I hope you joined my 7 Day Challenge of Moving Beyond ….. So far we talked about moving beyond our negative thinking, moving beyond overwhelm, our fear of failure, bad moods, unrealistic expectations and finally, our last challenge for today (Wednesday) is moving beyond people pleasing.
If you missed this challenge you can go back to my FB Fan Page – Leslie Vernick – Enriching Relationship That Matters Most and read through the tips that will help you with these particular challenges. For those who would like to go to the next level, I have an updated class coming up called Moving Beyond People Pleasing.
If you are a chronic people pleaser who is tired of always saying yes when you should or want to say no, this class is for you. If you want to listen to my own struggle saying no to a friend click here .
This week’s question goes right along with this theme of pleasing, pretending and placating with her unrepentant spouse.
Question: I am so exhausted from two unsuccessful years of couples counseling (two therapists with one year each, and a husband that quits when they focused on him). I just don't have the strength to become the peacemaker.
I have been a peacekeeper for about three years now, and probably a number of years earlier too. What do you suggest? I don't have the strength anymore. I am 62 years old.
Background: I have been in a declining marriage for the past 20 years. I would describe it as emotionally and sometimes verbally abusive. After a lot of work and study, I know that the root problem is that my husband, also a pastor, used to be a practicing homosexual who “gave it up for God.” The problem is that he didn't become a heterosexual. He is in denial. It took me becoming a student of my husband to learn many things, and it took a lot of study to understand the root: idolatry. He is a Mama's boy (mutual pedestals), most likely a victim of childhood sexual abuse (highly buried) and a narcissist who needs over-the-top approval/worship from me and anyone else. One therapist told me after my husband quit and he became my therapist alone, that my husband is “brittle.”
The second “therapist,” who was actually not a psychologist but an M.Div, said that my husband clearly has psycho-sexual problems. I didn't figure out the idolatry-homosexual aspect, my epiphany, until December 2014.
Answer: I don’t hear a specific question from you other than perhaps, “Do I have permission to stop being a peacekeeper?”
You also say that you don’t have the strength to enter into becoming a true biblical peacemaker, so I think it would be helpful to first explain how I define the difference.
God calls us to be Biblical peacemakers – in other words, being willing to enter into conflict and address issues head on in order to bring about a peaceful resolution to a problem or reconciliation to a relationship (See Matthew 5:9, Matthew 18:14-17; 2 Corinthians 5:11-24). We are to initiate this action (Matthew 5:23). However, our efforts don’t always lead to true reconciliation or peace. Sometimes there is still brokenness but Paul tells us, “As much as it depends on you, be at peace” (Romans 12:18). This Biblical word for peace is shalom which means harmony, wholeness, and tranquility. Shalom peace is not a fake, pretend everything is fine, type of peace.
But it sounds like you have used up all your energy trying to be the peacekeeper, which has drained you and dried you up. In contrast to a Biblical peacemaker, a peacekeeper avoids conflict. Instead, she attempts to keep the peace by pretending things are fine or resolved when they are not. A peacekeeper has to be a good faker, but inside her body and spirit, she is at war because she knows that the peace is not real. That is why you are so burnt out.
If you want to stop, then it’s time for you to lay it all out on the table. In a kind, yet firm way, you need to say to your spouse something like:
“Our counseling has not gotten us to any semblance of Biblical peace. As soon as the counselors confront you with anything, you don't want to go back. Our marriage is in shambles and has been for years, even though you are a pastor. I am done pretending our marriage is stable so that your image doesn’t tarnish. Our relationship is broken and I can’t act like we are fine when we are not fine.”
You may want to add a few more things to that statement that reflects where you are at such as “I’m going to start my own personal counseling so that I can get stronger and recover from what pretending our whole marriage has done to my soul and spirit.” Or, “I will no longer attend joint counseling with you but I hope you continue to go so that you can work on the things that have hindered our marriage and your ministry.” Or, “I have no idea what is going to happen but my next step is ____________________.
I understand this is going to rock your world and his. It feels easier to continue to hunker down and pretend and placate. But where has that gotten you? You know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results.
You are 62 years old. You may easily live another 20 years. How do you want those years to be different for you even if they are not different for your marriage? What changes do you need to make to build or rebuild your own life, facing the truth that your husband is incapable or unwilling to do the work he needs to do to heal his own hurts and face his own sin?
These are tough questions with no easy answers but the alternative isn’t rosy either. You are at a crossroads. You must either move through the pain of change or live with the pain of regret. – Click To Tweet
Only you can decide that, but I highly encourage you to find a group of women who you can be honest with about your situation. I know this is very tough as a pastor’s wife, but if you are no longer hiding or covering up for his image as the pastor, that may give you more freedom to get the support you need. I don’t mean that you spew all his dirty laundry for the world to see. That would be cruel. But I do think you can state the simple truth. “My husband and I have been in counseling for two years with no progress and I have lost hope that he’s willing to look at himself or change.” Period. No more details. But now you have stopped covering up, pretending or enabling. Now perhaps you will have more energy for doing your own work instead of continuing to prod him to do his.
Friend: When did you learn to stop pretending and how did you move through the fear of rocking the boat?
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Today I am in sunny California. I just finished a wonderful retreat with ladies at First Covenant Church in Sacramento and then flew down here to Burbank to see my new granddaughter again for a week. My sister and I had the opportunity to meet and fellowship with some relatives from my mother’s side that…
Men Are Also Victims Of Emotional Abuse
Morning Friends, Thanks for your prayers this weekend. They were much needed and appreciated. My time at Wheaton College was well received and the staff that attended were open to looking at the mistakes people helpers make when working with individuals and couples in destructive relationships. While I was speaking at Loving Well Marriage Weekend…
Thank you for this, Leslie.
But I have a clarifying question: you said, “I don’t mean that you spew his dirty laundry for all the world yo see. That would be cruel…”
In my case, I felt the need to reveal exactly what I was dealing with/peacekeeping/enabling for over 30 years of marriage with a pastor. I really felt the need to go into a lot of detail about the behaviors (lying, manipulating, selfishness, verbal and emotional abuse, etc,) as his “home self” was well hidden in public.
Repeatedly confronting my husband did no good. And for years he flat out refused to go to counseling or permit me to. Eventually I reached out to his best friend and told him everything. A gentle and then stern reproof by one and then two of my husband’s closest friends got nowhere. So I approached those who had a semblance of authority over him, and that exposure and confrontation meant little. I feel my conscience is clear to “tell it to the church,” as he refuses to repent. (Mild behavior changes, no radical change in attitude or actions.)
To me, gradually greater exposing is consistent with Matthew 18 and also this passage from Eph.5:
8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
When a person walks in great hypocrisy, (especially a pastor!) and he does not respond appropriately to private rebuke, I wonder if exposure isn’t indeed a healthy next step.
So I am wondering if you might speak to when it is and isn’t appropriate to expose in this way.
Thank you for your work that benefits all of us so much. And for dialogue get with us in the space. Praying for you!
Thank you so much for this very biblical reply. These have been my verses (Matthew 18 and Eph 5) and others because of the pain of the reality that without such confrontation at the church and community level my husbands pain deep down is too great to face. Jesus says there in Matthew 18 that this is how we go after the one lost sheep that He would leave the 99 to go after the one! (in this case my one, my husband!)
