A Cry For Justice

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

Paige Patterson has never renounced or apologized for his disgusting advice to abused women

Listen to Paige Patterson discuss the proper way to deal with domestic abuse. This five minute audio clip is from a conference in 2000 where Paige Patterson explained the counsel he gives to battered women. Patterson is a real big shot in the Southern Baptist Convention. Over the years, this terrible advice by Patterson has been repeatedly denounced by victim advocates. But Patterson never renounces let alone apologizes.

https://archive.org/details/PaigePattersonsbcAdviceToVictimsOfDomesticViolence

He never allows divorce for abuse. He allows separation only for ‘the most serious cases of physical violence’. He tells women to not forget the power of prayer. He advises the wife to kneel beside the bed when her husband is falling asleep and pray to God to intervene. This would be dangerous for the woman to do! 

He then gives an anecdote (did he make it up?) about a woman who followed his advice and prayed by her husband’s bedside as he was falling asleep and got beaten badly by her husband as a result. In the anecdote Patterson claims the husband was the first one down the front at the altar call next Sunday and ‘he is a great husband today’.

These kinds of anecdotes are exceedingly common from false preachers who give ghastly advice to victims of abuse.

And so many male leaders in the church just let it ride.

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Related posts: 

Paige Patterson has never retracted his words on wife beating

A “Gauntlet Down” Challenge to James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Other Christian Ministries of Fame

 

 

 

46 Comments

  1. A

    He said he never counseled for divorce. Since when is that biblical? God made divorce to respond to certain situations.

    And I was supposed to pray for my husband, kneel by his side as he was falling asleep. Have we forgotten that this guy is abusive. That never would have happened in my situation. At bedtime he was generally in some combination of drunk and demanding sex. I’m supposed to calmly just go pray for him. Seriously? Moments after he basically raped me and is now passed out, I need to go pray for him? Who’s was praying for me after that happened? Obviously not Paige Patterson.

    This guy needs to get a clue. This is terrible.

    • Liz

      I so relate to that feeling of “who’s supposed to pray for me?”

      Sometimes I feel selfish for thinking that. Like we’re supposed to be selfless and pray for others, and I’m supposed to really want my husband to change and repent. And I actually do, I wish he would see what he’s doing and repent truly. But based on his pattern, I don’t think it’s likely. My church are still counselling me to stay, though. And I do wonder sometimes, what about me? They’ve shown so much sympathy for him, and met with him to “help” him change, but it feels like they don’t really care about what it’s done to me and the children. They’ve suggested counselling and help for him, but nothing for me. And my heart says, who’s caring about me? Who’s praying for me? Do you guys weep for me too?

      • this is so common! Most churches make SOOOO many mistakes in how they deal with domestic abuse. Your pastor needs to read everything we have here https://cryingoutforjustice.com/as-a-pastor-what-are-the-most-important-things-for-me-to-know-about-domestic-abuse/.

        If he won’t read it all, or if he reads all of it but still won’t change how he is responding to your situation, he is unteachable and this church is never going to be a safe place for you.

      • Momof3blessings

        I weep for you, Liz. In fact, I’m crying as my heart breaks for you. This was me 12 years ago, hearing these exact same phrases from my church “family” who cared so much about my marriage and about him, but not about me.

        If only one single person at church had said, “It’s ok to leave. He’s already broken your marriage covenant with the abuse. You don’t have to live like this. You matter, too.” Because you do. More than you can imagine.

        I will be praying for comfort, wisdom, and strength for you.

      • Momof3blessings

        Addendum:
        Liz, I meant I am praying for comfort for your bruised heart, wisdom in discerning the best way to protect yourself and your children, and strength to make it through another day. (I did not mean to imply you were lacking wisdom or strength, my sister in Christ.)

      • Liz

        Thank you, momof3, for your kind words. No offence taken at all!

        And thank you for the suggested resources, Barbara. Sometimes I think I’m getting through to my church. And other times it seems like they’re not getting it. I will see if they’re willing to read this article.

      • In my observation and what I’ve heard from many many survivors, churches can often give the impression they are heeding the feedback and suggestions of victims of abuse. But as time goes on, it becomes apparent that this impression was just a veneer. It was polite words but it resulted in no real action, no real calibration by the church. The church and esp its leaders did not read fully or did not heed the material the survivor gave them.

