Your Sexuality Belongs to Jesus ~ By Megan Cox

I could go the rest of my life without having sex. In fact, I abhor it. I don’t ever want to be touched again; I don’t want to do anything except ball up in bed and surround myself with pillows. I want to feel safe in my bed.

I listened as this amazing woman shared her sexual aversion with me. She never wants to remarry. She never wants to meet another man or have anything to do with men again, actually. It makes her skin crawl. Clearly, this is common with the women to whom we minister. And I don’t blame them. When she finished telling me about what sex was like in her first marriage, I asked her, “Have you ever given your sexuality to Jesus?”

She looked away and her face got hot. I could see tears stinging her eyes. She paused and then turned back to me, angrily . . . “I’m not going back to him. I’m not giving him my body ever again.” I was stunned. But, I understood. I remember the connection I made between God and my husband — the unhealthy connection. I said it again, “No, that’s not what I asked. I asked if you had ever given JESUS your sexuality.” She looked confused. I knew exactly what was confusing her. I spoke again, “Giving Jesus your sexuality is not equivalent to giving a man your sexuality.” She stared at me for a moment, gaining clarity. Her mind was racing. I took a moment and then I went further, “Your husband is not God.” I watched as, right in that moment, she began to untangle her sexuality from spiritual abuse. She was literally creating a new pathway in her mind that was separate from what she had been told over and over.

I remembered . . . I remembered the degradation of sexual and spiritual abuse, all inter-twined like dark threads around my heart. Before I found freedom and healing, I equated Jesus being Lord of my life — my entire life and all aspects of it — with giving my body to my abusive husband to fulfill his lustful and pornographic desires. There was a paradigm and a culture in my home and in my church that said, “If you surrender to Jesus, that means you are surrendering to your husband.” That, my friends, is putting your husband in the place where Jesus rightfully belongs. We naturally assume, because of faulty teachings in the church, that surrendering our sexuality to Jesus means God is then going to ask us to give our bodies to our husbands as though that is what God wants.

Let me make something very clear: Giving our bodies to our abusive husbands may not be what God is asking of us. Even clearer: God cares about you, sister, more than he cares about your husband using your body over and over. He has NEVER asked you to compromise your dignity, sexually, for the twisted satisfaction of your husband.

When I gave my sexuality to Jesus, He was direct, “Megan, I want to heal this part of you.” That’s what happened. He never once said, “I now want you to give yourself, like a prostitute, to your husband.” For those who do not know this, women in sexually abusive relationships feel like prostitutes. He provides money for a woman and her babies; she provides the sex. It’s horrible. It’s treacherous; it’s evil.

So, when I ask our mamas to give their sexuality to Jesus, they can be assured that they are putting it in safe, scarred, powerful and beautiful hands. Jesus is gentle. His yoke is light. He is in the business of being the Wonderful Counselor, Healer and Comforter of our souls. He does not look at you, precious and beloved daughter of the King, point His finger and say, “Go do what your husband demands.” Oh, no . . . that is not in line with His character. He always looks at us and says, “I want to heal that broken part of you because I care deeply about every. single. part of you.”

So, sister . . . cut that connection and open your heart to actual and true healing of Jesus without all of the shackles. Separate that part of your brain that links giving your heart to Jesus with allowing abuse in your life. That is NOT His plan. Give your sexuality to Jesus and let Him do with it what He will. You can trust Him, even though you could not trust your husband. Because Jesus is not your abusive husband. And watch what He does. I don’t know what He will do but I can promise you He will not ask you to subject yourself to abuse. It’s just you and Him, baby. And, even if you cannot trust anyone else in the world right now, you can trust the Lover of your Soul.

Love,

Megan

Megan is Founder and Executive Director of Give Her Wings. She carries a Masters in Pastoral Counseling and is certified in Crisis Response with the AACC. She has also recently finished her CPE Unit 1 training. 


Tears and Dirty Water that will be made Fresh ~ Our April Mama’s Story

We are about to ask for a lot from our donors. I admit to you all that I have put off writing this newsletter because one of my greatest weaknesses is fear that we will not raise the money that we need for our mamas, who are so destitute. By the time their story reaches your inboxes, we have vetted them on the phone, in person, and had several conversations with them in an effort to remind them of God’s love and His care for their lives. They hope that we will come through, financially, and so do we. I get so scared that we won’t be able to help the most fragile person in my life right now. But we had also set aside April for our new food pantry campaign, to provide basic, healthy necessities for the mamas we are serving (watch for that campaign coming soon!). It is all set to launch.

But then . . . this mama. This amazing woman who has birthed 12 children . . . this woman who is peacefully and amazingly serving her babies at her home while wondering if her ex husband will ever provide what they need . . . this woman who has too many tiny children to be able to work and provide for daycare. I can’t turn away, friends. I’ve talked with her on the phone and a wonderful ambassador for Give Her Wings (Sabrina Scheerer) took the winding, long journey to meet with this mama. When I spoke and prayed with Sabrina on her way home, she was hit by the truth of what Give Her Wings does. Sabrina has always known and supported our ministry, but she saw, firsthand, what the devastation of abuse can do to a mother and her little lambs. She was shocked by the story of how this man had affair after affair on his wife . . . how he abused her in every single way possible, leaving her vulnerable constantly with pregnancy after pregnancy. This beautiful woman, Sabrina said, was still somehow exuding Christ’s peace. I told her I had sensed the same thing on the phone with her! So, we have decided to name her “Fresh Waters”. For so many years, she was drowning in dirty water, all the while, trusting that God would set her free some day. She is ready to drink the long, slow and satisfying waters of God’s grace that only He can give. After years of horrific, unspeakable abuse . . . she is waiting on the Lord. 