Ive been so frustrated asking and trying to get people to confront at the church level unfortunately the pastor and elders of my church are also using porn and I was thrown under the bus by them as well. If we confonted at the church level more often and supported women to do so Iam convinced we would have far less domestic violence inside and even outside the church as the sin within our men (and women) would know it will be exposed. And in that I hope readers of this post know I mean exposed in the MOST loving and MOST kind and MOST gentel way possible as I Love my husband very dearly and the men of my church who have done very wicked and destructive things. But I know it is the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance and it is the Truth spoken in Love that is needed for these confrontations.
Thank you again T.L. I agree very much and our body needs more brave and biblical truth based women like yourself. Thank you for giving my heart hope this morning.
I really appreciate the reply to a tough situation. And at this time of life , dealing with these issues are.very challenging.
The wonderful thing about being a child of God is that true peace comes from our relationship with Christ, irrespective of how the devil tries to destroy it through our closest worldly relationships. May the peace of Christ give you strength through these years, and please keep the faith. You don’t have to condone behaviors, but with Christ’ Spirit, you may be able to handle the thorn in the flesh. Please be the loving accepting (of the person – not sins) spouse here. God bless!
Likening a spouse who will not look in the mirror, and take responsibility for his own growth, to Paul’s thorn in the flesh is very similar to the teaching that enduring abuse is part of ‘taking up one’s cross’.
If we see a loved who refuses growth as a part of our own lot in life, we will continue to enable their sinful behaviour because deep down we believe that we are responsible for them.
Growth is each individual’s God given responsibility. When we do not require growth of our loved ones, we are not being loving. When we do not draw clear lines between ‘what is my responsibility’ and ‘what is yours’, we are not being loving.
If we cannot keep our heart in-tact in the presence of our loved one, it is our responsibility to draw and keep the appropriate boundaries, that will guard our heart ( prov4:23). This can end up leading to separation – a spouses greatest chance at ‘waking up’.
Our first responsibility is to The Lord, in keeping His vessel in-tact. It is foolishness to think that our relationship with Christ, devoid of the application of His teachings, will enable us to be loving.
There is no need for anyone to continue subjecting themselves to harm while they pray for God to reach their spouse. In fact, witnessing the self-respecting ACTIONS of no longer tolerating mistreatment of their personhood, may be the most loving thing a person could do for their spouse.
Missing a word:
‘If we see a loved ONE who refuses growth…’
Henry, tell me if I’m wrong, but I am thinking that you are the same Henry who posted several weeks ago about having a wife diagnosed with borderline personality disorder? The ladies here gave you compassionate and excellent counsel.
Have you read the Cloud and Townsend books on boundaries?
Henry I am sorry for how your wife is hurting you. You obviously love her very much. Just remember there has never been a person who walked this earth that loved more perfectly than Jesus and even JESUS, after warnings, let Judas go.
All those years spent with Jesus. Judas SAW blind eyes opened. He saw lame men leaping and dancing for God. He heard the deaf sing praises to God. Yet Judas still didn’t reciprocate love.
Henry, Jesus let him go. I’m not saying you have to let her go NOW, but do NOT to locked into the mindset that you’re stuck as her caregiver forever. God IS NOT A SADIST. I do not agree with people who say: “God gave us marriage to make us Holy NOT happy” bc they us that as an excuse to keep people in miserable, abusive marriages. God gave Adam a wife for companionship NOT someone to beat him up. If God intended for marriage to be some miserable training program then He would have never instructed for us to marry other believers. So if I want my daughter to learn (‘suffer’) I would point her to look for a potential husband from the guys who flunked out of the drug rehab program🤔. Dumb.
Another thing- if down deep, you really want to be free from her, but you’re too guilty to admit it, and let that guilt GO. Any sane person would want to be away from a mean, evil, abusive person – even if that person is the mother of their children.
Henry, you need to get into counseling where GRACE is emphasized so that you can get rid of condemnation. How can I recognize someone weighed down with condemnation? BC my abusive H likes to heap it on me too 😔
A marriage in which only one of the parties is doing all the work (emotional, physical etc) is disfunctiontional. Even friendship involves two people. There may be times when one party is carrying more of the load for a period of time, but if over the long haul both are not contributing to the relationship, there will be a power imbalance and the relationship will turn toxic. The weaker person in the relationship holds the power. Relationships with people with personality disorders are one sided. They usually don’t want to put in the work that the relationship requires, but want to reap the benefits of a good relationship. When we decide to help another person,expecting nothing in return, that is called ministry, not marriage or friendship.
“When we decide to help another person, expecting nothing in return that is called ministry, not marriage or friendship.”
This says it all!
And yes, there will be times when I minister to my husband or my friend, but then there are times when I will be ministered to, by them. Here, there is mutuality.
Like you said, if it’s consistently one-sided, there will be power imbalance and toxicity. In these cases, we are called to walk in Truth, not pretend it something it is not.
Different Henry. Sorry haven’t posted for over a year. Still follow Leslie …. But not really the threads. This one I did.
Friend: When did you learn to stop pretending and how did you move through the fear of rocking the boat?
I stopped pretending when the rocking boat threw me into the water and I refused to get back in. The cold, deep sea of reality required I either choose to crawl back into the continuously rocking boat named “USS Destructive Marriage” or swim for shore. Honestly, I would have continued to try steadying the boat forever if not for a significant and tragic family event that jolted me into reality. Family, friends, co-workers and church continue to throw life preservers as I swim, while my ex tries to drown me with his endless waves of hostility, bitterness, blame, and slanderous talk. God is faithful and just, and He strengthens me daily as I work through my fears. “You must either move through the pain of change or live with the pain of regret”, I love this, so true, we must pick our pain, one leads to forward toward growth, the other leads back to an unchangeable past. Choose wisely and grow.
I love this word picture!
Jocelyn- thank you for your comments here. At this time I am going through too much heartache-pain to say much more than thank you.
Susan, I can so relate to your comment. Three months ago, I was right where you are. I am eight months into separation. I have just started to have the strength and emotional energy to type comments again and email some friends I met online a couple of years ago.
Hang in there, sister. God is holding you tight and it really is true, the pain will lessen. I didn’t believe it when people would tell me that in the midst of it, but it is true.
For now, I pray and know that God will hold you very close in this painful time. He will sustain you and uphold you. Rest in His loving arms and don’t be ashamed of your tears and hurt. Give it all to Him.
Know you are loved and many of us here hurt with you.
Oh Susan, I pray that God envelops you with his loving arms and carries you. He will give you the next breath, and hold your hand for the next step. The pain can be crippling, but our God is a healer of the deepest of wounds. Ps 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, and he delivers those whose spirit has been crushed.
