Morning friends,

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. For many of you it will be a tough day. You are struggling with family or marital stress that makes being thankful a true challenge. Instead of answering a specific question this week, I want to ask you to answer two questions (at the end) that will help you learn how make lemonade when life gives you a sack of lemons.

Ecclesiastes 3 is one of my favorite passages. It says:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven;

a time to be born and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

Each of you are in different seasons and in each season it takes time to move through it and heal. But somewhere in our suffering we’ll need to rise out of the rubble in order to cope with what’s happening to us both internally and externally.

This is where we have a say in what kind of story we are writing about our lives. We don’t always understand that we play a very significant role in our own healing process. We can’t always control what happens to us. But from this point on, if we want to mature and become healthy people we must decide what to do with what happens to us.

This is the most important part of our story.

How we choose to respond to our adversity not only reveals our character, it shapes it (tweet that).

Psychologists who study how people cope with traumatic life events provide overwhelming evidence that individuals who are somehow able to find the positive in the negative and work toward a solution, or squeeze some kind of meaning out of their difficulty do better physically, emotionally, and relationally than those who are not able to do these things.

Studies have shown that people who look for the good, even in tough situations grow stronger and become more resilient and even feel happier with themselves and life than those who don’t.

Mining for diamonds is hard, ugly work. They are not easily seen embedded in the mud and muck of the earth. In the same way, God says that he gives us treasures in darkness but we really have to look for them (Isaiah 45:3). By discovering, even creating good things in the middle of our traumas and trials, we can experience pockets of joy, peace and purpose.

While chained up in prison, the apostle Paul wrote,

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly (Philippians 1:12-13).

Paul never minimized human suffering. He experienced enormous trials in his ministry and talked honestly about the pain of them, yet he didn’t get stuck in the pit of despair. Looking for a higher purpose or meaning in his suffering helped Paul emotionally climb out ( 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 & 6-18). Paul understood the power of our mental attitude (CORE STRENGTH) on our emotional well being, especially in difficult life circumstances.

When going through a difficult time, here are two questions you can ask yourself that will help you make lemonade out of lemons …

  1. What strengths have I discovered in myself, or have had the opportunity to develop because of what I’m going through?
  1. What lessons have I learned that will help me be a better, stronger, kinder more godly person?

Paul reminds us, “We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

This Thanksgiving sit down and write out the answers to these two questions. Give it thought and take your time. Then thank God that you are not being overcome by evil, but you are learning to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Friends, please share with us some of the strengths you have gained or lessons you have learned in your destructive marriage?

 PS  If you’re not able to answer these questions you may be interested in taking my Introduction to Building CORE strength class which is being offered in December. Click here for more information. It's my most popular class and I would love to have you be part of it.

 

38 Comments

  1. Summer on November 25, 2015 at 8:47 am

    1. The strength I’ve discovered in myself is my ability to give up the need to control everything out of fear and instead surrender everything to God. While doing this, I also learned to use my voice and speak my truth, even though my voice still shook.

    2. The lesson I’ve learned in doing this is that God will provide for me and care for me in ways I could never have imagined, because his plans for me are so much greater than mine.

    I can look back to February, when I finally surrendered my marriage to God. He immediately began leading me back to the job I had quit 2 years ago for my husband, even though I loved the job and the incredible friends I had there. I didn’t know at the time that he was preparing my path.
    As my husband’s narcissistic abuse escalated over the next few months, I began speaking up and setting boundaries for me and my teenage children. I am so greatful to Leslie for this blog, and to all of you who post on it. Reading the advice and your stories has given me so much clarity and strength! Thank you!
    In August, my husband said, “If this is how it’s going to be, I’m leaving.” For the first time, I didn’t beg him not to. I helped him pack. I knew God had prepared me with my job, my supportive friends and family, and even making my husband leave so I wouldn’t feel guilt for forcing him out.
    I can’t describe the freedom I feel everyday now that I don’t have to walk on eggshells trying to maintain peace and love in my home! Now I can start focusing on who God wants me to be. I’m so excited about experiencing His plans for me!

    • Ann on November 25, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Wow Summer…you answered with my answers with words I couldn’t come up with. Thank you!!….Even though my story is different that is how I felt after my husband left me for another woman. He did me the biggest favor and I didn’t have to live in guilt either. God changed my heart to be fully His!

      I am now after 10 years of healing…I am planning on re-marrying and hope to be aware daily to give my new husband that freedom you speak of because I am in love for the first time truly, and need to be careful not to give all of my heart and soul to him and also expect all of his heart and soul to be only for me. Fear tends to bring that out in me. . I need to remember to stay focused on God. Thanks for your words.

      • Shelley on November 25, 2015 at 9:07 pm

        What a beautiful thing, Ann. Would love to know how you came to the balance view. How did you reach your goal of not giving your heart and soul completely to him but reserving that for God?

        • Aleea on November 26, 2015 at 6:23 am

          Ann,
          Totally, completely beautiful. I would love to know how you achieve balance too. How does God get the best of your love? I have no practical idea how to do balance, nor do I see much of it in the Scriptures. For Paul, there was no such thing as balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life. Something is always born of excess, for example Christianity and the life of Paul. . . .I am juggling these four balls: God, family, work, friends. Now, God is a rubber ball. When I drop Him, He bounces back. The other balls are made of glass, they shatter to pieces.