        There are some wonderful exceptions to this pattern, but they are rare. We will be publishing a post soon which is a story about a pastor who DID heed the material a survivor gave him, and it actually changed the way he preached.

  2. emmellkaycee

    OUTRAGEOUS! SOooo angering!!

    Physical abuse such as he describes is subject to the local laws put forth by man — these actions fall under ASSAULT and BATTERY laws. And he, being fully aware of a CRIME, is subject to incur charges of aiding and abetting criminal activity!

    If even *mankind* can understand and hold accountable and prosecute those persons who commit crimes of assault, how can this self-proclaimed ‘man of God’ have, not only no understanding of God’s nature, but also His provision?

    It literally sickened me to my stomach to listen to his Godless counsel!

    This audio cast references 2011… Is this man still a ‘leader’ine SBC? Does he still hold, teach and counsel these same evil views?

    • Emmellkaycee,

      Oh, it’s worse – Patterson is currently the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

      • A

        In his bio at SWBTS website, he emphasizes “the critical importance of fathers in the role of building their sons from ‘the mischievous, raw material of boys’ into manhood.” Scary stuff considering that he advocates for the church to enable men to abuse their families.

    • MoodyMom

      Not only does he not report a crime against one of his congregants – his own flock! – he tells that PERSON that he’s HAPPY (HAPPY!) that this PERSON has been beaten up! He’s happy this PERSON has been physically assaulted and battered! He says it right to this PERSON’S face!

      I am emphasizing “person” because if you use “woman, lady, her, she” kinds of words with “christian” leaders like Paige Patterson and his ilk, he only hears “oh… one of those..” It’s much like the thinking used to train fascist soldiers. They were trained to believe and be assured that the Jews and other people in the camps were “less than” – creatures… beasts… mindless… – so it really didn’t matter what was done to these… things. Especially if the cause was advanced. And enemies of the cause put down.

      “Christian” church leaders of this kind think of half of their congregations with the same mindset. This half of the congregation is only “less than” – like naughty, small children who need to be told what to do, constantly watched, constantly supervised, and punished if they don’t submit to their authority (get out of line). Or weirdly, also thought of as objects of temptation who they might ‘”catch adultery” from (thank you Tim Fall for that phrase!). They think – she is female, therefore: she is a complainer, a gossip, too emotional, over-reactive, too soft, misguided, less intelligent, talks too much, should be servile but often isn’t, lost and in need of guidance, angry, b&$*-y, a temptress, and/or an object to be used. And often… sometimes… an enemy.

      By emphasizing PERSON, I am trying to emphasize her humanity, her personhood, her creation by God. She is made by the Creator with just as much care, planning, love, and forethought and therefore she is just as good and just as human and just as much as a person as his half of the population.

      Clearly, these male church leaders don’t believe that.

      Because it’s okay (in fact he’s HAPPY!) that one of ‘those’ was beaten, bruised, and wounded. Because it was just one of ‘those’. It advances the cause! And (thankfully) it wasn’t one of “us.”

      • PEARL

        Sounds as if the male is more important than the female

      • Momof3blessings

        Moody Mom, I really like how well you distilled the misogyny out of their response by emphasizing her as a person not a woman. Well done!

    • Thanks David!

    • For our readers. David said something so good at his blog post that I’m pasting it here:

      The bible is intended to be read intelligently. We generalize and extrapolate all the time as we seek for applications of the text. But there is a group of recalcitrant chowderheads who refuse to do so when it comes to the issue of divorce. There they argue that it is only what the bible explicitly states–we are not supposed to use our brains. The bible doesn’t say you can divorce your husband if he puts his cigarettes out on your back, therefore you can’t.

      Madness.

      • Liz

        Can you help me understand this more? I’ve always been in churches where the specifics are really highlighted, so they would teach that divorce is okay for adultery but not abuse. That seems crazy to me. Someone above said that’s it’s crazy how the world can recognise that abuse is evil, but the church somehow can’t. But I just don’t really know how to talk to Christian friends about this, because most of them have this bottom line of “it doens’t explicitly say so you shouldn’t do it.”

