I hope you are taking a few minutes out each day for YOU. This is such a busy season, easy to over-give, over-spend, over-do and come into the New Year on empty. Believe me, been there, done that.
Throughout December I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s book Jesus the King. If you need a fresh look at Jesus, I highly recommend this book. In his chapter called The Healing, Keller writes:
The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus. Whether it’s to succeed in your chosen field or to have a certain relationship or even to get up and walk we’re saying, “If I have that, if I get my deepest wish, then everything will be okay.” You’re looking to that thing to save you from oblivion, from disillusionment, from mediocrity. You’ve made that wish into your savior. You never used that term of course but that’s what’s happening. And if you never quite get it, you’re angry, unhappy, and empty. But if you do get it, you ultimately feel more empty, more unhappy. You’ve distorted your deepest wish by trying to make it into your savior, and now that you finally have it, it’s turned on you.”
He goes on and writes, “You see, it wasn’t our deepest wish itself that was the problem, just as it wasn’t wrong for the paralytic to want to walk or for the celebrity to want to succeed or for Eustace to want to be loved and respected. The fact that we thought getting our deepest wish would heal us, would save us that was the problem. We had to let Jesus be our Savior.
Jesus is our Savior, not people, not things, not power, not status, not an improvement in our life circumstances. We know that, but we don’t always live like we know that. It takes an intentional effort to live in that reality
Today’s Question: My physical injuries have healed from people who’ve abused me, but the negative feelings are still there. What can I do to find deeper healing?
Answer: Emotional wounds can be much more damaging than physical wounds can be and usually heal very slowly. I’d highly recommend that you read the last section (Surviving It) of my book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship as well as How to Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong for specific steps that you can take for your emotional growth and healing. But let me share with you a meditation I’ve been pondering that will give you a good start.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the story of the women who had an issue of blood for 12 years. You know her; she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, hoping to be healed. But let’s look more closely at her story to understand how deeper healing takes place. (Read Mark 5 and Luke 8 for the story.)
Here is a woman who was an outcast. She was labeled an unclean woman, socially unacceptable, undesirable, and dirty. Jewish law mandated that if someone touched an unclean person, they would need to go through the Jewish purification ritual in order to regain their rights to enter the temple. She was an untouchable woman and people kept their distance. She had spent all her resources to find help, but she only got worse. This woman heard Jesus coming and thought to herself, “if only I can touch his cloak, I will be healed” ─ and to her surprise ─ she was.
Immediately she tried to escape the crowd unnoticed. Remember, she touched Jesus and according to Jewish law, that made him unclean. How embarrassed and scared she must have felt when Jesus turned and asked, “Who touched me?” If she identified herself then everyone would know what she had done.
Let’s step back for a moment and look at the larger story here. Jesus was heading to Jairus’ house. Jairus was a Jewish leader, a ruler of the synagogue. Yet he approached Jesus for help because his young daughter lay dying. Jairus was a daddy before he was a religious leader and so he fell at Jesus’ feet begging him to heal his daughter.
It was on the way to Jairus’ home with the crowd pressing on that Jesus stopped to ask who touched him. I wonder in that moment what Jairus thought and felt. Did he feel impatient, anxious for Jesus to hurry up and get to his house? His daddy’s heart wanted his daughter healed. I wonder if he also felt a bit angry at this woman for distracting Jesus and taking valuable time away from a more pressing need. I suspect he might have even felt angry that Jesus did not prioritize his daughter’s life threatening illness over this woman’s chronic bleeding problem.
Jarius was a person of influence and importance. He was a leader; he spoke and people listened. He risked everything to beg Jesus for help and now Jesus was wasting time asking who touched him while his daughter lay dying. Now Jesus himself was unclean too.
Do you ever feel like Jairus? God isn’t moving fast enough for your emergency? Angry and impatient that other people’s prayers are getting answered while you are still waiting?
