In this week’s episode, we want to uncover the victim mentality and expose how it keeps us trapped from moving forward in our transformation and fruitfulness. All of us face obstacles and limitations that seek to keep us from moving forward. Eventually, many get weary and give up. Or they simply stop pressing forward with the same resilience. This is where the victim mindset comes in.
One of the enemy’s greatest assignments is to simply wear people out so they do not reach their full potential. He uses our past pain to keep projecting a hopeless or negative outcome so that we do not apprehend what is ours. Those unhealed areas of our life give him freedom to replay those recordings of limited living, keeping us as victims, rather than rising up as overcomers.
As we address this subject, we will be challenged to take responsibility for our lives, where we can realize that our thoughts, beliefs, decisions and actions are more powerful than we realize. Are you feeling trapped by your circumstances? Chances are you are living as a victim. This week’s episode will uncover what keeps us trapped in this vicious victim mindset.
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What Keeps us Living Like Victims
Mark: We want to uncover this, we want to address this and really unravel what keeps us trapped. Are you listening to this and you’re trapped by a situation? What needs to happen? Your goal is today, we’re not going to cover this subject in it’s entirety, we’re going to kind of get to the why so that people can start moving forward in a new place. What are your thoughts when the word victim or victim mentality comes up?
Melissa: When I hear the word victim I think it makes me do a Rolodex of my own life and things that we have been through and I think if I could pull out one word when it comes to the victim mentality, even just for myself and other people I’ve shared with and talked to is not feeling safe. Not feeling safe feeling like, “Okay God, where are you in this? Do you see my circumstance,” and then the hopeless hook just takes you and you’re like, “Forget it. God’s forgotten about me. There’s no way out of this. This is just what happens to me. This is the pattern of my life,” and you fall underneath that and stay stuck there.
Mark: What comes to mind for me all the time, whether it’s working with people or in my own life, is that certain traumatic events or situations that were really disappointing, they become replays because really when we talk about a victim mentality, most people have victimized to some degree. They may…
Melissa: I don’t think they’ve even realized it, actually.
Mark: Some can see it and they go, “Okay, I was abused physically, verbally,” and whatever…
Melissa: Stuff we consider the bad stuff that people would point out.
Mark: Sure, and those things are definitely … They strip us of our ability to see our identity and be hopeful, but then there’s the subtle ones that we don’t see, where there was passivity in our homes, where there wasn’t love and that’s very traumatizing. We look at situations where things have happened to us and now they become our anchors, they become our references for how we see life. We don’t realize it until the next obstacle occurs. If life goes easy for us, we don’t tend to deal with those things, but then the resistance comes up and it goes, “Hey, you don’t have this area strengthened.” It’s the enemy’s way of killing us. It’s God’s way of actually raising us to the next level. I think back to when we we’re first married and we had incredible faith for what God could do because of what He did and changed our lives.
Melissa: That’s very true, we did.
Mark: I remember 10 years ago, we’re celebrating 10 years this year of what you and I have ventured out and obviously I’ve been in ministry over 20 years, but when you and I got married in 2006, I remember this mindset hit us like a bowling ball to the head. We ventured out and we took huge steps of faith, stuff I wouldn’t even recommend people to do, it was just..
Melissa: That’s true, we wouldn’t.
Mark: We were so, “We’re going to do this.” I left a very stable staff position and ventured out from scratch. All new relationships, new contacts..
Melissa: New marriage, everything. Literally within weeks of each other.
Mark: I remember you and I struggling with this depression, despair, lack of energy. We were going to the doctor trying to figure out what was wrong with us. We couldn’t seem to get the ability to just get up and just go about the day because there a lot of things that hit us. There was a lot changes, there were a lot of relationships that kind of fell through, there were some that just didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to. It was all a part of the process of the new journey, but at the time you’re still kind of grieving it and we’ve had many of those transitions, but this one was like, it really caused me to recognize how much I did think as a victim and I did posture myself in going, “Somebody help me. God help me. I’m powerless. I’m helpless. I need somebody to do it for me.”
