Thriving After Your Storm

 

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As, I look back on this year, I am amazed at the goodness of the Lord.   And I’ll tell you why.

My son was married, to a beautiful christian girl.  My oldest daughter is engaged to her long time love.  My youngest is in the final stages of wedding preparations.

I have a wonderful fulfilling job working as an advocate for women and children.  I find myself strong, happy and more peaceful than I ever thought possible.  At the beginning of the year I was diagnosed with cancer…after radiation treatments and medication, I am doing better than I should be.

At the beginning of this year, I heard the Lord speak to me as I sat in church with my head bowed in prayer.

I felt God speak louder and clearer than I had ever heard before. a short message that held life-altering repercussions. “Go and share!”

I became overwhelmed with emotion. I had stop speaking to women a year and a half ago due to the affects of my divorce and past abuse. I was amazed that God had spoken to me about this at all, but even more so at the three words I heard. Go and share? Go and share what?

Then it hit me. Fear immediately overwhelmed me and I sank into the pew, trembling at what I thought God might be asking. I began to question God, “Surely You can’t mean share my past, Lord. I thought you wanted me to stop sharing? I don’t want to continually relive this hurt….Surely You don’t mean go and share what I prefer to keep secret.” Yet, that is exactly what He meant. And I was full of fear.

Return home and tell how much God has done for you. So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:39

The man who was healed from demon possession in the scripture above experienced similar feelings. He was a tormented man that lived as an outcast for many years, naked and alone in the tombs of Gadara, near Galilee. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees and shouted at the top of his voice, begging for mercy from God. Jesus commanded the demons to leave him and then cast them into a herd of pigs that rushed down the steep bank into a lake and drowned. The man was healed physically, but more importantly, spiritually.

He was so overwhelmed with gratitude for what Jesus had done, he begged to travel with Jesus and stay by His side. But Jesus had other plans. Instead, Jesus told him to go and share his story. And he did.

What had once been a burden to bear became a powerful story of holy transformation. This man’s past, and the healing he experienced, became the foundation of a purpose in life that he would have never imagined — living his life as proof of the life-changing power of Jesus.

This man’s story became a testimony he was willing to share with others. How many people believed in Jesus and are now spending eternity with Him simply because this former demon-possessed man willingly allowed his terrible past to become a story of redemption and purpose?

People can cannot deny, dispute or ignore God’s transformational power in someone’s life. Our stories of pain, adversity and overcoming in Christ are meant to serve as a testimony of God’s faithfulness and power, evidence that God really can take what the devil meant for evil and use it for good.

I’ve since learned it is always God’s desire for us to go and share our stories, whether we want to or not.

God never wastes our pain. Only we do. God has a plan a great purpose and a beautiful future for all who believe in Him. Not despite our past, but because of it.

For years I’ve believed in, written about and spoken about the promise found in Jeremiah 29:11, which says “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Do I still believe it?

During the year of 2016 – which honestly had felt much like a disaster – I had endured one of the most difficult, heartbreaking and horrific storm I’ve ever had to go through.   But I have to admit there have been times when the burden felt too heavy to bear and an overwhelming deluge of emotions seemed to be controlling my mind and my life. I was not only dealing with a divorce, but the painful memories of years of childhood sexual abuse.  There were days when I felt weak, inadequate and hopeless, despite leaning into God as hard as I could.  The future I once thought was secure and all planned was now so uncertain, in addition to the personal sorrow of being catapulted into the unwanted roles of a single woman.

At the time, I loved my husband dearly, and have always prayed fervently for him and our marriage. Over the years, I prayed endlessly for a change in his heart and mind, and even prayed for some type of miraculous restoration to occur if that was God’s will. However, at this point, it seems abundantly, clear that restoration does not appear to be in God’s plan for us.  I have since learned many truths about my marriage that caused me to see that it was never what I thought it was.  Played for a fool in the hands of a man that used me because he could not have the life he desired. An unwilling participant in his obsession with youth and the paradox of what is appropriate and what he desires.  I was forced to play a game, I had no chance of winning. I sadly, realize now, he will never be happy, no matter who he marries until he sheds his old life and confesses, allowing the Lord to shed light on his dark life.

I would have done anything in the world to avoid this happening. However, I’ve finally come to realize through a lot of prayer, faith, and emotional and spiritual healing, that sometimes, no matter how badly we want something, strive for it or pray for it, it may not work out the way we wanted or prayed for.

The reason the Lord wanted me to share is:

God uses the hurting to help the hurting. He uses the redeemed to help redeem. God used a divorced women during my darkest days, early in my divorce healing, to give me hope that I too would survive this divorce… and maybe even thrive someday.

Every day women need to hear that I have been through an abusive marriage and a divorce, that I have been abused as a child, that I have been raped and I’ve healed, and I’m more than thriving on the other side sharing this hope and healing with them. Someone you meet is going to need to hear that you too have been through a divorce or whatever storm you have been through. Seeing how your life is better now, what it took to get through the healing process, and that you’re doing well, which will give someone hope, needed to keep moving forward in her own healing journey.

Whatever God’s purpose is for you, do it to shine a light into the dark places of pain, hurt, and struggles. Your purpose may look very different than mine, and mine different from yours, but we all can be used in distinct ways to comfort others in their times of troubles and use our purpose to benefit the Kingdom of God.

The good news is that God has been incredibly,  faithfully present throughout this storm.  I can see tangible evidence of His speaking hope into my spirit every time I so desperately needed it and how He gave me strength on the hardest of days.

Admittedly my faith has felt weak at times, but I have now personally experienced how God is strongest when we are at our weakest.  His obvious intervention in my life, along with the unconditional love, support, encouragement and prayers from beloved friends and family, are what have carried me this far.