She needs us to come alongside her to help her pay her mortgage. Rent would be higher than her mortgage so we want to help her keep her home. Her ex husband has been ordered to pay a minimal child support (MINIMAL) . . . and he lets it come to her $40 here . . . $50 there. It is ridiculous. 

So . . . we are going to ask our supporters to help us to help the beautiful Fresh Waters find hope and some financial peace as she continues to raise her babies. Just for a month. One month’s rent will give her hope for the next month. And she will know that, even though her ex husband paints a picture to all of those around him as a godly and wonderful, charming man . . . Give Her Wings is willing to see the evil he has done to her, acknowledge it and help her to heal. Please pray about donating. We are going to be raising $1500 for this mama throughout the month of April. Click here to give. And thank you for loving her with us.

When we asked for her story in writing, she sent us the most powerful words that she wishes she could send to her ex husband. No one can improve on her incredible story. The first time I read it, I had a literal, guttural reaction. I cried out on her behalf. I wept. My body ached. I know her pain. I feel it . . . and that awful accompanying extra layer of pain knowing that he will never, ever get it nor care about what he has done to her and her children. I know that pain. 

She can’t send the words because, as so many of us know, they wouldn’t be heard. He won’t hear her cries. He ignored her pain for decades. But we always want to try to “get them out”, anyway. For our own healing. Please read her amazing story . . . it is painful but beautiful. And please accept this trigger warning, as it is very graphic. It is complicated grief spilled out onto the paper. It is going to be redeemed. See below.

Love,

Megan 

From our April mama, “Fresh Waters”:

How I’ve been impacted by you is difficult to begin to sum up. I’ve been traumatized my entire life. From childhood through the present. I’m just now realizing the bar was set so low for me as to what true love would look like, feel like, and inevitably turn out to be for me. 

I felt loved just because someone said so, I felt loved when you would control or manipulate me into certain things because I thought that must mean you cared about me enough to have rules. 

My bar for love was so low. It’s still so low. But the difference is now I know it, and what that says about me and my health as a person.

I’ve been a survivor my whole life. I survived a mother who beat the crap out of me. Who literally beat me till I couldn’t breathe at times. Who told me what kind of person she thought I was in four letter words. She never praised me. She never hugged me. She never gave me any type of physical affection as a mom growing up. She never told me she loved me. So when you didn’t do those things I didn’t bat an eye. After all, love wasn’t a feeling. Isn’t that what we evangelicals are taught as we grow and move towards relationship? It may not be a feeling, and love may very well be a choice like they say it is, but I’ve been cut short of the real deal. I’ve been cheapened along the way. I’ve been a means to an end that has always disappointed you in the end. You never had to work for my affection, you had it from the start. You began taking shortcuts before we ever said I do. And I let you. I knew it then deep down, but I was so afraid no one else would ever come along and love me. Oh, how I short-changed myself and my worth. 

When you made me stay home instead of visiting my old high school friends who were guys, I should’ve gone. They were my friends, and if that threatened you, so be it. I would choose differently now. 

When you manipulated me into choosing to have our reception at the chapel instead of what I wanted to do as the bride, and then told me you were so relieved that I was obedient and submissive. You weren’t sure what you would’ve done had I not relented. I would choose differently now. 

When you broke up with me because of what someone said about me and my character, instead of trying to prove them wrong and instead of trying to explain the manipulation that was going on, I would choose differently now. 

When you told me the morning after we were married that nothing was really any different than before…. I would choose differently now. 

When you told me my pubic hair was less than attractive, (and now I know why. I was too naive to understand these comments 20 years ago.) I would choose differently now. 

When  you would take the time to comment on what you felt were my physical short-comings, but never take the time to comment about my body in a positive manner except maybe an occasional comment during sex, (but we know how often that was…) I would choose differently now. 

When I tried to seduce you on our honeymoon and invite you to take a bath with me, but you chose to pleasure yourself by masturbation,

I would choose differently now. 

When you would ignore my endless attempts the first several years of our marriage to get you in the mood and tell me… I’m too tired, it’s God punishment for us since we made out before marriage, I know better now, and I would choose differently now. 

Every time I made advances toward you both in and out of bed, and you shut me down with silence, you pierced my heart. I thought I wasn’t sexy enough, thin enough, and  I wasn’t submissive enough. You would tell me “if only you were more submissive, I would be more sexually attracted to you.” I know better now. 

When you would make bets with your friend on who would be successful getting their wife into bed, you cheapened me, and made me nothing but your whore. You had no interest in me otherwise. You needed bets like these to up your interest and excite yourself enough to be willing to participate in sex with me. 

But was it really intimacy? No. There were so many rules. No kissing with your mouth open. You weren’t a fan of that. You preferred manual stimulation with my hands when it came to an erection versus trying intercourse. That avenue didn’t go your way on our wedding night and you weren’t interested in it again. Your excuse was that “you didn’t want to hurt me.” I call bs. All you did was hurt me. Pushing my head down towards your penis trying to force me into oral sex which I wasn’t brave enough to tell you I wasn’t into until later on in our marriage. Intercourse hurt so much and I had so much anxiety about things like touch in that area that my ob insisted on pulling me aside and asking me if I had been raped after our child was born. She knew it wasn’t normal to have had two vaginal births and still still be in so much pain at an appt. But I wasn’t brave enough to tell her I had only had intercourse a handful of times and hadn’t even reached double digits 4 years into our marriage. I would choose differently now.

When I found out you were watching porn on our home computer, I would let you make your own choices, and I would choose differently for myself too.  

When I was told repeatedly over the years, my sin was just as bad, I would… let you think that and choose differently for myself now. 

When you pushed me in the stairwell up against the wall 5 months pregnant with one of our babies, I would choose differently now. 

When you chose to leave me to fend for myself when in premature labor and leave me more than once over the years when I’ve been miscarrying, I have felt abandoned and embarrassed and have chosen to try and carry the pain alone as it felt easier to carry the pain alone without your knowledge, versus alone when you do know. 

