My Body’s Trauma by Megan Cox

Today I was rushing to get ready for work. I needed to iron a new skirt that had those “fold marks” from being crammed in a package from Amazon. Getting dressed, I knelt down to plug in the iron and promptly hit my forehead — HARD — on the corner of our dresser. It seared through my mind, pulsing throughout my head and I fell backwards a bit. I sat down, holding my face as I felt a small welt emerge the size of a a lemon drop. Then, I sobbed.

I sobbed like the world was coming to an end. It was a little bit out of proportion but . . . I exploded out all of my current frustrations . . . all the efforts I have put into so many projects and people . . . I sobbed for things my family is suffering . . . I sobbed for my overwhelming, but temporary, mark on my face now. I sobbed until my eyes were puffy and I knew that no amount of make up would cover that hot mess for days.

I parted my hair on the other side to hide the mark, only to reveal the Harry-Potter-shaped scar that was normally covered by my swooping bangs. A scar obtained 25 years ago through a bout of skin cancer and a string of 36 stitches.

I cried again.

As you can imagine, it’s kind of been a rough day.

However (and please try to follow my thinking here), it is a sign that I am connecting to my body. For abuse survivors, there is a strong tendency to completely separate our bodies from our souls and minds . . . further isolating us — even from ourselves. Total and complete isolation.

I’ve been in yoga lately and I have started kind of talking to my body (so weird). Does it make sense that, every time I connect with my body, I weep? Like, I’m getting reacquainted with it? Last week, in yoga, I did a great job on the “tree pose”. After holding the balance, I looked down at my right thigh, gave it a love pat and said, “Good job, leg.” Then, I wept. Right there in yoga (I’m sure it didn’t help that there was a soft rendition of that song from “Beaches” playing in the background). I think I am the only person who has been kind to this body that has been through so so much. I’m showing compassion for my body for the first time. (As an aside, it is almost always ridiculous to me how many layers there are in healing!)

So, for those of you who might not understand, I got really good at dissociating during pain and during sex . . . which started going hand-in-hand on our honeymoon. I tried to do what he wanted and needed — whenever he wanted and needed it. I felt used, as I’ve mentioned before . . . kind of like a prostitute. I’ve heard that same phrase from other women, as well — I felt like a prostitute.

I swear, I could disassociate from my body right this second, if you asked me to. It became second nature. I would say things to myself like, “Anyone can get through anything for an hour.” “Anyone can get through anything for nine months.” “Anyone can get through anything for x-number of years . . . ” until I couldn’t. And then I just stopped feeling. Numbed out. Dead inside.No one cared — not even myself.

So, here are some of the things that I want to say to my body:

  1. I’m sorry, body, that you were in so much pain on your entire honeymoon and had to keep taking baths to try to lessen it. And then give your body up again and again to a man who did not know how to be kind to you.
  2. I’m sorry, body, for each little bruise, scrape or cut you sustained at his hands. I see things on my hands, my arms, my thighs. I see those marks and it wasn’t fair.
  3. I’m sorry, body, for not giving you enough rest. Like, ever. I’m trying to do better now.
  4. I think you are incredibly strong for carrying four babies and having four C-sections in way too short a time. You, Megan, carried diaper bags, pushed strollers and had babies on your hips for years. Yoga has helped me to see how much you stoop over and did not even use muscles in your shoulders, stand up tall and look at people squarely. You were always hunched over . . . beat down.
  5. I look at the scar from hip to hip from last year’s restorative surgery on tummy muscles that had simply given out. I tried to lovingly put vitamin E oil and care for that wound for months. Because I am worth it. I know that now. I’m trying.
  6. I’m sorry for not giving you enough food and nutrients when you were a young woman trying to compete with porn stars and the other women that your ex husband thought were beautiful.
  7. I’m sorry for openly criticizing you for so many years and thinking you weren’t enough. All you’ve done is serve this soul well.

My hair has been pulled — more than I care to admit. I’ve been smacked. I’ve been pushed into the wall and into the shower door, more than once. I’ve been cornered; I’ve been used; I’ve been scarred.

I had four large babies who took up residence in a smallish body. There was a lot of joy there but also a lot of vomiting and a lot of breast-feeding. There was even limping as I was barely able to carry them. Then, there was the split from the muscles, which caused me to wear a (very warm) brace with that last pregnancy. While I’m very proud of my births and young-motherhood, I felt like a baby-receptacle for a while. And since no one else seemed to care, I did not think I was worth being cared for.

The doctor during my very last C-section . . . . Mrs. Penner, we have to tie your tubes. You cannot keep doing this. Let me take care of this. You have to be there for your children. They need you.

I felt like someone cared. I wept then, too, and consented right there during the surgery. If I was not going to stop myself from repeating this torture on my body, this doctor was. Oddly, that was the kindest thing anyone had done for me for years.

Now, I just won’t have that. I don’t want my hair pulled. I don’t want to be hurt during sex. I want to be present when I’m touched. And it is taking me a very long time. But I think that I would be cheating myself if I don’t try. But, trying is hard. Because it is easy to be deprive myself of sensation. But, then I would lose. And I’m so over losing.

