Morning friends,

Whew, just got back from another week of travel. I’m looking forward to the New Year when my travel schedule slows down significantly.  

I wanted to make you aware of a 6-month group coaching program that starts in January called Empowered to Change. There will be a morning time, an afternoon time and evening time and I invite you to check it out. Click here for more information.

Question: My mother just died a long and painful death and last year my husband of 30 years walked out on me.

I’m struggling as a Christian to believe that God is good when it feels like he doesn’t care and he doesn’t help. How can I get through this period of doubt?

Answer: First, let me tell you I’m very sorry for your losses. This is not an easy question for theologians to answer, let alone a layperson. Entire books are written about it so let me just leave you with a few things to think and pray about.

First, it’s tempting to think that we only struggle with the question of God’s goodness when things go wrong in our lives. But Eve doubted God’s goodness even in the midst of Paradise. There was no suffering to tempt Eve to doubt God’s character and yet still she decided not to submit to God’s truth or trust his goodness when she ate the forbidden fruit.

Don’t beat yourself up. Honest people acknowledge that they often struggle to believe God’s goodness toward them while they’re suffering.

Second, goodness is a moral question, not a scientific one. Who gets to define what is good? When we judge God as not good we make our own view of things the highest authority. But what makes your judgment any truer than the next person’s? What if what I define as good, someone else sees as bad? Is there any absolute authority that teaches us how to view things or is everything seen through the eyes of our own perspective?

In his book, Systematic Theology, Dr. Wayne Grudem, wrote: “The goodness of God means that God is the final standard of good, and all that God is and does is worthy of approval.”

It’s not our approval that defines what good is, it is God’s approval. The Scriptures define and declare that God is good and that what he does is good (See Psalm 100:5; Psalm 106:1, Psalm 34:8; Psalm 119:68, Psalm 86:5, Nahum 1:7). Jesus also affirmed God’s goodness when he told the rich young ruler, “no one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

One of the things that helped me come to terms with the question of God’s goodness during a painful loss in my own life was when I read these words, “God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all” (1 John 1:5 NLT). The apostle John declares that this is the message he heard from Jesus and that he is writing these things so that we might have joy (1 John 1:4). The psalmist said, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness, evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4).

In my own anger and pain, I was not only blaming God for doing bad things, but I was also accusing God of being evil. As I pondered John’s words about God’s character, I was forced to decide whose truth was true. If God is incapable of darkness, then God is incapable of evil. He is all good all the time. If that is true, then there has to be another reason God allowed my personal pain and suffering. There is a mystery to the Almighty that we cannot expect to grasp with our finite minds. Perhaps I will never know his purposes this side of eternity but would I trust that God knew and that he was indeed good.

In the book Faith and Culture Devotional, John Eldredge refers to two main themes woven throughout scripture. “A major theme of hope, love, and life triumphant, and a minor theme of suffering, sorrow, and loss.” He says when people focus only on the major theme of scripture, we can sound insensitive and glib about the real hardships of those who hurt, promising them that God will work all things for good and that they can have victory in Jesus. He says, “The Christianity that talks only about hope, joy, and overcoming would be hollow, syrupy and shallow.”

On the other hand, he cautions us that in modern culture’s quest for authenticity and transparency, the church has majored in the minor theme of brokenness and suffering. Although refreshingly honest and necessary, if that is all there is, where is our hope? Where is the abundant life that Jesus promises? Where is the resurrection, the redemption, and the restoration and reconciliation themes of scripture? Eldredge concludes, “We must be honest about the minor theme, but we must keep it the minor theme.”

Remember, often when we look back through what we thought was the worst of times, God used them for great good. In the Old Testament story of Joseph, he was able to keep his joy, peace, and hope alive in the midst of circumstantial hardship because he believed and trusted that God was good and therefore his purposes were always good (Genesis 50:20).

Proverbs remind us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5,6).

Friends, what has helped you remember or trust God’s goodness and love during dark times?  

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55 Comments

  1. Sheep on December 5, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Hi Leslie,

    Thanks for this word this morning, With all that I have been through in the past several years and with all that I see my children going through now because of the sinful, selfish actions of my wife, I must say that I don’t struggle as much with the question of God being good as I struggle with with prayer. I know God is good and I am at peace with Him being the creator and me being the creation. Despite what has happened, and in some ways because of it, I can say “it is well with my soul” I’m good with God doing whatever He desires in my life, even if I don’t like it and even if it hurts.

    But my problem now is prayer. I and so many others have prayed for so long that God would do a miracle in my wife’s heart. That He would bring her to repentance, and that He would bring us to reconciliation, and save our marriage and family. Those are all good things, and I believe they are all in line with what God’s perfect will is for people and families. But, He hasn’t chosen to do that. She is still stuck in sin, selfishness, and hardness of heart, blaming others for the bad choices in her own life. We are now separated and have started the divorce process and will most likely be divorced by March.