    • Angie on December 22, 2015 at 3:54 am

      Wow where to start …what Satan intended for harm God has used for good. If it were not for my difficult marriage I would not be a Christian today. Over my 30 years of faith in Christ I’ve noticed that God brings me through situations and then when I’ve passed the test so to speak I discover a book detailed all that I’ve experienced that I only learnt from the Holy Spirit working in me ….the book always turns out to be the confirmation…..just to say still in a challenging marriage after 45 years…..my heart breaks for my husband who doesn’t know Christ……..

  2. Aleea on November 25, 2015 at 9:50 am

    “When going through a difficult time, here are two questions you can ask yourself that will help you make lemonade out of lemons…” . . . . .When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade but like the Apostle Paul you can also use the seeds to plant a whole orchard called Christianity!

    1. “What strengths have I discovered in myself, or have had the opportunity to develop because of what I’m going through?”. . . . . discovered in myself: Endurance —but still a work in progress. . . . . that I have the opportunity to develop: positive, thankful heart —still a work in progress . . . . .—Paul never developed a negative attitude. He picked his bloody body up out of the dirt and went back into the city where he had almost been stoned to death, and he said, “Hey, about that sermon I didn’t finish preaching —here it is!”

    2. What lessons have I learned that will help me be a better, stronger, kinder more godly person? . . . . .—People are so, so hurting beyond what we can know. . . . You and I cannot possibly know the hidden canker worms and pains eating holes in individual lives, so if we want to be saviors, in partnership with our Lord, we will be kind to everyone, everywhere, all of the time. Every person you have ever met, every one of them will suffer the loss of her friends and her family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would you want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime? Life is never easy for anybody. . . . Be kind, be tolerant and compassionate. We cannot fight hate and violence with more hate and violence, any more than we can conquer darkness with more darkness. Adding darkness only increases blackness. The more we genuinely care about others the greater our own happiness & inner peace.

    To me, the true measure of a woman is not her intelligence or how high she rises in this ridiculous, Christ-less, freak establishment world. The true measure of a woman is this: how quickly can she respond to the needs of others and how much of herself she can give. —And I am saying that to myself especially.

  3. Gina on November 25, 2015 at 11:22 am

    I have been in an emotionally destructive marriage for 20 years and have 3 children. I began to get help to grow my CORE strength in 2008. I separated from my husband in September, and will be divorcing and trying to “leave well” in the upcoming months. Through my trial I have learned:

    1) I have great worth from the Lord that is intrinsic and which cannot be reduced or stolen by anyone, especially my abusive husband. I do not need to and should not look to a man to give me worth. It is futile idolatry, and God says not to put any gods before Him.

    2) I cannot change my husband or make him love me or his children the way God commands; I can only change myself and my choices.

    I was encouraged by a sermon by Jack Graham this week. He was teaching on Romans 8:28 and said, “God can turn your mess into a message”.

    This is what I think God will do in my life. I hope to educate churches about the validity of verbal/emotional/spiritual abuse (many only consider physical abuse to be real), and how to recognize a wolf in sheep’s clothing within the congregation.

    I also hope to teach teen girls and young single women what I wish I would have known when I was that age about intrinsic worth, dating and premarital sex, and how looking to a man to give us worth and value may cause us to ironically choose an abusive man who does not value us at all.

    • Robin on November 25, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Gina, I say amen-amen to every word you said. I’m right with you- moving ahead out of abuse and destruction and going towards Gods gifts He wants me to grow and use for the good of others. Thank you for sharing- loved it!!

    • Genine on November 27, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      Thank you for this – I am only at the beginning of trying to understand why I handed my husband my identity … And how beaten and bruised I really am. Xo

    • Heather on November 30, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Gina, thanks for sharing. I relate to everything that you wrote. I have been married for 21 years and also have three children. I separated from my husband in August. We live in different states. I have been moving towards the thought of divorce. Idolatry of my husband and marriage was something that I needed to wake up and see that I was doing. Regardless of everything that my husband did I tried so hard to keep us together. I “needed” his love way too desperately.

      My goal is to allow God to turn my mess into a message also. I would like to help others see what I didn’t see at such a young age.

      I was struck by how similar your desires are to mine. I pray that God helps all of us to use our mess to bring Glory to God and to help others. I find that there is so much hope in that message.

  4. Leonie on November 25, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Beautiful Leslie, Thank you. God inhabits our praises and being thankful leads us to praise him and that brings us into God’s presence. Sometimes we forget how important thankfulness is! We are commanded in so many places in the New Testament to be joyful or rejoice and be thankful, it does restore our soul – he is our healer!

    • Sunflower on November 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Making lemonade out of lemons is possible with a heavenly perspective. Our time on earth is so very brief compared with eternity. Does any of this really matter as it relates to heaven? I try to ask myself if this relationship is thwarting the plans or distorting the design I see God gave me for life. I try to assess my talents and spiritual gifts and find was to use them in service to the Lord. If my relationship is blocking my ability to serve God, then I know the relationship has to change or I have to get out of it.

  5. Mary2 on November 25, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Strengths: I would concur with Aleea – Endurance….. understanding that “I CAN do everything that God requires of me to do (leaving other ppl and what He may require of them, out of it) through Christ Who empowers me from within” (a version of Philippians 4.13) – and to shut my ears to any lie which tells me I cannot.

