Morning friends,

I hope you had a restful Labor Day weekend. Fall is soon to be upon us and many of you are busy, busy, busy. But are you intentional in your busyness? Are you doing what is important for LIFE or are you merely busy?

Today I just reread the article I wrote for my January newsletter entitled, The Intentional Life. It caused me to press pause and evaluate how I am living my days lately. Am I purposeful? I am busy but is my life serving a bigger purpose than merely me?  

2018 is two thirds gone. I find it helpful to regularly reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m heading. How about you?

If you need some help to move out of your old ruts or some inspiration to develop new patterns in your life, I highly encourage you to join me at the 2018 CONQUER Conference, Be Brave: Grow Strong on October 12 and 13th. Prices go up October 1, so I encourage you to sign up now.  Click HERE to get your ticket.

This week’s question: I am enjoying studying and reading your truths, but how does one truly apply this to their life after 24 years of being told the same “lies” day after day?  

I want so badly to think otherwise of myself but I don’t know how to even train myself to think otherwise. I also think this is why I have a harder time with my journey with Christ. In my mind, he’s a man almost like the others.  I’m afraid to fully open up out loud to him because of trust issues. So how do I get past the fears? Thank you for listening.

Answer: I think many women (and men) can resonate with your feelings of being stuck in your old familiar way of thinking, feeling, and living. Those lies are comfortable and sometimes easier to believe than the truth. And when you’ve thought and lived a certain way for a long time, it does take intentional effort on your part to break those patterns and develop new ones. Hard? Yes. Impossible? No.

The Bible confirms this process. To grow and change we must take an active role in putting off these “old patterns” (Ephesians 4:180-31), renewing our mind and being transformed (changed) by God’s truth (Romans 12:2).

But your question is how do you actually get from where you are (stuck in lies for 24 years) to walking and living in the truth consistently?  I’m encouraged by John’s words to his followers when he said, “I have no greater joy than to see that you are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). This is God’s will for you – to learn to walk in the truth.

First, you need to decide to take ownership of your problem. Your problem is that you aren’t where you want to be spiritually, or emotionally. You live afraid and in lies. It’s easy to lay the blame for this problem on other people. For example, your parents who failed you, a husband who abused or abandoned you, friends that let you down or hurt you, people who should have taken care of you but didn’t. And it’s true. People have let you down and now it’s hard for you to trust Jesus or even God.

This decision to take ownership of your problem will be life changing for you. Because once you do, the path forward becomes much clearer. On the other hand, when you stay living in a victim mindset (people messed me up) then you continue to feel powerless to change.  

Now please do not misunderstand. I’m not denying that people in your life didn’t mess you up or hurt you or break your trust. I’m sure they did. But those people aren’t in charge of your life anymore, you are. They cannot determine how you ultimately feel about yourself or what steps you take or don't take to get well. Even if they wanted to help you now, it’s still up to you to do the work. They can’t do it for you. That’s why you must develop an owner’s mindset, and tell yourself “this is my work to do if I want to get healthy.”

Once you make that decision, then there are different ways you can learn how to think differently and live differently. Here’s an analogy that you may find helpful.

Let’s say that as a kid your parents fed you horribly. Lots of processed foods and you became an adult who now has a significant weight problem and it’s costing you your health. You have diabetes, your cholesterol is high, your joints ache and you’re not able to participate in the things you enjoy because of your health and weight. But eating this way is all you know. It’s your pattern. You have no idea how to regain a healthy body or eat better. 

It would be tempting and easy to blame your parents and family for the “way you are now.” And even if that’s true, they can’t help you now. Only you can help you now. But you won’t help yourself if you are stuck in a state of being mad that they didn’t feed you right as a child. That is a victim mindset and it’s pretty prevalent in our culture. The only chance you have to get a grip on your health is to take ownership of your weight problem, your eating habits and to work hard to change them so that you can experience a healthier body.

Once you decide that, then there are many different eating and exercise plans for you to lose the weight, but it won’t happen overnight and it takes an entire lifestyle change for you to have long-term success.

In a similar way, when your mind is filled with lots of lies such as lies about your personhood, your worth, and your abilities; lies about God, lies about other people, and lies about what’s going on around you, you aren’t healthy and can’t function well.  

But no one can do the work of renewing your mind with God’s truth but you. No one can take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ but you. No one but you can guard your heart, which is the wellspring of life.  Click To Tweet

But if you don’t know how to do that and aren’t regularly practicing and being intentional about these things, then you need to understand what will happen to you. As human beings, our default mode is that we naturally exchange the truth for God for a lie. (Romans 1:25).

Our minds or our emotions don’t naturally gravitate towards the truth. Because of sin, their default mode is corruption and our destruction. Yet as Christians, Jesus tells us that we have an internal GPS, who will guide us in all truth (John 16:13). This guide, the Holy Spirit, teaches us how to “see” things that we might not naturally see and how to think about things in a new way.

So here is an example from my book, How to Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong. I call it The TRUTH Principle and it will help you be intentional so that you can learn to walk through the how to’s of renewing your mind.

The TRUTH Principle uses a simple acronym T.R.U.T.H. to help you remember the process of taking every thought captive and learning to walk in God’s truth, even when your own thoughts or your emotions are not always in agreement.

T. Gain a new perspective on the Troubles that God allows in your life. Instead of seeing trials as obstacles to be removed, you will begin to see them as opportunities to know God better and trust Him more. So when life is difficult, instead of asking God why me, ask God what are you supposed to learn so that you can deal with this difficulty or trouble in a more mature or godly way.

R. Come to better understand your Responses to those troubles. How are you feeling, thinking and behaving in the midst of your difficulties? Self-awareness of the lies you believe is key. Often we blame others for our response but Jesus tells us our responses to life come out of what’s going on in our heart (Luke 6:45). Are you growing to handle hardship like God would want you to? If not, then there is work here for you to do. You may need outside help – a counselor or coach to help you feel safe or to gain greater self-awareness without toxic shame or self-hatred for seeing the things about yourself that are hard.

