Our January Mamas! “Hope & Healing” and “Forgotten Dragonfly”

We are so excited to be able to help two precious mamas, properly vetted and ready to soar! We spent time in December working on getting to know these precious ladies while visiting with them. They are so worth helping! Meet “Hope and Healing” and “Forgotten Dragonfly”.

Hope and Healing: “Hope” is an incredibly strong mama with seven beautiful children. Her husband struggled with mental illness and Hope did all she could to stay (mostly, she admits, out of guilt). Her husband was diagnosed with a heavy (yet treatable) diagnosis but he resisted treatment. Unable to endure the abuse any further, Hope left and was awarded a 50-year protection order from the judge who handled their divorce. Due to the instability of her ex husband and his violent temper, Hope does not receive the support she needs to press on. We are over-joyed to be able to pay for $1500 of Hope’s bills to keep her and her little lambs afloat, beginning in 2018. “I don’t know how people can do this without God. I know I couldn’t,” Hope explained to team mentor Lori. Hope is asking for prayer for her children and for herself. Many of them suffer from PTSD and the ongoing, full-time work drains Hope.

Forgotten Dragonfly: I was blessed to be able to talk with “Dragonfly” and her precious son (who nominated her). Our dear ministry friends, Marisabel Matta and Mellisa Procter were kind enough to drive out and see this precious mama and her two little lambs! Thank you, ladies! (See photo below!) Dragonfly’s ex husband is a military man who has kept Forgotten fearful and looking-over-her-shoulder for years now. She feels as though she never knows when he will hurt her, again. This dear lady works but struggles, as she has survived several Traumatic Brain Injuries. She is making it, though, and we are privileged to be able to help her pay some bills and (hopefully) get her moved into a better situation. We adore this mama. Please pray for her. Life is hard . . . all the time. Dragonfly and her children have not been able to go to church or talk with many believers. The hurt they have experienced, at the hands of church-people, has made it difficult. She and I prayed, on the phone, and her heart was deeply moved. Jesus has plans for this lady . . . no doubt in my mind.

Thank you, Mari & Mel, for traveling to vet a mama!!

YOUR DONATIONS go toward helping these precious ladies and their families! Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of our angels for the tremendous gifts you send our way! Because of you all, we will pay $3000 worth of bills and help these ladies find their wings! If you would like to donate, please go to our website and make a tax-deductible donation. In the meantime, please join us in praying for these mamas and ALL of our mamas!

Love,

Megan

 

Thoughts on Mercy and Forgiveness by Megan

“Mercy means compassion, empathy, a heart for someone’s troubles. It’s not something you do – it is something in you, accessed, revealed, or cultivated through use, like a muscle. We find it in the most unlikely places, never where we first look.”
― Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

Anne Lamott, in her acclaimed book, Hallelujah Anyway, describes mercy as something that we may have always had. She describes it as something she began with, as a small child, but it was folded up and put in a drawer, as her family saw mercy as weakness and would not tolerate such radical forgiveness in a small child. Her upbringing was very much about how things looked. Oh, can I relate to that. One of my sisters wrote of me as being “embarrassing”, when I was hurting, at my most . . . desperate to find help and healing, reaching out, grasping at unreachable solace, drowning in single-motherness, painfully aware of the post-separation abuse I was suffering, at a loss as to where to live.  It was “messy” to them. And embarrassing. The cruelty of that word when a person is suffering is unconscionable. It did not look good for an Owen girl to be in so much pain. And no one knew how to handle it.

For years, I have wondered if I could be like Joseph, when his brothers came back and found him there, stately and unrecognizable. Would I cry? If my family came back and said, “Wow, Megan . . . DID WE EVER handle that badly! Could you forgive us for the ways in which we hurt you? And then tried to cover it up by making you out to be unstable? All the ways we justified our bad behavior . . . I’m sorry.” Would I cry, like Joseph? Would I be gracious? Would I want to bless them, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure they would have been happy if I had just died? 

I think I know now. I remember that child . . . that little girl that just wanted to forgive. I even remember my Mother smiling at me, once, as a preteen and saying, “Megan is the one who doesn’t hold grudges.” What happened to that girl? I wasn’t sure, for so long, if she was in there. I wasn’t sure that I could ever find her, amidst the rubble of scars and pain and brokenness that just wouldn’t heal. But, she’s there. I’m sure she is there, like a deep and underlying lake that has been buried under thick, red, caked-over mud. This week, I could feel her, sense her, and lean into her. And oh, what consolation. It is so true, what they say about how forgiveness releases the forgiver. For years, I have wanted to reach out, make amends, fix relationships that seemed forever broken. It is in me to do that. But, the vulnerability to people who have only harmed me for so long was simply too much. I may never have relationships with said folks again. And that is OK. All I needed was to lean into that merciful Megan that I had missed so much. For my sake. From my vantage point and for my heart. And so,

For putting me on a pedestal that I could never live up to . . . . I forgive you.

For the character assassination . . . . I forgive you.

For the brutal, ongoing and relentless judgment . . . . I forgive you.

For not seeing me as a person . . . . I forgive you.

For not respecting me, as a mother . . . . I forgive you.

For not knowing how to help me . . . . I forgive you.

For trying to keep a relationship with my children while disparaging me publicly . . . . I forgive you.

For choosing sides with a man who tried to murder my soul . . . . I forgive you.

For wishing ill for me and justifying it with piety . . . . I forgive you.

For the gossip and rumors and slander and mob-mentality . . . . I forgive you.

For not knowing me because I am not a person deserving respect to you . . . . I forgive you. 

For the jealousy and envy . . . . I forgive you.

For lying and twisting the past . . . . I forgive you.

