Proud Vs. Broken

Proud People vs. Broken People

Contrasting the characteristics of proud, unbroken people, who are resistant to the work of God in their lives, with the qualities of revived, humble people.
By Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Proud people focus on the failures of others.

Broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.

Proud people have a critical, fault-finding spirit; they look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope.
Broken people are compassionate; they can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.

Proud people are self-righteous; they look down on others.
Broken people esteem all others better than themselves.

Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit.
Broken people have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for others.

Proud people have to prove that they are right.
Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.

Proud people claim rights; they have a demanding spirit.
Broken people yield their rights; they have a meek spirit.

Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation.
Broken people are self-denying.

Proud people desire to be served.
Broken people are motivated to serve others.

Proud people desire to be a success.
Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.

Proud people desire self-advancement.
Broken people desire to promote others.

Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated.
Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them at all.

Proud people are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked.
Broken people are eager for others to get the credit; they rejoice when others are lifted up.

Proud people have a subconscious feeling, “This ministry/church is privileged to have me and my gifts”; they think of what they can do for God.
Broken people’s heart attitude is, “I don’t deserve to have a part in any ministry”; they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.

Proud people feel confident in how much they know.
Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.

Proud people are self-conscious.
Broken people are not concerned with self at all.

Proud people keep others at arms’ length.
Broken people are willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving intimately.

Proud people are quick to blame others.
Broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they are wrong in a situation.

Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when criticized.
Broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.

Proud people are concerned with being respectable, with what others think; they work to protect their own image and reputation.
Broken people are concerned with being real; what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows; they are willing to die to their own reputation.

Proud people find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others.
Broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs.

Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up.
Broken people, once broken, don’t care who knows or who finds out; they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.

Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?”
Broken people are quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.

Proud people tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin.
Broken people are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin.

Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin.
Broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.

Proud people are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got found out or caught.
Broken people are truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.

Proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in a relationship.
Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled when there is misunderstanding or conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been.

Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor.
Broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.

Proud people are blind to their true heart condition.
Broken people walk in the light.

Proud people don’t think they have anything to repent of.
Broken people realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.

Proud people don’t think they need revival, but they are sure that everyone else does.
Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.

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Why Are Voices Are Not Heard

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I am truly disheartening at the number of women who have shared stories, including my own, with pastors who, in one way or another, advised them to stick with their abusive husbands: to be more submissive, to pray more, etc.

So I started thinking about the fact that so many women having such similar stories.  If it had not happened to me, I would have a real difficulty believing that any one of these pastors, would ever condone domestic violence.  Especially,  since these are Godly men, who teach anointed sermons.  Who have continually blessed me through their ministries.

And yet here we are with all these women sharing the exact same thing happened with their pastor. And I know those women are not lying, or somehow mistaken about what happened to them.  Because it happened to me!

What I wish these pastors understood is how brave these women are when they finally come forward.  How scary it is to finally tell our secrets, secrets we have hid for years.  And that when a woman is writing/telling the real raw truth of their lives, their words take on an integrity that even the most accomplished fiction writers struggle to write. There could be no doubting the truth of these women’s stories.

Just this week, I wrote a pastor that dismissed my allegations, to clarify now that I come from a position of strength and healing as opposed to the weak woman asking for help.  Warning him he has a man capable of hurting women a sociopath in his congregation, and asked why he never confronted him when he was clearly in sin.  Even if he had doubts of my accusations, wouldn’t you want to investigate.

But howHow could these good, loving, Godly, well-intentioned men give advice that’s so manifestly, egregiously, cruelly wrong?

Is it because to a Godly man Domestic violence is fundamentally unbelievable. Like all true evil, domestic violence is basically incomprehensible. Most people find it simply inconceivable that any man would systematically victimize his own wife and children.

So, maybe, it’s easy for pastors to, in fact, fail to imagine it. When faced with a woman saying that her husband is abusing her, pastors must sometimes immediately and even instinctively assume that in some fundamental way the woman must be mistaken.  Especially, when every interaction he has had with her husband has been positive.  They can even seem charming, loving, and care deeply about the unsaved in the world.

What I think pastors are missing is the fact that these men are master manipulators.

For example, my husband was the friendliest, most sincere, open, warm, kind, generous person I had ever met.  That was the very thing I was drawn to.  But, wife abusers are sociopaths. They can talk the stink off a skunk. And guess who’s at the top of the list of people the abuser is determined to fool? Exactly: The family pastor. Who is very much inclined to love and trust people. Most pastors don’t stand a chance against a perpetrator of domestic violence.