        Also loving the phrase “recalcitrant chowderheads”!

      • Liz, if you click on the FAQ tab at the top of this blog it will take you to a page which has a list of our most frequently asked questions. Scroll down that list and you will see one of the questions is “What about divorce?” —
        click on that and you will find a whole lot of links which explain about divorce for abuse.

  3. Helovesme

    I was abused by my father, who is not a believer, for the majority of my childhood. He was physically and verbally abusive but never left bruises. The bruises and brokenness were all inside of me. Sometimes I even questioned if anything “really bad” had happened to me; perhaps I was too sensitive or melodramatic. But all the evidence was there, just not visible. I was an unhappy, unloved and very traumatized person.

    When I became a believer, I wasn’t surrounded by anyone who really understood my ordeal and often didn’t give me wise counsel or any real compassion. I do not blame them, because ignorance is a very real thing out there, and you cannot expect people to understand something that they really don’t know anything about. Since my parents are not Christians, I think that also gave off this idea that it was “excusable.” No one really said it was “sin” and no one told me the one thing that I longed to hear: that it wasn’t my fault.

    I don’t know what this man means by crossing certain boundaries or going into territories that are extreme before it’s serious enough. If he had ever been hit by someone who is supposed to love and protect you, maybe he’d change his tune. If he was ever verbally insulted, over and over again, while you longed for and would do anything to hear some kindness–maybe he’d “get i.” But I would never wish that upon him.

    I do understand that men get abused, and certainly when they are children—boys get abused. I’ve come to the conclusion (and this is only from my personal experience) that men simply don’t understand a lot of things that many women go through. Generally speaking, they will grow up to be bigger, faster, and stronger than women, so they will be more able to defend themselves—and society in general may or may not treat them better than women are treated, but the odds are more in their favor. When I walk out the door, I have to be aware of more and different dangers than a man has to concern himself with, although I am not saying that men are invincible. It is just a different world.

    I was never able to fight my own father and protect myself, but I don’t even know if I could have brought myself to do it. I did sense the “power of prayer” attitude being thrown at me when I first became a believer, and so I tried. I can’t say that it worked. It actually tended to make me feel worse, because I don’t think my heart was in it, which just made me feel guilty. What kind of a Christian was I if I couldn’t pray for my enemies? How would my father become saved if I didn’t pray? And would Jesus Himself be disappointed with me if I couldn’t “take” the abuse like He did? (my dad stopped hitting me when I turned 18 or so but the verbal tirades continued through my 20’s).

    So I can see myself listening to this man’s words and trying to follow them a long time ago, but it’s sheer manipulation and wicked counsel. It’s hogwash. It sounds sentimental and I guess his mellow tone of voice might trick people into thinking he really cares, but he doesn’t. All he cares about is his own sense of power and greed and ability to control others. Whether that story is true about that women with the 2 black eyes, I appreciated her words to him: “I hope you’re happy.” I hope such persons who give bad counsel to the suffering are “happy”” with the results—more suffering.

  4. A

    One more thought on this audio clip. He implies that domestic violence = physical abuse. If the abuse has gotten to the point that he has blackening both of her eyes, then she has also likely faced massive amounts of verbal, financial, sexual, emotional, etc. abuse. So what if he goes to church the next day “remorseful.” Remorseful that he got caught? It takes quite a bit more than just a few tears at an alter call for an abuser to even realize what he’s done wrong, let alone change.

  5. wisdom from Calvin

    • leaningonhope

      In my experience, the many pastors that I have observed in talking to both victims and perpetrators of abuse, (whether it was with me and my abusive husband, or another family) is that they talk the same way, there is no difference in speech or tone or message. Both parties are treated equally, both are treated as born again believers, valued as children of God, and usually both parties “played a part” in whatever situation(s) that got them to that point in their relationship. I have not ever experienced, nor even heard of, a pastor treating a perpetrator like a wolf. No calling out, no calling it like it is.

      I did have the experience of my pastor putting his finger in my face and telling me to “be careful what I say” when I was about to call out my husband’s abuse in a couples counseling session. I learned right then where I stood. And that I was better off not to speak.