    Lessons: I can trust the Mind that is greater than mine

    🙂 Happy Thanksgiving everyone 🙂

    • Aleea on November 26, 2015 at 5:44 am

      Mary2,
      “I can trust the Mind that is greater than mine” —that’s excellent . . . the mind of God = the center of His will = our only safety. I get my hand unstuck from the bar of my cage but as run to the door, the cage starts violently shaking and to stabilize myself, I grab another bar. So I am still stuck, just on a different bar. . . “Oh Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee. I give thee back the life I owe. That in thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.”

    • Rebecca on November 26, 2015 at 5:52 am

      God has used my traumatic experiences to gift me in service to those living in disaster situations. I have been trained in disaster relief work and find calm in situations that others find chaotic. It is because of my life as a victim of abuse that I am extremely brave and can endure suffering and deprivation unlike many others.These are just the skills I need to live in a sewage soaked relief camp with decaying bodies at my feet and swarms of flies buzzing around my face. Thank you, Jesus for the peace that passes all understanding and for the ability to serve in the hard places of life.

  6. Edmund on November 26, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Be anxious for NOTHING, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, let your requests be mad known to God. And the PEACE of God that passes ALL (human) UNDERSTANDING will guard your heart and mind IN CHRIST JESUS. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy, (and anything else that reflects God’s holy character), think about these things.

    I am having an unbelievably peaceful, thankful, a contented Thanksgiving Day despite my kids being 3 states away with my soon to be x-wife and a man I’m having a very difficult time loving. We had a difficult marriage with plenty of fear and pride to go around, but I was in it for life and she was not. God’s love for us gives us the freedom to accept or reject our relationship with Him, therefore I accept that I cannot force my wife to stay in relationship with me…or else it would not be love. But I am so thankful for the ability that only God could give me to say – there is nothing my wife, the other man, or anybody that has hurt me in my life has done that is worse than what I have done to hurt my Creator and my Savior. I am so thankful for Hope I can have in what Has already determined will happen, but that He has chosen to work out as a process in His time and through His people….to renew and restore Creation and to bring reconciliation and redemption to all things and all people who willingly submit their wills and their desires to Him. All authority has been given to Him in Heaven and on Earth, in the world that can be seen and in the world that is invisible, and He has somehow seen fit to allow me to exist and understand my need for Him. I believe and declare Him to be the ultimate Ruler over every ruler that ever has or ever will live.

    Oh yeah….the questions:

    1. What strengths have I discovered in myself, or have had the opportunity to develop because of what I’m going through?

    * I have learned that when God says he has given me everything I need for and godliness, he is right. As a member of God’s family, I have rediscovered that HE is in myself through His spirit and that His truth is not contingent upon what anyone else says, does, or thinks about me – whether it be another human being, or the Enemy whispering lies into my mind. I have also re-discovered the opportunity to be courageous enough to actually consider whether there might actually be truth embedded in those lies that I can learn from and use to further my path of holiness.

    2. What lessons have I learned that will help me be a better, stronger, kinder more godly person?

    Nothing that anyone has done to me is more sinful or offensive than what I have done to my Savior. Forgiveness is never an option. Reconciliation is always a possibility. With God, nothing is impossible.

    • Edmund on November 26, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Be anxious for NOTHING, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, let your requests be mad known to God. And the PEACE of God that passes ALL (human) UNDERSTANDING will guard your heart and mind IN CHRIST JESUS. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy, (and anything else that reflects God’s holy character), think about these things.

      I am having an unbelievably peaceful, thankful, a contented Thanksgiving Day despite my kids being 3 states away with my soon to be x-wife and a man I’m having a very difficult time loving. We had a difficult marriage with plenty of fear and pride to go around, but I was in it for life and she was not. God’s love for us gives us the freedom to accept or reject our relationship with Him, therefore I accept that I cannot force my wife to stay in relationship with me…or else it would not be love. But I am so thankful for the ability that only God could give me to say – there is nothing my wife, the other man, or anybody that has hurt me in my life has done that is worse than what I have done to hurt my Creator and my Savior. I am so thankful for Hope I can have in what Has already determined will happen, but that He has chosen to work out as a process in His time and through His people….to renew and restore Creation and to bring reconciliation and redemption to all things and all people who willingly submit their wills and their desires to Him. All authority has been given to Him in Heaven and on Earth, in the world that can be seen and in the world that is invisible, and He has somehow seen fit to allow me to exist and understand my need for Him. I believe and declare Him to be the ultimate Ruler over every ruler that ever has or ever will live.

      Oh yeah….the questions:

      1. What strengths have I discovered in myself, or have had the opportunity to develop because of what I’m going through?

      * I have learned that when God says he has given me everything I need for and godliness, he is right. As a member of God’s family, I have rediscovered that HE is in myself through His spirit and that His truth is not contingent upon what anyone else says, does, or thinks about me – whether it be another human being, or the Enemy whispering lies into my mind. I have also re-discovered the opportunity to be courageous enough to actually consider whether there might actually be truth embedded in those lies that I can learn from and use to further my path of holiness.

      2. What lessons have I learned that will help me be a better, stronger, kinder more godly person?

      Nothing that anyone has done to me is more sinful or offensive than what I have done to my Savior. Forgiveness is never an option. Reconciliation is always a possibility. With God, nothing is impossible.

      Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
      Thank you, Mrs. Vernick!
      Aslan is on the move!!