So today, despite it all, I can honestly say I do still wholeheartedly believe in the promise of Jeremiah 29:11.   I truly believe God has a great plan and purpose for what I am going through and for my future.

Although the happenings of 2018 are yet to be known, I am choosing to be hopeful and believe God has a wonderful year ahead with exciting new opportunities, relationships, blessings and adventures in store. I am choosing to believe my story is still being written, and trust God will be with me during the journey.

In His love and trusting in His continued goodness,

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I Need Your Direction Lord

 

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I have shared many times on my blog about my divorce and it’s aftermath. These past several weeks have been a bit difficult with regard to my attitude about my ex-husband.  I shared my sadness/anger of discovering he placed a praise the Lord and christian fish after his name on our divorce decree.  Compounded by the fact, that I work with Christian women who find themselves in abusive marriages, has made it even more difficult.  I realize daily that he desperately needs to change his heart so he does not abuse another women.  Truth is, I do not miss the man I was married to, but I do miss the best friend he was for years, before we married.  It is hard as a christian, you are told to fight for your marriage, which I did while we were separated even fight while the divorce is being processed.  Then the decree is final….then what?

I forgave him three years ago, but sometimes I still get annoyed with him. Especially, when every time I need to get a hold of him, I receive angry emails from his family attacking me. He acts like I am a non-person after 2 decades together… Funny, they are never from him, he just ignores me, he hides behind his family. It is such a paradox for me, professionally, I work to educate and stop domestic violence, then knowing that I personally know someone who needs help to stop their abusing behavior.

I’ve been pondering the whole response to an ex that needs help, do I just turn a blind eye and walk away or do I try my best to make sure he never hurts another women.  If he does, is it a blood on my hands kind of a thing.  I know that isn’t exactly accurate, but it is hard to see someone you loved living with a hard heart either. Of course, I am far from perfect, and I have my own issues, and only by the grace of God do I live.

I believe that God is showing me to just give him up to the Lord, period: in an attitude of love, goodness, blessing and prayer. My eyes focused not on my life, not on my circumstances, and not on the wrongs done to me, but rather focused with laser intensity on Jesus!

The verse that the Lord continually bringing me to is Luke 6:27-28:

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

It seems harsh to refer to my ex-husband as my enemy … although sometimes it feels that way. I believe in my heart that he isn’t my enemy. I think I feel like I’m in a spiritual battle with him, but maybe we are more like opponents in a tennis match—but there’s definitely no love in the score.  Which makes me sad.

“Love your enemies.”

Awww, Lord. Really?

“Love … do good … bless … pray.”

Love him? Love him. Really?

What does that even look like? ‘Cause I did that for a long time and it ended up almost destroying me. I ended up abused, used and thrown away like thrash, notified he was divorcing me by email.  Love the person who put praise the Lord and a christian fish on our divorce decree?  So I’m praying as I write because I really don’t know what that looks like.

Talking about love always reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Love is:

Patient, kind, does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice in wrongdoing, rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Am I patient with God’s dealing with my situation and my ex? Am I kind in the face of my ex’s attitudes, accusations and actions? Am I rude when I could choose to be kind? Do I insist that things go my way regardless of God’s plan? Am I irritable and resentful? (Ugh. Definitely.) I do not believe I rejoice in my ex’s wrongdoings, but maybe I do a bit when it’s me trying to justify my angry response to him. Do I rejoice in the truth?  I hope so.

But in this circumstance, do I bear, believe, hope and endure all things? Nope. I wanna cry and hide in the corner. I want to yell and argue and fight with my ex, telling him how much he hurt me and the children.

Who am I kidding—I can’t do those things! Love like that? That’s not logical.

But when has God called me to do something that He hasn’t enabled me to do?

Once again, I’m gonna have to rely solely on Jesus. After all, He has given us “a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7).

And I’m going to need the Lord in my life, because not only am I called to love that man, but to do good, bless and pray for him.

 

But what is my role in the meantime?  Am I you supposed to sit around and passively wait for more persecution? No, the answer is to become aggressive with good. When wicked behavior is running rampant, it feels like it is in control. However God’s Word tells us that good is more powerful than evil. God does not say that doing good to others will help us tolerate their evil. He says that we can overcome it. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Light overwhelms darkness. Hope triumphs over discouragement. Love casts our fear. It is our task, in the face of evil, to offer good. Why? Because good invites repentance.  I pray he repents, before it is too late.

Consider Romans 12:20 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” The phrase “heap burning coals on his head” referred to awakening the conscience of another. With good, we can melt the heart of evil with burning shame. Constantly repaying evil with good holds a mirror up to the perpetrator reflecting only their evil; in some cases this will bring about a change of heart.

I believe I will pray for God to enable me to live the way God desires me too!

When Your Spouse Is In Sin

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I was a wife willing to keep my vows, no matter what. I desired—a godly marriage. Yet I failed, when my husband developed a hard heart and became abusive.  This was probably the hardest and most sorrowful time in my life.  When you love someone with all your heart, but try as you might you cannot change them.