But this is part of being a warrior-princess, right? Facing all of those things. Crying during yoga . . . giving my thigh a high-five. Being OK with my markings and softly touching my lemon-drop lump because no one else will. Of feeling.

Oh, friends. Sometimes the bravest things are things we are trying to do that no one else would ever see.

Thank you for allowing me to share some of my very personal journey with you.

Love,

Megan

Post Separation Abuse: Waves of False Guilt

Megan Cox has her MAR in Pastoral Counseling and is certified in Crisis Response with the AACC. She is also the founder and Executive Director of Give Her Wings, Inc.

(To our readers who are in abusive marriages presently: Only you and God know when the time is right to stay or go. He will lead you. I pray for our readers who are in incredibly trying, unbelievably exhausting, terrifying situations. This post is not for you. You have too many other heavier things to deal with right now.)

A friend writes:

When the scales were lifted from my eyes, regarding the abuse my children and I endured, a new heaviness overcame me. Why had I stayed in so long? How could I have let this happen to the children? They will now be scarred for the rest of their lives; they will have to go through therapy. Will they even be capable of healthy relationships? How could I have let them suffer? How could I have allowed such evil in my home?

I am writing this to, hopefully, relieve the false guilt of so many I have heard from this week. I went through this, as well. Only just today, my eldest child told me of something his biological father did to him when he was 6 years old (unbeknownst to me). It broke this mother’s heart. And, yet, I stayed three more years after that. All of a sudden, we realize that we let it go on for too long. Staying in the abusive situation was not as noble as we thought. It was not as “godly” as they tried to make us believe. There is a twinge of our conscience. To this, I want to say two things:

1. Please remember who the victim is or was. And remember who the abuser is or was. Friend, you are not the abuser — you were the victim. He or she clouded your thinking, manipulated, harmed, hurt, devastated and used you. I remember being in my home-that-felt-like-a-prison, feeling like there was ten feet of concrete over my head. I could not hear the voices calling down to me — they were muffled. Nothing was clear. No one seemed to be able to reach me and no one could hear me, either. My own private, personal, little isolated hell. How difficult it is to see clearly! Truly, only the miraculous reach of God’s arm could have lifted us out and shown us truth! Surely, God does not expect you to have been able to see clearly. You were sinking and he lifted you out, just like He lifted out the Eyptians from the miry clay of slavery.

2. If you feel there is anything of which to repent, take it to Jesus. I did repent of some things that happened in my marriage. My dear husband now (my second husband — not an abuser) does not like to think about it because he sees the damage that was done to my soul. I don’t think he really believes that I did anything worth repenting of. But, like so many others, I think I stayed in too long. Yes . . . It is all in God’s timing, I know. But, I see what has happened with my children and my heart aches. I was afraid; I didn’t think I could make it on my own; I didn’t think anyone would help me or want me. I stayed for the wrong reasons. When I took this to Christ, I felt His love envelop me. I could almost hear Him saying, “Megan . . . you didn’t know. You didn’t know. You did the best you could.”  Many of us were lied to by those we were taught to trust . . . by our spouses, by our church or by our family. How could we know?

I am choosing not to dwell on how long I “stayed in”. There is nothing that can be done and I am trusting God and moving forward as best as I can in obedience to my Savior (loving Him . . . loving others). I am choosing, alongside my husband, to raise the children in the best way we can, giving them a chance at a healthy life and healthy marriages in the future. That is all I can do. We can only go forward now.

If you struggle with feelings of guilt, whether real or false, take them to Jesus and let Him give you clarity, as He reminds you of His love for you. He was there the entire time. He knows. Release yourself so that you can move on into health and wholeness. Haven’t we been accused enough? I’m taking that walk with you. You did the best you could and God knows that.

You did the best you could.

Love,

Megan

Just Try And Stop Me — by Megan Cox

Megan Cox is the Executive Director of Give Her Wings and has an MAR in Pastoral Counseling. She is certified in Crisis Response with the AACC and has completed Unit 1 of CPE.

The whole week felt like it was exploding on us. We came back from camping as a family and it just felt like everything crumbled through my fingers in a matter of hours. It really felt like too much. I felt attacked from without and within. The whole past 10 days were an awful mess and I had to rely on our incredible Give Her Wings team to pretty much take care of everything while David and I picked up the pieces. Now, we don’t know what to really do with the pieces. But, that’s OK. One day at a time. And that is all we can do. Our kids are fine; our marriage is fine. But it threw us for a loop. Look at these babies. I love them. I even love our cat, Mitzi, even though she looks like she could devour me.

You are welcome, my four beauties, for posting a public picture of all of you with bed head.

Then, other crushing things happened. I took 2 weeks off of work. Again, I just want to make sure that I mention how fantastic our team is. Bekah took the reins and told me not to worry. Bethany, Audrey, Naomi, Michelle, Tillie, David, Elle, Mel, Stan & Chuck told me to let things go and let them do stuff. And they did stuff. And Give Her Wings thrives. (As an aside, I kind of needed to experience this kind of delegation and watch these peeps work their magic)

I’m still taking time off. Because God called me pretty quickly to the bedside of one of our precious mamas, Debbie, in Houston. Thankfully, the board released me and I flew to Houston. I’m sitting in the airport right now, in fact, trying to process. I felt SO ATTACKED up until the very last minute (when someone hacked into our personal bank account, for the love of Pete! RIDIC.).

