If you’ve been praying for me, thank you. I’ve had a whirlwind month of speaking and traveling and I’m pretty wiped out. I’m home for the next two weeks and looking forward to getting my paperwork cleaned up.
Have you gone paperless? If so, what did you do first? What scanner did you use? Did you have a system like Evernote? I would love to make that my new goal for 2016 – and not be cluttered with so much paper everywhere. Tips?
Also don't forget about my free webinar tonight at 7:30 PM EST. CLICK HERE to get a spot. Can't make it? No problem. Everyone who registers will get a replay link that will be live for 30 days.
Question: I have been in an abusive and controlling marriage for what I will count as 33 years, as that is the place we were at when my husband’s pornography addiction became exposed.
For the last 2 years, we have been separated, though living in the same house. I’ve been trying to process and work through issues and have not left because of fear of many things, one being church discipline. I have been hammered about how disobedient I’m being because I am keeping my distance and have not hopped right back in the bed with him.
My husband was always angry and yelling and condemning. I got my view of God through him so I always carried around a tremendous amount of guilt and shame and saw God as a hard task master, with a very heavy yoke, a God who was always “out to get me”, who was waiting to hammer me for any sin.
My marriage has been bondage, a prison, as I succumbed to my husband’s headship that has been without love, so much so that I submitted to him cutting our first born daughter off for 15 years now because she left the household and got married against our blessing. She saw what I could not see and got out. Now that I’ve processed the deception and abuse (your book was very enlightening and relatable) that I’ve lived under and in for 33 years, I came to see that my view of God has been wrong and where it came from. You state about living in the center of God’s love in your book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. I would like to know how to do that exactly.
I have read the Word, though inconsistently over the years, and have definitely cried out to Him almost constantly even though sometimes it was just “God, Help!” There is much more to my story I could tell you but feel time doesn’t allow currently. Can you clarify or help me understand how to live in the center of God’s love?
I also have a second question: does staying in the marriage and rebuilding it absolutely HAVE to take place because the spouse is repentant (seemingly) and stopped doing porn and yelling? I’ve been told that I do not have biblical grounds to begin with and also that because he is repentant, that I cannot divorce, that I have to stay in the marriage, although there is no love or respect or trust or communication.
Answer: I am so sorry for all you have been through. It sounds like you’ve not only gotten a harsh legalistic dictator view of God from your husband, but also from your church through the way they have handled your husband’s problem with you. You ask some tough questions and I’m not sure I will be able to adequately answer both of your questions in this one blog, but I will give it a try and invite others to share their journey with you as well.
How do you center yourself in God and his love? That is a great question and I’m not sure I have the answer. John, the apostle and one of Jesus closest friends said it best when he wrote, “We have come to know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16).
That tells me that learning to trust God’s love – to rely on it fully, is a process and not a once and done event. John said we have come to know, and come to rely on it. There must have been times when John didn’t rely on it or know it as fully as he did when he wrote his letter.
What a relief! If someone who actually walked and talked with Jesus in the flesh didn’t always “feel” it or “trust” then maybe God isn’t so disappointed with you and me when we struggle with it too.
I think one of your biggest obstacles in “relying” on God’s love for you is that you’ve been taught that it’s conditional. If you mess up, or make a mistake, if you don’t get it right, or make a bad choice, God’s love for you will stop.
You’ve been told you’re a bad wife or a bad Christian and felt rejected and cast away by your spouse and your church. That may be your experience with the people who were supposed to represent God to you, but that behavior is not reflective of God’s love. God’s love never fails. His love is never based on our behavior – good or bad. He doesn’t love those who get it right better than those of us who don’t get it right.
The Bible tells us that while we were still sinners – when we were at our worst, God loved us (Romans 5:8), and Jesus tells us that the Father loves us as much as the Father loved him (John 17:23).
There is great comfort in knowing that God loves us because he is God and not because we’re worthy or deserve it. It is in God’s nature to love, therefore, He cannot NOT love us. There is nothing you can ever do to earn or deserve God’s love, and there is nothing you can ever do to lose or lessen it.
The love of God is active, relentlessly pursuing you, seeking your good, fighting for your eternal well—being (tweet that).
