A Cry For Justice

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

Jesus brought a gospel of peace, and the gospel brings division

Jesus told us that He came to bring division.

Do you suppose that I have come to send peace on the earth? I tell you no, but rather division. For from henceforth there will be five in one house, divided three against two, and two against three.” — Luke 12:51-52  New Matthew Bible (NMB)

The expository note says:

I did not come to send on the earth such peace as is loved by this world, which is at peace when people’s appetites and desires are satisfied, and when the evil agree with the evil. But I came with the words of very peace to destroy the peace of this world. For since the doctrine of the gospel (which teaches peace to all) will be resented by many, it cannot be but that strife will arise, even among the greatest friends, as long as those who love this world would sooner exercise cruelty towards those they love best than leave the vices they have been accustomed to. And again, those whom the fire of the charity belonging to the gospel has touched, will by no means suffer themselves to be parted from that which they have begun to cleave to. Between such persons [says the Lord] I have not come to send peace, but division.

***

If you’re wondering what version of the Bible I am citing here, it is the NMB which stands for New Matthew Bible.

Explainer:

The Matthew Bible was published in 1537, about fifty years before the King James Version was published.

The Matthew Bible was the first complete English Bible. The 1537 Matthew Bible is being gently updated for modern readers because the English that people used in the early 1500s is hard for us to understand now.

The updated version of the Matthew Bible is called the New Matthew Bible (NMB).

Click this link for more info: The Matthew Bible is the first complete English Bible, and Ruth Magnusson Davis is gently it updating for modern readers

20 Comments

  1. Helovesme

    Thank you for this. It is such a precious verse (one that needs to be highlighted more and more!) and gives us so much to meditate on.

    I think my favorite line was: “it cannot be but that strife will arise, even among the greatest friends, as long as those who love this world would sooner exercise cruelty towards those they love best than leave the vices they have been accustomed to.”

    There are so many testimonies of people who found this out as they attempted to leave or expose an abuser within their midst. They weren’t allowed to do so with peace and confidence. They were often harassed, shunned, humiliated or reviled.

    Even if they had a great peace from the Lord in doing so (He also often gave them the courage to take such bold steps), it rubbed many professing Christians in the exact opposite way: How dare you! (in a nutshell) is what these brave people had to hear.

    You’re making waves in our “peace pond!” Even though that peace is not from the Lord, all they care about is that it is being disturbed!

    They didn’t support the peace that God gave them to expose evil (and do something about it!)—-they instead tried to crush it.

    The peace of the world supports this kind of behavior, and encourages it. And it’s in the church, and it just keeps spreading. It’s not taken care of, so it just gets worse and worse. And so many precious sheep are getting hurt in the process.

    This very much reminds me of the book of Jeremiah. The Lord chastised false prophets for speaking a false peace to the people. He held them responsible for lulling the people into a false sense of security. (Jeremiah 6:4, 8:11 and Ezekiel 13:10)

    So it’s no wonder that the true believers in Him face such apathy and opposition. Those vices they love best mean more to them, so cruelty is extended towards those they claimed to love.

    I think most or many of us can attest to facing this sort of thing, in different ways from all sorts of people. I have certainly been there myself, many times.

    I can’t explain how much it hurts to keep fighting your own family members, both biological and Biblical.

    Such experiences with the latter led me to question whether they are truly His people or not, but at the time—-I never questioned the stability and sincerity of their walks with Him.

    I don’t know how others dealt with it, or how they felt—-for me, I felt exhausted, inside and out. A lot of fear and confusion. Anger, hurt and a sense of betrayal and abandonment that goes so deep.

    When the Lord says in Matthew 10:35: “”Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword,” I didn’t truly understand how much I’d be using that sword to fight my own loved ones.

    Note: This is a spiritual sword, not a literal one!

    If you are like me, you ask yourself: how do you use that (spiritual) sword to fight your own flesh and blood and/or your own Biblical family? I’m not going to draw literal blood, but I will be making it clear that I’m not on their side. This sword will make it clear that I won’t stand for their behavior, and I will stand with His righteousness instead.

    You also might have to face being branded in certain unfair, unjust ways. The peace of the world attacks those that have His peace—-and they will sink very low to hurt the latter.

    I also liked how they distinguished between the peace of the world versus the peace He gives us. Reminds of this verse: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”

    I used to think that that verse meant God is way more generous than how the world gives. The world demands payment for nearly everything; nothing is free. God gives His peace freely and abundantly to those that love Him.

    While I still believe that’s true, now I am thinking a bit deeper. There is a price for accepting His peace, even though He freely gives it to His born again believers.

    He doesn’t give as the world gives by charging us money for that peace, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with conditions and consequences.

    He paid a DEAR price (dying for us) so we could have His peace, and it’s something to take very seriously. It’s a precious and valuable treasure.

    Having His peace means you must guard and defend it, because the peace of the world (again, much of it might be found with professing Christians) will try to take it away from you.

    Having His peace means you must stand up for and with those who have His peace and are moving forward with it—-leaving or exposing abusers in their midst. You cannot say you have His peace, but refuse to act on it. It’s not a passive deal. It propels us to real action.

    I think that sword that Jesus says He gives us must be wielded carefully and used ONLY as He directs us to, but this is where we ask for an outpouring of His Holy Spirit to direct us.

    I try to be very careful in jumping onto any bandwagon without first consulting and asking for His wisdom and discernment. Abusers are VERY good at pulling at our heartstrings, claiming to have His peace, claiming they are victims—–but in reality, they are lying.

    It is the ones who may be more silent, in the background, unnoticed and unheard, who are the ones with His peace, but they are fighting a more quiet but determined battle.

    Abusers may tend to come out looking for a fight, looking for allies and looking for ways to disparage their victim(s), and it’s those that tend to gather up and garner support and sympathy. I’t those people I tend to be more suspicious of.

    I’m still learning how to use that sword that He gives us. The battle is NOT with flesh and blood, as Ephesians 6:12 says, but often all I can see are the faces of loved ones—-and I have a hard time focusing on what is going on within them.

    • HeLovseMe … Amen to all you said!
      You have no idea how much your comment encourages me.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you both for your kind words. You both encourage ME very much.

        I specifically prayed this comment would encourage someone, so praise God for hearing me.

        Paul told Timothy to “fight the good fight.” That verse means so much to me, because I wonder if Timothy might have had many reasons to walk away and give up.