Jairus was a daddy and wanted to see his daughter healed. But dear readers, one of the lessons of this story is that this unclean woman had a daddy too, and her daddy cared about her needs and he knew she had no one who begged for her healing. Jesus stopped and called her forth because he wanted her to know something very important. Listen to what he told her. He said, “Daughter, Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” He wanted her to know that her daddy (the Heavenly Father) saw her suffering and told Jesus to help her too.
Jesus wanted her to know that she mattered to God. Although her culture rejected her, God did not. Although she was judged to be unclean, Jesus declared her whole. He wanted her to know that she was a person of value and worth. Even in a pressured moment, Jesus took the time to have a conversation with a nameless women who felt unclean, unloved and unimportant. He wanted her to know who she was. She was a daughter and her Daddy loved and cared about her.
How about you? Perhaps your mother abused you. Your husband rejects you. People don’t understand you. You feel like an unclean women, damaged goods. If only you could touch his cloak, you’d be well. I have good news for you. Daughter, go in peace and be freed from your suffering. (Tweet this!)
God wants to help you. He wants you to know that you matter. You are important to him. He sees you and knows you and is never too busy with more important people to meet your very personal need. You are not nameless, or worthless, or hopeless. You have a daddy, he’s called Abba (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).
Knowing and believing that, is the beginning of your healing.
As for Jairus, Jesus didn’t forget about his concern although he probably felt that way once he got word that his daughter died. But Jesus turned to Jairus and said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” What did it take to walk those next miles home, heavy with sorrow yet clinging to faith? Perhaps that’s where you are right now. You feel hopeless or angry or disappointed. But Jairus trusted what Jesus said to him, and because he did, he got to see a miracle. Jesus took his precious daughter’s hand and said, “Honey, wake up.”
What is Jesus saying to you right now, even if the midst of sorrow, heartache, broken dreams and shattered promises? Can you trust what he is saying and continue to walk in faith? That is healing. He says to you and to me, “Honey, wake up”.
Friends, how have you experienced God’s healing touch in the midst of your emotional abuse?
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Leslie, that was beautiful and now I’m going to my physical therapy appointment with tear stained cheeks. What a blessed reminder that we are loved and that nothing can take that away from us; not abuse of any kind, not abandonment by those we trusted to care for our hearts and souls, not illness, not our financial situation, nothing can separate us from His love. God bless you in the new year! Thanks again!
Thanks Bonnie. I think it’s a gift when the reality of God’s love brings us to tears. I’m glad you felt it this morning.
I left my husband for 6mons because of emotional abuse. I had read.your book and I was receiving counseling in AZ while he was living here in NJ. He had been going to counseling too. He also admitted the abuse and apologized for it and of course promised it would stop. It did for several months but I could not warm up to him physically. He has been dealing with a lot of depression and he is a Narsissitic. Personality Disorder. During the past two months he has stopped counseling and he has become ectremely difficult to be arounf..He yells at me all the time. He is controlling and nasty. I am having a big problem trying to be the slightest bit affevtionate toward him. I don’t even want to kiss him and that makes him more angry. What can I do with him to try to bring back loving feelings into our relationship.
Pray for God to get through to him! He needs to experience healing. How can you feel loving toward someone treating you like you were the enemy? How can you feel loved and cared for when you are being yelled at? I don’t think it’s about what you can do to change him or feel love, I think it’s about him realizing he needs a change of heart. If his heart changes and he treats you in loving ways, it will be more natural to feel love for him. God can do miracles, but sometimes we don’t want to face truth and when you are not being loved it would be difficult to respond with feelings of affection.
It would not only be difficult to e cores affection and demonstration of love, it would be impossible. I went thru this for years. Until I watch Leslie’s videos that explain it so well. If he was treating your best friend like that would you expect her to respond with living behaviors?? No!!! We do reap what we sow. You are expecting the impossible of yourself. He is treating you like an enemy, and responding back as if he was treating you as a loving wife is not possible!! Stop expecting such nonsense from yourself!!!
For me emotional abuse has been from peers / women friends.