And then, smooth sailing to Houston.

I had the honor of spending a few days with Debbie and her beautiful daughter (and their cat, Patches). Ya’ll. My heart. Oh, my heart. It was all I could do to not break down as I left. Debbie has stage four liver cancer. But we talked, we laughed, I made a ton of bone broth and soup . . . we watched “Jaws” during the Jaws marathon (Debbie and I are still scared from the 70’s, friends) . . . I cleaned, we did laundry, we prayed, we put oils in a diffuser to brighten the room. I got to enter into her teen daughter’s world for a little glimpse of her sweet life. We bought a lot of food and some supplies for their one-bedroom apartment. We tried new foods. I built a toilet paper pyramid on the back of her toilet because we girls feel secure when there is a pretty solid supply of TP. (you all know I”m right about this but feel free to challenge it)

My TP pyramid. #security

In short, this woman is so much more than a mama we support. She has become a sister. A sister that I have had the privilege and honor of walking with for many years now. And we piled on the bed and talked about food, make up, politics and Jesus. And it was beautiful. And everything felt “right”.

Can you see her beautiful spirit?

I know that a lot of our people don’t believe in the Enemy (Satan). But most of our people believe in the power of evil. And it is out there and I felt that darkness over the past few weeks. But while sitting in the tears and the happy-sad with Debbie and her baby girl, I felt only the golden-powerful-warmth of the Holy Spirit. Ministry is hard; leading is hard. But doesn’t the devil know, by now, that I only gain resolve when he does the things he does? That I answer hate, in my heart, with only more compassion and love? Doesn’t he know, by now, that I don’t respond to his taunts and his nonsense? I rise above that . . . . because I am a child of God. And I hold my head up high. And my prayer is that our team, our board, our volunteers and our mamas watch me rise above and they rise above, too. Because they are also beautiful children of God. That is my hope.

Debbie was so worth it. She is so worth it. And all of our mamas are. I love them so so much and I wish I could give them the world. They deserve all of the goodness.

I cried all the way to the airport today.

But, I also was able to reach out to some amazing friends who are (their words) ALL IN when it comes to serving Debbie going forward. Because God loves her. He loves us. He loves Give Her Wings. And I will never stop fighting for our mamas — no matter what. Look what Karen sent me in a text today:

I could tell she was a little taken back when I told her I was there for whatever she needed.  She started to tell me she didn’t want to be a burden and I told her this was a God timed event. I was here to serve her. It isn’t a burden –  it is a blessing. Whatever she needs. Day or night. I’m there.   Told her I would be there for [teen daughter] too in whatever capacity she needed.  I promise to care for her. She will not feel  alone anymore. 

I wish Debbie knew that just being with her is a gift to the rest of us. That her friendship, her spirit and her heart bless everyone who know her. Our mamas are gifts . . . . beautiful, beautiful gifts.

So, I’m grateful to our team for holding down the fort. I’m grateful to David and the kids for sparing me. I’m grateful for the board for sending me out there to be love to Debbie. I’m grateful to all of you who donate because you make it possible for me to be a minister. So . . . thank you (inadequate) for supporting us.

Hey, friends? Will you pray for me? And pray for Debbie and her baby girl? And pray for your pastors and ministry leaders? They don’t have it easy — I promise you that. It would just mean a lot to me.

Love,

Megan

You are Powerful ~ by Megan Cox

Art Credit “All that is Jane” by Megan Cox

“People are afraid you are a distraction to my ministry.”

My ex husband shifted in his seat in the car as I struggled to understand what he was saying. We had just recently become engaged. He said he was called to be a missionary and I was not sure where I fit into his calling. I thought we could do it together? But, it seemed like he was the only one called.

“What people?” I asked. Feeling offended and hurt. Why did it seem like everyone looked down on me?

He didn’t answer but just looked away from me and out the window. He sighed. He looked down. There was some sort of internal struggle going on. I didn’t understand. I thought he loved me. But now, it was as though he felt like I was just a burden to him.

A distraction. My esteem seemed to break in that moment and sit at the bottom of my stomach like lead. Is that what I was?

I fumbled with my seatbelt in the passenger’s seat. “I will be a good wife. I don’t want to be a distraction.” I was somehow meekly defending myself. I thought about how other men had wanted to marry me. They seemed to think that they had hit the jackpot when they met me! What had happened that I had become such a nothing? When did I stop having something to offer? When did I become so insignificant as — not only to no longer be someone who could be a partner, enriching the life of my spouse — but now I was reduced to someone who might cause my spouse harm? A distraction?

My ex husband set the stage, over and over, as we dated and were engaged. He groomed me to believe that I could not do better than he. He melded my mind (brainwashed) me to think that I had no ministry. It was his ministry. Not only did I have no place, but I was a liability. Not a gift.

By the time we were married, I felt lucky that anyone wanted me.