I can speak personally, as my husband was a man of God. When your spouse has known the Lord Jesus, and you now witness them defying God’s Word, God’s moral standards, and walking away from their Lord and Savior, you become deeply grieved. I was personally burdened for the consequences that he faces if he does not repent of his sinful abusive lifestyle. There are many women around the world whose spouse may have been in the ministry or were leaders in their church who have fallen into sin. This is why we need to stand in the gap for our spouse, for their repentance and their joyous return to a surrendered life to the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. I Corinthians 6:9-11

If you, like me are dealing or have dealt with a husband with a hard heart and find yourself in an abusive situation.  First off, I would like to say, I am so sorry and I know first hand how difficult that it has been for you. I certainly understand the feeling of being crushed under such pain and sorrow for your marriage. Believe me, God sees all that your husband is doing. He also sees and hears you as you continue to cry out on your husband’s behalf. I believe no one will pray for him as you will, so I encourage you to continue to intercede for his soul, asking the Lord to do whatever it takes in order to cause him to surrender. Remembering that it is God who will change the heart of a man.

You are in a battle, a spiritual war is raging around you. The enemy enjoys destroying christian marriages.  While it may seem hopeless now, know that God is greater than he who is in the world.  It is God who calls the sinner to Himself.  Seek counsel from your pastor and elders to intercede for you and your husband.

It is also important that you ask the Holy Spirit to examine your own heart to make certain that you have not developed a hardened heart, due to all the many circumstances that you are facing. Do not allow unforgiveness, doubt or unbelief to harden your own heart. If you do not repent of your hardened heart, your own sin will build up a wall between you and the Lord.

I know that you feel alone and deserted right now. I want to encourage you that God will never leave you nor will He forsake you. No matter the outcome of your marriage and your relationship, God will never ever cease to love you, care for you, and desire what is best for you. Man has free will, we cannot change anyone or force them to change, but we can pray that God surrounds our heart with His peace.

Get others in your life who will walk with you. Ask the Lord for those who have sound judgement, Biblical wisdom who will journey through this with you and help you make any necessary decisions. You need others in your life who will remind you of truth, remind you of who you are in Christ and remind you and help you to go on living as you wait and pray.

It can seem so confusing and that is understandable but God isn’t a God of confusion. He will show you what to do. Ask Him for wisdom, ask for discernment, ask for direction! He will be faithful to lead and guide you.

I’m praying for you now, I’m interceding for YOU! Praying that you would be comforted, that God would speak His peace over you through His Word. I’m praying that He would bring faithful friends who will surround you and help you through this difficult time. I’m praying for your beloved, that he would surrender his sin and his life to Christ.

Your identity is not in your marriage or your happiness, it is found in Christ, alone. I know it seems so simple but you truly can have joy by knowing Christ. I know your heart is aching for your marriage to be healed and this chaos to be gone but God will not waste this time – so, be willing to learn, grow and trust Him through this.

I know you long to live a Christ-honoring life. You need to draw from a deep well of biblical knowledge to set captives free.

Always remember, you are a beloved daughter of the King of Kings. No matter what any man has ever spoken to you or how they have treated you, you are spoken for, a treasure, a precious daughter to God Almighty.

Today do not allow the enemy to steal your faith, hope and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether your spouse was a believer who fell into sin, or if your spouse has never made that personal decision, the Lord Jesus is calling their name to come to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their life, repenting of their sins and have godly sorrow. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10) Our Lord God created Adam, Eve and marriage. The Lord wants you to pray and intercede for your beloved spouse’s salvation. Keep praying that the Lord will break the chains of bondage or open your spouse’s spiritual eyes from their spiritual blindness that your spouse is living in today. May you start praising and thanking the Lord for what He is going to do in your life, resurrecting your dead marriage. Never give up on your husband or wife or on God!

So I’ve committed to pray God’s Word over my ex-husband. Today, I’m sharing what I pray and invite you to join me in praying for your husband:

Father, give my husband a discerning heart to know Your great love for him and the great plans You have for him and our family. Plans to prosper and not to harm, to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Father, give my husband the mind of Christ, saturate it with godly wisdom. Help him to take every thought captive that is not in obedience to Your Word, and in so doing protect him from pride and temptation. (1 Corinthians 2:16, 2 Corinthians 10:5)

Father, open the eyes of my husband’s heart to understand Your Word, so that he won’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of his mind so that he may know Your good, acceptable and perfect will for his life and our marriage. (Romans 12:2)

Father, help my husband to trust in You with all his heart, not depending on his own understanding, but acknowledging You in all his ways, so he knows what direction our family should take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Father, may the favor of the Lord rest on my husband. Bless and establish the work of his hands and his heart. (Psalm 90:17)

Father, help us to live together in perfect unity by loving, honoring and respecting one another and serving each other for Your glory, honor and praise! (1 Thessalonians 5:13)

When we replace our toxic thoughts with the precious Word of God and then pray those words, we pray the Word that is living and active, capable of changing hearts and minds. We are praying the mind and will of God, as revealed in His Word, into our marriages!

So pray with hope, boldness and confidence! God will be faithful to honor His Word.

Heavenly Father, replace my toxic thoughts with Your life-giving words and teach me to pray those words over my heart, my husband and my marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Abuse Breaks The Lord’s Heart

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As I have shared on this blog, I just completed training to be a victims advocate.  I am so thankful the Lord has entrusted me with this ministry.  Today, I spent time with a Christian women who had just escaped a domestic violence situation.  While I was sitting with her and holding her hand at the hospital, I was heartbroken for her and heartbroken for all the women who find themselves in this situation. This is a situation, I am all to familiar with myself. I thought of my heavenly Father and how his heart must break each time one of his precious daughters is hurt.

I am hearing stories of so many Christian husbands and wives who are hurting each other.  I have recently been privy to intimate details of one Christian marriage after another where someone was being desperately hurt by their spouse.  Desperate women with nowhere to turn who are suffocating emotionally and not getting the help that they are begging for.

Emotional abuse is defined as “an attitude of entitlement and profound disrespect that discounts at every turn the inherent right of the other person to dignity, separateness and autonomy.  Out of entitlement and disrespect spring various overt behaviors that use anger, violence and/or contempt to induce fear, guilt and shame.  The other person is controlled, punished or demeaned.”

