The Ultimate Sacrifice

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I witnessed the worst and the best of humanity last night.  I was on a call as an advocate on a child abuse case.  A 14 year old girl had called the police to report her step father for sexually abusing her. This had been going on for 7 years.  Her mother had threatened her continually, if she ever told anyone she would be thrown out of the house. During the interview the young girl was asked why she decided to call the police now she said “because my little sister just turned 7 the same age when he started molesting me, I wanted to protect my sister.”

This young girl had endured horrible abuse at the hands of her step father for years, Threats from her mother, no emotional support.  Yet, the love she had for her sister caused her to risk everything to save her.  When the stepfather found out what she had done and why, he responded..”I would never touch my biological child, I have morals” really you have morals?  He was arrested and the mother decided her abused daughter could no longer live under her roof.  she would be going to her grandmothers house to live.  At the end of the night about 3am, I was sitting in the sheriffs suv crying my eye’s out and looked over and the big strapping deputy was doing the same thing.

While thinking about what a loving sacrifice this young women made for her sister. I thought about the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  Jesus paid the highest price for you and me because He loves us more than we could ever imagine. He was put to death by being crucified on a cross, and his body was laid in a tomb behind a stone. He lived and then died rejected and alone. Like a rose He was trampled on the ground. Jesus took the fall and thought of you ABOVE ALL!

Jesus saw sacrifice as something beautiful because it would bring us life.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16.

Jesus’ calls us to voluntarily lay down our lives as He did–to sacrificially love people even when it’s uncomfortable or painful. What if you saw sacrifice as a beautiful word?

Just as this young girl sacrificed all for her sister, sacrificed her home, her security. This is real love.  I pray for this young women, I pray when we follow up that she comes to know Jesus as her savior.  That his transforming power will heal her heart.  I know this young women changed my life with her sacrificial heart and bravery.

 

 

 

 

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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,

The Penalty For Abusing Authority

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The headlines are bursting with stories about people in positions of authority who have turned a blind eye when it comes to protecting someone under their care—failing to do the right thing—the very thing their occupation demands. Teachers having inappropriate relations with students, politicians sexually harassing young girls and pastors falling in sin.  Husbands hurting their wives and children. Does looking the other way, or pleading ignorance, really exonerate someone who could do something to stop abuse yet, for political, or personal gain, does nothing?

All is not well in this world. Husbands are hurting wives, Teachers are predators, politicians are predators, despite their political affiliation, church workers are predators precisely because we allow them to be. Victims stay silent (it’s normal for a victim to wait decades before they share because of fear, threats, and shame), and when they expose the predators, they are then berated, unbelieved, and marginalized. And yet, I see this great kingdom of God advancing in precisely the opposite way, with the weak ones, the broken, overlooked.

Certainly, as Christians, we struggle with the reality that everywhere we turn there seems to be a moral battle raging and, at times, it may seem hopeless, to stem the tide of evil. With the media onslaught of moral corruption pervading our world, it’s little wonder we have become desensitized and almost ambivalent to the moral failures of those who are in charge, some of these men are members of the very churches we attend.  But, can we adequately plead “not guilty” if we do nothing?

This made me start thinking about someone, long ago, who took the easy way out defense too. He was the high priest, he was the only one who was permitted to meet yearly at the mercy seat with God. His sole ministry was to represent Christ—who intercedes for the sins of his people. Yet, within Eli’s own family, a dark secret was lurking. He heard the rumors but, somehow, he failed to muster the courage to stop the evil. Why? What could he possibly offer as an adequate excuse for allowing such heinous sins to be committed on his watch, within his own church, and by his own sons? He had a choice to make and he chose to do nothing. Sound familiar?

Years pass by and God appears to be silent. He sent a warning message and now He waits to see what His servant will do. I’m sure the Spirit was pleading for this reluctant father to correct the evil course of his sons, but to no avail.  Finally, in a very unexpected manner, the message comes. When Eli has procrastinated too long, God speaks.

The Bible tells us, “The Lord came and stood there, calling… “Samuel, Samuel.” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)  The message God spoke to Samuel that night long ago has similar implications for us today! Are we listening? If so, are we willing to say, “Speak, for we are listening”?

