Christ, crushed by God

As bad as domestic abuse is, the abuse of the Son of God by sinful man was far, far worse. Mankind betrayed, abused, tortured and crucified Jesus the Christ but out of love, He chose to endure it. The cross was not an after thought by God, it wasn’t His second choice to save us, it was the one and only way to the salvation of mankind. Because He died, crushed by His Father for our sake, we have the hope of life eternal. May we carefully and joyfully ponder the significance of His death on our behalf.
In Germany Good Friday is known as ‘Karfreitag’ or Sorrowful Friday. Somehow the somber tone of that seems more fitting to what was at once the best day ever as well as the worst. Whatever you prefer to refer to it as, here’s some thoughts from godly men on the significance of the Christ’s death on the cross:

“Dost thou understand me, sinful soul? He wrestled with justice, that thou mightest have rest; He wept and mourned, that thou mightest laugh and rejoice;
He was betrayed, that thou mightest go free; was apprehended, that thou mightest escape;
He was condemned, that thou mightest be justified; and was killed, that thou mightest live;
He wore a crown of thorns, that thou mightest wear a crown of glory; and was nailed to the cross, with His arms wide open, to show with what freeness all His merits shall be bestowed on the coming soul; and how heartily He will receive it into His bosom?” ~ John Bunyan

“The world’s one and only remedy is the cross.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

“Go to the cross of Christ, all you that want to be delivered from the power of selfishness. Go and see what a price was paid there to provide a ransom for your soul. Go and see what an astounding sacrifice was there made, that a door to eternal life might be provided for poor sinners like you. Go and see how the Son of God gave Himself for you, and learn to think it a small thing to give yourself to Him.” ~ J. C. Ryle

“If I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of self-assured and carnal Christianity whose hands are indeed the hands of Abel, but whose voice is the voice of Cain. The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter.” ~ A. W. Tozer

“If you’re a Christian, you’re not a Christian because when Jesus Christ was on that cross – the Romans and Jews beat Him up. If you’re a Christian – your sins are paid for, because when He was on that tree, He bore the sins of His people. And God, His own Father, crushed Him under the full force of His wrath – all the wrath that should have been poured out on you; God crushed His only begotten Son in your place.” ~ Paul Washer

Why doesn’t she leave?

There are many reasons an abused wife might stay with her abuser. She’s afraid to leave but also afraid of life without him. She has no money, no friends, no family, no one to turn to, no place to run. She believes him when he says he’ll kill her. She believes him when he says she is no good and no one will ever want her. She believes she deserves to be abused.

When his words are the only ones she hears, they start to define reality for her. He draws her in, compliments her, tells her he wants to do better, that things will be better. Tells her that he loves her. Then things start to change. She can’t seem to please him. She frustrates him. She make him angry. Or at least that’s what he tells her. The truth is, he has moved to a different part of the abuse cycle, the one that terrifies her. The one designed to terrify her. She dreams of leaving but is so very afraid to do so. So she turns her attention to simply surviving. At this point, she’ll do anything just to make the pain stop. He likes it that way. He gets his way, just like he always intended to.

Abusers destroy self-esteem, sense of self, any sense of worth. An abuser’s words not only destroy, but also define and control. The prison bars aren’t real but they are there nonetheless. The never ending cycle of abuse is a dizzying, frightening, one. Once she’s on, she’s likely to have no clue how to get off.

