Jesus was Hurt Over Betrayal

I recently read a series of articles by George K. Simon on the “Aftermath of Toxic Relationships.” I also had a deep and interesting conversation with a very compassionate friend about how those who hurt us . . . are often more hurt themselves than we can imagine. People are broken. We ALL are broken, really. And, as I say often, there is much beauty in brokeness. Or, at least, there is beauty in the brokeness of a believer in Christ. If a believer admits his or her brokeness and yet desires to obey God, he or she will be working toward wholeness. That kernel of wheat that has fallen to the ground will spill out . . . and bear fruit in that brokeness. And restoration and redemption will set in. It won’t be pretty . . . but it is necessary.

However, there are those who are broken who are never restored. There are those who betray us who never (or do not, yet) turn to Christ, repent and receive the blessing of humility and grace. Judas Iscariot was (obviously) one of those people. Surely, he was remorseful. He was sorry. But, he did not choose to then turn around and “feed His lambs” like Peter did. And, do you know what I find interesting? It hurt Jesus’ heart. After Jesus washed the disciples feet, Scripture says this:

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’ John 13:21

This intrigues me to no end. We know that Jesus wept when Lazarus died. All sorts of commentators love to explain away that emotion in a super holy way . . . explaining Jesus more in more-than-necessary ways because . . . well, because it almost seems as though emotion is weakness . . . tears are weakness . . . right? So, out of fear that Jesus will not fit in our box, otherwise, we say things like: “Jesus was sad over their lack of faith”. Whaaaa  . . . ? I’m sorry. Is Jesus not allowed to just be sad? ‘Cause it is sad when someone dies and people are crying at your feet. What about when Jesus was sorrowful because He was about to die for the sins of the world? We can explain that away. He seems more fully God here and less fully man because of the undertaking before Him. But, John 13:21 might be a little more difficult. Sure, some could certainly say that Jesus was sad over the hypocrisy of Judas. That is maddening. But, the Bible doesn’t really say that. It says Jesus is troubled . . . he was troubled in spirit; in his soul, which shows him to be truly and really man, and to have a fully human soul . . . like ours. He shares in our emotion and in our passions. And, you know what else? Jesus knew what was going to happen to Judas. He knew the man’s fate. Repentance was not on its way. Time was not going to heal Judas. No amount of compassion on anyone’s part was going to win Judas back to the Lord. It was over for this man. And it was deeply troubling to our Savior.

We are betrayed. It is not “all in our head”. We are not paranoid. An abusive spouse betrays his wife over and over. Perhaps family has, as well. We are allowed to be “deeply troubled” in our spirits. Our sinless Messiah was. It hurts to be betrayed by a friend . . . or by our inner circle . . . by someone we have loved, served, shared meals with . . . by someone we have given ourselves to over and over. Feel it; grieve it. And then move on. But, for heaven’s sake . . . don’t let anyone mute your pain by telling you that you must just love that person through it. Sometimes you can’t. Jesus knew this. We would be wise to know it, too.

A Message From “A New Free Life” or, “Anew” (affectionately)

Friends and supporters,

This is a message from the first lady that we helped (“A New Free Life”). I feel that this letter is vital for giving all of you precious donators an understanding of just what our goals at Give Her Wings are. We hope and pray that we can be a springboard to financial health and restoration. We hope to provide a buffer. But, as you can see, we desire to do more than that. We wish to keep dignity intact for spiritual widows and orphans who have already left abusive situations . . . and to show them that they are “God’s girls”. It is not unusual for one of us to write “You are God’s princess” on a gift card or package sent to one of these precious mamas. I know that I desperately needed to know that I was still valuable to God when I was in the trenches. We want “our” mamas to know God loves them, still . . . and is walking with them . . . even in the depths of hell. Please read:

I was very surprised when Megan told me that I would be included in last month’s fundraiser.  I am struggling, but I’m not destitute.  GHW lifted me up and out of that horrible pit this past spring, and it gave me the ability to keep going with that momentum.  It changed the way I thought of myself and provided me with the encouragement to look differently at where my life was going.  I feel like it pushed me into the next phase of recovery from abuse.  So, I just assumed I was moving on, and so was GHW.  

