Morning friends,

I am in Cuba this week and deeply covet your prayers. Ask God for a special anointing on my teaching and time with these dear Cuban church leaders and pastors and that in every way God will be glorified. Also pray for my strength, stamina and my ability to sleep well. I don’t want to come home totally wiped out.

This month we’re taking a look at an unfamiliar concept in most Christian teaching, and that is our shadow side. Despite God’s word that says we don’t know our selves very well, we don’t take the time to see what we don’t readily or easily see.

Remember Peter’s shock and protest when Jesus warned him that before the day was done, he would deny him three times? Jesus saw a part of Peter that Peter didn’t see. He warned him about it, but Peter rejected his warning and said, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” (See Matthew 26:34) Sadly, Peter found out the hard way he had a shadow side and later on in the evening, it got the best of him. It was if he acted unconsciously and only woke up when the rooster crowed again and again.

Last week I said that we will either own our shadow, or find ourselves being owned (or controlled sometimes) by it. Psalm 19:12 says, “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.” The psalmist prayed, “Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” (Psalm 119:29).

However, it’s also important to understand that our shadow isn’t always negative or sinful. It is all that we refuse to acknowledge in ourselves. (Tweet this)

For example, a woman might be blind to her strength, her power, her wisdom, her competence, her sexual energy, or her anger. A man might refuse to know or own his soft side, his helplessness, his nurturing side, or creative side, fearing to own those things would make him seem less masculine.

But each of these unknown or undesirable sides of us contains energy that can be used for good or evil. Unless we bring our shadow self into our conscious awareness, we won’t be able to decide which way that energy will be used. Without our moral compass involved, shadow energy can be destructive.

In addition, when our shadow remains hidden, we aren’t fully ourselves. We’re not whole, or healthy. We may even feel flat, dead inside, or apathetic as if we’re operating only on one cylinder when in truth, we have nine other cylinder’s hidden outside our own awareness.

Today I want to give you one way to become better acquainted with your shadow. In the next two weeks I’ll provide some other ways.

Begin to pay attention to the things that most upset, disturb, fascinate, or draw you to other people. One way we can see our shadow is by observing our own hypersensitivity (positive or negative) to others. In what ways are you easily triggered, reactive, angry, irritated, or upset by other’s behaviors? What infatuates you or overly attracts you to others? What ways do you idealize people that affects your motives or mood?

Much of the time, these negative or positive emotions in ourselves are our hidden parts (the log in our eye that recognizes the speck in someone else’s eye). But it’s extremely important that when you notice you are getting disturbed or attracted, that you accept your own inner movement and not reject it or shame it. Allow it to come and ask yourself what is it specifically that repels you – or intensely draws you to this person? That may be a part of yourself that is hidden from you.

I want to again thank our anonymous blogger for sharing her struggles with her counseling elder and church. Many of you resonated with her and also admired her tenacity, courage, and boldness to stand up. (Perhaps you’re drawn to it because those things are in you too – but hidden – your shadow).

 

 

 

Implementing The Emotionally Destructive Marriage:
Is It Worth Church Discipline? Pt. 2

In the previous blog post, I started explaining my response to formal disciplinary action taken against me by the elders of my church when I began to implement natural consequences as explained in Leslie’s book. After seven years of trying to understand why my marriage wasn’t working according to the biblical ideals set forth in Scripture and attempting in vain to unilaterally bring it to a healthy state, I began to look to arenas other than my family’s church for day-to-day counsel and guidance for my particular situation. This blog post will deal with the imbalance of support in my local congregation and my need to find help elsewhere.

Our family hadn’t always attended the church that eventually declared me to be an unbeliever as I mentioned in my last blog post. In fact, my husband and I were on a church-planting team in a different state for nine years beforehand. This was a rich and fulfilling season of our lives where I learned how to apply the life, death, and resurrection of our precious Savior to every aspect of life. As we lived life and worked alongside other like-minded believers, I experienced what healthy, intimate relationships look like. In contrast, our marriage wasn’t benefitting from the sound teaching we were receiving. It didn’t resemble the vital marriages around us, nor was it moving in that direction.

