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.

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