An open letter to a well-meaning but ill-advised Christian friend on the subject of my separation
I realize your message was sent in love and with the best of intentions. I’m so sorry you have suffered as well. But you need to understand a few things.
Yes, I am changed. I am deeply traumatized. But only through this separation and fighting for myself (and not tip-toeing around a sinful man) have I started to heal. The person I was before was only a shell of who I am. Yes, I am sad and tired and angry. God weeps with the broken-hearted.
1. My pastor’s wife saw something in me — she did NOT advise me to stay. She recognized that I’ve endured deep trauma and she suggested separation and counseling, both of which I’m receiving. She did not counsel me to forgive and forget.
2. You’re putting the responsibility on me to change this situation which I am utterly incapable of doing. Only God can change things.
3. Where is the grace? Is our God not the God of love, mercy and compassion? There’s no grace or mercy in a statement that urges me to go back to Egypt. At what point am I allowed to say that I can’t do this any more? God does NOT call me to endure anything and everything that this world throws at me. Jesus already paid the price for my sin; I don’t have to tolerate the habitual and repeated sin of another. I need to act on what the truth is and what the facts are; not about what someone thinks God might do for me. God has all the strength; I do not. We are not called to supernatural feats of strength.
4. I CHOSE to love for years and years. My children never heard us fighting. I NEVER put myself first, constantly trying to be submissive and work on myself and our marriage. I tried my absolute best to be a loving wife. I did not fight. I served every single day without complaint and without protest, even as he verbally abused my precious children. God has severe words for those who abuse his little ones. My husband ignored my protests for patience and love and returned them with indifference, anger and violence. I’m sorry if you have been told that this is acceptable and I’m glad your marriage to ____ has been redeemed but God in no way support or condones abuse. He simply does not. There’s plenty of Scripture to back this up.
5. God is not glorified when people do not stand up for the truth and against sin. God is glorified when we are willing to follow His will, even if it means the end of a marriage.
6. Marriage counseling is ill-advised and even dangerous for abuse victims. Just because I’m married to someone does not give him license to do as he wishes to me without recourse. Eventually consequences need to kick in. I tried to save our marriage. But I couldn’t continue allowing him to treat me the way he did and he only got worse as I set appropriate boundaries.
Unfortunately your exhortations to me are typical of what an abused woman encounters from her church when she tries to stand up for herself. Try harder, pray harder, work on yourself. There’s no allowance for mercy or grace or justice for the woman; only grace for the man. Why should he continue to receive grace when I’m denied relief? And do you know how hard it was for me to find my voice and even consider the prospect of separation? It didn’t enter my mind until this spring, although I was miserable for many years.
I can continue to show him love (and I do) by treating him kindly and encouraging his relationship with the children. I do not have to be married to him to do this. God is not glorified when I sacrifice myself at the altar of a marriage that he destroyed over many years. I did not break this marriage covenant; my husband did.
I realize you may not be well-informed on the subject of abusive marriages, but please understand that words such as the ones you sent me can inflict additional damage on an already broken-hearted person.
This was written by an anonymous reader of this blog. Many thanks to her for allowing us to publish it.