For the rest of our marriage together, I felt lucky to have anything at all. That is how it works. A hundred conversations like the one above during the dating period. And it is settled. He had me and I did not deserve better. There was no one in my life to tell me otherwise. And his family confirmed it. On the night before our wedding, his mother and father sat down with him and said, “When are you coming home?” And he told me about it. It was so bad. IT WAS SO BAD that after I left, a friend told me I had “so much to offer” and I stared at him like he was crazy. There was nothing positive about me! I worked over-time to try to win approval from my ex husband, his family and my own and yet I could never find it.

Leaving all of that was the best pruning I ever received.

Years later, I don’t even recognize that girl. I was so afraid that the real Megan was gone forever. Lately, I have seen so much relational success that I cannot even recognize the girl above except in my distant memories. It is like watching a movie of someone else’s life.

I am not really sure why I want to share this but I do. I think that part of it might be that I want people to see how things happen. I was vulnerable; my parents had just died; I was 25; I was hurting; there was no family that did not already treat me questionably. It was the perfect storm for breeding even further pain and insecurity in my life until I felt like I could not live without him.

I think another part is that I want people to see that they can heal, if they do the hard work. I’m myself again. I lead, I minister and I love. I am healthy — body, mind and soul. I eat heartily and I laugh loudly. I write and paint and work hard to inspire and encourage. Because I know where I am and what I am supposed to be doing, I don’t feel a need to criticize, belittle or hurt others. I am healed. And giving her wings is my favorite. Oh, how I love to see our mamas fly. And our team. There simply is not time enough in the day to love the people in my family and the people with whom I work.

Life is a good and painful thing. And I can experience it all. So many people have followed me for a long time and, if you are one of those, I’m here to tell you that it can get better. So, so much better. For so long, I felt like all of the limbs of myself were chopped off. But, no one could take my soul — that belonged to Jesus. And He helped me to thrive, despite the deep, devastating pain. It just took time, and struggle and growth. And healing and more growth and stretching and trying. And if I could do it, you can do it, too. I believe in you. And so does Jesus.

You are not a distraction. That is a disgusting word to me. You are all that is sacred, in your own right. Every single part of you. And you are a vessel and a carrier of God’s powerful Holy Spirit. You. Not your husband — not your ex husband. You. You belong to Him. And no one can take that away — no matter how hard they tried. Be filled. And be at peace . . . at the very center-core of the bit of life that is still there. Rest in that. You . . . are powerful.

Love,

Megan

Our Boys are Going to be OK ~ Megan Cox

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

These boys . . . our boys. Boys who grow up with their mamas. Boys who know that their biological fathers are abusive. Or maybe they don’t know. Maybe they share time with their fathers and are tossed back and forth by the cruelness of circumstances and they are wrestling with the intense desire to love and respect their father and they do not want to see the abuse. They want to look away. Just like their moms did for so many. years . . . they choose a willful blindness and they do not understand abuse. I understand that. Why would you want to have to unpack the knowledge that your blood-father is abusive? Why? Boys want to admire their dads. They want to respect them. As my oldest son is about to turn 17 and my younger son is now a pre-teen, I think about this a lot more. Our mamas think about it constantly. I wonder if people realize how amazing these mamas are. Their children are pre-teens, teens, young adults . . . and all of us watch, helplessly, as their sons hurt. There is no escaping it. Our sons are going to hurt. That is all there is to it. They would have been utterly damaged had we stayed . . . they are going to be hurt if we go. Period.

It wasn’t until Andrew Bauman came to speak to our mamas on their private support page yesterday that I felt a strange release. For the past seven years, I have tried to shield my sons from that pain. It can’t be done. I mean, all children will have gaps in their childhoods . . . and we moms cry out to God to fill those holes with His grace in our babies. We know it is coming. But these boys . . . our boys. I have taught them everything I could teach them about Christ and His grace and yet still. Still, they hurt. Andrew said that they will — no matter what. And as I watch my oldest become an amazing adult, I realize that it is true. There was nothing I could do to stop the pain. At first, I was in a bit of agony over this. But, after listening to Andrew tell us that there are things that we could do to help our sons, I felt relief. Because I had done those things.

I have pursued health.

I have modeled health to the best of my ability.

I have encouraged my sons’ walks with the Lord IN the hurt. And they both have beautiful, intimate relationships with Him.

I have done what I could. No child of mine can ever say I did not give everything I had.

The best thing I did for my children was to find healing for myself.

Single mamas have such a unique role with their boys. The challenges youth face are wholly different that what we all faced. Just different. We mama bears are constantly trying to stay ahead and learn about those challenges and reinterpret them through the lens of God’s love. It is an every day thing. It is good work. And hard work.

How do we train up our boys to be godly men in our particular circumstances? How do we share the good qualities of their biological fathers with them so they know that they have good qualities, too? How do we teach them to honor their father while not becoming him? How do we teach them to love Jesus when the church has so visibly and obviously let us all down? How do we teach them not to speak ill of family members who devastated all of us while still allowing room for their pain? How do we, as moms, warn our boys of the destructiveness of pornography, especially when they have seen it with their fathers? How do we instill in them a deep and inherent dignity for themselves and all people when they have seen so much ugly coming our way?