        The Holy Spirit didn’t just put it in there for fluff purposes! He knew Timothy needed to hear that.

        Fight—and remember that it’s a “good” fight. It’s a worthy fight.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented It is the ones who may be more silent, in the background, unnoticed and unheard, who are the ones with His peace, but they are fighting a more quiet but determined battle.

      ^^That.

      Sometimes the battle is waged behind the scenes.

    • Am loved

      So amazing & I am truly encouraged because everything makes sense now the peace God is giving me a peace I have never experienced before after leaving my abusive husband; now he has started to want me back [details redacted by Eds].

      He’s still using threats & fear to intimidate me & incredibly using the name of God insinuating that my life won’t be anything without him! So, I have been seeking God & I read this comment & my heart is overwhelmed by God’s ways to just reach down to His lost sheep. Thank you & be blessed.

      • Hi Am loved — welcome to the blog! 🙂 I’m so glad you found this post helpful. 🙂

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  2. Now free( formerly struggling to be free)

    Triggers Are Not a Sign of Unforgiveness

    Triggering has to do with those emotions hidden away, along with memories, all stuffed by trauma in various secret compartments of the brain. Unforgiveness on the other hand is not so much emotion as it is the seeking of vengeance upon someone, rather than leaving it to God. The two are really quite different. You can have forgiven someone, but still get triggered.

    I wish my sister could see this as she is on constant guard of church and anything I say she’s on the defensive. She does not see my hurt as they share and speak all the time about church in my presence once a week when I’m there for Sunday dinner. It’s not a good day I guess to visit but my mum likes her traditions and I agree some things are good to keep as it brings all the family together. I try to be silent but not ignorant, as they converse about church matters. Sometimes I try to change the conversation in a nice way when I get a chance.

    It’s so hard to listen to constant “church talk” from my family especially when I was once more heavily involved in the leadership than they were. They know how badly the pastor and his wife handled everything. They know the deep hurt that I’ve had over having to leave the church and all I put into it over many years, let alone the people I cared for so much.

    I do not think they understand though how much I’ve lost and grieving inside over that. It’s always been like get over it and move on. Expecting me to continue involvement somewhere else and back to ministries I had before. They definitely do not see how hard that is when most churches do not accommodate victims but back up abusers.

    They do not understand at all the many triggers I experience. Even funerals are so hard to attend, especially if conducted in the same church.
    I’m not bitter or unforgiving – I never was it’s not my way. It’s never been in my heart not for a second that I’m glad of.

    Was I angry? of course I was, especially at the way I was not listened to and badly treated. To me that’s a ‘just anger’ like Christ displayed in the temple with the moneychangers.

    I say very little in their presence and quietly sit hurting, but I guess they have to have their lives too. I do not want them to stop talking or be I natural hiding things for my sake. That would be wrong of me and I don’t want that.

    During the chit-chat around the dinner table at times there is a lot of triggers for me. I have to be so careful what and the way I say things. I’m forever undergoing scrutiny. Sometimes I let my guard down or give an opinion or observation. It’s not always liked and sometimes I get a reaction as if who am I to say anything. I walked away from the church. I feel I’m not allowed to enter their churchy conversations and most definitely not allowed to criticise or point out any faults. My sister very strongly defends against that. Only last week I got the roll of eyes that said “yeh yeh here we go the church is at fault again”, when I was only trying to tell my dad about Jeffs sermons here (I’ve put them into a dvd for him to listen to) and how good they were. I was sharing a few things I’d learnt. As a leader in the church it thought it would be good for him to listen to not just for further understanding what I’ve been through, but also help him further with better decisions/ discussions in church life.

    My sister is strongly defensive of the very place that did nothing to help me or support. I’m always at fault. But I honestly believe it’s more down to this question of not seeing that I’ve a long time ago forgiven and moved on, but I still have a voice when triggered and allowed an opinion.

    The church is far from perfect and they could learn from things I’m finding here and my experiences. My mum and sister are very close and often side too strong against me trying to be neutral. My mum always tries to see the good in everyone. I try too it’s a great quality to have.

    I had tried to bring things from the site before ever so slowly before them but got nowhere. After starting to read more and gain further help and recovery and listening to the sermons I felt now would be a good time to share a little more with them. I’m realising there’s no point though. I get no positive reaction at all. They are as entrenched in false doctrine and unwilling to learn. Despite saying they want to understand they don’t allow the means to understand books sermons especially what I’ve felt or have to share. It’s strongly dismissed or meets with a change of subject and ignored. They don’t want to talk about it at all.

    I can no longer be myself. I get heavily criticised if I say anything by my sister especially and my mum. I’m thankful dad lets me speak to a point and seems to get it. He always did see the bigger picture. He’s more willing to listen. He has many times as one of the leaders in church pointed out some very wrong thinking and decisions, despite being in the minority or alone sometimes.

    Dad has always taken my side. He told me if it had been him he would have walked away years ago and would have taken far much more financially etc with him too. He told me when I first asked for help from the pastor and got nowhere that he felt no way should anyone have to put up with any form of abuse. That the pastor was totally wrong in his stance on divorce and what he preached from the pulpit regarding it. I’ve often confided little snippets of things that were going on with him, however he still does not know the full story but a good section if it. Some is too much for me to tell and some I hold back both for self preservation but probably moreso to protect my parents from shear heartache in their old age. Some things I can live with “between me and God only stuff.”

    If I’m wrong my dad will most definitely correct me though and I respect that. He is often right on reflection, although at the time I may not agree or like it. He often corrects the others in the family if they don’t get it and tries to steer them to a greater understanding. Having said that he still does not want to get involved sometimes too, and has told my mum and sister to stop interfering. So sometimes I get the total silence and lack of support as they feel they are interfering or only going to get caught up in yet another family argument. I don’t blame them as I’m sad I have to share anything with them and have come to the place what’s the point.

    It never achieves anything but more pain and hurt and a further division. Oh how Satan has sought to rip this family apart. There’s been so many things down through the years with continual traumatic things happening.

    I’m so thankful not once did my dad ever disbelieve me or contradict anything I said regarding the abuse. The rest still say things that hurt deeply that screams they don’t believe me.

