Educating others about the affects of abuse means teaching them about emotional handicaps. Often people nod their heads like the get the concept, but unless they have more than just a head knowledge about it they are missing the point.
When I was 16-20 years old I suffered from some significant knee problems and we wondered if I would ever find healing and be able to walk again. I spent over half of this time on crutches and most of the rest of it in braces, therapy, etc. When I was in crutches or braces people would look and me and know there was something physically wrong so I could not handle the same things other could. People would carry things for me, hold doors, drive, etc. to help make life a little easier.
What wasn’t seen during that time were the mental, emotional, and spiritual affects. People would ask if I was in pain, but they wouldn’t ask if I was scared about having another surgery, or having trouble balancing physical therapy with my college studies. This same thing happens with abuse. If there are physical signs of the abuse people can see them and have some level of understanding, however the deepest and most profound affects of any kind of abuse are the unseen areas.
I try to educate people that I carry emotional and spiritual handicaps that are not easy to see, but the handicaps limit my capabilities. They keep me from living with the same freedoms, ease, openness, and peace that others do. They limit my ability to function at the same level and in the same ways as others. I live every day trying to overcome those handicaps. Some days I am very successful, and other days I miss the mark by enormous measures.
Are we living aware of the emotional, mental, and spiritual handicaps of those around us? Are we tolerant and accepting of others limitations, not excusing things that can be changed and not refusing to challenge people to stretch and grow, but loving them for who they are? We aren’t Christ, but he knew exactly how to accept others where they were at and care for them beyond their handicaps. How are we learning to be like him?