  6. CeeKay

    And it infuriates me that he intimates that only he and/or others like him — those in churchianity ‘authority’ — get to decide what is considered “severely” abusive, or “abusive enough.” His attitudes, as well as hs behaviors are contemptable… the kind equal to and deserving of the righteous anger that Jesus executed against those defiling the temple and taking advantage of the poor.

    • PEARL

      I wonder how he would handle this if it happened to his daughter or grand daughter if he has either? Would there be some double standard that allowed them a quickie divorce or would they be expected to stay where they were and put up with it?

  7. The Texas church where the mass shooting took place yesterday is Southern Baptist: same denomination as Paige Patterson. According to this article in the New York Times, the murderer was a domestic violence perpetrator:

    “The suspect’s mother-in-law attended this church,” Freeman Martin, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said during a news conference Monday morning. “We know that he had made threatening texts and we can’t go into detail into that domestic situation that is continuing to be vetted and thoroughly investigated.”

    “This was not racially motivated, it wasn’t over religious beliefs, it was a domestic situation going on,” Mr. Martin added.

    Jeff Crippen published a post today about how the Permanence View (no divorce for any reason) relates to the Texas shooting.
    What Would John Piper, Jim Elliff, and Other “No Divorce for Any Reason” Dictators Say Now?

    • A bit more from the NYTimes article:

      He [Kelley, the murderer] had served in the Air Force at a base in New Mexico but was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assaulting his wife and child. He was sentenced to 12 months’ confinement and received a bad conduct discharge in 2014, according to Ann Stefanek, the chief of Air Force media operations.

    • PEARL

      Glad you posted on this incident, Barbara. That places it right out in the open so people can see and hopefully believe and do something about domestic violence in the church.

    • Christianity Today article published today: Domestic abuse is a top reason for church shootings.

      Excerpts from the article.

      Officials have concluded that the gunman who shot up a small Baptist church outside San Antonio on Sunday was not religiously motivated.

      Local law enforcement indicated Kelley’s second wife had occasionally attended the church with her family, and that the two had separated.

      “The suspect’s mother-in-law attended this church,” Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Freeman Martin said, according to The New York Times. “We know that he had made threatening texts and we can’t go into detail into that domestic situation that is continuing to be vetted and thoroughly investigated.” …

      Last year, among violent attacks at houses of worship where the cause was known, 25 percent of victims were killed as a result of a domestic abuse incident, all by male attackers.The next most common motive was personal conflict, followed by robbery.

      While in the Air Force five years ago, Kelley had been convicted of assaulting his first wife and breaking her infant son’s skull, The Times reported.

      The charges resulted in 12 months of confinement, followed by a bad conduct discharge from the service in 2014. His crimes should have prevented him from obtaining a firearm; a federal law bars anyone convicted a domestic violence misdemeanor from owning a gun. …

      Almost half of Protestant pastors (45%) said their church does not have a plan in place to respond if someone says they are a victim of domestic violence, according to a 2017 LifeWay survey.

      Note: there are some things in the CT article I do not endorse; but I have no quibble with the excerpts I have pasted here.

      • Momof3blessings

        Thank you, Barbara, for highlighting the link between domestic violence and mass shootings. Tragically, domestic violence is usually but mistakenly thought of as a private affair, and sort of the wife’s fault anyway for allowing/not stopping it, so certainly not anything “regular people” need to worry about. (This is NOT my opinion, just sadly what I see as typical.)

        Cases like this church shooting, however, demonstrate how men who abuse their partners and children are instead a real threat to everyone, since the abuser’s evil attitudes and thought processes justify (in their minds) ANYTHING they want to do. Even slaughtering innocent babies is fine with them if it this is what it takes for them to feel avenged. Just sickening…

      • Liz

        Not just church shootings, but in many mass shootings, the perpetrator has a history of domestic violence. The Orlando shooter was the same. Thank you for pointing this out, Barbara.

  8. DyingStar

    DyingStar here! My first abuser, the one I met in Bible College (the story on this site about the abuser who “hooked” me in Bible college), the abuser who wanted to rape and kill young girls, the abuser who liked looking at children in bathing suits, etc… LOVED Paige Patterson. LOVED him. And I met that abuser at a different college where Paige used to be president.

    • Seeing the Light

      That really says it all, doesn’t it? I’m just speechless.