    My sister thinks I don’t forgive but she has not listened that it was done long ago almost as soon as things took place or very shortly afterwards. She doesn’t seem to understand that you don’t forget and you don’t have to agree with an abuser or like it when others (including pastors or leaders)who have caused further hurt and pain.

    It’s tough to listen to a family speak as if it was trivial (get over it) what happened to me and just carry on regardless. They did not like how my pastor reacted and told him so strongly, but they still sided with him over the divorce thing, played along with his decision regarding me, hushing it all up and still try to see the good in everyone. I think that’s a fantastic and good trait to possess. However for someone that’s been a victim of abuse it’s extremely painful and damaging.

    It’s so damaging to a victim if you continue to try to see the good in their abuser and make a case for that almost on an equal par with the terrible evil of what was perpetrated. Does God overlook sin?

    That’s no use if your trying to show a sinner the error of their ways. It certainly offers no confidence in you to those seeking your support.

    Some of my immediate family have continually taken sides as they try to remain neutral. They think it’s the right Christian thing to do. They say they understand and they hated all that happened to me ( I’ve not ever told the half of it my poor mum could not handle it) All along I’m screaming inside “don’t you believe me fully.? am I not your son or brother, why don’t you get me? You know me better than anyone and still you remain neutral??I’m not the one lying. I’m not the one overreacting or making things up. I am the one still reeling and deeply hurting and trying to recover. I am the one who lost everything. I’m the one who lost friends and ministry. Don’t dismiss all this as trivial. I’m trying my best to understand and learn from all this. I just want your full support not 75% of it or 50/50. comments like “well I feel sorry for her or I don’t think she probably meant half of what she says. I think she probably does still love you. You are not perfect either. You have got to see it from her point of view.”

    My biggest hurt is when they uttered “you were the one who walked away!you were the one who brought all this to a point of separation. It was you who started it and wanted a divorce. I feel sorry for her as she is just screwed up and probably never realised you would do this on her. We get you had to leave for your own sanity but she is right when she says you have finally got what you wanted.”

    [details of abuser’s harrssment and obstructionism during the process of divorce redacted by Eds.. because the divorce is not finalized.]

    I could see all the mind control via constant emailing (which was breaking clauses in the agreement stating no direct or indirect contact) my family realised that too and yet they still kept telling me I was wrong not giving in to her demands and sided with her saying “ just see it from her point of view. Give her what she wants. After all it’s you who started it all she never wanted to leave you. She still loves you and wants to be with you. She is right you are getting what you wanted!!!”

    In fury I stood and made a bold statement ! “Stop siding with her I’m your son ! I’m your brother! And by the way I wanted none of this! Don’t you get it I wanted none of anything that happened! I never wanted to have to separate or seek any orders or a divorce. I felt I had no choice but to go down this road! She was the one who forced it upon me. Something I never in my wildest dreams wanted is out of my control. But I did not WANT IT! What I wanted was a lovely, romantic, loving, close friendship and fantastic marriage that cherished each other and TRULY loved each other! One that mutually respected each other worked together as a team and went places together, did things together, enjoyed things together. So don’t you ever think for one moment I am getting what I wanted. I am most certainly not getting what I wanted. I have lost everything I’ve got nothing of what I truly desired and wanted!!”

    I left the family home extremely hurt and feeling totally abandoned.

    I had only shared with my family after months of bottling up-thinking they would be compassionate, but my family turned on me. I was still getting harassment, mind games verbal abuse. I was looking love and support and a listening ear. I got a lot of strong, verbal reaction siding with my wife. They did not want to hear any more about her or me that was perfectly clear. It was a very long time since I dared share anything. It always led to a negative reaction. I’d not said a word about my feelings or anything since my last stand when I first revealed I was separating.

    I explained to my family about the ways my soon-to-be-ex is harassing me and once again it met with a strong negative reaction. I wished I’d never mentioned it and kept it bottled within.

    My sister strongly took her side and in a rage said those hurtful words “well she’s right you are getting what you wanted it’s you who wanted to leave You started it all! “
    It cut like a knife into me
    Almost word for word what my abuser cries.

    How can they truly give me loving support they say they want to give me if they don’t listen to what I’m trying to tell them? They are only making more hurt for me if they keep on disregarding even part of my feelings or experiences.

    I want to say stop thinking I have unforgiveness in my heart. It is not what it sounds like please listen extremely carefully to my words they convey no bitterness or revenge. If I share with you and say stuff it’s because you are saying things that have triggered a reaction or simply I just need your love and a sympathetic ear. I would love you just to stand by me and with me. Be patient with me and don’t make my struggle for healing harder. A simple “that’s awful what you are feeling or getting. We are with you in it and love you. That would be perfect.“

    How I yearn to hear them say it. “please get that I have lots of triggers and I’m doing my best to ignore them or deal with them, but you don’t make it any easier for me. “

    Thank you Barbara for posting this distinction it’s one I continue to struggle with but I could not understand what it was or why, until I read this.
    I desperately would love my family to grasp this distinction!!
    My wife did not just abuse me, little do my family understand she abused them too as it has split the close family unit up too.

    I badly need wisdom to pick my moments to reveal or share things that will bring more healing to us all.
    I’m taking God at His word when He says “if any man lacks wisdom – let him ask” James 1:5

    • Hi NF, just a reminder — when you hit the ‘return’ key to make a new paragraph, please always hit it twice. That will save me time in moderating comments. And please don’t put a break before you close the quotation marks. Thanks! 🙂

    • Helovesme

      Hi, there Now Free( Formerly Struggling To Be Free).

      Just wanted to let you know how much your story touched me. I felt a lot of emotions as I read your comment—-sadness, anger, frustration, compassion (for you) and overall a sense of helplessness as you described your deep suffering.

      The triggering you mentioned is different but always tough for each person. For me, it’s often frustrating because I too struggle with thinking that forgiveness means; “it’s behind me; now I am numb and virtually unchanged by when I went through.”

      I didn’t want to admit that my abuse had actually changed me. That I would have to admit that there was deep damage in me, and that that did not make me a bad Christian. It did not necessarily mean that I was still holding a grudge towards those that had hurt me.

      Perhaps that is a reason why the church and/or Christians in general do not take abuse seriously? They don’t want to admit that it has deep and lasting consequences. They don’t understand how it changes a person, and that is not sinful to admit that.