I have been so touched by the continued generosity and concern shown to my children and me by those at GHW.  In general, we do feel forgotten as we are moving on.  Others are asking me for help with things.  We have found a new church.  I’m creating work for myself.  The children are thinking about activities and longing for friendships.  We’re starting to think about being normal again.  But, life is still hard.  Sometimes I think those around us here locally just don’t understand how long and difficult this road is.  It is such a comfort to have those of you at GHW come alongside us and remind us that someone does understand.  Someone cares about our continued struggles.  

I so deeply appreciate the gifts for two of my children.  I know my youngest will be delighted.  I put the toy up for Christmas and have it well hidden.  I did, however, tell my 17 year old about the gift card.  He was THRILLED!  And, wanted to kick me off the computer so he could start shopping!  I told him it is a Christmas gift from someone who wants him to have that lift and gift in December, so we’ll save it.  🙂  It also eases the burden on me of trying to provide gifts for all of the kids come Christmastime.  
My necklace is absolutely beautiful, and I will treasure it always.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to put it on without crying.  It is a lovely, tangible reminder of all of you with big, loving hearts who stepped into our lives and loved us at our lowest point.  Even my boys just stopped and quietly stared at it when I opened it.  They realize the monumental difference that the individuals at GHW have made in our lives and what a special necklace it is.  
I used my coffee card to treat myself one afternoon last week, and it was like buttah (winky face at Megan!).  Soooo good!  I shared with Megan that I often envy those who walk around in the stores with their coffees.  I see the cars all lined up at the coffee stands as I head off to work with my water bottle and wish I was in that line.  It was wonderful to be one of them!  The amount on the ecard was very generous, so I can get quite a few coffees and have decided I’m going to ration them out and enjoy this as a monthly treat throughout fall and winter.  It will be a nice lift on the weekends I have to drop the kids off for visitation with my ex-abuser.  
Your expressions of kindness and your tangible assistance are also standing as a shining example for my children.  They’ve had selfishness, cruelty, neglect, and rejection modeled for them.  And, your deep concern for others gives them a perfect example of Christians expressing the love of Christ, the perfect example of how we should act.  You give them a better model to follow.  For that, too, I am eternally grateful to you all!
Thank you for caring about us.  Thank you for remembering us.  Thank you for continuing to lift us up.  May God bless you all richly for being the good Samaritans in our lives!  
With much love, ANFL

September with “Walking In Integrity”

We are entering a new month today . . . for us at Give Her Wings, this means that we have a new goal. I am nervous. We are all a bit nervous because we are going to ask for donations this month to cover $1500 of expenses for our new mama. I tend to believe we have maxed out our givers. I tend to doubt. This is not my favorite quality in myself. I know this woman we will be helping . . . I know her heart is golden. It is difficult for her to understand why she is in this situation when she had tried, all her life, to obey God. It never makes sense, does it? Nevertheless, she continues to work steadily, in the midst of great strife and heartache, to care for her two small children and do right by them. One can often hear her say, “Why is this happening to me when I have tried so hard to walk in integrity?” Because of this, we have named her “Walking In Integrity”. As you precious readers know, we do not reveal the identity of those who are in need. We work hard to preserve dignity . . . because each woman deserves dignity, as a child of the King.

Here is our September lady’s story:

I was married for almost 15 years to my high school sweetheart. His abuse escalated to physical violence several times and I was finally able to get a restraining order and custody of my children. I have been completely dependent on God’s provision, trying my best to walk in integrity and keep my hope, despite ongoing battles. I moved across the country to be near my grandparents. My ex refuses to support his children in any way. I was able to get a good job, but I could not afford rent and had to move back in with my grandfather (currently battling cancer). I am an hour from my job, I cannot afford childcare, and my car is breaking down. Every day is a struggle of prayer, hoping that God will lift us up. I know my friends’ hearts are with me in all of this!