      • Maria on November 27, 2015 at 7:31 am

        Edmund, I’m praying for you as you go through this difficult time.
        Is your wife involved with this man she’s with? If so, why do you feel the need to love him?
        How did you arrive at the the conclusion that you have hurt/offended Christ more than others have hurt/offended you?

        • Edmund on November 27, 2015 at 1:25 pm

          Maria…I did not intend to be misleading but realize the comment was confusing. The other man is my father-in-law. My wife has the Thanksgiving holiday this year and they traveled together. Though obviously not romantic…in a very real sense my wife did leave me for her Dad at a deep emotional and spiritual level ad has moved in with him, in part, so he could supply the needed spiritual and emotional deficiencies they believe exist in my leadership. Hopefully this clarifies the question of why I should love him.

          Also, I think it was you and I that had an exchange at some point about the idea that all sin caused equal consequence for Christ and results in equal spiritual consequence for us (separation from Christ), but that the practical earthly consequneces of all sin are not the same. With this as the premise, my sin against Christ held Him to the cross just as much as any sin committed against me by my wife or extended family.

          This is such a bittersweet way to interact and get to know people. Thanks so much for the way you carry yourself. Many blessings to you and your family!

  7. Maria on November 27, 2015 at 8:02 am

    What lessons have I learned that will help me be a better, stronger, kinder more godly person?
    I have learned that no matter how another person treats us, God has given us the power to please Him. We have the power through Christ to not repay evil for evil.

  8. Edmund on November 27, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    It was after midnight this morning when I discovered Mrs. Vernick’s response to the “controversy” about the design and purpose for this digital world she created. After sleeping on it and mozying around in my empty little condo this morning while much of our country pursues more stuff, much of our world suffers more egregious injustice, and my amazing 3 children continue to experience their first major holiday season in the brokenness of divorce rather than the boundaries of an unconditional, self-giving home anchored to commitment (not feeling) love – I can honestly say that I cannot possible be more thankful or at peace. Circumstances are temporary and fluid. This life is just a prelude to eternity, and how I choose to handle today’s circumstances will have a direct correlation on what I get to do and experience forever in the Eternal Kingdom of the Author of subordinate, self-sacrificial, gloriously unbreakable self-giving love. What can separate us from the love of Christ?! (Hint…check Romans 8 for the answer)

    I will never presume to fully know or understand Mrs. Vernick’s convictions or intentions nor would I want to be guilty of representing those convictions or intentions to others for the purposes of furthering my own perceived needs, wants, rights, or desires. I admit that I stepped into this place several weeks ago as a skeptic, but with a truly open mind and truly sincere desire to be honest, transparent, fair, responsible, kind, and wise. Regardless of the specifics of what Mrs. Vernick believes or intends, I believe her statement about her intentions for this space say a lot about her character. I respect her character, regardless of to what degree I affirm her convictions or applications.

    Though I did not have a clear cut plan of action when I joined this community, I did have a settled conviction that truth wins and that facing fears head on instead of running from them is an honorable thing. God is the essence of truth, and God is the essence of love. Perfect love casts out fear. They cannot coexist in the same space. So my conviction is that if I can bring truth and love to bear on a place that is bringing me fear, I can’t count on what will win – regardless of what I see or endure in the interim (Faith).

    I can only speak for my circumstances and humbly ask that others refrain from projecting their story onto mine. I love my wife and I am on a mission to keep her. That is ultimately her choice and I pray she finalizes our divorce before she ever considers coming back out of duty, guilt, or obligation. I am not a project and I already have a Savior. But I am not going to sit back and allow my divorce to go final and my kids to live through what I did as a result of manipulation, deception, and lies. I will do whatever it takes at whatever cost to bring truth and love to bear on the full context of our circumstances and then trust the Lord to orchestrate circumstances from there. If she finalizes the divorce, may it be because she admits and declares that she is unhappy and that her personal desires and preferences are not being served to the extent she had hoped and dreamed they would be. May it never be finalized in the name of Christ’s love, or a more informed scholarship, or more mature faith, or a more obedient heart, or – at the price of every drop of blood run through these veins – may it never be anywhere in the vicinity of “it is better for the kids to live with us apart than suffer the damage of us staying together.” To that lie from the pit of hell, I cry BULLSHIT, at the top of my lungs with no excuse or apology. For those of you with a strong legalistic or pharisaical bent (or those of us who are recovering), please research Paul’s use of selective language in the context of the original Hebrew culture when penning Philippians 3:8 and Romans 6:1-2.

    In my case, my wife and I were working for several years with a skilled Christian counselor. Abuse was never a topic of discussion or anywhere on the radar. Our counselor was extremely godly, spirit filled, fair, even handed, and equal in his application of biblical principles to our marriage. We both had plenty of responsibility to bear. But when my wife decided “it wasn’t working,” she chose to go silent on me and the counselor for months while pursuing this back channel argument for divorce while citing Leslie Vernick, Focus on the Family, and three other counselors (eventually, over the course of 6 months) to build a case for abuse and justify divorce without ever talking to me about her concerns. It’s taken 7 months, but I can now say with confidence and a clear conscience that I believe I understand the character and intentions of all 5 counselors to which she appealed to build her case. There is not a single shred of doubt remaining in my mind that my wife is simply misrepresenting the truth. I still love her, and I have forgiven her. Her choices in this matter reflect the strength of her fear, not the extent of her evil.

