A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

The relational cancer of abuse is not like the common cold

By an anon reader —
I wrote to you many months ago, shortly after leaving my N.A. (narcissistic abuser) husband. I was deeply troubled by the responses of several of my good, Christian friends who told me that they believed I was being abused but that I was not perfect, either, and I did act like a victim.

As I have now had several more months of experiences (with the N.A. and the friendships), and several more months to reflect on the 11 years of marriage and how so often I beat my head against a wall, wondering why these women who said they loved me as a sister seemed so nonchalant about my pain, I have come to yet another realization that I thought some other women might be able to relate to.

You see, it has become to apparent to me, that while I believe these women truly did love me to the best of their ability, and really do love the Lord, while I was describing the events of my daily life to them over the years, what I was describing was a daily norm and a terminal “cancer” of my marriage and my own spirit —  but what they were hearing was situational; just another “cold” that would pass.

The advice I was given of course, was cold remedies; traditional “fixes” for common marital problems. It did me no good for my chronic illness that was progressing in it’s life-sucking skills, and it certainly was not responding to any kind of “treatment”. And the longer it went on, the weaker I got. Unlike a cold, where the longer it goes on, if you treat it with common cold remedies, you get closer to wellness, I was dying a slow death in my soul, and my friends kept waiting for me to stop feeling sorry for my “cold”.

I hope that you understand that in NO way am I trying to make light of cancer; I have actually watched several people close to me suffer through the process of the evilness of cancer, until death becomes wanted because it offers relief. I find it interesting that this is the point at which my analogy takes a turn.

In the real physical disease of cancer — I assume because we can see the weight loss, the ashen skin, the loss of life, the disheartened eyes, the struggle to breathe, the winces and moans of unbearable pain — we can’t wait for the struggle to be over and relief to come for that person. But in the relational “cancer” of living with an abuser, there seems to be very little concrete, visible evidence of the disease to others, and so when the person accepts the death and files the divorce papers, people sadly talk about “If you had only…”, or “God hates divorce.”

Would one ever say those words to the person who has wrestled with the physical disease of cancer, and is now on their deathbed welcoming freedom in eternity via death? No!  So it saddens me that the most loving people, and the Church herself, are guilty of such things against those who have fought for their freedom from the relational cancer of abuse.

Thursday Thought — The Abuser’s Problem with Anger

YOUR ABUSIVE PARTNER DOESN’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH HIS ANGER; HE HAS A PROBLEM WITH YOUR ANGER.

One of the basic human rights he takes away from you is the right to be angry with him.  No matter how badly he treats you, he believes that your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil.  The privilege of rage is reserved for him alone. When your anger does jump out to you — as will happen to any abused woman from time to time — he is likely to try to jam it back down your throat as quickly as he can.  Then he uses your anger against you to prove what an irrational person you are.  Abuse can make you feel straitjacketed.  You may develop physical or emotional reactions to swallowing your anger, such as depression, nightmares, emotional numbing, or eating and sleeping problems, which your partner may use as an excuse to belittle you further or make you feel crazy.

Why does your partner react so strongly to your anger?  One reason may be that he considers himself above reproach . . . The second is that on some level he senses — though not necessarily consciously — that there is power in your anger. If you have space to feel and express your rage, you will be better able to hold on to your identity and to resist his suffocation of you.  He tries to take your anger away in order to snuff out your capacity to resist his will.  Finally, he perceives your anger as a challenge to his authority, to which he responds by overpowering you with anger that is greater than your own.  In this way he ensures that he retains the exclusive right to be the one who shows anger.

(excerpt from Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He Do That?* p59-60.)

*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.

Why don’t authors address Matt 19:29 when teaching on divorce for abuse?

Today’s post is by a male survivor of domestic abuse. I (Barb) have met this man face to face as well as communicating over time with him by email and I am confident he’s a survivor of domestic abuse. He wrote this to me in an email and we are publishing it here with his permission. Many thanks to him for raising this topic in such a cogent manner.
Text in [square brackets] has been added by Barb. 