Melissa: I think too what needs to be spoken about what you were just saying about that time in our life, and I think this is very true for a lot of, I would even say the church world, that we either go through a season where maybe we’re in an environment where there’s a momentum and you’re around things moving and healing and growing and you’re in a momentum with somebody or you get in a church service you get in an atmosphere and you feel this momentum of change and you hear people’s testimonies and you become part of it and maybe you’re intertwined in it for a while, and then you go, “I’m going to do this and I’m going to step out,” and that was a big part too of where we had landed, is that we were in a momentum of some real beautiful change and healing in our life and then when we went, “Okay, we have to move in this direction for our life. We need to change things, we need to do this,” and then that momentum stopped, or the people that were on that ride with us didn’t come with or there were certain circumstances around that, it really brought out how we dealt with life, how we thought about things. It was a pressure cooker of like, what are you going to do with this right now?
Not Prepared for Spiritual Resistance
Mark: So true. I think that we were not prepared for the amount of spiritual resistance we’d come up against by taking this step, because people see, “Hey that person or hey that person … I’m going to do it.” I think if there was one piece of advice I would have given myself in that time, future Mark talk to past Mark, if I could fly through the space time continuum, the thing that I would say is only one thing is, “You just got to patient. This is going to take longer than you think and be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself,” because there’s like this, “Oh my goodness,” wham, wham, wham, wham, but I had to learn that, that victim thing and that self pity and that position of I can’t break forward was so thick and I’m watching thousands of people fall into that trap. It is the blanket plague on culture today.
Melissa: It really is.
Mark: That is, “I want to step out. It’s not working so I quit. I stop putting investment into it. It just didn’t work out,” the marriage just didn’t work out, the businesses, it just wasn’t for me, this thing that I’m stepping into or this relationship or that church,” the list goes on and on. I find what is classic victim mindset is we look at outward as the reason why we’re not moving forward instead of looking inward that there needs to be an upgrade to how I think and how I see things and how I act that needs to change. There is a shift in culture that we have to stop seeing ourselves as powerless. A victim sees themselves without any choices, without any options and being powerless, and it’s a lie because we have the kingdom of God available inside of us and every time we come into agreement with that thing … I know you and I we’ve honestly wrestled through that because..
Melissa: We’ve had to fight hard under some yucky yuck.
Mark: There is a value that you and I have carried that is, God is supernaturally powerful, mighty and does today what was in the word. We believe in that. We don’t believe in an archaic new testament that has died out. We believe when we read it, it’s relevant for us in the here and now. What we have had to wrestle through is the journey and process that’s involved with it and there can be a place where you become mad at God, and I know I have struggled with that of just being mad and frustrated with God because it’s like, “Come on, I need you to pull through and give me that edge, I need you to pull through.”
Melissa: We need that healing. We need that check. We need that whatever to get right.
Mark: We could have litany of reasons and lists and all these things of reasons why. “God this is why we really feel like this needs to happen.” I want to take a minute and just take a quick break and when we come back I want us to kind of begin to look at why are we living as victims? Let’s get to the why and then maybe we can put some handles on as to how we can start getting free.
Addressing a Victimized Past
Mark: As we look at this probably the biggest reason why I would say we live as victims, you can jump in, we can kind of go and back forth, but I think the biggest reason why we live as victims is because our victimized past. We have situations where we were not loved properly. We were not given what we need.
Melissa: We were not step up a lot of the times for success and I use to look at those kind of families, back when I was younger and a teenager, that I think I didn’t have the words to articulate it back then but I watched then have confidence when they walked out on the soccer field or baseball field and held their shoulders tall and there was something that they new about themselves that I envied. I didn’t know what it was though, I thought, “Well I’m just broken. I’m just yucky. It’s just me,” but there was stuff that they were given in the process being raised into adulthood that you are worth something. You’re voice is worth something. You have value and they carried that and a lot of us just didn’t. It’s not to shame our parents and blame our parents and we always hammer this, we need to have a recognition of what we didn’t have so that we can pursue what we need.
Mark: Right. I think that, that recognition can’t be something that we sit in too long. We need to grieve, we need to process the brokenness but I think sometimes we just sit in that and here’s some one of the identifiers that I feel like really shows this victim thing is, when people look at someone who is having breakthrough, call it success or just whatever, something that’s going well in their life, the victim says, “See, they have money. See, they have a good..”
Melissa: That’s a easier because they have that and they have that.
