A Cry For Justice

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

Eggshells and a Peace that Cannot Be – by Anonymous

Here are some hard-learned lessons from one of our readers, the survivor of many years of abuse.  Thank you, Anon for helping us all learn:

You cannot make peace, where there is no peace.  Sometimes, victims of abuse, spend inordinate amounts of time, trying to get “peace”; bring “peace” keep “peace” in a marriage and family, only to find themselves made more vulnerable to the abuser. This happens for a variety of reasons, but one main reason, is that in order to keep peace, you have to have peace to begin with. 

For me, I spent years and years just walking on egg shells everyday, trying to keep the peace.  Giving in and bending backwards, building my life around him, but it was never enough giving or bending.  Everyday was like a burden of stress that became so unbearable, that I would have periods of breaking.  Then, after struggling for several days in a row, I would pick up the pieces and go back to trying to keep peace.  During the course of my breaking periods, I would notice an increase in the abusiveness.  The silent treatment, emotional  and verbal abuse was usual, and perhaps it was that way, because he was not getting the attention; I was broken and I needed the attention.  Just not the kind he was giving.    

After years of being abused, you just sort of learn to wear what you have been dressed in.  I found myself running around nervously, setting the table a certain way, cooking the food precisely how he wanted it, timing its arrival to the table, making everything perfect and nothing out of place, house clean, kids quiet, my speech well rehearsed, his clothes perfectly folded, all in preparation for the arrival of the “stress”.  Maybe all my works, would keep him happy and we could just get through one night and a short period in the morning, without everything falling apart.  Little did I realize, that the stress had been with me all day as I was preparing for its arrival!  Now, as I am working through all of this and the fog is lifting, I can look back and literally see myself just exasperated day after day, living to keep peace and make him happy.  I had no life left in me.  But there never was any peace.  Remember?  You have to have peace in order to keep peace. 

Marriage is not about fearfully giving of yourself, or nervously trying to please the other half.  That is most definitely, not marriage.  Marriage is about a mutual pleasing of each other in the Lord, not a fearful dread of not being able to please your spouse and suffering the consequence for it.  Marriage is about a giving of yourself, and the other accepting you, for better or for worse.  Remember?  I remember taking that vow.  I held up my end, because it has been much more of the worse and very, very little of the better. 

One thing I have managed to learn, is that I could never attain and keep peace, because there never was any peace to be kept.  It all makes sense to me now, after years and years of searching for a way to just keep the peace.  It remained very well hidden, because it was so far off, that it just could not even be found.  It was beyond my grasp.  We all hunger for peace in our lives.  That is why our blessed Savior said He would give us a peace that surpassed them all.  He knew there was phony peace and then there was the peace we would search for all our lives, only to have it elude and confuse us.  God grants us a peace, an inward knowing, that He is there for us and He will never leave nor forsake us, and it is a peace that all of us long for and need.  

Sometimes, I just want a hug.  Sometimes, I just want to feel human touch.  But during those times, I cry out to God and He comes to me with His peace, and it is like nothing one could ever know.  I am finding, now that I am on my own, that there is peace to be found.  It is just there.  Why?  Because it is true peace and it is always with me, because Christ is always with me.  I may set it aside when I am working on fears or stress comes and catches me off guard, or the abuser raises his ugly tactics, but if I am able to just stop and focus –  there it is – peace.  It never leaves, because it is in Him. 

I have seen now, that in order to keep peace, we have to have it first.  There is no peace in life with an abuser.  There is no peace in a marriage that is centered around the abuser, not God.  There is no peace in a Church that confuses Christ with their own opinions and beliefs and there is no peace where people don’t really want peace. 

So, in order to “keep the peace”, you must first have it and the only way to do that, is to step away from whoever is abusing you, and cling fast to God.  He wants and desires for us to be free, so that we can come away with Him and love and enjoy Him fully.  That is the reason for our lives.  We can have that in marriage, when the abuser is not the center, but where God is genuinely the center of it.  May we all learn and not be afraid to build our lives around Christ solely, so that we can really know what it means to love and be loved.  May God grant all of you His peace and His rest. 

 

25 Comments

  1. So much truth in there…thanks.

  2. Healinginprocess

    There is no peace in life with an abuser. So true! There is no peace separate from Christ, with abusers demanding to be the center or most important person in a
    Marriage instead of Christ how can there be any peace? There is no 3 strand cord making a strong bond. Your post has so many good points and truths.

  3. This is powerfully and even poetically stated. It is beautifully woven, comforting,…..and peaceful. Thanks.

  4. Isaiah 32:18 “My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”

    Matthew Henry, Bible Commentator, once said, “Peace is such a precious jewel that I would give anything for it but truth.”

    For so long, I covered the truth, hoping for peace. It never came. Not until my abuser left our home. That occurred because we all began to speak the truth. Literally the day he moved out, our entire world had a different feel. Yes, it was awkward and strange for all of us at first, but oh, the relief! I slept like a baby. I was scared about what would happen next, but anything God had for us would be better than what we had been dealing with. And it is.