Harsh words and selfish actions, coming from the person who vowed to love you like no one else, kills a spirit slowly and methodically.  The woman living within this kind of relationship, especially long term, begins to lose track of reality.  What is truth?  Am I actually crazy?  Am I really an idiot?  Maybe if I did this, things would get better?  Maybe if I prayed more, cooked better, spent less, served more, spoke less, I wouldn’t deserve to be treated this way?  Or perhaps, I really do deserve this.  Perhaps, it’s not that bad.  Perhaps, this is what God has called me to.

What does this do to your heart when your spouse is constantly yelling and disregarding your worth?  Making you feel unloved and constantly hurting you? Can you imagine this? Can you picture your spouse doing any of these things to you?

I can tell you from experience living within an abusive relationship is a slippery slope.  I knew things were difficult, but I was blind to how wrong it all had really become.  Especially, since, I am a survivor of long term childhood sexual abuse, my perspective on how I should be treated is was somewhat skewed.  Compounded by the fact that I loved my husband, still do and care very much for his spiritual life.  Being together two decades, is hard to not care about the person.

These thoughts just scratch the surface of a hugely controversial topic.  If you or someone you love is in this kind of situation, please get help.  There may not be a black eye, but a heart is being broken a little more each day.

There is no place among the followers of Jesus for violence or harsh words, for sexual manipulation (withholding),  or for making threats. Blaming tiredness or stress, or never wanted marry her does not cut it. There is NEVER an excuse for this type of behavior. These things are symptoms of a deeper issue in your heart. All such abuse is inexcusable, a betrayal of the standard set for husbands by the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are abusing the family that God has entrusted to your care, then the issue is not with the Bible, but your refusal to trust and believe what it says.

The model for marriage that the Bible offers is good and beautiful. It depicts man and woman as complementary; it upholds the dignity of both; their equality and their differences. It takes its pattern from the person of Jesus Christ who loved his bride, the church, and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25).

I shared an open letter to my ex-husband on my last post.  It was not posted to hurt or through bitterness, but to educate to tell my story and more importantly, to hopefully bring him into repentance.  It is however, frustrating, when you try to go thru the proper channels, by notifying the church and counselors, but come up empty.  With the church, I was told, first to pray for my husband.  The second said “well you claim he is abusive, why would you want reconciliation.”  Because his spiritual life is at stake. With the counselor, we were both told to write a letter detailing the abuse, including any unforgiveness or bitterness.  When my husband read my letter his response was “If that is the way you feel about me I am outta here, I won’t bother you again.”  He then filed for divorce.  Even though I was doing what the counselor asked me to.  I was hoping he would see his sin and like Isaiah 6 say before God…Whoa, I am a man of unclean lips.  Sadly, he did not give counseling a chance and was ask to leave it.

One of our major problems was submission, if he felt I was not submissive, he would lock me in a room shouting scriptures.  What he and many fail to realize is Headship is not wielding power over another, but is the exercise of responsibility, in love, for the fulfillment of others. Submission is not the forced subjugation of one person to a cruel authoritarian, like my example, but a choice freely made to honor a person and acknowledge the weight of the responsibility God has placed on their shoulders. (And it is precisely because of that responsibility that the Bible places on husbands that it takes abuse and family violence so seriously.)  If you stood before the Lord and promised to love your spouse and were joined in marriage.  There is NO excuse for this kind of behavior, no matter what circumstances brought you into the marriage, or lack of love.  The Lord desires obedience, the covenant you made to THIS spouse, is what the Lord cares about.

Revealing abuse, in whatever context it is taking place, is necessary. 

Warning: If you are an abuser then there is no road to salvation that does not involve the bright light of truth shining into your heart and onto your behavior. Mercifully, the God who is against us in our arrogance and violence is also full of mercy when we turn toward him in humility and begin the long, hard road of repentance.  Repentance means the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse. contrition, penitence, the abuser needs to make himself right with God and the person he harmed.  If he does not make things right with the person he harmed there is NO TRUE REPENTANCE.  If there is no true repentance, he will abuse again.

The bible talks about true love in 1 Corinthians 13 makes it obvious that emotional abuse is wrong. The apostle Paul describes the actions of real love. First, he says love is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4). Emotional abuse is neither patient nor kind but instead is quick to flare up at small offenses. Love “keeps no record of wrongs” (verse 5), but emotional abuse is all about pointing out how another person is wrong in everything she does, so as to protect the ego of the abuser. Love is not rude or selfish or prideful or irritable or resentful—all unfortunate qualities of emotional abuse. Instead, love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (verse 7). Sadly, it is the loving person—the one who loves unconditionally—who is most often the target of emotional abuse.  She is the one the abuser vilify’s at the end.

According to the Bible’s definition of love, should an emotional abuser be silently tolerated? Does love require that one overlook the abuse and “persevere” through the pain? The answer to both these questions is “no.” There are loving options other than tolerating the status quo. Abuse is a learned behavior, and if we allow it to happen and continue, we are in fact accepting it. We cannot and should not accept verbal or emotional abuse, for at least two reasons: it dishonors the Lord and it often escalates to physical abuse.

Abusing someone emotionally is not the behavior of a person walking in fellowship with the Lord. How does a relationship deteriorate to the point of emotional abuse? Somewhere along the way there was a failure to obey God’s commands regarding your relationship (see Ephesians 5:21). It takes two people to make a relationship, and each side is to have his or her own fellowship with God through Christ and to be actively choosing to honor God and one another. Without that fellowship with God, and without that commitment to honoring each other, there will be a relationship breakdown.