    Intellectually, I know that God answered prayer. Even in all of that, I know God has answered some of my prayers. He has given me peace in all of this, He has made me stronger as a man, He has drawn me closer to Himself, He has taught me to rest in Him. He has slowly brought me to a place to be able to recognize the abusiveness of my wife, and not be ok with it. But it’s those other things that make it hard for me to pray now. It’s like I’m ok with His will and Him doing what He wants in any given situation and I find it hard not to think “why pray if He is going to do what He wants anyway?” I know I shouldn’t think that but it’s hard when I have seen so many prayers for really good things get a “no” answer.

    I’m probably not explaining this very well, but I’m sure that others here struggle with or will struggle with the same thing. People here are constantly praying really good, Godly prayers for their spouses and marriages. Prayers for brokenness, repentance, salvation, and reconciliation. Prayers for marriages to be saved. But the reality is that many of these prayers are not going to be answered the way we want. God doesn’t often choose to miraculously change hardened hearts. There really aren’t a lot of “road to Damascus” experiences given in the Bible.

    This is the time that I have to rest in His goodness, believing that despite my situation and the pain in my life, He is still good. He did not cause the pain in my life, but He did allow it. That pain has shaped me and brought me closer to Him. Without it, I would not be the man I am today. Without it, frankly I would still be living with my wife’s abuse, not knowing what is really going on and taking the blame for everything that is wrong in her life.

    • Nancy on December 5, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      Thank you for articulating this, Sheep.

      I think I have the same struggle because of my mother’s life-long and extreme neediness. I have trouble believing that God actually heals? Her neediness is born out of extreme abusive childhood circumstances – and setting boundaries with her feels like more abuse to her 🙁

      I know that he has used her Illness to encourage me to grow in Him. I am closer to Him because of her,

      “who is my mother and my brother?” Said Jesus. This was a shocking scripture for me, but also liberating in a way I could not have imagined.

      I find myself thinking well, ‘why pray for what I want since I don’t have the perspective God has. I’ll just pray ‘thy will be done’.’….but this feels very distant.

      I have to say though, the Psalms have helped me immensely. Especially the “cursing Psalms”. I like 7 & 10 lately.

      I think I’ll spend the next week praying some Psalms…maybe one a day. They are so raw and honest, they give me permission to feel and say all kinds of things to The Lord. Do you think that might help you?

      • sheep on December 5, 2018 at 3:56 pm

        Nancy,
        I don’t know. I have done a lot of praying the Psalms in the past. And they are still a constant diet for me. I think part of it is exhaustion. I just feel exhausted most of the time, and real prayer is work, so it’s easy for me to think what is the point of praying about this yet again? At what point does constant prayer about the same thing become “vain repetition”? I have pretty well had to abandon prayer about about my wife and marriage for the sake of my own mental health. I think that a lot of us use prayer about an impossible situation to give ourselves an unrealistic false hope for future change so that we don’t have to face the hard facts of the situation.

        • Nancy on December 5, 2018 at 4:29 pm

          Yeah I get what you are saying about using prayer to give ourselves unrealistic false hope. Magical thinking is dangerous – especially when couched in spiritual language.

          I’m not talking about praying for an outcome at this point. I think it’s healthy that you’ve ‘abandoned prayer about your wife’.

          The cursing ( impecatory) psalms start out with some version of ‘why God?’. Personally, that’s where I am with God with regards to my mother. Why God, would you allow her to continue in this destructive path for SO LONG. Why?

          Psalm 10 starts with ‘why do you stand so far away Lord?’

          Yeah….I agree with the Psalmist. Why God? Why? I’m thoroughly ticked off!

          It’s only when I am truly honest before The Lord about my anger with Him, that I am brought to the place of ‘leaning not on my own understanding’.

          • Renee on December 16, 2018 at 8:31 am

            Hi Nancy, I have missed hearing from you all. I just had to share on this page. On the 1’st Sunday of this month, I had no choice but to have a serious conversation with God. I could not hold back the tears and thoughts as I looked toward heaven.

            It was such a beautiful day and I was a complete mess. So much so I went to church but could not make it through the doors.

            Why God, are these difficult people in my life? Why God, are my children distant to you? Why God, this husband? Why, Why, Why – a real pity party.

            As much as I dislike saying it, I had that “Yeah….I agree with the Psalmist. Why God? Why? I’m thoroughly ticked off!”



          • Nancy on December 16, 2018 at 1:50 pm

            This is so honest, Renee! Thank you for sharing.

            Did The Lord bring you through that moment ? Did He bring you a fresh perspective at all?