God had previously warned Eli about the sins of his sons and what would happen if he failed to check their sins. “The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father’s house, …you will see distress in my dwelling.” (1 Samuel 2:31-32)  Do we stand firm in protest of evil or, like Eli, do our sympathetic actions toward a fallen minister, teacher, husband or politician counteract our ability to adequately protest their iniquities?

What could possibly be so wicked that it forced God to deal with Eli and his sons so harshly? It was the same sin that is destroying many in authoritarian positions today. “Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.” (1 Samuel 2:22 ) Not only was the sacrifice disgraced and polluted, the personal lives of the priests—the very ones who were to be godly examples of holiness—were defiled with sexual immorality and abuse.  Sound familiar?

Can a minister, teacher, husband or politician who willfully chooses to destroy precious lives under his care simply excuse his actions as “a fall from grace”? Obviously, we know people make serious mistakes.  But this is on a deeper level.

And today, thousands of years later, there are those who still fail in their responsibility to protect those vulnerable under their leadership and care. When a transgression of this nature takes place, those who refuse to correct the evil done by a person of authority are guilty of the same sinful neglect to God’s heritage as was Eli.

It is time for pastors to believe the women who come to them seeking help from their abusive husbands.  To admonish and impose must needed church discipline. To believe the children that come forward about the teachers who have taken advantage of them.  To believe the small child that is being hurt by a parent.

It’s time we Christians, with sound mind and deep conviction, call predators and abusers out within the church. It’s time we stop tolerating any kind of abuse, stop looking the other way hoping things will improve. The statistics prove that predators and abusers typically continue to offend until they’re caught.   Our inaction, then, allows for more abuse.  We need to wake up and take this seriously!

Are we as Christians becoming desensitized by sins leavening effect—precious souls are being violated everyday.  I sat with a young women of 15 last week, who had been involved sexually with a teacher.  This poor child had tried to commit suicide from the shame and confusion.  I have to think that this teacher, who claimed to be a christian is just as guilt as Eli’s sons.

Recently in Papillion, Nebraska, a high school band teacher, Mike Pollock, was accused of sending inappropriate text messages to a former student. After his resignation, a spokesperson for the school stated that what Mr. Pollock had done was  “…not just a violation by that one teacher, but it’s a violation of the entire profession.” If the secular community can see how important the reputation of all teachers are, and that such actions committed by one destroy the reputation of everyone in that profession, certainly the church is in desperate need of true reformation when it comes to how we deal with a fallen christian.

All who hold positions of sacred trust and, like Eli, knowingly fail to take a stand against the abusive actions of leaders under their charge, will have to face serious consequences for neglecting their responsibility to guard the flock under their care.

Take heart, those who have been preyed on. The light is shining brightly, and the web of lies will be exposed.

Thankfully, there is still time and mercy still pleads with our hearts. The signs around us loudly proclaim judgment is soon to be executed upon this earth. We, like Eli, have been given a message of warning. God is still waiting to see if we will correct our errors, retrace our steps, and implement justice before He executes judgment. If we fail to heed Heaven’s admonition, we too will pass beyond the line where mercy will no longer be able to reach our ears. Sadly, God will ultimately say to us what He said to Eli, “…I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” (1 Samuel 3:14 )

Suffering The Loss Of A Child

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As, I pleaded for the life of my son, and felt his body turn cold in my arms. I watched the life leave his eyes. My child.  Was Gone.

At the time, my mind could not make sense of this trauma. I have already lost so much. I just have to walk through it. This is just the way it is.

And so, it takes time. Lots of time.

At the time, I could not pray, but I could believe. I could not pray like I used to, but I could hold onto hope. I knew deep down that my roots go deep.  There was so much comfort in knowing my faith was strong.  “You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”  This realization changes you!  It gives you a peace  knowing you have faced the worst and your faith not only survived but grew.

My dreams and my innocence were robbed from me that day. My hopes were completely and utterly struck down. My son was born and we watched him slowly lose his ability to live. I sat at his hospital bed, traumatized, helpless. He came close to death too many times. We fought and fought and in the end we lost. I surrendered him to the Lord, knowing he loved him more than me.  I realized it was not my fault. It was not God’s fault or his will. It is just a part of life, but it hurts.  A lot!

I was stunned that the story of my precious son unfolded this way.