His love is perfect and sufficient, never more and never less than it always is (Romans 8:31-39).
The reality and security of God’s love does not depend upon us at all. God doesn’t love us just the way we are; he loves us despite the way we are.
This kind of love is too good to be true. It’s such unspeakably good news it’s hard to put our mind around it let alone our heart. If we could rely on that kind of love for us, we would feel peace and joy. We would feel as secure as a child wrapped snug at her mother’s breast. But we don’t grasp His great love for us most of the time. Not that we don’t want to, but it’s hard to believe that the good news is really that good.
When asked by followers what they must do to do the work of God, Jesus answered them by saying that the work is to believe (John 6:29). And, it is hard work. However, once we do the work to believe, the rest comes fairly easily.
So what are some specific things you could to do the work to believe, even just a little bit? Jesus says we don’t need a lot of faith, just a tiny bit, the size of a mustard seed can be sufficient. My pastor once said if you have strong faith in weak ice and go running out in the middle of an icy pond with great faith that it will hold you, it won’t. Not because you don’t have enough faith but because your faith is in a weak object.
However, if you have weak faith in a strong object, it doesn’t matter how tentatively you crawl out on a strong piece of ice, it will hold you. It holds you up because it is a strong object, not because of your strong faith.
What could you do today to put a tiny bit of faith in God’s powerful love for you? What small steps could you take this week to walk that faith out – tentatively, haltingly, having weak faith but trusting a strong, capable God?
Your second question – has a lot to do with the first problem. Jesus tells his followers, “If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.” Your church is telling you that you do not have Biblical grounds for divorce. That’s debatable and not everyone agrees on biblical justifications for divorce. But the error your church is making with you even with the set of beliefs they hold is they put the emphasis on obedience without helping you to know and love God.
The Bible says, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). As our hearts are centered in God’s love, we begin to love him back in humble gratitude that God would love us that much.
And as we love him first and most, of course we want to obey him, whatever that looks like in our particular situation.
We are not capable of obeying God on our own. The Jews could not with the Jewish law and Christians’ cannot without the love of God and the Holy Spirit’s help.
So, friend for now, it’s important that you realize God is pursuing you. People don’t naturally have any desire to center themselves on God or his love unless God is drawing them to himself. Your question reflects your desire and so fling yourself upon him for help, wisdom, and strength and he will show you his love.
Once you get that in perspective, you will be much more equipped to deal with the marriage question from a position of wisdom, courage, grace, and strength.
In closing, let me share with you an old hymn that was running through my mind as I wrote this blog. We don’t sing hymns much anymore but it starts with the words, “Jesus I am resting, resting, in the joy of what thou art. I am finding out the greatness of thy loving heart.”
To listen to it click here
Friends, share with us how you have come to know and rely on the love God has for you.
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During the early years in my journey with God, I was so intent on actually “experiencing” this God for myself, so that I had a personal testimony and witness that he exists. I read the word avidly, i went to seminars, home group, church on a Sunday and I prayed a lot. After some 6 years of pursuing God in this way, I got to where my marriage was in a really bad place and I was crying out for wisdom, for God to help me. I was also at that time helping to lead an Alpha course and during the session where we focus on the work of the Holy Spirit I had opportunity to go into a small chapel by myself and I simply asked God to help me overcome all the voices in my head that were denying him. I went home, my H was in front of the TV watching sport, I went upstairs to my bedroom and began reading a book that a Christian counsellor gave me (we were in counselling back then too). The book was “Healing the Emotions” by David Seamands (I think). I got to the chapter on perfectionism and that really resonated with me, it was as though a huge slice of my life came into sharp focus and I curled up in a ball and cried myself to sleep. While I slept, I had an extremely vivid dream the content of which I may have already shared so wont relay it again but in that dream I experienced the love of God and he confirmed it was him two days later in the most amazing way. I learned too that even during our very worst behaviour, our times of doubt and struggle, He loves us. I am grateful that I have this to hold on to but it took me six years of diligently seeking the lord to receive his reward…something he promises to do when we seek him in that way. My life has been tumultuous and I am grateful to have that encounter to strengthen my belief when it is necessary – and it is necessary a lot! So, I want to encourage you to press in, just like the woman who had an issue of blood, press in and don’t allow others or life circumstances to jostle you away from the hem of his garment (I am speaking to myself here as well), never give up or give in in until you receive what he has promised you. Bon courage x.