********

There is one passage that I absolutely cannot believe seems to have been completely ignored by every single author on the topic of divorce in the context of abuse — at least at the time at which I really investigated this thoroughly, after the latest NIV version of the Bible was published in 2011.

This passage is Matthew 19:29 and the parallel in Luke 18:29-30

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matt. 19:29, NIV)

“I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30 NIV)

Notes:

1. In at least the case of Matthew, it is only the most recent version of the NIV that includes “wife”, with a footnote that some texts exclude wife.
[To see all translations of Matthew 19:29 go here. Some ancient manuscripts do not have ‘or wife’; thus, some English translations include the words ‘or wife’ and others do not.]

2. Mark 10 has many parallels with Matthew 19, but does not mention wife.

3. The start of Matthew 19 talks about divorce.

4. The start of Mark 10 (lacking reference to “wife”) also talks about divorce (ie. in parallel).

My questions are these:

1. Why has nobody at all taken the time to answer the question “Why does Jesus include ‘wife’ in the list?”

2. In the context of these two references, under what circumstance is a man blessed (yes blessed!) to leave his wife? The answer is given in the reference. Jesus says “for my sake”.

3. Aren’t newer versions of the NIV supposed to reflect increases in knowledge and understanding about a passage such that the newer version best communicates what a majority now believes was the original intent of the original speaker? In other words, to move from ‘wife’ being a footnote (older NIV), to being in the main passage, isn’t this saying the translators now believe it is a more accurate representation that ‘wife’ be included in that list?

For those who would argue this passage is not relevant I ask: how can a man leave his wife in such a way that Jesus’ words here apply to him?

How can you not conclude that a believer, leaving a persistently and unrepentently violent [or non-violent but still abusive] situation, is in fact bringing themselves (and potentially their children) to a place of greater peace — which is a fruit of the spirit, surely an act and outcome that is in line with Jesus’ desire for humankind? Indeed an immediate blessing is, in fact, peace!

It feels like the more accepted arguments that permit divorce — adultery, for example — come across as concessions (like this: “Yes, if your spouse has committed adultery, you are permitted to leave”). Whereas in these verses Jesus’ language comes across as someone pro-actively leaving a wife to pro-actively pursue Jesus’ “sake”. The scenario of a person standing up and saying “For the sake of God, I will no longer endure your unrepentent, persistent abuse; I am leaving!” seems to fit this tone.

Look at the proximity of this statement to Jesus speaking on divorce! Is there no connection whatsoever? One might refute by saying other items in the list have nothing to do with divorce but imagine this scene played out: Jesus spends notable time discussing divorce, then a moment later talks about people leaving all manner of relationship — including their wife — for his sake and being blessed. And this reference to leaving a wife (proactively?) seems unrelated to the discussion just had. In other words, the discussion just had about divorce in the earlier verses is not the exhaustive word on the matter. Again — how can a man leave his wife in such a way that Jesus’ words here apply to him?

A final note of consideration is that Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible has this to say:

[of the phrase] “brethren or sisters, or father or mother, or wife or children, lands, for my name’s sake; or, as in Luke, “for the kingdom of God’s sake”;
that is, for the sake of the Gospel, and a profession of it. Not that believing in Christ, and professing his name, do necessarily require a parting with all worldly substance, and natural relations, but when these things stand in competition with Christ, he is to be loved and preferred before them; and believers are always to be ready to part with them for his sake, when persecution arises, because of the word. All these things are to be relinquished, rather than Christ, and his Gospel; and such who shall be enabled, through divine grace, to do so shall receive an hundred fold.

(For this reference, a further two commentaries and 21 different bible versions, see: http://biblehub.com/matthew/19-29.htm )

CCEF say that victims of abuse need redemption

Similarly, you should typically expect to find two sinners embroiled with each other, not one irredeemable monster oppressing one innocent victim who needs no redemption.