Or could it be that a lot of pastors hold to the traditional Biblical definition of the proper relation between a husband and wife. Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”) But I hardly think that from that pastors typically think that it’s acceptable for husbands to abuse their wives. Most pastors know that the rest of that passage from Ephesians enjoins husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … .” I think it’s safe to say that pastors get that it’s wrong for a husband to beat or otherwise abuse his wife and kids. But I also think that not enough pastors have spent the time thinking about the broad, fuzzy line between biblical submission and repugnant victimization.

I think Pastors need to face and acknowledge this truth. They need to take case-by-case responsibility for drawing a clear line of demarcation between the kind of “submission” they and the church has traditionally understood as healthy, and the kind of submission everyone knows is unhealthy.

Pastors believe in the power of Christ to heal, to bring new life, to reclaim, to save, to resurrect.  They believe that through the community of church God radically and permanently transforms people’s lives. They believe in the enduring, righteous strength of marriage and family.

Pastors are not in the business of divorce; they don’t recommend the shattering of a family unit. They believe not in dissolution, but resolution.  And really God Bless them.  So am I, but there is a time when it is necessary, if the man is not repentant.

Let’s face it Domestic violence is simply not a subject present on pastors radar.  so a pastor faced with a domestic violence problem is likely to counsel patience, forbearance, and the discernment of the will of God. Each man is just doing what he knows. And in so doing each, of course, creates pain.

It’s not enough for us to simply desire that our pastors do a better job of handling issues of domestic violence. We must also help them to understand and obtain the training necessary for doing so.

So, although I failed to get the help, I so desired from my church, I will not turn my back on God.  I will continue to educate and support women in crisis.  I also, learned that all churches are not devoid of the knowledge of domestic violence.  There are many churches with great support groups for women in crisis.

Remember, It is impossible with our limited knowledge to see all God is doing to convict your husband and bring him to repentance. You might not see evidence of his conviction for years. That doesn’t mean God isn’t pursuing him. Remember that God has an eternal perspective. His timetable is not your own.

Also, remember although it isn’t fair what has happened to you with your pastor,  God hasn’t disappointed you; man has! God is the one constant in your life. If anything wasn’t fair it was piercing the hands and feet of the totally innocent God-man for your vile sins. If need be, Repent of your bitterness toward God. Ask Him to give you a right perspective of His love for you.

This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. God wants to do a work in you. He doesn’t want to leave you where you are—He loves you too much. He wants to increase your faith, your reliance upon Him, and your love for Him. Be willing to allow God to transform you.

God loves you. He will never reject you. He hears your cries! He longs to draw you close and fill you with His supernatural peace. No matter what your circumstance, no matter if your situation never changes this side of heaven, God is there. He is the steady hand underneath your days.

My Ex-Husbands Cruelest Blow

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

Today I have a heavy heart. Grief hits each one of us and can come from so many different directions and can hit us at the most inopportune times.  Dreams with a hope and future dashed in an instant. I know. I’ve lived it, too.

I am a Christian Advocate for Domestic Violence/Assault with a Christian Coalition and will be traveling a lot next year.  So, I am in the process of downsizing, going through everything I own and getting rid of things I no longer need.  I will be relocating soon to a smaller place.  While I was going thru paperwork, I noticed my divorce decree, I noticed something I had never noticed before.  I looked down and on the signature line and my ex-husband signed his name with a christian fish after his name.  He choose to divorce me, after I separated due to his abusive nature. Instead of doing the hard work to reconcile, he chose divorce.  But, to think he put a christian fish on this document, hit me hard.  How can any Christian think the Lord is glorified by a divorce.  After almost 20 years together and you rejoice in the failing of our marriage?

There is hardly a subject more confusing than trying to figure out the reasoning behind why one Christian marriage partner could ever even think it’s acceptable to abuse and hurt their spouse. This is the marriage “partner” who vowed before God to “love and honor.”  Then to put a christian fish on this worldly document.  Shameful!

It’s amazing how a professing Christian can so deeply hurt the one he said he loved. The one that stood and promised the Lord to love and cherish until death due us part.  He is hiding behind the Bible and the slanted logic of blaming me, his marriage partner to justify his wrongful behavior, instead of facing his sin. How do you make sense of something so bizarre?

I have been living apart from my now ex-husband for three full years. Therefore, I’ve had time to get used to this single life. I was served with a petition for dissolution of marriage two years ago so I’ve had some time to get used to the idea of, you know, actually being divorced. Except, here’s the thing.  The coldness of seeing this on the decree slayed me.

Does he really think the Lord is glorified thru this?

I realize he has been telling people “the Lord took her out of my marriage for my ministry”  This is not God’s character!  So, I should not be surprised.

Why am I so shocked by this…Because honestly, deep down, I thought the trigger would never be pulled on our marriage.  Then to see he was celebrating as he signed this default judgement was completely overwhelming.