      I’m so sorry for what you went through while you were married, and for how your family (minus your dad) treats you. That was heartbreaking to read about.

      I have family members that claim to be believers as well—-where there seems to be a firm entrenchment as to what they think, and what they believe—–even though they don’t seem to have any Scripture to solidly back it up with. I now believe there is more self-righteousness running through them than they are willing to admit.

      Pride tends to blind us. That is why it is so dangerous—-almost like a disease that eats up anything in its path. As I read about your interactions with your sister, especially—-that is how she came across to me. Very sure of herself, but not fully founded on the foundation that is Christ.

      The other day I told my spouse that most of the Christians I have encountered claim to have the Word in their hands, but they use it to pound someone over the head with it. They seem to have no problem using it as a weapon, and feel 100% justified in doing so—but all they are doing is hurting people. Even ones they claim to care about (as in the case with your family).

      They are so sure they have all the answers (because they supposedly know the Word), but have no real understanding of the character of Christ Himself.

      I know that doesn’t make sense. Read the Word of God, and you see Him for who He really is. There are varied reasons why too many professing Christians do not know how to show the hurting any real comfort or compassion—–but bottom line is (IMO): they are either young or new as a born again believer (and have much to learn and grow in), or they do not know Him at all (but claim to). There may be other factors involved to: I don’t have all the answers!

      What struck me the most about your sister (and your mom) is when you said: “They don’t want to talk about it at all.” That, to me, really spoke volumes.

      Talking about abuse or Scripture or doctrine is not easy, even if you all claim to believe the word of God. There were times with my family members, I would seriously wonder if we were all reading the same Bible. It couldn’t possibly be that we had such strong divisions about things that that Bible is so solid and firm about!

      Those that aren’t wiling to listen, debate and yes, disagree even (it’s all right to have separate opinions about certain topics)—-are in a dangerous place IMO.

      Boy, I know about not being able to talk about the abuse as freely and confidently as you’d like. I still hide plenty of memories that I simply can’t trust anyone with. That pains me, and I too find myself “hiding” more and more of who I really am in order to protect myself.

      It is the hardest thing, ever, to know that you need protection from your very own family—-those that you long to trust and share things with—openly and honestly. But they have proven to be dangerous, dysfunction and divisive towards you.

      It can be a very lonely, suffocating place to be. I feel like I’m trapped in a bubble that I cannot break out of, because that bubble is a form of protection—-but it’s also very tight and often uncomfortable.

      One time when I was praying I believe the Lord impressed upon me that I was not alone in that bubble. He was right there with me, sharing the pain and the burden of it all. It gave me some comfort for sure, and I now try to remind myself of that constantly.

      Your family’s reaction to your abuse sounds authentic in some areas, where they sided with you and agreed with some or most of the wrong done to you—–but they refuse to take it as seriously as it really is. Is that somewhat accurate?

      “Trying to see the good in your abuser” struck me when you spoke of that. I wonder if that is a clever trap that many (even good intentioned) Christians fall into.

      Why many victims are often shunned and snubbed by other Christians because they refuse to reconcile with their abuser, or refuse to attend the same church as him (or her), or whatever the case may be. They draw a line in the sand and will not cross it.

      This is where I think we are in utter shambles as believers, as a church, as the body of Christ. Where we are often twisted and torn up as to how to approach these situations. And leaders, perhaps such as your pastor—-are leading the charge in handling it all the wrong ways—-but are so sure they are in the right.

      I remember being told by a Christian that God looks at the heart (true, by the way). But I had just voiced (as a non Christian) that I had messed up in my life (that took quite a lot of courage for me to admit)

      The person, I think, was trying to assure me that God doesn’t JUST see my sins, He sees me as real person who is much MORE than her sins. He was trying to assure me that God is not a condemning God who wanted me to go to hell, is what I think. Many non Christians have the idea that God sees their sins and is out to get them—-and don’t understand that in His remarkable love for us, He provided a way to be set free from our sins.

      The excuses and waffling shown towards your abuser seems to be roughly on par with how i was spoken to.

      Yes, God sees my heart and yes, He does not see me as solely defined by my sins. His love for us is truly remarkable. Impossible to fully express or explain in words. It is something you need to experience to catch a full glimpse of what it’s like—-and there is nothing more wonderful; more fulfilling.

      BUT: my sins were serious. They were consistent, as an unbeliever. I was prideful, rebellious and a loose cannon. My sins put our Savior on a cross, dying and suffering in ways that He didn’t deserve (but I did). No amount of love for me was going to bypass that.

      What your abuser did to you was serious. What I have observed about prideful, professing Christians is that they refuse to see the suffering that abuse causes for what it really is.

      They also refuse to admit that a victim is 100% innocent of being abused, assaulted or whatever crime was done to them. And that the abuser, attacker is 100% responsible. AND, given those facts: real action needs to be taken. Real consequences need to be acknowledged and carried out—-firmly, decisively, and without delay.

      For some reason, these so-called Christians cannot believe that such intentional evil exists within their own family or church family or whatever else has shattered their false sense of security. Even though the Bible is so clear about the depths of evil that sinful humanity can sink to. should they choose to do so.

      Of all people, they cannot understand or admit that wolves in sheep’s clothing truly exist, and they may exist within their own family, churches or wherever else it may have occurred.

      The pity they have for your abuser, plus the shame and condemnation they heap on you for leaving—-plus the excuses they made for her (which made me feel sick, by the way)—-seems to indicate that they are in full denial of the depths of harm she chose to cause you.

      No one who claims to love you, then chooses to abuse you. No one utters horrible things they supposedly don’t mean are to be pitied. No one should be surprised or feel sorry for her, should you finally decide to leave. They should celebrate and be glad that you are now safe—-and support you in whatever steps you take from there.

      The “lack of perfection” argument towards a victim baffles me.

      The argument is: the lack of perfection in a victim condemns them and therefore means they must be silent about their oppression. No pity, comfort, or justice should be extended to them, because “aren’t we all sinners?” Instead, we will instruct and demand them to be forgiving, admit their sinfulness (it takes two to tango!), counsel them both to be loving and servant minded—-and God will be well pleased.

      The abuser’s lack of perfection sets them free from any real responsibility and accountability. They should not pay a price, because they have already been punished enough (hasn’t their sin caused them enough pain?). Instead, we will love on them, teach them, embrace them in private and public—-and God will be well pleased.