Pray for all of us. This is not an easy road. We seek God every single day . . . we carry a tremendous burden. And I’m realizing more and more how much Give Her Wings mamas — and all of the single mamas who are bravely raising their boys — need men to surround them. Good men; godly men; brave men; masculine men. I am so thankful for men like Andrew Bauman and Patrick Wilson who have done so much to help me, as a mama of boys AND my boys.

This morning, I was praying that aching mama’s prayer for all of my children that so many of us know well. And Jesus led my mind to drift upon Mary. Once again, as so many have done throughout the generations, I thought of her agony in watching her Son suffer unspeakable pain. Oh . . . what she must have gone through. But then . . . then, He rose. Her son rose. We die in so many ways . . . the seed is broken, crushed, ground into the dark dirt and spilled out. Jesus died. Broken, crushed and put into the dark tomb. And then . . . He rose; we rise. We all rise. Our children rise. Our sons rise.

The best thing I ever did for my children was tell them about Jesus’ love. He was irresistible to them! And because they know Him, they will be OK. They will never be alone.

It’s going to be OK, mamas.

In the meantime, I highly suggest visiting Andrew Bauman’s website and facebook page, if you need some resources. They have been invaluable to me in so many ways. Andrew is making ground-breaking pioneer work through his honest, transparent journey. And we, at Give Her Wings, could not be more thankful for his fresh perspective.

And keep showing those boys Jesus. Every day. I promise you — they will be OK as long as they know the real Jesus. The Jesus who is friend to sinners; who can shake the earth; who can meet us in our most vulnerable places. Show them Him.

Love,

Megan

Getting Our Hands Dirty by Megan Cox

Megan is the Executive Director of Give Her Wings. She is a pastoral counselor and is certified in crisis response with the AACC.

art credit: Nathan Dumlao

“It felt like real ministry, Megan. . . like this mama knew that God sees her.” Mel vetted her first mama. She is our amazing new team mentor and we are so excited and proud to have her. After all of her training and mentoring by Audrey, Mel was able to talk to one of our nominated mamas. It was real, this time. She prayed for this mama . . . and the mama cried. Mel said that she felt that nitty-gritty ministry piece and it was beautiful. God sees her. We see her. She is not alone.

Saturday, my children and I went through John 9, where Jesus heals the man with his spit-made-into-mud. A lot of the time, the kids and I focus on what Jesus says but, this day, we were trying a new exercise — noticing what Jesus did. How did He act? How did He move? What steps did He take? As we were discussing, I asked the kids, “What did Jesus do here?” Insightful Mila said, “He got his hands dirty.”

Oh, my yes. He got His hands dirty. He didn’t have to heal this man in this unusual and messy way. Lots of commentators have lots of intelligent and interesting interpretations of why Jesus chose this method. But I believe that there is much wisdom in what teenagers say, sometimes, and I am starting to think that Jesus reached down into the Earth, tossed His holy saliva into the dust He had created, dirtying up His beautiful now-scarred hands because He is like that. He gets in there . . . into our beautiful-sad messes and dips into our bodies of dust and shapes around with His holy Presence. He just isn’t afraid to go there. He is not so white-washed that He can’t get his hands dirty. Goodness . . . Jesus will create with carpentry, mold the clay . . . He’ll even wash His friend’s feet. THEIR FEET. He never shies away from the dirt, loneliness, pain, twisty, lovely, sad, beautiful humanity of our humanness.

One of the most painful words I ever read, just a week after leaving my abusive ex husband, was an email from one of my own family members. The person was explaining why he/she wanted nothing to do with what I was facing . . . describing my situation as . . . “just . . . so MESSY.” I was too messy to be helped. I will never forget it. I don’t think I had ever felt so dirty and discarded.

Over at Give Her Wings, we get in the mess because Jesus gets in our mess. Nothing is too heavy for us to hear and our mamas know that (we take it straight to each other and to Jesus, anyway, so there’s that). We know their lives are messy but we will get our hands dirty. We don’t ask them why this happened — it doesn’t help. We help them where they are. And I actually like getting my hands dirty. It’s like gardening . . . you dig around and help pull up some of those nasty weeds. You plant seeds and nurture. You watch growth. It is invigorating. And it is entirely freeing because all we have to do is offer mercy. That’s it. Just mercy.

The other part of that freedom is that none of us has to pretend. People know we are in the tough stuff and so they naturally come to us and there are no delusions of perfection. No white-washing. No image-management and no pride left. The rawness of our ministry is very real and very refreshing. It’s the real deal. And I couldn’t love it more.

I love what we do, friends. And so many of you who support us help us to do just that. Less fundraising = more time to serve and meet the needs of our mamas. Thank you. Thank you for helping this very messy ministry show love and mercy to God’s people.

To everyone else, get in there in whatever God has put in front of you, with love and kindness, never pushing. Get your hands dirty in the act of love. Show people Jesus like He is and he was and will be to come — up to His elbows in spit and dust in order to help someone see . . . and know they are seen.

Love,

Megan

Megan, This Woman is Amazing . . .

Our GHW team member said to me. She was bubbling over in amazement at how “Wildly Faithful” has managed over the past few years. When we heard her story, our jaws dropped. I mean, we hear stories every day. But this young woman . . . I’m struggling for words. 