My need to please the church body around me was so important. I knew that to let go of all responsibilities and allow Christ to become everything was going to show everyone I somehow failed. But when I finally let go of everything and got help for myself everything changed!!! Fast forward one year and I am a different woman. I know how to give love and receive love. I have the healing in my soul and the identity in Christ that is beautiful!! I no longer need anything but a close and intimate walk one day at a time with Jesus. I let Him decide for me and I am safe. I no longer make choices because I must,I make them patiently with prayer and I am blessed. Jesus will work a miracle one day at a time if you allow him the quiet time to speak to you. Nothing in my life has been more rewarding than this year of seeking Him. It takes much patience, hard work, and consistency every day. But it lasts a lifetime and peace is priceless. I agree with Leslie, jump out of the boat and take the next 20 years chasing after the peace that passes all understanding.
Wow, Wendy! How wonderful for you to have reached that place of peace and wholeness. I’m sure it was hard work, but you got there. Praise Him for His mercy and grace!!
Re: covering up, pretending, enabling
“Friend: When did you learn to stop pretending and how did you move through the fear of rocking the boat?” . . . .I don’t know if I ever fully do, especially live and in person. Behind the firewall of this blog (—for example), I sometimes can stop pretending, stop covering, stop enabling by telling the truth as clearly as I know how. In-person, even sometimes at home, I so fear loss of connection that only rarely can I stand my ground. . . .Everyone knows that letting cats out of bags is a lot easier than putting them back in. —Sometimes you can never get them back in and so we fear loss of connection.
Re: “. . . After a lot of work and study, I know that the root problem is that my husband, also a pastor, used to be a practicing homosexual who “gave it up for God. . . . He is a Mama’s boy. . . needs over-the-top approval/worship from me and anyone else.” . . . .Well, no easy answers there. What can be said? —Horrible, just horrible and so sad. But I think you always have to go for the truth even if it sends everything crashing down. The truth is a two-edged sword that radically deconstructs power structures. At first that seems useful, —very helpful, but then the truth starts burning just everything in its path. Truth is what can stand up to ANY level of questioning. All truth is safe, but nothing else is safe. It will not endure, it leaves no positive legacy. It will fall apart with time because it was not the truth. Anyone who keeps back the truth, withholding it based on ignorance or motives of expediency (—to increase faith) seems a criminal to Christianity. The magical thinking that prayer and commitment to God cures homosexuality and/or narcissism looks like, (Re: Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, Volume 2 and Cognitive Errors of Reparative Therapists) . . . well, it looks like from the peer reviewed research like unsubstantiated false hope. What I can’t equally fathom is the 11% long-term homosexual relationships between rams, sheep, etc. (re:Homosexual Behaviour in Animals: An Evolutionary Perspective).
Re: “a husband that quits when they focused on him” . . . .That is so sad. . . .But, if you can do it, there is comfort in knowing that you don’t have to pretend anymore, that you are going to do everything within your power to heal you. Where is your seeker? Where is the person who is supposed to come and find you. . . .make you trust them, make you comfortable, make you feel whole? Some people rot on the spot, waiting for the seeker that never comes. The most important truth may be, if you are waiting, that the seeker is you. One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself. Christ’s answer for “I can’t live this way anymore” is basically, “Good! Don’t live that way anymore.”
Quote: “You are at a crossroads. You must either move through the pain of change or live with the pain of regret. ”
Wow, I think that was written JUST FOR ME. It couldn’t have been more timely.
I found myself at that crossroad and I knew that as the seeker I would be alone. No one can seek for you that is very true. When we seek the truth like hidden treasure, and we find the love of the Lord that is very beautiful. I also had to find my true identity which meant looking at the truth of why I made a lot of decisions that were bad for me. How I was codependent and people pleasing for most of my life. I had to face many wounds within my soul. I had to face who I really was and how I had faked Christianity. I did not mean to be a fake in my Christianity. I truly did believe that I loved the Lord. However, I was not receiving his love. I could not receive love really from anyone. It was very hard for me to receive gifts from other people. It was very hard for me to receive help from anyone. I would rarely ask anyone’s opinion concerning my own troubles. Life has taught me to not trust so I believed I was leaning on God for everything. When I fell apart and jumped into the water all alone trusting my life to be saved from my own fears, pain, and betrayal. I knew I needed Christ Jesus to show me the truth. I begin to get books on soul healing and life wounds. I had a devotional time every morning without fail. I have many journals filled with sorrowful moments when I realized some of the wrong choices I made mostly in my relationship with Jesus Christ. Beth Moore’s Bible study entitled, Breaking Free, was a very big eye-opener for me. The powerful healing work the work that Jesus christ came to do, which was to heal my wounds and to set me free. He began this work in me. I really don’t even have words to express other than, what I hold in my hands now is the truth about who Jesus is. Once I allowed the truth of how he came for me, to sink in, and I allowed him to love me, and I excepted that love, forgiveness and healing, everything begin to change. I have no reason to trust according to the world. But I now have complete freedom to be totally loved, vulnerable and protected by the powerful work of the cross. We are so afraid of the truth for we know in our hearts we will lose something. I lost almost everything I had in my life other than my daughter and my grandson. I now have a completely brand-new life and when I look at women who are hurting I touch them and I tell them from a heart that truly believes Jesus Christ can and will and is totally faithful to heal every single wound and set you free. Yes, this requires our devotion and our time and our pain. However, the master that I was serving required almost my physical life. The father I now serve fills me to live a life authentically loved.
What a beautiful testimony, Wendy. thanks for sharing. When you touch others with the love of Christ, that ministers healing to them. How very true and real He is!
I can so relate to your testimony that you were unable to receive.
This year in studying the Gospel of John the verse that stuck out was Jesus saying to his disciples (John 6):
“Your work is this; to believe in the one The Lord has sent”
Belief is a WORK. It is an ACTION. Hmmmm…so what does this ACTION involve? The notes we got the following week said, ‘to believe is to RECIEVE’ then gave the imagery of us opening our hands to receive.
I had closed down to the ‘good’ things. To Gifts, to love, to Christ himself.
It is hard to open up, when trust is not there. This requires deep healing work.
I just remembered something an old minister said to me recently, “you know Nancy, a relationship with Christ is a two-way thing.”
He saw that I was all about loving Jesus.
Thank you Nancy, this work is so new and fresh to my heart. I stayed with my parents for about eight months in order to heal. I then heard God’s call to come to the city. I had no job no home no church and very few things. I packed my things into my dad’s truck and told him where to take me. I stayed with my daughter for two weeks then God put life together for me. I received a job, home, and a church two blocks from where my home is. I received all of this in a matter of about two weeks. My dad offered me a gift of education and it was very hard for me to except. I struggled with the thought of going back to school because it was not in my plan or how I saw myself. I saw myself as a married woman as a pillar in the church, I lead Bible studies. God sees me as the finished work. So today I sign up for classes to go back to school. Today I take another step trusting that God will give me the strength and ability to do and except what he’s trying to give me in my life. Also the church just on the other side of me begins classes on emotional healthy spirituality this summer. I must rejoice as it has been a very hard journey yet so rewarding.
I read this morning in first Peter 2:25 but now we have returned to the shepherd and overseer of your souls.
What a beautiful picture of abundance. All those physical changes happened in two weeks, but the preparation to receive it all, I would imagine, was the healing of those 8 months.
I am on week 3 of the emotionally healthy spirituality course. It is wonderful. Over the past year, 3 separate people have recommended it to me and it became clear that God was calling me to do it. So I asked two very safe women, and we are walking through it together.