For screaming at me, throwing things, blaming me for all of life’s troubles . . . . I forgive you.

For trying to ruin every day that was special and/or precious to me. . . . I forgive you.

For what felt like pure hatred against me . . . I forgive you.

For not having any mercy for me . . . I forgive you.

Oh, the relief.

Release, release, release. Releasing them to Jesus. Letting Him deal with it all. Dropping the burden. They are no longer judged by me or accused by me, in my heart. This is not for them. I doubt that they care. This is what I need. 

And I will never bring it up again.

And I have mercy. I have a heart for their troubles. Because I believe we are all human and that none of us deserve mercy and so we all deserve mercy because of the Great Mercy Giver. It is who God is . . . and I want, so badly, to be like Him. They could not make Him hard-hearted, no matter how many times they slapped Him, spit on him and tore at Him. And I will not allow them to make me hard, either. This is how I know God IS . . . because He could keep me soft-hearted in the midst of hatred all around me. That is a miracle. That makes Him very very real to me.

And people hurt out of their hurt. I get that, too.

Those who injured me do not know how to help, to love, to be vulnerable and show kindness to me. To others — yes, sometimes. But, not to me. It was a habit not to. I see it now. It was what started, after our parents died. Or maybe it was before. It was all the relatives growing uncomfortable when you “let me have it”. But they did not speak up. It was how you all coped. You needed someone to blame for your peacelessness. And that is all forgiven. I have compassion for that. Because I am so, incredibly free now. I am loved by the One who loves me enough. He fills the holes that were left there by the bullets of hate and soul-crushing that you did and that I did to myself.  And I forgive me, too. Thank you, Jesus.

So, I wasn’t supposed to be this person. Despite everything that happened, God has made me His Beloved. With all that has happened, I should be mean, unforgiving, callous, twisted, hateful, lonely, unable to to thrive, anxious, depressed, fearful, angry, distant and more. I should not be able to have sustainable relationships. I should be ruined. And yet . . . . here I am . . . . loving mercy. Truly, deeply, happily loving it. And thriving.

Isn’t that what God requires? Do justice, love mercy and walking humbly with Him? Oh, yes. I can do these things . . . I can do justice and I can love mercy because I walk humbly with Him. That is a very attainable standard, and quite quite different than the other standards I hear about. 

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for forgiving me so I could forgive them and I could forgive me, too. I can honestly say, I would be so so lost — so forlorn and hopeless — without You. Oh, how I love You for that. Oh, how I feel Your love and compassion for me and for others. And Your healing . . . every single day. Thank you for walking beside me, as I admit to You that I don’t know what I’m doing but that I want to take your light and easy burden. As I admit that my way doesn’t work and that Your way is better. Thank you. You are my Hero, the love of my life, my everything.

 

Love,

Megan

 

 

 

 

Why Churches Can’t Help Women Who Have Been Abused

OK . . . Not all churches. But so so so so many. Our church, where David pastors, is amazing with our precious mamas. But we hear, over and over and over and over (big breath) and over and over about churches that re-traumatize victims on a regular basis. And yet these precious former victims keep trying. They keep going back. Why? Because Church should be a place of healing. It should be the haven where we find respite after the storm. It should be. And we want it to be.

There are many reasons why church is (sadly) the last place a victim of abuse finds healing. Women who have been traumatized by abuse and whose husbands consider themselves to be believers in Christ, have most likely been abused spiritually, meaning that Scripture has been used against them to keep them oppressed. (I have mentioned, often, that I consider spiritual abuse to be the most wicked perversion of our Heavenly Father and a perversion that He does not take lightly.) Furthermore, in my experience, most women who have left an abusive relationship and sought healing, find that their core families of origin are dysfunctional, at best, and abusive, at worst. Many of these women have been objectified and de-personalized. She was not seen as a person, growing up, but as something to use to prop up an adult, older sibling or any combination, thereof. Then, she married someone who only wished to dominate her. These precious ladies were not seen as the amazing persons that they are. In short, they have been subjugated. And they are over being subjugated.

One mistake a trauma therapist could easily make is continuing to allow her to feel subjugated. She might believe that subjugating herself is the only way for her to be “loved”. This leads her to trying to please men by being a  “trite assistant”, a term I like to use for ladies who are still stuck in man-pleasing. They always offer to do little tasks, watching to see his pleasure in her. (this makes me want to weep) Writes Daniel Shaw, in his academic work, “Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation”,

The trauma of unrecognition could lead one to desperately seek connection through subjugation, and self-objectification. Loc. 518

Further, he writes:

A relationship in which one member is expected to change and grow, and the other considers himself exempt from those processes, is a relationship in which the one expected to change is being subjugated, to one degree or another, by the one claiming exemption. Loc. 1198

This means that, if you have a therapist who seems to “know it all”, has swallowed some sort of a magic pill and has arrived and resides in pristine and perfect emotional health, you do not have a good therapist.

But, that is not my main point. My main point is that women who have been victims of abuse and are believers in Christ are seeking and searching for healing. So, where do they go? To church. And they are told that women are to be submissive and that women cannot be in leadership positions and that women need to subject themselves to the authority of church leaders. Re-traumatization, at its finest. So, what do these precious daughters of the King do? Run away. And I don’t blame them. Not one bit. 

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. 

This just won’t do, Church. It won’t do because it is bad theology, in many many respects. But, it also won’t do because these ladies need healing and, instead of finding compassion, they find re-victimization. And they are afraid to challenge anything because . . . well, where has that ever gotten them, in the past?