Later in life, I chased after Jesus expecting something to change. I was looking for this elusive “healing”, where I would just start feeling better about myself and the ones who hurt me etc.. But instead I felt like I could never be happy again, like I would have to just live a solemn life.
What I found that helped was listening to pastors who are heavy on grace. Those who preach that we ARE whole in Christ. I began realizing that I had a sort of “christian codependency” trying to perform to get God and others to like me and that I was abandoning myself and not taking care of myself to try to win acceptance. Stuffing my feelings, thinking they were wrong.
For me, I read “Emotionally Destructive Relationship” Book and that opened my eyes that I could really stand up for myself and make choices. I also like Danny Silk’s KYLO series about keeping your love on.
I found that loving myself and realizing how whole and complete I am in Christ has been the most transforming thing. After all, how can one have joy if they are not feeling good about themselves and are performing to try to receive something they already have. I felt hurt and rejected and it seemed that religion pointed at me as the problem and wanted to corral and limit me. I learned about what LOVE truly is. I think we don’t even fully get it and the stuff that people dish out to us so often isn’t it, but we don’t recognize it. Once we see the love Jesus gives and how people really aren’t capable of it, it resets our expectations. But I feel like when you truly understand that you aren’t limited, you now have a greater understanding and don’t take things so personally. You are “all that” in God’s eyes and people with their hurts and hang-ups will always mess up and do things they shouldn’t … we are all the same in a sense.
Then with all the condemnation and shame etc.. etc. off, then we can really enjoy life and relationships. We tap into the Love of God as our main source and enjoy the love if others happen to provide it, without needing it from them. It becomes more of a “nice to have”.
But all this after 4 years and I still think of the friend that rejected me with no closure and I still have flare ups of sadness about it. But overall I feel like I am in a much better place today.
Beautifully said. I learned a lot about myself and how I was codependent. Leslie’s emotionally destructive book was excellent for me. I had a few close friends and my hubby praying for healing. It was a long process and the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the truth..about God, myself and the abuse. The Spirit helped me see who HE says I am in Christ. He helped me believe who He is more and more and I became healthy. It was definitely a process not an event. Keep praying and believing God’s promises and cry out to Him constantly. The relationship has also not been reconciled. It’s sad but I’m ok because I have Christ and He is enough.
Thanks Jayne! Amen!
What is Danny Silks KYLO? Maybe that is something I should look into
Hi Sandy, Danny Silk has a book and a video series called Keep Your Love On that talks about the goal of a relationship and about being a powerful person by making good choices regardless of what the other person does.
Dora, that is exactly how I found my healing too. Seeing who I am through God’s eyes made all the difference in how I saw myself and others. Bless you.
Bless you too Leslie, Very thankful for you and this blog, it really helped me more so much when I was hurting.
Thank you, THANK YOU!!!! I really needed this today!!! I experienced just about every kind of abuse there is from my husband and when I reached out to my church for help, I was blamed, and when I did not back down, the only way I could describe how I was treated was that I was treated like a leper. So, I can relate very well to the woman feeling unclean, unwanted, outcast……. The words of Jesus through you are a healing balm!! Thank you for restoring hope! Thank you for being a vessel willing to be used by Him!! Blessings to you, Leslie!!!!
It makes me so mad how the church refuses to provide help, justice and healing for victims of abuse but becomes another source of abuse. I’m going to be having a guest write some blogs next year about her experience with the church. I want you all to know you are not alone and we need to band together and speak out and help other women who are suffering abuse not only at home but at church.
Amen!! Leslie, I’m buying your book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, and sending it to my pastor, anonymously! He’s a wonderful person, a very caring pastor…but he is “old school” and needs to realize that the church has damaged more women and families by the way they’ve allowed men, the “leaders in the home” to lord it over their wives and children!
I too am one of these women.
I am in an abusive marriage and was in an a church that saw my husband as a ‘nice guy’, always faithful, always loving, an awesome dad and a man that put up with a wife with issues.
My story is a long one and not over yet. The after affects of being spiritually abused and emotionally, verbally and mentally abused in my marriage is taking a long time to recover from. In fact I don’t think I’ve left first base.
