Please pray for me. I am covered with poison ivy. I will get through this but for the moment it’s pretty miserable.
Last week I went out to my front door, which I rarely do since we have a side entrance garage. I wanted to plant some geraniums in my two pots on my porch. I was shocked. My bushes were scraggly and overgrown. Poison ivy was everywhere. My day lilies were beautiful but way too plentiful making my front walk look like a continuous stream of yellow.
Whenever I drove up my driveway, I didn’t “see” how ugly my front entrance had become because it was still pretty far away (I live in the country). It was only when I stood in the midst of it did I understand how much I had neglected the front of my house.
Feeling motivated, I put my garden gloves on and began yanking out the weeks, the poison ivy and a few others things. I planted my geraniums in my pots but when I stepped back to take a look, the front still looked overgrown and ugly. The beauty of the geraniums was lost in the overgrown greenery.
It required more drastic measures. Sometimes it takes standing in the midst of ugly and seeing it for what it is that motivates us to make the necessary changes. I needed more help. I hired a landscaper to pull out my bushes
It’s still ugly but it looks better to me. Cleaner. I can see the beauty of my flowers.
I’ve learned something. Sometimes it takes radical changes to recreate what you want to have. Yes, you might get injured in the process as I did by contracting poison ivy, but I think it’s a metaphor for real life.
Sometimes it takes unraveling the life you have in order to build the life you want. (Tweet that)
When I’m all done, I’ll share pictures of my new front entrance. It’s going to take a lot of work but it will be worth it and my poison will be gone.
Today’s blog comes from one of you. This woman has participated in my groups over the past few years and at this time has made the decision to stay well in her destructive marriage. I have asked her to share exactly what steps she took to be able to do that. Here are her words.
I have been in an emotionally destructive marriage for almost 29 years. I did not realize though that it was an emotionally destructive marriage until a few years ago when I heard Leslie Vernick's talk on emotionally destructive relationships.
I struggled with my marriage beginning on the honeymoon. I prayed, read every book, prayed, went to counseling, prayed, did an intervention, prayed, tried to put into practice every idea I read and prayed. On the positive side, I learned how to pray. On the negative side, I had resigned that I just needed to try to be holy in a difficult situation and at some point either he would die or I would die and either way it was all good.
I had been having a dream that I was driving but could not open my eyes. After hearing Leslie’s talk, I had a name for the craziness that I had lived in for many years. I realized what I could not open my eyes to was the abuse in my marriage. I bought Leslie's book The Emotionally Destructive Relationship and called a Christian counselor that I knew was helpful in working on boundaries.
With her guidance, I started working through Leslie's book and putting into practice the suggestions on the pages of her book. It also helped me name the specific types of abuse that were present in my marriage. I set out to work on my husband and instead the Lord started doing a major gut wrenching work in me. I had believed the lie that I had to be submissive even to evil to be a good Christian wife.
When Leslie's book Emotionally Destructive Marriage came out I signed up for her CORE focus group on that book. I would write down on notecards conversations that she suggested in her books and practice them. I typed up a list of tools that the Lord was giving me for the task at hand.
One thing that was huge for me was to realize that the Lord hates abuse and was totally for me in standing up against the evil in my home. He showed me in tangible ways that He had my back and would help me. He showed me that He was my husband, my kinsmen redeemer and could meet all of my needs that my husband was not meeting.
Another thing that was huge was the realization that if I did not stand up against the evil, the evil would be “normal” to my children and set them up to repeat the pattern. I also felt tremendous spiritual warfare and felt led to share my story with some friends that the Lord revealed I could trust. I started asking them to pray.
Like Gideon, the Lord gave me an army to intervene on my behalf. At first, it was exhausting especially changing years of bad patterns. I had been deceptive in little things to avoid my husband's anger. The Lord convicted me that I had feared my husband's wrath more than the Lords when I read in a devotional “integrity frees, deceit enslaves”. As I changed the dance, my husband hated it and tried all the tricks to return to the previous dance.
As I continued the new dance, I got better at it and as the old dance did not work anymore my husband did less of the things that had undone me before. Even when I messed up, I saw the Lord use my mistakes to spur me on. A huge thing though was as I stepped back from the crazy cycle, my children realized who was crazy. They also saw me change and knew it was the Lord. Because they saw the real work He was doing in my life, that strengthened their relationships with the Lord,
I signed up for Empowered to Change and would listen to her interactions and coaching others' situations that were similar to mine. I watched the videos and saw that everything was biblically based and that she was speaking truth. I also saw the people in my “army” impacted by being a part of my story and started sharing with me how what the Lord was doing in me was impacting them. Nothing was wasted.
The Lord was bringing beauty from ashes. Also, in the Facebook group for Empowered to Change, there were others with similar stories who understood what I experienced. We prayed for each other, encouraged each other, and shared resources.
One of the most difficult parts of being in an emotionally destructive marriage is the isolation. I realized that I was a part of a huge community. I also realized that I had choices and I was not powerless. Leslie said “It is not whether you stay or go, but how you stay or go”. I am willing to stay or go. I take it one moment at a time and try to totally surrender to what the Lord is leading me to do.
At this point I choose to stay and feel like I am staying well.
I do not believe my husband has a core value to be a good husband. He wants to be married to me, but does not want a relationship with me. My life though is a thousand times better than it was before even though I am still in my situation. My husband provides well financially. I enjoy our times together as a family. My children now see truth. I continue to grow and get stronger.
Even when he does revert and say things that used to undo me, it is like I have up a shield of faith and the flaming arrows just fall to the ground and extinguish. They do not penetrate my heart and do damage anymore. The amazing thing is that now that I do not fear him, I am able to better love him. I continue to pray for him.
My hope is not in my husband though, it is in the Lord. That’s made all the difference.
Friends, what is your biggest challenge in staying well if that’s what you are attempting to do at this time?