So, what is the answer? Mutuality. Being honest. Not acting like a guru to these ladies. Acknowledging fallibility on all of our parts.  Not being frustrated when she struggles. Being a safe place where she can say the difficult things that need to be said. These reparative strategies (and, let’s be honest, just being real) can instill hope. I don’t know how many times I have heard something like, “Megan, it is so wonderful to hear that you still struggle with thus and such. You’ve come such a long way. You make me feel like I can get there, too.” We need to create a culture where people can be human. So, super-beautiful in their humanity. A place of healing. A place of recognition.

I recognize you, beautiful daughter of the King, as a person. A person created in the image of God. A person who was knit together in her mother’s womb. A person who has gifts and talents that are unique to you; a person who has a personality and character that is like no one else, in this world. We are not here to use you or to make you subject to us. You are on equal footing with everyone else here — a firstborn in Christ, privy to all of the gifts and inheritance of a firstborn child. You are valuable and you will receive love here . . . not because of what you do, but simply because you ARE. 

THAT is where we should be . . . . where I wish we could be. A haven; a home. If Jesus collects our tears in a bottle, should her tears not be precious to us? If Jesus is going to wipe every tear from our eyes, why would we not do the same for our sisters? Lord, make us this. Please.

Love,

Megan

 

Don’t Do to Yourself What He Did to You

Art Credit: Megan Cox “LionHeart”

I do believe that successful lives are lived on the brink of counter-intuitiveness, standing on the middle of a tall, open and narrow platform, all vulnerable-like, pushing away expectations, narrowing down what is important, doing exactly what you do not feel like doing and facing (indeed, even embracing) affliction, rather than shoving it back. Our nature, in this current, time-space narrative, is to be comfortable. Happiness somehow equals comfort and we are all a little guilty of this.  We want to avoid pain, not see it as a growing experience. That is counter-intuitive. We want to stick with “what we know”, not venture into something that challenges the thinking we grew up with. That would be counter-intuitive. We want to stay in the boat — not walk on the water. That would be counter-intuitive. And yet, Jesus has always been the Great Challenger. He was, when He walked this earth, and He continues to be. I’m so super-OK with that. I am finally learning to be comfortable with confrontation and stop evading; to buck the systems; to stand up to the stereotypes and simply be myself. I am willing to ask hard questions, if need be. But, it wasn’t always that way.

One of the most heart-breaking dynamics for us to watch, in ministering to former targets of abuse, is how often these precious women continue to hurt themselves long after they have left their abusers. It is natural, normal and very much what they are used to. I wonder if they even know they are doing it. The call, on their lives (and our call in exhorting them) is to press out of those pockets of abuse, in their minds. They are physically out, but not completely free. Some of our mamas are so steeped in the paradigm of abuse, that they carry on with it, themselves, because it is what they know. Here are some ways in which these precious ladies do this:

  1. Isolation. Oh, do I get this one. It is so much easier to hide away. Become an introvert. Do not let anyone hurt me, anymore. The belief is that the best way to protect oneself is to keep people as far away as possible. Yes. It will protect, in some ways. And, I believe it is necessary, for a time. Many have often heard me say that I wish I could give each of our mamas one year of healing, without pressure of finances, working, raising children alone and trauma-induced panic. I understand. But, for how long? Will you allow yourself to stay this way? When do you decide to struggle out of the cocoon and get real, life-changing healing? Being alone with your thoughts can be a dark place. After a while, everyone becomes dangerous. Your home was not a safe place, with him, and now your home is not a safe place . . . not really. Not with darkness looming. Not when people cannot fill it up with joy and laughter and peace. Now, look. He isolated you; you are isolating yourself.  One of the bravest things, in the world, that you can do is step out. Take a little leap . . . a small step. Test the people around you. Most of them are not abusive. Most of them are just like you and me . . . . just looking for relationships and love and health. I know you are scared. I know. But, move toward that fear. Don’t let him have this part of your life.
  2. Paralyzation. Similar to isolation, this is when we become paralyzed to relationships. Everything is dangerous and nothing feels safe. Everything is interpreted to mean something else. What if they mean to hurt me? What if they mean thus-and-such behind their words? The best thing for me to do is to stay stuck. And, once again, that stuckness that your abuser wanted for you? You are now doing his job for him (this makes me want to cry).
  3. Self-Harm. I realize that this is a complicated issue. Self-harm comes in so many forms and for so many different reasons. But, he is no longer there to hurt you. But, each time you hurt yourself, you are doing it for him. You are doing what he wanted to do to you. Oh, my dear sister . . . wouldn’t you rather get healing and FIGHT to stop the self-harm than to allow him this victory? This is not to put false guilt on anyone. We have all done things that we wish we had not and we have no choice but to learn, put it behind us and try again. There IS help for self-harm. But, only you can take the step to move forward and get the help that you need. You deserve it. After all you have been through.
  4. Loss of Identity. Abusers see other people as extensions of themselves — not as actual people. I understand that deep, dark feeling of being invisible and used. Abusers are users and takers — it is what they do. So, if I allow other people to see me as simply an accessory or as someone who is to be used (even “for the kingdom”), then I have stepped right back into that place my ex-abuser wanted me to live. I cannot give into this. I have to fight, every day, to keep my identity as Megan, beloved child of God. I will not and would not allow my abuser to have the satisfaction of believing that I had, somehow, “fallen in line”. No way; no how.
  5. Allowing the Drama In. No more drama for this mama. Abusers thrive (seriously, they live and breathe) on getting a reaction out of you. A control drama, as coined by James Redfield in his book, “The Celestine Prophecy,” is played by a person who is feeling low on power or energy, to manipulate and steal the energy of another. Control dramas are unconscious strategies all people use to gain power or energy from another person and to essentially, “get their way with others.” They get their way with others by making them pay attention to us and then elicit a certain reaction from them to make themselves feel fulfilled. The positive feelings they gain are won at the expense of the other person and this often causes imbalance and drama in interpersonal relationships. But, again, it is the “normal world” for the former victim of abuse. This has to be de-toxed out. Again, therapy will help with this. Intentional effort. Grit.