When Casey was diagnosed, I saw the battle before us, I was weak and exasperated. But I prayed for Casey and leaned into my faith. But then, after his passing, I was anchored. I forged through. Both feet on the ground. Eyes on the prize. Until…until I felt the very God I was praying to, sit down beside me. I saw Jesus sitting with me holding me.

His death changed me. Everything froze. Time stood still.  It was like a slow motion movie, but it was my life.

One cannot speak into this unless they have walked this path. This territory is set before a few, and even then, they can only act as guides.

Today, I believe my words and my prayers carry weight and an authority. I believe in walking alongside others in grief, even as I myself grieve. I believe in giving a piece of my heart to others.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

God has not promised us an easy life. Far from it! He has promised His children that he will be with us through ALL those trials. Jesus meets us in the middle of the storm to build our faith and to teach us to worship Him in truth and spirit.  I can attest to this!

Suffering produces a reliance on God in the heart of the faithful. Suffering pushes others further from the Lord when their souls are unfaithful and bitter. In essence, tough times separate the wheat from the chaff. As we grow spiritually, God begins to show us His power and comfort as we go through the rough spots in life.

I have survived, and I am living life. I choose joy, I laugh, smile and act silly. I enjoy my family and friends, and I dance in my kitchen to music that is way too loud. As, his brother and sisters are starting there own families, I also cry, mourn the milestones he misses, I still miss my son and long for eternity when we will meet again.

 

 

 

 

Are You Strong And Courageous

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Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1 6-9

After church this morning, I was thinking about these versus on courage.  Courage is something I have lacked for so many years.  It is only in this last year, I have changed so many things in my life, I have moved out of my comfort zone.

You see, God uses people who realize they are weak. In Joshua 1, God told Joshua to “be strong and courageous” a total of three times in four verses. Why? It was probably because He knew Joshua was afraid.

Another good verse that should give us courage is Ephesians 2:10 which say’s we we should step out in bold obedience. The good works he has prepared beforehand—we should walk in them!

Are there things God has prepared for you to do? When did you last reassess God’s call on your life? What are you passionate about?

For me, my calling is one that is not very popular with society as a whole.  And that’s o.k, because if the Lord has called me, He will lead the way, and he has!  The empathy the lord has given me for women and children finding themselves in abusive situations, has lead to a passion that burns bright in my soul.  As a survivor, when I can come along side a women or child and hold them as I share God’s word is the best feeling in the word.  Women in these situations need God’s word as He is the ultimate healer, not the worldly alternative.

I have faced persecution from Christians that say “I am a feminist”…let me assure you this is so far from the truth.  Jesus loved the downcast the underdog.  One of the clearest features of the life and teachings of Jesus is the way that Jesus included people that everyone else left out.  Jesus included criminals (the thief on the cross), the people that were unclean (did not keep all of the cleanliness laws and rituals), and people who were outcast (Samaritans, Gentiles, the poor, the sick, lepers, women, and the list goes on).  Jesus always defined his mission on the basis of who is included, not on who is left out.  I want to follow the example of Christ.

God’s heart always is to save people.  Every soul is precious to Him. God always cares about individuals, and we should follow his example.

I find that your courage will rise up when you have confidence that Jesus has called you. Most people leave their (calling) ministry because of confusion and a lack of courage.

If God has called you, he is with you. Courage doesn’t mean that I am not afraid, I am a lot, when trying to help a women and her children escape their violent husband and father. But, It means that I fear God more than I fear my environment. It means that I trust in his divine resources more than the resources of man.

Leadership is strengthened by our acts of obedience. Every time we are obedient we get stronger. Obedience is a verb, not a position. You know you’re on the right path when you’re being shot at. If you’re running because of opposition, you’ll be running for the rest of your life.

Your ability to endure deepens your resolve. If you act courageously, you’ll get more courage. God is with you, but he’ll only strengthen you when you raise your leg and start walking forward. He can’t steer a parked car.

Devotion-ally master the word of God. Meditate day and night.   Immerse yourself in the book. Love it, and live it.  God uses people who study and live by His Word. God told Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night . . . ” (1:8 NKJV). If you want to be used by God, then you need to know the Word of God. “Meditate in it day and night,” God said to Joshua.

Remember: The integrity of your ministry is everything, so you have to practice the truth you’re proclaiming.

Joshua was communicating with the people he was leading, and he was encouraging them every step. If you want to be used by God, then this is what you need to do.