When you chose not to take off work when our babies were in the NICU, I fought alone for them. 

So many memories, so many heartbreaks. So much abandonment in our marriage. 

Without expelling the horrific truth for all to see, it’s hard for me to move on when nearly everyone still thinks you’re a golden husband. My desire isn’t to humiliate you or shame you. It’s to free me from and I hope you, from pretending that everything has always been ok when it has been so far from it. 

I’m tired of living a lie. The lie where everyone thinks we must share something pretty special since we have 12 children and have been married for nearly 20 years. 

When you chose to shop online via MySpace, Facebook, Craigslist, ect. throughout the years for women and what I’m sure were girls close to our daughters age, it cheapens them, it cheapens me, and most painfully, it makes me think some other man is out there doing the same thing to our daughters, and they’re no different than you. 

You continually make excuses not to pull in $300 that our family desperately depends on for money for food. I know you’re busy. I know you’re tired. My kids are hungry. I am tired too. 

You once again chose to explore your sexual options and spent money we didn’t have on pleasuring yourself at massage parlors and “other” places that service men sexually. As if this wouldn’t have been painful to any wife on a crushing level, you chose to deny me over and over again for nearly a year (again) after we moved here. Even choosing to watch a baseball game on TV over the muffled cries of your wife who had just finished begging for sexual intimacy after pouring out her heart to you. I died again that day. Just like I’ve died hundreds and hundreds of other times when you’ve chosen masturbation, movies, strip clubs, dirty online conversations, massage parlors, and basically hookers who are paid to sexually pleasure you. 

You don’t have a clue as to the trauma you’ve caused and most often presently, still don’t seem to care enough about me, to attempt to repair or heal what you have broken down over and over and over again.

I’m a different person. You’ve changed me. I’ve chosen to change myself, but more importantly, God has changed me from the inside out. I’m not who you married. I won’t ever be her again. I don’t want to be. So if you aren’t interested in the new me, the person you tore down, the person who’s had to survive, the person who’s had to scrape everything she has and then some to make it through each day, then just move on in life. I’m not interested in waiting around for you to care enough to invest anymore. I’m worth so much more than that. I’m smart. I’m kind. I’m generous. I’m loyal, but not to the point of taking abuse anymore. And withholding affection IS abuse. It’s been a more painful thing to endure than any of the beatings I’ve had. I’m even beautiful in Christ’s eyes. And living alone had shown me it’s far less lonely living that way than living with someone who chooses to ignore you, to punish you by withholding affection, who chooses other women over you… I’ve been lonely since I left, but not as lonely as I’ve been the last 19 1/2 years. I hope to have a long life ahead of me. I hope you will begin choosing me over yourself, but I’m not going to wait forever. Christ thinks far more of me than that. Our marriage covenant isn’t as important as the woman behind it, the one who’s chosen to honor you despite the continual betrayal over and over again. I am worth living this life without any more betrayal, without any more abuse, but I’m also worth not just settling for no more of that, but truly living a life of oneness in a marriage that God originally intended. I absolutely deserve that. I won’t short change myself any longer.  

After nearly 20 years, my prayer changed from “God, please save my marriage and restore it to something beautiful” to “Lord, please protect me and save me from more of the same abuse and anguish.” 

And so He did. It was not the answer I wanted. It wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. I had hoped my story would entail something along the lines of my husband truly repenting, turning away from his addictions, and choosing ME. We would renew our vows.. We would finally have a real honeymoon. Our children would finally see what a godly relationship looked like. That’s what I wanted my story of redemption to look like. It was possible. The Lord parted the Red Sea. He changed the hearts of wicked kings. He could mold our marriage into something beautiful for all to see. We would be that example of endurance and triumph to others. 

But He chose to allow my husband to make his own choice. He gave him a free will. No amount of praying him into a right standing with the Lord was going to do the trick. No amount of counseling would change an already hardened heart. 

But God DID answer my prayers. He does have a victory story for me and my 12 children. In September of this last year, my husband of 20 years chose to leave me and our 12 children ages 3-18 for another woman and her children. After years of pent up fear and overwhelming devastation and grief, I felt nothing but relief in his moment of decision. His problems, his addictions, and his emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse weren’t my problem any more. I was free. Free from trying to fix it all. Free from the responsibility to cover for him, free from the loneliness and despair that I had hidden behind closed doors for 20 years.. The Lord answered my prayer. He IS protecting me from more of the same. My redemption story may not look like I had originally hoped it would, but God has something far better for me. I don’t know quite what it looks like yet. I’m scared. I’m admittedly stressed. I’m anxious. I’m in the thick of the ick right now. I’m literally fighting for my children’s well being, having not being given child support and losing children to bribery and lives without rules and too much freedom. That is my greatest tragedy right now. Total alienation from two of my older children. The mind games, lies, and manipulation he has over them blows my mind, but all I can do is pray they see the truth eventually in His time. 

I finally stood up to him and chose differently and I’m so very glad I did. 

My redemption story isn’t over yet, and either is yours. I’m looking forward to the next chapter and the next. But right now, it’s all I can do to climb out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. I’m going to continue to choose differently because I’m worth it. And so are you sister. My redemption day is coming and so is yours. Let’s keep putting one foot in front of the other and just do the next right thing. We may be in the valley right now, but with Christ beside us, who can be against us? 

“Be still, I will fight for you.” Exodus 3:20 

All That She Has Lost ~ By Megan Cox

Megan is Founder and Executive Director of Give Her Wings. She carries a Masters in Pastoral Counseling and is certified in Crisis Response with the AACC. She has also recently finished her CPE Unit 1 training.

“Its so sweet to see your father-in-law holding your baby,” I said to the young mother in church.