This divorce, our divorce – this forever severing as the decree calls it – will be my biggest regret and sadness for the rest of my life, no matter what else is in store for me. I will walk through the rest of my days holding the fact, “we should have never married,”  It’s all a mystery. One I will grasp lightly, knowing I’ll never fully understand the why’s behind it all.  The Lord’s heart is always restoration, He is in the business of changing hearts.  I cannot and will not ever think the angels in heaven were rejoicing as we divorced.  How dare him belittle our marriage like this.  To belittle my value like this.

I am saddened the most by the fact that his heart is so hard that he could rejoice at the end of our marriage.  Any marriage..Let alone a marriage that the Lord Ordained.  That he has so skewed scripture to empower his sinfulness.  My bible interpretation and my Jesus loves marriage and designed it for His glory.  So, I am not sure what interpretation he is basing his decision making on.

Today I am requesting permission to be sad for a while…from myself, from God, from the people in my life. But then there will be a time — I know it’s time to move completely on. But, today is not that day.  Today I will mourn.

I guess, the realization that I gave my heart to a man, that would rejoice and Praise the Lord for our marriage ending is sobering.  Especially, because I am the one who had the right to divorce, but tried with all my heart to do everything I could to change his heart and prayed he would surrender his entire life to the lord.  Even though my life is peaceful, happy and blessed now, I still grieve the ending, I will NEVER rejoice in it.

Jesus came to heal all those who are in despair, all those who hurt and mourn? Are the divorced included?  Of course!  I know with all my heart the Lord mourns the ending of any marriage.  No matter what the reason.  God hates divorce, it is NOT a time for rejoicing.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

Jesus was our example of how to treat hurting people. He never turned anyone away, and He was moved with compassion for the hurting. We can follow in His steps by applying His Word. The steps are outlined for us in Isaiah 61:1-3.

God grieves with us when a wayward spouse says, I just don’t love you anymore, and He longs to bring comfort and healing to your broken heart. To think I meant so little to my ex-husband that as a professing christian that he would rejoice at divorcing me hurts deeply.  It is such a foreign concept to me, because I felt that I had not only failed at the relationship with my husband, but I have failed God and the church through the divorce.  I grieved for more than 3 years.

The ink is dry on paper. But the ink is not yet dry on my heart. That’s going to take a while. Gratefully, I’ve got the time — all the time in the world. I’ve got God, my patient, gentle Healer who will hold my hand, walk alongside me, make all things new, and promises – absolutely promises – to bring beauty from these ashes

I realize that through this, that it is impossible with my limited knowledge to see all God is doing to draw my ex-husband to Him. I may not ever see evidence of conviction for years, if ever. That doesn’t mean God isn’t pursuing him. I need to remember that God has an eternal perspective. His timetable is not my own.  I pray the Lord opens his eye’s and the Holy Spirit reveals to him the damage he has done to my life.

At one of my lowest moments, realization and remembrance flooded my heart and mind: God lost His Son, His only Son. The Father know’s my loss, pain and brokenness oh so well.

That revelation was like supernatural glue applied to bind my wounded soul. The lost, dark, broken part will be receding as God proceeds to heal my broken heart with His love.

I am ready to lay my heavy cares at the foot of the cross … and leave that burden there, so I can step into God’s plans. Jesus promised, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” (Matthew 11:30, NKJV).

So, as the Lord’s heart is to never to rejoice in causing someones pain, hurt and sorrow.  I know he was grieved when my ex-husband signed his name with a christian fish, realizing he destroyed all my Hopes, dreams, and future …leaving me broken.

Dear Lord, I come to you today with a heavy heart. You know my heartache, my cares, my concerns and all that burdens me. I thank you that you are a loving, caring Father. Today I ask that you would give me the strength to relinquish control of my feelings and all my burdens. I now choose to give them over to you. You said in your Word that you know every tiny detail of my life and all that concerns me. Help me to believe and trust that you are taking care of all my concerns.  Father, help me ease the grip on my grief and lay it at the foot of Your Son’s cross. Thank You that You can bind our wounds and heal our broken hearts. Remind us of Your magnificent plans for us, Lord God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

The Lord Will Give You Strength

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He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29

We all find ourselves broken and weary at some point in our life. It is easy to believe and follow Jesus when things are going well, but often the toughest time to keep our faith strong is when we are trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other while not fainting. In those moments of absolute powerlessness, weakness, and brokenness the Lord is often most real, most powerful, and most present.

Thank you, God, for sustaining me and keeping my faith alive when I have been under attack from the Evil One and have grown weary with the challenges and hardships of life. Please give those I love, and mention now by name, the strength to press on even though they are weary and weak. Please be real in their lives and let them know that you are coming with grace to help and redeem as their Great Deliverer. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

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.