So why does she stay with someone who treats her like dirt? She stays because…

  • He’s told her that if she leaves, she will regret it forever. He has told her that he will: hurt her, kill her, hurt or kill her children, lie about her, take her children away from her, kill himself and fix it so that everyone will blame her, and so many other things. He tells her these things over and over again and she believes him.
  • He’s convinced family and friends that she’s either: crazy, abusive, morally corrupt, a bad wife and a worse mother, et cetera.
  • She is dependent upon him financially either because he’s: bankrupted her and ruined her credit, he’s kept them both in debt up to their eyeballs, he’s the main or only breadwinner, he’s refused to let her work, he’s forced her to work but has kept all of her money himself, her health is compromised from the stress she lives under and she isn’t up to the challenge of holding a job, et cetera.
  • He really can be a nice guy when he wants to be, when it suits his purposes to be. She wants to believe that that, not the abusive man, is who he really is.
  • She doesn’t know that there are services available for abused women or they aren’t available where she lives.
  • She is afraid that he’ll hound her forever through threatening, stalking, et cetera.
  • She has seen herself through his eyes for so long, she has no idea that she is worthy of being treated with love and respect.
  • She believes him when he says she causes him to abuse her.
  • She has a deep seated fear of being homeless.
  • She believes God will be angry with her if she “gives up” on her marriage.
  • She believes that her children need their Dad in their lives.
  • She’s afraid of being charged with desertion should she physically leave her home.
  • Since so much counseling is on “saving” the marriage at any and all costs, she believes that that should be her focus, too.
  • She believes her man is basically good…until he drinks, does drugs, has a stressful day at work, and that the abuse is his way of handling or reacting to such things.
  • She believes that he needs her, that–if she is patient enough–she might be able to “help him” or “change him” and the abuse will end.
  • The church has taken Malachi 2: 16 out of context and convinced her that divorce is always a sin.
  • Her abuser has moved her around so often, and has broken her ties to family and friends, so that now she has no one to turn to and no place to go.
  • The church she attends believes that her abuser is “a good and godly man” who would “never hurt anyone”.
  • Her pastor told her to go home, pray more, and try harder.
  • Her church has made it clear that there is nothing that they can do or will do to help her.
  • She is ashamed of what she has allowed herself to endure, of being treated in such an abasing and humiliating fashion, and she fears having it come to light.
  • She fears she can never “be free” of her abuser. If she turns to the police, even if he is arrested, there is no guarantee that he will serve any real time, and even if he does, he will one day be out and might come looking for her.
  • She is afraid of what will happen to her children if her abuser is given joint custody or visiting rights. She reasons that, if she stays, at least she is there with them when they are with him and isn’t leaving them on their own to face his abuse.
  • She doesn’t know how to handle everything that must be handled in order to find a way out.

One additional thing that I want to say is this: When I say that the church she attends isn’t helping her, I’m not speaking for all churches. I realize that there are churches where God’s love and grace is poured forth to the oppressed. My mother, who herself was a victim of domestic abuse, was blessed to find one. The church heard her story and welcomed her with open arms. They blessed her divorce. A deacon and an Elder went with her when she filed for divorce. They helped her in numerous other ways for several years. Unfortunately most churches aren’t like that.

What additional reasons can you think of that an abused wife might choose to stay with her abuser?

 

A woman comes to you…

A woman comes to you. She says she’s been abused. You look at her face. It’s evident that she’s stressed. Something is going on but you don’t know what. You ask her a few questions. She looks down, won’t make eye contact. Her answers are all over the place. She’s obviously confused, maybe lying. You don’t really have the time to try to find out. You tell her she must go home, repent, try harder, pray more. Do more to be a better wife, to try to make her husband happy. “If it doesn’t get better, let me know.” Patting yourself on the back, you relegate it to the back of your mind. “Thank you, Lord, that I was able to be there for her.”

A woman comes to you. She says she’s been abused. You tell her you know her husband. He’s a good man, a gentle man, a kind and loving man. There’s no way he could do the things she says he’s done. “You must be mistaken. You must have pushed him in some way. He’s never do anything like this.” She tries to explain but nothing she says meshes with what you are sure you know. “I’ll pray for you but the ball is really in your court. If you want a better marriage, you have to work for a better marriage.” You send her home but just for good measure, you call up her husband. “Your wife came in here saying things that I knew couldn’t be true. I just thought you’d want to know.” He gives you a sob story about how unbalanced she is. “I try everything in my power but it just never gets any better.” After promising to pray for him so that he’ll know how to help his wife, you hang up the phone. “Thank you, Lord, for letting me be here to pray for him and even for her. It must be so hard having a wife like that.”

A woman comes, asking to talk. She tells you that there isn’t enough money for food, not enough money for the doctor, not enough money for the power and the mortgage because her husband won’t give it to her. “Our children need so much but he spends the money on other things, I don’t even know where it all goes. It’s always like this, and I don’t know what to do.” You look at her clothes. She’s shabbily dressed. You look at her car. It’s top of the line. You know where she lives; the neighborhood is nice, upscale. She sees your doubt. “That car,” she says, “he insisted that he had to have that for business….” Looking back at her you tell her, “I know where you live. Your house is expensive. Your car is, too. Obviously your husband wouldn’t have made such important decisions without you. You need more money? Sell the car, get something nice but much cheaper. Cut out other luxuries. Move to a cheaper place. There’s a lot you can do to make things better. Maybe get into financial counseling. You need to learn to spend money on what’s important. We can’t help you.” She tries once again to explain but, really, there’s no explanation necessary. The truth is so obvious. You send her away, shaking your head as you do. As you sit down to dinner that night, you once again think about her story. Then you pray, “Teach us to be grateful for what we’ve been given, for the bounty set before us, and help us to always be ready to share with those in need.” Thankful that you don’t know anyone who is really in need, you start to eat.