“Yes! Its so great having so many wonderful grand-parents in my children’s lives! Its so easy when they are around!” she said, thoughtlessly.

I am way beyond grieving the death of my parents. But, I still wish my four beautiful babies had grandparents who love and adore them. I wish their grandparents (my parents) could have met them and seen them and been there when they were born. And they wish for that, also. When I walk around this earth, in this life, my pain is not obvious. I never really talk, anymore, about how difficult it is to raise the children on my own . . . how hard it is to not have any back up . . . what crazy steps I take to ensure that David and I are safe because we have no family to care for our children should something happen to one or both of us. And I know that can happen because I lived it. It is simply a part of my life. I decided, years ago, that David and I would be the ones to create that beautiful devoted family. We would be the ones to be there for our children. Our grandchildren will have cousins and everyone can come back home for Christmas. But, it hurts. There is a hole. We spend every holiday alone together. We never travel to see anyone because there is no one to see. This is the pain I carry that I don’t talk about. And it is something that has to be grieved pretty regularly.

As an advocate for our mamas, I see their losses. I acknowledge them. I listen, as they share their powerful stories. I hear their voices. And they share with each other, too. For our mamas, what should have been happy occasions were ruined. They are losses that most people would not even notice nor recognize. I want to acknowledge these losses and give our mamas voices.

The thing is, they are not often “allowed” to grieve all of the incredible loss that comes from abuse. Please notice I’m not saying “loss from divorce”. Our mamas suffered for years — sometimes decades — from abuse. Divorce was their sweet, saving grace and a gift from God. The losses these women have sustained come in the form of complicated grief. And if this grief is not experiences, they suffer in other ways. Going forward, I am going to start a series on our social media page (on Mondays! watch for it!) detailing the losses our mamas have experienced. Will you grieve with them? Will you weep with those who weep? Will you recognize their pain with me and call it what it is? Because they do not have that gift very often. And this is a part of our calling and ministry at Give Her Wings — to come alongside our mamas and mourn with them.

If you were an abused wife, you will know exactly what we are discussing below. Read and feel these losses so many of them have talked about:

  1. Their weddings may not have been happy. These mamas who might have grown up (like I did), looking forward to their wedding day might have had some dark blights on their precious day. For me, it was that I was sick as a dog on our wedding night with a horrible stomach flu virus that was running rampant through our wedding party. That did not matter. He had not had sex with me yet and he was not about to trade that in to care for his new bride.
  2. Their birth stories are probably not fabulous. They were not peaceful. They were riddled with pain, vulnerability and sorrow. As a mother of four, one of my most painful realizations were how awful my own stories are and how awful our mamas’ are. And many of us would not be able to have any more children. Abusive men use their wives most vulnerable moments to hurt them. Further, many pregnancies for our mamas were conceived during spousal rape.
  3. Vacations were miserable. What we hoped would bring us rest and peace brought more abuse . . . more time to abuse. More time to hurt. More time for the children to watch the abuse and be scarred by it.
  4. Most of our mamas did not have love. This is a biggie. When you marry someone who regularly withholds love and compassion from you, you know that you will have a very lonely life. Because you lost your chance to find someone who WILL love you. That’s over. She feels like she has done this to herself and nothing will ever reverse it. There is seemingly no mercy for this. I remember thinking, “I will always be an unloved woman.” Never have I ever felt such hopelessness.
  5. Family support. This is a huge loss if a family does not support a mama coming out of an abusive marriage. She finds herself alone, wishing there were more people to love her and her children. This is a mind-breaking loss.
  6. Holidays have to be 100% focused on the abuser or he will ruin them. I have not spoken to one mama who has told me a favorable story about a holiday from their abusive marriage. This needs to be mourned.
  7. Abandonment from friends. Most people simply do not have the emotional bandwidth to “take on” the deep pain and agony that our mamas face. We all get that. But, it is a loss, nonetheless. Our mamas end up feeling so incredibly alone. People they thought would always be there for them simply were not there.
  8. Their health and youth. Due to sustained abuse and constant stress, many of our mamas face irreversible health problems, both mental and physical. It is very painful to realize that our vitality has been taken from us, especially as mothers who want to bless and enjoy our children.

I want our readers and constituents to know that these are the ways in which our mamas suffer. And it takes years to work through and past this tangled dark forest of complicated grief. Watch for our series and have compassion. Our mamas get so little of that.

Love,

Megan

Our March Mama’s Painful Story

It took us so long to get to “Phoenix” — six months, to be exact. From the time we were contacted regarding her plight until the time we were able to reach her this February, we simply could not get to where she is. The trailer she keeps with her three little lambs is out in the middle of nowhere. Every contact we seemed to make with someone we thought was “nearby” ended up being (at best) 8-10 hours away from her. She is caught in a small town with very little resources because of her ex husband and their court orders. Being a foreign national, she does not have family support and cannot return to her home country or she would lose custody of her children. So, she shares custody, in a country that is not her home with a man who continues to make her life hell. He terrorized her and her children with physical and sexual abuse and he continues to terrorize them now. Phoenix holds her children close, every night, wishing she could protect them from the 50/50 custody they share. I cannot imagine the horror her mother’s heart endures. 

She has one friend in this town where she lives . . . one person who has not believed the lies that her ex husband has told about her. That one friend nominated her, and we worked hard to make sure we could find her. 

After a ton of calling around and cries for help, we were finally told that Patrick Doyle could go to vet Phoenix. For those of you who don’t know, Patrick (of Veritas Counseling) is a gifted, Spirit-filled counselor who specializes in trauma. We had heard of him through Leslie Vernick. After one phone call with Patrick, he had set his heart on ministering to Phoenix. We will always be grateful to Patrick for the amount of time he spent talking to Phoenix face-to-face and helping us to best know how to serve her. As it turns out, she is working full time but still only makes minimum wage. She had gotten behind in basic bills (like utilities) and has no heat. She cuts firewood out back, herself, to keep herself and her little lambs warm. Give Her Wings is going to be able to come alongside her, provide a mentor for her and catch her up on her bills by paying them down (and getting ahead) in the amount of $1500.