The Bible says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV).

Will you be that person He can use?  Will you answer the call?

 

 

My Sweet Joshua, You Are Married Now!

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My sweet Joshua,

I have shed a few tears over the last few weeks. They’re a mix. A mix of sadness that one of the greatest parts of my life has come to an end – mothering you. But also a mix of joy. I’m so proud of you! As a mom, my job is literally to work myself out of a job and watch as you move on to start your own family. Despite my very flawed parenting abilities, you’ve turned into a pretty awesome young man.

It’s all done. This big, beautiful job of mothering you. C-o-m-p-l-e-t-e.

I hope you never grow tired of hearing me say, “I love you.” When I say those three little words they speak volumes. 

I’m sure every mother says at one time or another: “I can’t believe how fast the time has gone,” but it’s unbelievably, heartbreakingly true.

On your wedding day, I was thinking how grateful I am for the privilege of being your mom.  How your life will change in the next few years.

As a mother, you wear your heart on your sleeve. Literally, it’s as if a part of you is walking around on this earth outside your body. 

Since you were born I’ve prayed about this day – God answered my prayer.  Her name is Ezmi.

Once you met Ezmi you knew that she was the one. You were each other’s first love.

I will miss our long talks. So much. But those hopes, dreams, complaints about your day, etc., are now meant for long talks with her.

As I watch you fly away I will always be here waiting for you. My home will always be a place of acceptance and forgiveness and love.

Always remember this:

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. Eph. 5 25-30

It’s time for me to let go. It’s time to let another woman know you and love you in a way that goes much deeper than a mother’s love. That’s kind of hard to say. But it’s true.

I’m not going to be the first one you turn to anymore.

So don’t come to me before you go first to God and second to your wife.  I’ll always be here to support you and love you, but I’m way down the list now. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  God’s ideal is this… a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife.  (Matthew 19:5)

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Yep, hard for me to read but it’s true and it’s God’s perfect plan. Ezmi comes first. Before me. Always. I know you’ll always love me and I’ll always be close, but she is your priority.

I never thought I’d rest from mothering. Never thought I’d stop worrying over you. Thinking of you. But this morning I am joyful in realizing today is the day. And I will rejoice.  I will be glad!

Today is the day to rejoice in knowing you are a man who loves Jesus deeply.  A man who walked the first 28 years of his life close to Christ and often apart from the crowd. Because you held the hope that this day would come. And it would be worth the wait.

My prayer for you on your special day was simply that you keep your eyes on God and love Him first with all your heart, mind and soul.  I pray that you and Ezmi would understand and feel God’s deep support. That in hard times you would cling to the truth that God is for you. And I want you to know that I am always for you. And just like God, there is nothing I wouldn’t give up for you. Nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice for you and to support your marriage.

I love you.

I’m proud of you.

I’m grateful that God walks beside you and carries you when you’re far away.

My love forever,

Mom

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[a] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8 31-32

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Stop Enabling Abusers

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To share your story ‘the only rule is to pray, love people, & seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit’  I am sharing this with this hope..The holy Spirit has been speaking to me on this issue for awhile now.

Today as I share with you, I am tired and a little disillusioned.  As a victims advocate with a christian agency.  I want to share a concern I have with victim blaming.

I recently read an article about Bill O’Rielly regarding his sexual misconduct.  He first blamed the media, but now he is blaming God.

“You know, am I mad at God? Yeah, I’m mad at him,” O’Reilly said on the latest episode of his web series, “No Spin News.” “I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn’t happen. I can’t explain it to you. Yeah, I’m mad at him.”

 Actually, he’s mad at a “God” he made up because God doesn’t insulate sexual predators from the consequences of their actions.  He once allegedly assaulted his now ex-wife by dragging her by the neck down a staircase — in front of their young daughter.  The disturbing charges came out during a child custody battle in Nassau County Supreme Court with a judge reportedly granting McPhilmy sole custody of their two children.
I am more than a little tired of men feeling like the victim when they have a pattern of abuse.  Woman on the other hand feel guilt and self-condemnation which has deterred them from making a decision about leaving their abusive husbands. These are women that are not what the world would call “innocent victims,” because in some way they have fallen short of what people think a good wife should be like, so they in turn believe they are unable to seek a divorce. But just as abusers are not stereotypical, victims do not always look like victims.
One of the biggest problems is, we have bought into the world view on this issue.  Most of us have watched movies about what an abuser looks like, generally portrayed as the beer-drinking, lower socioeconomic bully who gets drunk, comes home and terrorizes his family by beating his wife and children. We have also seen (thanks to Hollywood) the other extreme, a well-dressed, professional, wealthy, and powerful abuser who uses intimidation and fear to control his wife and family. But what has been neatly presented to us by popular media is too stereotyped: abusers come from varying socioeconomic backgrounds and a variety of professions.