            I’m always curious to see how He operates… 🙂



        • Jo on December 13, 2018 at 1:38 pm

          sheep,
          Having to give up your marriage is hard and a major life loss on top of the consequences of living with an abusive spouse. To anyone in this situation, I would recommend keeping an eye on your mental and getting your doctor to screen you for mental illness. Many in these kind of relationship end up with depression and anxiety.

          What I have done when struggling with tiredness and feeling down is to make short prayers throughout the day. Keep on praying.

          My latest spritual lesson ha been that God will not make me obey Him; I have to choose to do it. Love requires my choice. Many if us have spouses that could choose to behave better but won’t. They choose to continue to do wrong. God can call them, but they have to choose Him. It’s a sad situation for both the spouse and God. I struggle with accepting the hurt and loss I feel that comes from living with a spouse who has hardened his heart, but I need to live in the truth of who my husband is, not who I wish he was.

          • Free on December 16, 2018 at 11:44 pm

            Rene, I wonder what answer you received to your why questions. I think about this differently. Why am I allowed this destructive people in my life? Why can’t I make a change to remove myself from such harm? I don’t care who they are or what there relationship they are to me. There will always be divisions between lightness and darkness. Flee the darkness. Why would be blame or ask God why. God didn’t get us into this situation, we did. Now that we recognize the evil, it is time to stop enabling it.

            For me, I don’t understand the Why? We know why, evil. Once we recognize it, flee from it.



          • Nancy on December 17, 2018 at 3:27 pm

            Free,

            Some of us are not dealing with evil. Some are dealing with fools – that is the case with me, anyways.

            When you’re dealing with a fool, it’s not so black and white. The Lord is faithful for sure, sometimes the way forward though, is not as clear as you make it sound.



          • Aly on December 17, 2018 at 3:34 pm

            Nancy, Free,

            Both of what you are saying is true.
            Nancy I think I can relate more to what you describe especially when dealing with fools… they sometimes manipulate those that are more willing to give space for hopeful change.

            Thanks for posting the difference here it helped me to read both of your comments.



          • Nancy on December 18, 2018 at 7:25 am

            Hi Aly, Free,

            What I meant was that when a person is not in physical danger, the posture that is recommended here is to stand firm in boundaries and requirements. This will look different for each case and is not as black and white as simply ‘fleeing the darkness’.



          • Aly on December 18, 2018 at 9:53 am

            Nancy,
            Thanks for clarifying what you meant.

            As far as. Fools… they come in many forms.
            Proverbs gives a lot of direction when it comes to being in close proximity of fools.

            Caution is needed greatly and many don’t see the damage done until much later in life as things play out further.



          • Carol on December 18, 2018 at 10:42 am

            The difference between evil and fools is subtle. Evil is know by its lies and deceit. It was a great revelation to me when I realized God didn’t need me to remake or further attempt to reform my abusive husband, and I was free to flee his evil. I was scared as I was remaking my life at age 61, without a job, financial security, and all the things that go with a 34 year marriage. However, God is much bigger than my problems and my perceived obstacles to living the life He intends for me. We are meant to live in community with others, not strife. God loved me much more than he loved my marriage. I stepped away and two years later my life is much, much, much better than I could ask or image. Just one believer’s faith walk through the fire of abuse – trust God’s promises of restoration and hope. He has given your spouse a right to choose and if they choose to continue their abuse you cannot change them, and God will not take away their freedom to choose.



          • Aly on December 18, 2018 at 1:43 pm

            Carol,
            Praise God for this and your freedom to choose!
            Love that you are experiencing a much better life and restoration! 🌈💜



          • Nancy on December 18, 2018 at 2:55 pm

            Hi Carol,

            I don’t agree that evil is known by its lies and deceit.

            A fool can be an expert liar in order to protect themselves and their pride.

            A fool’s motives are often self-protective, but their actions (for example, lying) resemble those of someone who is evil. So, I agree that the difference is subtle indeed. Only God knows the heart which is why we must trust in Him to guide us through.

            I am very happy for you that you were able to do just that…trust in His promises for you!



    • Moon Beam on December 5, 2018 at 7:33 pm

      Sheep, thanks for bringing up this point. I have a bit of a different perspective. As a girl I always wanted to go to Catholic school like the other kids on my block. I saw their uniforms and the special veils their mothers wore to Mass.

      One day I got my chance. I went to Catholic church and listened to a mass. What a disappointment. Over and over they said this silly hail Mary thing. Didn’t they know God heard them the first time? Why did they keep repeating the same thing over and over.

      This experience made an impact on my Presbyterian raised self. It changed my prayer style. I believed the holy Spirit knew the groaning of my heart. I prayed once or twice and tried not to repeat myself. I believe God hears what I ask the first time. I ask once and wait.

      Sometimes it takes years but usually God makes his position clear. Lots of times the answer is, “No”. Badgering, enlisting prayer partners and pleading doesn’t change his will. Evil will be evil.