Any relationship with emotional abuse will eventually have to choose one of three paths: one, the abuser admits fault, sees his behavior as harmful, and changes; two, the abused person walks away, at least temporarily; or, three, the abuse is allowed to continue indefinitely, to the harm of both parties.  The latter is what was allowed to happen in my marriage.

My point is this; the abuser will only find healing and forgiveness through genuine repentance and calling on the Lord. Second Corinthians 7:10 says that “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” The difference between godly grief and worldly grief is repentance. A person who truly understands the nature of his sin will be able to feel grief that leads to repentance and salvation and a clear conscience.

I learned through my recent failed marriage that we cannot make choices for someone else. We cannot stop someone’s emotional abuse. That is a choice that the abuser must make. But we can refuse to accept the abuse without arguing or making demands. The most extreme cure for emotional abuse is separation (see 1 Corinthians 7:5). A separation from the abuser can allow time to seek godly counsel from a pastor or biblical counselor so that spiritual balance can be introduced into the relationship and reconciliation can occur.  In my case my husband chose the easy road and chose to divorce me, instead of facing his sin.  He still feels that I blew things out of proportion, his words.  Even though I was hospitalized right after I left with an emotional breakdown from his abuse.

Regardless of the choices that your abuser makes, we can make the choice to obey God and honor Him in our lives. Accepting the abuse is not the way to go.

The human viewpoint is that we can do “something” to change things. The Word of God tells us that only doing things God’s way brings peace that lasts.

The Lord has shown me, through my advocacy and through my experience that I do have something to offer to my precious sisters who are victims of abuse. I can pray. We can pray together. After all, I understand this is an intense spiritual battle. The enemy loves contention and abuse in marriages. I realize, I don’t have all of the answers. But, I can come along side and counsel those who are finding there-selves in this horrible position.

Please join me in praying for those who are abused.  And, please for those who abuse, please pray for my ex-husband for his heart and repentance, not for me, but for his spiritual life.  That he would break this cycle and not hurt another women.

Let’s surround these who are hurting so much with the power of God and of prayer together!

Almighty God,

You alone are the sovereign God of the universe. You are the Creator of the universe. You hold every star, planet, comet, molecule in Your powerful hands. You alone are God – there is no other. You are the Wonderful Counselor. You are the Mighty God Who Saves. You are our Rock. You are our Fortress. You are the only source of truth and love. You possess all wisdom. You possess all understanding. Nothing escapes your notice. If we rise to the heavens, You are there. If we make our bed in the depths of the grave, You are there. Where can we flee from Your presence? You are everywhere. You are all-knowing. You are all-powerful. You will accomplish Your good purposes.

How we praise You that no human, no demon, no power or principality can ever thwart Your plans. No sinner is beyond Your reach. No human evil is too great for the blood of Jesus to overcome. The blood of Christ is able to cleanse all of our sin. We are all in desperate need of Christ. You are more than sufficient for us!

You love marriage Lord. You love families. You hate divorce. You hate all sin. You hate violence. You hate people hurting one another in any way – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, physically, or sexually. You long for every marriage to represent the intimacy between Christ and His church, to bring You great glory. It is the enemy who wants to rob, kill, and destroy each of us, our marriages, and our families. Let us cooperate with You to heal and bless marriages, let us never cooperate with the enemy!

Lord, we lift up some very broken and hurting marriages and families to You today. We lay them at Your feet in heaven before You Father, the Most High God. We cannot fix these precious people for whom Christ died. We cannot heal them. But You absolutely can. They are not beyond Your reach. Wives cannot fix abusive husbands in their own power, wisdom, and strength. We cannot even fix or save ourselves. But You are the God who saves! You are the God who heals! You are able to change people by the power of Your Spirit working in them. You are able to turn wretched sinners into holy saints! You are able to change a person’s nature completely. You are able to destroy sin and death – Jesus already has done so on the cross! You are able to radically change sinners and evil people and broken, hurting people into people who demonstrate the very heart and mind of Christ. In Jesus, there is NEW LIFE! The old has gone, the new has come! In Jesus, You are able to make anyone a NEW CREATION! How we praise and thank You for this amazing miracle!

We lift up those who are being or have been abused by their husbands. We lift up those who are experiencing severe problems in their marriages. The spiritual, emotional, and mental damage that true abuse causes is so very devastating, Lord. And it is so rampant today. How my heart breaks and how I just weep for those who are being (or have been) mistreated – whether as children or as adults or both Father. I know that Your heart is greatly grieved over this oppression and cruelty. This is not Your will for anyone. You want all of us to have godly families that are healthy, vibrant, and flourishing. You desire all of us to walk in obedience to Your ways. You are a holy God. You cannot tolerate any sin. You will not ignore the cries of victims and You will not ignore the sin of abusers. You desire justice.You do not ever condone any sin.

Some of these precious people are hurting so very much, Father. The wounds are grievous. Draw them to Yourself. “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18. I pray that each one of these dear souls will find her worth in Christ. I pray that they will each find Your healing mentally, emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually. I pray that You might provide the resources they need, the wisdom of God, and the power of Your Spirit. I pray that You might help them to take each thought captive for Christ. Help them to see any lies they are embracing from the enemy of their souls. Set them free from spiritual oppression. Let them see that the chains that have bound them fallen away and that the dungeon door is open. Help them find freedom, joy, peace, power, and healing in Christ! Help them to have power over the wrong thoughts and ungodly ideas that hold them captive through Your truth and Your Spirit. How I pray that You might heal their wounds and bind up their broken hearts and let them stand firm in Christ. Let them know their worth in Christ!  Amen

 

 

 

A Letter To The man I Once Loved

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 My mistake was making you a priority, when I was your second choice.
Divorce isn’t something any woman wants, nor is it desired. As women, we long for intimacy. From a young age we dreamed of our wedding and what our husband would be like. How happy we would be. We desire to be loved, to be treasured, to have our hearts protected, and never harmed.
I remember when you asked me to marry you, the excitement and newness everything felt to me. I loved having someone open doors for me, the feeling of butterflies in my stomach, and having a smile that never seemed to disappear. You made me feel like I was on cloud nine and no one could take me off.