A woman comes to you…. What do you do?

photo credit: Sometimes I Cry – I’m Only Human via photopin (license)

The Abuse Cycle

Domestic abuse, domestic violence or DV, is a repetitive pattern of behavior designed to gain or maintain control over another person. Repetitive is the key word here; anyone can sin against another person once in a while but abusers intentionally hurt us again and again. Abusive behavior is always about control. The abuser is very interested in having things go his own way. To this end, he’ll use fear, force or coercion in order to gain control over you, then turn around and say, “I’m sorry”. During his “nice guy” routine, he may buy you flowers or gifts. He may start helping around the house or start acting like the husband and father you’ve been longing for him to be. It’s all an act but since he’s very good at making you believe he’s sincere, you fall for it. And he feels good about playing you for a fool.

The victim of abuse often isn’t aware that she is being abused. Her abuser spends a great deal of time defining reality in order to keep his victim from seeing the truth of the situation. He’s nice when he has to be nice and other times he lets go with the abuse. Then it cycles around again and he apologizes. He didn’t mean it. How could you think he’d actually try to hurt you? His hurtful words are “constructive criticism” or “jokes”. His explosive or violent behavior is “an anger issue” or is “your fault for not…” or “your fault for…”. No matter what he’s said or done, in his definition of reality, he is never to blame. You are. But even though you let things get out of hand, even though you hurt him, he wants desperately to make this relationship work. He wants to make you happy. He loves you. Don’t you understand that?

It gets tiring, doesn’t it? As long as you are with an abuser, it won’t stop. But you can arm yourself with knowledge  so at least you’ll understand what’s going on. Here are the steps in an abuse cycle:

Tension building phase:

During this phase, the stress starts to build. There doesn’t have to be a reason for it to start (other than the fact that he is an abuser) but conflicts over daily life only makes things worse (as well as give him, in his mind, an excuse). Things such as how to handle problems with the children, too little money, overdue bills, schedule conflicts, illnesses, unemployment or problems at work adds to the stress. The abuser starts to feel ignored, threatened or angry. Communication becomes difficult and then impossible. The abuser may become verbally or emotionally abusive. The victim begins to feel as if she must “walk on eggshells” to keep the abuser calm. This phase can last anywhere from several minutes to months.

Explosion phase:

During this phase, he becomes abusive. This part of the cycle may last hours, days, or weeks.

Honeymoon phase:

Nearing the end of the explosion phase, the abuser might become afraid that he may have gone too far but his concern is only for himself—how the consequences of his abuse will affect him. He wants to maintain the status quo. In order to keep victim from leaving him, calling the police, or finding a way to get help, he apologizes to her and promises that “it will never happen again”. During this phase, the abuser starts to show kindness towards his victim. He may spend more time with her, may get some tasks done that she’s been asking him to get to, may act like the “ideal” husband or father, and may shower his victim with gifts. He will say he is “sorry” for hurting her. He may act depressed, may pretend to grieve, and seem as if he is remorseful. He may promise to get counseling. He may explain to her that what happened was really her fault, that her behavior provoked his and if she’d only done or not done thus and such, he wouldn’t have become angry or abusive. He will do everything he can to convince her that he is genuinely remorseful and will never abuse her again. The victim, wanting to believe him and anxious for the relationship to improve and move forward, falls for his act and stays in the relationship.

But fake remorse, fake apologizes, do not repentance make. Soon, it starts over again. And again. And again. And….

Is this domestic abuse?