It IS a fight. It is a daily fight, for all of us. But, I would rather fight, with everything in me, to grow up and out, than to do to myself what he did to me. I have made a covenant, with myself and with God, to take specific steps to keep the drama out of my life, to keep from isolating and to keep myself growing and embracing affliction. I am actually happier, as I do these things. Avoiding pain will get us nowhere . . . pain is everywhere, especially in the recesses of the dark sides of ourselves that everyone has.

Will you fight? Will you decide, today, to find a way to stop doing these things? Explore options? Get counseling? Reach out to someone? Take a step to trust someone? I don’t want this life for you . . . it is time for a new life. Make a decision beyond the brave decision you made to leave, in the first place. Did you know it was only the first in a long line of decisions for your health?  Make a decision to climb out of the dark world he left you in, as well. Make a decision that he cannot influence you, anymore, in these ways. Make a decision to take care of yourself, so you can be the you that God means for you to be.

Be empowered in all the right ways. Get the ex’s influence out of your life for good. Start today. If you have any questions about steps to take to do this, please ask us. We have trusted resources that can help (like Leslie Vernick’s Conquer Groups and others). Or, you can reach out to us. But, by all means, stop doing to yourself what he did to you. 

Be lion-hearted; Get healing. Be the opposite of the cowardly abuser. You are the brave one, here. You are the courageous one. You are the one who can take steps to freedom and gain your wings.

Love,

Megan

 

Our October Mama’s Story — “Safe in His Arms”

One of our October mamas was kind enough to write out her story. We like to share these precious broken-and-beautiful stories, now and then, to help our constituents understand more about what “our mamas” are facing. It will hurt you heart . . . but please read  the story of our October mama — “Safe in His Arms” —  below.

When I met him, I was divorced for nearly 2 years and had 2 small children.  Things seem to be leveling out in my life and I was getting used to this new “normal” of being a single mom of 2 kiddos.  I had reconnected with a local church in my community through a divorce class they offered for a semester and was glad to be a part of the church family.  It was through this church that I met him.  He was a leader, in our church.  He seemed like a good, Christian man with a big heart.  He acted like he loved my children, especially my son, who has special needs.  We somehow ended up a couple without it ever being said.  I was pressured by him into sleeping with him, which I found odd coming from a Christian man, and then when I did, he’d essentially blame me for it and for allowing him to “slip” and that I “needed to connect with Christian women in the church.”  I felt dirty and disgusting.  I would push away his advances when we hung out, but it would happen again and again.  Then, I was shamed again and again by him.  I prayed.  I read scripture.  I took notes while reading the Bible.  I journaled about how awful I was to cause him to slip into sin.

He then started controlling who I talked to.  I wasn’t allowed to have any male friends.  I was to make more of an effort to hang out with Christian women (which in his book did not include Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and so on…he said those aren’t Christians).  I complied.  I wanted to be a good Christian woman.  

Things changed as soon as we got married.  He moved into my home and when I came home after the first day back at work, he had completely “redecorated” my home.  He replaced all the stuff on the bedroom walls with his posters and pictures, changed our bedding to be to his liking, even took my things on the dresser and put them away.  Again, I wanted to be a good submissive wife and I laughed it off.  Surely, this was just him trying to be more comfortable in our home.  I noticed he drank a lot, something I didn’t notice before because he didn’t live with me before we got married.  He’d come over for dinner, hang out for a bit and then go back home.  He also smoked pot and pressured me to do it also.  I did it twice and told him never again.  He promised he wouldn’t either.  He lied.  I found out I was pregnant within a few months of our marriage.  For some reason, I was afraid to tell him (I found out when he was at work or was supposed to be at work).  When he got home that night, drunk and high, I told him and he said, “Are you sure it’s mine?”  I was floored.  I cried.  He said the next day he was joking, but that look in his eyes told me it was no joke.  That’s the first time I truly saw Satan in his eyes.

My first pregnancy with him was terrible.  He would drink starting at noon or so and be drunk by the time I got home.  He would berate me and verbally abuse me, sometimes when my 2 older kids were also home.  He was abusive (verbally and emotionally, physically) with my son.  I recorded him a few times when he was yelling at me and calling me every name in the book while I cowered in a corner, super pregnant, so he could hear himself.  He called me the “enemy” in his home.  Many times he told me to get the f out of his house and take my kids with me.  I spent several nights in hotels during that pregnancy.  He would then apologize and then we would restart the cycle.  I have no family near and his parents enabled his behavior.  I turned for help to them, but it was pointless.  His mother said he was the head of the household and that this didn’t sound like him, essentially saying I was lying.

A month prior to giving birth, he unleashed the worst of his verbal assaults on me.  It sent me into preterm labor and the doctors were able to stop it.  I knew I needed to get out.  This would be the first time I left him.  He knew I had reached out to our local DV shelter before this point by looking at phone records and then yelling at me about it, so I knew I couldn’t call them safely from my phone.  My friends took us in.  I ended up returning to him when he promised he would get help.  This was the cycle — the cycle that would happen for 2 more years before I left for good.