U. Uncover the Underlying idols that hamper your efforts to change. God created us as worshippers and wants to be our first love. But often our heart is attached to other loves and we worship the wrong things. We want our way, we want people to approve of us, or love us like we want them to. We want power or control over our life or other people. When we don’t get what we want, and we fall apart, it reveals that our heart was attached to other “loves” which the Bible calls idols (Jonah 2:8).

T. Learn to discern the Truth of God’s Word. Our culture is obsessed with situational ethics and personal reality and feelings but Jesus said that he is the Truth and He was telling us the truth. When our thoughts and feelings are contrary to God’s Word, who wins? We can’t live both like the daughter of the King and an orphan at the same time. We will either live in one world or the other depending on whose reality (truth) we trust.

H. Develop a Heart’s response that draws you closer to the heart of God. Seeing the truth doesn’t profit us if it doesn’t change us.  James 1:22 warns us that if we only listen to the truth, but don’t do what it says, we deceive ourselves. Surrendering our mind, our emotions and our will to God’s truth places us in alignment with the TRUTH. The more we choose to do this and practice it, the more transformation we will see in our mind, heart, and life.

Begin walking through these 5 steps as soon as you encounter a difficulty in life. As you grow to see life’s problems through the lens of God’s eternal perspective and you walk yourself through these five steps, your faith begins to be transformed from head knowledge to heart-based trust and your mind will begin to be renewed with God’s truth.

Friends, how have you broken long-standing habit patterns of lies and been transformed by God’s truth?

62 Comments

  1. Laura on September 5, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Hello friends,

    One of the greatest suggestions I was given and now share was a great impetus for discovering a clear path on the road to recovery. The formula for reversing long-standing habit patterns of lies to being transformed by God’s truth was to make a change to my relationship with people, places and things. Seek friends and acquaintances who speak truths through God’s Word. Go to places where you can find those who are intentionally walking the journey to truth. And do things like Bible reading, creating Scripture Post-Its as reminders, joining a Christian recovery group and then asking someone to sponsor your journey are some great methods toward freedom. A special person who walk the walk is a great asset for coaching you with words and examples that reinforce truths The T.R.U.T.H. acronym is a perfect fit for success. Leslie’s, “TRUTH Principle”, points out the, ” how to’s of renewing your mind “. Use the formula and expect a breakthrough. Place confidence in the Lord!

    God Bless All!

    Laurie

    • Autumn on September 6, 2018 at 8:03 am

      I pondered your mention of people, places and things. As a PTSD sufferer anything and everything can be a trigger. Living in the home that was the site of marital abuse takes a toll on one daily. I am trying to figure out where to live and why. So, yes, I agree, places and things need to be addressed with a new attitude and those new thinking patterns will bring healing
      .

      Part of deciding to live in our family home post abuse required me to throw out(donate to charity) so many objects that trigger horrible memories. One of the first category of item I disposed of was my nighwear and under garments. They held too much intimate trauma in my case.

      • many years on September 6, 2018 at 2:24 pm

        Praying for you Autumn! Jesus is our everything, God is our loving, holy Father. God cannot lie, He does not tell half-truths, He is our burden bearer, He is our counselor when all others fail us.

        ‘Yea, I will help thee, I will strengthen thee, by my right hand’. Jesus is at the right hand of God. He went through scourgings, cruel mockings, he was stripped of his garments, his flesh was laid bare to the abuse of evil men, nails pieced his flesh, a sword was thrust into his side, a crown of thrones was placed upon his brow, he was beaten until you could hardly tell who he was; he endured the cross alone, for you and for me.

        Scriptures say ‘his visage was marred beyond recognition.’ They spat on him. He KNOWS the pain we bear, the verbal abuse, the physical abuse. He is THERE for us because he knows the trauma of being utterly cast aside by all his friends, even his own Father when he cried ‘Abba!, Abba! Why do you forsake me?!’ And he is now the friend who stays by us continually, pleading our cause before our Father in Heaven with groaning which cannot be uttered by the Holy Spirit.

        Our Father knows the grief we bear, the sorrows we have had, and he is the husband who does not desert us, but holds us up with his everlasting wings. He calls us his daughters. We are daughters of the most royal King of the universe. He loves us and cares for us.

        These are the truths that will free us from the bondage of abuse. To know that there is One who sees all things, and will take vengeance upon those who deal unjustly with his children. And we need to remember Hebrews chapter eleven, where many, who suffered affliction in their life, sometimes didn’t receive the promises in this life, but they will be justified by the Lord, just the same.

        God calls our suffering worthy to not be compared to the glory we shall receive in Heaven. ‘After you have suffered a while, the Lord will help you, and strengthen you.’ Somewhere it says that it is called ‘our light affliction which is but for a moment in time.’ If we can remember that, and while God is pointing to us a way of escape that we may be able to bear it. He does want us to find that way of escape in His will for our lives.

        And, no, suffering was not the original plan that God had for his children. May we shine our lights so much the more, and boldly say ‘The Lord is my helper, I shall not be moved!’ Speaking the Lord’s truth into our lives, and redeeming what we can in order to grow spiritually healthy in our hearts is what it is all about. And rebuking the hidden things of darkness which we choose to not have a part in anymore.

        And I love these five steps of T.R.U.T.H. I am going to print them out and post them in plain sight to keep me centered and focused. Thank you, Leslie!

        • many years on September 6, 2018 at 2:26 pm

          I meant a crown of thorns.

  2. Free on September 5, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    Short term mission trips really helped me. My abusive spouse would let me go. (It gave him something vto brag about.)

    During my mission experience time, often out of the country, I finally felt free from my abuser. I was surrounded by Christians. The men on the team (well everyone really) treated me so much better than my spouse did. Working as a team gave a sense of purpose and belonging too.