Yes, I can recall the tangible ways that God has touched me and led me and provided specific answers to prayers that help my faith to be strengthened.
This was in my email this morning: I think it is by Charles Spurgeon.
Am I mourning, because my spiritual life is so weak, because my faith is so small, my love so feeble?
Cheer up, I have reason to be grateful. Remember that in some things I am equal to the greatest and most mature Christian.
I am as much purchased with blood as he is.
I am just as much an adopted child of God as any other believer. An infant is as truly a child of its parents as is the full-grown man. I am as completely justified, for my justification is not a matter of degree: My little faith has made me clean every bit.
I have as much right to the precious things of the covenant as the most advanced believers, for my right to covenant mercies does not lie in my growth but in the covenant itself; and my faith in Jesus is not the measure but the token of my inheritance in Him.
I am as rich as the richest-if not in enjoyment, yet in real possession. The smallest star that gleams is set in heaven; the faintest ray of light has affinity with the sun. In the family register of heaven, the small and the great are written with the same pen.
I am as dear to my Father’s heart as the greatest in the family. Jesus is very tender toward me.
I am like the faintly burning wick; a rougher spirit would say, “Put out that useless flame; it fills the room with an offensive odor!” But the feeble wick He will not quench. I am like a bruised reed, and any less tender hand than that of the Chief Musician would tread upon me or throw me away; but He will never break the bruised reed. So instead of being downcast by reason of what I am, I should rejoice in Christ. Am I but small and feeble in the vast company of believers? Yet in Christ I am made to sit in heavenly places. Am I poor in faith? Yet in Jesus I am heir of all things. I do not need to boast or elevate myself; even as an infant in Christ I will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the God of my salvation.
Thanks Leonie for the reminder of these great words.
Excellent. Thanks for sharing.
Continued prayers for you, Leslie!!!! I can well imagine how run down you must feel with such a busy schedule. Prayers that God will bear you up as you do His work, and also prayers for a time of rest for you!!!!
To answer the question…… During my abusive marriage, there have been various times that God has given me very clear direction when very difficult decisions had to be made. This has been such a blessing as we all know how outsiders love to criticize our decisions in tough situations!!! Knowing that I had clearly heard God and followed His direction gave me the strength and security not to second guess my decisions. Realizing that God loves ME enough to do something like that–speak directly to MY specific situation–has just been an incredible experience for me. It also shows that I can trust Him and depend on Him when it seems everyone else is letting me down–especially when I feel like I can’t trust my husband to help me raise our family. I don’t have to find security in him when I have security in who God is and how He feels towards me!
I can understand every bit of what you have gone through – abusive, controlling, yelling, and condemning. I experienced it all myself. Complicating my situation even more was the fact that my husband was a Pastor. I was very confused. I went to several Christian counselors, read every book I could find, and cried out to God many times: Why God, if You love marriage and hate divorce, if you want us to be happy, since my husband is a Pastor, why is this happening!??!! I was desperate. It came to the point of my realizing that God does not like divorce, but He also does not like abuse either. I asked myself, “Does God want me to suffer in my abusive marriage or to get divorced and be at peace?”
I just received a post on my Facebook page that talks about your question. It is from Focus Ministries, a very good Christian organization that is against abuse. Hopefully, you will be able to access the article Overwhelmed with Cruelty
Carly Sanchez © Carly Sanchez October 14, 2015 at http://www.focusministries1.org
Sometimes I pray, “draw me closer Lord.”
I am learning those type of prayers are good prayers.