What a blessing 🙂
Well done, Wendy!! It reminds me of Abraham, going out of his country in response to God’s leading, not knowing where, but trusting. With your hand in Jesus’ loving hand, you will be fine. Take courage! He is leading and He will take care of you.
That is wonderful I look forward to the class!
Yes the 8 months we’re allowing Jesus to truly take a look at me. I tried to just deal with all that life put on me, and I put on me. I asked that I be shown every lie about everything that I was believing. I began a course of forgiveness for myself and mercy for myself from Jesus that led to an outpouring of mercy and forgiveness for others. I had to let so much go. So many things I wanted to say and I wanted people to know about me. But God knew what He was doing by keeping me quiet and healing. My voice now is so different and I have real and meaningful things to say when and if I ever get to share with those in my past church my testimony. I’m so thankful for this sight and all your encouragement. God bless you Nancy and I look forward to hearing more about the class!
As I was sitting in the college office signing up for classes they mentioned to me that I may need to contact my ex-husband for some information. The whole room got very small my emotions literally froze and what I can only think of to be fear. It emotionally drained me to the point I had to explain myself. This is not even near the woman that God tells me I am. I am so strong and wise and loving. That feeling that over took me came from years of abuse and miss trust. I am so glad that I took the time to find me, to find my identity in Jesus Christ. No matter what the battle there is only One answer. If someone is mistreating you and causing you fear and stealing the very identity and power that Jesus Christ died to give you things must change! When God created us he created us in his image male and female to rule together. Submission comes as we submit first to Jesus Christ. I am so thankful I took the time to submit to him first finally. Everything else in life then falls into place and makes more sense. It is not easy and I barely even believed it at first. I was angry and hurt I wanted to fight back. But I knew everything that I had done up to that point only brought me more pain. I needed to change my direction. I needed to fully and totally surrender to the work of Jesus Christ in me alone. I know I have said a lot this just comes at a time in my life where it means so much and I finally have a voice.
A great song when fearful is “I’m no longer a slave to fear”
By Jonathan and Melissa Helser. The song is on YouTube.
Re: Material GrieftoGrace sent me
. . . I am still reading what the GrieftoGrace folks sent me and I like what they say about completing and especially transitioning the trauma (moving on). It is interesting that they cite no studies, no peer reviewed research but assert: “experts in the field of trauma conclude that treatment with clients must be multidisciplinary including group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapies and psycho-educational groups. Most clinicians in the field of trauma treatment recommend that clinicians avoid exclusively talk-oriented one-on-one counseling/therapy.” . . .I guess everyone has different approaches because that is all Dr. Meier and I do (one-on-one/ talk-oriented). . . .re: Therapeutic Models used by the Living Scripture Institute: Biblical Reenactment and Catholic practices. . . . . So, as you know, predominately these folks are Catholic. I was reading their own surveys (—in another book, not the information GrieftoGrace sent me) that only 26% of Catholics believe what the Catholic Church teaches —that, after being blessed, the wafer and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ. All through their vast history this was absolutely necessary. If they don’t believe in transubstantiation then they were not right with God. But now-a-days, the idea of transubstantiation seems barbaric, with its echoes of human sacrifice. It makes no sense today when things can be tested. I tell you, that blood magic always gets my defense mechanisms going. . . .Anyways, the GrieftoGrace material goes on to say “Traditional talk therapy may well be ineffective. . . Because of the effect of trauma on the brain, executive functioning is compromised. Executive functions are important to successful adaptation and performance in real-life situations. They allow people to initiate and complete tasks and to persevere in the face of challenges. Executive function is essential to success in work and school and allows people to manage the stresses of daily life. You can see how problems with this area would make the process and goals of a therapeutic relationship challenging.” . . . .I’ll have to look at that further but I don’t feel my “executive functioning” is compromised but maybe it is and I don’t realize it. Moreover, I have, as far as I know, no problems telling my story and putting it together in a cohesive narrative. “Trauma involves speechless terror: patients often are simply unable to put what they feel into words and are left with intense emotions simply without being able to articulate what is going on. That is why most people “don’t want to go there. It is too painful and there is a fear of entering through a door that will allow no return.” Nancy, I don’t feel that way at all. Anyways, I’ll keep digging/considering . . .I think all Christianity, in the limit, becomes psychology, psychotherapy, really deep heart cleaning and real love, etc. And that is always the battle: breaking attachments to certainty and accepting alternative forms of identity and community so people don’t have to shut down their strong rational reasoning abilities that God gave them to survive to be a Christian. It is a battle against being literalistic, anti-intellectual, judgmental, self-righteous and bigoted, —hard stuff. For example: How can women be in the image of God if God cannot be imaged in female form too? . . . —and you know what? Faith does not mean believing in the literal regardless of how improbable it seems. . . .Maybe faith is about something way more important. —About centering in God, being loyal (faithful) to God, and about trusting in God. Faith is the opposite of hubris and anxiety. . . .So I’ll go to their retreat, Lord willing, because it should be about psychology, love, healing not magic liturgies and transubstantiation anyway. I fail to see how a “warm, safe, and loving environment with a retreat team consisting of facilitator, priests and laity” will not help me. To me, the unending conversation about Jesus is the most important conversation there is. He is the decisive revelation of God—of what can be seen of God’s character and passion in a human life. There are other important conversations but for followers of Jesus, the unending conversation about Jesus is the conversation that matters most. . . .and Theresa Burke’s book “Forbidden Grief” —very balanced, —really makes me think.
“When did you stop pretending and move through the fear of rocking the boat?”
The thing that allowed me to begin to see that the love I had known my whole life was distorted, was hearing from The Lord. He gave me proverbs 4:23 ‘above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your life’.
This verse was the thing I clung to as our marital boat was rocked by implementing the tough love that my Lord was asking of me.
Seeing this verse as a command kept my feet steady when the seas were swirling and threatening to drown us both. I couldn’t trust anything I knew about Love because my heart ( the wellspring of my life) had been so severely compromised.
It was only when I prioritized guarding my heart against the bad coming in, that my wellspring became stronger and stronger. I could hear Christ more and more clearly. His voice had been drowned out by a constant, subtle, slow steady drip, drip of evil, that I was allowing in.
This is the importance of boundaries. Without them, we cannot know God. Without them, we cannot know Love.
Now I am learning how to receive Love. Now I am learning that God not only wants me to receive His Love, He wants me to Love myself. Now I am learning that I am only truly Loving another in those moments when I am first Loving myself.
The flow of Love comes from God to me, then to others. Skipping over myself is not Love at all.
So very true, Nancy, and how wonderful that you have been able to work through to the point that you can be a channel of God’s love, not only to yourself, but also to others.
I will continue praying for you, and that lovely heart of yours ❤️
Thank you Nancy, I’ll tell you how it goes, after I go in August and I always so very much appreciate the prayers. Nothing more helpful than prayer. . . .nothing, thank you so much.