    I found that being in a completely different culture helped me reflect and draw comparison to on my own terrible reality. By the end of the trip I knew I didn’t want to return home.

    When you think you would rather stay in a shack with street children in Bangladesh rather than go home, it really tells you something.

    Get out of your comfort zone,. explore, reflect and listen to God. You may be shocked with what you learn.

  3. Janice on September 5, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    This is life saving teaching…thank you Leslie for your passion and commitment to this issue. I completely agree that getting away from the toxic environment is crucial to our growth in truth.Isolation is a form of control and is a cycle… as we are isolated by a destructive spouse we then self-isolate and the lies have a furtive soil to grow in.Listening to those knowledgable in this matter is also key. Both Leslie and Patrick Doyle gave me a whole new way to understand Biblical truths about many things such as the difference between worldly remorse and true repentance,forgiveness and reconciliation and that God does not value the marriage relationship above the safety and sanity of the people in the marriage. These teachings helped me to trust my Heavenly Fathers heart for me and choose life for myself. I pray my husband one day makes this choice also. I am now legally separated and living on my own and finding joy amidst the sorrow of this season of my life at age 64. I am very grateful for my health and for finding this website.I love the Casting Crowns song” The Voice of Truth”…Jesus is the voice of Truth.The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth as we yield to Him.

    • Moon Beam on September 5, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      Janice you don’t have to answer this question if it is too personal, but did you have to find a job at age 64? At least you can get social security and Medicare next year. Sometimes leaving when we are older enables us to get some senior benefits. I think it can be so much harder for younger women in the middle of trying to raise children.

      • Moon Beam on September 5, 2018 at 7:52 pm

        Harder for younger women to break free I meant.

        Sometimes the years of trying and hoping finally satisfy us that we did all we could. Eventuslly the truth sets in that we did all we could and the destructive spouse just does not get better.

  4. Jamice on September 5, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Moon Beam, Yes I agree that with children at home the situation is different.I am retired from a 40 year nursing career and have both a pension and SS so am blessed with my own income. My son is grown and married. Each of our situations are both similar and unique and God leads and guides accordingly,doesn’t He? His timing is always perfect. I was never in any physical danger,it was about my husbands misplaced loyalties and his failure to leave and cleave.

    • Moon Beam on September 5, 2018 at 9:07 pm

      Janice, I am so glad you have a pension. They are all but unheard of in today’s workplace. Good for you.

      Have you heard of the concept of emotional incest? That is when a parent in an unhappy relationship uses their son or daughter to fulfill their intimate emotional needs. It is a form of rape I don’t know if this might be appropriate to your situation, but it is a known cause for the inability of the victim to cleave in marriage. Their emotions are never available because Mommy groomed the victim that her needs are all that matter.

      Sick, selfish, needy women often do this to their sons. It destroys the man’s ability for emotional intimacy with any other woman. Women are then only of interest for sexual relations, because no one would do that will their mother. The incestuous Mother, took his heart and loyalty. Dr. Paul Hegstrom labels this dysfunctional and abusive dynamic, mother/ son in his books.

  5. Janice on September 6, 2018 at 5:56 am

    Moon Beam, I appreciate your insight.Yes there are deep-seated family dynamics at play in my h’s FOO… cultural ” mandates” with heavy expectations for ” honoring and caring ” for his elderly widowed mom. While I understand that we are to ensure to the best of our ability for our parents as they age,this situation is not honoring to the vows he took as my husband 26 years ago.I too have an elderly widowed 88 year old mom who had a massive stroke last year.There are certainly circumstances that require your full attention at times. With my h, it seems to be an attitude that he is 100% available to his mom and sister( who his mom lives with).In other words, no limits or boundaries,which left me as a lower priority. Now, as I am the one who left the home, my h gets to be the (self) righteous long suffering h who ” wants reconciliation” after he was fine with me living in the basement for 2 years. As many of you well know,marriage counseling did not improve our relationship as he has little desire to own his behavior.I have been in individual counseling for 2 years and am working on my part in this.I have a beautiful apartment and something priceless, which is peace of mind and freedom.I pray for my h and leave him with the Lord ( I don’t always accomplish this but am working toward this)

    • Moon Beam on September 6, 2018 at 7:44 am

      He was never emotionally ready to marry anyone. I understand the dynamic well. My only relief cane when my mother in law died. My H was so distraught at the graveside he didn’t want to leave. Suddenly he became the vulnerable child and regressed to the age when his mother first started the incestuous behavior.

      I also understand the peace in your new home and the value of individual counseling. The future is full of Hope at this point. I am trying to learn how to be a productive and useful senior. The freedom to live without mistreatment is indescribable to those who have not lived as we have.

  6. Free on September 6, 2018 at 7:54 am

    I saw you posted Jane. How are you doing?

  7. Janice on September 6, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Moon Beam, I told myself for years that once his mother died I would finally become a priority to him…but God does not want me to think of his way.Are you still with your husband and if so has he gotten help for his issues? My h’s denial is so strong that he insists that I’m a jealous,insecure woman. According to Pastor Tim Keller “jealousy is the proper intolerance of disruptive intrusion and is thereby a mark of love ( as the opposite of indifference)” God states that He is a jealous God, that He knows the best thing for us is to give Him our purest affection and loyalty. It is a righteous jealousy to want our husbands to love the Lord with their whole hearts and then their wives and children.Sadly this does not appear to have happened with my husband and apart from a miraculous work in his heart by the Holy Spirit will not happen. I know God can reach him without my living a life of daily pain and reminders of my husbands disordered life.I pray for him from the he safety of a legal separation.

    • Moon Beam on September 6, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      Janice, he never improved or changed despite many forms, styles and years of expensive counseling. His mother died back in 2000. His behaviors continued in new distorted forms and frequencies. If you know the traditional power and control wheel he just started switched to different spokes on the wheel and reinforced some old favorites. He lives in denial. His fragile ego needs to be in control and all blame gets assigned to others.