Friends, this is life-altering for Phoenix for several reasons. First, she said she had never heard of a Christian group that ministers to women “like her” (her words). She wept, on the phone, as I told her that she would not be alone as long as Give Her Wings is in her life. But, the greatest, most healing effect of what we did is not surrounding the money. It surrounds the fact that we moved heaven and earth to get her help. THAT’S what ministered to her the most. We just couldn’t (and wouldn’t) let it go just because it was difficult. We insist on that face to face meeting and we were going to make that happen. Already, I’ve seen Phoenix bloom a little bit. I’m seen signs of life coming from her . . . she seems to be reminded that God has not forgotten her. She chose the name “Phoenix” because it is her rising . . . rising out of the ashes and soon into beauty. She believes God will do this for her and we do, as well. 

If you would like to donate to help “Phoenix”, please click here. Even better, join the Give Her Wings family and become an angel! 

Jesus went looking for that one little lamb . . . and we went looking for Phoenix. The power of searching for a woman who finds herself alone and offering that woman love impacts her more than we can express. And she will never, ever forget it.

Love,

Megan 

10 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Church


I had the privilege of working with Rosanne Henry, MA, last year, cult recovery specialist. The similarities between abusive marriages and cults are striking. I took one of her lists of questions to ask (before joining a community) and modified it to better suit Christendom. Once posted on social media, I have had a handful of people ask for a copy so we decided to post it here.

We highly suggest that people ask themselves and others these questions before joining a church. In Christ, there is freedom. In Christ, there is love. In Christ there is justice and there is the Body — One Body. There are no cults in Christ. No control in Christ. No narcissism in Chris. If any of the answers to the below questions are shady or unclear, don’t attend. We hope you will watch for red flags. Love, Megan

  1. What credentials does this pastor/leader/elder possess that qualifies him/her to give this instruction?
  2. How does the pastor/leader/elder maintain his/her authority in the group or in relationships? Does he/she claim to be the only person that gives this instruction? Is his word the final word on decisions? Does he base decisions upon his preferences?
  3. Can you challenge the pastor/leader/elder’s instruction? Can you question his/her advice? What happens if you disagree with the leader?
  4. Who does your pastor/elder/leader report to? If you were to complain about the leader, to whom would you go? Is there a system of checks and balances within his/her line of authority?
  5. Within the church, who makes the rules? Who can change the rules? How often does this happen? What happens when someone breaks the rules?
  6. What will you be expected to “give up” or “sacrifice” to be a part of this community? Ask this question in advance and be as specific as possible.
  7. Are parishioners free to leave this congregation? What happens to those who leave? Is it punitive for them to leave? Do they become “outsiders”?
  8. How does the leader talk about people who have left the group? Is contact with them allowed, discouraged or forbidden?
  9. What attitudes does the leader/pastor/elder have toward maintaining relationships with friends, family, and others outside the group? Do they take issue with other people in the congregation remaining friends with those who are discarded or who have left?
  10. What is the leader/pastor/elder’s attitude toward people outside the group in general? Are you encouraged to be compassionate and understanding, or judgmental and elite?
  11. Are secrets being kept from you? Are doors locked, access to telephones limited, or is information restricted in any way? Are you banned from returning or communicating with others?”

You Are Not On Trial — by Megan Cox

We have been having mini-discussions on our private mama page regarding PTSD and C-PTSD, including their similarities and differences. We also touch on General Anxiety Disorder, as most of us experience a form of anxiety in one way or another. One of the most striking differences and helpful delineations between GAD and PTSD (from my understanding) is that when a person gets anxious, they are often anxious over what might happen. But people with PTSD and C-PTSD are not afraid of what might happen. It has already happened and they know it is possible and can happen again. That is the fear. It’s occurred — the worst nightmares — and we know it is possible for it to occur again.

I have a lot of fear over my loved ones dying in a car accident because both of my parents were instantly killed in a car accident over 20 years ago. If one of my family members is late, I panic until I hear something from someone. Early on in our marriage, David wanted to comfort me by telling me that his dying in a car accident would never happen. I mean, what are the odds? And I would say, “But, it DID happen. What were the odds that both my parents would die?” I could not shake that feeling that the odds were surely against me that my parents would both die in an accident and yet it happened. It could happen again. My fear is over something that I know can happen because it already did.  That is PTSD.

And, as Christians, we spend a lot of time counter-acting general anxiety, trusting in God each day and reminding ourselves of the verses that bring us peace and comfort. However, I believe we still short-change ourselves. I think Jesus went even deeper than that. I think there is help for people with PTSD in Scripture, as well. Because He knew and knows that our trauma is not just instantly fixed by an encouraging word. How do I know this? Because Jesus faced extreme betrayal, physical and psychological trauma and abandonment. We can identity with His suffering, which is stronger than just words. He gets it. And we can go to Him. And I hope that you do, knowing that He can sympathize with our psychological pain.