I know that there are numerous approaches to trauma healing, many of which are effective one way or another. Some approaches work well for some people, while others are more suitable for others. We are individuals, and our brains are wired uniquely, too. I was helped very much with Transformation Prayer Ministry (tpm.org), and now practice it as a lay counselor. I function to facilitate a healing interaction between the Lord and the wounded one. When I witness the Lord speaking Truth into a wounded person’s soul, it is truly beautiful to watch. The important thing to know about healing is that while the abuse may not be continuing to occur, it is the lies that are embedded in the memory of that abuse that continue to cause pain. So, to heal the memory, it must be accessed, the lie be acknowledged, and the Lord be invited into the memory to speak the truth that He knows the person needs to hear. When He speaks Truth, the memory is healed and the pain goes away. Years ago, Ruth Carter Stapleton wrote a book called Inner Healing Prayer, which is essentially the same thing, but Ed Smith has taken the process further and now offers trainings for this.
Some of you here on this blog have experienced this in your own ways, by getting close to the Lord, asking Him to reveal the lies you believe and learning the truth to counter the lies. I believe that the Lord wants us to walk in the Light of His Truth, so as we labor to pursue Truth, we are set free. By whatever means that works for you. Praise Him! His Truth sets us free!!
“I know that there are numerous approaches to trauma healing, many of which are effective one way or another. Some approaches work well for some people, while others are more suitable for others. We are individuals, and our brains are wired uniquely, too.” . . . .Absolutely true. . . those diffusion MRIs show that clearly. The point-by-point connections in those white matter pathways they are *very* unique, just like a fingerprint. Even for twins! . . .I love one-on-one psychotherapy with Dr. Meier but . . .but nothing seems to get sustainably better. I need more evidence, more logic, more rational reasons. . . .I can’t just fly on the power of happy thoughts (ha, ha, ha, ha. . . .well, sometimes I can but you know what I mean.)
“I was helped very much with Transformation Prayer Ministry (tpm.org), and now practice it as a lay counselor.” . . . .JoAnn, I think that is what the GrieftoGrace people do with their Living Scripture Institute Training. They are integrating healing interaction between the Lord and the wounded. So, if I read their approach correctly that is what they are doing.
“When I witness the Lord speaking Truth into a wounded person’s soul, it is truly beautiful to watch.” . . . .I bet that is truly a thing of beauty. People healing before your eyes, wonderful.
“The important thing to know about healing is that while the abuse may not be continuing to occur, it is the lies that are embedded in the memory of that abuse that continue to cause pain.” . . . .Absolutely. No doubt about that.
So, to heal the memory, it must be accessed, the lie be acknowledged, and the Lord be invited into the memory to speak the truth that He knows the person needs to hear. . . . .Here are my lies: 1) My past will always haunt me. 2) If only God and Jesus didn’t operate from such hiddenness! If God wants something from me, He would tell me. He wouldn’t leave someone else to do this, as if an infinite being were short on time. And He would certainly not leave fallible, sinful humans to deliver an endless plethora of confused and contradictory messages. God would deliver the message Himself, directly, and with such clarity as the most brilliant being in the universe could accomplish. I would hear Him and shout “Eureka!” So obvious and well-demonstrated would His message be. It would be spoken to me in exactly those terms I would understand. And we would all agree on what that message was. We would have to admit to each other, “Yes, that’s what God told you Aleea.” 3) If only I had (depends on the day), I would be happy. 4) A crisis is a bad thing. 5) It’s wrong to be self-centered.
“. . . by getting close to the Lord, asking Him to reveal the lies you believe and learning the truth to counter the lies.” Absolutely. That’s beautiful JoAnn. I see the healing that can occur in that, absolutely. It makes so much sense that the pain is anchored in past memories and if through the power of God’s Word, I can see Jesus present in those past experiences of abuse, praying and interceding for me, I can see His love and heal? It is just so frustrating because I pray *lots* and I pray the scriptures too.
My hubby is decent part of the time and frequently manipulative and verbally & emotionally abusive the rest of the time. I am reading Boundaries in Marriage. I have been a peacekeeper too much but am trying to more often confront his abuse and establish some boundaries. He, however, makes me “pay” for this by wasting my time through long lectures, sending multiple texts/emails, loudly interfering in my day, and occasionally through sleep deprivation (sleep abuse). Thus I just want to be quiet. Any thoughts? Moving out and providing for myself are not an option right now and I have school-age kids. I have a couple of close friends at church who are supportive.
As you set boundaries he will escalate. Think of your kids when you had to practice ‘tough love’,. They test the boundaries.
The first thing that comes to mind is, don’t waste your time reading his texts/ emails. If he asks about his mail, say something like, “unless it’s a short logistical question, I prefer to have conversations face to face”. If he challenges you again then just say, “I already told you my limit on that.” and change the subject.
Develop a plan for guarding your sleep. Is there a room that you can go to, and lock the door, that you can retreat to? Say something like, “I need to sleep. I can’t function when I’m tired so please talk to me about this at breakfast.” Roll over. If he continues say, “I’ve asked you to respect my need for sleep and you’re not, so I’ll be going into the other room now.” And go. If you feel in your heart of hearts that this could escalate to a dangerous level, then I’d consider talking to a women’s shelter to make a plan. I have found that night time is the most dangerous time for confrontation.
I look forward to hearing what others might advise.
I can totally appreciate your desire to just be quiet. Your husband has bullied you into a corner. Stand your ground, as you are beginning to do, and find out who Elizabeth is. If you sense danger, trust that. Make a plan. Don’t think so many steps ahead about having to provide for yourself. The Lord will provide for you. One. Step. At. A. Time.
Lean into The Lord, Elizabeth. He will guide you, as you make these healthy yet difficult changes.
I agree with Nancy, and I would add that when you do have face to face talks with him, let him make a comment or two and then signal with you hand that you want to reply, rather than letting him go on and on. You can always say, “I get your point, now I have things to do.” Another reply that works well is, “Perhaps you are right, but I feel differently.” But above all, have an exit plan if things escalate so you can grab the kids and get into the car and leave. Quickly. The exit plan: keep an extra set of car and house keys where only you know where they are and easy to get to. Keep the car headed out toward the road, so you don’t have to back out of the driveway. Keep necessities in the trunk of your car or with a neighbor you can go to. Have your own bank account and put some money in there for your use in an emergency. I think many of these ideas are in Leslie’s book, and others here may have more ideas. That kind of exit plan is good even if you aren’t in danger, in case of a fire, for example. I hope you won’t need it, but it’s always good to be safe.
I can relate to your journey. Decades later I would say don’t waste time or energy thinking he will change. Can you endure this until the children are grown? That is what I did. I detached emotionally, endured sex like a chore and enslaved myself for the children’s well being. Yet, I always had a plan and worked towards it. I saved money, planned my escape, got education, a support group, used every imaginable opportunity to be away from him and survived. The kids turned out great. I had severe physical issues from internalizing the stress and keeping the peace. Setting boundaries was extremely dangerous. I lived oppressed like a victim, slave and endured. When the kids were out enough I got out with out looking back for a minute. This worked for me, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The sooner you can get away the better
Dear Rebecca, Jo Ann, and Nancy, Thank you all for your replies. I read and will think & pray through your comments. My situation is also weird since my husband is decent part of every month too. I endure about 1 week per month of verbal, emotional, and spiritual abuse that is quite tough. About 1 week per month he is pretty kind, and about 2 weeks per month, he is cold. Some seasons he is kinder more frequently, such as when his work is going great. He is greatly respected at work and sincerely works well with his colleagues. Any other thoughts from you or anyone else? Thank you.