      No, I do not live with my husband. He is a dangerous person.

  8. Jewel on September 7, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    in my marriage of 30 years…he left permanently in Feb. 2015. I believed for a miracle for 2 more years…then realized in turning it around that God rescued me by this man leaving. My journey explored that he was passive aggressive; habitual liar; and a sex addiction which he chose masturbation instead and deprivation of love and affection from day 2 of the marriage. I kept believing each of these separate issues was the cause of failure in marriage. It was only this year of 2018 that I feel I have my answers that have accelerated my healing. I hope to share some light with others here to consider “covert” narcissism. I never would have believed this was my husband, but now I believe it fully…on you tube I came across 50 red flags of a covert narcissist (under Thrive after Abuse). Dana Morningstar, a physc nurse educates and is well spoken (she herself was duped in 2 emotionally abusive relationships from their charm, and well hidden manipulations.) I thank God I can truly acknowledge and now let go more fully to a more thorough healing in my soul! I thank God for Leslie’s continued support in moving us forward, and am thankful for more understanding than I ever thought possible in seeing the deep sickness and denial in a man who never wanted to change. Truly, it has brought much clarity, and yes, joy is now springing up. Praying this info helps to change even one woman’s understanding and give more hope to us who truly are valued by the One who gives us everlasting love, and wisdom, and hope eternal. This place, this forum, has brought much care and love for one another. You all are so appreciated, and we are rising from the ashes to beauty <3

    • Sherry on September 8, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      I too was married to a covert narcissist. It’s a hard thing to accept, that I was so blind and blamed myself. I read one article with a list of 40 things that will happen when you marry a narcissist. I checked off all 40!
      Praise God I am free! There was a point when God was the only one who listened to me! And He opened the doors and out I went! Life is so much better, more peaceful now after 32 years of abuse.

    • many years on September 8, 2018 at 3:35 pm

      Thank you, Jewel
      for your perspective of a covet narcissist. It is the cruel mental anguish which they embed within the mind of their victims which is so unhealthy and full of destruction of another soul. The subtle way they can charm and harm at the same time, not wanting to be accountable for their own lies. They deceive and lie, not wanting to be exposed themselves.

      I was reading in Cloud and Townsend’s ‘Boundaries’ last night, as I am having to say ‘no’ to a family member, and it appears that most of my family have been deceived by this other family member.

      I am now being used as the scapegoat, as I was ‘speaking my truth’ and they did not like the boundaries I was setting to protect myself from some problematic shaming by the one family member. It is as though everyone else wants to ‘gloss’ over this person’s idiosyncrasies.

      This person is ‘stuck’ in their own imaginary world, at times, living in a state of mind where they easily shame people whom they feel are ‘below’ them either intelligently, or have jobs that are lower functioning, so this person has belittled people, including myself, with such words as ‘Listen to ME!’ when they are not getting the attention they demand.

      I was ‘expected’ to help in taking care of this person who has duplicity towards some in the family, being nice to some, and awful to others. This person freaks out when their two sources of help leave town, and since I am the one who is in town, and can be the ‘helper’ I am expected by the others to ‘do my share’ in helping. I did commit to doing this a few years ago, not by my own choice but by coercion. So, at this point in time, my own needs and responsibilities have changed and I can no longer ‘commit’ to what I had said I could do.

      I am now being shamed, because I spoke my own truth on the matter. But I am going to have to stick to my own choice as this other person has medical insurance whereby they can have a nurse come in to help them. They also have grown grandchildren who can also step up to the plate to help this person when there is a need.

      I was told by one of my own siblings to ‘show a bit more grace’ to this person and to live out James 1:27. When a situation calls for a person to do something ‘grudgingly or out of necessity’ then God does not require the sacrifice of bearing someone else’s burdens, which ends up being a hardship upon one’s own life. This is also speaking our own TRUTH. I had a lot of my own health issues to deal with this year, and I was unable to do what I said I would do for this person. I have done a couple of things for them, yet that too, has been because others were ‘out of town’ so I was, again, ‘expected’ to do my ‘duty’.

      After skimming through ‘Boundaries’ last evening, I realized I was being used as a scapegoat. And because the ‘Christian’ community expects people use ‘sacrificial love’ to the degree of sharing and caring for other’s beyond what you are capable of, I am being abused in that regard.

      The person in question has the mindset that when something minor is wrong with them, in this case it was a month’s worth of bug bites, which the person used as an excuse to getting everyone’s attention just before they had to go out of town, so I was the one to make sure the person would be okay. I wrote an email to the person to let them know God would be watching over them, and there are others in the family, that if that person needs help, I am not the only one available.

      But back to me having to ‘bow out’ of further conflicting care-giving to this person, the one sibling sent an email I had sent to only one other family member, and proceeded to sent my letter to other family members, shaming me in front of everyone. This is how people step over your own boundaries, when they are forcing their perceived opinions upon you. Because I am a ‘people pleaser’ I am now being abused by my own family, because I can’t ‘step up to the plate’ and ‘do my duty’ by this other person. Who has to have constant attention from others through any means they can get it. I had emailed the person in question that they would be fine over the five day period when her ‘usual’ care-giving family members would be gone.

      Like my own grown daughter told me, the person in question i is ‘playing’ everybody by their need for attention.

      This is not my responsibility if it causes me to evade my own life’s responsibilities. It is psychological drama which erodes the soul when having to be around a person who can easily demean others for their own means.

      I can totally sympathize with others who have family members who are narcissists. I have already had to deal with this eight years ago when I was basically forced to care for my aging mother-in-law, in my own home, 24/7, and she was an invalid who was NOT a narcissist, but my husband IS, so again, ‘it was my duty’ because family members said it was not ‘my turn’ to take care of her. I did not know about boundaries at that time. And now, I know what happens to some who speak their truth.