Mark: Here’s the classic one that we get from people, that you get all the time is, “See, you have Mark. You’re married to him.” Therefore there’s this thing that puts on you, that you don’t really have the problems I have because you’re not married who I have to … They fail to recognize, no you have stuff they don’t have to deal with that you have to overcome that they may never have to face. Victims..
They want to create some type of reason why you’re successful, you’re showing breakthrough and I’m not. It’s an exterior circumstance you had. You had a good father, therefore you had … You had money in your family. You grew up as a pastors kid, or you grew up with … People, they look at Donald Trump for instance, whether you like him or not, that’s not the point, but they go, “He was set up with a million dollar loan to do his business because of that, that’s why he’s a billionaire.” There’s hundreds of other people who have been given million dollars and are bankrupt and broke. We come up with these reasons why people are breaking through.
Focused on What You Don’t Have
Melissa: It’s true and I think too, just a quick little point I was going to make is that, in our victimness, we cannot celebrate someone’s success and so people … They take it and twist it, “Well, you have Mark,” instead of going, “Wow, that’s amazing that you waited for someone like him.” We can’t celebrate for anyone else in what they do have. We always look at it as what I don’t have.
Mark: Correct. That’s what victims do, they’re focused on what they don’t have rather than the potential and we really need to see that if somebody has a break through in an area that we long for, that paves the way for us. It’s God’s way of showing you what’s possible but instead victims go, “See, it doesn’t happen for me,” and I really think people have not understood what it takes to break through. We tend to gravitate towards three easy steps where someone who just pray for us, or someone who can just give us a quick word, something that will ease the process and we’re always trying to avoid that fact that it’s hard, it’s hard, the journey’s hard. It’s not easy and yes Jesus said, “My burden is easy. My burden is light,” but he didn’t say this is going to be a cakewalk. There is a resistance, there’s a war going on and I think that at we’re trying to always eliminate the hard investment.
Do You Want to do the Work?
Melissa: Right, eliminate the work. No one wants to do the work. I think that’s why people are falling away from churches. They’ve gotten in too many prophetic lines and wanted another word or lay your hands on me. That hasn’t worked, I’m doing air quotes, that hasn’t worked and they go, “Well, forget then God’s forgotten about me,” and they stay in the victim mode instead of going, “What can I press into? What do I need to grow in? What do I need to go to advance myself, my mind, my spiritual growth,” all those things. No, we look at the, “I want it given to me. I just a touch, I just want somebody to read my mail and tell me..”
Mark: Somebody do it for me. Here’s a helpful thing. I want everyone listening to think about where their limitations are. Usually all your limitations have the same theme to them. There’s a similar theme, there’s a thread in there and what they do is it’s a fence in your life. Imagine a circle that’s kind of engulfing you. It’s a fence around your life and it’s creating a limitation and as you go to each area of the fence, there’s a different situation but the same theme. You look maybe at your husband or you look at your job or you look at things at church, whatever, or your finances, there’s usually a common theme throughout and until that theme is addressed, that thing, that circle becomes a wall around your life but once you break through in one area, the whole circle becomes this membrane that stretches.
Melissa: That’s so true.
Mark: Not only is it a problem, not only is it a resistance, a wall, it’s your comfort zone, it’s the area … Most people as victims, they becomes comfortable in the prison they’re in, in their surroundings and they don’t stretch, they don’t break out so therefore, their resistance becomes their master.
Melissa: Right, they just want the red cross to rescue them, basically.
Mark: It dictates their life and dictates their journey. The key is, is what is the thread that keeps pushing back and keeps winning that I need to break through, and usually it takes a spiritual act of repentance, breaking agreement with a faulty belief system..
Melissa: Yes, because we have to recognize that.
Time for an Upgrade
Mark: It usually takes an act to break the thing, like maybe something you step out into. Maybe it’s a declaration, you make accountable with your friends.
Melissa: Something you stick to and do it.
Mark: Or a pattern that you fall into and that you break and start establishing a new one, which is something I’ve learned is that the enemy is very cunning in the sense of that he will a and then a hits b, c, d, it hits dominoes. You have a certain thing that goes..
Melissa: Right. He doesn’t stop and go, “Oh, look at him. He really wants to get ahead, I’m just going to back off.”