The above sentence is by David Powlison, Paul David Tripp and Edward T Welch, men who are or have been leaders of CCEF — Christian Counseling Education Foundation. It is part of the guidance they give to pastors and counselors who are trying to help domestic violence. The quote comes from p 10 of the CCEF booklet Domestic Abuse, How to Help.*  That is the booklet which Peacemakers Ministry recommend for pastors who are inexperienced in dealing with domestic violence, as Persistent Widow discovered in her research after having been badly hurt by Peacemakers and a PCA church (link).

The guidance that Powlison, Tripp and Welch give suggests that abuse victims wrongly convey to pastors and counselors that they, the victims, are totally without sin (are innocent victims who need no redemption). These three men imply that counselors and pastors need to be on the lookout for where the victim is sinning in the relationship.

Let me show you the whole paragraph in which the quoted sentence occurs, so you can see for yourself*:

Similarly, you should typically expect to find two sinners embroiled with each other, not one irredeemable monster oppressing one innocent victim who needs no redemption. God will be at work in the lives of both people. So explore incidents of violence in detail. You will usually find places where both parties need God’s grace to change. Perhaps one spouse draws most of the attention because he acts with his fists; but on closer inspection the other spouse may skillfully weild her tongue in ways that seek to bring hurt through use of words. Outbursts of violence are usually extreme instances in more widespread, low-grade patterns of conflict. Look for the common sins that both parties share, as well as for the unique outbreaks of sin in one party. You want to help both people become more loving, wise and peaceable.

Several posts could probably be written about this one paragraph. There are so many things wrong with it.

  1.  The potential for sin levelling is in that paragraph for sure. (Though to give them a modicum of credit, their next paragraph warns counselors not to accept the abuser’s blame-shifting distortions.)
  2. They assume that God is working in the abuser, implying the abuser is a believer (an assumption which we reject).
  3. They lampoon the idea that an abuser is an ‘irredeemable monster’. At ACFJ we do not say that abusers are irredeemable; all we say is that it’s best to (a) assume that abusers are not Christians, and (b) recognise that their entrenched character disturbance, their mentality of entitlement and responsibility-resistance, means they are very unlikely to humble themselves and repent unto saving faith.
  4. They call it ‘conflict’ which is a misnomer. It’s abuse. Not conflict. Conflict implies differences contested and debated between two individuals of relatively equal power. The word ‘conflict’ implies there are issues or points of disagreement, and/or fighting. In abuse, there is power-over and intimidation and subjection and control. ‘Issues of conflict’ are random, they shift and change at the whim and craft of the abuser; the victim cannot make peace because every attempt she makes at negotiation and appeasement is being made on shifting and sticky quicksand. And what outsiders may perceive as a ‘fight’ or ‘conflict’ is usually the victim trying to selectively resist the wicked oppression of the perpetrator, and the perpetrator escalating and intensifying his control tactics in order to push the victim back down, deprive her of dignity and personal liberty, and make her confused, bewildered, exhausted and scared. But enough of that. We write about that a lot.

What I really want to focus on in this post is:

CCEF say that victims need redemption

They say the abuse victim must not be seen as an innocent victim who needs no redemption. Let’s clarify this by turning their double negative into a positive. These men are implying, “The victim needs redemption.”

Christianinty 101: Who needs redemption? Collectively, fallen man needs redemption from original sin. But when we speak of individuals, we only say that unsaved people need redemption. Those who have been born again do not need redemption, they have come to faith in Christ so the price that Jesus paid on the Cross has been effectually applied to them. They have been redeemed. In him we have redemption (Eph. 1:17; Col 1:14) —  we do not need it, we already have it. We have been bought back, redeemed by the blood of Christ from the domain of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God, having received adoption as children of God in Christ Jesus.