      Why do we harp on the same subject, because we want a different answer? I think, ask once, he heard me the first time. Then I focus on praise and thankfulness. I trust that when we get to heaven it will all make perfect sense.

    • Maria on December 6, 2018 at 11:27 am

      Sheep,

      I have not been able to pray for quite sometime. I realize after reading your post it was because I didn’t see answer to my prayers for God to change my circumstances so that my kids wouldn’t suffer the consequences of my husbands behavior. After dialoging with some women I decided to read a Psalm and pray every morning even though I don’t feel like it. It doesn’t take much effort and it has really helped me.

      • Connie on December 7, 2018 at 11:34 am

        God does not change people against their will. Note that Judas wasn’t changed. And I find that when I’m looking for the answer in one direction, He is working it out quite in another. And it usually takes a lot longer than I thought it would. But way better than I could have imagined. And only after I surrender my own will to Him, which is probably why it takes so long.

    • Renee on December 16, 2018 at 8:07 am

      I think you explained very well Sheep.

    • Fern on December 18, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      Sheep, I know what you mean, as I often pray for God to still “get a hold of” my ex-husband and have him repent. In my case, there will be no reconciliation since he has already remarried. However, I still find myself praying that he would come to true repentance. Even though I understand your frustration (as I’ve been there myself), one thing is I think it has helped keep the “root of bitterness” from establishing in me. If I can always have a kernel of concern for his soul, then it keeps me from going off the deep end of wishing all kinds of evil on him. I was just thinking of this- how I want him to repent (for his own sake, let alone for our kids’), but God doesn’t seem to be turning his heart, even after a couple of years. I have to rest in God’s sovereignty and timing. Also, now that the divorce is final and he has already remarried, a friend suggested that perhaps the burden of praying for his repentance can be picked up by others (as in, not a burden for me to carry anymore). I guess in general, the Body of Christ can do that for us. But for me, I suppose there will always be a part of me that will pray for his repentance (hopefully that is coming from a good place), but the fervency and frequency with which I pray that prayer is lessening. And I think that’s OK. You are doing well to rest in God’s goodness. Keep on walking in faith for continued growth. Philippians 1:6. Give God time to write your story.

    • colleen on December 20, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      In response to the gentleman dealing with his wife’s bad choices and abuse an nd his vhikdren’s pain I justvwant to best absolutely all you write if the exact same happening in me. My husband had an affair , is involved with a different won an at present and divorced me last year after 40 years of marriage. I am ill havng had cancer in the past and was at risk for a second cancer and am dying as well with out any medical care and no finances. The Lord told ne audibly in 1995 when ny husband was having his affair that He would never leave me nor forsake me .. I know that He loves me but I am struggling so much alĺ alone in by human frailty with my daughter and her husband and my two little granddaughters in India doing missionary work. Only my beloved son is in this country South Africa and he is so precious to me but has been through so much in his short life and is not married and does not have his own home. He stuck by ne always and supported me always so my heart is broken for him. I know I must just commit him to the Lord but to make it harder my mum passed away on 23 Dec last year and my son was so upset and now me a year later. I am really not coping and finding exactly the same as you with reggsrdsgo roster. I used to be sub a prayer warrior. So in summary I just want you to know I am in the boat with you wishing you God’s strength and comfort and that He fills the gaps with His overwhelming love and he will catch every tear in His bottles. I am sending you a huge virtual hug. God bless you and your previous children.

    • Beloved on December 22, 2018 at 7:31 pm

      Hi Sheep
      I completely understand what you are saying and why. I understand your exhaustion even in the midst of your knowing God’s goodness and love for you.
      I am 5+ yrs away from my abusive husband, 2+yrs divorced and in 2019 I will be 7 years from The Lord leading me to “discover” that what I was living with was covert abuse. I empathise 100%. The impact and far reaching effects of 30yrs subtle manipulations, deceit, lies and covert/sadistic abuse cannot even be described, as so many of us here know only too well. I can truthfully share that I (still) at times, feel and think as you do, about prayer, even now.
      I could “offer an explanation” in answer to your relevant and (heart felt) pertinent question, however, from my own arduous journey, I believe a word from my own experience and understanding of where God has brought me would be more fitting.
      I hope my words here will bring comfort and reassurance to you as you journey into healing and continue walking in the strength and Grace of Our Lord.
      Although your question was specific; I’m sure you do pray (still) because you “commune with God”. You speak to Him, daily, (constantly) in your heart, your thoughts and your ways (desire to please/be obedient/be faithful). I’m also certain you read His word (daily/regular)and respond to Him. Even asking /speaking/telling Him your heart’s (desires),your hurts and your joys. Continue, Continue, Continue.
      However,
      My thoughts now, are that you simply (learn to) rest in Him and love Him.
      Leave ” actual prayer” as we know it, alone… Seek Him and speak to Him, instead, simply for who He is, and for Who He is to you. (Learn to) rejoice, praise and worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
      Focus on developing your relationship “WITH HIM”. Let Him Love on you (more and more) as you learn how to love Him deeper. Draw near to Him, Sit at His feet. Lay your head on His breast and remain In Him. You will, in time, receive answers and blessings that you could not even think or imagine, at this point.