Suffice it to say that she is drowning. And yet she has faith in Jesus. I don’t ever think I have heard a story quite like this one. Her husband was abusive in every way. She was young, vibrant and hopeful when she married this man whom she thought would be a loving Christian husband and father. This precious mama was abused as a child and thought that she would find safety in a peaceful home. It wasn’t long before the abuse started (which is often the case). She became pregnant and gave birth to their first child. He started verbally abusing her and demanding to know her whereabouts every minute of the day. The abuse grew to an every day horror. She became pregnant (again) at 20 with twins. At one point during her pregnancy, her husband strangled her. Social services got involved. She left  . . . . for the first time. She was 8 months pregnant. She obtained a DVPO but then she dropped it, hopeful that her husband would attend the birth.

If you are wondering why we do these things (leaving, going back, dropping well-deserved DVPO’s), it is because pregnancy and motherhood make us incredibly vulnerable. And if there is no family support . .. you hope against hope against hope that your babies can have a loving father. You hope that he will change. You don’t want to have to admit the abuse or even use that word. 

Wildly Faithful went into labor with her twins and her ex husband found out where their 3 year old was. He took the child . . . while she was in labor . . . and filed a DVPO against her. When her twins were 3 weeks old, he took full custody of all of the children and Wildly Faithful did not get to see her babies for six months. Six months. During this time, her husband threatened to kill her babies, over and over and over. Because of his smear campaign, Wildly lost all of her friends through his process of isolation, while she kept the abuse hidden. On top of everything else, he also did drugs. 

I don’t know about you all, but I cannot imagine not seeing my newborn babies for six months, knowing they were in danger and knowing their “caretaker” is doing drugs. To me, that would be a constant stage of agony.

Finally, Wildly Faithful was able to obtain partial custody and she has finally opened up about the abuse. He repeatedly physically, nauseatingly, unconscionably abused her. She was a stay at home mom.

For a long time, she has now lived paycheck to paycheck, basically living for her babies. When we heard about her plight and her need to pay rent to boost her financial situation, Give Her Wings wasted no time in getting involved. We want to help this woman desperately — in every way. We want to take this young mother’s hand (she is 23) and walk with her through the incredibly dark forest of loneliness and desperation. We chose this name for her because, throughout this entire process, she miraculously looks to Jesus to sustain her every. single. day. Her faith has deepened OUR faith. She has taught us so so much about trusting Jesus in the midst of hell. 

We have taken on more mamas than were in our budget . . . I’m just going to admit this right now. But we have to trust that God will always provide for these mamas and their little lambs. He loves them. I know He does. So, I’m asking for financial help for June. As always, every little bit helps. I trust God in this. And, as a result of our helping Wildly Faithful, I know that God will give her and her babies what they need. And she will know that He cares and loves her and, even if everyone in her world chooses to look away . . . God will not. WE will not. 

If you feel led to give, please click here. We would all be so grateful.

Thank you for what you do for Give Her Wings. With everything in me. We cannot do this ministry without you.

Love, Megan 

Brave Bear’s Story — Our New May Mama

Art Credit: Silver Art Fox

She was originally nominated to be an encouragement mama (by the way, we have taken four new encouragement mamas into our private support group for May and assigned them mentors). So many in our circle had nominated Brave Bear and they all spoke so highly of her integrity and walk with Jesus. I just HAD to be the one to vet her on the phone. I felt an instant connection once I heard about how she had moved here from Switzerland to marry her husband, who turned out to be abusive. Now, having left her abuser recently, she has become a fighter who is alone. I kind of thought long and hard about what to name this mama. I read somewhere that polar bears are the most solitary animals. And then I thought about what a mama bear she is and I chose “Brave Bear” . . . because she is bereft of her family (all overseas) and she is a warrior. She was an overseas missionary for 20 years, which is where she met her husband. She has three babies and is struggling, deeply, to help the to work through their own emotional issues . . . while she works on her own . . . while she works full-time. And, as we often discover, their church took his side. He is, after all, a missionary . . . Because of her weekends with her kiddos, she hasn’t been able to work her weekend job very well, putting her in a tight position, financially. As I listened, I knew that a boost of $1500 toward her mortgage and electric bills would go a long way toward peace of mind with her, enabling her to help her kiddos. Her ex is supposed to pay for these things. It never ceases to amaze me how men get away with simply not paying child support . . . 

So, I casually mentioned that I might like to propose to the board that we help her financially. She began to cry . . . just a little bit, at first, but then it become this uncontrollable sobbing. She said, “I have felt . . . so. alone.” I wept with her. I know that feeling. You’ve been so beat down and you’re tired and if you have to share your story one more time. And, as you share it, you know (full-well) that you might be judged or the people listening might be completely overwhelmed by the whole thing and shut you down. You know that they might not get it . . . they might say something trite and ridiculous like “it takes two to tango so . . . “. They might not believe you were abused. They might say they can’t handle the hard stuff. But Give Her Wings will handle the hard stuff.

Looking back over my conversation with Brave Bear, I think the reason she wept with such power and passion is because I believed her and I shared with her how honored we are, at Give Her Wings, to serve incredible women like her. I told her that I treasure her story because it is precious to Jesus and I will pray for her and hold her story close to my heart. I told her that she deserves to be helped by the Church. She could barely speak as I spoke . . . she just cried. 