After the birth of our first child, he didn’t change his ways.  He seemed to drink even more, and I found out he was gambling (I didn’t know the extent of how bad the gambling was and how much he lost until a few days before I left him for good).  I had no access to finances at all.  He even proposed giving me an allowance (mind you, I work full time while he “worked from home”).  Having a child didn’t change him.  He was no help with her at all — often too drunk/hungover to help.  He would pass out on the couch or in bed.  There were times he stumbled into bed and missed the bed and hit the floor.  He urinated in the bed with our child and me in it.  At one point during this period, I suspected he was doing drugs again in the garage and when I went into the garage, I was overcome with the smell of marijuana.  I looked throughout the garage and found a huge bag of pot and  a six-pack of beer.  I brought them into the house and he got mad that I didn’t trust him instead of apologizing for doing these things.  

Every time the cycle got the explosion, it was always followed with signing up for classes, major apologies, love bombing, the whole works.  I kept praying to God that he would change.  I would pray that he could see what he was doing was wrong and hurting our family.  A year after the 1st time I left him, he got physically abusive.  He was under the influence and I didn’t want him holding our child in this state.  I needed to nurse her and he went to lay in bed with her while being buzzed.  I tried grabbing her from him and he shoved me into a dresser so hard, I bruised my arm, scratched my back and knocked the T.V. over.  My older kids were home.  He took my cell phone.  He kicked us out of the house.  

We would repeat these cycles for another year before I left for the last time, in January, of this year. I left on a cold Friday morning, pregnant with 3 small children, and a dufflebag of clothing hiding in the trunk of my car.  He had no idea I was leaving and I acted like it was another day of daycare, school and work.  Since then, he’s stepped up abuse and nightmare.

 I have since been forced to obtain a protective order.  I am the sole provider for my family and am drowning.

But, when I think of what I left, where I am now, with all of its difficulties, is beyond better.  God will provide and he has shown this in many ways, most recently through Give Her Wings.  I keep having faith that the truth will come to light and little by little it truly has been.  I know God sees all and I know that he is caring for my babies and me.  The divorce still isn’t final but I have hope. 

Thank you to those of you who donate to Give Her Wings. I cannot tell you how much it has encouraged my children and myself. Please know that this is a worthy and integrous cause. They have already been able to help me with so much. In the meantime, please pray for us. We need it all.

Love,

“Safe in His Arms”

 

 

 

How I Met My David — Q&A Number 3

We reached out to our constituents and asked them to ask us questions for a blog post series. Some of the women wanted to know how to better educate their churches on abuse or what to do about a particularly painful situation. To my surprise, the most common question I received was, “How did you meet your husband?” (giggles!) At first, I kind of felt like it was a little bit invasive, but because I am currently reading the latest Brene Brown book, I decided I would oblige. So, here is my personal account of how I met David, the man of my dreams.

I was working really hard to keep my kiddos and myself going. I was afraid; I was shaking in my little boots; I was more alone than I have ever felt. I felt dejected, rejected, a little bit crazy, not myself and desperate for so much . . . for time alone just to pray, to feel like I belonged somewhere or to someone, for a sense of security and safety for myself and my children and so much more. My ex sent money a few times, which helped us. There was not a promise of more and, after that, it became a matter of “starving us out”: Come home and you can have money for the kids. (It wasn’t for another three years after that that we were able to obtain child support.) Ya’ll. I did not have time for “alone time”. I did manage to get up an hour before the kids and have a long, silent-sob quiet time in the bathroom with Jesus (only room in the house with a door). After that, it was very hard work. I was too afraid for my kids not to work hard. They were small. I had to be a busy mama and a working mama but, what was hardest, were the gnawing fears in the back of my mind . . . fears that almost broke me.

What will I do? When I move out of temporary housing, where will we go? Why won’t my family show compassion? Why am I being judged so harshly? Will the children grow up with their mother scorned by her entire family? How will that affect them? Will I ever have money to secure custody of my kids? Am I wrong for wanting them to be safe and loved and free from the abuse? Can I provide that for them on my own?

I always wish that I could give our mamas one year off after the finally take the bravest step, in the world, in leaving an abusive situation. Instead, they all have to jump into the unknown territory of having to be the main provider, when all they have known is being a wife and mother. The stress of the situation and their own pain and their children’s pain stretches their hearts to fracturing. I get that. We were really in poverty. People would leave canned goods on our doorstep. Someone dropped off bags of old clothes. I could not believe I was living that way.

Much-Afraid with Sorrow and Suffering

I honestly didn’t think I would ever remarry. Who would want to “take on” a woman and her four small children? I knew, when I left, that I would probably be alone for the rest of my life.

I guess God had other plans.

I was working on taking a third job as a church pianist. I had worked for David fifteen years ago, when he was a pastor and I was a pianist. I knew we were friends on Facebook. So, I wrote him and asked for a reference, of which he was happy to give. I believe that, a few weeks later, David re-thought about my message to him, wondering what I was doing in Nebraska when he had heard that my family and I had moved to Europe. And why was I working? David decided to re-visit our conversation and he asked me if I was alright. I told him I wasn’t. He asked if we could talk. I made a decision to be completely honest with David, as I knew I could trust him.  The rest is pretty much history. We talked on the phone once a week . . . then every night . . . and then, David came and got all of us, put us on a plane and brought us home — to him.

The day David picked us up from Nebraska. We will never forget it. March 13, 2012.

David wanted more children. He loved them, the first time he laid eyes on them. David was my Boaz. But, he would tell you that I was his Ruth. Those who truly know and love me (as in, have allowed me to be truly known and seen), know my character. Not perfection, please, but character.