      My personal healing and forgiveness journey has taught me that ” unhealed pain” is likely the trigger for your question and your desire to see your prayers for your wife answered. (This does not negate your question nor is it intended to criticize your asking of it). Let the Lord show you and heal you as He loves on you.

      One thing I do believe (by faith) is that God will be answering your prayers, according to your good, His Glory and our Eternal perspective is the only perspective that can bring understanding of God’s Perfect Will in matters such as these. (When we don’t see a visible out working of God’s In workings). This is where trust and submitting to His ways becomes challenging. (Yet is a must).

      When I say “Let go and Let God”, I don’t want to offer you a Christian platitude or speak clichés into such an emotive question. Proverbs 3:5-6 and Romans 8 have been, without doubt, my trail blazing scriptures throughout these 7 years. The Holy Spirit will lead you to all truth Sheep, even with regards to your question… But, it will be over time and a process.

      My prayer for you is that God will empower and enrich you with blessings of wisdom and revelation as you continue your walk of faith and enter into His healing love.

      Much love

  2. Janice D on December 5, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    I so appreciate this post and the responses of Nancy and Sheep.Being able to articulate our struggles and journeys without shame or condemnation is a true gift.I have also prayed long and hard for my marriage to be healed.I have come to realize that free will is a good gift from a good God.I cannot compel my husband to change and I wouldn’t want to…He is free to live as he sees fit,and I am at peace with my decision to separate from him and his choices.We appear to have different values and priorities that are unacceptable to me as I believe they violate the foundation of Gods good design for marriage which is found in Genesis 2:24. I waited 26 years for him to “leave Father and mother and cleave to me so we could truly be one”.I cannot adequately articulate the hurt and pain this has caused me.I am focusing on providing a safe nurturing home for myself and leaving my marriage in Gods hands for now.My husband denies that he has any FOO issues and shows no desire to change.

    • sheep on December 5, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      Janice D,
      I’m sorry for what you have endured. It took a long time to get there, but I’m in the same place. I finally realize that I can “get” her to do the right thing, Nor do I want to make or convince her to change. That is her choice and I really don’t want to be married to someone that won’t choose right over wrong, nor will she choose me over all other.

      • Moon Beam on December 5, 2018 at 7:39 pm

        I see it as realizing we are not our spouse’s holy spirit. The job is already taken. We can kick back, relax and finally listen to what God is saying to us. Satan clouds our brain with the illusion that we have the power and responsibility to change people. We all know if God wants something changed, he will do it. He doesn’t need our nudging.

    • Aly on December 6, 2018 at 7:25 am

      Janice D,

      Your points are well said here and I’m very sorry for your loss but grateful for your freedom to make your choices About what you value and prioritize.
      You wrote:
      “We appear to have different values and priorities that are unacceptable to me…”

      This really can define where a relationship can end and I believe Janice it can be for the good and overall wellbeing of those who are His. We are not called to live (let alone stay married) to those that want to live opposite of Gods values and priorities. Certainly none of us do this in a perfect way, but it’s the posture that matters how we will walk.

      I want you to know I am so sorry for your pain through the Many Years that you have had.
      I hear your hurt & loss with being committed to your husband, desiring a marriage to be one, & yet experiencing his lack of commitment to the core places that make a marriage sacred.

      When you wrote that your husband denies having any FOO issues…. I paused because your right he has his heels dug in and even logically his statement (your words) is impossible to claim. We ALL have FOO issues, none of us come into adulthood without a childhood experience.
      This isn’t to say we all have FOO issues in a negative way, some can be positive also.

  3. Janice D on December 5, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Exactly,Sheep…”forsaking all others, cleave only to thee” This is the heart of marriage,and without it it is impossible to have an intimate relationship.Praying for continued healing for you and your children. Nancy,I have an 88 year old mom who is childish,stubborn and highly opinionated.I longed for a different mom for such a long time and allowed her approval to keep me “ hooked “. The Lord graciously opened my eyes to His truth regarding this.I have experienced a measure of peace and no longer wish for a different mom,and accept that she is living with her choices.I care about her wellbeing yet do not allow myself to react to her comments as I once did.I am so thankful to God for this. Both my mom and husband profess to being believers and yet there is so little fruit in their lives.

    • Autumn on December 6, 2018 at 7:32 am

      Janice, I was given this advice. Push her out to the far corner of your life. To me this meant do my minimum of duty but push, push, push the evil out of my world.

