What almost killed me in my early days of being a step-mom was my naïve belief that my step-kids would welcome me with loving arms. I felt sure that once my husband’s kids saw what true love was and got some guidance and structure that they would fall right in love with me. I mean who wouldn’t want that, right? And especially given where these kids came from and what they experienced, they would surely be thrilled to have someone in their lives who wasn’t manipulating, dysfunctional and emotionally unstable. Right away, they would be able to see what an asset I would be to their family.

What a cold hard slap in the face I received when after all of my attempts to help these kids mature beyond the emotional age of 6. They preferred to stay stuck in the dysfunction. They preferred to buy the lies. They actually preferred to be in a home where they were screamed at, used and taught to lie to their father.

The fighter in me was mad. No person, I don’t care how young, would choose to be treated poorly, mentally oppressed and emotionally attacked when they had the chance to get away. At least that’s what I told myself.

I spent years trying to figure out why this was until it nearly drove me crazy. I finally realized that what they were experiencing was no different than what many of my clients face on a daily basis. They are prisoners of their past.

Now, stay with me here, but it reminds me of countries that are under the oppression of an evil dictator.. These people were so oppressed and brainwashed that they actually believed whatever the dictators fed them. Have you ever noticed the number of people who weep and wail when their evil dictator is taken down? I confess, that has always baffled me.

I would have fought the feelings of wanting to kill this dictator myself. Ok, so maybe my feelings of anger rise up more quickly and fiercely than most but at the very least, I would certainly celebrate at their downfall. But many don’t.

What is it about the human mind that makes it so that people can’t see when they are being brainwashed? And worse, why can’t they recognize when a better way is presented to them?

It wasn’t until I remembered 2 Corinthians 4:4 that this preference for oppression made sense to me. It says: “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

In order for someone to experience the goodness that another has to offer they have to first believe that another way is possible. As long as we stay stuck in thinking, “This is just how things are” is exactly how long we’ll stay stuck in our situation.

But there is a better way. There is always a better way. Jesus came so that we could have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10). Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Jesus came to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18).

So, if you or someone you know is stuck in bondage, pray for their heart to be open to another way. Pray for their heart, mind and spirit to be open to experience the Zoe (God kind) of life. Because until that happens, they are likely to remain in bondage.

As for my situation, the same was true. Once my step-children got hold of the life that Jesus came for them to have, their eyes were open to seeing the evil all around them and they no longer allowed themselves to be trapped in a prison of dishonesty and someone else’s selfish agenda.

By:  Kris Reece, Counselor, Coach, Speaker