“May the Lord bless you, my daughter. You have shown more kindness now than before because you have not pursued younger men, whether rich or poor. Now don’t be afraid, my daughter. I will do for you whatever you say, since all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character.” —Ruth 3:10–11

David had known me before. Not super-well, but he would tell anyone who asked, “I saw Megan as a good wife to her husband, years ago. She was respectful and kind.” My testimony, as a good wife to my ex-husband (as an act of worship to God — not because he brought that out in me, by any means), was what David never forgot. And what he saw was a woman working hard for meager return. He did not see me as the desperate woman I felt I was because he had known me before. He knew that this place-of-my-heart was temporary.  He trusted in my solid-faith, which did not feel so solid, but it was there.

David rescued me. He would tell you I rescued him, as well. We rescued each other. Neither one of us wanted to be alone, anymore. We wanted to pour into a marriage (a second chance) that would honor and glorify God and teach our collective children what a beautiful marriage could look like.

We are so thankful for each other. And, oh, to have a marriage free from “roles”, from being held hostage, from loneliness, from pain and suffering every. single. day. To just love each other and want the best for each other. To grow together. To fall together; to get back up together. To give freedom and to meet felt needs and have someone be thankful for that.

I love my David. I want every woman to have a David. I waited so long for him. And my heart is full. And that’s our story.

The Cox Family, 2017 Credit: Shine Images Photography

And . . . just for fun . . . .

We’re pretty normal. 🙂 Credit: Shine Images Photography

When My Isolation Bubble Popped and I Watched It Happen

Since undergoing EMDR therapy (highly recommended for those who have experienced trauma), I would say that my triggers are about 75% relieved. This percentage was, most definitely, put to the test this past weekend when I went to visit my two closest friends in Wake Forest, NC. This is my old stomping ground. Wake Forest is the home of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was there where I was more secluded than any time, in my life. It was there where I had all four of my babies, home schooled and had very little outside influence welcomed into my home, besides our church, because there is so much “evil in the world’ (sarcasm). It was there where I learned that women were (basically) created to please men, have babies and have a “quiet and gentle spirit” (more sarcasm).  It was there where I lived in the isolated bubble of a miserable existence. . . . where I used to cry, literally in the closet, believing that I was worthless . . . where I used to cry out to God with questions like, “Is this all I was created for? To be used? Do you even like women, God?”

I often equate all of this awful with the seminary and the Southern Baptist denomination. And, yes, I saw awful there — IN ABUNDANCE. And mamas who come to our ministry for help experience the awful. But, I know that not everyone there believes these lies. Surely, they don’t. I know my two besties don’t. At the time, though (and for so long), I thought that the seminary had a corner on God and that I was living amongst the people who had it right. We were arrogant. We knew, people. We knew and no one else did. And part of what we knew was that it is OK for a woman to be abused in every way, and the church would practically endorse that.

You can imagine how I felt being all over the places where I felt so crushed.

But, it wasn’t the place that crushed me. It wasn’t the doctrine (skewed though some of it is — let’s be honest — we are all NEVER ALL OF THE TIME RIGHT ABOUT DOCTRINE). It wasn’t the young pastor-to-be boys who relished the idea of being “specially called”. They weren’t the ones. It was the bubble in which I lived. And, when you are being abused or neglected at home, I think you kind of believe that it is normal and that other people think you should be abused and neglected, as well. And we cannot look people in the eye. But, this is one of the greatest lies in the world of abuse — the lie that says, “I must deserve it. And he says everyone else thinks I deserve it. So, I cannot get close to anyone. Not really. It will only reinforce what I deserve. And I cannot manage that right now.”

We walked into the Summit Church in Raleigh and that same, old sickening feeling came over me . . . the mild nausea associated with Southern Baptists. The preacher was a young man I had never seen. It goes without saying that I had a slightly bad attitude. I wondered, “Would this church have responded to me the same way my church did when I took my children and fled an abusive man? Would they insist that I stay in the marriage? Would they have made me feel smaller, telling me that God wanted me to be abused for the rest of my life?” But, I love my friends and this church is important to them so, there I was.

The young man preaching, decked out in super-cool clothes and an even superer-cooler beard started talking about Joseph. And, all of a sudden, it was all I could do to hold back tears (which I released, relentlessly, later with my friend Anna). It was good. It was not oppressive. This young man spoke about being stripped of everything you thought you were . . . a son, a brother, a young man full of hope (a daughter, a sister, a young mother full of hope). He spoke about being stripped of dignity . . . and then being given a new name and being given all of the dignity back and more. He said things like, “The brothers weren’t the ones who sent Joseph away . . . God was. And He did so for a purpose.” Ya’ll. How could I have given certain people, in my life, so much power as to think they were responsible for my banishment? Whoa. They didn’t do it. God did this. Why? I don’t know all of the reasons. But, I DO know that, if I hadn’t left my abusive marriage and if my family of origin did not judge me so harshly and if the church I had been attending hadn’t been so gossipy and hurtful, I would not be here, directing Give Her Wings, which impacts thousands of hurting mothers and provides for so many of them to be able to pay bills and get on their feet. That’s why.  This sermon was tailor-made for me. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

We went to the Mexican restaurant I had visited so frequently while being married to an abusive man. And I looked around, as I sipped my margarita (that would have been scandalous years ago), and realized that these people are not abusive people. They are just people. My isolation bubble kept me from seeing these people . . . . people who simply need to be loved; people who may be hurting; people who may not be hurting; just normal, run-of-the-mill, extraordinary created-in-God’s-image people. They did not do to me what had been done to me, so many years earlier. And it no longer felt that way, either.

And more . . . the mall in which I used to push my babies around . . . the corner ice-cream shop, the pathways I used to take when I ran . . . they are just places. Just places.