      I too used to be admonished to see things from the other person’s perspective, in order to humanize my abuser or whoever was hurting me. Because once I did, I would feel sorry for them (aka they have had it SO rough), and then their demands and expectations of me wouldn’t seem so harsh.

      I would also see that they really did love me; they just don’t know how to show it. I would better be able to serve and witness to them, if I could just step into their shoes and realize how, deep down inside—they love and miss me. How can you deny your own parents, when it’s obvious they are trying to hard? Communicate with them, be honest and open about things—-and God will be well pleased. You’ll regret if it you don’t keep trying. And God will not be pleased if you don’t. Suffering brings us closer to Him, so bear that cross.

      That level, and intensity of guilt is almost as bad, if not worse—-than the abuse itself! I found myself buckling under the strain as more and more loads were heaped on my frail back.

      I get the negative reactions part—-so you just keep your mouth closed. I too barely open my mouth to anyone, at this point, about SO many different things. Ways that I’ve been abused, ways that other professing Christians have treated me. Like dirt beneath their feet.

      Be patient with me and don’t make my struggle for healing harder. A simple “that’s awful what you are feeling or getting. We are with you in it and love you,” — that would be perfect.

      I couldn’t have said it better. Last night I was crying and crying and saying things along those lines.

      But perhaps David said it just as well: “Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none.They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” (Psalm 69:20).

      Praying for you. There is hope and healing in His wings. He is so good and kind and gentle to the bruised ad broken. We are in good Hands when we are in the arms of our Savior. God bless you!

      • Thanks, HeLovesMe 🙂

      • Now free( formerly struggling to be free)

        Thank you so much helovesme for your encouragement and kind words.
        I’m glad you found my blog encouraging, as it was so long and I nearly scrubbed it totally.
        I’ve done that many times here
        I guess it’s the low self esteem thing or that it’s not good enough. No one wants to hear this stuff kind of thing. So even if it encourages one person to press on I’m glad.

        What you wrote back helped me see I’m not alone in that struggle especially with family. Agree with you on things and I guess I must just learn to pick my moments and be wary. It is so hard to do as Christian families should not have to do that but we do.

        I had taken jeffs sermons to them last week on disc and asked if dad had listened but he had not. I know he will at some point though. I had listened more to the sermons yesterday about five in total one after other. Just like at church I made loads of notes. It helps get it into the grey matter and is good for reviewing.
        I’ve always done that I always bought wide margin bibles and they are covered in notes it’s just my way. Interesting to look back in it when other preachers are in same verses. I’ve not bothered with sermons or anything like this in over three years. It’s too painful but even the last few weeks I’ve moved forward.

        I was at the family home for lunch today. Was just Mum dad and myself so as I had started conversation regarding the sermons I’d continued to mention some things I’d learnt as we are. My sister not being there helped as I did not feel as under much scrutiny. She’s like a lion in long grass at times just waiting to pounce.

        I could see Mum ‘well up’ a few times after dad left to go visit his sister. Sad thing he never is around long enough to truly sit and listen. The recorded sermons will help greatly. I said a few things about other people and they were fine with that.

        Mum agreed the churches do not tackle subjects such as this as it’s too sensitive. They’d rather run from it. I saw it as my opportunity to say again what happened to me with the pastor in his ignorance and how he had it judged and covered up. I only ot that one sentence out when …. Oh but she said “he just didn’t know stuff … that was totally different than a cover up!” She immediately dismissed it as almost as if it was ok what and I got. the very forgiving tone and the almost instant disregard to talk about it or see the hurt it caused gave the feeling as if it was alright. I know she believes it wasn’t but it’s this old problem of seeing the other side and seeing The good in everyone. It gave them the byball and I was hurt but she said what is happening in another denomination has been well documented for years and it’s pure cover up denial. She could not see what she had just done but I just said nothing. Double standards and cannot see it.

        If dad had been there I may have challenged that thought. She is older frail and bad heart so I don’t tend to try and upset her. She is my mother and i have high respect despite not always agreeing for how she brought us up.
        I changed the subject. I encouraged her to listen to the sermons – it’s something actually I think she will be very enlightened by. It will not be easy listening for her I know for sure. I got the feeling today what happened to me was downgraded from very serious and terrible to a well it happened but wasn’t that bad today. It was a weird conversation that seemed to have that feeling of because I have separated as if it has been forgot about. Having said that she did say as you have in your reply that it’s not easy to talk about these things. That’s why the church does not talk about it. I got the hint it’s why she did not talk either.

        We then discussed the headship/ submission thing and she told me of our old pastor and what he taught. It was better than most but showed me although close was some inerrant things there too so I knew she has some false doctrines but definitely not all. She said sure that’s been spoken of a lot in church. I agreed as it’s one thing I must admit the denomination has been strong on. I said yes but only in word not always in practice. In practice they still give a disregard to that as they try counsel couples. She said nothing.

        It was interesting but I did correct her on the one aspect of headship, as it did not directly fall into part of my situation. I found if I spoke about others it was fine and she got a lot of it. However once I personalised or shared anything of my specific situation she could not put those beliefs or thoughts into that. So I sneakily began sharing about me as if it was someone else. I’m not sure if she caught on but I know she was tearful.
        It was not a perfect conversation by any means, but perhaps a start to breaking down some barriers.

        The whole pastor church thing? Well there was no way I would say any more about it. I got the message loud and clear other situations are different. That pastor in her opinion did not cover up he just had no clue how to handle it. She has made a great distinction in her head over it all. I agree with you that they just cannot seem to get by a line in the sand. Only Christ I believe, as pastor Jeff often says, can change anything.

        Like you I will just keep on hoping and praying.

        I am a changed person. In reading your txt I’ve just realised I cannot go back to how I was before. I would love to be that guy again and until now perhaps I’ve been grieving too long that I’ve lost all that and ministries etc that person I was.

        My mum and family I think want that but it will never happen. I think Mum especially just wants me back saved and preaching Christ again with fervour I had before. Involved in children’s ministries and devoted to a fellowship. I get that but I think she just wants to erase the last few years. I guess we all do……I wish I could. I’m just learning I must just get on with way I am and keep on recovering and healing. The future is in God’s hands.