Have you ever wondered if what you are going through in your marriage might be domestic abuse? From the inside of abuse, without anything to compare your “normal” to, it’s easy to come to think that the way you are being treated by your mate is normal. If you experience his bad behavior often enough, and couple it with his excuses, it becomes “just the way he is”. You start to overlook an abuser’s behavior or excuse it due to him having “a bad day” or just being “easily angered” or some other such thing. An abuser, of course, always has excuses and he’s quite adept at getting you to accept them. Still, if things are bad enough, if he’s hurt you often enough, you might find yourself wondering if this really is normal or if something might be wrong. What we’re looking for is a pattern of behavior designed to control you, hurt you or render you dependent upon your abuser. With that in mind, here’s some questions to ask yourself to help you to decide if you are being abused:

  • Does he tell you that you cannot go out by yourself?
  • Does he monitor your email, cell phone, your internet usage or your car mileage?
  • Does he control all of the money that comes into the house?
  • Does he prevent you from going to church?
  • Has he ever forced you to give up something you loved because he didn’t approve of it?
  • Does he make fun of things you like?
  • Does he make fun of your family or friends?
  • Does he make fun of your beliefs?
  • Does he tell you that you are stupid or that you aren’t as smart as he is?
  • Does he tell you his (family, taste, friends, style, mind, beliefs, etc.) is superior to yours?
  • Do you have to do what he likes to do, go where he wants to go, believe what he wants you to believe, act like he wants you to act–and nothing else is acceptable?
  • Does your life revolve completely around pleasing him?
  • Are you afraid to anger him?
  • Has he ever terrified you?
  • Do you feel that you are walking on eggshells when you are around him?
  • Are you afraid to be late getting home for fear of punishment?
  • Does he have you on a tight household budget while he spends as he wishes?
  • Does he have money to spend on things he needs or wants while you have little to none to spend on things you yourself need?
  • Does he/the both of you make a decent living and yet your clothes, your car, your home, your furnishings aren’t very nice because he won’t allow you to have nice things?
  • Has he ever prevented you from going to a doctor or from getting medicine when you needed to?
  • Does he consistently make and break promises?
  • Does he lie to you?
  • Does he blow up and then make excuses?
  • Does he twist the teachings of the Bible in order to control you or subjugate you?
  • Does he make you account for every penny spent?
  • Does he tell you that you are a bad wife, or that you are not submissive or obedient enough?
  • Does he tell you that you are a bad mother?
  • Has he threatened to take the children away from you?
  • Does he use the children against you, try to turn them against you or threaten to hurt them if you don’t do what he demands?
  • Has he ever threatened to hurt or kill you, himself, or your children should you ever leave him?
  • Does he throw things when he’s angry?
  • Has he ever punched a hole in the wall or busted through a locked door?
  • Has he forced you to perform degrading sexual acts?
  • Has he ever refused to allow you to wear clothes or not allowed you to wear underclothes?
  • Has he ever forced you to have sexual relations in a place where you shouldn’t be doing so (such as a park, a building, his parent’s bathroom)?
  • Has he ever forced you to undress in the car?
  • Has he ever forced you to walk from the car into your house, sleep, do your chores, or go into your yard unclothed?
  • Does he believe that his rights are more important than your rights?
  • Does he believe that you do not have any rights or tell you that you have no rights?
  • Does he believe that women are somehow less valuable than men?
  • Has he ever punished you “for being a woman”?
  • Does he demand that you give up your rights?
  • Has he destroyed your personal property?
  • Has he lied to others about you?
  • Does he gaslight you?
  • Does he demand that dinner be served “on time” or chores be done to his specifications and yell at you or punish you if you fail?
  • Has he ever hit you–even once?
  • Is he cruel sexually?
  • Does he call you degrading names?
  • Has he isolated you from family and friends?
  • Has he intentionally physically isolated you by moving you to run down houses or remote areas or to areas where you know no one (not your normal moving to a new town/city)?
  • Does he hold you to such strict rules that it is impossible not to fail, and then punish you when you do?
  • Does he yell at you, degrade you, make fun of you, call you a liar, or tell you to shut up in front of your children or others?
  • Does he tell your children or others that you don’t love him, you aren’t a good mother or wife, that you won’t obey him or fail to submit to him or that you are failing as a wife, mother, homemaker, etc.?
  • Has he ever taken money or property that belonged to you and refused to give it back?
  • Has he ever demanded that you change who you are, what you believe, or how you act to prove your love for him or in order to please him?
  • Does he give you the silent treatment?
  • Does he compare your body to that of other women?
  • Does he whip you, paddle you or spank you?
  • Does he practice DD (Domestic Discipline)?
  • Are you at the receiving end of his “jokes”?
  • Has he pressured you or forced you to use drugs or alcohol?
  • Has he pressured you or forced you to view porn?
  • Has he forced you to have sexual relations with someone else while he watched or filmed you?
  • Does he expose himself “accidentally” or otherwise—to your children, to others?
  • Is he jealous of you?
  • Do you feel that you have to make excuses to other people for his behavior?
  • Do you believe that you if you give into his demands that you can help him change?
  • Do you stay with him because you are afraid to leave him?