In the meantime, I feel compelled to remind those of our readers who suffer from repeated injury to the mind, body and soul and who are now free that things have changed. If you have left abuse behind you and still suffer the effects of abuse, there is no shame in that. But, because it is so easy to follow those old pathways of behavior and thinking, I would love for you to start to let these words sink in:

  1. You are no longer on trial. Yes, I know that you were . . . some of you still are in battles over divorce and custody. I understand that. For some of us, we felt like we were on trial for years, as people investigated our stories and held smear campaigns against us. But, in all other areas of life, you are not on trial. If someone accuses you of something, you are not on trial. That is simply their accusation. If you have a job interview, you are not on trial. It is just a job interview and they would be lucky to have you (and they probably know that). When going to a new church, you are not on trial. You are the one deciding whether or not to attend there. Sister, you have so much more power than you might think.
  2. Everyone is NOT your authority figure. I know that, forever and a day, it felt like every man in the world was your authority because of faulty theology and controlling churches. That is not actually the case. You are equal to every man out there. I mean, you might have a boss in the workplace who is male. In that case, he is your boss. But he is also blessed to have the likes of you (and he hopefully know that — if not, look for something where you feel appreciated). So, strong child of God, hold your head up high and look those men in the eye and do your gifted thing.
  3. You have choices. You don’t have to stay with the first therapist you visit. He/she is not your authority. You can choose your child’s therapist. You can choose an attorney. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, move on. You do not have to stay with them. I know that you felt you had to stay with your abuser but not so, anymore. You can walk away. You can remove that person from social media. You can change friend groups or switch churches if you feel unsafe. You do not have to return that email and you no longer have to defend yourself. Sometimes, that is a distraction from the plan God has for you.

Beautiful child of God, Jesus paid a very high price for your freedom. We hold ourselves back because that is what we are used to. We don’t have to hold ourselves back. It is a brave, new world out there that is very different from the oppressive situations in which you had found yourself. In fact, that oppressive situation is a teeny, tiny speck on a very large map. Normal, healthy people don’t accuse at every turn, they don’t crazy-make, they aren’t passive-aggressive and they do not make you feel like you are being questioned all the time. And, if they are and do, leave!

You’ve got this. God has given you wisdom and a sound mind. You can have your sanity back — I promise you that! Claim that. You are powerful within because of Jesus in you. Go with that. And put that old stuff behind, as best as you can. You are so worth making that effort. And there are so many people who need your healthy love and advocacy. El Roi, the God who sees, adores you. He loves you and He has a plan that involved your strength and His. Trust Him in this.

Love,

Megan

Megan Cox is a Pastoral Counselor and Executive Director of Give Her Wings. She holds an MAR and is certified in crisis response with the AACC. She has also recently completed her CPE Unit 1 training.

Spiritual Abuse and Wilsonian Theology

The following article is written by one of our readers.  After we learned that she had been counseled by the father of Douglas Wilson, we asked her if she would tell of that experience here.  As you will see, just about every misapplication of Scripture to a case of abuse is illustrated right here by a man who was a pastor. This is an important testimony, as it raises awareness of what happens to an abused woman in isolation and why we want to help her find freedom and truth in Christ.

* * * * * *

Jim Wilson is, in a way, a front-runner of Biblical or Nouthetic counseling. Jim (now in his 80’s) and late wife, Bessie, birthed Doug Wilson, the hyper-controversial theologian, pastor and writer of many books, most notably, books on marriage. Doug is also a master debater.
I first met Jim when I was three. He led my father and my grandfather to Christ. This post is a difficult post because Jim had a tremendous impact on my life and family. There are things I learned from him that I carry around to this day. There are also things I learned from him that haunt me and make me sick to think about.

I first called him when I tried to leave my abusive marriage for the first time. I had been married for nine years. Because of Jim (and a few others – but mostly Jim) I stayed in my marriage two more agonizing years as things disintegrated badly. Jim was well aware of what my ex-husband was doing to me. The first thing I remember about Jim is that he assumed I was the problem immediately. I believe it took 6-8 months (and a lot of my husband “leaking” his abuse to Jim) for Jim to realize that Dan was “not a nice man”. But, even then, he convinced me to repent of my bitterness . . . or anger . . . or whatever sin of which I was guilty – and threw me back in. This probably happened two dozen times.

I think the most striking, over-arching memory I have of Mr. Wilson, is a pure lack of compassion. I remember crying into the phone (sobbing, rather) and saying, “Dan doesn’t love me. He doesn’t even know how.” To which Mr. Wilson replied, “Well, you don’t have to make it hard for him.” Other times, he would say that I must respect my husband. And, if I didn’t, I was in sin. Considering the fact that my husband was abusive, neglectful and a pornographer, I had a difficult time respecting him. This was held over my head time and time again. It was ALWAYS MY bitterness or MY anger or MY hurt and I was made to feel selfish . . . . I don’t know how many times 1 Peter chapter 3 was read to me . . . along with other Scriptures about how we are not to divorce. My husband would corner me, beat me down emotionally for hours, or physically abuse me. Three out of four times, I was “godly” – meaning, I would take it. I would not respond. That fourth time, I would break down, or cry, or yell back (never a good decision; only made things worse). Whenever that fourth time happened, I was condemned by both my husband and Jim. I have NEVER had any sort of darkness, confusion or break-downs since I left my ex-husband over a year ago.

To his credit, Mr. Wilson eventually saw that Dan was abusive. He then decided that Dan was not saved and he led him to the Lord six times (no exaggeration here – literally, Dan “got saved” six times and, even, re-baptized). Each time, Dan would be sweet for a few days but then could not keep up the facade. My hope was dashed over and over as I tried to pick up and move forward again.

There were two horrible times where I would go into a very dark emotional coma . . .  where I was paralyzed with hopelessness and a complete misunderstanding of God’s will for my life. Dan was abusive and confusing and I simply could not press on anymore. According to Jim, this was my lot. With no parents or family who loved me, I was destined to be an unloved abused woman for the rest of my life. And God was good with this (so I thought). During these “comas”, Jim would encourage me to confess my sin . . . . after all, it was my sin that put me in those very dark places.