It is heart-wrenching to hear about these day to day struggles because “Walking” really is doing all she can for her children and herself. She has  chosen the higher road by raising the children on her own, despite a gross lack of financial support from her ex husband. She is in need. And, taking my cues from a recent conversation with Kelley, I believe that God cares deeply about our girl and her children . . . and that He is big enough to provide for her.

Please donate this month. Anything you can give will help. Our goal for September is $1500. This may help with Walking’s car or her rent or help with childcare. Please join us. I know God can do this through His people. I just know He can.

Love, Megan

The Erroneous Idea that Leaving is “the easy way out”

Lately, I have seen little Facebook posts or blog posts that talk about the tough road of marriage. There have been discussions about how marriage is not a fairy tale . . . how you must stick it out and make it work. How it is worth it in the end. I do not doubt this. Almost everything worth having takes a tremendous amount of work. In fact, I believe this with such fervor that I tell it to my kids. Do you want something? Well, then, you are going to have to work for it. Oftentimes, these well-meaning-marriage-posts will then tack on something at the end to the effect of:

Don’t take the easy way out. Stay in. Fight for your marriage.

I can see that. And, boy . . . would I EVER fight for the marriage I have right now with my amazing husband, David. He is most definitely worth fighting for. I have the utmost respect for my man. And I hope and pray that we would never get to the point where there is even a question of whether or not one of us should stay or go. I have full confidence that that would never happen. We nip things in the bud; we stay on our toes; we do not allow little sins to enter into our marriage and grow and fester. My husband is a loving and model husband and . . . a man of God. For reals. I don’t have to cowboy up with him and press on as though I were in this dreadful thing called “marriage” and I hope that I can just “make it through” because “it will all be worth it in the end.”

Here is the thing . . . when a woman, who has shown signs of following the Lord . . . who has tried and tried and tried . . . . finally leaves an abusive marriage . . . most likely . . . it is not the easy way out. Good heavens! Do you know what she is facing? She faces divorce, court hearings, terrifying child custody issues and scares, loss of income, possibly having to go back to work for the first time in years or decades, the possible loss of support from her own family (depending on whether or not they were raised to believe that “divorce is not an option”) . . . she definitely loses his family, she may lose support from her local church, she faces single-mother-hood, she wonders if she will ever find love again. She wonders if her self-esteem and/or self image will ever grow from the minuscule dot it has become. She wonders if she will be rejected from church. She is looking at a failed marriage. And those around her are watching the marriage fail. She does not know if she will receive child support or alimony. Listen . . . Whatever small amount of security she may have had in her marriage will now be gone.

Whoever says that leaving a marriage is the “easy way out” . . . has never walked in her shoes; has never lived in her home; has never EVER had to face the kind of gut-wrenching decisions she has had to face for herself and her children.

Let’s not judge; let’s stop saying things like “don’t leave and take the easy way out”. Let’s have some compassion.

Clarity & Care by Michael Ramsey

In an effort to continue our question and answer series, we have asked Michael Ramsey to be a guest author on our blog. Michael is a youth pastor, currently residing in North Carolina. He has studied counseling and has a wonderful blog called “Faith, Film and Food” that you can find here. Michael has a great big heart and I am sure he will be guest-blogging often. Thank you, Michael! Read on:

The decisions made by abuse victims are often misunderstood by those closest to them. Many people wonder and sometimes openly ask questions like:

How could she have children with that man who has been abusive to her?

Why won’t she just leave him?

Why would anyone accept that sort of treatment?