Thank you so much for helping all of us in so many ways. Your willingness to give and give is very faith affirming. . . . . btw, if you go paperless (—my ½ cent), it might be good to ensure everything you scan is totally searchable (—is actually a text document and not just a picture of a document). Unless everything is searchable, documents can be just as lost in piles in the computer as in piles on your desk. . . . More importantly, I have no idea how you keep it all secure if you are also going online with that same computer/ network. —Recently, you can Google it, the IRS lost employees personal information (—serious personal information) and they utilize some of the best software encryption known. Unless you are utilizing military strength encryption (—which involves specially burned/ encoded hardware chips, not just software), I simply don’t see how you really keep documents safe. It seems every few days brings a new story of issues with major companies losing critical data who have huge IT departments charged with security.
“Friends, share with us how you have come to know and rely on the love God has for you.”
“What could you do today to put a tiny bit of faith in God’s powerful love for you? What small steps could you take this week to walk that faith out – tentatively, haltingly, having weak faith but trusting a strong, capable God?”
. . . I could go with my heart more and embrace more mystery. I clearly see why the church had banned book lists and tried to control information in church history because being more informed means being more perplexed (For example: The Jesus Puzzle: How Did Christianity Begin? Paperback – January 1, 2005 by Earl Doherty). . . . . —And yet our hearts just cry out for God and He so seems the only way to anything real and worthwhile. . . . The things I value: A really clean heart, real love, real forgiveness, real compassion, and real tenderness. I simply do not see sense and goodness without God, contra Carrier, RE: Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism Feb 23, 2005. . . . Look at Carrier’s personal moral failures. They are disgraceful. I don’t want to be like that. I see Jesus in the gospels and that is what I want to be like. Whatever is going on in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (—whoever those people really were. . . just first names, we know basically, honestly, so little about; names that only show up on the documents in the second century). . . .However, those documents are so counter to the way we would think is wise: You actually find your life by losing it; you really live by dying every day; you actually conquer by forgiving and loving the very people who have hurt you the most. . . .How can you keep your heart tender, clean, less greedy, without Christ? I don’t see it and I don’t believe for a minute that you can. . . . So, I can embrace more total mystery and sit with Jesus at the “kids table” more often (—which I have always felt comfortable at anyway). . . . Sure, understand what they are discussing at the “adult’s table” but realize that facts and knowledge are not life and power. I don’t see real love at the adult’s table because real love has sacrifice all over it and I don’t see the motivation without Christ. —But don’t you care what is true? More than anyone here will ever know, unless one day we meet. Someone in a debate was saying recently: “—it is hard to see how Christianity as a vital force in society will be able to continue.” . . . .That is just crazy talk, Christians could well revive their creed with a new return to a Spiritual Christ, based solely on inspiration by the Holy Spirit and no longer dependent on any texts or hypotheses about history (See: Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus). . . . So again, I can always do small faith steps (—showing compassion; asking forgiveness; praying —I love praying, it is completely other.) and just trust this mystery of God’s powerful love. It is mystery: God without you —just won’t. . . but you without God, forget it, you can’t because —somehow— we join our will with God’s will. We just can’t get there without the Lord Jesus but at the same time, God will not force us against our wills! —Mystery and unseen power.
This is something that has drawn me close to God in recent days. I remember that God is so not like the treatment I am getting. Every time I am discouraged and hurt in my spirit because of my husband, I reflect on how God is.
For example, when harsh and critical words are lobbed at me, I remember how sweetly God has corrected me. I remember that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Jesus is meek and gentle, so unlike the hurtful words I have just heard. He would not remind me over and over about my failures as a human. (like running out of a food in the cupboards). Even if I sin greatly against Jesus, he will not beat me down. He was so kind with Peter even after Peter denied him.
The bad treatment we receive in this life is not real in a sense. It is like a vapor. It will go away. Someday deliverance will come. Evil will be destroyed. Good and kind and true words will last. God is a God of comfort. God is love. So different from a man who hammers you with any wrong doing.
Leslie, a suggestion on going paperless- focus on going paperless in things you’re doing now and are going to do. Getting all your past paperwork on the computer may end up being overwhelming. When you have a good system going, you can slowly start focusing on past paperwork.