 

 

 

 

 

A glimpse into the madness that is domestic abuse

Have you ever been in a bouncy castle? Yeah? Were you able to stand? To walk unimpeded? To make progress without continuously falling down or stumbling? No? Why? Because the point of a bouncy castle is that it is unstable. You’re supposed to fall down, roll around, and to bounce into the walls and each other. There’s no stability in a bouncy castle because there’s nothing stable about it. With a bouncy castle, all the bouncing to and fro, all of the falling down and getting trounced on is fun. Translated to real life, it’s anything but fun.

Welcome to the life of an abused spouse.

Abusers come in all different flavors, if you will. The fellowship of abusive spouses has among its members the unemployed and the wildly successful, the financially adept and the serial bankrupted, the entrepreneur and the hourly worker, the uneducated and the ultra educated, the atheist and the religious. The members may be rich or poor, country folks or city dwellers, men or, at times, women. The thing that binds them all together is a desire to control someone else, make them do their bidding, and to do it at any and all costs.

Abused spouses usually come in one flavor: The beaten down. Rich or poor, educated or not, it doesn’t matter in the end. Their lives have been hijacked by another and they are reduced to living in the equivalent of a bouncy castle. Their lives are full of swirling craziness. They have no stability. It’s not their fault but, nonetheless, they usually get the blame. By their spouses. By others.

It’s easy enough to stand by doing nothing to help and wonder why she (or he) doesn’t leave or why they put up with it. I’ve heard it suggested that, if an abused wife didn’t like being mistreated, she’d leave. In Christian circles, it’s far too often suggested that she must be “doing something” to cause her spouse (“such a good, godly man”) to lose his patience with her. I’ve heard folks say men who claim to be abused are obviously lying. Believe those things and you are buying into lies.

Let me ask you this: Could you walk through a bouncy castle with a soup tureen smack-to-the-brim full of hot soup with everybody bouncing around you crazy like and be able to stand upright and make unimpeded progress to the door without spilling it all over yourself and everyone else? Or even without spilling a drop? No? Why? Because it would be impossible. The whole idea that you could is ludicrous because the bouncy castle does not have a stable ground. With each step the whole thing wibbles and wobbles and you wibble and wobble right along with it. Thus, without a stable living environment, with no one whom they can trust, no one to believe in, no hope for tomorrow, the abused spouse tries, again and again, to make progress, only to be smacked down every single time. By their husband or their wife.

In some ways, every single abused spouse has their own individual story to tell. In other ways, all of the stories are strikingly similar. Whatever the details are, the thing those on the outside need to understand is that the life they lead isn’t one they are controlling. There is no stability in the life of someone who is being abused. They have no control, no hope, no normalcy. Their normalcy is your madness. Abusers make sure of that. Abused spouses are being lied to and about, fed hope and continuously having that hope snatched away. Often there is not enough money, no friends or support group. Far too often, because of what the abuse, the stress, the cruelty, does to the one being abused, the abuser comes to be seen as the stable one and the one who is being abused is treated as the abuser or at least as crazy.

Don’t judge what you don’t understand. If you’ve never walked in the steps of one who is being abused by the one who swore before God to love them and cherish them, you can’t possibly guess at what she/he is going through. Their lives are full of despair, fear, pain, and confusion. If they are parents, their pain is 1000% more because of the fear of what such a life is doing to their children. Unless you’ve been there, done that, don’t start telling them, don’t start telling me, that “if only” we’d do “thus and such” everything would be alright. It won’t, it never will, because abusers operate from a point of extreme self-interest and their lack of logical thought processes, their continued lies, their failures as spouses and in other areas of their lives, actually serve a purpose: to please themselves. They will do whatever it takes to maintain control of their spouses. Always have, always will.