Side note: The only time the New Testament talks about redemption as something future, something yet to occur, is when it refers to the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23; Eph. 4:30). And it talks about our future redemption not as something we ‘need’ in the here and now, and (hem hem) need to be admonished about so we don’t get cocky and forget that we need it (as CCEF would imply), it talks about the redemption of our bodies as something that is promised and surely will be given to us in Christ Jesus on that Day, to the praise of His glorious grace.

Never once on this blog or in our books do we say that a Christian abuse victim needs redemption. If an abuse victim is not a Christian, sure, she needs redemption, like every unsaved person does. But a believer in Christ has been redeemed.

At ACFJ we may talk about how a Christian victim of abuse — like all Christians — is called to sanctification: the Bible exhorts all believers to develop a more and more Christ-like character throughout the rest of their days on this earth. But we never say the victim needs redemption. And it is insulting for CCEF to talk about Christian victims as ‘needing redemption’ because it means that the victims are not saved — that they are still dead in their sins and heading to hell without Christ.

I believe that CCEF, Peacemakers and their ilk have been using the word ‘redemption’ very sloppily and without any concern for how their use of it insults Christian victims of abuse.

What do you think? Do you hear the statement that ‘Christian victims of abuse need redemption’ as an insult? Do you see it as besmirching victims?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

*The full text of the CCEF booklet has also been published as ‘Pastoral Responses to Domestic Violence’ (Chapter 14 of Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood, Wayne Grudem & Denis Rainey, eds.)  The sentence I quoted at the start of this post can be see on p 271 of that volume in Google books.

The Lord Jesus Christ Offended the Pharisees — And He Still Does so Today

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:12-14)

We will be writing more on this passage in the near future, but here are some highlights for this Sunday morning, meant to encourage us all.

When we address abuse in the church, when we come to the aid of its victims, we are going to offend many people. “Offend” is putting it lightly. More like “make enemies of them.”  We don’t really make them our enemies. We simply expose the fact that they are enemies of the weak and the oppressed. Jesus said: Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)  So you don’t have to be overtly and actively abusing people to be an ally of the abuser. You simply need to be a bystander, a watcher of evil, to be against Christ in this matter.

Now here is the point for this morning. We hear at ACFJ, along with most all of our readership, regularly tick people off. And with some frequency we have people write to us and say something much like the disciples said to Jesus – “Uh, you do realize, don’t you, that you offended ___________ with your article?”  Many of you have had the same thing happen when you confronted your abuser or went to your church to ask for help. “Whoa! Slow down! You are going to upset people here. You will alienate your spouse. You need to go home and take a chill pill.”

When I was writing the book, A Cry for Justice, I had several friends read the manuscript before it was published and they gave many very good suggestions. Not ONE of them ever told me to “cool it.” One did tell me this: “This book is very good. You realize it is probably going to make some people really mad.” Only he didn’t tell me to back off.  He said “press on and let them get mad.”  He was right, and we did.

“Do you know that the Pharisees were offended…?”  Yep. We know it. Many of the ring leaders of this sect today are simply plants — plants who have not been planted in their ecclesiastical positions by the Father. The truth will work to root them up and they fight against it. All who persist in following them will go down into a pit with them. God’s truth rocks our world. It shows us our errors and sins and calls upon us all to make some mid-course corrections.

We are calling upon Christians, pastors, elders, denominations, theologians and seminaries and authors and leaders of Christian organizations, to make some pretty radical mid-course corrections. Because when it comes to abuse in the church, here is the reality. Most of these people and organizations have been on a wrong course, headed for the rocks, for a long while.

But human beings do not like to be told that they have been wrong all their lives. At ACFJ, we even name names. We say “Don’t get on Captain John Piper’s ship. He is headed for the rocks and he will take you with him as he steers a course of no-divorce-for-abuse-or-anything-ever.” We have had people tell us “Oh, tone it down. You are going to offend his many followers.” They want us to be more like “there is a certain ship sailing from a town starting with the letter Q that is going to a city starting with the letter N, but it isn’t going to make it because….well, because something bad is going to happen. Don’t get on that ship.  Whatever you do, don’t get on it.”