Thanks BElle, so true
Belle, the definition of real love is doing what is in the best interests of the person you “love.” His treatment of you is not indicative of love. YOur allowing him to continue with no consequences (you didnt mention any) may SEEM like “love” or “the right thing to do” but is it in his best interest? (Its certainly not in yours!) Yes, the troubles we have in this world are a vapor, however, Jesus came to give us life more abundantly, whle we are here, on this earth. The kind of “troubles” used in this kind of thinking were never intended to be coming from your loving, committed spouse, but from the world who does not know Jesus. Our response should be different becuase a marriage is by defintion the most intimiate and “trust-necessary” relationships we have. I may tolerate a stranger to treat me badly, I have nothing at stake and perhaps will show by my response a “difference” that will make him or her curious to know Jesus. My spouse, however, supposedly already knows that and knows God’s defintion/requirements for a healthy marriage and treating your spouse badly is not part of that definition.
The way you feel, wanting to stay away from him, keep your distance is the natural consequence of your husbands emotional abuse.
The ongoing deception over the pornography has removed your trust. Your husband has committed adultery in this many times.
If he is repentant, time will tell. You can stand strong and step back, so that he may demonstrate to you that his repentance is genuine. Leslie has some good stuff on how to tell if it is. He needs to show you.
You will be subject to opinion after opinion…..but your heart is so sore and weary….so just allow your self the time to be sure your husband is going to stop the abuse (the yelling and the porn are abuse).
You can also work on yourself and aak God to give you light and truth about you and your own reactions. This is a season for that too.
Lots of love,
I agree with Dea, I believe your lack of trust and lack of desiring intimacy is a natural consequence of his abusive behavior. It would be foolish for you to go right back into an intimate, close relationship with him until his “repentance” has been time and stress tested. Until that trust is rebuilt by your husband and he shows the “fruit of repentance” and a turning from his sinning ways, it is wise to continue to observe until you are convinced that he is truly repentant.
My concern is how difficult it must be for you to heal while living separated but in the same house. It was my experience that I was not able to even start to heal my shattered, broken, and fearful heart until we were under separate roofs and I felt physically and emotionally safe in my own home. Otherwise I never knew when and where the next verbal bomb would go off.
If you must stay in the same home, I hope you have a strong support group outside of the church to help you heal and practice some of what Leslie teaches when relating to a destructive spouse.
Blessings to you,
I keep getting the message…let it go and let God show you what HE can do. I have heard that but now I have the peace to pursue Christ instead of proving how bad my husband’s behavior has been. It took about four years but I finally am seeing that I cannot possibly make my husband change or understand my point of view. I can go to a bible study and be faithful to gather together with believers. I feel for the lady who submitted to her husband and has broken contact with her child. I understand that wanting to do the right thing by your husband can cause so many problems when that husband is on a self righteous path.
Today, It is almost like I have an invisible shield of protection and I can now ask WHY to my husband. What can he do to me? What can he say? I do not have to believe the lies he tells me.
I have reached that point, too, where you said, “It took about four years but I finally am seeing that I cannot possibly make my husband change or understand my point of view.” I am so glad for the online sites and groups I have found that validate and confirm what I have been through and give me the courage and strength to keep going. I fear the future and how all of this will affect my kids, but like you, I am realizing that I cannot make my ex understand how his behaviors are hurting me and the kids.
During times when I don’t feel God’s love I make a conscious decision to believe The Bible and the promises in it. When the circumstances are tough, and thoughts of doubt and questions set in, I have to repeatedly recite God’s Word to myself. I pour out my negative feelings to Him. It may not happen immediately, but my feelings change and I begin feel his love.
I really like that Maria. We offload those burdens to God; He is the only one with any answers. -And I always pray: Lord God, get me beyond the blind faith and just group feelings. Don’t just be some kind of inner therapy. Let me really experience the outward reality of You. Let what I believe come from Your evidence, get me beyond my confirmation bias and just convincing myself. Let me experience what’s really, really real.
Thank you, Maria. I so agree with you and have experienced the power of God’s word in my thinking and desires to bring His peace back to my heart when I have been emotionally manipulated to believe lies. You are right that it is a conscious decision to think on His Words and believe them. I too, Lori am meditating on Romans 8 as my place to go when I am hurting. I have been working on it for years and now find it a comfortable place to rest. He does not condemn me and He is for me. I will never be separated from His love and so much more in those verses.