Here’s where I’m trying hard to land: to let go of the world’s standard, because too many women are stuck in abusive harmful marriages, because they are shamed into staying.  We need to come alongside these women praying for their marriages and helping both parties seek help.  Men need to come alongside the men and admonish abusive behavior and hold them accountable for their sin.  We need to stop giving men a pass, just because they are men.

Stereotypes also tell us the victims are portrayed as either timid, submissive housewives who married right out of high school, or as attractive, outgoing women who got bamboozled by a charming rich guy. Both of these types of victims exist, and I am in no way dismissing that their struggle isn’t real and valid. But here I am going to talk about what Hollywood does not present because it would be harder for people to sympathize with these victims. I am going to tell you my story.

I was married, I was born-again, to a (self-proclaimed) Christian man who did not drink, smoke, take drugs, or chase women. He is well educated, was just out of bible college, a little geeky, funny, and loves to be the center of attention. And he is an abuser. He is a teacher that attends church regularly and appears to be a good family man. And he is an abuser. When I met my husband-to-be, I had low self-esteem and little hope for the future. I was just abandoned by my first husband and had three small children, no job, no money.  Because we had chosen to home school the children and I would be a stay at home mom. I was completely vulnerable, I had no family (i separated from my family at 17, because of abuse and drug use on their part) except my children.  No one to rely on for help.

Into my life walks a man who pays attention to me, makes me laugh, and takes me to nice restaurants. Say’s all the right things.  He brings us groceries and generally was a life saver.  He doesn’t try to take advantage of me, and my children love him because he is fun and attentive. So, because we were best friends for several years and everyone at the bible college were sure we would be married, and I was in love with him, so, I married him.

After we were married, I lived with constant contention and fear of retaliation if I said something he didn’t like. As too many women know, the abuse consisted of so much more. But I was dealing with a lot of hurt in my own heart. I felt a lot of disgrace because I was divorced. The stigma of being a divorced women was huge, and I carried the weight of that shame into my second marriage.  Setting me up for further abuse.

Socially, I am out going and can talk easily to people. I am adventurous and fun-loving. My husband often referred to me as feisty, and it is true –I am not a meek and quiet woman. I also have a very sarcastic tongue. I was sexually abused as a small child, and as a result, I had a warped view of men and the world.

My husband towards the end of our marriage developed a habit of using pornography, which piled horror on top of the abuse. The men who abused me as a child and into my teens exposed me to pornography at an early age of about four/five. Much of my anger towards my husband stemmed from this embarrassment and self-hatred that I was exposed to, this recalled repressed memories for me.  I could not get my husband to stop, in fact he had demanded that I never bring it up again or else.  I felt more alone and afraid, because I could not handle this situation without freaking out and the enemy had me convinced I was in a dire situation where he would ultimately hurt me like the men before him.  I feared for my life.  I know that sounds unrealistic and dramatic, but when you have been systematically abuse from 4/5 to teen years with no emotional support, to me pornography was the reason…  All I knew was pornography equals hurt and violence.

I remembered a time when my daughter walked in on him screaming at me with his 6’4” body, threatening me with his finger in my face, punching walls, kicking furniture and becoming out of control.  This was before a special event, we had planned to go to a yale/harvard football game (something I wanted to do since I was a child), she would bring this up repeatedly, because she was horrified by the incident.  It was this along with the pornography, that I had the courage to finally leave him. I left without warning while he was at work.  Not my best work.

As is the rule with most domestic violence abusers, my husband did not change and the abuse continued. When we made attempts at reconciliation, I would come up and stay the weekend with him, but the anger and yelling continued, so I stopped coming back.   I desired reconciliation through counseling and pastor accountability not divorce…That was his choice.