When I first met you, you were such a sweet person, extremely funny and charming. I could not find a single bad quality about you. The love and concern you showed for me made me feel over the moon, I had never felt so secure in my life. When you told me I was the love of your life, I believed you.  When you told me I owned every piece of your heart, I believed you.  When you told me That when I ministered to you after your breakdown and hospitalization, “No one has ever been there for me like you have, I will forever be in your debt” I believed you.  When you told me you thought I was beautiful, I  believed you.  When you told me you would love me forever, I believed you.  When you told me the Lord spoke to you, to marry me, I believed you.  Then we got married!  Dr. Jekyll became Mr. Hyde.  I didn’t believe you anymore.  But I guess the horrible treatment I received after we married made me forget all of the loving things you said.… I think you are just a better friend then you are a husband and step-father.  I just cannot for the life of me figure out why?  I just hope and pray, that you never hurt a women again, like you hurt me.

I remember thinking, this is the man I’m going to spend forever with. The one who will be my best friend forever. But then things started to change, your feelings started to change, you started to change in an angry controlling way. Everything that I expected and wanted, didn’t work out the way I planned and I was left confused as to why and in pain. (Matt 11:28-30)  28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

On the outside we looked like a loving couple, especially in our Christian circles. You appeared spiritually mature. You prayed eloquent prayers, participated in deep theological discussions, and often referenced Scripture to support your insights.  I did everything I could to establish the appearance of the godly partnership I so desperately desired.  I felt so duped.  Who was this person I am married to?

But behind closed doors, things were far from normal. Unable to predict when the switch would flip on your anger, I walked on eggshells. Without warning, I’d suddenly become the object of your uncontrolled, frightening rage. There was no escaping your anger.

Sometimes, I think what you did to me was unforgivable, But now that I have grown and regained my confidence, I forgive you. You know why? Because not forgiving you was keeping me down after you already tore me apart.

All my life I have let people walk all over me and treat me how they pleased and I never complained.  You made me realize NO ONE should ever treat me the way you treated me.

Although I could not see the pain that was hindering my growth in the Lord, I continued searching for reasons to make our marriage work. I couldn’t seem to let go, I laid in bed crying for hours replaying over and over in her head the memories that we had created, trying to relive the sweet moments that are no longer a reality and blinded by all the bad.  (Ps 71:20)  Though you have made me see troubles,  many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.

I tried so hard to walk around with a smile on my face. Yet, I was screaming on the inside wanting someone to take my hand and tell me that I will be ok. and I will make it through this. (Is 41:3) I just wanted someone to share my brokenness with me without feeling like I will be pushed aside.  Wondering why as a Christian you are not broken like me?  You were my husband, you were suppose to protect me, you were the one that was suppose to cherish me, not destroy me.

 

But, The lord wiped away my tears, and covered me with a blanket of His love, warmth and comfort. He said, “ My daughter, though you may be hurting, joy comes in the morning. There will be a time when you will look back on this situation and thank me for saving you from something that was harming you and causing you so much pain. For I have something far better, something far greater for you, if you just trust Me.” (Jer 29:11) “I never wanted you to be treated like this, you are my beloved daughter.”  As I began to wipe away my tears and continue praying to the Lord, I asked for strength because some days are harder than others. I also prayed for courage because it’s not easy not knowing what’s to come. I asked for healing because what I’ve been put through, I never ever want to go through again.  And I pray no other women will be hurt by you. (Prov 3:5-6)  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct[a] your paths.
I understand that healing doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a process that involves allowing God to pull on the reins of my heart and patch up the wounds that once left me with empty holes and unhealed scars. It was then that I accepted that letting go of you, was better than being dragged around expecting to be picked up by the one that left me broken into pieces. (Ps 147:3)  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
It was then that I began spending less time worrying about what could have been and why our marriage did not work.  Why you decided to divorce me when you were the abusive one.  It was then that I started putting all my attention on the Lord, serving Him wholeheartedly. It was then I saw that the light at the end of the tunnel and felt myself start to feel normal again. It was then I realized that the pain that I went through, grew me in ways, I never imagined, and made me stronger. It instilled in me this other side of myself I didn’t even know existed. It was the power of learning to let go. Even if letting go meant losing something I thought I loved.
All of those nights of tears, turned into joy when I was able to move on and keep my heart guarded and protected. I know that I have to make sure every aspect of my life is totally aligned with God. I know my worth, I know what I deserve, and from here on out, will be able to love again.

I pray for you J.D, I really do, that the Lord will do a mighty work in your heart. That the Holy Spirit will reveal to you the damage you did to me and the children.  So, that then and only then can you truly repent and heal.

October Is Domestic Violence Month

October is Domestic Violence Month.  1 in 4 Christian women report being in destructive marriages.  This is something that has touched my life and things desperately need to change.  We need more awareness and less silence.

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What Does The Bible Say About Destructive And Abusive Relationship?