My husband and I were meeting regularly with another couple in leadership, so I asked these close, trusted friends for input and help. They started asking us thoughtful, probing questions about our desires and motives to help us discover reasons why our marriage wasn’t growing. While I was eager to expose and dispel sin from our relationship and live according to our joint identity in Christ, my husband was adamantly and stubbornly opposed to revealing anything about his inner life to our dear friends in Christ, for fear that he would lose his job as pastor. The senior pastor, as my husband’s superior, had also been regularly bringing to my husband’s attention consistent areas of personal growth that he saw needed to change with no visible response.

It was about this time that my husband received a call from a former professor, asking him to take a position out of state, managing the financial aspects of a para-church organization. My husband was keen to do this because the position would also give him the opportunity pursue a PhD, which he had very much desired to do for years. When we discussed the opportunity with our close friends, they had serious misgivings about our leaving the church that was in the best position to care for our marriage. However, in my self-assured thinking I agreed to the move because my husband was convinced that it was “God’s calling” on our lives. My desire to be a godly wife and to please my husband at all costs outweighed the sober warnings our close friends were giving us. Isn’t a submissive wife supposed to trust her husband to lead their family to any location?

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my husband was content to cut ties with the friends we had at our former church and felt it was his right to limit my interactions with the congregation as a whole. He isolated me at this new church in a state far away from the healthiest relationships I had ever known. I felt a keen sense of loss over losing access to like-minded believers who truly knew me and demonstrated care about my well-being. My husband was more distant and argumentative than ever before, and I found myself absorbed into a dark night of the soul where I had little thirst for or communication with God, normal responsibilities seemed overwhelming, and I cried a lot. After a year in transition between the two cities, I sought counsel from our former senior pastor. He felt it was necessary for me to appeal to the elders of our new local congregation for help with our marriage, “for the sake of your husband’s soul as his sister in Christ.”

Perhaps the most damaging counsel we have ever received was from the preaching elder of our new church during this confrontation. After I had prayerfully considered the ongoing issues in our marriage and bared my heart about the impact this was having on me, the elder leaned back in his chair and pronounced to my husband, his wife, and me, “I don’t see anything wrong here.”

Shortly after that conversation in our living room, both my husband and I met separately with our small group leaders at this new church for counsel. After hearing both sides of the story, the husband prepared a formal rebuke for my husband from Hebrews 3:7-15 and Lamentations 3:28-29. From his personal and scholarly perspective, my husband had an unbiblical view of marriage and a problem with arrogance. Because I didn’t have a voice at the time, I could not communicate just how true this man’s conclusions were, while my husband tidily refuted each one of his points. Because of my husband’s refusal to admit any wrong thinking or attitudes on his part, this couple withdrew their willingness to walk alongside us. Shortly after that, they were assigned to lead a different small group. The elder never asked any more questions about our marriage, and the wife avoided me altogether. It seems as though the solidarity of the elder team was more important than bringing healing and health to our marriage, and the wife didn’t have the time to invest in a messy relationship.

The uncertainty surrounding these confrontations and rebuke led to my husband’s dismissal from the position that we had left ministry for him to fill because it might not reflect well on the organization. My husband took the stance that my insubordination was the cause. “If only” I hadn’t said anything about how I perceived our marriage, everything would have been fine. The president of the organization, though, confided to me at a conference, “If your husband treats you like he treats me, I can see why you’re having trouble in your marriage. He acts like I know nothing and can’t run the organization without doing things his way.” Though this man identified with my distress, neither he nor his wife reached out to my husband or me to support or help us in our time of relational need.

Incidentally, my husband asserted much later that the small group leader/elder retracted his rebuke about a year after my husband was dismissed from the para-church organization, based on the opinion of the counseling elder of this church that as long as there is no shouting or violence, a wife is bound to accept her husband’s authority unquestioningly (without a word) from 1 Peter 3 if he is not open to change.

After that, my husband unremittingly and pervasively controlled any communication I had with friends from our former or current churches, demanding my email password, requiring me to curtail or cancel visits with friends unless he was present, and monitoring everything I discussed and with whom. The counseling elder upheld my husband’s spiritual right to do this as head of our marriage and exhorted me “to in faith love and communicate openly with him.” When I wanted to participate in the women’s ministry at my mother’s church, the counseling elder supported my husband’s opposition to that, saying that I needed to center my relationships in the church where I was a member.