    Pause here….I think we should all agree that there MUST be a definitive line of demarcation between those who are married to spouses who have given themselves to evil, and those who are married to spouses that are simply wrestling with the effects of evil on their world. Anything we do to blur the line between these two basic groups of scenarios is tragic in my humble opinion.

    So to circle back around – I am not presuming to know or understand anything about Mrs. Vernick with any significant degree of certainty, and I am willing to trust her stated facts and intentions about herself until given a reason to do otherwise, but after participating here for 6 or 7 weeks and interacting on any number of topics with any number of people in any number of moods for everyone to see, I think I can say that Mrs. Vernick’s unwillingness to exclude my voice from this site and her call for mutual love and respect in the midst of diverse opinions says everything I need to hear about her true character and intentions, and says everything I need to hear about my wife’s representation of her work. To be blunt, I think my wife has harmed Mrs. Vernick’s ministry (and by extension, harmed all true victims of abuse), but I will leave that for her and Mrs. Vernick to sort out if it is, in fact, the case. My wife is the only person in the world who would come to this site, read Edmunds comments, and know that it’s me. Mrs. Vernick can find me and my wife with no problem if she sees a need to do so.

    With that said, my ultimate purpose here has been accomplished. Interacting here with forethought and intelligence takes time, energy, and effort. I am a single dad with earth shattering changes to navigate, a family to support, and kids to shepherd who can’t even begin to understand what these changed will mean for them for the rest of their lives. They’ll make it, and they may thrive. God can redeem anything. But my call is not to come to this forum and change minds. I came to shine my light, expose truth, engage in genuine concern, care, and encouragement from others while continuing to evaluate and consider how others perspectives might affect my own, etc. I actually grew to look forward to being here…something I never imagined would happen when I started. But my mission here is done.

    A handful of bullet point thoughts in closing for anyone who cares:

    1. There is an obvious tension between the oft stated premise that “God cares about me more than marriage,” and the heart of Mrs. Vernick’s message last month on the FOF broadcast here:

    http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/focus-on-the-family/player/living-for-christ-in-a-me-first-world-489745.html.

    I stand firmly by the conviction that God never, ever puts us in a position where we a forced to choose between the individual and the marriage. He makes an allowance for divorce but never commands it. Therefore, this is a question that God never asks (which is more important), it’s a question he never tried to answer, and we need to be very careful about projecting our questions and circumstances onto God and then claiming to answer for Him

    2. Personal responsibility is the number one obligation of free people. If we want to fight for as much freedom as possible, we better be honest enough to fight for as much personal responsibility as possible. We live in a society where we are free to pick our own marriage partners, yet we complain about things and demand things and expect things that those with arranged marriages would never even consider to be a problem worth diverting time/money/resources to address. May we all take responsibility for the free choice we made to stand before God and make a vow. The way we choose to handle that vow reflects our character, not Gods.

    3. God’s character as represented in each member of the Trinity is the definitive model of truth, love, and grace. 3 distinct personalities, 3 distinct job descriptions, 3 distinct functions, one unified purpose. No complaining, no comparing, no expecting, nothing selfish in any way shape or form. 100%, voluntary, self-giving service for the benefit of the others and to serve the purpose of the whole. Every answer to every question must fit into the nature and character displayed in the Trinity. It’s very easy to look at God or Jesus and focus on the things He offers us to benefit us and claim that everyone else should be doing those things for us too. It’s much more difficult to look at their example and focus only on how we can do those same things for others.

    4. Do you read your Bible looking for answers about what you can expect from others, or do you read your Bible asking God what He is expecting from you?

    5. There is a post somewhere on this site where I present a scenario relating to the topic of intimacy between a husband and wife and ask for an opinion for the forum. I don’t know where it’s at, I’m not going to take the time to go look for it, and I posted it soon after engaging here for the first time. Given my suspicion of a prejudice towards men with my profile on the site, I strategically worded the post with a specific goal in mind. After getting enough responses to develop a decent sample size, I intended to ask the forum of their opinion would have changed if the roles were reversed and the wife was the “aggressor.” I have so much trouble navigating this place sometimes that I have never taken the time to go back and finish that experiment. Should you find it, please know that it does reflect the truth about a scenario in my marriage and that my wife was, in fact, the “aggressor.” I don’t believe she is an abuser, I don’t think she was guilty of any crime, I’m glad I didn’t puke on her, I wish we could have had honest dialogue about that incident and so many others over the years. Who knows??

    6. And finally – some of you no doubt believe I am a manipulating narcissist. With a sincere heart…..thank you. It helps me to know that my approach, personality, perspective can have that effect on some people. Even as I write this final lengthy post, I can hear those voices talking loudly in both ears. Are they lies from the devil or truth from the Spirit? Or both? Well if you desire to be honest then I will assume you are willing to consider a couple of statements about my intentions here specifically.

    a. What if I told you that I speak in first person extensively with “I’s” instead of “you’s” because I believe I am still attempting to rehearse truth to myself in an effort to take thoughts captive and translate them into action. And what if I told you I believe that people are more willing to listen to a person if that person is willing to own their convictions and apply it to themselves instead of always broadcasting it outwards towards others? If these two things were true, would it make sense that I would use “I” a lot?