I read an article recently that explained that recovery from PTSD is more difficult when the victim has good memories in addition to the memories of the abuse to deal with. I believe that is why it can be helpful to write a journal, perhaps to write in a certain color when describing abusive and painful experiences and in another color when writing about the good times. That can help you to separate the experiences in your mind and see things more clearly. This is what makes it so confusing to try to identify just what you are dealing with. Do you stay in the relationship for the sake of one good week out of a month? Is that what your life is worth? The Lord will help you to see more clearly and help you to find the answers.
Your husband’s behavior sounds like the cycle of violence that abusers go through. There is big blow up, a honeymoon period, then the slow build up of anger until the blow up happens again. The cycle repeats. Does this make sense to you?
I have experienced it many times with my husband. Finally, I am making space for myself after a blow up and not falling for the honeymoon phase. I am courteous to him but I don’t put myself in uncomfortable position of being friendly, warm and trusting. Practice self care my friend and keep your boundaries strong.
I think JoAnn’s thoughts on writing about different types of experiences in different colours, is good. Journaling is so helpful. Ann’s suggestion on researching the cycle of abuse is a good idea, too.
There is something very familiar to me about the way you speak about your husband’s work life with so much respect. It could have been me writing about my husband a couple of years ago. The fact that he behaves so differently at work and at home is incongruent, not to mention deceptive.
I used to be very proud of my husband’s work accomplishments and loved focusing on what a hard worker he was. I had an enormous amount of respect for him in this area. This focus, though, kept me from the acknowledging the deeper reality that he was living a double life ( being one type of character at work, and another at home).
You may need to allow that idol to come crashing down…?
Yes, Aleea, the Truth really does free us, but unfortunately it doesn’t always come to us the way we want it to. One problem is that neurologically it is difficult to access the part of the brain where the traumatic memories are held (the amygdala). No direct line from the rational part of the mind (prefrontal cortex) to the amygdala. So the truth that we “know” doesn’t always penetrate to the part that needs it. Also, just as James tells us to confess our sins to one another, We often need someone outside of us who can see things more objectively to help us to access the lies and get the healing interaction. It can sound a lot easier and simpler that it really is, which I can testify to. I was not able to get there on my own. I had to enlist the help of a counselor. On the other hand, it is clear that some of those who have shared here on this blog have been able to get a direct speaking from the Lord that healed their wounded hearts. I rejoice when this happens, and I would like it to be so for everyone, but since we are all different, we must trust the Lord to know how to do His healing work in us.
Thank you so much JoAnn. . . .
Re: the Truth
. . .As you know, unlike ordinary stress, trauma changes our view of our lives and ourselves. It shatters our most basic assumptions about ourselves and our worlds —“Life is good,” “I’m safe,” “People are kind,” “I can trust others,” “The future is likely to be good” —and replaces them with my feelings: “The world is dangerous,” “I can’t win,” “I can’t trust other people,” “There’s no hope.” . . .My past is like a rail car full of radioactive ore contaminating the present. I want to just take that to the desert and dump it there. In the desert, ―we trust God or we just die. I want to be filled with love at my center where I still hold so much shame from childhood. I so feel that Truth is the basis of all that is good. Hate for hate brings only hate. Love for hate brings healing. If I can get in touch with the feelings and stay there long enough without numbing or escaping ―maybe― I can consciously change the awful associations, re-map my heart/ brain. . . ―And when I see people doing that here it is so beautiful ―and it is more than just ignoring ugliness. It is accepting it with gentleness and that means an opportunity to heal.
“It can sound a lot easier and simpler that it really is, which I can testify to.” . . . .Oh my, I feel like I could write a three volume set called: “I’m Completely Exhausted Trying To Get My Trauma Healed and What is The Deal With Christ’s Constant and Consistent Hiddenness” ―If other people have to be Jesus to me, where is my Jesus? —Why isn’t Jesus enough?
“. . .but since we are all different, we must trust the Lord to know how to do His healing work in us.” . . .I trust Him, even when I am unsure what “Him” is. I so often wonder “Lord, is it me or is it You?” . . .I am totally/ completely exhausted by His process. . . .And I really wonder just what “Him” really is at times.
. . .Now, that lizard brain, that amygdala, that reptilian part . . .when something threatens your life repeatedly in childhood, it is in overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. The more detailed the memory, the longer those moments seem to last. The more familiar (safe) the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the much more quickly time seems to pass. In a group, (here/ my church) we are literally capable of changing our perceptions (—along with the group), but when we stand alone it activates primitive, powerful, and unconscious feelings of rejection and that may be why we believe and do things just to be in the group. . . .It seems so clear that the lizard brain is the source of the psychological resistance and will fight if it has to, but would rather run away. It likes a vendetta and has no trouble getting angry. The lizard brain cares what everyone else thinks, because status in the tribe is essential to its survival. . . .The lizard brain is the reason we are afraid, the reason we don’t always tell the truth about the Bible and our real relationships with God and Jesus, the reason we don’t leave abusive relationships, the reason we don’t use logic, reason, primary source evidence to really test things, the reason we do law instead of art, the reason we don’t follow our hearts. Again, the lizard brain seems the source of all that psychological resistance. . . . .Okay, so if that is true, how do we get deep, healing love to that lizard brain, that amygdala, that reptilian part? Is that possible and what are the mechanisms and linkages by which that really happens, sans explanations that reduce to something that could easily be defined as magic (―the “something happened and now I know” explanations)?
Thank you JoAnn, ―as with everyone here, thank you for coming into my life and interacting with me. I know it takes effort to do that.
So you want to know “how” to get that “lizard brain” to learn the Truth. The best access to that part of your mind is through the emotion. By entering in to the memory and allowing yourself to feel the emotions, then you invite the Lord to come in to the memory and speak what He wants you to hear. Often, to do this, it is helpful to have someone trained to facilitate, because it is scary to go in there and you need a safe anchor who can pull you out if it gets too much to handle. Perhaps this retreat you are going to attend will be helpful. Pray for the Lord to be there for you. Sometimes it can feel like He is on the other side of a big wall. You know He is there, but you can’t get to Him. this was my case for a long time. It took therapy to uncover the stones that comprised the wall: anger, resentment, unforgiveness…. When those were dealt with, my access to the Lord opened up. Keep going, Aleea, the Lord is with you and He wants to free you. As we have realized, there is pain either way, but the pain of healing is better that the pain that leads to spiritual death. We are called into life, His life.
I have written it on my calendar, Aleea. Know that I am, and will be praying for you 🌷
Amen. Me too.
Aleea, I don’t have the answers for how to get the healing to the primitive reptilian part of the brain. But when I hear your struggles with receiving healing everything in me just wants to hug you up and protect you from that re-abuse in your heart, to re-mother you.