I was battling hopelessness and despair until a friend mentioned Leslie’s book on emotionally destructive relationships. Intrigued, I purchased a digital copy of The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and secretly devoured three chapters the same day. I started to see my marriage for what it was and realized that I couldn’t live in this spiritual concentration camp any longer. Either I had to flee my home or get professional counsel. Since we were in the process of moving to yet another state, I applied to Leslie’s coaching program, knowing that I could access her counsel from anywhere.

Even after we completed our move cross country for my husband to take a teaching position, the counseling elder felt that he still had the authority to require me to agree with my husband’s choice of church and for us to seek joint marital counseling from the elders there (who keep doing what hasn’t worked). The counseling elder intended to “coordinate with these pastors so that they understand the history of your marriage and our concerns for it” so “that the spiritual counsel you receive will give [your husband’s] perspective a fair hearing in the same way that yours should be given a fair hearing.” This elder construed my refusal to submit to this coercive treatment to be grievous enough to warrant church discipline.

Here is my question for you? What is the extent of the church’s role in addressing troubled marriages, and how can mental health professionals be integrated into the process of diagnosis, recovery, and healing?

24 Comments

  1. Patricia on January 14, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I’m wondering why the husband doesn’t treat his wife with loving respect as much as he treats others who are outside the home. Stubborn in the face of all Biblical teachings; Jesus sees this and all we do, why must we live in fear?

    • Guest blogger on January 16, 2015 at 11:36 pm

      It has taken a long time, but I no longer live in fear of what my husband will think, say, or do. You’re right, Patricia, a part of this assurance came as a result of realizing that God does hear every cutting word and sees every self-absorbed action on my husband’s part. Jesus paid it all. What more do I owe?

      • JC on January 19, 2015 at 3:09 pm

        May you continue to have courage and wisdom and strength! “You ARE her (Sarah’s) daughter(s) if you DO what is right and do not give way to fear.”

  2. Loretta P on January 14, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Most churches are not set up to work with troubled marriages effectively from my experience. The church I currently attend we have a trained counselor on staff (she is a trained and licensed therapist with a MA degree). Our Pastor has also had training in counseling from the Bible School he attended. Most churches I’ve been in don’t have qualified and trained professionals that know what they are doing. I think church discipline should be in the area of spouses cheating as per the Bible mandates. I don’t think the church should be butting into a marriage telling one or the other spouses to submit or else. I’ve had bad experiences in the past and even though I was a Pastor’s wife for several years, I was ready to leave the church from my experiences. Now I’m in the perfect situation as we have both a trained therapist and a trained Pastor that really care, listen, pray and do what’s best for us. They support me like I’ve never been supported before! BUT they are also holding my husband accountable (he cheated on me). They provide counseling for those who needed it with us only paying the trained therapist as we can. It’s such a ministry and blessing to the congregation.

    I think a church NEEDS to use the services of a trained professional to understand what mental/emotional problems they are dealing with. When couples come and ask for help they should give what they can if they are qualified or direct to a qualified source. They should not tell a wife if you don’t submit you’re not a Christian and can’t attend. That’s wrong! Unless one hears both sides and works with all the problems involved they can be giving bad advise that will make the marriage worse. I’ve experienced this in the past. My husband was undiagnosed bipolar and horrible to live with, verbally abusive, some physical and sexual abuse, raged at me almost daily and I was told to submit! Worse advise ever!!! Now I’m told to stay safe, call 911 if I need it and several of the church people have opened their homes if I ever need to run. It’s amazing what caring support can do toward healing!

    When a church is prepared with qualified workers they can bring much healing, support, interventions, etc, but without proper training they can wound as much as the abusers!

    • Guest blogger on January 16, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      Loretta, you have my deepest respect for forgiving your husband and being willing to be reconciled with him, though he was abusive and unfaithful to you. I’m so glad to hear of the support you’re receiving and the accountability your husband is getting. May more churches step up to the plate and minister to the broken and hurting, instead of turning an indifferent eye to the plight of many women.