  4. JaniceD on December 6, 2018 at 6:16 am

    As for knowing how and what to pray for, how about Ps 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Asking God to change our desires so that they line up with his is similar to “ not my will,but thine”.Trusting that Gods perfect will is always best for us and his heart is that of a good,good Father is hard at times.We have so many desires that we believe to be good and pure,but at best our knowledge is incomplete. Moonbeam is absolutely correct,the focus needs to be on our growth and maturity as the Holy Spirit counsels,corrects,confronts,and comforts us.I am 64 years old and have a lot of growing and learning ahead of me… how wonderful that the Lord promises to finish the work He began in each of us!

  5. Janice D on December 6, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Thanks,Aly and Autumn for your thoughts and advice. I have sensed the Lord telling me to separate from all that is not of Him.Sadly, this includes how my husband functions in his life.He has no boundaries with his FOO and has in fact told me he would be fine with me having no boundaries with my mom and siblings because “ they’re family”. I have had to listen hard and lean into Gods truth as I was somewhat emeshed with my mom.I have a history of childhood sexual abuse (incest by my father) and this was a source of much pain and confusion in my life.God,in his great love and mercy,spoke into the darkness and lifted me out of the pit of chaos that the evil one meant for my destruction.I don’t know all the details of my husbands childhood as he didn’t share his heart with me in 26 years of marriage.I pray for his release from bondage(fear,obligation and guilt=FOG).As the song says” I’m no longer a slave to fear,I am a child of God”. My husband speaks “Christianese” but I’m not sure where his heart is with the Lord.He seems to think his priority is his mom who has dementia and lives with his sister.

    • Nancy on December 6, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      I can really relate to being enmeshed and having to lean into God’s word, Janice.

      Now that The Lord has brought us out of the enmeshment (with lots of counselling, on our part), we can clearly see that the idol in my FOO is that ‘mom should at the centre of every relationship’, and so any boundary will, by nature, exclude her and therefor be considered sinful.

      Because the entire family system revolves around this lie (it’s Jesus who should be at the centre of every relationship!), setting and establishing healthy boundaries with her is either harshly judged, or undermined by the whole system. it’s very destructive.

      • Aly on December 7, 2018 at 8:42 am

        Nancy,
        I’ve been in similar places. It’s hard and yes destructive. Glad you see the system and the system ‘lies’ that are told to remain a system. The system is what seems is the toxic identity or what has the identity crisis but everyone in the system must play their part. If you don’t, you threaten the fragile identity of the system.

        And yes! Jesus should be the center of the relationship.
        In my FOO, the system would want this to be a silent truth but no one could really speak of Jesus or share a personal experience of faith especially if there were certain individuals present at a gathering. Prayer was allowed in most homes before eating but the prayer was focused on our freedom in the country (which is imp) and was often overly patriotic and political rather things of Christ.

        • Nancy on December 7, 2018 at 2:15 pm

          Hi Aly,

          It seems as though it’s acceptable to have Jesus at arms length in your FOO – anything intimate gets you punished.

          Is that a correct interpretation?

          My husband met with my brother last evening ( my brother flew in for business and asked to meet with hm). My h laid it out clearly for my brother. He told it like it is. This was met with all kinds of out-of-control behaviour. When he came home he was exhausted but felt that he had stood his ground in truth and love.

          It was a blessing to not be involved. My brother is so messed up and his need for The Lord is coming to the surface. He has never experienced discipline in his life – he has used his anger to ‘get him to the top’ corporately. Now, he is desiring to create relationships and will do anything ( except say sorry, or take responsibility) to get what he wants. This leads to some pretty twisted thinking and actions!

          Last night confirmed we will not go for Christmas.

          Now that I feel completely protected, my heart breaks for my brother and I am sincerely praying for a heart transformation for him.

          • Aly on December 7, 2018 at 2:45 pm

            Nancy,
            Oh wow. I’m glad you were protected from the out of control behavior … and your husband gave such a space for you.

            I wonder if those that struggle admitting wrong, genuinely sat sorry for their behavior, and desire to take responsibility…
            Somehow feel some sort of inferiority in that step?

            And your interpretation is correct above also punished on a more ‘general level’ to…



          • Nancy on December 13, 2018 at 4:12 pm

            Aly,

            You wondered about “those that struggle to admit wrong….somehow feel some sort of inferiority in that step?”

            I know that in my FOO it was dangerous to take responsibility. When I did that, it was taken advantage of and exploited. I’ve always had a heart that wants to connect with people through vulnerability….and it’s taken me A LONG time to learn that this is a wonderful thing to do with Godly people but it is thoroughly self-harming to do with destructive individuals.

            My brother grew up in the same FOO where it was dangerous to take responsibility. He quickly learned to become a bully. So, yes, I think that in his mind to take responsibility is ‘inferior’ as you say…but maybe further, it is to make oneself vulnerable….In a household where there is no grace, it’s just dumb to make oneself vulnerable.