Leslie Vernick

I receive frantic calls and e-mails each week from Christian women (and some men) who feel scared, trapped, hopeless and helpless because their most intimate relationship is abusive; verbally, physically, economically, sexually, spiritually or all of the above. The Bible has something to say about the way we treat people and as Christians we should all strive to be Biblically wise in how we handle these difficult and painful family issues.

Below are five Biblical principles that will guide your thinking about this topic.

1. Abuse is always sin. The scriptures are clear. Abuse of authority or power (even legitimate God given authority) is always sin. Abusive speech and/or behavior is never an acceptable way to communicate with someone. (Malachi 2:16-17; Psalm 11:5; Colossians 3:8,19).

2. Abuse is never an appropriate response to being provoked. In working with abusive individuals they often blame the other person. This can be especially tricky when trying to counsel couples. There is no perfect person and victims of abuse aren’t sinless. However, we must be very clear-minded that abusive behavior and/or speech is never justified, even when provoked. People provoke us all the time but we are still responsible for our response (Ephesians 4:26; Luke 6:45)

3. Biblical headship does not entitle a husband to get his own way, make all the family decisions, or to remove his wife’s right to choose. At the heart of most domestic abuse is the sinful use of power to gain control over another individual. Biblical headship is described as sacrificial servanthood, not unlimited authority and/or power. (Mark 10:42-45). Let’s not confuse terms. When a husband demands his own way or tries to dominate his wife, it’s not called biblical headship, its called selfishness, and abuse of power. (See, for example, Deuteronomy 13; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2-4 for God’s rebuke of the leaders of Israel for their self-centered and abusive shepherding of God’s flock.)

4. Unrepentant sin always damages relationships and sometimes people. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2-5) and from one another (Proverbs 17:9). It is unrealistic and unbiblical to believe that you can continue healthy fellowship with someone who repeatedly sins against you when there is no repentance and no change. We are impacted in every way. (See Proverbs 1:15; 14:7; 21:28; 22:24; 1 Corinthians 15:33).

5. God’s purpose is to deliver the abused. We are to be champions of the oppressed and abused. God hates the abuse of power and the sin of injustice. (Psalm 5,7,10,140; 2 Corinthians 11:20; Acts 14:5-6.

What’s next? How should we respond when we know abuse is happening to someone?

We must never close our eyes to the sin of injustice or the abuse of power, whether it is in a home, a church, a work setting or a community or country (Micah 6:8). The apostle Paul encountered some spiritually abusive leaders and did not put up with it. (2 Corinthians 11:20). Please don’t be passive when you encounter abuse.

However, because we too are sinners, we are all tempted to react to abusive behavior with a sinful response of our own. The apostle Paul cautions us not to be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Below are five (5) biblical guidelines that will help you respond to the evil of abuse with good.

1. It is good to protect yourself from violent people. David fled King Saul when he was violent toward him. The angel of the Lord warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Jesus because Herod was trying to kill him. Paul escaped from those who sought to stone him. We must help people to get safe and stay safe when they are in abusive relationships. This is not only good for her and her children, it is good for her abusive partner. If you are not experienced in developing a safety plan and assessing for lethality (often women are more at risk when they leave an abusive partner), refer or consult with someone who is knowledgeable in this area (Proverbs 27:12).

2. It is good to expose the abuser. Secrets are deadly, especially when there is abuse in a home. Bringing the deeds of darkness to light is the only way to get help for both the victim and the abuser. If you are working with a couple and notice that the woman defers to her husband, regularly looks to him before she answers, blames herself for all their conflicts, speak with them separately. (Proverbs 29:1; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20). If you are a victim of an abusive relationship, it is not sinful to tell, it is good to expose the hidden deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Biblical love is always action directed towards the best interest of the beloved, even when it is difficult or involves sacrifice (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:13).

3. It is good not to allow someone to continue to sin against you. It is not only good for the abused person to stop being a victim, it is good for the abuser to stop being a victimizer. It is it is in the abuser’s best interests to repent and to change. (Matthew 18:15-17; James 5:19-20).

4. It is good to stop enabling and to let the violent person experience the consequences of his/her sinful behavior. One of life’s greatest teachers is consequences. God says what we sow, we reap (Galatians 6:7) A person who repeatedly uses violence at home does so because he gets away with it. Don’t allow that to continue. (Proverbs 19:19). God has put civil authorities in place to protect victims of abuse. (Romans 13:1-5) The apostle Paul appealed to the Roman government when he was being mistreated. (Acts 22:24-29). We should encourage victims to do likewise.

5. It is good to wait and see the fruits of repentance before initiating reconciliation. Sin damages relationships. Repeated sin separates people. Although we are called to unconditional forgiveness, the bible does not teach unconditional relationship with everyone nor unconditional reconciliation with a person who continues to mistreat us.

Although Joseph forgave his brothers, he did not initiate a reconciliation of the relationships until he saw that they had a heart change. (See Genesis 42-45.)

Biblical repentance is not simply feeling sorry (2 Corinthians 7:8-12). Repentance requires a change in direction. When we put pressure someone to reconcile a marital relationship with an abusive partner before they have seen some significant change in behavior and attitude we can put them in harm’s way. We have sometimes valued the sanctity of marriage over the emotional, physical, and spiritual safety of the individuals in it.

The apostle Paul encourages us to distance ourselves from other believers who are sinning and refuse correction. (See 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15).

A person cannot discern whether a heart change has taken place without adequate time. Words don’t demonstrate repentance, changed behaviors over time does. (Matthew 7:20; 1 Corinthians 4:20)

As Christians we have the mandate and the responsibility to be champions of peace. Dr. Martin Luther King said “In the end what hurt the most was not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

In honor of victims of domestic abuse who need wise help, please forward this article to other Christian leaders who may need to learn how to see domestic abuse through the lens of the Scriptures.