I’m so numb I cannot feel any love from anyone and certainly not God. I am damaged and so wounded.
Thank you that there is hope when I feel I would be better of dead some days.
I can see the abuse so clearly but I’m stuck and cannot move. I can see its all about him.and his emotional and sexual needs. It’s not about me it’s about what I have to do to fulfill his needs and I cannot do it.
May God move mighty for me strengthening me to do His will
Loves6, keep reading about CORE strength. Keep telling yourself the truth. That’s what helped me at first. Do you think you would have the strength to implement a boundary?
When I implement boundaries things get ugly. I speak out at times and speak up but I get knocked down in a flash, my husband says to me I’m being a strong woman, hinting I’m not acting like a Christian. I will also says that I am my own person and can make that decision myself. He gets angry when I say that type of thing.
I have told him that I don’t know what the future holds for us and that I cannot live like this anymore. I guess none of what I’m saying is really a boundary.
I have tried boundaries but I fail miserably when it comes to implementing them
Loves6 What you have/are enduring is NOT of God!! It is wrong and grieves your Father in Heaven deeply! Don’t let what others have done to you chase you away from the very one who can heal you! It is WRONG what many Pastors are doing today!!! And women need to step up and speak out and stop it! We have been silenced by the church for to long!!
You are so right.
My husband has not protected me in my life. He could have spoken up and explained to our Pastor that I was going through a healing process of sexual abuse. He never did. My husband was way up there in the good guy role and wouldn’t have wanted to get in the bad books with the Pastor.
I live in a war zone. I am dealing with spiritual stuff everyday. I know that God is not grieved and I know He knows my suffering. As hard as it is to feel Gods love, I know He will deliver me as He has promised. I just get weary from the battle.
My husband is only the way he is with me and our younger children
God is grieved …. It was supposed to say
Your husband is selfish. Jesus said to love others as you love yourself. Jesus says it’s o.k. to take care of ourselves; something I tjhink you desperately need. You can do God’s will—start taking care of yourself; He will be pleased.
My husband has been and can be very selfish. I have made contact with a domestic abuse organization. I will need to get support from them. I am very fearful of the future
Thanks Leslie!! I look forward to hearing what she has to share! I found a new church and am beginning to experience something different. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for the pastor of this church–I drive 40 miles one way for church, but it is worth it!! Thank you also for creating this community for us and reminding us that we are not alone! I am really new at experiencing something different from church–I have only been going to the new one for about 2 months–but I am eager to see how God will grow me through this!
So glad. She’ll be writing something this week so look for it.
My husband was serving in ministry, and I was afraid to go to my church for help. I finally did, and have been so cared for and invested in. My church is my family and they stepped up above and beyond. God has been so faithful and generous with his blessing. I am so thankful for my church. I wish everyone could share my experience!
So good to hear of church’s and pastor’s protecting the innocent and holding the abuser accountable.
Thank you Leslie, I especially need this right now and I so appreciate you focusing on God’s love that we can go to as a whole healing plan. I am right now “in the thick of it” wondering if I will get past this period of trial into a period of healing. After months of focusin on CORE strength, sometimes reading it daily, I have stood up to my husband, presented to him his multitude of sins against me, gotten my children help through counseling, and right after christmas (unfortunate timing I know, but cirdumstances demanded it) and told him I was proceeding with divorce proceedings. He has had ample warning that this would be my next step. Thank goodness I re-read Leslie’s paper on manipulators the day I did it, because for four days I have withstood every tactic she outlined, and I had recognized it and said No, No More. We have yet to work out details of who lives where, but all that will come. My challenge now is avoiding my rescuing tendencies. He is in alot of pain, telling me he may not be OK. I am not responsible for his “ok-ness”. He is. I have so much admiration for all of you on this blog who have taken this step. Because it is agonizingly and gut-wrenchingly hard. I can believe how painful it is. And the unknown ahead is very scary-. I am re-building my career after 15 years as a SAHM and I make about 15,000 a year. I am going to have to keep pushing through, and I am feeling the pull of listening to his pain and thinking he means it and it will be ok. But I told him, if I stay, I know you won’t change. Thank you Leslie for these words of healing. They are very comforting. And I can really relate to the woman’s feelings of guilt and unworthiness. But I know that God wants me to be in charge of my own happiness even though it may mean pain to someone else. as they say about childbirth — it his pain with a purpose!
