6 sin?
DvoraElisheva By “sin” I mean how sin had impacted me, but also how I had at times responded sinfully…
I honestly didn’t see my “hiding” as sin. I was trying to protect myself… but it is God who is my protector.
CIR Host Here is Webster’s definition of “sin”:
Transgression of the law of God; disobedience of the divine command; any violation of God’s will, either in purpose or conduct; moral deficiency in the character; iniquity; as, sins of omission and sins of commission.
DvoraElisheva Does that make sense to everyone?
Member #1 Yes
Member #3 yes
CIR Host yes
Member #6 yes
Member #5 yes
Member #4 yes
Member #7 yes
DvoraElisheva I know this seems rather basic, but for me, this is foundational. If we cannot admit that there are “disconnects” in our lives, we can’t move ahead. …
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to admitting these “disconnects” is fear of rejection by others and by God.
All too often, other believers have hurt us, and we interpret their rejection of us as rejection from God.
Member #2 nods
DvoraElisheva This is why I took us all the way back to Adam and Eve. If God was not going to give up on them, He is NO WAY going to give up on you.
Member #5 yes
DvoraElisheva You are SAFE in coming before Him “Naked” because only He can give you the covering you need.
Member #1 Amen
DvoraElisheva Before we open this up to discussion, I’d like to pray. Would that be OK?
Lord Jesus, thank you for each person that is here today. The things we have discussed today are so basic. Some of them we’ve heard before. But I ask that you would help our hearts to hear in a new way today. We are so thankful that You are OK with the problems and disconnects in our lives. We know You aren’t happy about them, but You accept that they are there, and You already have a plan to show us how to live and get past them into a life of hope and being an Overcomer. Forgive us for hiding from the truth about how bad the disconnects in our lives are. We give You our shame, our nakedness, our pain, our fear, and ask You to make the path clear before us. Clothe us with the righteousness of Jesus our savior, and help us set out on a new path of truth. Thank You that You love us and will never leave is. We pray all this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Member #1 Amen
Member #3 amen
CIR Host Amen
Member #4 Amen
Member #6 amen
Member #7 amen
Member #2 Amen
Member #5 amen
DvoraElisheva Does anyone have any comments/questions?
Member #2 Just a comment… I never associated it with sin per se. But what I wrote on my pad was I always felt “set apart from” (not in a good way) because I was smart in school.
I never ever thought about that. But then your last statement how when we are rejected by others we tend to think we are rejected by God also which I have a lot of trouble with today…
Member #1 Wow
Member #2 I learned to “hide” how I really was.
Member #1 Thank you Member #2
DvoraElisheva Wow, thanks for sharing this Member #2… It makes me so sad to see how we as believers can hurt each other… I hope you will find God safer now…
Member #5 I have great confusion being the victim of abuse and me being a sinner…. how can a victim be a sinner? how can guilt and shame equal sin?
Member #2 nods
DvoraElisheva It’s a bit complex. …
Let me try to explain what I mean. We are not guilty of being abused.Abuse does indeed make us feel guilty and ashamed.
But once we accept Jesus as our Savior, we have a new protector.
And if it happened when we were believers, He was still there with us, suffering with us.
But when we let the guilt and shame disrupt our lives and lead to sinful behavior on our parts (hiding, not telling the truth, not being willing to trust God, or addictions like alcoholism or porn or gaming) to numbe the pain and hide from our guild… that is where the sin on our part comes in..
Member #6 WE ALWAYS HAD HIM, He is not a new protector
DvoraElisheva Member #6: True, but we only perceive Him as our protector when we accept Him (hence “new”)
Member #4 Sin enters our lives from so many different sources, our own and from othes
DvoraElisheva Gopher, you are so right… we live in a sinful world.
But you know, I don’t know if this helps…
Member #2 nods
Member #4 But our reaction to that sin can in and of itself be sinful … but that is very hard to sometimes accept and deal with. For me, this is mostly because of fear.
DvoraElisheva But have you noticed that NO WHERE in the New Testament are believers referred to as “sinners”, Only as Saints
Member #1 YES
DvoraElisheva yes, fear can do that
Look in your Bible as the openings to all the Epistiles. No where is it written, “to the sinners in Rome” to the sinners in Ephesus, etc.
To the saints!
Despite our sin and disconnects, God sees us as His saints…
There is a verse in 1 John, “Perfect love casts out fear.” I can’t tell you how many times I have mediated over that verse, and realized that perfect love is our savior Jesus and what He did for us… and so I hide in Him to escape the fear…
DvoraElisheva Member #1 you had a comment?
Member #1 Well a different one now, so hiding from him is hiding in fear and hiding from perfect love
DvoraElisheva Yup, it is
If there are no other comments/questions, I’ll turn this over to Obie to close. I want to thank you all for participating – actively. I really appreciate your honesty and I pray this has been an encouragement to you.
Next week we will look at how our healing is achieved thorugh cooperating with God… Thank you.
CIR Host our apologies for all of the connectivity issues today….
We hope that you will join us for the next 3 weeks of this workshop…..
and please do invite any friends you think may benefit from it….
in addition, we will set up an area in the CIR message boards for further discussion and questions….
Member #1 would you please close us in prayer today?
Member #1 Father God thank you for who You are
The great I am
I am that I am
Our teacher Lord our salvation, the light of our lives
Prince of peace, king of kings, Almighty God
And you call each of us Lord, your child
Child of the most high God
How blessed we are Father to be called yours
Belong to you, caught by Your Name
Name above all names
Lead us Lord from here, teach us God of how you connect us to each other, and even within ourselves
In your holy name we pray, and we praise and worship you
Who you are