I spent hours searching the blogs of the Wilson family . . .  I looked at a blog called “Femina” – Doug’s wife, Nancy wrote it. I asked for her help. I saw that other women did, too. So, Nancy wrote a blog called “A Respectful Wife”.  It was there that I began to recognize the merciless philosophy of this family. Nancy wrote these words regarding women who simply cannot respect their husbands. And I quote: “Now some women will say, ‘I refuse to do that. My husband is not worthy of such treatment.’ Then why did you marry him?” It doesn’t work like that, Nancy. Abusive men are manipulators. Where, oh where, is a heart of compassion?

Here is a sample of a note Jim Wilson sent me after I left my husband. I tried with Jim . . .  I really did. I thought he was helping me . . .  thought he COULD help me. . . . Here is his note and my response:

Dear _______ ,

I was awake in the middle of the night thinking about you and praying for you. You know that for years I have been on Dan’s case weekly and sometimes daily. I am well aware of how he has treated you and how you have responded to this treatment. You have been very vocal about it. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” You have been telling everyone of what is in your heart. You have been more conscious of what has been done to you than you have been conscious of what you have been doing to yourself. You do not seem to be aware that you are telling people more about yourself than you think. I think you have a sensitive conscience. You must be very unhappy. Here are a few pieces of scripture as I think of them.

Love is not easily angered: “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered” (I Corinthians 13:5).

Love does not keep a record of wrongs: “It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7).

“’In your anger do not sin’, Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-7).

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31).

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times’…This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:21-22,35).

Forgiveness is not related to the other person repenting. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

We have talked about I Peter 3. It is really about I Peter 2:21, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” It is being like Jesus. It is not by keeping quiet, but having a “meek and quiet spirit.” For all I know, you may have kept quiet. But, since I have known you, you have not had a meek and quiet spirit. You have shared your spirit with me many times. You have wanted me to speak to Dan many times and it may be having an effect through the Spirit of God. Your joy has to do with you, not with Dan.

You know I love you and the kids. I would love to see you.

With Love in Christ,

Your Substitute Grandfather

My response:

Dear Jim , I have ascertained that a true grandfather-like figure would have sought my protection and made moves for the kids’ and my safety. I went to you first. I was looking for help, wisdom, protection and comfort. I could not find that with you. You kept me with Dan, despite how you knew he was treating me. Since you insist on pursuing me to bring me back to oppression, I have determined that your voice is no longer valid and I desire that you leave me alone. I am uncomfortable with your pursuits. Please do not contact the kids or me again. Thank you, _________

Indeed, Jim Wilson has not been a gentleman – he has not left me alone. I have moved four times in the past year (out of financial duress) and he has found my address every time. He still sends me letters, books, sermons. I cannot seem to get away from the man. I believe that, at the end, Jim Wilson would have taken the kids and me in . . . . but he would have insisted on reconciliation with a monster of a man . . . . and NEVER would have allowed for divorce or any child custody hearings.

If I could sum up the Wilson philosophy in one sentence, it would be: “Thorough Wilsonian theology; zero mercy and zero compassion.” This is not how Christ was. This is not how Christ is. Praising Him that, despite my lack of discernment when it came to counsel, God still found a way to rescue the children and me. Because He is, after all, the greatest Deliverer we could ever know.

Believe Her — A Post by Megan from 2012

One of our most popular sections from Megan’s book, Give Her Wings: Help and Healing After Abuse. Be edified and blessed.

The first time my ex husband physically hurt me, I felt relief.

Now, I could maybe tell someone that I had suffered PHYSICAL abuse and, often, people are more affected by physical abuse than emotional, spiritual, mental or sexual abuse. One woman said, “I knew he was difficult to live with but I had NO IDEA he was hurting you PHYSICALLY.” It was like I now had permission to leave — because there were visible bruises. I have heard many women who left horrid, hell-like marriages, having survived heinous acts of manipulation and mental suffering say this: “I wish he had pushed me down the stairs.” A friend, in fact, recently wrote a blog about this very thing. If there was “evidence” . . . if her ex had put her in the hospital . . . maybe people would not make her the bad guy for finally having the courage to run away from the darkness that was her marriage.

In CS Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, no one believes Lucy when she tells them she has found an entire new country through the back of the wardrobe. Perplexed, the other 3 children go to the professor about Lucy. After all, Lucy has always been honest. She has never displayed acts of manipulation or craziness. The children cannot understand why Lucy will not recant. They are stunned when the Professor asks them, “How do you know that your sister’s story is not true?” He then explains that there are only three logical possibilities: either Lucy is lying, she has gone mad, or she is telling the truth. Lucy was never a liar nor had she gone mad. Not only that, but the Professor asks them which one of the two children (Edmund or Lucy) was most likely to tell the truth. Lucy is more likely to tell the truth. A new perspective had developed.

This perspective is what is sadly missing in the lives of so many people surrounding abused women. I am at a loss as to why a perfectly sane, honest woman is allofasudden a liar when it comes to the abuse she is suffering at the hands of her husband — behind closed doors — LISTEN — where no one else lives. I see this all the time now. A woman is respected, honored, looked up to by so many people in the church. . .  until she admits to someone that her personal home life is a living hell. NOW, she is doubted, questioned and treated like she is a squeaky, high-pitched crazy woman who is crying wolf. Where did this come from?!

Friends . . . most of the women I know who have bravely left a man who was killing them on the inside emotionally and mentally are intelligent and loving human beings. Look at their track record. Look at their character. These women have had vibrant, living and active relationships with Christ for as long as you have known them. Why would you doubt them now, when they need you the most? Yes, their lives have not been easy and their pasts may be marked by strange behavior, covering and hidden pain . . . but that RIGHT THERE should be the indication that something was very wrong in their private lives and, not only that, that they are dealing with it alone.  She was trying to honor her husband all those years; trying to respect him. She might have been threatened by him. Maybe he questioned her every time she got home (“Who did you talk to?” “What did you tell them?!”). She had a reason for not telling you earlier.