But maybe you shouldn’t listen to me, after all, I’m still confused about my own situation, so if I have anything of value to say maybe a few verses that speak of God’s comfort and compassion will be good:
Psalm 147:3 New Living Translation (NLT)
3 He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
Psalm 34:18New Living Translation (NLT)
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Matthew 11:28-30New Living Translation (NLT)
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Dear, sweet Ruth, I hug you back. When we take His burden it is light. It’s the burdens we put on ourselves that are so hard.
Thank you so much JoAnn and I apologize for not getting back quicker. . . .I was thinking about what you said!
“. . . The best access to that part of your mind is through the emotion. By entering in to the memory and allowing yourself to feel the emotions, then you invite the Lord to come in to the memory and speak what He wants you to hear.” . . .That sounds so correct. We can’t heal unless we feel the emotions of all that past trauma and we just can’t feel it briefly, we have to feel it deeply.
“. . .Often, to do this, it is helpful to have someone trained to facilitate, because it is scary to go in there and you need a safe anchor who can pull you out if it gets too much to handle. Perhaps this retreat you are going to attend will be helpful.” . . . .I hope the retreat does that. If it helps me, I will go back again and again.
“Pray for the Lord to be there for you. Sometimes it can feel like He is on the other side of a big wall. You know He is there, but you can’t get to Him. this was my case for a long time. It took therapy to uncover the stones that comprised the wall: anger, resentment, unforgiveness….” . . . .Absolutely, I have that too and our hearts are all prison walls when we hold people captive with chains of unforgiveness . . .There is nothing unforgivable and there are no secrets before an all-knowing merciful God. . . .And unforgiveness is so much stress, I tell you. You just keep going round in circles instead of taking a straight path which forgiveness offers.
“When those were dealt with, my access to the Lord opened up.” . . . .That is *really* beautiful!!! I love when God blesses people like that. There’s nothing more beautiful than authenticity. There’s nothing stronger than vulnerability.
“. . .Keep going, Aleea, the Lord is with you and He wants to free you. As we have realized, there is pain either way, but the pain of healing is better that the pain that leads to spiritual death. We are called into life, His life.” . . . .I so appreciate that JoAnn. One of the most important things we can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone and to encourage them to go on. Thank you so much. All the healing is buried under the lies we tell ourselves in order to feel okay with giving up. If we quit trying/ thinking/ learning/ risk-taking nothing will ever get better.
Thank you both so much for the prayers and continued prayers. I really, deeply appreciate the prayers. . . .I really believe that God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them. . . . And I don’t even know why but prayer is like. . .like electricity, it keeps things going. Lord God, please do this or do something even better!
When I went to my parents house to get some clarity on my abuse it did not take me long to see. The devil hates God. God is love. If we choose to turn our back on God and live in sin because of the lies we have come to believe about ourselves, we become slaves to these lies. The devil wanted to keep me behind the locked door thinking I was first called to be a slave to the sins of a man who hated himself. Why our men come to be such hurtful liers believing themselves to be the rulers and not God we can’t answer for them. However, who we are in Christ and falling under His leadership and authority we absolutely first and foremost do have every right to hold fast to this. The devil does not want us to know freedom. He wants to keep us behind the locked door, as I submitted to the authority of Jesus Christ in my life I begin to believe I was as beautiful, forgiven and powerful as He said I was. How could I be seated with Christ in the heavenly’s, given an inheritance of every spiritual blessing, and held captive by a sinful man? It takes time to renew our minds. I learned that in this season God wanted to reveal Himslef to me as the provider and the guide he promised me he would be. As I sadly let go of following my husband and totally grabbed a hold and submitted to Jesus Christ as the authority in my life, I began to see more and more how wrong and hurt my husband was.
I had to grab, and hold tight every verse that He would provide and that He would shine truth on me! As He showed me my hurt and began to heal me, I could look with compassion on my husbands pain BUT not partake in the sin he was living in because of it. I pray we all find the freedom that Christ died to give us. He fashioned our beautiful hearts and minds and only the Creator knows these minds and can guide them to healing. This is a truth I had to humbly learn as He drug my flesh along kicking and screaming lol. He also taught me how patient he is. God bless us all with truth that he has wonderful plans for us in the future, that are prosperous and filled with good works.
Wow, Wendy! How encouraging!! Thanks for sharing your insights and healing journey.
I don’t read this blog very often but today I am so thankful I did. Your experience of following the sins of your husband and coming to recognize the trap of the devil gives me hope. I have struggled for 33 years to get clairification about my role as a believing wife married to an unbeliever. I like your words:
How could I be seated with Christ in the heavenly’s, given an inheritance of every spiritual blessing, and held captive by a sinful man? ….As I sadly let go of following my husband and totally grabbed a hold and submitted to Jesus Christ as the authority in my life, I began to see more and more how wrong and hurt my husband was….”
That has been my quagmire all along- should I let go of following my husband? Should I set Christ first? But the Bible says to submit to your husband.
I want to go into the mission field, I want to live fully for Christ but I thought all along that I have to wait. Wait until God opens the doors by having my husband’s blessing on my desire. How can I go into missions which would require me leaving my husband for extended periods of time? I have been involved in ministries in the past but my husband never liked that I would give attention to someone or something that had to do with living for Christ.
When or how do I live in such a conflicting state of pleasing my husband and pleasing Christ?
I think your words of living only for Christ are beginning to open the doors in my mind but yet I am confused. I don’t want to look back at my life and regret that I didn’t live the way I feel is God pleasing.
If you have any more words of advice please speak them to me.
Dear Wendy, My heart goes out to you and everyone else on this blog sharing thier pain, exposing their struggles, doubts,fears ,ssuffering aand loss with great courage and authenticity. I just disciverd this prevcious treasure house of refreshing truth and comforting fellowship, I want to say so much as I have decades of haunting memeories flooding through my veins. I am a survivor of abuse, both as a child and as aa 63 year old woman . Christ found me and revealed Himself to me when I was ab young brand new mother and wife, 44 years ago. Next Thursday I will be having a ceremonial funeral in honor of the 44th anniversary of my broken marriage . Yes, I have been ina destructive mmmmmarriage for 44 years! But it was not always as bad and toxic aand devastating as it evoved to be over the past 10 years.I too held onto my marriage for the sake of my 3 children and also the belief that I was c alled by Christ to be a loving witness of Christ’s garce and mercy to my broken wounded husband.I too believed to be a good Christian wife I had to honor my marrige and ssurrender my life to God. No matter how painful and emotionally abusive the marriage grew, I always found compelling reasons to be a loving, patient, forgiving, wife. I tried so hard to please my husband that I neglected to see I was slowing destroying my health and wellfare. I eventually became debilitated from a devastating depression. I lost my ability to hold down a job and eeneded up on disability at the age of 61.And now I am beginning to accept the reality that I am in a sesrructive realtionship and that I must slowly start emerging from the nightmare of the past while making tiny footsteps toward a healthier more functional life. I will share more after I get some rest. God be near to all of my sisters out there.