      • Autumn on September 8, 2018 at 5:29 pm

        Many, don’t waste your energy on toxic people. Just because they are family doesn’t mean you own them access to your heart, mind and time. Often others, stuck in the dysfunction become jealous of the one who finally bucks the trend and says, “No.” To heck with their nonsense, ignore them and take all that energy and be good to yourself. Taking care of you, is your responsibility. Be excellent at taking care of you, when that is done well, bring any scraps for the overflow crowd.

        • Nancy on September 8, 2018 at 6:01 pm

          Agreed Autumn.

          “Taking care of you is your responsibility. Be excellent at [it].”

          I would ask, ‘what idol do you have that stops you from making this your very first priority?”

          For me, my idol was ‘looking good’, ‘looking sacrificial’, ‘looking meek’, ‘being nice’. Jesus was not nice. Far from it.

          • Nancy on September 8, 2018 at 6:06 pm

            Radical acceptance is a new goal for me. Now, I think I’ll add radical self-care.

            How un-Christian of me, eh 😉



        • many years on September 9, 2018 at 5:51 pm

          Thank you Autumn, and Nancy for both of you in your very positive input.

          I look at it this way. God sees my heart in all of this and He is not condemning me. And I am not looking for ‘justification’ in this from my own family, I am just looking for genuine life-giving freedom from ‘people pleasing.’

          And it is sad because it IS family, and I thought we were all very close. This is also sinister and scary as Satan wants to divide.

          I think because I am finding my voice, and ‘telling it like it is’ that it is like Jesus. He spoke his own truth and many people did not like it.

          Yep. So, I have turned this over to God. And I am going to continue to walk in my own integrity. I spoke only truth, and I got flak. Really, really ridiculous.

          I think my idol was ‘people pleasing’ and I didn’t even know it!

          Okay. So, God is my witness.

          Yes, Nancy, radical self-care and radical acceptance, like you said is definitely in order right now for sure for the perfect solution to the dilemma. Thank you so very much for your encouragement!

          And yes, the energy expended to figure it all out is not worth it and to use that energy instead, to be good to myself…like you said Autumn. Also, excellent advice!

          • Nancy on September 10, 2018 at 8:49 am

            Good for you Many Years!



          • Nancy on September 10, 2018 at 9:53 am

            I can really relate to the idol of people pleasing, Many Years.

            Today I am grieving because after speaking with my brother yesterday, it has become clear to me that I cannot go to his place to join the rest of my FOO for Christmas time.

            I have been fighting incessant guilt since I learned of his plan to invite us all. My husband pointed out that this was not my guilt. My brother has created this event out of his own guilt and is attempting to guilt me into going.

            I was so grateful that my h pointed this out. The guilt I was fighting wasn’t even my own! But because of a lack of internal boundaries with regards to my FOO, I didn’t even see this. Also, my people pleasing habit is focused on how they will feel ( don’t want to hurt them, as if me saying no were the one causing the pain) and what they will think about me.

            Of course there is a possibility that The Lord wants to use me to bring light to my FOO. So I am leaving that with Him. If he wants me to go then He Will have to give me undeniable signs that He wants us there. Otherwise it’s a clear no.

            And so with this clarity, comes grief. I am so sad about this reality.

            I wonder if one of the coping mechanisms to avoid grieving is a subconscious decision to stay in the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt)?

            Example – If I hang onto my brother’s guilt then I cannot see properly. When I see things for what they are, it hurts like hell. So…in my attempt to avoid pain I choose the more familiar discomfort of guilt. I know guilt. I’m comfortable with it. I know how that feels. Grief? That’s just a bit too real….

            Either way. Some days are really hard 🙁



    • Sunshine on September 8, 2018 at 5:23 pm

      One of the things I learned is that there is not a marriage problem. It is a psychological/personality problem. I am fine. He is/was sick. We did a great job doing the societal marriage roles and duties. Our marriage was not a failure, in fact it was highly functional. The person I married was sick and dangerous. That is not my problem. It is his problem.He is sick, not the marriage. He ruined the other person in the marriage as he spewed his toxic poison on her. Again, his problem, not mine.

  9. Aya on September 8, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Hi I am new to writing here although I receive the emails now several months.

    I am 55 years old and in an unhealthy marriage for 33 years. I am coming out of the fog and I also find the YouTube videos on covert narcissists extremely helpful.

    I am planning my exit. Trusting God more and more especially His timing in going forward.

    I love this blog. Please keep me in prayer and thank you all.

    • Maria on September 11, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      Aya,

      Welcome! There are many blog articles that may be very helpful to you. Praying for strength and clarity for you as you embark on your journey.

  10. many years on September 8, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    I meant it was ‘now’ my turn to take care of my mother-in-law.

  11. Mindy on September 8, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    It has been really hard living in my house alone. Every day I struggle to remember why I left and how we got here. There is a lot of memories and pain. My dog is definitely helping me to move on. I have a few friends already (ok 2) and being back at work is going well. I can’t really say I’m doing well but I’m working toward it. Divorce is the ugliest word I know. I wish my husband had chosen to get better so we could still be together. At this point I don’t believe that will happen.

    • Grateful on September 9, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Mindy, first off it is incredibly overwhelming but the truth really is you could NOT have stayed. You would have lost yourself completely, I think most of us can say that. We left ONLY because we finally chose to save our own lives. I am in the middle of my divorce and the best thing I did was turn my h closet into my prayer closet. I have scriptures the Lord has given me for my children listed, for me, prayer requests and answered prayers. I cannot even begin to list just how many answered prayers there are from the tiniest of things (things being fixed that I had NO clue how to do) to Him going before me in court and fighting my fight for me with me standing still (Exodus 14:14). The Lord will give you promises that are meant just for you – hang tight to those promises throughout the process. Rebuke any lies you listened to and agreed with (I’m not worthy, I can’t do this…) and He will strengthen you – I can attest to every word of this. I am not the same person I was (praise God) and I am so grateful for my rescue out of this. Cry out to the Lord, ask for support from your inner circle and ask of the Lord – He will deliver!