  3. Liz on January 14, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    I am waiting now to see what our church leadership will decide about me, if I can keep my deaconess position if I do not agree to joint marriage counseling. My husband told the leadership I am not being a godly wife because I stopped going to joint counseling after over a year with no real results. I also separated from my husband, hoping that he would see how serious I am about changes being made in our marriage. So far he has shown no willingness to get abuse recovery counseling, hasn’t apologized for his misbehavior, and has tried to talk me out of the boundaries I set for him to come back to our house to get more of his belongings. I need to see some concrete evidence of remorse, restitution, humility, and understanding before reconciliation and/or counseling can begin again. I talked to one of the deacons and he agrees with me, but we will see. The church needs to hear both sides and become familiar with abusive situations, they cannot be dealt with as ordinary marriage problems.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 16, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      LET US KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

      • Liz on January 18, 2015 at 4:53 pm

        This morning a deacon told me they saw no reason why I should have to step down from my positions at the church. He told me they have talked to my husband and told him he has not been a Godly husband. They would like us to get together with the pastor, a deacon, and one of the deacon’s wives of my choice to talk about reconciliation. I said I was ok with that. They are giving us a month to work on our own issues first, so we will see if any changes happen between now and then.

  4. June on January 14, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    God bless this is Oman for baring her intimate relationship issues. I too went for pastoral Counsellig and felt blessed by it. However that was 3 months ago and not once has the pastor called to see how we are doing. I’ve since moved out. My husband wants me to return home and bless our marriage with sex to which everything will be better. Not! Today is one of my hardest yet. My husband wants me to go on a vacation with th him next week, but to an au natural resort. Yes. Uh huh. Sure. NOT. IM SICK IN NY SOUL AND FEEL LIKE THERES NO RELIEF. I’m praying for you dear woman. Thank God he can be our husband to the husbandless.

    • Guest blogger on January 16, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      Thank you, June, for your encouragement and prayers. No, as much as men would like us to believe it, sex isn’t the ultimate answer to our marital problems. It’s only an accessory to a healthy marriage. What is vitally healing is fruit of repentance. Yes, God is the perfect husband in every way that my husband cannot be. Whenever I am distressed over some lack in my marriage, I look to God to be that deeply caring listener, spiritual and emotional refuge, source of empowering acceptance, and even a deep sense of belonging and warmth whenever I wish I had a legitimate outlet for intimate touch.

  5. Jen on January 14, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    In II Corinthians 6, Paul admonishes church leaders for not settling disputes among Christians, but instead leaving them to have it settled in court by a likely unbelieving judge. He even says in vs. 3, “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?

    I think that the reason the church is ineffective and irrelevant in our western culture is in large part because of abdication stemming from a immature understanding of evil.

    Leslie recently referenced Hebrews 5:14 in an article through the AACC. The verse says, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” The mark of a mature Christian is not just that they can handle heavy doctrine, or can discipline other believers – a mature Christian has a lot of practice training their senses to detect and discern what is good and what is evil.

    I believe that the pastors failed to confront my husband, actually decided not to confront him head on, because they did not have a clear understanding of this kind of evil, as it is depicted time and again in scripture. They only wanted to expound on grace, thinking that would lead to repentance. But, God says, “But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in the land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.” Isa. 26:10 And yet, this does not mean that the church should not confront someone in sin. If we love, we come to someone if they are caught in sin. If we want to protect the church, we confront sin to keep its purity and its peace.

    Scripture shows time and again, especially in the Old Testament, stories of evil, evil hearts, evil deeds, and the consequences to their lives, their towns, their nations, and their relationship with God.

    Pastors may shrink from such a task, but they can lean on the examples and heartache of the prophets who had to deliver some tough news to God’s people. God has place the church as a direct extension and representation of his rule of law on this earth. His Word guides, instructs, teaches, and His spirit equips us and comforts us. Therefore, neither you nor I ought to hear a pastor say, “Go see a counselor, this is beyond our area of expertise”. The pastor ought to have something to say on the matter; if anything, be able to offer a list of possible counselors, and phone numbers for civic resources.

    As for a counselor, I think anyone who has been in an abusive relationship for an extended time needs help unpacking all the lies. They need help maturing and practicing so that their senses can discern what is evil and what is good in that relationship, in the words and actions from that person. This takes time. My therapist is not a believer, though she would say she is, and yet, her expertise in the area of abuse has been invaluable in helping me accept the truth and learn from it. She also specializes in EMDR, which helps process trauma – which I really needed. I think a church can offer some financial assistance for a certain number of sessions.

    The last thing I want to sound is idealistic about the church. I am not, I am actually quite realistic. Churches can be effective and relevant in todays society. I think this is why Leslie and a growing number of other therapists are working so hard to help churches. So, if your church can not help you in this way, do not despair, God is working. In the meantime, believe that He is good, that he is loving and kind with you. He will never fail you, he will never reject you. You are safe.