These questions expose the fundamental misunderstanding of many family and friends who have not experienced abuse themselves. Abuse damages its victims in more ways than just physically and sexually (although that damage is very difficult). At a deeper level, abuse begins to alter the way the abused person perceives reality. The changes can be subtle and are often not visible in other parts of the person’s life. For instance, their performance at work may remain unchanged or their friendships can be very balanced and healthy. Inside the microcosm of the abusive relationship, however, the person who has been abused is filled with doubt and oftentimes feelings of guilt. Added to this is the fact that many abuse victims tend to be “givers” by nature. Wonderful character traits such as loyalty, devotion, and a willingness to sacrifice for others can be twisted and used against someone by an abusive person. In those settings, it doesn’t take long for someone to begin to lose clarity in how they perceive the abusive relationship they are in. Many people who have been abused believe things like: “If I were more careful with my words, he wouldn’t get so angry” or “I don’t understand why I can’t make him happy”. These thoughts betray an unhealthy shift in terms of her understanding of relational boundaries and responsibility. It’s even possible for the abused to believe that she is close to being “good enough” to make relationship work. At that point, she digs her heels in and works harder than ever to please her husband, protect her children, or whatever she feels is needed most.

It is often in the midst of this storm that family or friends step in and in an effort to “help”, push the person to make a change, or even criticize their decisions. It’s important to note that the family or friends may be right about the injustice the person is suffering in their relationship but, their callously spoken right answers will only cause the abused person to doubt themselves more and at times, like themselves less. So, if you have a friend or loved one who is suffering abuse, but is unable to escape it, keep these things in mind:

1)Unconditional love is better than uninvited advice.

What an abused person needs to know more than anything else is that she is loved, and that you believe in her as a person. Critical words and pressure only contribute to the dark place they are in, it doesn’t help.

2)Be honest.

If asked or given the opportunity, always be honest about the nature of what your friend is going through. Your love for her allows you to say that it is never ok for her to be physically harmed or degraded, but also that it doesn’t change the love that you have for her.

3)Be Patient.

People don’t normally make life altering changes overnight and those enduring abuse are no exception. Don’t begin to doubt yourself or the impact your friendship has in her life simply because visible changes don’t seem to be occurring. Hang in there! Your friendship means more than you could possibly know.

People who are enduring abuse need good people around them, and by remembering these three simple things, you will able to offer an honest, patient, and loving relationship to people who desperately need it.

The WAY We Give

I have been continually blessed by both the receiving of the gifts and then the turnaround . . . giving to the recipients. I believe I can speak for the entire team in saying that it is ultra-fulfilling to match up gifts with mamas and kiddos. Kelley put it this way:

I can’t really describe it… kind of like riding a roller coaster, working a complex puzzle, living in Santa’s workshop, and maybe one other thing… all at the same time.

It is indescribable. I have also watched the way the team at GHW is giving to these precious women of God. And I love it. When David sent “Lifted” her check, he included a simple note: “You are His.” Lifted said that she wept as soon as  she read it. Another team member wrote a note to one of our ladies, along with an Amazon gift card, that insisted she pamper herself. I have have the honor of explaining to several ladies that they must accept their gift . . . that God loves them . . . that they are princesses.

Here is what we don’t do:

  1. We don’t condemn
  2. We don’t pry
  3. We don’t pity

Here is what we strive to do:

  1. Keep dignity intact
  2. Honor
  3. Simply love

It is not our job to judge. It is our joy to show spiritual widows and spiritual orphans that they are treasured and loved enough by our Heavenly Father to be provided for . . . even beyond that . . . to be adored.

Walk On By

Yesterday, I met the man who owns the retreat center in the mountains of North Carolina where I rested for a few days (thanks to my crazy-wonderful husband). We talked about Give Her Wings. He said something like, “Well, I think it is great that  you have decided to reach out and help other women like that!” And I said, “Well, I have been there . . . I know how it feels.” And he said, “But, you are happy now. You could just say to yourself, ‘Well, I got through that and now I am going to move on and not look back.'”

Don’t think I have not thought of that. Before it begins to sound like I am tooting my own horn, you all need to know that it would be very easy for me to just move forward into a life of bliss with my husband and never think of hardship again. 

I don’t want to be the priest.