        As with all trauma we change.
        I’m much stronger now than ever before. More assertive … sometimes. More open to those hurting which is unbelievable as I was always very empathetic. Yes change has happened I’ve gone back to the shy me ….in part. I may wire more confident but I’m not always in person. If anything abuse has made me more quiet and reflective, a much deeper thinker (too much sometimes) I had become more confident since leaving my wife. My self esteem shot back quickly but Knock backs this past year has put me back a lot,but I’m not dead and I’m certainly not out!!
        Deep down I don’t think very much of myself but that’s ok. I never was brash or boastful of being wonderful despite my humorous spoofing sometimes. It’s not my way to be the cool guy I’d rather sit in corner and watch or listen.

        It’s small steps but it’s forward I hope ( the ones back are for learning purposes I tell myself)
        Helovesme stay strong and keep going forward.

        I will reiterate your words back to you. He is our strength and our song. He alone, as barb has just posted (re Whitfield), is our salvation! He is our horn, our strength as the psalmist tells us. Paul says, “He is the author and finisher of our faith.”
        When we are in Christ we are in the best place possible. It’s not always what it looks like or feels like but we walk by faith not by sight.

      • Now free(formerly struggling to be fres)

        Wow helovesme I’ve just reread your reply over and over
        There is so much interesting and very good points in it

        I recommend Don Hennessy’s new book “steps to freedom”
        If you haven’t already read it it is excellent I’m only quarter way through but he makes some very interesting points.

        One that applies to our situation is that no one will ever understand us fully if they have never been there themselves.

        So whilst it’s hard at times to take wrongful reactions and for family to understand, or get it, I just remember that. It does not make things right and certainly as with my pastor who acted in ignorance and because of deep false doctrines, a person can go and learn. Especially if I’m saying no you are wrong or don’t get it and offer them books, sermons etc to help them understand more. To be honest all I needed at that time was a listening ear.

        If they reject that then that tells me much more as you rightly say entrenched in their sense of own self righteousness and dare I say it perhaps their own critical abusive nature’s coming through.

        Just one point of interest.. my mum was badly abused by her step mum throughout childhood. There was still control elements right til she died. We all received parts of that twisted woman’s thinking words and actions. It’s a whole different scenario. That woman also abused my grandfather (her dad) and had a hold on him till his death. He never broke free and never would have a word said about her to his and my families detriment. Even when my young sister was verbally abused and my father stepped in to protect and scold her, he stood by her such was the hold on him. So my mother sees more than anyone and we’ve often spoke about that. She gets the abuse but the whole divorce and reaction of church for some reason it’s just denied, misunderstood or overlooked. It’s very complicated in her head I think and I’m hoping sermons and books I will offer them once I’ve read them will greatly help her and in turn me and others.

        However as you say for now they do seem to see the abuse but for some reason cannot see how hard it is in the aftermath. It’s the inconsistencies I don’t get. I’m beginning perhaps to realise it’s more a case of avoidance as it’s all too much and painful. It still does not constitute negative reaction though. I’m totally confused knowing what I do know about the family history.
        Like one minute they are for you and the next right you have spoken enough about this. Shut up or seems the mood changes and it’s as if you are the problem as if you are almost the abuser. I don’t understand it all. It’s always left me totally confused what did I say that caused that switchover. I’ve never found anything to warrant it. It heaps pain on you though as all you want is to show love and often I end up running it walking out in disbelief and hurting that I’ve caused them deep upset. I feel in those moments I’m a terrible son or brother and many times they’d be better of without me.
        Any wonder many turn to take their own lives when feel even the people closest is against them. I’ve been there that utter sense of loneliness and that no one cares – desperate and hopeless but the world and family would be better of without me. You feel you are only bringing others pain and hurt.

        If anyone reading this feels this way please please listen to me ….. there is life after it’s not easy but things are better and there’s life! It’s not the right way!!! Yes we know God loves us but it’s not always enough! I know that I was at that point too. If you are reading blog here, talk to your doctor, get help but please see that you only see in part …..there is so much more. I’ve been twice thinking theirs no point there’s no light at end of tunnel .. totally in the dark!

        I jumped that ship of devastation abuse and inner turmoil and I’ve not looked back. It was the best decision I ever made …. THERE IS ANOTHER WAY!!!
        ( I will reblog my song here to save anyone searching just scroll down)

        My family have always been very strongly opinionated and very critical of each other but outside it rarely happens.

        It was my counsellor who pointed out to me that I’d ended up in a bad marriage and it was not surprising after I shared about home life and responses etc. She made it clear “don’t you see a pattern!”

        There’s so much in life that has knock on effects. All the more reason for the church to help a victim break the cycle and support the victims and their families.

        Something we have here that works fantastically is bereavement counselling. Many of the bigger churches have adopted it. The immediate people involved spouses, children parents, families sometimes even wider family circles are all helped whatever their age. There’s no limit on who it has effected. The sessions are open to all. A bit like AA meetings not everyone is an alcoholic that attend their open meetings. My dad has found great help and still goes to meetings even though he never was an alcoholic but friends and extended family members are. It affected all of us….

        People that are trained in bereqvement counseling are assigned to children or various adults. It’s often done on a weekly basis but the programs go through cycles of the seasons. All getting something that will help them talk things through, adjust and time to heal, etc. There’s no limit on timescale they can just keep on attending and getting help until they are ready or changed to face things without the need for support. It’s always there.

        The church and any program really needs to realise this is not just a male-female problem it affects much more and the support needs to be wider. The church could provide so much if it would just waken up. I know my family has cried out many times for help and support in the past and it got them nowhere. They closed up and just kept it to themselves. Nothing is new. It seems there’s just a great deal of denial all round.

        Another point I’d say why few Christians open up is that in the past their trust was betrayed and gossips in churches caused damage often involving ‘chinese whispers’ to the damage of many. I’ve witnessed it many times in many fellowships I worked with.
        It’s also the reason I said very little to anyone and the one person I knew would understand me as been there themselves… were in a family of gossips. No way was I going to reveal anything it was too dangerous and still is.

        Once again helovesme your words encourage but I will read and reread. so much I see in them is similar for me and your points I’m pondering on.
        Keep on posting I’ve found here I receive so much.

        Thank you again to barb and team behind scenes
        I’m so glad I found you I’d hate to think of where I’d be if I had not searched and seen this site. Your ongoing love, advice and support is precious!