            I am praying that my h can stand firm in the truth while extending Grace to him.



          • Aly on December 13, 2018 at 8:52 pm

            Nancy,
            Thanks for your words and I can relate quite well with what you have described.

            For me, i would think vulnerability is an important aspect of an authentic relationship of value. Unfortunately your right many destructive individuals exploit it which can really disrupt development places I would think?? Maybe.

            I do think in these FOO’s there are those drastic behaviors between (bully and the person in the family that takes too much responsibility) trying to somehow cope with the chaos.

            I’m praying for you and the situation.



          • Nancy on December 16, 2018 at 2:12 pm

            Thank you for your prayers, Aly.

            Over the next couple of days we will sit with my mother to tell her our reason for not going.

            We know that we are risking doing this, but have decided that she deserves the truth in love.

            We made the decision before church and had it confirmed by a sermon this morning on the beatitude, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’.

            It’s time for us to walk toward her with grace and truth.

            Please continue praying.



    • Aly on December 7, 2018 at 8:29 am

      Oh Janice D!
      I’m so very sorry for what you experienced as a child! So thankful you have removed yourself from a husband who believes in no boundaries for an individual. Especially given what you went through. God is restoring and healing you and I love that you are focusing on your care.
      Hugs and prayers!

  6. Robin on December 6, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    In response to the writer of this recent post- who says she is struggling with Gods Goodness, I’d just like to say, we all do at some time. The important thing is – what now, how will we respond when our hope is diminished. I went thru a very nasty divorce with many power plays in an effort to destroy me. Three of my children became alienated from me due to their fathers narcissistic behaviors. And just when I was beginning to catch my breath and heal from it- my son was killed in a car accident.
    I went thru the most difficult pain I had ever experienced. I did lose hope. I did question where God was. I went thru a long time of just absolute quiet. Had nothing to say, and I just needed to sit and be still, till the Lord answered my desperate plea to hear Him clearly. I stopped everything in my life, and just waited……. I understand what it’s like to need to see Gods Goodness.
    That was 2 years ago. Today I am coming out of all that grief and am able to say God is the lifter of my head. I’m so very grateful today that He led me to a time of shutting myself up , and waiting for His Love and Goodness to return. Today I know their are no easy answers to the afflictions in life- but I know very intimately, God loves me very much, and every step He was holding my hand.

    • Maria on December 6, 2018 at 10:02 pm

      Robin, good to hear from you again, dear sister.

    • Aly on December 6, 2018 at 11:24 pm

      Robin,
      Wow, your words are truth and love!
      I’m am so sorry by what you have been through… hard for me to express.

      I love that you said such important things about who God is and how much He loves you! I’m so thankful when I read your words that you have not and will NOT be RObbed of His love for you!
      Sending virtual hugs 💜

  7. Janice D on December 6, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Robin,I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son.Thank you for honestly sharing your grief journey…the sweet truth of God’s loving presence during our darkest days is a precious treasure.What a testimony to Gods faithfulness in our deepest sorrow.

  8. Autumn on December 10, 2018 at 3:16 am

    Some of us who have had to live with narcissists have developed our own manipulative coping skills to survive. I think that coping skil can cross over to our prayer life and misconscrew our perspective. We can beg God to change evil into good. But why would we do that? He deals in love, justice, truth and righteousness. He has no part in evil. We just foolishly live with evil and then expect God to change the consequences of our actions.

    So, yes God is good all the time. His truth endures forever.

    • Gracie on December 10, 2018 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks, Robin. I needed to hear this today. I’ve been around here just reading for a bit, but struggling with how to deal with my situation. I believe we worship a God who wastes nothing, but you are so right that it’s wrong to let things continue to happen and keep praying that God will fix it. Prayer is amazing, but I have a responsibility in everything too to not let it continue. I tried to leave a couple months ago, but got such a horrible guilt trip from his family and pastor who convinced him that he needed to stay to work on things. He’s never owned that what he was doing was abusive and instead has screamed at me that I’m the abusive one. He’s been on good behavior since but I’m so scared for the next time he gets stressed and losses it. I truly appreciate your reminder that being “spiritual” and giving it to God isn’t honoring him. It’s so hard to stand firm when no one else believes what is going on, but the community here is so encouraging. Thanks.

      • Renee on December 18, 2018 at 8:15 am

        Yes Gracie, it is very hard! A female classmate from my husband’s past recently bumped into us. She went on and on about the great man I had married. I had the perfect husband.

        I could have responded harsh but choose not. I could have responded accurately, but I couldn’t as old hurts and some current came flooding.

        But now I know that my response should have been, “that the only man who works is perfect is God.”

        • Renee on December 18, 2018 at 8:30 am

          Spelling error- chose

          • Aly on December 18, 2018 at 9:33 am

            Renee,
            Good to hear from you! How are things going? If I remember, you were separating from your husband last…
            Is this correct?