    b. What if told you I speak declaratively because my “ADD” (unofficial self-diagnosis ) is so strong and my tendency to over explain is so great and my need to be understood is so overwhelming that I would write a dissertation on every idea in my head, if given the opportunity to do so, in attempt to cover and address every question, concern, objective, etc. that I hear any possible reader making while I type? And what if I told you that I have developed a perfectionism that would allow me to sit here for hours and craft every single word of every single sentence and try to make it perfect? If this were true yet I still had a desire to contribute, and work through it, and lend a voice – would it make sense that at some point I would make a decision to simply say what I think I mean and go with it and trust that I am dealing with other responsible adults who can carry on mature conversation without getting sideways?

    c. What if I told you that the length of my posts reflects my conviction that this site is 100% voluntary and I don’t presume to think that anyone will ever be forced to read a single word that I say. And what if I told you that, simultaneously, I know without question that God designed me to work out my salvation with thoughts, ideas, and words and that a forum like this is the perfect place to do so….it’s relevant, its diverse, it’s voluntary, it’s had a direct influence on the things I care about most, and my input could have a direct influence on the things I care about most. Would it then make sense that I could come here and write a dissertation every day and the only consequence I would suffer is that someone might think I’m a manipulative narcissist?

    d. And finally, the hidden yet unanticipated blessing of my season here, (rabbit trail…..Nocturne in F Minor by Chopin just started on my Xfinity Classical Masterpiece channel……love it!!), what if I told you this site has blessed my soul. I came here with honesty and integrity in total anonymity, and I was able to experience a wide spectrum of responses from different people to the exact same words and thoughts from me. Some here reflected back to me the accusations and fears that I experienced in my marriage. Some reflected back the mature dialogue I longed for in my marriage. Nobody on this forum agrees with my convictions on marriage yet there is no doubt that I could have been happily and ecstatically married to some of you as the result of the common bond of Christ’s love, truthfulness, and grace. I am responsible for what I believe and how I act. I am not responsible for how anyone reacts to my beliefs and actions. I have known this in theory for some time. Making it a further reality as a result of my current circumstances and the availability of this forum is the quintessential glass of lemonade in my book….with a shot of a little something, something to make the occasion a special celebration.

    Thanks so much to everyone who has interacted with me. For those whom I promised to pray (and their spouses and families), I kept my word. I am not leaving here in protest, fear, or with an ounce of hard feelings or regret. I have not been run off. I simply recognize and realize that I did what I wanted to do. As Mrs. Vernick so appropriately pointed out….everything has it’s time and place.

    • “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr. Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

    • “Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

    • “Lucy looked and saw that Aslan had just breathed on the feet of the stone giant. “It’s all right!” shouted Aslan joyously. “Once The feet are put right, all the rest of him will follow.”

    • “In our adversity, God shouts to us.”

    • “All names will soon be restored to their proper owners.”

    • “You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said.”

    • “And Peter became a tall and deep-chested man and a great warrior, and he was called King Peter the Magnificent. And Susan grew into a tall and gracious woman with black hair that fell almost to her feet and the kings of the countries beyond the sea began to send ambassadors asking for her hand in marriage. And she was called Queen Susan the Gentle. Edmund was a graver and quieter man than Peter, and great in council and judgment. he was called King Edmund the Just. But as for Lucy, she was always gay and golden-haired, and all princes in those parts desired her to be their Queen, and her own people called her Queen Lucy the Valiant.”

    God Bless all of you!
    Edmund

    • Aleea on November 27, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      “But my mission here is done.”
      Godspeed to you Edmund. We all leave part of ourselves everywhere we go. The part of me that is staying will very much miss the part of you that is going. I will continue praying for you.

    • Maria on November 27, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      Edmund, Sorry to hear that you’ve decided to leave. I have enjoyed reading your posts and interacting with you. Thanks. I’m sure many of us women have enjoyed hearing a male perspective. Your children are blessed to have a father like you. I pray that you will heal. God has promised to work all things out for your good. God bless.

    • Roxanne on November 28, 2015 at 6:03 pm

      I must have become extremely jaded as a result of so much time living in a destructive relationship. Or maybe I am just too suspicious, but do any of us find ourselves perplexed by a male who took on the name of a character from the Chronicles of Narnia to chat with abused women? Now, suddenly, having completed the experience the participant is signing off. My conscious says something is very odd here. Am I the only one thinking this? Why?

      • Robin on November 28, 2015 at 8:01 pm

        No Roxanne there are several asking the same question.

  9. Leonie on November 28, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Was he on to try & trap his wife – he made a statement about people posing as a victim when they aren’t?
    “From a practical standpoint, spouses who are truly abused should welcome anything and everything that would weed out the spouses that pose as victims.”

    • Maria on November 28, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      What if Edmund has not misrepresented himself, and he is the person he has claimed to be? What if his wife has used Leslie’s books to build a case for divorce and he is truly hurting? I think it is definitely a possibility and if that’s the case, questioning his motives is adding to his hurt.

      • Aleea on November 29, 2015 at 9:46 am

        . . . . We had my sisters kids over on Thanksgiving. . . . You know, there’s nothing more contagious than the laughter of young children; it doesn’t even matter what they’re laughing about. —You know what? . . . .Who knows what they are laughing about. I asked them many times during the day and they don’t even know (—or would not tell me) why they are laughing to the point of being incapacitated but it is great stuff because it gets me laughing hysterically too, as well as everyone else laughing along.