I think from what I have read in our responses we are all coming to the same conclusion: Believe God, His Word and not man’s! That will keep us centered in His love. Love you all and your courage to keep persevering…
Thanks Aleea. You make me scared to go paperless, but I get overwhelmed with all the papers so I’ll have to figure something out. Yes embracing mystery, embracing the love of God for us even though it is hard to comprehend.
. . .scary, ever mysterious BUT incredibly worthwhile. . . . And I don’t see we have any other options re:technology; re:Jesus . . . spending time in His presence, opening my heart to Him, seeking to know Him, and desiring to be more like Him. . . .I’m wondering if it is possible to get to the point where He is the only one who has any power over me? And maybe that is the mystery of seeking God. HE is the One who finds us, simply loves us -and by loving us makes us precious.
I rely on the love God has for me by reading his love letter to me, the bible. When I look back I see ways he has opened my eyes to the truth, helping me realize things I couldn’t, or wouldn’t have known otherwise. When I praise him and read his word I find his amazing promises, instruction, psalms that bring peace and soothe the soul but also the heaviness of oppression lifts and God gives me clarity and hope! I look back to times when I wasn’t pursuing him or was angry with him or didn’t realize what was going on or know the truth and see that he cared for me in those times too. Even though this post separation time is scary or uncertain I am thankful that it makes me lean into his everlasting arms.
Centering myself in Gods love is hard. Some of the things I have done is listen to Christian music, surround myself with those who love God and study and memorize scripture. I have pretty much given up secular radio stations as many of the lyrics do not promote right thinking. I am also thankful for friends who I can hash things out with. They seem to understand and help me rethink when my mind wants to replay the wrong messages. One of the major things I have been doing lately is memorizing scripture. I have been working on Rom. 8:18-39. As I have been memorizing, I have been grappling with the fact that the Holy Spirit prays for me, God did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all (me included). Why?? Who can condemn me? Only God. I am not there yet but will also have to think about who can separate me from God’s love. I don’t understand! Nor do I comprehend the depth but it does help me at least dwell on these things. I have a long way to go, but these are things I have started with.
You state about living in the center of God’s love in your book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. I would like to know how to do that exactly.
I also have a second question: does staying in the marriage and rebuilding it absolutely HAVE to take place because the spouse is repentant (seemingly) and stopped doing porn and yelling?
I’ve been told that I do not have biblical grounds to begin with and also that because he is repentant, that I cannot divorce, that I have to stay in the marriage, although there is no love or respect or trust or communication.
These are good questions and considerations that you have come up with. What worked for me is to know God myself and stop relying on what everyone tells me about god.
What I came to experience is that there is a difference in someone giving me information that I would research and own and apply in my life and simply taking someone’s else’s word for what they know about god. Didn’t the Bereans do that! I had to repent to my wonderful god of relying to heavily on others religion and dogma and not doing my part in knowing through the spirit and study what god says. God is not that difficult to know, religion is! I believe that deep inside of yourself you hear the voice of god, follow by faith. Decide who’s voice you chose to follow. A question for you; who are you? I am a child of god, the highest position in the earth and the heavens above because my father said it is so. Knowing who god is part of your own person journey and no one can do that for you. Start anywhere and leave the religion and dogma behind. You know that there is god the father, Jesus and the spirit. Follow through the spirit and believe god’s truth not dogma and religious truth.
Believe what you believe.
I have another question for you; was Adam the boss of eve in the garden of Eden? Does god boss jesus and the holy spirit around? Look at those perfect relationships in the bible and you will have your answer and then that will keep you on the path. Throw away all the religious jargon and come to jesus as a child. He will never let you down. Try that and see the changes that take place in yourself. The world does not have to change only you do. Jesus said follow me… not follow what others say about me. Shake off the dust if others don’t want to follow, just like jesus did. I love you my sister in christ. I will meet you in heaven one day. Take care.
GREAT response! I totally agree!
Previously I experienced emotional abuse. Improvement started when I learned to gently set boundaries, and the tirades stopped. However this occurred ONLY after becoming healthier myself, the support of a Christian 12 step group, and months of prayer asking God to show me what He wanted me to learn.