      • Free on September 9, 2018 at 8:56 am

        This reply was very encouraging. Thank you.

      • many years on September 9, 2018 at 5:55 pm

        Grateful,

        I love your idea of making your husband’s closet a prayer closet. So beautiful!

        And I appreciate your reply to Mindy. Spot on!

  12. Hope on September 8, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Having tried and tried (almost 30 years) to stay and stay well, I’m now preparing to leave well. It’s been agonizing getting to this point. Is it this scary for everyone? I’m trying to trust God, be wise and move slowly forward as best I can–with help of friends and a counselor. I’m in my 60s, a mom and homemaker for the last 20 years and trying to return to the workforce just feels overwhelming to me. My last child just left home three months ago. It feels good to be able to reach out to others who are navigating this painful journey. I welcome any input!

    • Autumn on September 8, 2018 at 9:41 pm

      Hope, yes it is this scary for everyone but hang tight and stay the course, because it gets soooo much better! Start dreaming a little. What do YOU like to do. Thpughts if yourself may be deeply hidden right now, but relax and trust the Lord. Let his creation (you) blossom. Watch a Christian comic if you can and laugh out loud. It is cleansing. Joy is just ahead. Trust the process.

      • Hope on September 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm

        Thanks so much, Autumn. I’ve been dreaming of having my own place where I can rest and heal. But when I look at rental prices even for very modest places, the fear and despair try to flood in.That’s a good suggestion to watch a Christian comic. Everything feels very serious and intense to me right now so that might help!

        • Autumn on September 9, 2018 at 3:18 pm

          Do you like the comedian John Crist? He has great videos. Google him. Clean and hilarious.

          • Nancy on September 9, 2018 at 3:32 pm

            Love him!



          • Hope on September 10, 2018 at 3:51 pm

            I’ll try him too, Autumn! I watched some Jeanne Robertson videos after you posted. Thanks laughing a little does help!



    • Helen on September 21, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      I am scared to go back to work after 2+ years and a dying nursing career, I do not have an th degree so I am limited but mainly self esteem is down and I have isolated myself as my h lived an isolated life with me & my girls. It has messed with my mind. Work places just scare me! God will have to see me thru there is no going back. My h wants out & will not try to help himself or see his problem. Have a 9 year marriage. I just hate the lies I believe and hate being in this house with him. I need a job & hope to have one soon so I can leave and have peace of mind.

      • Maria on September 23, 2018 at 12:08 pm

        Helen,
        I stayed home for a number of years. After I realized I was in an abusive marriage I realized I needed to start working again. I had little to no self esteem. I am in a technical field and it is difficult to get back in after yrs of being away. But God is good. He provided beyond what I expected. Some of my gym friends gave their husbands my resume. After getting hired, God provided the exact people I needed to mentor me. The was someone there who would even pray with me. I slowly started building confidence. I would encourage to to take the initial steps required. Apply for jobs, get training if you can. Network with people. God will provide what you need.

  13. Sunshine on September 8, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    Mindy, may I suggest you make some changes to your physical space? Can you rearrange the furniture, get some new throw pillows and donate stuff that causes trigger responses? I think you may be pleasantly surprised how good it feels to pitch some old stuff and make the place, your space. How about some cut flowers on the kitchen table for fun? Get rid of your bedding and pick something floral and feminine.

    Mindy you can do this. Yes, the adiustment is hard in the beginning, but it gets better.

    • Mindy on September 9, 2018 at 10:20 am

      Grateful and Sunshine, thanks for the support. I did buy some decor and bedding to try and redecorate a little. I’m hoping the house will be less sad. I do have hope that the whole process of legalizing the separation will get easier. Women often tell me that the beginning is the hardest. My h is making the process very simple, a little too easy. It took some serious reflection but I am pretty sure (based on his lawyer’s correspondence) he is giving me everything because he wants to get his name off the mortgage right away. He is afraid that I won’t pay the mortgage and he can’t afford to pay it. It is always about his belief that I am incapable of managing daily life. I’m trying to prove him wrong but I’ve been controlled for so much of my life. I’m not always sure how to assert myself or even make difficult decisions.

      • Free on September 9, 2018 at 3:29 pm

        Mindy, don’t believe his lies that you can’t manage life. You know who the father of lies is, don’t you?

        You can manage life and I am thrilled for you that you get the house. Once it is solely yours you can even sell is for something smaller and create your own space.

        Wouldn’t it be fun to have a house blessing prayer service? Have you ever done that? I was part of a team that prayed over every room of a house that was being dedicated as a crisis pregnancy maternity home. Our group went inside, outside, in the driveway in the basement, you name it, we prayed over it. I say, claim your space, say it out loud and dedicate it to the Lord!

      • ContentinChrist on September 10, 2018 at 9:23 pm

        Mindy –

        I can so relate to your comments about your husband’s belief that you can’t manage daily life. This is how my husband felt/feels about me. When we first separated, he would text me constantly telling me things about trash needing to be put out or bills that needed to be paid (things I knew and was aware of even if he did handle a lot of that — he handled a lot of that and somewhat kept me as a child not allowing me to be part of the finances, decisions, etc. I believe he wanted me to feel dependent on him.)

        I understand all the fears about doing life without your husband. I am here to tell you that God has shown up every single scary step of the way and has proven Himself faithful beyond imagination. My advice — do not get bogged down in the big picture future. It is one day at a time, one step at a time. When you take a new step each time, there will be a short period where it feels overwhelming and you will think you can’t do it. But, yes, you can. Push through those couple of weeks when your brain and body are adjusting to new realities and you will get stronger and strong. Take naps when you need them. Let things go that don’t matter – does it really matter if your house is spotless right now or a million other things? I determined my energy would go to the necessities and loving my children well and if that meant things were a little dirtier around here, so be it.

        Be really kind to yourself.