And of course the whole point is that such people think that what we must do is always, always, always strive to make people our allies, to win them over to our cause, to… well, to bring the abuser to repentance and salvation by trying and trying and doing and doing and praying and praying… and most of all, by never offending.  We’ve all heard that line before. It doesn’t work. Jesus said that men and women, churches and church leaders, seminaries and professors, Christian denominations, planted and directed by the Father will hear His Word. Those whom He has not planted won’t. They are weeds in His garden producing bad fruit. Yes, we know they are offended by what we say. Leave them alone. They are blind guides headed for the pit. Don’t go with them.

If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? (1 Corinthians 14:7-8)

How God set a woman free from a lovely husband who became an ogre

One of our readers has kindly allowed us to publish this part of her testimony. Many thanks to her. 

I loved having a home and my husband and I enjoyed a lot of happiness. Part of the reason we had so much fun together may have been that we were both still children in some ways. I remember going to Bible study and feeling sorry for the people who just had ordinary homes, when I had just come from a home filled with so much laughter and enjoyment, after watching my husband play with the puppies.

Unfortunately, something very ugly crept into my marriage, very early.  I was married about six months, the first time my husband slapped me.  I was shocked.  No one had ever slapped me across the face before.  It was humiliating.  We had dated for four years and this had never happened.  What was I going to do?  If we were just dating, I could break up with him, but I was already married.  I couldn’t leave.  I didn’t know what to do to fix it, so I didn’t do anything.  A few months later the memory faded.

Gradually, a pattern emerged in our marriage.  My husband, who no longer had a brother at home to wrestle with, would wrestle with me.  I was a lot lighter than him and I didn’t like to wrestle.  I was starting to get hurt, more and more.  These wrestling matches were intermingled with other times that he would slap me, during an argument or when he was upset.

The pattern continued and gradually escalated.  Sometimes he would scream at me for what seemed like little or no reason.  I remember one time him screaming at me just after getting up from the bed after we had been intimate.  I hadn’t done anything to upset him.  It was baffling.  I was confused.  I didn’t understand it.

When I was married for about five years, I was getting more distressed and was sustaining minor injuries.  But as many women that are in these relationships will tell you, the true target of the inflicted pain and abuse is not the body.  I decided during prayer one day, to stop fighting back.  I reasoned that if I didn’t fight back, my husband would realize what he was doing to me, that he was hurting me and that he would stop.

Not fighting back physically did not stop the violence.  In fact, it got a whole lot worse.  However, not physically defending myself did help me to see things a lot more clearly.  The violence was no longer shrouded in the polite façade of wrestling.

A clear pattern emerged.  Tension would build and then there would be an explosion.  The trigger for an explosion could be something so minor as not being able to find a tool he wanted, or dishing him up too much spaghetti.  The cycle of tension build-up followed by explosion would happen again and again, until we reached a level of intensity and violence that scared us and that we had never reached before.  Then tensions would dissipate and Mr. Hyde would turn back into Dr Jekyll.

I later found out that this pattern is called, “the cycle of violence”.  It is a well-documented pattern experienced by women in abusive relationships.  As much as we would like to think of everything as 50-50, this pattern is primarily an abuse of male power against females.

I was becoming panicked.  Nowhere could I find in the scripture that it was ok to leave your husband because he hit you.  Jesus said we could divorce for infidelity, but he didn’t mention violence!  I had no children to protect and I didn’t think I was justified in leaving for myself.

Finally I asked God to remind me to pray during one of these episodes.  Previously, I would remember to pray before, when tensions were building, or after when I was recovering, but I never remembered to pray during an episode.

The night my life changed and I started my journey out of that marriage, I remembered to pray in the midst of the violence.  I had locked myself in the furnace room to take a temporarily safe reprieve.   The furnace room had a pretty good lock on it.  My husband was in the living room watching TV, waiting for me to come out.  Finally, I remembered to pray.  I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to pray when you are angry, but it was an act of force!  My prayer cut through the heavy evil shroud that had encircled my home and was heard.

