Last week we talked about letting go of unrealistic hope. Letting go of that hope isn’t meant to leave you feeling bereft of options, but it’s to open your eyes to the options that are available to you. To help you stop knocking your head against doors you have no power to open.
I believe this whole topic of our expectations merits more conversation. All of us have expectations of ourselves, of others, of life, and even of God. When those expectations are not met, we can become disappointed, even despondent and angry that life, God, or other people aren’t coming through for us like we’d like or hoped they would (see my previous blog on discouragement).
Then what? What is our next step forward when those we hoped would care, don’t care as we need them to care? Or they don’t show up or step up to confront our destructive spouse or fix our marriage or provide support? Do we drown in our disappointment, anger, and helplessness, ….what might be possible if we, even in our disappointment, learn to rise up and discover new possibilities?
This week’s question: Who is there to go to when no family and the church did not help or listen; they said suffer :((((((((. The assistant pastor said it’s not his place to do anything. The pastor would have cared but they removed him. They even had a man who addresses addictions; still nothing was done. I had to leave there.
And the women were mean to me.
Now all those people are not there anymore, and a new young pastor is appointed. Do I risk going back and what should I say? What to do and nowhere to go?
I shouldn’t have to pay for support or friends or a Christian sister.
I just want to be happy and have never consented to abuse in any form, but I have nowhere to go.
Answer: I am so sorry that your family, friends, and church let you down. Many Christians have no idea on how to respond wisely to marriages that are destructive. In trying to be Biblically helpful they often provide simplistic answers to complicated problems which end up failing both individuals as well as the marriage.
I’m not sure what kind of help you are seeking but if you’re looking for someone experienced in domestic abuse, you can usually find free support groups from your local domestic violence group and their number is 1-800 799 SAFE.
You can also find some churches that provide low-cost or even free counseling and other support services, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be experienced or helpful with your particular problem.
Can I ask you a question? You present your situation as if your hope was that someone should have done something that would have fixed your husband/marriage? What exactly would that be? How could someone else – a pastor, counselor, friend, or relative make your husband do something or be someone he had no desire to be? Even God himself doesn’t make someone change or be who they have no heart or desire to become.
I agree your church could and should have been more helpful and supportive toward you, but again let me ask you what exactly would you have liked them to do? Sometimes we have expectations of others that are not possible or realistic for them to meet. No one can fix your life, your marriage, or make you happy. They can show care. They can provide wisdom and guidance. They can have a conversation with you over your options. They can pray with you and share God’s word with you. They can help you financially until you get on your feet. And all those things are of great help and support. But you are the only one who can take action steps towards the goals you have –such as getting safe, having good friends, and being happy.
You said you should not have to pay for a friend or a Christian sister and you’re right. But friends and sisters have their own lives, their own problems, and responsibilities to tend to. When you are in a crisis or in a chronically tough place, it may be hard for them to be as available as you need. Plus, they may not be equipped or may feel scared or overwhelmed with some of what’s going on with you. They may encourage you to get professional help, not because they don’t care but because they do care. Finding a good counselor or coach can be a necessary next step, but you still have your own work to do to get healthy and whole even if it was not your fault you got broken. [Tweet “There is nowhere you can “go” where you will be fixed, helped, or “taken care of” without you having to work on yourself.”]
For example. imagine you were hit by a car and broke both legs. Unfair. Unjust. Especially because the person who hit you, drove off and left you lying by the side of the road. You’re hurt, legs broken, and angry that this happened to you. Now what?
A bystander can demonstrate care for you and call an ambulance to take you to the hospital. The police can help and look for the person who did this, arrest them, and I hope they do. But whether they do or don’t, their actions will not fix your two broken legs. You still have to consent to and cooperate with your treatment. You still have to endure the pain of two broken legs. You still have to engage in physical therapy to help your legs regain their strength so you can walk in the future without a limp. The doctor can help you. The therapist can help you, but she can’t walk for you to rebuild your muscles and strengthen your legs, only you can do that.
I fear that sometimes when we are a legitimate victim and someone has damaged our soul, our spirit, and/or our body, we resist and resent the harsh reality that we still need to be responsible for our own healing. We rage inside with the injustice of it all. It’s not fair and it’s wrong that we are stuck with all this damage. And in a sense, it’s true, it’s not fair or just or right. But what are your alternatives? [Tweet “If you don’t do your work to heal, then you are the one who stays broken and damaged.”] Is that what you want? To live crippled because someone ran you over and broke your legs and you refused to take the responsibility for your healing because it wasn’t your fault or fair that your legs got broken?
Do you want to spend the next 12 months sick and angry that your husband or your pastor or church friends didn’t come through for you? Or… do you want to learn to come through for you and do what you need to do to get well? Friend, God loves you and wants you to be well. I’m truly sorry your friends and family let you down, but I hope you choose life and do what you can to get healthy and strong.
Friend, when and how have you turned that corner from being angry someone ruined your life to starting to make wise decisions to heal and fix your life?
PS: If you find yourself a chronic people pleaser you may be interested in our 6 week Moving Beyond People Pleasing Group Coaching program that starts in July. Check it out here
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Be sure to save your seat in our upcoming free training with Leslie on Tuesday, December 5th
Change Your Story, Change Your Life: Moving from Breakdown to Breakthrough
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