Life with an abuser (be the abuse physical, emotional, financial, sexual, etc. or any combination thereof) will never be stable. It will never “make sense” because it doesn’t make sense. Abusers destroy. Abusers kill, sometimes physically and always the spirit. Abusers are extremely adept at making you believe that he’s the stable one while wrecking havoc on his victim. The victim of domestic abuse (or domestic violence) lives in an extremely sadistic, quite unstable, bouncy castle from which she cannot escape or at least, until now, hasn’t been able to. Many  never do. Her husband, his wife, is bent on destroying them while telling them and everyone else how much they love them. She lives with someone who tells her she’s stupid, crazy, who curses her out, who destroys the things she loves best. Then he buys her roses. His abuser humiliates him daily, destroying any sense of self that he still holds onto. Then she tells him how handsome he is, how very sorry she is. Victims are isolated, blamed for things they didn’t do, accused of having affairs, attacked for daring to have any individual thought processes. And that’s on a good day.

You wouldn’t want to live this way, where swirling craziness is just a way of life, one you have no control of and little hope of ever escaping. Wouldn’t want to live with someone who tells you one thing one day then denies it the next day, calling you a liar in the process. With someone with whom you can never count on, can never believe, can never trust. For whom black is white and white is black. Someone bent on destroying you and all that you hold dear. Would you? No, of course not. Neither do they, but this is life. And many of them will never find a way of escape. That’s why the church needs to step up and learn about domestic abuse. It’s evil, it’s hiding in your town, in your office and, yes, even in your church. Abusers aren’t Christians, they aren’t even good people, but they are very adept at pretending to be. Just remember, good people never pretend to be bad but bad people often pretend to be good.

And remember one more thing: If someone in your church comes to you and tells you that she is being abused, believe her. She’s risking everything to come to you–even her life.

 

Learning to say NO

I was faced with the unimaginable today. From out of nowhere, someone who has caused much pain to me and my children, contacted us and wanted to “come over”. Not to apologize, make things right, or to deal with things but “just because”. Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a time before healing had begun, I would have felt backed into a corner, and would have probably said okay. I might have said “only for this amount of time”, and I possibly would have said “only under these conditions” but I still would have capitulated. Healing and God’s grace (so much grace) has taught me that I have the right to say NO. In fact, I am obligated to.

I don’t have to bend to other’s desires. I don’t have to “give in”…ever. I don’t have to be concerned that saying “no” is going to hurt the feelings of someone who hasn’t cared if they’ve hurt me. I don’t have to forgive someone who hasn’t repented. I would be wrong if I did give in. I would have sinned against my own children if I had said “Come on over”. Understanding this is an integral part of healing.

When you’ve been abused, your boundaries have not only been violated, they’ve been utterly destroyed. You forget what it is you like, want or need. You do things and start to say or believe things that you never would’ve before. Because you are afraid to say no, you don’t. You give in and give in and give, until there’s nothing left. No you. At all.

Healing is a beautiful thing, especially for a Christian. You don’t have to see yourself through the eyes of a man, of cruel family members, or of anyone else. You only have to see, in fact you GET to see, yourself through the eyes of God. Saved, holy, and just. Because Jesus died for me, when the Father looks at me, He sees His precious purity. His purity is my purity. I’m clean. I’m righteous. And I don’t deserve to be abused, walked on or lied to.

I’ve got a long way to go but, by God’s grace, I’m on the right road. I’ve learned that I’m allowed to take care of myself. It’s a lesson that I want my children to have firmly in hand long before they marry. I’m not saying that I want them to be selfish. I’m not suggesting that, once we start healing, we should swing completely in the other direction and become me-centered, but I am saying that, because we are His children, our physical health, our mental state, is important to the Lord. After all, He commands us to cast our cares upon Him (1 Peter 5: 7), to not be anxious (Philippians 4: 6-7), to pray and trust Him for our daily bread (Matthew 6: 11).

Maybe this doesn’t make sense if you’ve never been eaten up and spat out by someone else. But, if you have, you know exactly what I mean. If you’re reading this and you understand, my heart breaks for you. If you’re reading this and saying “YES!”, then I’m celebrating with you. We don’t have to walk down that broken road any longer. We can rise up and, when necessary, we can say NO. Loudly. Confidently. I’ve understood this for some time now but I wish I’d understood it long before I did. I can have boundaries. I can protect me. I can say NO. And you can, too.