            When discerning about broken destructive people versus flawed broken people, there is a difference.
            Perfect isn’t even in the equation as you know and I don’t think you were going there and maybe even the perso. You ran into…But many use that phrase in our language to describe ‘good’.

            Destructive individuals that lack taking responsibility for behavior -quickly shift the scenario to ‘not being perfect’. As if that was the original complaint in general.
            None of us are perfect nor are we attempting to be based on it’s impossible, let alone its flawed concept from a human perspective.

            Many victim/survivors are shamed for having a complaint and will often have a framework of tolerating more descriptive behavior because no-one is perfect and often are battled against for having a standard of how they would like to be considered or treated.

            Maybe some of you can relate and express this far better and simpler than myself but it was something that my mother, aunt etc ingrained in me early on to cope with tolerating bad behavior from individuals that get away with such chaos.



        • Nancy on December 18, 2018 at 3:18 pm

          This is a great answer to have on hand, Renee.

          It’s so important to speak realistically – to not allow our own ‘fairy tale’ thoughts, or someone elses’s ‘fairy tale’ talk to go unchallenged.

  9. Autumn on December 10, 2018 at 3:27 am

    Spelling error- misconstrued.

    No access to correct text until submitted.

    Have a great week everyone.
    Listened to Christine Louise de Cannonville this weekend. She is a psychologist working in the field of Narcissistic behavior with an emphasis on Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. Fascinating work, lectures and books, Google her. She hails from Ireland and knows her topic well.

  10. Renee on December 18, 2018 at 7:54 am

    Nancy says on December 16, 2018 at 1:50 pm [This is so honest, Renee! Thank you for sharing. Did The Lord bring you through that moment? Did He bring you a fresh perspective at all? I’m always curious to see how He operates…]

    Nancy, he absolutely did bring me through. I love that hymn, “I’m so glad trouble doesn’t last always.” He comforted me. The following week I felt an extreme inner peace.

    You know Nancy, he always gives us/me a fresh perspective, the hard part is submitting.

    God bless!

    I apologize for the late response, work.

    • Nancy on December 18, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      Praise God, Renee 🙂

  11. Chris on December 18, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    All raw emotion seems to float endlessly everywhere…and nowhere, but God hears and grieves with us. Silently… not controlling a person’s will, which is respectful and gives freedom…freedom to also continue sinning. That is the tragedy; most of these things can be reconciled and repaired and eventually, healed. If each person chooses to move in that direction…the avoidable pain of broken relationship because others’ choose not to take ownership often feels worse because it could have been prevented; it is purposeful. Very hard to spend Christmas (mostly) alone this year. Am deeply grieved and so lonely sometimes that the pain and loss is overwhelming to despair. There is no epidural for this labor of grief. The grey, cold days make it more difficult to feel uplifted. But seeing the birds busily gathering food and ice-encrusted fallen leaves and branches sparkle quietly and seem to say, “Silently, we lay as testimony to God’s creation. We were once an extension of the branch, but now are free to replenish the soil or help cover cold creatures when fashioned into a bed or home, or simply to be beautiful; as the ordinary is noticed in brilliant splendor and then afterward, becomes dull, it remains functional in God’s design. If the ordinary can be beautiful and useful in something as a leaf or acorn, how much more does God value you in your ordinary-ness and want to embody you and use you to replenish someone else or call attention to an area He crafted beauty in you, that never goes away? If only I could hold onto His promises…

    Feel prompted to search out an author’s books that helped me 20 yrs ago. Phillip Yancey. Never finished the book, “Disappointment with God”. also: “Pain, the gift Nobody Wants”, and “Where is God When it Hurts”. Struggling terribly and need to try something different to get through this dark, grey, bitingly cold and barren time of year.

    Also to Leslie’s sandollar reference, if you cut an apple width wise, instead of lengthwise from stem to bottom, you will see a “star” shape where the seeds are. Pretty.

    • Aly on December 18, 2018 at 9:16 pm

      Chris,
      I get you and feel like I SEE you. Hope you know you are not ever alone. I pray for God’s comfort for these days, I relate in deep grief at times and in those times I can’t help but feel I am better off with ‘feeling alone than surrounded by all the wrong people, even if those people I love and truly care for’.
      What you shared is so important and it blessed me, just want you to know.
      Thank you💜

      • chris on December 19, 2018 at 4:36 pm

        Aly,

        I felt prompted to write something and it just came out. (I dont usually write on blogs and have no social media.) Hope you find beauty and purpose in the ordinary-ness of daily life that He has crafted for you in this season.

  12. tholin on July 25, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    A God who only gives me suffer and pain is not a good God. He could at least alleviate some of it, but I believe he enjoys letting me suffer. What doesn’t break you, only makes you stronger, right?

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