    “There is no peace in a marriage that is centered around the abuser, not God.” Such a good point! This is like idolatry…having my whole life revolve around trying to keep my husband happy. And there is no peace when Christ is not the center. Where He is the center, there is peace. It is the authority of Christ that brings peace.

    “Do not be frightened. But in your hearts, set apart CHRIST AS LORD.” (1 Peter 3:15) He will never leave us nor forsake us! 🙂

    • Now Free

      Thanks for the post, Anon. I’m glad you have found this precious treasure at last…peace.

      Right after leaving the marriage, all I wanted was peace. It didn’t matter about the external circumstances. I fully realized that God wanted me to leave that marriage so that I could experience the God-given peace that passes all understanding. He had me see the truth, and the truth set me free!

    • Amy

      Anon,
      Your comment, “This is like idolatry…having my whole life revolve around trying to keep my husband happy.” rang a bell with me.

      I’ve always said that my abusive marriage and ex-husband had become an idol in my life and I became so focused on that I had put God on the back burner. I believe therefore, that God set me free to bring me back to Him.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Re: Idolatry

        This seems to be common. I’ve seen others say the same thing. It almost has to be that way because the abuser insists on being the center of your universe and demands you allow that. Christ has another view on that, however….

  5. Amy

    Beautifully written, and so very true. For twenty years I walked on eggshells and tried to keep the peace where there was none. It was very exhausting and drained my soul, leaving me empty and heart broken.
    And the sad part was how the Christian community around me at that time encouraged me to just keep submitting and respecting him and eventually he would change…or if he never did then i would know I had sacrificed for the Lord and would have a huge crown waiting for me one day.
    I didn’t want a crown, I wanted peace in my life and to walk on solid ground…and here I am today doing just that.
    God is good and just today I was thinking of how everyone used to throw out the ol’ statement, “God hates divorce” in my face and what I realized today…it isn’t divorce that God hates, it’s the sinful nature of man and how he himself destroys the sanctity and holiness of marriage which is how God intended it.

    • Amy, I know it’s bad form for an author to push her book on a blog (even if it is a blog she co-administrates 🙂 ) but I’m gonna doing it anyway. In Not Under Bondage I say that we should indeed “throw out the ol’ statement, ‘God hates divorce.’ ” And the reason I give is that it isn’t even in the Hebrew Scripture: it’s just a slogan based on a mistranslation of Malachi 2:16.

      I totally agree with you that “it isn’t divorce that God hates, it’s the sinful nature of man and how he himself destroys the sanctity and holiness of marriage which is how God intended it.”

      • Now Free

        I hope Barb doesn’t mind me giving greater scope to her book. I bought “Not Under Bondage” very shortly after leaving the marriage, about 16 months ago, and found validation for seeking a divorce from my extremely abusive husband of over 4 decades. The validation came in the form of realizing that God would not consider it at all sinful if I divorced my husband.

        I’ve recently started re-reading Barb’s book (the past 2 weeks or so), and last week read the chapter entitled “Isn’t Adultery the Only Ground for DIvorce”? I’m finding even more nuggets of truth in this book the second time. I also read the chapter “God Hates Divorce-Slogan or Scripture?” These two chapters are really very relevant and helpful among the many others.

        I just want to let word out that this book is well worth reading, and it just seems to get better being read over again. It’s a really significant book, in my opinion.

        Thanks for writing this great book, Barb.

      • Amy

        Thanks Barbara, I’ll have to get your book. I find it interesting that now, four years after my ex left and two since the divorce was final, I’m really seeing things more clearly now.

    • Anonymous

      They don’t understand, that it eats a hole in your soul, to try to save someone else and give them the peace that only God can give.

      There are no guarantees, that someone is going to change, or that someone will be saved, because we give up our lives for them. It just means death for us. Christ desires mercy, not sacrifice. And just so everyone knows, those crowns only come in small, medium, large and extra-large; and if the sizing is in a spiritual context, the smallest head wins.

  6. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. I remember the “walking on eggshells” feeling all to well. I was worn down and tired from so much walking on eggshells that I would go into a “sleep walk” state for a few days and wouldn’t remember much of what had gone on. One day would melt into another and I would never be fully awake as I dealt with the day to day routines. I never thought about it before your post but that was also when the abuse would be at its worst.
    I remember one day I was “sleep walking” or “dissociating” as therapists call it when my abuser walked in the door caring a bunch of wild flowers and handed them to me. I thanked him and put them in my favorite mug, then set it on the coffee table. The next thing I know he is yelling at me that I didn’t thank him for the flowers that he had “thoughtfully” (he picked from the side of the road by our house) gotten me and he threw the mug against the wall and broke it. After that he stomped up to his room so sulk. As I was cleaning up the broken pieces I remember realizing that it was time to start supper, which meant that there was about two hours between when he came home and when he throw the mug that I had “slept” through without realizing it.