When I left the furnace room, the violence did not stop, but I no longer felt cut-off from God and I did not feel I was going through it alone.  I was able to pray freely.  That night God gifted me with two extraordinary miracles. They are particularly extroadinary for someone like me who has no charismatic background. He gifted me with a vision and He gifted me with an audible word.

My vision was of a large very beautiful blown glass house.  That beautiful glass house was my home.  It was being smashed and destroyed and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

My audible Word came during a confrontation from my husband.  I silently prayed,  “What am I going to do?  I can’t leave him.”  The Word came to me, “You might have to leave him,  ___.”  [ ___ was her personal name; we’ve omitted it for safety’s sake.] That Word opened the door for me. Maybe I could leave.  Maybe it wasn’t all of my fault.

My Pastor talked about seeking the whole counsel of God.  He spoke of how Scripture could be twisted to justify anything, even an erroneous non-Christian cult.  Jesus told us the two great commandments were to love God with all our heart mind and soul and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Somehow, by staying in this marriage and allowing this evil to continue and escalate, I was breaking both of those commandments.  My husband was becoming less and less the man that I had married and was turning more and more into an ogre.

We are to serve God.  He is our Master.  I sometimes wonder what the Christian advice was to a soldier in Hitler’s army or to the wife of an SS officer.  Was this the correct time to drag out the doctrine of submission, which Peter talks about in 1st Peter and which Paul talks about in Romans?  Yet, I remembered, as Isaiah had prophesied, at the appointed time our Lord gave his back to the smiters and his cheeks to those who plucked out the beard.   How do we walk with God in the face of evil?  How do we follow our Lord’s example and do as both Peter and Paul admonish us and overcome evil with good?  Isaiah tells us that Jesus was awakened by God’s word each morning to hear God’s instruction.  If we can more closely mimic our Lord’s walk, perhaps we too can correctly discern God’s instruction and discern between good and evil.

During the time of searching and struggling within my marriage, I found several copies of the book The Total Woman, at the back one of the local churches.   For those of you too young to remember, The Total Woman was one of Marabel Morgan’s books, written in opposition to the women’s movement.  As near as I could tell, it gave helpful hints on how to use submission and feminine wiles to manipulate your way to power in your marriage.

I heard Christian women’s testimony on TV of how God had healed their marriage by changing them.  In the late 80’s and early 90’s, I heard very little teaching on the man’s role in providing Christ-like headship.

Evil grows in the dark.  I think the first and best steps in confronting evil, is to expose it and to drag it into the light.  One of the first steps in coming out of an abusive relationship is to tell someone what has been going on.  Like many women, I hadn’t told anyone.  I was ashamed and I didn’t want to make the problem bigger by turning it into a public circus with everyone giving me advice that I may not be prepared to take.  I think I also still felt loyalty to my husband.  In my mind, he just didn’t realize how much he was hurting me and if he did, it would stop.  I was still in love with Dr Jekyll.

At the beginning of the next cycle of violence, for a relatively minor assault, I phoned the transition house.  The woman on the phone pointed out that by living in this situation for years, I had become desensitized to the level of violence.  What I would have considered a major incident, in the years of dating my husband and grounds for ending the relationship, had now become a “minor assault”.  I was becoming less and less alarmed, by a higher and higher level of violence.

I also found out information on an anger management program, which I could force my husband to attend, by laying assault charges.  My next phone call was to the police.  I laid charges.

I left my husband on two occasions.  On the first occasion, I was in relationship with God.  I was hopeful that God would change my husband and heal my marriage.   After all, it happened for those other women, who gave their testimonies on TV.  I felt spiritually strong, I was decisive and I felt the comfort of the Holy Spirit and relationship with God.