Mark: He increases the heat and he keeps hitting that domino and it’s actually spiritual attacks are very simple, just hit one thing and it hits a bunch of others and then we start falling into this place of feeling like everything’s falling apart, everything’s not working, I don’t know how I’m going to break through. I think that we have to start shifting our perspective. We have to look at every problem that we have as an invitation for upgrade.
Melissa: That’s such a good statement. Can you say that again?
Mark: We have to look at very problem in our life as an invitation for upgrade.
Melissa: It’s so true.
Mark: It’s taken me years to build this in my system. It’s a conditioning I’ve had to work through but it’s like I’ve had to look at instead of like, “Oh, woe is me. This thing, it just never stops.” I’ve had to look what is possible in my life if I can truly overcome this and this is one of the things that I had to shift and change. I had to stop focusing on circumstances changing and I had to focus on me changing, and when we pastured I spent most of my work with the people changing that focus, and some did a great job of that and they soared, the ones who didn’t, did not soar. They stayed the same, they struggled because constantly, their circumstance with their trigger, it was their source, “How’s the marriage going? How are the kids going? How are our finances going? How’s the business going?”
They’re always looking to that instead of saying, “God, do the internal upgrade,” and that’s something I admired about the apostle is that, in the bible, there was never a situation that took them out. It may have tested them, tried them, they have have gone through struggles, but they could be in prison, soar, and notice they’d be in prison and you see things where earthquakes, the doors open up and we say, “How did that happen,” some people would say, “Because they praised God.”
Paul and Silas praised the Lord and the praise brought it in. Yes, okay, I get that. There’s some people that say, “It’s their prayer.” I think it was their internal reality broke open their external reality. It’s like this thing ain’t going to win, this thing ain’t going to win. I believe our circumstances give way to what’s really inside of us.
Melissa: That’s really true.
Mark: I’ve learned to make that shift and sometimes I do it well. Sometimes I do it horribly and I find myself … Whenever you find yourself complaining, being negative, being down and having hopelessness, you’re giving into victim. One of the most powerful teachings I’ve done that I get the most feedback from is actually an old teaching I did about 6 or 7 years ago, it was on rejection and that end of the session I had everyone stand to their feet and I had them declare from their gut, right here from their chest, not up here just kind of wimpy talk, but right from here, “I am not a victim,” and I’m like, “Say it again. I am not a victim.” By the end of it I’m having them yell and it was interesting the feedback I got from people who brought that resource and for those of you that are partners, it’s in the partner site somewhere in the archives, but at the end of it, “I am not a victim,” because anytime you look at the circumstance and point to that as a reason you’re not growing, victim, victim, victim. Everyday we have to train ourselves to go, “Okay, this is where my husband’s at. This is where my wife’s at. This is where my kids are at.” This is where my money’s at. This is where this is that. I’m going to rise up. I’m going to change.” It’s very, very challenging.
That was a big for me. I got to stop focusing on the circumstances changing so I fell better.
Shoving Down the Pain and Accepting a Lack of Change
Melissa: I think too a subtle thing that I know for me I’ve had to really work through and I think is a massive part of our culture is not thinking about it all. We’re shoving it down, shoving it down, we’re trying to just numb out … Really we’re living as victims because we’re not dealing with anything. We’re really accepting that nothing is going to change. We’re not confronting it. We’re not dealing with it, not dealing with ourselves and we’re just really going along in life, and really that’s a victim mindset too of, “Nothing’s going to change. I’m not going to think about it. I’m going to numb it out.” That sucker will come around and bit you real hard because it doesn’t ever just numb out, it doesn’t ever just leave you alone. Your circumstances are in front of your face and it does take … There are some times where you’re going to have to scream and cry it out and even fight it out with God to overcome this thing so that you break that cycle.
Mark: Right, there’s the pain thing. We got to face the pain. We got to cry through it. We got to grieve through it. A lot of people even that I’m coaching, I’m really encouraging them go to the pain, go there. Stop running from it or blaming others or saying … I think that to add to what you’re saying too, we have a dysfunctional view of God. We have this view, “God, I’m here and I am helpless,” and even I feel like we sing songs too. “I am broken, desperate. Lord, I’m nothing without you.” These kind of like.
Mark: You know when I was a youth pastor, this was a long time ago, we use to sing this song, “I, I’m desperate for you.” You know this..
Melissa: The melody of that song is really awesome.
