“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
So often when I ask men to share with me how they came to be in a batterer intervention group I find they are eager to “set the record straight.” Generally speaking, most of the men I have worked with put forth a great deal of effort to convince me that they are in fact victims. Some will vacillate back and forth between excuses ranging from unfortunate circumstances to a feminist agenda bent on destroying families. Regardless of the rationale one truth remains consistent, they are being treated unfairly. The temptation for these men is to deny their own responsibility, usually by highlighting their partner’s problems. Many will insist she needs the class far more than they. Sometimes it may seem like I’m out to get them or that I’m unwilling to listen to their side of the story. The reality is that change will not happen in our own hearts as long as we continue to defend our own pride with lies or half-truths.
Put off Denial
Our pride convinces us that wicked behavior is sometimes necessary to maintain control or that malicious intent is justified when we feel wronged. This attitude may have led you to physically harm your partner or to call her ugly names. Perhaps you’ve thrown things across the room or punched holes in the walls to communicate you’re not pleased with her choices. If any of this is true than you may also find it necessary to hide certain details, bend certain truths to minimize your behavior while emphasizing the ways in which you’ve been wronged. This tendency toward denial is not going to help produce the change you really need. It’s a trap so devastating that it will not only destroy your relationship but will also ensnare your heart. I’m pleading with you to accept responsibility for your actions. Acknowledge the abusive behavior and the impact it has had on your partner.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:8-10
Change is a difficult and often times a lengthy process that requires, among other things, taking responsibility. You must acknowledge the truth about yourself and put off the denial. Would you be willing to speak truth to yourself today?
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25
If I were to ask you about your abusive behavior what would say? Would your story include statements like these?
“I’ve done nothing wrong!”
“She knows how to push my buttons.”
“This is all blown out of proportion.”
Let me encourage you to recount the story again, but this time only focus on your actions. Fight the temptation to justify them, excuse them away or gloss over them. Make a list of the ways in which you harmed your partner. Have you physically harmed her? Have you called her ugly names? Have you damaged her reputation with lies? Telling the truth will not fix everything that seems wrong in your life right now, but it is a far better choice than lying to yourself and others.
FYI: What I just described is NOT repentance. I am simply encouraging you to acknowledge your sin. For a more comprehensive process of change consider attending a men’s behavior change group in your area.
What do you think?
How significant is truth to the process of change for an abusive man?