Use My Ugly Past And Turn It Into Something Beautiful, Lord

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I think we all (hopefully) have a tender side with a sense of empathy and compassion. Our hearts break for others when we see them in unfortunate circumstances, like the Las vegas shooting or the hurricanes.  Seeing a friend lose a child or other family member too soon, and you can’t help but feel compassion and empathy for that person. You send notes, make phone calls, send flowers, send money, you do anything in your power to help.

The question is, what about when it happens to those you don’t know? So many times, our passion is fierce and burns deeply when someone who is close to you struggles even slightly, but we can often find it easy to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to those in desperation on the other side of the world.

The Lord has a very interesting way of revealing our calling in life. I had no idea that when I started writing my blog that a national coalition on assisting victims of rape/sexual assault and domestic abuse, would reach out to me and ask me to help with their cause.  This would also, be my biggest heartbreak to date. My counseling, support groups and writing was reaching many people and I started receiving a lot of  emails from women hurting, struggling and feeling hopeless. I was shocked at how many women were touched by domestic abuse in particular.

My prayer:

Dear Lord, please break my heart for what break yours.

I started saying this prayer shortly after my divorce. I was looking for His direction in my life.  I was searching for a purpose. It was a year in the wilderness with lots of  questions and confusion and lots of prayer.

I started to ask the Lord what was my calling in life?  What direction do you want me to go?  Should I focus on helping others?  I had one thing going for me; my passion was clear. I wanted to help people find hope through their abuse, sexual assault and rape. Since I am a survivor of all of these, I thought What the Enemy Intends for Evil, God Will Use for Good.  I did not want my life of suffering to be in vain, I wanted to be able to come along side women and be able to cry with them.  I wanted to help usher in their healing through Jesus Christ.  I wanted to be someone to break the stigma and help end the shame of rape/sexual assault and domestic abuse.  To raise awareness in the church and anywhere else I am needed.

I wanted people to see what real healing looks like. I wanted people to realize healing and hope is possible. The question was “how?” I needed direction. Should I go back to school to get my counseling degree. Should I get a job in a treatment facility? Should I write a book? These questions were never-ending.

He is Faithful and the Lord’s purpose for my life continues to be unveiled. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Each person, whether it’s rape/sexual assault, child abuse or domestic violence is searching for answers, when they reach out to me.  It is a part of my road map directing me in an exciting purpose driven direction.

I didn’t set out to become an advocate. It found me, the Lord used this pain in my life as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, stalker-rape, and domestic abuse/violence.  To help change people lives.  To be His hands and His voice, and be an instrument of His glory.  To do His will in all that I say and do.

Of course, being an advocate has been shaped by the fact that I am a survivor. I am here, not by accident, but because I am a fighter. From a young age, I’ve always had a sense of justice and felt that there was something larger, and greater than me, out there for me to discover and it was Jesus Christ.  My purpose in this world, is coming along side women in crisis as victims of sexual assault and abuse. Through out my life I have always kept going, through all the heartache and pain, because of this very calling.  I felt it deep in my soul. My hope is other victims will become activists and advocates. Because I know how it has changed my life and sometimes, it can even save it.  Every-time, I counsel someone or speak to an audience about my past, I heal a little more each time.  My scars are now a badge of honor not of shame.

So, as you can see this was a powerful prayer for me that completely changed the direction of my life. If you earnestly pray this prayer, be prepared it will change your life maybe through a series of heart breaks. It’s heartbreaking in the most beautiful way. The good news is, that your purpose to help others will become very clear.   The Lord will give you a lot of divine appointments as he trains you up. My heart broke not once, not twice, but hundreds of times over the past few years.

My sincere hope is that my heart will never stop breaking for those that are still suffering. My hope is that my heart opens a little more with each heartbreak and opportunity He gives me, and He will continue to use all of my heartbreaks to guide me. My hope is that compassion fills every crack that each heartbreak leaves. My hope is that your heart will break too and your purpose to help others will become clear.

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it,when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21

So here is my challenge to you: Allow your heart to soften, allow it to truly and honestly break, and act on those feelings. That soft voice within you that wants to help is the Holy Spirit working within you. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and take a leap of faith.

Break my heart for what breaks Yours, I surrender everything I am for your kingdom – it’s a scary sort of prayer but we must pray it – our brothers and sisters need us to pray it! Don’t let the security of your world shelter you from the ugliness outside. Pull your head out from under the the rock, look around, and as your heart breaks be changed, be moved, be empowered!   Thank You Jesus for saving a sinner like me and using all my ugly past and turning it into something beautiful and precious in your sight.

If you find yourself in a difficult season right now, find encouragement through this reminder: God will turn it around for good. Somehow. He is faithful to His Word, and He Loves you. He will see you through, don’t ever doubt it. You will step out to the other side of the darkness. And who knows, but that many lives may be affected for the kingdom’s sake, because of your difficult season of struggle.