  6. Becca on January 15, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Until the Church goes back to Scripture and actually reads what it says about marriage (that it is mutual submission and not a hierarchy), they will only continue to contribute to the problem of domestic abuse. Hierarchy is the framework for domestic abuse to be justified in the “name of God.”

    If you are questioning what Scripture really has to say about marriage (meaning keeping things in context), I recently came across this website. This lady does an excellent job of explaining what submission and headship mean in the Hebrew, Greek and culture of that day. She also addresses domestic abuse.

    http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/kephale-and-male-headship-in-pauls-letters/

    She has a number of articles that addresses each Scripture passage that deals with “submission” or “submit.” This is just one.
    http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/mutual-submission-is-not-a-myth/

  7. Hope on January 16, 2015 at 1:00 am

    Great question, and we all are bound to certain procedures in business, church and family. Every church has been granted grace by God in handling of all spiritual matters, believing he can use anyone who will be his vessel. Most matters are spiritually connected. If the mailman walked in your home with your mail everyday, wouldn’t he be overstepping. The church has a crucially important job of knowing how to handle each believer and situation, very difficult. Remember we are all accountable likewise Pastors and those in authority are held highly accountable over the sheep. If we could just view the sheep in such a way as God shows us we can bless and guide them to safety and newness. Bringing in mental health professionals is probably overstepping. Teaching, Praying, Guiding(usually by example), ministering, and directing in areas not pertaining to the church is still the way to go here, that’s the Churches job prayerfully.

    • Guest blogger on January 16, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      I think in my case, the counseling elder overstepped his bounds in presuming to offer authoritative counsel when he, in fact, isn’t licensed to practice.

  8. Survivor on January 16, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Praying for you, Leslie!!!

    It would seem to me that churches also have a shadow side! There is so much potential there to help and protect women in these situations but there also seems to be a vast blind spot when it comes to ‘diagnosing’ the problem! It is such a shameful waste of confrontation and ‘accountability’ to be dumping it all on the victim and withholding it from the perpetrator!!!!! My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will send His Light and reveal truth and that the eyes of the Church will be opened and the oppressed will be heard and cared for and ministered to and that the perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions rather than accommodated and enabled as this is the way that they have a chance at coming to repentance!!! May God be merciful!!!!!

    • Leslie Vernick on January 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks. I just got back from CUBA and it was a wonderful trip of ministry and blessing. I will post pictures next week.

    • Guest blogger on January 16, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      Yes, YES, this is my prayer too.

  9. Lynn on January 16, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    I think we are all lead to believe the church is not only a place where we reach out for help but it’s a body of believers who we believe care about us as a family. I endured four years of on and off abuse by a drug using husband and I didn’t do much as get the leaders of my church to call and pray for me. Considering this story written here maybe it was for the best. It’s so unfortunate that the church is not adequately trained or chooses to shut eyes and ears. I felt betrayed by people I called my brothers and sisters just as much as I did my spouse who was abusing drugs and gambling our hard earned money under my nose. With that said, it’s true that we see the true colors of people who say they care when there are trials and crisis happening.

  10. Loretta P on January 18, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    It’s so good that the church leaders are working with you. That’s great. We can only pray God will speak to your husband’s heart and he’ll make necessary changes.

  11. Standing Up on January 20, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    I have been married for ten and a half years. My husband and I have had plenty of problems surrounding sexual addiction, pornography, emotional abuse in various forms, ongoing patterns of deception, and financial unfaithfulness. We have attempted counseling a few times with the pastors of our church, to no avail for me. While his concerns were validated and addressed, mine were dismissed. I left each session (decided not to go back after two) more wounded than I began, and more hopeless than ever about the road to recovery.

    Fast forward eight years and three kids later, and for the first time, I am standing up to face the realities of my life so that I may recover some semblance of personhood. I laid out boundaries with my husband back in August; he failed to act on most of them in the following couple of months. I presented him with separation papers at the end of November…

    I have been reprimanded by the pastor for doing so, and asked to submit to a prayer ministry team to “find another path.” There was a dream and interpretation shared publicly that felt very directed at me, in which I, represented by the wife in the dream, was accusatory and judgmental instead of forgiving like Christ, which led to my destruction, the splitting of the church, and the destruction of anyone who stepped in to help. I have since been disciplined by not being allowed to participate in worship teams anymore (though I am still “allowed” to serve behind the scenes.