        You are going to be just fine. I’m almost two years from our separation date. And, some days, I can’t wipe the smile off my face. Doesn’t mean life is always super easy, but it is much better not living in the constant weirdness of the relationship we had. I am genuinely happy and free and ME. I’m free to be me.

      • caroline on September 25, 2018 at 5:07 am

        HI Mindy! Its okay to feel grief and sadness when we’ve lost something we valued. There will likely be more feelings of loss as you realize more parts of your life that were based on lies and false understandings.

        But grief does not have to kill us or steal our joy forever.

        As we come out from under oppression there is new life and new found gifts that were too much in the shadows to notice before. God wastes nothing, this too can be used. You are already reaching out to others in encouragement because of what you’ve been going through

        As far as “doing life” by yourself, I believe you are going to be okay because you already know the most important thing: how to ask for help when you need it! You have connected yourself to support, and you know people who really want to see you thrive.

        My mom is paying all the bills and dealing with a lot of complex legal stuff after six decades of my dad doing everything for them, and you know what? She’s doing it Mindy. It makes her sad and a little bit nervous, but at 85, she is as capable as any 19 year old with her first apartment!

  14. Janice on September 9, 2018 at 11:27 am

    I,too,felt overwhelmed and incapable of handling all the details of moving out and getting my own place.However,as soon as I made the decision the Lord brought people into my life who were supportive and helped me through the process.I felt energy and purpose return to me as I focused on each day and what I needed to accomplish.I am separated now since the end of July and I am so grateful for Gods provisions.It is sad and not ideal but at the same time I am experiencing growth and confidence that I used to have and lost in the fog of the last few difficult years.I prayed for God to close doors and clearly show me if I shouldn’t leave and He paved the way for me,from finding a beautiful and safe apartment to having a wonderful organizer move me and help set up my new place in an orderly and efficient manner.God knows our hearts and that we all wanted our marriages to work…I continue to pray for my h and wait on the Lord.

    • Mindy on September 9, 2018 at 11:39 am

      “God knows our hearts and knows we wanted our marriages to work.”
      That is very true and providential of you to say.

    • Free on September 9, 2018 at 3:22 pm

      More encouragement. Thanks! I just love reading success stories. I echo your testimony as God sends people, makes money appear out of thin air and provides jobs, food and new friends. I have learned he hears every little prayer and uplifts the oppressed. What a God!!

    • Mindy on September 9, 2018 at 7:34 pm

      You are so right. God knows my heart and he has always known that I did everything I could to keep my marriage intact. That is really comforting. Thank you.

    • ContentinChrist on September 10, 2018 at 9:31 pm

      I love that comment, Janice, of how God’s been faithful to you. I agree with everything you said. The confidence that has come through this, how God opened doors for you even when you were praying for Him to close them if this isn’t what He wanted, how He brought people and changed circumstances once you made the decision to separate. All of these were/are true for me, too. I was thinking the other day that the ways God has shown up have just been countless since the decision to step out in faith on what I fully believed God was telling me to do. From a contract falling through on the house we were trying to sell (so that I could stay in this house which has a very low mortgage) to providing jobs that worked with my schedule and have enabled me to be with my kids when they are in my custody as much as possible to recently getting a raise in one of those jobs that was far beyond what I was expecting…Sometimes, the miracle is that when I have a hard day and think I can’t go on, God infuses me with new strength within hours and I am soaring on eagle’s wings again.

      He is so faithful and so good. He knows all of our needs and if He doesn’t provide something we think we need, we can be assured that we don’t need it and He has something better in mind.

      • Free on September 11, 2018 at 6:22 am

        Content, I have to chime in and give God the glory. I recently resigned from a job that caused me great dissatisfaction and caused me to participate in unethical practices. Our loving heavenly father provided a new job which will start in October.

        This leaves me to live in September without an income. (I do have savings so I am ok.) Still I was having trouble trusting God to make provision for my daily expenses and reoccurring bills.

        I challenged myself to pray and seek the Lord about my doubt. I can trust God in so many areas of my life, but money issuesi, I still hold close to my chest. I know it is follish of me, but I want control in this area of life. How follish I am, as God had my back the whole time.

        Here are some of the fun ways God provided. I stopped by the lawyer’s office because he said I over paid and was handed a check. Ha! A recommended major auto repair was found, not needed on my model year. A contract I had signed for cement work on the house was cancelled without charge. I participated in a research study with a promised $75 stiipend, and then they shocked me with adding a zero! Well, knock me over with a feather! My neighbor brought me veggies from her garden and new grocery store opened with freebies and one time only coupons.

        Oh, our Lord, knows and loves us. How awesome is his name. I could go on and on. My point is God is on the job. Let’s remember to count our blessings one by one.

        • Maria on September 11, 2018 at 5:51 pm

          Free,

          Thanks for sharing. It was very encouraging.

        • ContentinChrist on September 11, 2018 at 10:35 pm

          Beautiful, Free. Thanks for sharing those specific ways God has provided for you.

          Man, I remember for a week or two having near panic attacks at night after my husband announced that he would be splitting up our finances. It was after a year of being separated, so I knew it was coming, but it was so scary. I had no idea how I would fare. God enabled me to wrestle through that intense fear for that week or two and finally put it totally in His hands and trust Him. I had no idea how He would provide or what life would look like, but I had seen enough at that point to know that He would show up. And He has. Over and over.

          When I look back on my specific story of separation and having to get back into the work force and all the ways God moved in very specific ways, it leaves me without words. In my specific situation, I didn’t rush right out and find a job. I had separated around October (2016) and the holidays were coming. I was in no emotional state to try to find a job. It made no sense to NOT look for a job, but I never felt compelled to then. And, God provided through my husband as we still shared finances. Then, when I was ready to step out for a job, God provided one almost immediately after the holidays. It was like He was saying “Yep, you weren’t ready and needed that time to grieve and get through the holidays, but now you are ready.” So, I worked for this lady for a few months but then she proved to be an extremely manipulative person and after all I’ve been through and learned, I was not going to stand to live under that in any capacity any longer. I quit my job after having a breakdown in my car one day which helped me realize how toxic that place was for me. Had no prospects of where I would go, but I felt God giving me the ok and saying that He would provide for me.