I don’t want to be the Levite.

It is tempting for me to convince myself that the man attacked by robbers somehow brought it upon himself. Maybe he was flaunting his riches. Maybe he was not being wise somehow. Maybe he was suffering consequences of some kind. Why should I help him?

These thoughts make me sad. Sad that I am capable of thoughts like this; sad that others are, as well.

I want to be the Samaritan . . . who not only picks up my sister and brings her to safety . . . but who pours oil and wine on her wounds. I want to enter into her pain with her. I want to share her burdens. I do not want to look the other way. I could just walk on by. But, God help me, I will not. That is why we are doing what we are doing at Give Her Wings. Jesus told the experts of the law that they would inherit life when they “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your mind . . . and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10) And then, He proceeded to tell them how to do that with the parable of the Good Samaritan. That is life!! To be proactive in loving those who need us is the very quintessence of experiencing the Kingdom of God right now. 

Take this journey with us. Stop on that path between Jerusalem and Jericho. Go out of your way with us. Enjoy the blessings and the fruits of loving intentionally. Wipe her tears; wrap your arms around her heart. Come with us . . . and love her.

Review of Leslie Vernick’s new book: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

Reading Ms. Vernick’s new book on abuse has been refreshing to my soul for many reasons. When I first began, I tried to read it through the eyes of the woman I once was — the woman who was hanging by a thread in an abusive marriage — the woman who was not even sure what I was experiencing WAS abusive — the woman who felt crazy and did not know why. When I took the tests at the beginning of the book that determine whether or not a woman is in an emotionally destructive marriage, it made my skin crawl. Memories came flooding back. Any doubt that may have crept into my mind over the past year or so dissipated. I even learned (through the tests) that “crazy making” was my ex’s favorite form of emotional abuse. Ms. Vernick’s book is good for all: those who are in the trenches, those who who are trying to work on their marriage, those who are breaking free, and those who have left abusive relationships.

Ms. Vernick breaks the book into three sections: (1) Seeing your marriage clearly (2) Change begins with you and (3) Initiating changes in your marriage. The crux of the work, however, is her emphasis on “developing your CORE”. Ms. Vernick believes that there is hope for destructive marriages. She wants to offer that hope. However, she is not dogmatic about this.  As hard as it is for me to believe, there are marriages that can survive emotional abuse . . . there are men and women who are willing to admit to  abuse and begin taking the long road from repentance to massive change. This was hard for me to swallow. One of the blessed aspects of this book is that Leslie Vernick is clear about what that road looks like and how difficult it is.

Ms. Vernick gives a blueprint for how a woman can approach her husband (all the while creating clear boundaries) about abuse and the needed change. But, before all of this can happen, the CORE must be developed. A woman/victim must be . . .

Committed to Truth and Reality — That is, admitting to herself that the marriage is in a bad place. No more covering, pretending or masking.

Open to Growth, Instruction and Feedback — This is where we put on humility (confessing that the old way is not working and a willingness to try a new way)

Responsible for Myself and Respectful Toward Others Without Dishonoring Myself — I especially liked this part. Writes Vernick, “If you are going to stay in this marriage, then stay well; and if you are going to leave your marriage, then leave well.”  (p. 112)

Empathic and Compassionate Toward Others Without Enabling People to Continue to Abuse or Disrespect Her — This CORE attribute maintains the dignity of the victim. A woman must protect herself from taking on any of the characteristics of the abuser.

Once these CORE values are in place, Vernick then gives the go-ahead for confrontation of the abusive spouse.

Disclaimer: I realized, as I was reading this book, that my ex-husband would not have tolerated my “building my core”. There would have been no breathing room to do so, either. If he had found a book like this one, he would have raged. I would be in hiding all the time. When he saw me displaying any sort of grace-filled or graceful conduct, he would drive me to the point of distraction. I realize that this plan cannot work for every single marriage. And the author recognizes this. But, for some, Vernick offers hope. Throughout her book, Ms. Vernick is very aware of the plight of an abused woman and her tendencies. She reminds the reader over and over again that God cares more about human beings than He does about marriage.