        . . . .Everyone loves a witch hunt as long as it’s someone else’s witch being hunted. . . . . “They had set forth to rid their town of “female witch evil” and had managed to rid it of all good as well” said theologian Meric Casaubon in his 1668 book, “Of Credulity and Incredulity” —Men argued, after all, that women witches must exist because most every man they knew believed in them. —Anything that enough men believe in or have a feeling about must be true they reasoned, —yeah right!? Across Europe they went on to slaughter thousands of “female witch devils.” “Demonizing is always the first step to hating people.” —Meric Casaubon “Killing them is pretty easy after you have them demonized.” —Meric Casaubon

        . . .I am not married to Edmund that would be a totally, completely different paradigm. To me, that leaves me free to love him and pray for him —and that is not easy, at times I hate men. I am constantly having to repent of that hating. . . . .Is Christianity a distinction without a real quantifiable difference? What is that REAL quantifiable difference beyond all the words? (—I address this to myself firstly. I have way more to work on than anyone here I see.) —Bottomline: Can we really find the truth by a show of hands or nose-count epistemology? That is how Christ got crucified, it was the consensus in the Sanhedrin that He was not the Son of God and they condemned Him to death. Should I go with their consensus? They were, after all, on the scene and had the “facts”?

      • roxanne on December 1, 2015 at 9:38 pm

        I guess, I just don’t find his story plausible. If one reads closely there are “tells”. The exquisitely crafted prose are camouflaging the controlling attitudes and beliefs well. Remember abusers have many different styles. They can be very sly and fool educated women like ourselves. In the end, Edmund reveals the depth of his deception and exposes the lark of his little game. He writes at length one night when he is very lonely and gets to have the last word as he used us to bait his wife, his true target. Let’s not be fooled. Might it all be true? Not a chance.

        • Remedy on December 1, 2015 at 10:11 pm

          When a man is really wrapped up in his headship without a heart of trembling by the thought of what God has truly called him to do.. Love his wife as Christ loves the church, I am always unnerved by them. A little too giddy about all that supposed power & control. Not the mindset of Christ.

          I suppose I was most bothered by the fact I asked him twice the issue his wife had with him. Something she wanted from him and he was unwilling to do. Yet he would not elaborate the details or even hint. We may have been able to help him from a woman’s perspective. He didn’t seem interested. So I was left wondering is this something he could have offered her, but just obstinately refused to show who’s in charge? Or was this something that would have been bad for her had he simply offered her what she asked.

          I’m suspicious.

        • Aleea on December 2, 2015 at 10:46 am

          Hello Roxanne,
          . . . . Maybe you are right. . . . I don’t know. I never *known*. I feel massively conflicted and I want you to like me, even if I should not, so that clouds everything right there from the start. . . . In court, that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence (summary judgment, straight up) . . . . but we darn well know real, horrible things happen for which little demonstrable evidence exists. Roxanne, I don’t *think* you are right but I *feel* you could be right. . . . So, Lord, here I am. . . .would You please help me because I am blind if You do not help me. I am so gullible it is truly amazing. I study and work hard to be balanced but that often leans to more confusion. . . . .A few mornings ago, I clearly realized why I like Leslie’s books so much. Leslie’s books are so, so, so easy to read and they have a “this is THE TRUTH” and “here is what you have to do” ring to them. It is like the mother I never had. My mother was like an Advanced Seminar in research and evidence evaluation. —Anyways, I very much like that my mind can just rest when I read one of her books. That appeals to me (—the downside is that maybe I am a lazy thinker?) But, I weary of thinking, weighing evidence, struggling with the issues. . . .The downside is that it is easier for me to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for myself. . . . A few days ago, when I was reading LV’s book Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy, page 21 she quotes Epictetus 2: “Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.” —Boom my mind came off auto-pilot. —Roxanne, these Stoic sages from the time Christ lived, do you know what they stood for, who they really were? “. . . .The good person, if able to foresee the future, would peacefully and contentedly help to bring about their own sickness, maiming, and even death, knowing that this is the right order of the universe. . . . . Anyone who finds life intolerable is free to quit it. . . . . The Stoic sage will complain of no one, either God or human.” —And it only gets crazy worse. See the books:Stoicism in Early Christianity by Tuomas Rasimus, Troels Engberg-Pedersen, Ismo Dunderberg –and- Jesus the Teacher and Stoic Ethics in the Gospel of Matthew by Stanley K. Stowers. . . .also, The Stoics and the Early Christians on the Treatment of Slaves by John T. Fitzgerald. . . . So why would Leslie quote a prominent Stoic? What do they have to do with being happy in Christ? —And more importantly does that even matter when there are so, so many other serious structural issues that are left just hanging in the air? . . . . .Anyways, I want love and kindness, so I want to extend that everyone including Edmund but maybe that is not what he needs. I just don’t think the other way works well. See the book:God Hates You, Hate Him Back: Making Sense of the Bible. . . . . Either way, I am sure praying for Edmund and I wish you ALL would pray for me too. Really hard things are being dealt with here and everything is more than understandable.

    • Trueheart on December 2, 2015 at 12:08 am

      I’ve been reading this blog and Leslie’s book for some time now. I find great strength, wisdom here. Most posters exude love and genuineness in word and tone. However, every post by Edmund set my Spidey Senses tingling. So many abuser’s tactics on display. Pretty sure there are more than a few of us who see through that sheep disguise.

      • Roxanne on December 2, 2015 at 11:04 am

        Thanks Gals.