I am in a similar situation, not only did I leave my alcoholic and pot smoking husband, I’m fighting a battle with my kids biological father that has turned them all against me. I have not had visitation with my 14 yr old daughter for 3 months after I was baptized. I’m being called psycho by them. God keeps showing me to keep my head up and to keep fighting for my rights. I have struggled all my life with emotional abuse and it definitely has been a rough journey these past few months. Thank you.
Linda I hear this so often – the alienation of kids with these situations. I think one of the things that happens is our kids are so used to seeing the mom “bear it all” (cuz she wants to protect her kids and have a “family for them) that when she won’t or can’t or doesn’t anymore, they see her as the one who broke apart the family. That’s why it’s so important that we educate young women not to “bear it all” so that the burden for holding the marriage together or keeping it together at all costs isn’t placed on the wife’s shoulders.
Leslie, I could NOT agree more! This is just where I find myself today! What can we do??
Remedy, start with your picture of God – and when you see God is for you and not against you and loves you and hates your situation, then you will begin to sense his power and help in your healing. Start there – read the final section “Surviving it” in my book The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, for more help on that.
Leslie you said: “start with your picture of God”. Some of us struggle with an accurate picture of God due to family of origin or abusive husbands. Would you write a blog on a correct view of God. Sometimes reading scripture I hear God as being stern, mean, angry.
Leslie you said: “start with your picture of God”. You did give some idea of Him in your post, but some of us struggle with an accurate picture of God due to family of origin or abusive husbands. Would you write a blog that expounds on a correct view of God?
This is a really interesting view on why children may blame the victim for ending a destructive marriage, Leslie.
My youngest son (19) never blamed me for the divorce but his struggle for the past few years has been trying to have a relationship with his father and that finally came to an end a year ago when my ex showed his true colors and my son cut off all contact with him. And as sad as it is that my son cannot have a relationship with his dad, my son has become a completely different person in a good way since not having contact with him. My son is no longer moody and despondent; he and I laugh again and our relationship has become so much stronger.
As for my older son (23) he continues to this day to blame me for the breakup. The week before Christmas he laid into me because I was setting boundaries regarding his father and he blurted out how I had ruined his birthday and Christmas while growing up because all I did was fight with his dad, which is not true. I never spoke up whenever my ex would go at me over something, there were no words exchanged between us in front of the kids.
It breaks my heart to have this strain between me and my son but I have decided that it’s time to stop enabling him to treat me disrespectfully.
Yes, the more you allow it the more he thinks he’s justified for doing it.
I am a survivor of an emotionally abusive marriage for 24 years! And my former spouse is a Pastor. I cannot tell you all in a few words much pain I hav experienced… through the process of seperation I lost my church family (ex-husband is the pastor of it), my friends, my home, my 3 children, my financial stability… I lost everything. My ex-husband has used my children as tools of ‘ware-fare”. We were divorced in March of 2013, and he has already re-married. He brought a Chinese woman over from China and they were married before Christmas. Now she is living in the home with my children – and they only met her 2 days before the wedding!
My healing is coming…I’m in a God centered church in a church with a Pastor that is protecting me and helping me with resources of counseling, etc. I have been a Christian since I was a little girl and for the first time in my life I have really experienced the love of God!! I feel like the woman with the chronic bleeding problem. Ladies, hold fast to Christ! He LOVES you! Turn your eyes to Him, He will give you the strength to move forward!! It may seem like the pain never ends, it may seem like you take 2 steps forward then three steps backward. Keep pressing on! God will never leave your side. I know, He hasn’t left me!