My isolation bubble has popped and I can see outside of my painful situation, more than ever. This may have been a final stage of my healing and I am so grateful for it! So, come on . . . come at me with your bad theology. I’m not crippled by it, anymore. I am here to tell you that there is a better way, a freer way, the way in which Jesus said He wanted to pave to show us how to love and forgive our sins and make us these awesome, funky, original creations that He just adores. I won’t shy away. I hear stuff and it hurts my heart . . . but it no longer affects me. And that is huge.

Are you still triggered by certain places? I would love to hear about it. What about theology? Do you get edgy when people throw out those words that used to keep you shackled? Has your isolation bubble popped, yet?  I would love to hear from you. And, if the bubble hasn’t popped, yet, and you are isolated, all the more reason to reach out. We can help you with that! Jesus is allllll about relationships — good ones — not ones where someone has “authority” or the “upper hand” in your life. We will be your mutual, messy friends.

Warmly and Set Freely,

Megan

My book, my painting. MDC

How Do I Educate Church Leaders About Abuse? — A Guest Post by Cindy Burrell

Thank you, Cindy, for tackling this excellent question from one of our constituents!

Cindy Burrell is the owner of Hurtbylove.com, a web-based ministry for women in abusive relationships.  She is also the author of “Why Is He So Mean to Me?” and her newest book, “An Extraordinary Ordinary Life:  A Testimony of God’s Faithfulness.”

A former abuse victim wrote to say: “I would be interested in how to go back and educate my ex-church leaders on abuse so they can hopefully help other women that may have this issue. There was just a lot of ignorance on their part.”

As I am sure you know, dear writer, you are not alone.  Many abuse victims have been guilted, shamed and shunned by those within the Christian community as they have traversed the long road to recovery from abuse.  I appreciate the courage it takes to consider educating the well-meaning – but ignorant – leaders within the contemporary church.

What are some of the primary suppositions to which most pastors and Christian counselors often adhere when dealing with abuse in marriage?  They may look something like this:

  1. The abuser has a good heart.  He must be responding out of hurt rather than selfishness. We must presume he wants to do the right thing.
  2. By exhibiting a gentle, quiet spirit and through her prayer and faithfulness, the abuse victim holds the power by her example to change her abuser.
  3. Couples counseling will improve communication, create accountability and facilitate positive change.
  4. God hates divorce, so it must be avoided at all costs, even if abuse has poisoned the relationship.

“The abuser has a good heart.”  If that is so, that truth should be evident in his attitudes and actions, and if not, then he is a danger to his wife and children, and their physical and emotional safety should take priority.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.”  (Matthew 12:33)

“An abuse victim holds the power to change her abuser.”

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,

as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”  Peter 3:1-2

Commentary authorities agree that the husband described here is not a believer, nor is there any reason to believe that he is an abuser, so this Scripture does not apply to an abusive situation.    Furthermore, wicked pretenders are not necessarily swayed by prayer, kindness and gentleness; in fact, they are empowered by it.  The truth is that none of us inherently has any power over others’ behaviors.  But we have a responsibility to assess the gravity of those behaviors and determine whether our spouses are seeking to live in the light of God’s love or not.

“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”  I John 3:10

Couples counseling will improve communication and facilitate change.

Couples counseling is the wrong approach when abuse has permeated the relationship.  It provides abusers with a forum from which to sell their twisted version of truth using a combination of diminishment and lying.  A couples counseling setting rarely identifies the abuser for what he is, but rather the process will almost always insist upon some form of compromise, placing an expectation on the victim that she should give more rather than reclaiming what has been lost, while the abuser is expected to give some as a sign of his “effort.”  It often urges the victim to remain in the household so that the couple can work on their relationship in the interest of “saving the marriage.”  This is backwards.  Emotional and personal safety should always be the highest priority.

Furthermore, when dealing with abuse, only individual counseling should be considered.  With a counselor who understands the abuse dynamic, this provides the victim with the freedom to speak her truth without fear and receive the emotional support she needs.  If the abuser wishes to seek help for his failings, he should, but on his own volition.  Most often the abuser will only participate in couples counseling to shore up his image and sell his version of truth.  In a one-on-one counseling setting, an abuser will virtually always lose interest or deem the process unhelpful.  He may try to put on a good show for a while, but in most cases he will become impatient before long because he likes things the way they are and has no genuine desire to change.

We can see clear warnings regarding this type of person in the book of Jude, the one-chapter book written by Jesus’ half-brother that is loaded with powerful truth.  Jude wrote:

“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (v. 3-4)

Contending for the faith (and marriage) requires a willingness to see those who have infiltrated the church – pretenders and liars who exploit the grace of God to facilitate their “licentiousness.”  Their very lifestyles deny the lordship of Jesus.  These are not hurting, misunderstood individuals, but Jude describes them as…

“…men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;  wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.” (v. 12-13)

This is a powerful description of self-serving, worthless people who stealthily carry out their agenda of wickedness within the body of Christ, yet many pastors and Christian counselors refuse to see these people for who they are.  They are showmen, liars and pretenders who know exactly what they are doing and appreciate the opportunity to hide themselves among genuine, God-fearing people.

And, finally…

God hates divorce, so every effort must be taken to save the marriage.

The church’s ultimate trump card in the marriage counseling battle is the doctrinal teaching that God hates divorce, which has become the primary motivating force from which most Christian counselors operate.  This premise compels most marriage counselors to pursue every means possible to “save the marriage.”  It is long past time to dispense with the notion that God hates divorce, for divorce was provided in the Mosaic law for legitimate cause.  This aspect of the law has never been amended, not even by Jesus.

Deuteronomy 24 identifies the process.

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife…” Deuteronomy 24:1-2

Therein are the three aspects of a lawful divorce: 1) legitimate cause, 2) the provision of a writ, which released both parties to marry, and 3) permanent separation which is translated as “sending away” or “putting away.”  The Hebrew word is “shalach.”) 