Mark: Awesome. Great song. Great heart and I’m not bashing it, I’m just saying that victims, when they sing that song, they sing it in “I’m desperate for you.”
Mark: I’m telling you I would do it, “Oh God, I just need you.” This kind of like, “I can’t help myself,” and that’s not the gospel. The gospel is the good news that’s come to you. You’re no longer a prisoner. You’re no longer a slave. Stand up and you get yourself out of prison and God works with you in your freedom.
Mark: There’s this message that I give when I go to a lot of churches about … It’s an Isiah 61 message and there’s a process in Isiah 61 where he says, “The spirit of the Lord’s upon he. He’s anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to bind up the wounds, to proclaim deliverance to the captives..”Mark:
“The opening of the prison,” listen to this, the proclamation of freedom then after that, the opening of the prison. No where in there is God coming in and pulling you got of prison. That’s our thought process. We think God comes in, he takes us by the wrist, and he pulls us out. No, he just tells us we’re free and then the prison doors open.
Mark: You’re sitting there as an prisoner and those doors are open and He told us you can go free. Victims go, “No I’m not.”
Melissa: “No God, give me your hand. Help me through.”
Mark: “Come and meet me because you’re all I need because you’re all I want.”
Melissa: “Tell me what the next 10 steps are and I’ll do it and then wait before you do it, after you tell me I still need a confirmation.”
Mark: Yes. We have really good victim voices, don’t we?
Melissa: We’ve been down that road and seen mane down that road.
Mark: Then we get stuck in, “Okay, is this God or is this me?” It’s like, come on step up and step and God..
Melissa: Will meet you in it.
Mark: He works with those. It’s all about faith and when you engage your faith God’s there. Don’t question it. Don’t hesitate.
Melissa: You know what? Actually, I’m going to stop saying God will meet you in it because that sounds cliché. I actually need to take more of a stand when I’m talking about that or even thinking about that. I’m having an epiphany right now as we’re..
Melissa: I’m having healing people right here.
Mark: Boom. Shakalaka.
Melissa: It’s because I think there’s still some churchy things that we all have been kind of indoctrinated in that we mentally think through, we pray through that we have to get rid of. That is one thing that I just had a aha moment.
Mark: What are you going to change it to?
Melissa: I need to change it from God will meet me to you know what, no I’m stepping in it, He’s there, He opened the doors for me the door is open, I can step through it, I have what it takes, I’m an over … Which in times past I think that in a surging moment, this goes back to what I talked about in the beginning..
Melissa: We get into these postures in church or with friends, we get into a prayer group and we get so riled up and then we go home and life is in front of our face and we fall into the old things if we aren’t truly making change and aren’t truly letting the word be engrafted into our spirit, really being taken in to who we are.
Mark: That’s right. Absolutely.
Melissa: Okay, I went off for a minute. Go ahead.
Mark: This is great.
Breaking Out of Victim Traps
Mark: I think we’ve done a decent job in breaking down some of the why’s. Should we get to a how to or do we need to kind of stretch out some more of what we just addressed because I think the shift needs to happen.
Melissa: I think some how to’s would be great. Let’s give people some practical things that they can apply today when they go, “Okay, that all sounds great. Yes, I get it, I do that, what do I need to do?”
Mark: Two things, number one is take a pad of paper, pencil, computer, whatever it is..
Melissa: Be a student. Become a student.
Mark: I want you to list out the circumstances in your life that keep coming up against you. Find those areas that you find are limiting, they’re just resistance, they’re just area’s that are challenging to you that you tempted to give up, to quit, or whatever. Then, write down the limiting beliefs. What are the belief systems that keep feeding that? Write down the areas that keep continuing feeding that cycle. I also, in addition, I’m giving a bunch of things but this is a podcast, you can pause it and write it down, also in that is write down the questions you keep asking because I found if I keep asking the same question and I’m frustrated and the questions are, “Why God? Why me? Why this? Why aren’t you,” those are dead end questions. I found if I shift the question things come alive in me. For example, ask God, “God, why is this happening?” For instance with our son, “God, why is Max manifesting autism? Why? What’s going on? Why are you putting us … What is …. Why aren’t you hearing us..” Stop. Stop. Stop. I need to shift the question and a great way to shift a question is, “God, what is possible in this situation if I think like an over comer.” Now I see an invitation in Max’s struggle to raise up in who I am as a son before my Father in heaven, and therefore that translates into my fathering.