This is why I love what I do and do what I do. These are the moments I live for. I get to shower others with the love and mercy I could not find. That, my friends, is how you take your pain and reframe it for God’s glory. 

I asked Valerie Jacobsen to meet with Brave Bear in person. She was more than happy to do so.
She brought our mama flowers (because that is how Valerie is, ya’ll). She was an ambassador of mercy and we are deeply grateful. 

So . . . now, we work on helping her pay the bills and surround her with tremendous love and support. She is our May mama and we love her already. If you feel led to donate, please click here. We are thankful for each and every donation — more than we can say. You are contributing to life-giving, soul-caring work.

Love,

Megan 

The Three Stages of Brokenness 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. 

I have heard about and read a lot about the stages of healing. Knowing that what we are dealing with, emotionally, is of vital importance. As we heal, we begin to recognize our patterns of behavior and where we are in the process. Understanding the stages of healing and/or the stages of grief normalizes our reactions to the abnormal (loss and abuse). I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about the process we go through BEFORE we begin to heal because that is where Give Her Wings steps in. We try to be a safety net for the broken. It is our mercy ministry.

I believe that understanding the stages of brokenness will help us to re-frame what is happening, when everything feels like chaos. We often think of being broken as negative . . . but I don’t believe that, anymore. Jesus’ body was broken (for us). And He speaks, often, of being broken as necessary to finding authentic humanity. Further, Paul describes his brokenness distinctly (being crushed, pressed doesn’t from all sides, struck down, persecuted, afflicted in every way . . . ). It seems as though we will go to incredible lengths to stop this devastation from happening and then it just does. But, why? Because we signed up for this life . . . we “drank from this cup” when we chose to follow Christ. He told us this would happen but to “take heart” because He has overcome the world. But, most of all . . . we are broken because we have to be in order to be re-built, restored, redeemed. A seed cannot grow unless it is crushed. We are crushed in order to be all that Jesus wanted us to be — the best version of ourselves for His glory. That’s pretty remarkable. And it flies in the face of those who tell us we simply need to be crushed for Jesus forever and amen. No, we are broken to become what He meant for us to be: beautiful, life-giving, children of God. So, let’s re-frame. We want victory. It is coming. But can we embrace our brokenness as extremely painful, knowing that healing is coming? It is beautiful-agonizing, breathtaking in all the right and wrong ways. And, somehow, that’s good news!

If you are being broken, please take heart. All of us who know Jesus are, too. Further, there is a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on. They get it. They know this hard work that is called life. And you will find beauty as you heal. For now . . . in this state of brokenness, read on . . . this has to happen before healing. Where do you find yourself here?

  1. The Crash: For so long, abuse victims maintain a shiny, hard front, much like the hardness of a kernel of wheat or corn. Upheld by a flimsy stalk that we have built as we cover for abuse and shame, we realize that the stalk is only a house of cards. We cannot hide our pain, anymore. We have to realize that our situation is abusive . . . that we are not, in fact, the perfect family . . . that our spouse or church or both are dangerous. And it is terrifying. For so long, we believed that we could hold it together, that he wasn’t “that bad”, that our actions (as good and submissive wives) would change him. We realize that he is jello. We realize that we can’t single-handedly change this man and save our marriage. We realize that our children are in danger. We realize that, for all of our “good decisions”, everything really is a great, big mess. And our world is weird and strange and completely out of order. It was a façade. We do not get to be that “holy and sanctified” family that we thought we were, as we sat atop that stalk of wheat looking out over others. We start to fall. We stumble . . . it is over. We feel like we are perishing as we tumble toward the unknown. And everyone is watching it happen. People pull away. We crash to the ground and it HURTS.
  2. The Devastation: We hit the cold earth hard and we are plunged into darkness. During this time, which can take YEARS, we cannot see anything around us. We cannot find our way. We are split open and it feels exactly like that. Split open. Our souls, our guts, our physical health all gush out for everyone to see. Gone is that shiny veneer; gone is that hope for a healthy marriage. We find ourselves in a dark place we NEVER thought we would be. It is cold and dry and then wet with tears. We reach out and find nothing but blackness. We are temporarily blind . . . like Saul-Paul. We reach further. Our friends are gone; our family; our church; our people; our tribe. We keep reaching. With no anchor to be found, we start to anchor to the truth. Finally . . . we accept that we simply are not the person we thought we were. Strength is replaced by a fragile depth, tiny wisps begin to take hold, becoming sinuous, as roots find nourishment and begin to form. Because we cannot see, we begin to see. We are starting to become firm. All of the brokenness seems to be creating something but we cannot see it, yet. So, we let go more . . . and we begin to trust. We trust that God is doing something with us. We surrender to it because we are deep in the earth and we might as well release. We hope that God will make something of this incredibly. tangled. mess. We let go. Brokenness kind of becomes a daily activity. And in the inky, dirty darkness, we are undone. Please God . . . I need you. I cannot do this alone. Make something of me. I’m ready. I’m just myself now and I feel naked. This isn’t the life I had hoped for. I have nothing left but You. Take it. Take all of me.
  3. The Tilt: This is the best term I can think of for the minuscule movement of our faces from looking down at our mess to looking up to the light. With roots plunging downward into the anchor of darkness, we finally look up to God and pop our heads up for a little bit of air. Jesus, the Merciful One, takes His gentle hand and, in answer to our whimpers toward Him, cups our little chins and lifts them upwards toward dignity. We see nothing but grace in Jesus’ beautiful eyes. Acceptance, kindness, love and mercy begin to course through our veins in a rush of provision as our thirst is quenched. That broken seed begins to sprout into something beautiful . . . but we cannot see it, yet. It is tender and it is barely there — but it is there. And we don’t know what that will look like, yet. It is a glimmer of hope — a glimpse of Heaven. Maybe we have a good day, now and then. Maybe it is being able to encourage someone else just one time, rather than always feeling like the one in need. Maybe is journaling and finally finding a bit of a voice. Please don’t step on her. She is so fragile. Can you help by watering this little plant? Give her some room and some light. Help to clear away the weeds of self-doubt and lies. Though she be small right now, she has a mighty root system. And time will only tell what kind of bloom and impact she will have on this world. It is miraculous to behold.