I have returned to school to finish a Nursing degree so I can support myself. God has supplied the resources for me to do this.
Leslie, thank you for your Book – The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. It has ministered to me in ways words cannot express! Thank you for being a tool to speak up and out against emotional abuse. You are truly a messenger from God and I thank Him for you!
Lynn….you are NOT alone in this type of circumstance!! I know and feel your agony.
I will pray for you as you continue forward with this journey. It is not easy and perhaps one of the toughest things you will ever do, but with the Lord walking beside you everything will work out as it needs to and you will survive!
Thank you both. I am enduring a fourth day of begging and tears and him telling me how much he loves me and I can do this to the family. I really don’t know what to do.
You can lovingly say, “If you love me this much, than you have to do this (change) for the welfare of our family. I can’t fix this.”
Thank you, Leslie, I know you can’t answer every question here but maybe you could address this in a future blog post. Am I obligated to separate with a goal if reconciliation if my husband does show some willingness to work on himself? I could see telling him this is a separation for him to seek change and that might make the separation less painful, but the truth is, I don’t believe I have anything left in me that wants to reconcile. To what degree am I to honor the marriage and be willing to look for change that could lead to reconciliation? Maybe someone else could address this too. Your post here was about healing and I am ready to heal. I don’t see how the pain of waiting for change and the discernment it’s going to take to evaluate whether there is a true change of heart is good for me right now. I just want to heal.
I’ll tackle this question in a future blog post. I want to give it the attention it deserves.
How will she know he is really changing and it isn’t some empty promise or a fake start? He sounds like Mr. Crocodile tears; make you feel sorry long enough so they can get close to you to take another bite out of you.
I was wondering if there’s a response to Lynn M’s post from January 3, 2015.
It sounds like a similar position to my wife and I.
I want to change and, in time, be reconciled.
She wants me to change, but has no hope we could ever be reconciled.
Is it just more of the same old controlling behaviour for me to insist that we can and should be reconciled, in time, if radical changes are made?
The ‘Emotionally Destructive Marriage’ talks about what to do if there’s no change in the abuse, but I couldn’t find a lot about trying to reconcile if there is change, but the damage is so bad that divorce seems better than reconciliation.
James I did talk about what needs to be done if there is significant change happening. However reality says that sometimes trust is irrevocably broken when someone lies and lies and lies and lies. You no longer can tell even if he or she is telling the truth anymore and so moving forward seems impossible. I don’t think you’re in a position to insist on anything right now from your wife. She needs to see consistent change over the long haul – months, and perhaps years. If you’ve been doing destructive things for years, why would she think all of a sudden you can stop all those behaviors and be different? She will need to “see” it consistently acted out over a period of time. And, she may not want to see it at all. She may be done. That is the sad consequence of not hearing her thousands of pleas over the years of your marriage to get help and change.
Leslie, I appreciate so much your emphasis on Jesus and His healing. My situation is closely described by your post; however, I don’t feel like damaged goods. In fact, I feel that I have a healthier perspective on life and relationships than even some of my church leaders. I have done a great deal of research and learned much about abusive and manipulative relationships. In many ways I feel that I’ved learned and healed a great deal. I don’t think I know everything, but I do feel that I have learned some important things that can help others. I’m living in the heart of a Christian culture that is facing reproach for how they have counseled sexual abuse victims. Yet their response to the reproach is defensive, rather than that of humility and learning. When I share my situation with pastors at my church they are so busy trying to “fix” me that they don’t bother to find out the details of my situation or what I already know. I’m told I have to “submit” or “it doesn’t matter how people treat you when you have Jesus.” It’s like there’s no room for being human and having normal emotional responses to painful relationships. They preach obedience, but when members of the congregation offer feedback or correction they respond with “nobody’s perfect” or “your expectations are too high.” The leadership wants to do more outreach in the community, but don’t have the resources and knowledge to offer appropriate counsel to the congregation they have. My concern is that they have stuck to traditional (read that outdated) methods of counseling that aren’t helping people in their needs. This attitude is part of the prevailing culture of religion in these circles and is being stubbornly clung to. We’ve tried to leave this community but God hasn’t opened the door for us to do so. We’d like to make a difference, but I am starting to wonder if the leaders of this community are able to benefit from wisdom or if we are just “casting pearls before swine,” so to speak.
hello Leslie, I had the privilege of meeting you when you were in Florida this year. My husband and I attended your presentation on The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. Unfortunately, we have separated and Now the healing can begin for me. Just last night, I found myself in tears again and feeling so lost and heartbroken. Thank you for this wonderful post today, it was the message of hope at just the right time.