As I read through the author’s plan for approaching an abusive husband (which is spot-on) and the possible outcomes (good and bad) of her approach, I became more and more confident that I had done everything possible to “save” my  first marriage. It was very affirming, as I had (unknowingly) tried almost everything Ms. Vernick suggests. I feared, however, that she was not going to offer an option if it did not work. She stresses the fact that a woman cannot hold a marriage together on her own . . . but I was not entirely sure that Ms. Vernick was going to support divorce if all of these things did not “work”. Thankfully, toward the end of the book, she writes that divorce is not just permissible, but encouraged, for the sake of the protection and stability of a woman and her children (as a last resort) if things are not getting better and are only getting worse. After giving women a voice and empowering us to begin to make decisions on our own, searching Scripture and seeking out wisdom . . . after stating clearly that every situation is different and no one can tell women what to do . . . she writes this:

” . . . for some women, divorce might be the best choice because of her and her children’s safety and sanity. I’ve already shared stories from women who wished they would not have stayed married for the children. They see their adult children living out the same destructive patterns that they witnessed as children. How they wish it could have been different . . . ” p. 176

Particularly encouraging to my heart was Appendix B of “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage”. There, the author lists five common mistakes “people helpers” make. Among them was “Encouraging the Wife to Try Harder”. It is a fine line to try to help a wife keep herself from dishonoring herself (it is very difficult when she is being made crazy on a daily basis) without sounding like she is being blamed. Vernick states the importance of not using a counseling session to further the abusive husband’s control by pointing out what the wife “needs to work on, as well”. This was an important finding for me in the book.

Overall, I am grateful that I read it and I highly suggest this book (coming out in September) to those who are not sure if they are being emotionally abused or to those who believe there is a chance for healing in their marriage OR for those who want to be sure they have done everything they can . . . before they leave well. Vernick’s book is affirming and refreshing. Read it and be edified.

Why Did You Have So Many Children With An Abuser?

We are beginning a new series, as per a reader’s request. Sometimes, we victims forget that people who have never been touched by abuse have a difficult time fathoming what has happened. They ask reasonable questions like, “Why did you stay so long? Why did you make it look like you had a perfect marriage? Why didn’t you tell anyone about the abuse?” So . . . we will begin a question and answer format that will, helpfully, educate others about what is happening to a victim’s psyche when he or she is in an abusive relationship. 

I (Megan) have asked a dear friend and survivor, Katy, to tackle the first question: Why did you bring so many children into an abusive marriage? 

Katy is an accomplished writer and a beautiful, successful single mom of three. Read her post and be edified.

PS . . . Feel free to write in with questions and we will do our best to answer them. And now . . . Katy:

This is a question that survivors of domestic abuse face from incredulous outsiders, who haven’t experienced abuse. People who have not experienced this themselves can’t understand why a woman would #1 stay in an abusive relationship, or #2 have children once they realize that their spouse is cruel.

There are many different aspects of this question and many different answers depending on the scenario, so this will just hit the high points (if any of this could be called a “high point”).First: an excellent video TED talk given by a survivor of domestic violence on “why victims don’t leave” :

(her talk is given from a secular perspective, to a secular audience. It’s not a faith-centric answer but it is still very true and accurate.)

Leslie is an educated and “accomplished” woman who was able to escape before having children with her abuser, but this is not the case with many. For those of us who escaped after having children, our situations are all varied. For some of us, we were so terrified of leaving that we wouldn’t dare. For others, who grew up in abusive homes, we may not know any better. And then there is the religious aspect. Those of us who come from strong faith backgrounds will have the hardest time leaving, especially if the violence isn’t extreme (or the threats are not followed through), because we are taught that God hates divorce and we are extremely committed to following our God.