      • Maria on December 2, 2015 at 2:52 pm

        Trueheart, Could you please share some of those tactics?

  10. roxanne on December 1, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I can’t say that I relate to the comments about witch hunts or the crucifixion of our Lord with concerns about a male participant’s comments on a cyber chat board. Yet, I can agree that puddles of giggles are jolly good fun. A merry heart does much good.

  11. Maria on December 2, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Allow me to rant a little…(Aleea, I wonder if this is how you feel when you write-so many thoughts rushing through your head!) This is not addressed to anyone in particular.
    I wonder if we have a tendency to question the accounts of men more than women. I know statistics say that the majority of abuse cases are women, but I am sure that men face abuse too. I read somewhere that Barb Robert’s (Cry for Justice) current husband experienced abuse from his exwife. Recently, a guy told me his wife’s mother is so controlling, she does not allow anyone to watch tv, answer calls etc during Thansgiving. There are abusive women out there too. Men probably don’t feel comfortable seeking help.
    It is beneficial to have more men on this forum. It helps to hear their perspective on things. Like Leslie had said just because someone thinks differently from us, doesn’t mean they are wrong.
    When abused, if we respond wrongly, we are at fault too. We are all responsible for our actions- abusers for abusing, and victims for repaying evil with evil. I love how Leslie emphasizes this.
    In her previous article, Leslie mentioned this lie:
    “When you say you love someone that means you should always do what the other person wants you to do and always want to please him”.
    Maybe this applied to their situation. There may be reasons he didn’t want to disclose specifics.
    In a forum like this, responses are based on the assumption that the person posting is telling the truth.
    I think dealing with a narcissist changes the way a person views things. There is a higher percentage of people who are not than who are in this world. I have to be careful that I don’t think everyone with marriage problems has those tendencies.
    If indeed Edmund was trying to use this blog to get his wife back, I don’t think it was very wise- if anything it probably has pushed her further away.
    If he is a true Christ-follower, I believe the Holy Spirit will convict him of his wrong thinking.

    • Aleea on December 2, 2015 at 6:03 pm

      Maria,
      One thing I have noticed about you is that you strike me as very thoughtful, extremely calm, fair and balanced, so I very much appreciate the things you say.

      You say: “. . . .Aleea, I wonder if this is how you feel when you write-so many thoughts rushing through your head! . . . “
      ―Yes, that probably is. I am a very emotional person and in 3-4 min. I can fill a page with very detailed thoughts that are all over the place.

      “. . . . I wonder if we have a tendency to question the accounts of men more than women. I know statistics say that the majority of abuse cases are women, but I am sure that men face abuse too.”
      ―Yes, See: Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence by Philip W. Cook . . . “. . . . The problem, of course, is that there are no brochures and no local resources for abused men. Domestic violence awareness founder Erin Pizzey is among many who believe that medical personnel do not even know what signs to look for and do not ask their male patients.”

      “There are abusive women out there too. Men probably don’t feel comfortable seeking help.”
      ―Exactly, see Chapter 2. Telling Their Stories: Men Speak Out pages 43 to167.

      Page 135: “The National Coalition of Free Men carried out an extensive test in Los Angeles. They had a male call 10 shelters in the area. All 10 denied services; none would even give him a hotel arrangement or other shelter services. It is interesting to note, however, that I was one of the nation’s largest domestic violence conferences in San Diego and the moderator of a well-attended (300 or so) break-out session asked the audience how many of them now served abused men as well as women. The moderator guessed that about one-third of the audience raised their hands. I don’t think that 10 years ago that many would have raised their hands at a domestic violence conference, and indeed, the question would never have been asked.”

      See also Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence -Page 458 Male Socialization and the “Wimp” Factor (really horrible stuff.

      . . . . So, the mind is just like a muscle -the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can expand. I don’t take any prisoners, none, ever, ―zero. . . . . I seek to fully liberate them. I am NOT an authority on anything but hope to be an endless possibility. Prisons are built with stones of law and brothels are built with bricks of religion. Until we realize how easily it is for our minds to be manipulated, we can remain the puppet of someone else, no matter how well-intentioned they are. The only way I know to overcome that effect is knowledge, not ignorance.

      “If he is a true Christ-follower, I believe the Holy Spirit will convict him of his wrong thinking.”
      ―Yes, and that is what really, truly matters. . . Otherwise he is, as the New Testament says: τέθνηκεν actually dead ζῶσα [while] “living.” ―Lord, help me love others as I should and be careful with their hearts and my own heart too. . . . . . We will never know what calamities could have been avoided if someone had just shown someone else some kindness and care along the way. . . . Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?”

  12. Leonie on December 2, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Edmund kept saying he was sharing with humility and wisdom which I thought was odd and self promoting. I haven’t any idea who his wife is or if she is on the blog but I am glad she found material to help her here and it sounds like her dad has helped her find safety too.
    I was in a group that helps mom help their kids heal from exposure to abuse and I really like how they explained how to listen to that yucky feeling inside. If a woman has had scripture used against her to justify abuse or the unrealistic expectations of her to submit she will still get that yucky feeling inside even if her husband is using statements or verses from scripture. Our feelings help us know if someone is kind or speaking truth or if it is used to justify evil or wrong done against us. Spiritual abuse can be really hard to detect and define if it is done under the guise of godliness or spiritual leadership.

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