Thank you all for your comments to my question and situation sent to Leslie and referred to in this discussion. There are a lot more details that muddy my situation, such as my pastor husband having incurable but currently stable cancer, toxic stepdaughters, my recent loss of employment/ financial insecurity, etc. I have only stayed with him for three reasons, not necessarily in this order. Finances: I think I would be ruined. My mother told me to stay and live a parallel life because of finances. I saw what divorce did to his first three children (toxic, dysfunctional behavior; Cinderella syndrome). I would take a bullet or be run over a train before I would let anything destroy my/our children as it did his 2 daughters (His one son is fine. Their mother was borderline personality disordered with hair trigger rejection syndrome). I also fear hurting the body of Christ (our congregation), especially those who are weak/smouldering wicks who think the pastor is so kind and wonderful. In Catholic parlance, this is called “causing scandal in the church” -scandal here meaning loss of faith. I forgave him already a few years back, but as we know, that doesn’t restore a relationship or make him heterosexual. We still have the issue of pretty boys who make him sparkle and shine, even if he is not acting on it beyond his platonic enjoyment. He is constantly blaming me for everything and building a case against me. His rejection of me is pretty total. This has been going on for years-a convenient way to not look at oneself. I pray daily for God to deepen my level of forgiveness for him too, since it is easy to feel loathing and bitterness; and God has been there to improve on this in my heart. It’s been a long education to finally get the picture of what’s been going on and realize that it’s not my fault. I have learned a lot about his brokenness. As I said before, I am a peacekeeper…. I do not have the strength currently to take this on to be a peacemaker. Maybe someday. He’s very formidable, damaged, prideful, intelligent, and incredibly stubborn. I think deep down, he knows he has a problem, but it would be “too hard” for him to admit it. I don’t think he can ever have a peer relationship with a woman. I am weary, very weary. Thank you for your prayers, comments and brotherly/sisterly love. Leslie’s ministry has been a God-send.
/Thank you for sharing Ellen in such a profoundly transparent manner….I will pray for you tonight.
I am humbled by your response to me my dear sweet friend. So many years I struggled out of fear of letting my heavenly father down. So many years fearing what the body of Christ may think of me or how I would let them down. I came to see that no matter what dreams I had or how much I loved the body of Christ, Jesus Christ himself wanted to be the only one on the throne of my heart. I came to understand we are all the bride of Christ, we are all called to have no other idol before him. He is to be our one true love in this life. Whether we are male or female in the end what we give an account for is if we put him first. I learned I was to submit as unto the Lord. That my husband was also asked to be the very picture of Jesus Christ to the church of such love patients and care. My husband was not submitting to the Lord he was submitting to his own fleshly desires. I was called by God to submit to him first. I was called by God to be obedient with my life to him first. This is the greatest miracle of all. When I focus and submit to Christ’s authority and obey all that he instructs me to do which is to be truthful in all things,everything around me starts to look different. I truly had to come to the place where I let my identity come crashing to the floor. I found financial ruin I was in debt $30,000. My husband did not care that this happened to me and let me be responsible for it all as it was all in my name. This was not known to me. Working in women’s ministry and loving them with all my heart I truly believed this was my calling. However, in the losing of absolutely everything, I have gained the understanding of my true need. I am now a much quieter gentler woman. When I see my sister struggling or in need I do not think I can save her I believe I can give her the same love that Jesus Christ has offered me. That one drink of water that pours over her on a very dry and thirsty land. Our heavenly father never changes, his love is this perfect and forgiving and full of mercy and grace as it was with the very first drop of blood that hit the ground with our names on it. He bore our sorrows every single one of them. He knew our names in the works that we would do before he even created the world. He knew the struggle you would have at this very moment, and the sorrow you would feel. Our calling is not his most important mission. How your church feels about you or a divorce is not his most important mission. His mission on the cross was for you to be healed for your soul to be well and for you to find peace that passes all understanding and and a trust in him that offers you an abundant life full of hope no matter what you see in front of you. These are not just words to me they are my very breath every single day every hour of the clock that goes by. I hold fast to his strength and the road ahead that he will show me in his time. Waiting on him for guidance is not easy but I have found such a great strength and a great peace in absolutely believing he is the shepherd of my soul. Do not be afraid to surrender every thing to him your home, your children, your ministry, you’re very identity. Fall at his feet and allow him to do what he came to do which was heal the captives, bind up our wounds, and set us free. If we only believed that one passage of scripture if that was the only Bible we had we would know we could be set free. How he chooses to set each of us free will be very different and intimate. Make time for him first each and every day. Grab a hold of one Bible verse and do not let it go until you believe it down deep in your soul and it begins to transform your mind. Whether or not your husband changes is not his concern. First and foremost his concern is for the one who opens the door by knocking so hard on it because they want him. We want to use him to get all of our answers ,however, he wants us to love him to serve him from a heart that sees who he is. I have just begun to see who he is and I understand that who he is never changes. He came to save me from my chains. That is the end of the story and as I submit myself to him first and draw my boundaries with everyone else around me, even if they do not like it, this is when the healing begins.
As I sit this night with my grandson and we are at complete peace. He knows how much I love the Lord, he knows how much I love him. He has not seen me cry or get upset or be in a great big hurry in a long time. He has seen me enjoy the weather and the birds. We sing songs pray together and are at peace. I have been a part of this community for nearly 3 years. I never had a voice until now. It all belongs to one simple truth. Jesus Christ is the song of my heart because he has healed my soul. I no longer strive, I just live one day at a time Allowing him to be first and to lead to me as the kind shepherd he has become to me. This is as real as I know how to be with you my dear sister this is the truth. This world is not our home, home is where the heart is, my heart is now seated in the heavenly’s with Christ Jesus. My prayers go with you this night that this will be the very first night of your life where you find out who your true bridegroom is and who loves you with all of his heart, who gave his life for you. He sees all we ever did and pours oceans of grace on top of it and redeems everything we have ever done. All in his time and in his way. It will never look romantic or beautiful. It will be painful and life altering. However when we have been purified we find peace in knowing that no matter how much we had to turn upside down to put him on top it was all worth it.
Thank you Wendy
Your letter is balm to my soul. I will keep it forever and read it over and over again. I am going to find a Bible verse and dwell on it. My focus has been misguided; I have been deluded by my own wounds and barbs coming from the enemy.
I love your description of his grace like oceans pouring over me. He does redeem everything I have done. I so often forget that truth.
I wish I could know you face to face and talk with you often. I feel there will be times ahead that I will need a hand to hold onto. I have always felt alone- very alone. Oh how I long to believe and experience the closeness of Jesus as my best friend. You have really expressed the beauty of knowing Jesus intimately. Thank you, a million times thank you, for writing back to me and giving me solid truth.
Wendy, that was beautiful. I especially love what you said at the end: ” … we find peace in knowing that no matter how much we had to turn upside down to put Him on top, it was worth it.” 🙂You should write a book.
No one wants adversity especially in our spoiled American culture. I know I preferred to be cozy and unchallenged. I admit it took emergencies for me to press in to Christ.
But whatever it takes to know Christ is WORTH it.
Ruth, I love this: “I know I preferred to be cozy and unchallenged. I admit it took emergencies for me to press in to Christ.
But whatever it takes to know Christ is WORTH it.”
That is so very true. And our dear Lord knows just what and how much we need to break through in us. Every challenge brings us closer to Him.
Thank you I really learnt a lot. From now onwards I will strive to be a peacemaker not peaceker, thank you