Updated: Sep 10
The “Silent Treatment” is common to many who’ve experienced abuse. It’s a weapon used to control or punish victims. Research has shown being ignored activates the same part of the brain that is activated by physical pain. This makes sense to me. We simply aren’t hard wired for this kind of mistreatment. God created us to be loved and enjoyed.
Growing up, my father regularly employed the silent treatment. His anger would be triggered by something I did or didn’t do, and would usually be followed by days of punishing silence. This had a profound effect on all of my relationships. I didn’t realize how much so, until I faced the truth about my past, and got some help.
Many of my relationships changed when I pursued healing. Some improved while others suffered or ended altogether. The broken road to healing was painful, and not everyone wanted to take the journey. This was devastating and there were days the hurt seemed unbearable.
One relationship that didn’t suffer, but improved was with God. While there were many reasons for this, the one I want to focus on today relates to the silent treatment. As I healed, it became apparent that I had an unhealthy fear of disappointing God. When I made a mistake, I found myself filled with anxiety and afraid God was going to withdraw.
I have a close friend, a fellow sojourner, who had a different experience growing up. Her father was very loving, kind, and more closely demonstrated the character and qualities of Father God. She was able to help me connect my unfounded fears with my past mistreatment.
How about you? Do you equate God’s silence with anger? Do recent events like the Covid-19 pandemic, inner-city riots, or the deepening political divisions make you wonder where God has gone? Are you afraid he has abandoned you? Is this what others have done when they’ve been disappointed in you?
Recently, God has directed me to the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a prophet commissioned by God to give a difficult message to his people. He was to accuse them of rebellion and idolatry. Israel who once vowed to love and worship God alone, had strayed. They had removed God from the throne of their hearts and allowed other gods to take his place.
In America, something similar has happened. As a nation, we have rebelled against God and are guilty of worshipping false idols. Materialism, sports, sex, celebrities, physical appearance, careers, and money have become first place in our lives. As a result, we are experiencing some of the same things Israel did: escalating division, social injustice, and violence.
What can we learn from this comparison? Although Israel’s rebellion led to persecution and captivity, God didn’t abandon or ignore them. Instead, we know that when they were exiled to Babylon, God went with them into captivity. In a dramatic vision seen by Ezekiel in prayer, God’s glory and presence on the throne was lifted up out of the temple in Jerusalem and carried by winged creatures on wheels to the East, to Babylon.
God is with us. Even when we are unfaithful, God remains faithful. This is our hope. The Bible says that God’s mercies are new every morning. Like a loving father, he waits, and is eager for us to turn our hearts back towards him. Nothing will change his love for us, it is unconditional.
This may be very different than what you have experienced in past relationships. It may be hard to believe! But it’s true. No matter what happens to the world around us, God home will always be with his people.
Feel alone and afraid
Know the pain of the silent treatment
Don't know where to turn
“I understand. I get it. I’m here for you.
Run to me and let me comfort you.
I am safe, I'm not like the others.
You can talk to me like a friend.
I'll go through this with you”
If you have questions about how to stay connected to God, visit laurelbahr.com and submit your email. I'll send you a coupon for a consultation. I'd love to spend some time with you.....You have a friend in me.
You can also read how God rescued me and two of my best friends in our new book Love Gone Wrong, Living Happily Ever After as Survivors of Abuse. Order your copy @ laurelbahr.com/shop