Friday, February 20, 2009
Getting to Know author Karen Rabbitt
Have you been jaded by your earthly fathers "love"? Do you cringe when you hear that "God Loves you" because that word "love" meant nothing-or worse-when spoken by your earthly father? Karen Rabbitt, author of Trading Fathers-Forgiving Dad, Embracing God knows how you feel. In her soon-to-be-released book, she vividly describes her experience with her own abusive father as she explores questions such as “What kind of God are you, who stood by without rescuing me?” and “Where were you when I was abused?” In the end, God blessed her with faith to call him “Papa.” Her story will open your eyes to the abundant life Papa-God desires for you.
After earning her Master's of Social Work degree in 1986, Karen Rabbitt provided psychotherapy to Christian women until 2005. She has been published in Marriage Partnership and Today’s Christian Woman. A CLASS graduate, Karen speaks and leads retreats to feed our hunger for Papa-God's love. An Illinois mother and grandmother, Karen has been married to Jerry since 1972 and attends The Vineyard Church.
In regards to writing Trading Fathers, she elaborates on the experience:
Why did you write Trading Fathers and what did you hope to accomplish?
I wanted to encourage Christians to understand how our own experience with our fathers affects our ability to trust God. God is a true father who suffers with us. Also, in twenty years as a psychotherapist,I saw many people who did not know God loved them. I wanted to share my own story so people can see how I worked through anger, depression, and anxiety. I could show them, not just tell them, how to get free.
How would you define a dysfunctional family?
We could define dysfunction a number of ways. An emotionally healthy family can give affection and resolve conflict. An unhealthy family, a dysfunctional family, lives with lots of unresolved conflict and isn't very affectionate. The three rules of dysfunctional families are: don't talk; don’t trust; don't feel. Don't talk about what's really going on, don't trust anyone to have your best interests at heart, and don't feel your anger and sadness.
How does the relationship with our parents affect our view of God?
Our experiences with our parents set up automatic assumptions about how authority figures will treat us. If our fathers were firm but kind, we'll automatically, unconsciously, expect other authority figures, including God, to act the same way. If a parent is abusive, we will, mostly without realizing it, expect God to act in the same way.
What was the worst consequence of sexual abuse from your father?
The inability to trust. Sexual abuse is a gross violation of trust. If you can't trust your father, who can you trust? This is especially true of God, who calls himself our father.
How were you able to forgive your father?
Forgiveness is both a choice and a process. We begin by being willing or praying to be made willing. Find a Dozen Helps to Forgive on my website: www.trading fathers.com. I have also purposely and specifically prayed to better understand myself. The more we understand and heal from our own hurts, the more we have to give. I would never have been twenty years a psychotherapist or written this book if I hadn't prayed those prayers. I'd still be mired in the muck.
What is shame and how can we heal from it?
Shame is that sense that something is irremediably wrong with me. Not with what I've done--that's guilt--but with my core self. The subtlety here is that something really is wrong with all of us--that's what it means to live in a fallen world and to be fallen, ourselves. But nothing is especially wrong with you or me. If we feel ashamed, we have learned to feel that. We can unlearn it. Jesus takes our shame. Think about how your life would be different if Jesus had raised you. If he had put you to bed, greeted you after school, and eaten dinner with you.
What is trauma and what are the three keys to healing from the trauma of abuse?
Trauma is a shocking, painful, or distressing experience that overwhelms our ability to cope with it. If trauma is the result of another's sin, such as abuse, we need to first, call sin, sin. Choose forgiveness. Then, grieve the losses. We forgive the sin; we grieve the losses the sin creates.
Where is God when we suffer? Suffering with us. Isaiah 63:9 says, “In all their distress he too was distressed…” Matthew 25:40 says “The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (NASB) This suggests God’s closeness to those who are the least. Sometimes we are the “least of them.” Jesus wept with Mary and Martha at the tomb of Lazarus. He shared their suffering. How can he truly love us and not suffer with us?
Trading Fathers is due for release in March and can be purchased through WinePress Publishers or Trading Fathers website. Rabbitt is also scheduled to appear at the Christian Book Expo.