On the second occasion, I was angry with God.  My husband had not changed!  Though he was no longer hitting me, he knew of other ways to torture me.  I came to realize that he DID know he was hurting me, hat he WANTED to hurt me and I was truly “Sleeping with the Enemy.”  I was furious with God.  I thought if anyone deserved a miracle, it was me.  After all, I had tried my very best.

How foolish of me!  Why would I expect that God who had given me free choice in my relationship with Him, would remove free choice from my husband?  My husband had it within his power to choose and he chose not to repent, not to accept responsibility and chose to continue not having a relationship with God.  It was his choice, not my choice and not necessarily God’s choice.  (In fact, studies have shown that most abuser do not choose to change.)

Because I had turned my back on God, in my anger, I became weak.  The weakness was noticed and acknowledged by those closest to me.   It shames me to admit that while I was coming out of the marriage, I started to date a man who had been a friend of my husband’s and mine since our college days. At the time, I remember telling my sister that this decision would make things easier in the short run and harder in the long run.  That was true.  It was sin.  It marred my clarity of vision in determining correct choices.  Worst of all, it thrust an emotional knife into the man that I claimed to love and had sacrificed so much for.  Despite this sin and my anger, God did not abandon me.

I was being stalked, I was exhausted working three part-time jobs to pay the mortgage on the home that my parents had co-signed for.  I was told by a facilitator in my support group, that once these men really know it’s over, the nice guy act is finished!  In my case, that was true.  I was being stalked and there were weapons involved.

On one occasion, I believe God sent me an angel.  I was exhausted and had flopped down on the sofa, after returning home.  My phone was ringing.  In those days we had answering machines.  I heard the start of the message with my husband’s voice and then the answering machine cut off.  This happened again and again and again and again.  The phone would ring and then before he could leave a message, he was cut off.  It was if someone was in there pressing the buttons on the machine, but it wasn’t me, I was on the sofa, too exhausted to move.

With the encouragement of my Mother, I moved to another part of the country.  My Father was unhappy about the idea of losing another daughter to a long distance move, but he loaded up the truck and u-haul and moved me.   Another family member was waiting to receive me and to give me temporary dwelling, so I could restart my life.

Due to my marriage troubles, I lost my home, my dog, most of our married friends and all of my in-laws.   My mother-in law had been particularly good to me, better than I deserved.  I hope one day God will reward her for all of her goodness to me.

It takes a while to recognize the internal damage from abuse inflicted upon us.  During my marriage, I couldn’t see the extent of the injury.  I was never hospitalized, bruises heal and I could still walk.

I was told that most women find an abusive relationship devastating to their self-esteem.  I couldn’t say this was true for me.  Because my relationship with Christ was growing during my marriage, I actually found my self-esteem growing.  If Christ can love us that much, to die for us, surely we can love ourselves.

I had developed a sensitivity to emotional tension and displays of anger.  I am in danger of “over-reacting”.  By this, I mean I ‘m in danger of reacting not solely to an existing threat but also to the groundswell of memories of similar threats that can be triggered and overwhelm me.  I found I could “flash-back” and experience a flood of debilitating feelings from past explosions.   I learned that to keep myself mentally healthy, I needed to protect myself from male displays of anger.  I must use caution to correctly ascertain the level threat with emotional tension or anger in a professional setting or a meeting.

Despite these changes in me, I still wanted to marry.  I did not feel I was fully able to express myself as a woman or give venue to the gifts that God had given me, without a husband, home and family.  It seemed to me to be a waste of God’s gifts and life to be unable to marry. Repeatedly scripture compares His love for us, to a bridegroom rejoicing over a bride.  When I finally understood the importance of the woman in typifying His bride, I started to feel very good about being born female.

I am sure when we get to be close to Him, we will have an eternity of time to understand the answers to our many questions.  He or the angels will better explain to us the concept of Biblical marriage as a picture God’s love for his people.  We’ll see, first hand, the importance of women to Christ.

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