      • Hi NF, WordPress had automatically sent this comment of yours to Spam, from where I retrieved it just now.

        I’ve removed some details you gave about your extended family having suffered abuse and addiction: those are their stories to tell, not yours. If you want to tell about another victim’s story, please disidentify it more. But I left in the stuff about your grandmother having being abusive. I hope that’s okay.

        Have you heard of the term ‘cognitive dissonance’? If not, I suggest you research it. It sounds to me like you mum is experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance.

        I suggest you put that term into the search bar at this blog. The posts it brings up might be helpful for you.

  3. Now free(formerly struggling to be fres)

    You don’t understand me!

    You dont understand me
    You dont hear the silent screams
    Inner anguish, and smothering fear
    You dont live in my world
    You dont hear the broken pleas
    Haunting my soul in the quiet while you dream in your sleep

    Is there any way out
    Of the torment and pain
    Is there a light that can guide me through the tunnel, safe
    Caught in a trap, every struggle is in vain
    The noose ever tighter, The battle’s too great.

    Will the knife take me or should i go out with a blast?
    will i sharpen the blade?
    Will i extinguish the past?
    Will i try to rise higher or fall into the deep?
    Will i strengthen the tie?
    Will i swallow to sleep?

    Theres no ear to listen to the Beat of the heart
    No heart to care and reach out their hand
    No hand strong enough nor anyone brave
    Alone in the present and alone to the grave

    Tired of all the twisted lies
    No tears left in these dry eyes
    Weak, I will draw my final breath
    I got nothing to lose, for i am already dead

    This is not the answer this is not the end
    Stop the strong delusion messing with your head !!

    I added that last section two years later realising life was so good now.
    To anyone reading there is so much more good in store despite what it might look like. Keep faith!! Don’t listen to the demons in your head!

    • Thank you NF

      Those lyrics of yours are powerful!

      • Now free(formerly struggling to be free)

        Thanks Barbara for you good advice and words. I was at my lowest point and it was those writings that scared me into taking action. Enough was enough. I had to break free!

        It was best decision I’ve ever taken except turning to Christ as a child. Saved from so much. I will look up that term as I’ve never heard of it before. All this is new to me and it’s a steep learning curve. Thanks again.

    • Helovesme

      Hi again Now Free(Formerly Struggling To Be Fres)

      Don’t want to give ACFJ and you too much to read so I’ll try to be aware of that! Thank you for the kind words and for sharing additional personal details and insight.

      I truly related to much of what you shared.

      I’ve had the honor of reading lots of comments and testimonies when abuse (of any kind) surfaces—–and not always in the church. Universities, workplaces, doc offices etc. are also rampant with abusers. So many times, it’s not handled well, if it’s even acknowledged at all.

      There are understandable outraged comments directed to those in leadership: what if this was your daughter? Would you dare act this way, or speak this way?

      I understand the logic. If you personalize a tragedy, it will move your heart and motivate real action. They are pleading with those in power to empathize with those that are suffering.

      But most people live under the delusion that abuse or assault will not happen to them, or to someone they love. It tends to happen to “others” or “someone else” out there, but never in my family, church, community, etc.

      You can go even further in that delusion and tell yourself that this victim should not have been doing this or acting this way, etc. They can then assure themselves that their loved ones will be much wiser than these “so-called” victims.

      The more we blame victims, the easier it becomes to wrap ourselves up in delusion after delusion like a warm blanket—-thinking we are safe and invincible from harm.

      These people are 100% wrong. They refuse to admit the true nature of their own vulnerability, not to mention their inability to 100% safeguard their loved ones from harm.

      On the flip side, as you’ve demonstrated—sometimes it’s sadly your family and loved ones that are showing victims the most enmity. This is not always the case! But it happens more often than we’d like to admit.

      The first murder in history, spoken of in the Word, was between two brothers. Not two strangers or two friends or two acquaintances.

      That is something that shakes me to the core, wondering if we are still, as the family of Christ, still finding ways to hurt our own Biblical family.

      By the way, a person most often knows their abuser or attacker. They may be a family friend, or a family member, or a beloved pastor, teacher or coach. It tears up a family when the truth surfaces, and the victim is easily blamed for “causing division” – when in truth, it is the abuser who is to blame.

      Your mom sounds like such a sweet woman. My mom, who is not a believer, sounds a lot like her in some of her attitudes about abuse.

      She was simply unable to deal with the seriousness of my trials. That is it in a nutshell. She didn’t know how to handle them, but she chose all the wrong ways instead. She chose to be either ignorant, make excuses, blame me or simply tell me to move on and put it in the past.

      If your mom is unable to admit how badly her child is suffering, perhaps she too is like my mom—-who chose to live in denial simply because it was easier on her. But it came across to me as if she didn’t care.

      Also, my mom was very helpless in knowing how to help me, much less actually help me. Few things are worse than feeling helpless. Denial is a lovely solution to that awful feeling.

      I often “joke” that denial is a river that never seems to dry out. There is always an arsenal of excuses or blame shifting if you choose to live that way.

      The excuses your mom gave your old pastor were interesting.

      Something that I believe tends to propel or enable abuse is this type of attitude towards authority figures:

      We may not like who is in charge, or how they are leading or making decisions—-but we must respect the office he or she is in. We believe God put them there to be over us, and by honoring and praying for such leader—-we honor Him.

      This is something that gave my father a lot of leeway in how he abused me. He is my dad, and I must honor him for the “position” he occupies in my life as a father. Even after the age of 18, when I am legally an adult—-he still has the “title” of my father and I must respect that.

      Replace certain words with: pastor, spouse, president, teacher, coach—-the list is long—and you can see why people like my mom and your mom may hesitate to emphatically call out evil within leadership, or within their own family.

      You would think—-considering how much power authority figures have—-we would hold them to a certain standard, right? If they are using that power to abuse, or enable or ignore abuse, that is serious business! They are not fit or qualified to lead if they are so corrupt.

      I’ve heard arguments about leaders or family members being ignorant, or he or she meant well, or the situations were different—-in how they handled abuse.

      If they can’t dodge the evil of the abuse or how it was handled, the argument now shifts to intentions: there were no malicious intentions in your abuser, your pastor (when he covered it up or blamed the victims). So we can’t be too hard on him or her.