Soli Deo gloria!

A message to wives of abusive men

Abusers demand more—far more—than we ought to have to give, they take more than is theirs to take, and they often make poor decisions in their daily lives that have far-reaching consequences for their families. Those of us who are left to pick up the pieces and make sense of the mess are in over our heads before we even begin. I have spent my life trying to fix the unfixable, trying to right unrightable wrongs, and trying to do that which simply can’t be done. And you, dear one, probably have too. It’s time for us to give ourselves a break. It’s time to face up to what we can do–and do it as well as we can. It’s time to accept what we can’t do and let it go. There’s no fixing some things. And, most importantly, it’s time to lay the whole mess in the Lord’s lap and ask Him to take control. In 1 Peter 5: 7, we are commanded to cast all of our cares upon Him because “he careth for you.” We need to do just that.

Sometimes people get themselves in messes that they can’t fix. In order to show us our dependence upon Him, God often presents us with circumstances that are too big for us to handle, and problems that we cannot fix alone. And being married to an abuser simply magnifies everything while presenting its own unique set of exceedingly difficult circumstances. But our circumstances, our problems, our pain, isn’t the end of the story because when we trust the Lord and turn to Him in faith, He steps in to fix things that we can’t possibly fix, to bring about completion, to do that which we ourselves could never—ever—do. This doesn’t mean that our husbands are going to necessarily wake up to what they are doing to us—some have, but they are the exception rather than the rule. It doesn’t mean that God’s just going to transport us out of our circumstances, or that we’ll find a way today, right this minute, to fix all of our problems. But it does mean that God is in control and that He will bring good out of the evil our abusers have committed. Along with Joseph we can say, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good….” (Genesis 50: 20).

God will deal with our abusers. He will help us to lean on Him, to be at peace, to trust Him completely, and to grow in holiness. Our joy lies in God, not in man; this is true whether our marriages are 100% perfect or mostly awful. The joy of a Christian rests in Christ—in who He is and what He has done. Things may not resolve when or how we want them to but God never leaves us, never turns His back on us, and He never sides with our abusers (even when they tell us that He is).

God is often the only One that an abused wife has to turn to. The good news is that we really don’t have to have anyone else in order to have all that we need. It’s nice when family or friends are there for us but it’s not absolutely necessary. It is necessary–to our souls as well as to our minds and hearts–to have the Lord there for us. And, if we believe in Him and trust Him, He is there. He’ll always be there.

Abuse has the power to rob us of many things. It has the power to destroy most everything in its path. But with God on our side, we’ll ultimately prevail. There’s a lot that we can do to help ourselves and to change things, dear sisters, even our steps are all tiny baby ones. And it all starts with trusting the Lord.

Are you a victim of domestic abuse?

 

Do you ever wonder if your husband or wife is abusive towards you? Unless you’re an abuser yourself and trying to put that label on  your partner, it’s not normal to think you’re being abused if, in fact, something hasn’t happened to make you think that. That’s not a thought that normally pops out of nowhere. Sadly, domestic abuse is more common than we want to think it is. As the power of the Gospel has diminished in our churches and then in our society, it’s really not surprising that me-centeredness has arisen. And what’s more me-centered than forcing your will, your desires, your way, on your own family while completely ignoring their needs or desires? Abuse can be emotional, spiritual, financial, verbal, or physical (and can show up in controlling/stalking behavior). All abuse–no matter what kind–begins with emotional abuse which is a pattern of behavior designed to elicit fear within the victim. Once fear is entrenched, the victim is easy to control.

So, are you being abused? There are things you can look for, patterns you can observe, to help you discern whether your relationship is an abusive one. Here’s a few of them:

Does your husband (or wife) treat you as if you are his (her) servant? As Christians we are to have a servant’s heart–that’s a good thing. However, if you are being forced to serve, being told you are a slave, being treated as if you have no choice in the matter, or are in a one-sided relationship where you are always the one to serve and never the one who is served, you are being mistreated. These are signs of an abusive or dangerous relationship.

Do you have a voice in the relationship or is he the only one who gets to make decisions such as where you will live, where or if you will attend church, what the money is spent on, where you go, what you do, who you are friends with (or even if you are “allowed” to have any), or even what movie or TV show to watch? Giving into our spouses desires because you love them and want them to be happy is one of the joys of a good marriage. Being forced to continuously give in against your will is a sign of an abusive marriage.

