My name is Kim, and I first worked with Leslie back in 2014 after leaving my own destructive marriage.
After some twists and turns, I found myself back on the Leslie Vernick & Co. team in 2020. It’s truly an honor and a privilege to support the women in this community.
Leslie is currently traveling and feeling a bit overwhelmed with the number of commitments she has over this short period of time, so I wanted to see if I could lighten her load by writing something to share in the newsletter for this week.
What inspired me most to want to do so is the strength and resilience I see in the women in our community.
Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, I feel it’s important to consider the impact domestic violence has within our communities. So often that impact is hidden behind what can appear on a Sunday to be a normal relationship.
I still remember feeling confused and despairing at how my then husband could be viscerally angry with me one moment, and once we pulled into the church parking lot, suddenly acting as if everything was fine.
I was scolded if I ever shared too much about what was happening in my marriage with our small group or a church leader.
Even after I asked him to move out of our shared home, my pastor couldn’t wrap his mind around the dynamic in our home. I would try to describe a situation that I now know was covertly abusive, and he would look at me quizzically – seemingly unable to grasp the destructive nature of what was happening to me.
Now, after years of therapy, coaching, and doing the work to remember where my strength comes from, so much has changed. I feel strong. I know how to set (and keep) boundaries. I don’t feel afraid of what will happen if I speak my truth, because I know that a destructive person’s response to my sharing is just information. I no longer feel responsible for making someone else feel sad / angry / defensive.
Oftentimes, when we think of a woman in a destructive relationship, we have been subconsciously trained to perceive her as weak.
But these women are anything but weak.
These women are strong. These women are brave.
This is a community of women who understand first hand what Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The work we do here, whether it’s in Conquer (our monthly membership community), or one of our small group coaching programs, or in our 1-1 private coaching, is all about doing whatever it takes to navigate a difficult situation well, in a way that is honorable and dignified.
I hope that next time you think of a woman who is fighting for, or extracting herself from, a destructive marriage, you remember that it takes strength and courage to make these kinds of moves.
Speaking up and asking for help from a pastor, counselor, deacon, or friend takes courage.
Creating boundaries around her living arrangements with her own spouse takes fortitude.
Choosing to leave a relationship, and risk facing scorn from her community and alienating family in the process, takes strength.
If you are a woman on this path, I hope that you are able to remember this truth when you need it most.
If you are in a position to help any women on this path, I hope that you will bear this reminder for them. I hope that you will give them compassion, and any other support they may need as they traverse this valley.
No woman ever wants to find herself in this situation. No woman wants to be a victim, whether it be of deceit, domestic violence, or emotional abuse. No woman who I’ve encountered left her marriage simply because she wanted to.
These women want better. They want to be treated with kindness and respect. They want their children to be safe and to see a positive example of love in action. They want their husbands to act in ways that are good and decent.
These women deserve that. And these women are so strong they will do anything in their power to make it happen.
Let us be encouragers. Let us seek to truly see these women and their situations, to be the witness and reminder they need that they deserve loving and healthy relationships.