      I’ve had that argument flung at me as well. I would feel backed into a corner, but here is what I choose to say now: I’m not a mind reader. I don’t know their innermost thoughts, or how their minds were or weren’t working. By the way: NEITHER DO YOU. So you can’t tell me with certainty that you know evil was not propelling them. By the way, in putting puzzles pieces together, you CAN see and discern intent. It can be an ugly truth to face, but face it we must.

      One of the worst things for me, personally, is how I feel as though I am drowning in lies. Abuse is based on lies, on clever and malicious deception.

      Jesus said that Satan is the father of lies. And a murderer from the beginning. He lives to steal, kill and destroy. There is no truth in him.

      He is not the father of sin, evil or even abuse. The father of lies. And lies DO murder. And not just potentially physical murder. Inside, a person can feel dead and broken from all those lies. They steal, kill and destroy. Those are SERIOUS words. Why don’t we as Christians take them seriously? This is our Savior talking!

      I’ve lived it, so no one better tell me abuse isn’t serious. I couldn’t believe how well you expressed how you are not the same person in the aftermath.

      I used to be far more outgoing, a people person, a social butterfly, more boisterous and energetic. I used to be far more open and honest with others—unafraid of it as well. I kept telling myself that the more people got to know me, the closer we could become. You can’t make relationships without taking risks. And, if it reveals our Savior working in me, that might encourage or bless them as well. So I wore my heart on my sleeve for years.

      It’s not the same anymore at all. Much more quiet and content to be alone. I am very private now, and struggle to trust anyone at this point. I have tried to still be open with others, but Christians have been the worst at how they respond (if at all).

      I am not 100% proud of what I am like now, but I DO understand and acknowledge that real, serious trauma has badly damaged me.

      I too hope that I am more compassionate towards others. More empathetic and MUCH slower to speak, ready to listen (boy I hope so!). I also hope I am growing in patience, which is something that is very hard to learn, but very necessary in our walks with the Lord.

      I am working hard to look to the Lord. If He still loves me as I am, then I will do my best to accept myself as I am. I have no idea what His hands will do in molding and shaping me from all these experiences, but trusting Him will hopefully never fall by the wayside, as it has towards so many others. He is 100% faithful and true.

      I too have wanted to die and just be done with it all. If I was such a trouble maker in my biological family, my in-law family, the body of Christ—-then why doesn’t God just remove me from this world?

      I’m still here, alive and kicking, even though I feel dead inside. So He has a plan for me still, and He doesn’t need (or care to get) permission from anyone about it.

      And yes, this is a believer speaking—-wanting to die. It doesn’t make me a bad Christian or a bad person to have sunk so low. It’s not to be coddled—-it’s serious. But I run to my Father’s arms when I feel that way, and I am given strength to keep going.

      Another lie that I have fought to struggle is that abuse is somehow, somewhat sanctioned by God, because He uses it in our lives. And didn’t Jesus suffer slander, shame and abuse? And as believers, we are promised that we will suffer trials and tribulations in the Word.

      Here is a wonderful post about that subject: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/is-suffering-abuse-meritorious-before-god/

      In a nutshell, God never condones abuse. He condemns it.

      • Bless you, Helovesme. The way you read other commenters’ words carefully and then reply with compassion and self-transparency suggests to me that you are a person who often shows a great deal of patience. 🙂

      • Helovesme

        Thank you for the kind words 🙂

      • Now free( formerly struggling to be free)

        I don’t know what to say helovesme in reply to this. I’ve tears in my eyes just reading your responses. You have no idea how much healing has been taking place in my heart and mind the last few days and even on reading this.

        Barb behind the scenes and you here and others all being used by God I can assure you.

        Thank you again to both of you for your patience with me and encouragement plus all that fantastic advice regarding family matters. All noted and so much help. You really are the first to have helped me or even listened to that side of things as I try recover.

        “I am working hard to look to the Lord. If He still loves me as I am, then I will do my best to accept myself as I am.” helovesme

        That spoke volumes and I must adapt that attitude too. Never thought of it that way until now. It’s given me a lot of food for thought.

        I was very naturally shy as a child and then once got involved in serving the Lord I grew more and more not so much confident but able to present myself well and speak well. I guess doing lots of sports also boosted that confidence. Teaching every day for many years perhaps let the real me shine and hone my social skills. Growing strong as the Lord enabled me.

        I would not say I had lots of self esteem or confidence, but perhaps I hid things well and for my work I probably came across more confident etc than I was deep inside.
        Always fooling around and playing pranks too. I was the jovial person and was often in the midst of laughter. Generally loving life, despite many traumatic experiences along the way before marriage.

        I know what it’s like to feel dead inside it’s why I wrote that song.
        I always knew though the real me was still there. You suppress so much and I guess that’s why in being wary we still do in a sense. It’s all about self preservation. I also know for me it’s also for protection for others as I could easily have stood up and voiced my disgust etc and ruined ministries and churches etc but that’s not my way at all.

        I still was being that true self outside the home and in churches etc. I just shoved the abuse in the corner put on a brave face for 20 years and kept going. I covered it up well only those going through the same spotted little similarities and said were praying for me.

        However once all that was swiftly removed , that last straw broke me and I know I’ve not been the same since.
        That was the last move to totally isolate me. It was cunning and deceptive but it worked. If only I’d been listened to and given help instead. We move on or rather forced to move on.

        I don’t believe God will is for any of this, just as he does not will divorce, war or likes. How patient He is with us all!
        However, He does certainly use it to make us better, stronger and wiser (well I hope He is and I am haha).

        It may not always feel or look like I’m growing closer to God, but in my heart I know He is working in me and continuing even through all the tough struggle and my own stupidity and weaknesses to perfect that which He started in me.
        I must believe that and I do feel that often. I’m no longer in that ‘dead zone’, but I am often in my lost and numb zone and my self esteem is so low. My favourite word is still – sorry!

        It’s just those knocks after knocks that drag you down again in your soul. I just do as I’ve always done through many years. I get back up,dust myself down, and try get on with life.

        I posted a song or more like a poem earlier today on the site. I hope it encourages you all.

        Thank you again there is so much in this text that speaks into my heart I can relate to a lot more than I care to let on at times. My full story still isn’t out. Much probably to Barb’s amazement. I can hear her scream oh no there’s more!!? I’m jesting we all can still have wee laugh at ourselves.
        Oh yes the real me is still very much in there. 😀

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