The Missing Piece Of The Puzzle

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Psalm 33:6 says, “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”

God spoke and the earth was formed out of nothing. How much more do you think God can put the pieces of your life back together?  if He can create the universe from nothing?

In the past several months I have been dealing with cancer, surgery and it’s treatments.  I have been on bed-rest and frankly, had way to much alone time.  Time to think about the last couple years since my divorce.  I found myself stuck things just did not make sense to me.  There was a span of about a month that went from talking reconciliation, proclamations of love to I want a divorce by email.  The explanation given (no face to face or talking on the phone) did not make any sense to me, why? because I knew it was not true. He has always been a person who avoids confrontation and maybe this was just to painful to explain or face.  I realize we cannot expect things from people they cannot give.   But, one of my biggest challenges has always been that I have an analytical mind, therefore, everything needs to make sense for me to move on.

This got me thinking about my youngest child.

She has always loved puzzle-working and she knows the best puzzles are the ones with lots of small pieces with similar colors, making it a big challenge. Watching her work her puzzles, I have often thought over the course of the last two years how very much like a puzzle our lives are. God fitting each piece of our story together perfectly.  The problem was, the pieces of this story did not seem to fit. There was a huge piece missing.  It wasn’t so much about moving on from the person as it was making sense of the whole situation and being blindsided.  To be fair, We had been struggling since I chose to separate.  Making sure I was fully in God’s will.  Ever the obedient child who leans to much towards legalism, aww…yet another hurdle in my life. Check!

From my point of view (which is sometimes dangerous), the pieces just didn’t seem to fit.  I could not see the completed picture on the outside of the box so I was not sure how these pieces all fit together.  But Jesus knows. He has a reason for each one.  He is not only a great puzzle maker but he is the best at putting puzzles together even the ones that seem to have no color or life and to us don’t fit.  I just love how He causes things to happen, people to meet that HAVE to be in place so some future piece of our puzzle will fit together perfectly..

That is what happened to me, a couple days ago, I thought ok, this is ridiculous I was being inundated with emails from his family criticizing me and saying really hurtful things.  I cried, prayed and reached out to a pastor that knows the situation well, in our correspondence the Lord gave me a really precious gift, unbeknownst to him he gave me that missing piece.  Suddenly everything made sense, as much as it could anyway.  I felt immediately a sense of peace that truly did pass all understanding.  Pro 3:5,6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him,And He shall direct[a] your paths.  Would I have liked the outcome to be different, absolutely, I believe every marriage can be restored if both hearts are open.  Only problem was that was not our case.  Instead the proverbial easy way was taken.  But I now had  the answers I needed to move on and commit this person and my life to the Lord, and to forgive and ask forgiveness for the part I played.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  James 1:17
There have been many of these “divine appointments” or “Gifts”  over the last couple years. He has thankfully been so active in my life and journey that I sometimes feel like I am —well, that my life is like a story in a book.  It is a kind of paradox really. We are all already a piece of a God sized puzzle but at the same time…. everything shapes us.  All the emotions, the joy, the tragedies, the accomplishments, the mistakes, the good days, the hard days, the mundane days all working together for good.  Shaping us into what the Lord desires. Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

The last couple of years has been quite an education, like being in school with God,  He taught me each step of the way, not only what I needed to know but what would help me through at each point along the journey. These lessons were deep and profound. Opening my eyes and heart. Changing me from the inside out.  Quieting my soul. Healing me, and not just emotionally, but physically as well.

I am human (and at times neurotic) and though I have learned valuable lessons that have reshaped me, and stretched me, there were times when “the enemy” attacks. There have been weeks, months on end, when he drags my mind through the mire and muck.  It is in these times of attack that my past baggage starts resurfacing, hopelessness tries to creep in and present stresses pound in the back of my mind.

It is at these times of difficulty that we acknowledge what it means that He is God. This is all about Him. This is His story. It is about obedience.  He is in control and sitting on His throne.  I needed to Let Him do his job, completely surrendered to His will no matter what.

Having confidence that the pieces of our lives are slowly all fitting together to create a beautiful picture. Even though we won’t see the completed picture this side of Heaven, we can know the Creator is creating a beautiful picture from the pieces of our one ordinary, messy, beautiful life.

I am so thankful to the Lord who used this pastor to put that last piece of the puzzle together that fit perfectly in my puzzle of life.  A pastor that has been patient with me when he did not need to.  That spoke the truth with love, that sometimes can be a hard pill to swallow, but is just what we need to hear at just the right time. After all, I am not even part of his flock, although I once was, but I guess I am because we are all brothers and sisters in Christ a family of believers. Hallelujah

You see God was saying all along, “I have the missing piece. It’s a surrendered relationship with me. That is what you have been missing. That is what you have been searching for and didn’t realize it.”  All I needed to do was ask and have faith that he would show me the way and heal my brokenheart.  But, the Lord, being gracious knew I needed the assurance of that last earthly piece.
David said to the Lord, “My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hands of my enemies” (Psalm 31:15). I have to remind myself that I have a Creator who designed me, and my life is in His hands. Only He knows where every piece belongs.

The Bible provides a wonderful message to the brokenhearted. Psalm 34:18 says,“The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

The Apostle Peter said something that really resonates with all of this: “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:19). Sometimes it is God’s will that we are broken for a time, as it was in Job’s case. We must entrust ourselves to Him, believing that He is faithful in every good thing, in His good time. When we leave this earthly tent and enter into God’s presence, we will be completely whole.

Revelation 21:1-5, the greatest promise for God’s beloved is this:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

The final promise from Revelation 22:20,

He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”