          And, immediately after, He opened up a job for me with a school. The timing was perfect for quitting that job and then finding out about the availability for this other job. So I quit a job that ended right when school was getting out which allowed me to stay home with my girls for the summer – who were used to having me home with them (as a stay at home mom) and who very much needed the emotional support after their world being ripped apart as well.

          Now, I work and am able to be home when they are (when they’re in my custody) and when they’re with my husband, I am working part time for a Christian foster group home for teen girls which is the hardest and most rewarding job all in one. Only God.

          My dad also passed away last year and even though I knew I needed that second job well before his death, I just never felt led. I know now that God knew what was lying ahead with my father’s passing. If I had had that second job, it would have been very hard to be there with him in his final days. I was able to go through that time period with my one very do-able and emotionally easy job and to get through that time. And then, when January rolled around of this year, I knew it was time to get that second job. And, once again, He provided and led me very specifically.

          It is just so good to look back and remember.

          • Helen on September 21, 2018 at 7:35 pm

            This is good news.I have feared so much about money, but Ihave told God I will trust him for a job. I suddenly have 3 possibilities!



          • Maria on September 23, 2018 at 12:12 pm

            Helen,
            I posted above before seeing this. Really happy for you!



          • caroline on September 25, 2018 at 5:26 am

            How I love these stories. Thank you to everyone for sharing the intimate details of our Lord’s wooing.

            A while ago Jane recommended that I seek comfort in Lamentations. I came across this:

            But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
            The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
            His mercies never come to an end;
            they are new every morning;

            Great is your faithfulness.

            The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
            Lam 3:21-24



  15. Janice on September 11, 2018 at 6:28 am

    It is amazing how our stories,as unique as they are, have so many similar themes running through them.I was an independent single woman and didn’t marry until my late 30s.I had a well paying career and owned my own place.After 26 years of marriage I didn’t feel competent to be on my own…but the Lord has been restoring me day by day to live and enjoy a simpler,ordered and peaceful life.I agree with ContentinChrist that the key is to not get ahead of God and to leave the future in His hands…which is the only way to live in His peace which passes all ( human) understanding.The stress of trying to make something work which isn’t honoring God or yourself is overwhelming because it isn’t for us to figure out. It is a form of pride to think we can solve our h’s issues and once I got that I humbly resigned from that position.As long as he continues in his denial he is not a safe person to live with.I have lived with unsafe people in my past( abusive father,predator roommate) and am resolved to never do it again…I’m 64 so I guess I’m a slow learner!

    • Hope on September 11, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      I’m playing and replaying two songs that have blessed me so much! during this rollercoaster time of preparing to safely separate after almost 30 years. “God of All My Days” by Casting Crowns and “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. Just listening helps get me focused again on trusting the God who loves me and won’t leave me! Even though I’ve been a Christian since childhood, I find myself struggling a lot with whether God’s mad at me over my failing marriage, disgusted, thinks I should just toughen up and endure, etc…I know that’s not who God is–but boy, what a battle some days. So thankful for the TLC and support on this site and for HIs amazing women! (:

      • ContentinChrist on September 11, 2018 at 10:43 pm

        “God of All My Days” was one of “my” songs on this journey, as well.

        No, He is not disgusted with you…..and you can trust your Shepherd to get you back on the right path even if you stray.

        I had to remind myself of that over and over as I took steps out of my marriage. I questioned myself a lot – questioned whether I was really hearing God’s voice, etc. But, He said very specific things to me that I know I just didn’t come up with on my own – they weren’t even things I had really read from the reading I was doing about narcissism or emotionally destructive marriages.

        I had to keep reminding myself that the Lord is my Shepherd. And He is able to put me back on right paths if I’m straying out of His will. He is committed to that more than I am! I was willing to hear otherwise from Him….but I never did. I only heard confirmation after confirmation along with Him showing up to provide and open doors for me as I continued to take steps.

        So, trust that He will do the same for you.

        Not only is God not disgusted with you or disappointed with you….on the contrary, He hurts for you, He is weeping with you and He is very concerned for you and your well-being. He sees you as extremely valuable. He wants to heal your broken heart. And He will.

  16. Agape Moms on September 12, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Excellent points Leslie. We have also found that the cycle of abuse repeats itself because women listen to the empty promises their abusers make to change, without stepping back to look and see if he is delivering in his actions. But Jesus told us in Matthew 7:17-20, “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (ESV)

    We wrote more about this in a post at https://www.agapemoms.com/blog/2018/6/30/why-victims-stay-in-abusive-marriages-believing-words-not-noticing-actions

  17. Hope on September 13, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Thank you so much ContentinChrist for encouraging me…yes, He keeps providing and opening doors for me too. And I’ve prayed over and over, “If I’m on the wrong track here, Lord, please stop me!” But deep down I feel to keep moving steadily forward, even when it’s very scary.

  18. Caroline on September 25, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Q. Friends, how have you broken long-standing habit patterns of lies and been transformed by God’s truth?

    One thing that helped me was when I realized “taking every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” was an active, and not passive pursuit. I read a recovery blog post about sanctification and I got a whole new perspective.

    This deeper understanding gave me proper tools to better disarm the lies and it still helps me see those patterns in my thinking that need to be transformed.

    For some reason I had seen the directive to “take every thought captive” to mean just get your mind off the bad stuff. Think nice pleasant thoughts. That is so far from the truth!

    Taking something “captive” implies cunning, force, a bloody fight, maybe even some torture to get the whole truth out. It does not imply letting one’s enemy right back out to attack another day!

    But torturing out long held beliefs is lots of work and unpleasant and lonely work at that. Having friends willing to travel beside me in this battle has been especially helpful.

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