D I’m sure you would have preferred reconciliation but now you can begin healing and I’m glad. You will have days of tears but let them flow and let them go. Grieve and let go. Surrender it to the One who understands rejection and abuse.
Leslie, your whole post is so right on! I can attest to the fact that my Father has worked healing in my heart in exactly that way. He has spoken the truth to me about His perspective on me, His beloved royal daughter– His Princess. And He has given me opportunity to speak that truth out loud as well as walk in faith, trusting Him to take care of me. He has taken great pains to prove Himself trustworthy time and time again. I am not the same person I was 4 years ago!
Such good news Cyndy. Happy New Year everyone.
Another wonderful post and greatly needed message for those who are or have suffered emotional abuse.
I lived with emotional/verbal/mental/spiritual abuse for 20 years and I still deal with the effects of it to this day even though we have been divorced for 4 years.
The first step in my healing was to start seeing myself through God’s eyes and to do that I began reading through the Psalms after my ex walked out 6 years ago. I would actually tell myself that I am beautiful, smart, bright and capable — the exact opposite of what my ex had said to me all those years.
And whenever I would start the negative self-talk I’d stop and turn it around to be something positive — i.e., if I accidentally spilled a cup of coffee I would automatically blurt out, “you’re so clumsy or stupid!”, but I learned to say instead something like, “oops, how silly of me!”. I had to stop blaming myself for silly little accidents which my ex had done for so many years. And I had to stop calling myself all the negative names my ex used to and instead start believing the good about myself.
I saw the effects of emotional abuse on my two sons as well. They too for a long time would cal themselves stupid if they did something by accident and I would quietly tell them they are not stupid and to please stop using that word to describe themselves. It took a while, but they slowly stopped speaking of themselves in such a negative way.
It’s not easy to overcome the effects of emotional abuse, but it can be done by consciously making an effort to find our worth and identity in the Lord.
Thanks Amy, so true.
Thank you for the recommendation of your other book that I had not read. I bought it on Amazon Kindle and have started reading it it has amazing information thank you.
Thanks. Some people think that my newest book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage is just an update of The Emotionally destructive Relationship book but they are two different books – about similar topics but lots of different help and tools in both. I hate when new books just repeat older books so I try not to do that.
Dear Leslie, This is SO BEAUTIFUL! I am tucking this away in my heart!
I love this post, and the vision of Jesus halting what he was doing to stop and help someone “unimportant”. We DO matter to God, we DO have a heavenly father who sees us, and who we matter to. Thanks for the great reminder!
I loved that reminder too. Sometimes we feel “unimportant” and we might be to certain human beings, but never to God, never to Christ.
I have been waiting for this post. It seems like such a difficult issue. And I really don’t know the answer. I lived in a relationship for 32 years that verbally and emotionally abused me and my 4 children daily. Somedays I feel like we are healing. Other days I feel like we are not. For me, I entered into a serious relationship with my therapist. For two years I have met with her weekly. I know I am way down the road from where I began this process. I know that only the Lord can heal these kind of wounds. I have found it is a real struggle, and process that will take alot of time. Living 30 yrs with abuse, comes along with 30 years of bad memories. Although I choose to live in the present, and look towards the future the Lord is giving me, I have so many memories all the time that seem to haunt me. Journalling has been a true help for me and probably my best friend. I read alot, as its helpful for me to hear others journeys and stories. It helps me to heal, to know I am not alone. One thing I strongly pursue– is working diligently at going towards my new life. I choose to not have any contact with my destructive husband. I choose to attend a church an hour away, and spend much of my free time in a town other than the one I live in. I need new memories. New dreams. New opportunities. Its necessary for me to go away from the places where I have those old memories. I spend oodles of time listening to Worship Music, pour over my soul; reminding me how much God loves me and has a plan for my life. I only mingle with those who desire to build me up. Its important for me, to be with solid people who help me to believe and trust in people again. I appreciated this post. It is a good reminder how significant God see’s each one of us. Its not an easy road- but it is one- that is possible as the Lord walks alongside us, cheering us on to greater health and trust in Him alone. He has my plan . I must follow Him.