We do not “deserve” to be hit, kicked, slapped, punched, or emotionally tormented. Jesus does not treat His bride this way — EVER.

Well-intentioned Christian friends told me what many women hear in the Church, “God hates divorce!” All marriages have problems, just suck it up.   I do believe that divorce is not God’s heart for us. But the problem was my ex-husband did not want to take accountability for his abuse and sinful nature.  I do think sometimes this scripture of God hates divorce is sometimes used as a weapon to admonish women,  and has destroyed any hope for them to ever be free of physical and emotional abuse. The fact I sought separation some felt I was asking for divorce, some said “what am I teaching my children about marriage”. We feel stuck, even though it is the abuser who has broken the covenant, and condemned us to a life of misery and bondage because he (or she) does not repent.  Why wasn’t this admonishment made to my ex-husband, instead he received support and nurturing from friends and the church.  He is still hailed as the wronged one as he proclaims he felt pressured to marry me (even though he asked me, I did not initiate nor would my confidence let me), in fact I had asked him many times while engaged..are you sure this is what you want?  and I that had abandoned the marriage through separation.  No mention of his abuse.  Every relationship he has had in the past ended horribly and hatred on the women’s side.

My point of this blog post, is that society and sadly even the church too many times blames the victims.  The men somehow get a pass, especially if they are charming, because of course he does not look like a typical abuser.  I would have probably said the same thing years ago.  We were together two decades.  I loved him with all my heart and I would have never divorced him.  I may have lived as a single women separated, but I believed that no one is beyond the reach of the Lord, He could change any heart.  The problem was he would not acknowledge his sin.

We can save some of these marriages, if we put aside judgment, shame and love them back to a surrendered life to Jesus Christ.  Changing their hearts first and foremost.  Instead I actually lost friends, because they did not believe me.  They told me to stay in my marriage, that I am a bad witness to the world, but these same people told me to move on after my husband made the decision to divorce me, when I tried to fight to save it.  They said Forget him move on.  As, I tried to bring the pastor alongside to bring him accountable.  I was then told Why would you do that if he is abusive.  Following this logic is not biblical and can make you feel crazy.

Does this make any sense? An abusive husband gets caught and says the “right” words to his friends and is quickly embraced, as the wife is disciplined by her/his friends for taking steps to protect her life.   Too many wives within our churches are intimidated back into abusive homes by unsupportive male leaders, who exploit their authority and misuse scripture in directing them to “try harder” and “stop making him angry.” This is a form of spiritual abuse that re-victimizes the abused and grants permission to abusers to continue their violence against a child of God.

I am saddened as I minister to women who are stuck in domestic abuse and violence.  How they are shamed, because of their meekness and the fact that they held this secret for so many years, their friends and churches do not believe them now.  I have seen and heard about women horribly beaten or even killed in this ministry.  We need to be like Christ, believe them, shelter them and above all else love them.  So, they can heal and have the courage to heal.  Please do not be like the world and automatically side with the men.

Today we are witnessing the power men have in our society, through Weinstein, O’Rielly, Cosby and the #metoo movement etc..we as members of the church need to be different.

Too many of us know abuse victims who have been instructed by a pastor or someone in their church to keep quiet about the abuse, and to stay with their abusive spouse in order to “work things out”. They convince these abused that doing anything otherwise is considered to be a “bad Christian witness”. The disgusting reality is that this has nothing to do with being a “bad Christian witness”, and everything to do with a church that worships itself as it sacrifices its vulnerable.  The “bad Christian witness” is proclaiming to love Jesus as you silence victims and push them back into the fists of their abuser. This is an abomination to the very Gospel proclaimed by so many of these churches.   Don’t they understand that Jesus gave his very life for the vulnerable and the abused? A church that silences abuse hasn’t encountered Jesus.

Ask yourself this, is your church a safe place for victims of abuse?

Any church that redefines abuse instead of stopping it, is not a safe place. Any church that devalues women instead of respecting them as equals to men, is not a safe place. Any church that silences the oppressed instead of protecting them, is not a safe place.

A safe church does not tolerate the abuse of women or anyone else for that matter. A safe church empowers and equips all victims to walk away from those who hurt them. A safe church is where the abused can leave the abuser being assured that is what God wants them to do.

We have much to confess and much to change.