  9. Hello Sunshine

    There’s something about this that sounds like, “Hey, what’s a beaten up, suffering woman or two if it leads to saved man?”

    • nailed it ^

    • Sorrowful

      I think John Piper has said as much in print.

    • PEARL

      You said it perfectly. If he’s really truly saved.

      • There is no way that abusive man would have been saved when he responded to that altar call. Abusers do that to manipulate the pastor and the church to be their allies. They never do it out of conviction of sin leading unto salvation.

      • But I think Patterson made up most if not all of the story. The part at the end about “they are happily married today” is a load of crock.

      • Momof3blessings

        I don’t think her suffering at his hands saved him, encouraged him to be saved, or was worth him being saved. Jesus is the only one who died for us to be saved from the consequences of sin. That’s not something He asks of an abusive man’s wife, the very person that man is charged with cherishing and loving and protecting, not raping or beating or demeaning.

        The way I see it, it is impossible for a man to be really truly saved as a result of his wife’s response to his abuse. It’s up to him if he wants to be saved, not up to his wife, and nothing she does can either save him or prevent him from being saved. That’s not her burden to carry. As the wife of an abuser, she’s already carrying way more than God ever intended for her to.

        But even if he were to be really, truly saved as a Christian because of her response to his abuse, does that mean her abuse was worth it? NO!!! Does it mean she now needs to forgive him and act as if the abuse never occurred? No, it doesn’t.

        This to me is the key concept that ACFJ understands that most of c*hristianity does not: He already ended the marriage the first time he was physically violent, or pushed her into having sex, or demeaned and humiliated her with cruel lies tearing down her sense of self as a person worthy of kindness, dignity, or respect.

        With abuse, once is all it takes. He broke the marriage covenant. It’s ended. She is free to go. She can choose to give him another chance if she wants to (and Lord knows I nearly let my ex destroy me with a quarter-century of second chances), but God doesn’t demand that of her, or even expect it. Because SHE matters to God, too, every bit as much as he does, even if she can’t see that any more.

        And preachers who teach the opposite are not only encouraging abusers, but they are discrediting victims, discouraging others from helping them, and taking away any hope that the victim has that there is any way out except suicide. Their teaching are not just misinformed, they’re evil. Their horrible words hurt many, many people, and kill some of them. I was almost one of them.

        It’s time for this truth to be recognized more widely and seen for the evil it truly is. Thank God for Barbara and Ps. Jeff and their work at ACFJ to spread light amongst hurting people desperately fighting their way out of the dark.

      • … nothing she does can either save him or prevent him from being saved. That’s not her burden to carry. …

        That is true. It is an implication from 1 Cor 7:16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

        Salvation comes from God, as a gift. Actually, none of us can ‘choose’ to be saved by our own initiative or volition. God chooses those He will save. The initiative comes from God. We are all resistant to the gospel, unless and until God quickens our dead spirit to life.

        God is the author and finisher of our faith. God is ‘the author’ of our faith means many things; one of those things is that we are all born dead in sin as a result of the corruption we inherit from Adam. We are so corrupt, meaning that the effect of the Fall is so deep within us, that as unregenerate persons we are totally unable to do any good and we are inclined toward all evil. We are unable to ‘choose’ Christ unless we are born again by the Spirit of God. In regeneration, the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts a true faith that embraces Jesus Christ.

        This concept is known as monergism — monergism (Greek mono meaning “one” and erg meaning “work”) is a term for the belief that the Holy Spirit is the only agent who effects regeneration of Christians.

        Here are some scriptures which back that up: All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way. (Is 53:6) Who among fallen human beings can produce something pure from what is impure? No one! (a close paraphrase of Job 14:4) “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.” (John 6:24)  

      • CeeKay

        Yes, this! Absolutely this!!

  10. Julie B

    To pray for an abusive spouse is a given. However, while we all agree God does answer prayer, He doesn’t always, even in dire circumstances sometimes (we don’t know why, naturally).. To say, “Just trust God” and do nothing to protect yourself is beyond appalling! …

    Paige Patterson and others who believe in “no divorce under any circumstance,” show me that this attitude is like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day – putting “the law” above any other consideration. Jesus came to abolish following “the law” for the sake of just following the law, and to replace it with love, intelligence and reasoning. I have been married for 52 years to one man, so have “no horse in this race.” However, I would get out of any hopelessly abusive relationship in a minute and would advise anyone to do the same rather than “holding the law of no divorce” up as the ultimate standard no matter what the circumstance. I think that attitude is “fleshly pride” masquerading as Godliness.