    It it worth church discipline? Absolutely. It saddens me that the church is not ready/able/equipped overall to deal with issues of ongoing sin, addiction, and abuse, and seems more comfortable slapping the grace band-aid on top of everything rather than rooting out problems in a way that brings life and healing. But I would not trade in my voice for anything. And I know that this path, though rocky and uncomfortable, is my path toward life. I know it in my spirit; I feel it in my bones. When the time is right, I can make my departure, and find another house of worship where I will be loved, accepted, and encouraged in my walk with Jesus without any manipulative strings attached.

  12. Julie on January 27, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I am under church discipline as well. I have been “asked to step down” from serving in the church. They couched in kind sounding terms like ‘they wanted to give me time’ to work on the problems in my marriage. They didn’t want anything to ‘distract me’ from pursuing reconciliation with my husband. I left him a year ago with my kids, and then had to file a restraining order when he kept pursuing us. The matter was brought to the pastorate, especially since my husband was a head leader in the youth program. Even though pastors tried to counsel with him, he was rude and disrespectful to them, and alternated belligerency with pleas for them to ‘understand that he had a rough childhood’ and should be allowed to continue. He walked away from a ‘special’ counselor that was supposed to deal with ‘hard cases’ after only 3 visits. Some pastors and staff told my counselor that they definitely see there’s a problem. They admitted that they knew for a while that there were problems. Yet, they continued to let him lead 9-12 year old kids. Even after the judge put the strongest, strictest restraining order in place keeping him away from his own kids, they continued to let him lead children at church. And, a pastor came to me, interrupting my counseling session, with the phone number of the local sheriff’s office and told me I must get my restraining order modified, because the church wanted him – wanted him so badly that I would have to stay home from church so that he could come because he was not allowed to be in the same building as me and the kids. Then, after several months, I was told that I had to come to a meeting. They said that a pastor and elder had gone to him to have him again to comply with the church’s recommendations for counseling. He refused and withdrew his membership. Then, they came to me and said again that they wanted me to be in the same room with him, so that we can hash all this out. That has been their drumbeat- put us back together, just get us two in the same room, and work this all out. I tried to explain that we had done that. He lied right to the counselors face about being ‘sorry and yes, he sees the problem now, and yes, he’ll work on this.’ Then… I had to get into the car with him on the way home. No one was there for that. I tried to explain this to the church. They just keep insisting that ‘we just have to get you to in a room together’. Since this is the one thing I have refused to do, my meeting came up. All smiles, all friendly, but they explained that I was now under church discipline. They also told me, like I said before, it was to ‘free me up’ from responsibilities so I would have more time to work on my marriage.

    So is it worth it to face church discipline for protecting yourself and your children. Yes. Yes. Yes. Is it heartbreaking that the one place I thought I could come to for help is now punishing me for telling ‘his secrets (his words)’? Yes. It is completely heartbreaking. I have been at this church all my life. I have been there longer than the pastors that are disciplining me. I have been there longer than almost the entire elder board that are disciplining me. I was child in those halls and Sunday School classrooms. Yes. It has completely broken my heart. I will have to move on to a new church. I gave up my home, my life, my (abusive) marriage, and soon, I will lose my church family as well. But to keep my kids and me safe, it’s what you have to do. Some day, I hope that the church will open it’s eyes to the fact that when someone finally picks up the phone and cries out for help, she have been punished long enough. The last thing she needs is for the church authority to pile on, agreeing with their abuser that she is bad, and heap more punishment on her.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 27, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Your story breaks my heart. You prove my point that church’s are often more concerned with the permanence of marriage over the people in it. Shame on them.

  13. […] part 1, part 2 and part […]

  14. Loretta P on January 28, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    The way the church treats wounded people breaks my heart. I’m so grateful for our current Pastor who has a heart of love for the wounded and supports us. But most of my church life it has not been that way. I’ve been pushed to endure abuse in the name of being a Godly wife. Now thankfully I’m getting help and support and many families have opened their homes to me if I need to run (from his raging). My husband is now under the care of a competent counselor and soon to see the Psychiatrist to get stabilizing medications that should help. And now he’s under church discipline for his sinful actions with the purpose of redeeming his life.

    We need support, not being pushed into dangerous places. My heart grieves for so many here who are being abused by the church. It’s sad because it’s not the heart of God!

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