I personally tried to escape after my first child was born but I had no where to run, and no one to support me. I was trapped. I had to go back. I had two more children after that before I finally was set free for good. I also happen to be a mechanical engineer with a great deal of common sense. But when I was trapped in the abuse, I was lied to every day about my worth, my intelligence, my ability to “survive without him”, and I had no one to counter those lies.
I am a different person now that I have been free for 4 years. I am the person that I was supposed to become, before my Abuser got his filthy hands around my neck. My in-laws were atheists, and when they found out about the divorce and the reasons behind it my former sister-in-law demanded to know why I hadn’t aborted my children. How dare I bring children into that relationship if it was so bad, right?
Here are some things that people need to keep in mind when questioning a survivor about her situation:
#1. Don’t assume that the woman is a fool who couldn’t figure out how to use birth control, or that she even had regular access to birth control without interference from her abuser.
#2. Don’t assume that a pregnant woman can easily throw herself up on the abortionist’s table, no matter how mean her husband has been to her.
#3. Recognize that you don’t understand what she’s just survived, and you should not insult her by implying she is stupid for having given birth to her children.  Remember that she loves her children more than her own life, just as you love yours, and that she has likely fought a hellish battle to protect them. She does not deserve scorn.
#4. Above all, when you are genuinely trying to understand a victim’s situation, recognize the great evil that was done to her, and don’t lay the responsibility for it at her feet.

There are many scenarios and circumstances that will affect someone’s ability to leave their Abuser, not the least of which are finances, family support, and cultural baggage. No one is perfect, or immune from bad decisions, or immune from being tricked by an Abuser. Everyone is vulnerable to some degree; and it is the most vulnerable that Jesus was particularly concerned for. Those that call Jesus their King will rightly concern themselves with comforting and encouraging the downtrodden, rather than condemning them for not being smart enough to avoid a wolf. (Remember that you may get trapped by a wolf at some point, too, and desperately need someone to come to your aid.)


Lifting Up “Lifted by Love”

We are about halfway through the month . . . and, as far as I can tell, about a third of the way toward reaching our goal of $1500 for “Lifted by Love”. This is when I start to pray . . . a lot. I am afraid of letting down our friend. I know that she is counting on this money. But, even more, it seems she is counting on receiving the love from the Body of Christ that she has been missing. Like so many others who are in her shoes or have been through her shoes, “Lifted” was not supported by her church family. Her ex has money. And clout. And equally moneyed and clouty parents who are prominent members of her former church. Our friend, Lifted, has been suppressed for such a long time that she did not develop any sort of fame in circles. She carried on through life . . . trying not to upset her husband. Tiptoeing around the eggshells in her home . . . expending all her energy in protecting her children and begging her husband for counseling.

When the ‘c’hurch lets you down . . . and you are trudging through trauma and tragedy, you are at risk of forgetting that Jesus cares very much about where you are.

I remember how I felt. My faith was hanging by a thread. I tried to go to other churches. Sometimes it was OK and other times it was not. I had been unloved for so so long. And I had been receiving letters from ‘c’hurch members who told me that I was wrong to leave an abusive husband . . . or that they did not believe me (he was charming and talented). They told me I was disrespectful . . . they told me that they were doubting my salvation. They even told me that God is no longer with me. In those moments, God always saved my faith, again and again. Sometimes, it was simply an act of kindness from someone who went out of their way to do something small for me. Other times, it was Scripture. I never gave up on what God says. I held onto truth . . . even if it seemed like so many around me did not believe that I walked with the Lord. I could not accept that.

I want desperately to give Lifted the sense that we . . . we who know her story and know her . . . will do something for her to remind her that God cares very deeply for her. That He will not leave her destitute.

Crying now, as I write this. Remembering . . .

At the same time, I know that I am not really the One in charge of this at all. That I take too much on my shoulders. So, I please with Jesus on Lifted’s behalf. I believe that God is moved by our genuine pleas. And that He is just as touched by my tears as I am my little child’s. Pray with me for Lifted. Let our cries reach His ears.