    • Julie B, I know you mean well, but may I give you some feedback?

      It sounds like you have never been in an abusive intimate partner relationship, so you assume that you “would get out of a hopelessly abusive marriage in a minute.” Let me caution you on that assumption. Many victims of abusive husbands find it very hard to get out of the relationship. There are multitudes of reasons they find it hard. You can read about them here: Why Didn’t You Leave? I hope you will read that link in order to have a better understanding. When a non-abused woman says to victims of abuse “I would leave a very abusive marriage in a moment” that comes across as superior and even haughty to many abused women because it infers that victims are silly or weak or cowardly for not leaving sooner.

      I believe it is not biblical to conclude that “Jesus came to abolish following ‘the law’ for the sake of just following the law, and to replace it with love, intelligence and reasoning.” Jesus said he had not come to abolish one jot or tittle of the law; rather, he had come to fulfil the law. The relationship between ‘the law’ and what Jesus was teaching and doing is not as simple as you have presented it. In his teaching on divorce, Jesus was rejecting the ways the Jews had variously ignored, distorted and misinterpreted OT texts about marriage and divorce in order to ‘justify’ men being allowed to dump their wives for self-serving reasons. If you want to explore this more, you could start with our page about divorce. Look in our FAQ tab to find it.

      One more thing: at this blog we prefer that readers do not tell other readers what to do, so I removed one of your sentences. Victims of abuse have been ordered around by their abusers for so long they do not need bystanders giving them directives too! We explain this a bit more at our New Users’ Info page – I encourage you to read it.

  11. Liz

    Stories like this always make me think of a testimony I heard from a man who used to be a domestic abuser. He was deep into drug abuse and other awful things. And when he got saved, his response was actually to set his girlfriend free from their relationship. He went to her, and he acknowledged all his bad behaviour and treatment of her. He basically told her that he would understand if she didn’t want to be with him, but that either way he was going to get clean and be a better dad to their little girl. And then he checked into rehab.

    To me, that’s real repentance. He didn’t just go, oh I messed up, but I’m sorry now so Jesus says you have to forgive me and take me back. He not only verbally acknowledged what he’d done and how much it hurt her, but his actions matched what he said. He recognised that the decision had to be hers whether to forgive him or not. Reconciliation wasn’t even in the picture at that point; he knew he had to focus on getting clean and sorting himself out and taking responsibility for his problems. I wept when I heard him speak because it was the polar opposite of what is happening in my situation.

    • Momof3blessings

      Liz, that *is* real repentance. I think I read it on this website somewhere that if you’re an abuser who is serious about reforming because your wife is talking about leaving, then stop trying to convince her you’ve changed and deserve her to stay, and instead offer her a fantastic divorce.

      One that gives her the time and space to heal and the chance to move on free from the pain you’ve caused her. One in which you show no retaliation or payback, but instead you accept that the consequences of your abuse likely include losing her, but for her sake you accept this without rancor. One where you may not like or agree with her decisions, but you abide by them with good will. And then follow through with it all.

      THAT is how an abuser would show real repentance, instead of demanding forgiveness and wanting everything to go back to normal and being offended she was daring to challenge his warped view of reality. Sadly, I’ve never personally known anyone who has done this, but I’ve known hundreds of abusers who have not, but who will believe until their dying day that all of their problems were caused by their wife. My ex is one of those. Just ask him. 😜

      What an awesome illustration of what we as abused women all pray for and long for and try so hard to make come about, but in the end we have to realize that in reality, we have NO power to make it happen. Which sounds hopeless, but it also means we are not responsible for making it happen! Instead, we are free to put our energy and time into caring for ourselves and our children as God intended, rather than being consumed with the never-quite-achievable goal of praying or submitting or loving our husband into seeing the light and repenting of his hurtful words and actions.

      (Sorry if I’m being too long-winded; this just is hitting very close to my heart tonight.)

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