Beware the Jello
I had been in Colorado for a week with my four children, having just left my husband in Germany for good. We were borrowing my grandmother’s house. I had no idea what I was going to do or where I would go, live, work, etc. I was still shaking when I entered the church with all of the children to talk to a pastor there about getting help. A friend from Alabama had told me that this was a good church. It was within walking distance so the children and I walked about six blocks, strollers and all, to meet with this man. I was not really using the term “abusive” yet, but I had my hands on a Patricia Evans book and my eyes were being opened.
I bared my soul to the pastor right there in the multi-purpose room with the kids playing basketball and babies and trains. I told this man everything. He listened quietly and then told me that he would like to Skype with my husband and me. I think he thought he might be able to save our marriage. I told him that we had had several years of counseling . . . on and off and with different men. And, not only that but . . . that my (ex) husband is jello. Jello. That is the very best word that I could come up with. He could mold himself into anything he wanted. He could actually be what looked “good”. He knew all the right answers. But, if you reached out to grab onto some substance, it will all just fizzle out in your hand. There was absolutely nothing to hold onto. You find yourself reaching for a mirage — your hands just fall through a dream you have created in your mind. A mess of green goo everywhere as you wonder what you thought you saw. I told the pastor that he would be penitent and loving. He would probably even cry. The pastor would then wonder why I left him and I would look like the bad wife. I left with the children, disheartened.
One survivor writes:
I thought for YEARS that there was a heart in my ex that was, perhaps, wounded but present. I believed that there was some part of him, deep down inside, that wanted to be a good man, wanted to love those around us and wanted to glorify God. Right before I left, I realized there was no such part in him. No foundation, no character, no solidarity. Just a man who had learned to be what he wanted people to see so he could do his evil in secret. In fact, the evil was rampant. He bled wickedness.
The conscience of the Believer is substantial. Christ gives us depth, meaning and substance. He gives us His fruits and even gives us spiritual gifts. As we change, our roots grow deep by that water of Life and we bloom in ways we never imagined. Not prosperity in the worldly sense — but in spiritual richness. There is a Firm Foundation in the life of the Believer. We become solid. So, how can a woman like that yoke herself to jello? She cannot. It feels just like you are picturing it now . . . it feels like you are grasping onto something very very slippery. It feels like you are sinking every single day. Your marriage is a sham. In fact, there is no marriage. It cannot be done.
I believe I would have rather been married to a man who abused me in plain sight rather than a man who could mold himself into an upright, charming “mission-minded” individual in front of everyone else whilst hurting all of us in secret. The confusion is too great. The damage to the psyche is irreparable, but for the grace of God. The abuser sways, like a leaf in the wind, blowing this way and that . . . promising to change over and over but never being able to keep that promise while you are somehow to blame.
The good news is that I am just now learning that there are people in the world who are not this way. There are men who say something and mean it. These upright men do not change their tune and they do not pretend. They ARE there! Imitating Christ, our Ultimate Anchor for the Soul, there are men (albeit, not many) who are solid structures upon which we can rely. Oh, God . . . I want my boys to be men like that.