Robin, healing from emotional wounds does take time and as all serious injuries, scars remain. Yet, sometimes it’s our scars that God uses to reach others with his truth. Keep moving forward.
Thank you Leslie. I read your words everyday, and they give me strength, hope for better tomorrows, and encouragement.
Than you Leslie so much! I am in tears. God bless you for bringing him closer to us.
Leslie, thank you. I so apappreciate your thoughts on how the church ends up becoming abusive to victims. My husband and I had to end contact with relatives who had started attending our church home. Instead of receiving support, we had to leave. Now that we have relocated, we have received word from trusted sources that the relatives are actively trying to find out where we worship now, so they can show up at church and create more upheaval. Thankfully I believe God had put us in a place where we will have support, should they eventually discover where we attend. It’s so disheartening that Christians are so easily duped bt deceptive abusers, but facts are facts. Thank you for being a voice for those of us who have experienced this very painful form of abuse.
It’s so amazing that the church refuses to believe the reality of “evil” in people. These are not just good-willed people who mess up or don’t know better, there are people who intend to do harm, to cause division, who rejoice in seeing others suffer and think nothing of lying straight to your face. Yet, church’s have a very hard time recognizing the wolves among the sheep.
Thank you all for your posts! They are an encouragement to me! I suffered for 22 yrs in an abusive marriage to a high- functioning mentally- ill addict. Several times I brought him to account. He would feign repentance, fool counselors, and lie to all involved- including himself. Each time, I was led to believe progress was being made and would stay with the hope of keeping a marriage together. I did not realize the full cost to myself or my children. I wanted to honor God, but realized that even Jesus wiped the dust from his feet when dealing with people who exhibit those patterns. After reading The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, I recognized that I never had a place to start- there was no safety! Leslie, thank you for for being willing to speak the truth in love and extending hope to those with the living word of our Lord!!
Your so welcome. Thanks for your encouragement.
I just want to encourage you! It takes time to heal. It’s lots of work but so worth it. Just sending you a hug and prayers of encouragement.
[…] By Leslie Vernick […]
For many of us seeing God as loving is difficult. God has been working on showing me his love and helping me to understand what love is and that he is loving. I come from an abusive childhood and marriage and it’s very difficult to see God as “Father” as good when my childhood experience of father was not good! Reading how God wiped out people groups in the Bible doesn’t help either. Understanding God is a work of his spirit with our cooperation. I believe it takes a healing process for us to see God the Father differently that our earthly father when they were abusive. Or for us in abusive relationships seeing God as a loving authority very difficult. BUT I believe God can heal and change our hearts and helps us know his awesome love. I believe it’s a work in progress. It takes time to heal. Just my two cents from what I’m walking through with God now.
Thank you for this! Absolutely beautiful post! Touched deeply. I so have felt that way of late … Something I have always thought was wonderful, we attended a Messianic congregation for a bit, apparently we tend to think of the hem of his robe as the bottom, the dirty part near the floor/ground and it may well have been, OR it may have been the tassels on his prayer shawl and if that’s the case then she wasn’t only asking for healing but publicly declaring she believed he was Messiah as well.
Thank you so much for this quick and truth-in-love response.
I wish I’d read and heeded your book years ago.
Clinging to Christ,
Never too late to change. Now is the time.
[…] By Leslie Vernick […]