    • Katy

      oh Bethany. So thankful to God that you and your precious kids are out of that. No more sleeping – it’s time to live in bright colors! When I was at my lowest I would daydream….imagine all the things I would do if I was free….and now I’m doing some of them. Even tiny things like I don’t have cable TV, and I’ll never listen to the ESPN channel again as long as I live. (Picture Scarlett O’Hara here – as God as my witness, I’ll never hear sports news again! 🙂 )
      Little steps lead to bigger ones, and then suddenly you’re chasing after dreams so big you can’t believe it. There is bright, colorful, freedom in Jesus. And no mug throwing. 🙂

      • Thank you Katy your words bring a smile to my face and hope to by heart 🙂

    • Anonymous

      I really get that “fog” stuff, Bethany. I have lost days before, as they all ran into one big lump.

      Wouldn’t you just love one time, to have been able to take the broom and dust pan to him and say, “You have a mess downstairs that needs cleaning up.” It is a wonder, that the victim is always left to clean up the messes the abuser makes – literally and figuratively!

      • I tried to but my foot down about it once. I told him it was his mess and he was going to clean it up. He said he didn’t care if I didn’t clean it up he would just leave it there and let the baby play with the broken glass!!! About 4 hours and lots of verbal abuse later I gave up and cleaned it up. I never tried it again because it wasn’t worth the hassle…
        If I didn’t have kids I might have left it for days (I can be stubborn 🙂 ) but he really didn’t care if the baby got hurt he wasn’t going to clean it up.

      • Anonymous

        That is truly awful. What I should have said was, “Don’t you wish you could…”, because we all know that we can’t do that kind of stuff with abusive people, period.

  7. As I See It Only

    Isaiah 61 comes to mind. Beautiful.

  8. Jeff S

    “Marriage is not about fearfully giving of yourself, or nervously trying to please the other half”.

    I do not remember the exact quote, but in the book “Boundaries” (Townsend and Cloud) they talk about how we cannot do for others out of fear. I think that is a really important concept, not just in marriage but within relationships in general. Doing for others must be something we give because we want to, not becase we fear the consequences of not doing it.

    • Anonymous

      Yes Jeff. Living to please someone who doesn’t want to be pleased, but keeps crying for it, just drives the other person to the brink of madness. We have to be free to love and give out of that love, not out of necessity or fear. Good point!

  9. bright sunshinin' day

    Beautifully written, Anon. I agree that to keep peace in a marriage, both must want it.

    I confess up front that this response has many “bunny trails.” Your post provoked me to think and study more.

    “There is no peace where people do not want peace.” This reminds me of the overused and often misused phrase in the marriage counseling room amongst elders, “it takes 2 to tango.” Just as you said there is no peace unless both parties want peace (i.e. nations at peace or war), so there is no tango unless both parties want it.

    it seems that peace within marriage has been redefined to mean that since the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, whatever he says/does goes. Wife must not say a word and submit. What has been overlooked or forgotten is that authority was given for service. What if the husband has no desire to serve (or lay his life down as Christ did for the church), but only to reign as a tyrant?

    1 Peter 3:1b-2 has been blown WAY OUT of context and given out to women as the “magic pill of peace” in the home. It reads, “…if some do not obey the word, they may be won WITHOUT A WORD by the conduct of their wives – when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” The ingredients to this “magic pill of peace” are as follows: submit and respect meaning, no words, no loving confrontation, no challenging, no iron sharpening iron, and no provoking one another on to love and good works, etc. The (almost always) promised result if a wife swallows this pill? “Your husband will be won over” and “there will be peace in your home,” the counselor says.

    Obviously, this “pill of peace” has many missing ingredients. One must tear out many parts of Scripture to swallow this pill. Back to 1 Peter 3, only a few verses later in that same chapter (vs. 15-16), it says, “…in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a DEFENSE to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame…” This verse implies that WORDS may be used as well as conduct.

    Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so are as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” The RSB study note says, “The Christian is a peacemaker by obligation and aim. Harmony is not always possible, as TRUTH DIVIDES as well as UNITES. Paul’s double qualification (“If…so far as”) recognizes this, but the obligation to STRIVE FOR PEACE in personal relations with others remains.”

    It is not always possible to live at peace with all. God provides instruction on what to do when peace is not present in the case of other believers who sin against us. Oftentimes, the abusive husband claims to be a Christian. Matt 18:15ff says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother [i.e. peace]. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector…”

    Notice this verse says, “go and TELL him his fault.” WORDS. But, we know that abusers will not listen to respectful WORDS by the wife nor from the two witnesses, nor from the church. What does a wife do when she goes through the proper means to strive for peace and when the church, instead of dealing with the abuser, turns against the one striving for peace by confronting sin?

    Sadly, the wife may reach a point of realizing that the WORDS to him must stop lest she throw her pearls to swine. She may come to realize that peace is not possible. Facing reality, she may realize it is a time for war, not peace.

    • Bright sunshinin’ day, your teaching of those scriptures is excellent. I like your style! not just because it’s good stylistically (which it is) but because you are rightly dividing the Word of truth. 🙂

  10. Katy

    this is a wonderful true article. There is no peace with evil. It’s impossible..

  11. Michelle connell

    Beautiful, thank you!!!

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