Only after all of this happens can she begin to heal. And find victory. And be that beautiful, complex, life-giving, over-flowing, gushing-out-beauty forest. Do you hear me? There is a lush forest inside that seed. THAT is the purpose of our brokenness. To become life-giving. THAT is beauty. Hear me, please: Jesus died and then rose again. If anyone is telling you that you are to die to die . . . . well, that is death forever. We are crushed-but-not-destroyed to become what God always wanted us to become . . . . what He died for us to become.To give us life. And by doing so, we start to give that life to others. That is very different than sacrificing our selves, our safety and sanity for no good reason.

Broken? Yes. But hear me out: There is a forest inside that seed. Keep stretching; keep moving; keep digging.

Love,

Megan

*PS . . . If you are wondering if I plagiarized this, I did. I took it right out of John 12:24. I don’t think that Jesus will mind . . .

Beware the Jello — Megan Cox, 2014

I had been in Colorado for a week with my four children, having just left my husband in Germany for good. We were borrowing my grandmother’s house. I had no idea what I was going to do or where I would go, live, work, etc. I was still shaking when I entered the church with all of the children to talk to a pastor there about getting help. A friend from Alabama had told me that this was a good church. It was within walking distance so the children and I walked about six blocks, strollers and all, to meet with this man. I was not really using the term “abusive” yet, but I had my hands on a Patricia Evans book and my eyes were being opened.

I bared my soul to the pastor right there in the multi-purpose room with the kids playing basketball and babies and trains. I told this man everything. He listened quietly and then told me that he would like to Skype with my husband and me. I think he thought he might be able to save our marriage. I told him that we had had several years of counseling . . . on and off and with different men. And, not only that but . . . that my (ex) husband is jello. Jello. That is the very best word that I could come up with. He could mold himself into anything he wanted. He could actually be what looked “good”. He knew all the right answers. But, if you reached out to grab onto some substance, it will all just fizzle out in your hand. There was absolutely nothing to hold onto. You find yourself reaching for a mirage — your hands just fall through a dream you have created in your mind. A mess of green goo everywhere as you wonder what you thought you saw. I told the pastor that he would be penitent and loving. He would probably even cry. The pastor would then wonder why I left him and I would look like the bad wife. I left with the children, disheartened.

One survivor writes:

I thought for YEARS that there was a heart in my ex that was, perhaps, wounded but present. I believed that there was some part of him, deep down inside, that wanted to be a good man, wanted to love those around us and wanted to glorify God. Right before I left, I realized there was no such part in him. No foundation, no character, no solidarity. Just a man who had learned to be what he wanted people to see so he could do his evil in secret. In fact, the evil was rampant. He bled wickedness.

The conscience of the Believer is substantial. Christ gives us depth, meaning and substance. He gives us His fruits and even gives us spiritual gifts. As we change, our roots grow deep by that water of Life and we bloom in ways we never imagined. Not prosperity in the worldly sense — but in spiritual richness. There is a Firm Foundation in the life of the Believer. We become solid. So, how can a woman like that yoke herself to jello? She cannot. It feels just like you are picturing it now . . .  it feels like you are grasping onto something very very slippery. It feels like you are sinking every single day. Your marriage is a sham. In fact, there is no marriage. It cannot be done.

I believe I would have rather been married to a man who abused me in plain sight rather than a man who could mold himself into an upright, charming “mission-minded” individual in front of everyone else whilst hurting all of us in secret. The confusion is too great. The damage to the psyche is irreparable, but for the grace of God. The abuser sways, like a leaf in the wind, blowing this way and that . . . promising to change over and over but never being able to keep that promise while you are somehow to blame.

The good news is that I am just now learning that there are people in the world who are not this way. There are men who say something and mean it. These upright men do not change their tune and they do not pretend. They ARE there! Imitating Christ, our Ultimate Anchor for the Soul, there are men (albeit, not many) who are solid structures upon which we can rely. Oh, God . . . I want my boys to be men like that.