If a woman seems to suddenly leave a spouse, has the courage to admit what was going on, or runs for safety, don’t take it upon yourself to decide to judge her. You did not walk in her shoes; you weren’t there. You have no right to make any decisions about what her life was like. Look at who she has been all this time. Did she walk with the Lord? Was she trying to follow Him? Does she love her children? Has she loved YOU? Believe her. I would much rather err on the side of loving belief of a sister than make the unconscionable decision to shun or abandon her in her darkest hour.

With Respect, Megan

Megan Cox is a Pastoral Counselor and Executive Director of Give Her Wings. She holds an MAR and is certified in crisis response with the AACC.

Less than 48 hours ago, we asked for help. ~ Megan Cox

And you all came through, above and beyond. We couldn’t believe it as we watched donation after donation come in for Valour (read the story here). Friends, we needed $3000 for our two extra mamas in February. Moreover, I just so happened to mention our Valentine’s gifts (that are lovely and I cannot wait for you to see them!). After I sent the last newsletter, I got on my knees and prayed. Every day, I give Give Her Wings over to Jesus. I pray for our entire board, staff and team. And then I pray for our mamas . . . I go to Jesus on their behalf and I just beg Him for mercy. I ask Him to see my sisters — to see them. I remind Him that He is the God Who Sees (El Roi). I believe that He is moved by the prayers of His people and that He loves to work through them. All day, we watched the donations come in. My heart soared. I knew and understood and was reminded just how much God loves our mamas and loves what we do. 

Dear ones, you contributed $3755.00 total. 

This morning, as I thanked God for His provision, I was reminded of Psalm 23 . . . “God leads me beside still waters and leads me into green pastures. He restores my soul. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid. For He will provide a feasting table for me in the presence of my enemies.”

Valour has been surrounded by an enemy who truly hates her, who wants to destroy her. And through Jesus, through your donations and through Give Her Wings, God has provided a feast for her . . . just waiting for her to partake of His goodness. As a result, I believe she will begin to trust Him more. Because of her precious friends nearby (whom we love and trust) and the army of Give Her Wings behind her and YOUR participation, I trust God with her life. He has her. And you helped. We don’t know how to thank you. Our words not adequate for the hope you have given our newest mama. But, nevertheless . . . 

Thank you. From my heart, from the hearts of our team members, from our two newest mamas and ALL of our mamas. Thank you. Our ministry is dependent on your giving. May God bless you, ten-fold, for your boldness and faith and generosity.

With So Much Love,

Megan and the Team of Give Her Wings

Did You Know We Have Crazy Accountability for Our Organization?

If you ever want to see any of our 990 statements, just send an email to admin@giveherwings.com and we will gladly provide you with it. I’m actually pretty proud of how hard we work to keep everything on the up and up. Just for your peace of mind, we have a trained QB expert (Naomi) who is on staff with us but who also works for a CPA (Crystal Huish, who specializes in non profits). Crystal will often also help us with our financials, as well. Further, we are accountable to The Foundation Group, whom we hire to do our 990’s and Charitable Solicitations. Even more importantly to us, we are accountable to a higher standard, as we are a Christian organization who aspires to do everything with integrity before God. 

We Did Something We Could Not Afford To Do

But, we couldn’t look away. Last week, we received a call from one of our friends from a trusted sister-ministry, describing the horrific abuse her neighbor was suffering. “Valour” has two small children and is pregnant with her third, to her abusive partner’s building anger. We have chosen this name for her because she is in a battle and, though very afraid, she is showing tremendous courage. Valour has suffered abhorrent financial, physical, mental and sexual abuse for years. She was isolated with no transportation. He did horrible things to her, careful that there were no obvious signs of abuse for outsiders to notice. He was “smart” about how he abused her. I wish I could go into detail but it is all too horrific and triggering. She is not a person to him . . . she is not a human. She is something to be used and thrown away — every single day.

An early morning text let us know, last week, that she was in danger and things were escalating. I called Valour, well-aware of the fact that we already went over budget by taking a February mama. Normally, we run our Valentine’s Day campaign and, since it is a short month, we don’t take any financial mamas. Now, we have taken two. I could not ignore the desperation in Valour”s voice. I could not turn away from the fact that her heart was turning toward God again. I heard the fear in her tone and I understood it so well. My heart broke and I thought about her that entire day. I wept so many times. And I was afraid to propose it all to the board because I had already pushed our finances so far. I prepped them the day before and received nothing but loving responses and assurances of prayer. I told them that I believe — firmly believe — that God loves what our ministry does and that He will provide. 

The next day, we found out she had fled and gone to a hotel. She never looked back. Her itty bitty girl had already packed her tiny backpack herself, ready to be free. They could not take anymore. They were ready and they left.

I made my proposal to the board that we help her get an apartment. They voted her in within seconds, unanimously. My heart soared. I know it is a lot to ask. I know. We are taking a step of faith and trusting that God will provide the funds we need as we decide to walk alongside Valour and her three babies throughout what will surely be a very difficult road. 

I prayed with her over the phone. She wept. She was free. We helped her with information to obtain a DVPO. She is safe. She finally feels safe. She is also being helped by dear friends whom we trust. They are bravely caring for her and helping with her children and the cost of the hotel until they secure an apartment.

We need your help. We are getting ready to run our campaign for Valentine’s Day. We had already purchased the gifts for our mamas without knowing we would need an extra $3000 for two February mamas. I know not what to do except to plead on behalf of this precious mama, who has risked her life to break the cycle of abuse and give her children a chance.

I will never forget her words to me, “I just want to have a home where my children are safe.” 

I’m only asking you to pray. To see if God leads you to give. If so, please donate here. We are a 501(c)3 and all donations are tax deductible. As you know, I would do anything for our mamas. Please join me in being a passionate ambassador for Christ in this woman’s life. She will never, ever forget it. 

Love, Megan