A lot of times shifting the question of what’s possible here? We have a hard time shifting that question because it’s like we don’t believe in who God is in us.
Melissa: And ourselves.
Mark: That’s what I’m saying who God is in us, in our identity. That’s a start and then I begin setting down declarations that feed into breaking those limiting beliefs. Every limiting belief, create a declaration that crushes it and the biggest one is start off with, “I am not a victim.” Get up everyday and declare it in your home. Say from your chest.
Melissa: Right. That’s what we tell the kids. That’s what we tell the kids. They love it.
Mark: Our kids are … We’re not having them declare I’m not a victim, that’s..
Melissa: Max has had to sometimes because he has some..
Mark: You’re right.
Melissa: He has had some pity stuff.
Mark: As a daily declaration we, “I love myself. My mom loves me. My dad loves me. God loves me.”
Melissa: I have what it takes.
Mark: Then Abby throws in, “Jesus too loves me and the Holy Spirit.” I’m like..
Melissa: She is … Yes.
Mark: I’m like, how do you … You’re getting theological with me in our declarations.
Melissa: The kids will be empowered and they’ll hear what you’re saying.
Mark: Absolutely. Start shifting your language because a victim feeds his or her garbage by continually validating it with their words and it’s good to recognize it. I’m not an advocate for denial, I’m not an advocate for it’s not there. A lot of people are in that and I got no time for that because you can’t recognize your brokenness. I want to work with people who recognize their brokenness but now what, and I have to start utilizing my words to leverage where I’m headed. I declare two things, who I am and where I’m going. This is who I am. This is who I am, this is what … I had this song come into my head. What is that?
Melissa: That’s Newsboys.
Melissa: Such a great song.
Mark: I’ve been born again … That’s what it is, born again. There’s this sense that you need to get yourself into a place everyday where you spiritually, mentally, physically engage this.
Melissa: You have to.
Mark: I’m an over comer. I’m an over comer. I’m an over comer. I’ve learned to train my neural pathways to come into belief..
Melissa: You really have. I’ve been processing a lot of this stuff so I..
Mark: Dude, so am I. Please. You talk like..
Melissa: I just want people to understand we are not perfect in this. You lead our home in awesome ways. Listen, you do everything that you say and you give people in advice of. You don’t ever give people advice on something you haven’t done and I am a recipient of that but I don’t always process it out in due diligence the way that I could because I will say there is part of me that I do have the struggle. I go back and forth and I am processing out that yucky side of me.
Mark: I don’t want to give this portrayal either that I don’t..
Melissa: You’re not always like a shinning star, get up in the morning, hit the grown, “Baby let’s do this. I’m an over comer. I’m not a victim.” You have your moments too.
Mark: I wake up a lot of times with the grumps but it’s what I do with it and shaking it off and set the compass.
Melissa: That’s the point is you do say, “I have to step in and activate where I’m headed.” You do.
Mark: A week and a half ago I came home and was like on the floor. I was like Michael Scott when his girlfriend broke up with him and he’s laying there..
Melissa: The office people, it’s the office.
Mark: If you never watched the office you won’t get it. Where he’s laying there and he’s like, “Pam, how do you make the bad thoughts go away?” He’s just laying there. I’m like yeah, I’ve been in that same spot where it’s not, “It’s never going … I don’t what it’s going to take,” and I think you have to give room for those moments and I do, we both..
Melissa: We do give room. You have to go to weep before you can have the joy in the morning.
Mark: Sometimes you and I spiral at the same time.
Melissa: Which is not good.
Mark: Which is not good. Sometimes you and I spiral at different times and that’s interesting where you’re going up and I’m going down.
Melissa: I’m like, “Oh, Mark’s good. Let me just take a dip right now. Let me go low.”
Mark: Then I rise up and you’re like, “Yeah, I’m stilling working through that,” and I’m like, “Wah wah,” but what do you do after all that, where you whine, complain and you do that, it’s like now what? Make the shift and make the change.
Melissa: You got to live. We want fruitful living, baby.
Mark: We pray this has been a blessing to your life and we know that you’re going to be empowered. Send us your questions but start walking the stuff out.
Melissa: Yeah. You are not victim.
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