I have a small poster on my bedroom wall that says:
“Our faith does not rest on our feelings BUT in the unshakable character of Christ.” My faith is small but His character is more than huge!
I have been trying to navigate an emotionally abusive marriage for 28 years and am newly researching help for my situation. Thank you for all your posts. It is helpful to see that I am not alone in my journey.
Throughout our marriage I have tried to live a Christlike response: recognizing that Jesus suffered abuse and taught us to turn the other cheek, and believing that by serving more and loving more I would eventually touch my husband’s heart. During the darkest years, I stayed for my children and I stayed for my covenants. I usually felt very alone in this. I have wondered if part of the numbness I felt in my marriage affected my spiritual sensibilities as well. I would ask, “Where art thou?” I was grateful to have had witness of God’s love from prior experience that I could hold onto throughout these times.
There have been tender mercies at key times for me. I believe prayers were answered along the way, though I did not always recognize God’s guidance and help at the time. These most often came through counsel from friends and from spiritual leaders. One came as a message of “release” that God did not expect more from me than I had given. The physical response was so real that my anxiety just melted away. (Strangely, this release actually gave me the courage and strength to do more.)
I believe God helped me to separate from my husband recently. This is not what I would have expected. I had been praying for clear direction because there was so much confusion and pain in my head and in my heart. I came home from work one day and could not bring myself to open the car door and go into the house. I sat in the cold for 20 minutes, then finally texted my husband that I wasn’t coming home.
I would not have had the courage to “leave” on my own and truly believe this was an answer to prayer. My husband says this was the ‘wake-up call’ he needed. He has moved out of the house. We have a separation agreement in place with our counselor. Time will tell whether there is going to be true reform but I believe the separation is a gift from God for both of us.
I wish I had understood about boundaries sooner, but I don’t have regrets about not giving this marriage my best effort. I don’t have regrets about handling things the best that I could for my children. And I don’t have regrets about hoping that my husband is willing and able to do the hard work it is going to take to be healed. I would encourage reading God’s word, fervent prayer, and continued faith through the dark times.
(((Hugs))) and prayers for tender mercies for all of you!
Lisa, your story could have been written by me. 27 years and I, too, separated for a year and in my case, my spouse softened his heart and God was able to make necessary changes (although to be clear, I was fully prepared to leave permanently at some point so I wasnt “hanging on hoping” but I just wasnt in any hurry because the separating stopped most of the abuse if that makes sense. I could “afford” to let God work without legal action but was prepared to take the next step if needed at some point. I always like to be clear on that becasue I dont want anyone feeling like they should just “hang on” when their spouse gives NO indication of repentance or desire to change) One thing I want to recommend is that BEFORE you even consider reconciliation, study what true repentance looks like and what reconciliation looks like and what it entails. I got a lot of good information from Lundy Bancroft website, Josephjpote.com and hurtbylove.com in addition to Leslie’s awesome teachings. Never again will I allow anyone’s “opinion” about “what God expects of me” to be accepted without first delving into scripture taken in its context and “spirit of the law” and rightly divided as well as being WELL educated by those who have actually been through abuse. May God continue to heal you on your journey to wholeness and peace!
Thank you Debbie. I do feel like I have just emerged as a prisoner of my own anxiety. I feel a lifting of my heart to not have to worry about when he’s coming home or what mood he might be in. Your post makes total sense. As long as he respects the boundaries in our separation agreement, I can give him the time he needs and take the time I need. In the meantime, I just finished one of Lundy Bancroft’s books and took down several pages of notes on what real change looks like so that I can refer to them as needed. I don’t want to make the mistake of falling for a false facade.
Thank you for this Debby. II Corinthians 7:9-11 has a great description of what godly sorrow, repentance looks like. Verse 10 uses words like “earnestness, indignation (for my sin),fear, longing,zeal and avenging of wrong”. That is a very active, intentional and almost aggressive picture of godly sorrow in response to my own sin against another. This is a repentance “without regret”. I will check out Lundy Bancroft’s web site. I have been wanting to read some of her material.
We cannot study this too much to be prepared to respond in a godly way to emotional manipulation. I do not want to be fooled again.