Do you find yourself making excuses for him to others? To yourself? Everybody fails sometimes, but if you have to make excuses for his poor attitude, his anger, his outbursts, his failures, if you find yourself being forced to explain it all away or wanting to explain it all away (in order to try to convince yourself that his attitudes or actions are normal) there is something seriously wrong in your relationship.

Does he see himself as the master of his castle? In Scripture, we are taught that the man is the head of the family, the head of the wife and she is to submit to him. In a good marriage, this is a reflection of Jesus’s submission to His Father and His loving headship of the church. A good husband will listen to his wife, she will be able to take a stand for what she believes, he will want to please her. He will make careful, well thought out decisions with her and, those times he’s forced to make the final decision, he will do so in a way that takes into consideration her hopes, fears, and desires while being careful to do what is best for his family. If a man really sees himself as the “Lord of his domain” or “the Master of his castle”, this guy is either crazy or abusive.

The most important thing to consider when deciding if you are a victim of abuse is this: Are you afraid of him? Do you feel like you have to walk on eggshells when he’s around? Do you find yourself changing the way you think, act, dress, or what you believe in order to accommodate him because you are fearful of the consequences of not doing so? Do you fear his outbursts? Are you afraid he will hurt you? Are your children afraid of him? If you are constantly stressed when you are around him, if you accommodate his wishes, no matter how bizarre, in order to keep him from getting angry, if you go out of your way to meet his demands or to make him happy in order to keep him from blowing up, if you’ll do anything to keep from setting him off, the chances are very, very great that you are in an unhealthy or even a dangerous relationship.

If in reading this, you’ve come to realize that you might be being abused, please be aware that it is not God’s will for you to be abused and there is hope and help available. At the top of the page, I have a list of resources to help you and you can also find my email address there if you need to talk.

Soli Deo gloria!

 

God, help me

Psalms 57: 4, My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.

Psalms 120, In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given unto thee? Or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper. Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war. (KJV)

 

Do you know the feeling of having no one to turn to? Of being at war with those whom you don’t want to fight with at all? Of being hurt, again and again, by the very ones you ought to be able to trust the most? I do. Because I do, God, help me has become a daily, sometimes hourly, prayer for me.

God, help me encompasses so much. My desire to know Him better, to serve Him better, to love Him better, to serve others better. To be the Mom, and yes, even the wife, that I long to be. To be an example to others of grace, of godliness, of hope in the midst of heartbreaking circumstances. To one day have a church that stands on the Bible for its doctrine but also knows and understands the pain in our lives and loves us anyway—and lets us love them. To be able to live in peace, worship in peace, to move forward rather than endlessly feeling as if I’m taking one step forward and ten more backwards, sideways, or skewed all over the place. To honor God by being able to pay my bills. To simply have enough. To be able to help others. “God, help me”…. There are times for deeper, more expansive prayers and I pray those often. But there’s also times for simple prayers of dependence.

Early on, I learned the importance of praying because, even then, our lives were upside down and backwards. My father was an abusive drunk and he terrified me. I remember being three years old and sitting at my mother’s breakfast table saying first one prayer, then another, out loud. She asked me what I was doing and I told her that I was “practicing praying”. She reminded me she’d taught me “Now I lay me down to sleep”. I remember telling her that “I’ve got more things to say to God than just that.” I still do.

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.~ C.S. Lewis

I, too, can’t help myself. I must pray. Not to make the Gospel me-centered because it isn’t, but God alone is the One who has always been there for me. He’s lead me down rough and rocky roads, tumultuous pathways, through caustic bitter relationships with family members, through many a dangerous time. I’ve lived in and through poverty, abuse, rejection, and ongoing chronic illness (that, at times, has nearly taken my life). He led me through the valley of false doctrine into His glorious pure truth. He is the reason I live, I breathe, I hope. Be they short or long, my prayers don’t change God. They change me. They change my perspective on my circumstances, aligning it with His. They change my will, making His will my own. My prayers are to honor Him, but they are what continues to give me life.

I am an abused Christian wife. This is a glimpse into my story. But it’s far more than my story. Ultimately, it, like any great story, is about something beyond myself. In my case, my story is about God’s grace and goodness towards me and my children. We live among many lions, but He is our great Defender. He hears me when I cry unto Him.