Take this understanding to the book of Malachi, from which the “God hates divorce,” doctrine is quipped.

“This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand.

Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.  For I hate putting away (“shalach”), says the Lord, the God of Israel, and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” (Malachi 2:13-14, 15b-16)

The prophet conveys God’s anger toward men who were “putting away” their wives.  These were not legitimate divorces.  These women were being “put away” without cause, without provision, and without a writ so the men could take other wives – and idol-worshippers at that (“the daughter(s) of a foreign god” [v. 11]).  Without a writ, these women were not free to marry, and the men were committing polygamy. (Malachi 2:15b-16)

That’s the truth.  God does not hate divorce, but the act of “putting away.”  God did not change the lawful directive on divorce.  These men were dishonoring it by abandoning their innocent wives for their own selfish purposes.  God was actually defending women.

“Divorce” in the New Testament

In the New Testament, the term for “putting away” in the Greek is “apoluo.” This is the same word the Pharisees used when they tested Jesus, asking (paraphrase), “Is it acceptable for us to “put away” our wives for any cause at all?”  Jesus responded by asking, “What does the law say?” to which they responded (paraphrase): “That we are permitted to give our wives a writ of divorce and send them away.”  

It seems that “putting away” wives, presumably to take other wives, was a common cultural practice.  Yet Jesus essentially tells them that their hearts are wrong and they are dishonoring marriage and their wives.  Furthermore, He says that the man who put away his wife caused her to commit adultery.  Why?  Because she was still married, but she needed material help and may have been compelled to marry even if she was legally bound to her husband.  The responsibility for this moral failing was laid at the feet of the Pharisaical offenders. (Matthew 5:32)

Finally, let us be reminded of the sanctity of marriage. The Apostle Paul provides us with the godly marriage model.

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”  Ephesians 5: 22-30

There is no room for abuse here, but rather a call to beautifully balanced mutual love, respect, nourishment and cherishing that is a reflection of the love relationship between Christ and His bride, the church.

These are just a handful of the issues that the contemporary church and many pastors and Christian counselors often fail to understand.

In closing, I offer a quote by Valerie Jacobsen:

““Taking marriage seriously” means taking the vows seriously and having real consequences for breaking them.

“The idealists and perfectionists who are trying to turn “marriage” into a protected space for all manner of evil are not “taking marriage seriously” in any biblical sense.”

 My hope, dear inquirer, is that this information provides a foundation of truth upon which to build and share.  However, we must recognize that those who are heavily invested in these commonly espoused principles may not be open to anything that threatens their belief system or requires them to change the way they address people in unhealthy marriages.  It is not always easy to reveal to well-meaning people that they are unwittingly“…teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”  Matthew 15:8

Additional resources and reading recommendations:

Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities” by David Instone-Brewer

“A Redemptive Look at Three of the Most

Commonly Misappropriated Scriptures on the Subject of Divorce” a three-part series of articles by Cindy Burrell

“God Is My Witness:  Making a Case for Biblical Divorce” by Cindy Burrell

 

 

 

Question 2 in Series: How Do I Overcome This Sadness?

I’m a survivor. I made it out of the marriage after 12 yrs of craziness. I dont even know how to tell that story because it is just so surreal and others seem to have a hard time understanding the complexity of dealing with someone like my ex. I’m exhausted and incredibly sad looking back at 12 yrs of my life that I spent existing for him and everything he needed and wanted. I did TIR, support groups, therapy , meditation but the sadness just stayed. How do I overcome this sentiment that sucks the life and joy out of me and prevents me from moving on and forward ? It has been two years since I left.

I really believe I do understand you, my sister. I left my marriage after 11 years and was divorced after 12. All of it was awful. Awful. And I suffered the same realization that I was alone in understanding just how complex it all was.

Lilly Hope Lucario writes:

Survivors often feel so little connection and trust with people, they remain in a terrible state of aloneness, even when surrounded by people. I described it once as having a glass wall between myself and other people. I can see them, but I cannot connect with them.

Another issue that increases this aloneness is feeling different to other people. Feeling damaged, broken and unable to be like other people can haunt a survivor, increasing the loneliness.

Even to this day, after all these years, I will read something that opens my eyes (even further) to how much hate I felt from my ex husband . . . just how much he used me . . . just how far down he wanted to push me. And, for me, it took several years just to understand all of this.

I wish I could give you a “magic answer” and tell you that things will get better “if you only . . . ” but it is so different for everyone. I CAN tell you that things WILL eventually get better. This pervasive sadness is part of the scarring of your soul. I think that, when we go through trauma, there is always a little bit of sadness, even after years and years. I can be at a party and enjoying myself and then, out of nowhere, comes a sadness I cannot explain . . . and I just want to go home. I have always been this way, though — at least, since my parents died when I was 24. I have been adorned with beautiful “flaws” through emotional trauma. But, that is OK. So was Jesus.

I can also tell you that isolation is a killer. Your ex isolated you and we, as survivors, feel compelled to isolate ourselves. This is one of the worst things we can do to ourselves. This is something we must fight in order to take care of our personhood.

My husband (David, not abusive) told me that he believed it would take me half the time I was with my ex to fully heal (this is not prescriptive). That seemed like forever. But, he was right. It has been six years, as of August 13th of this year, and I finally feel whole. That is not to say that I do not have scars. But, I have chosen to embrace those scars and see the as part of my wholeness. They are a part of me now. I am, only now, weaning off of my anxiety-depressive medications that I took to bring me through the process of trauma therapy and EMDR (which took me five years to get to). I won’t ever be the same and I have come to grips with it. Still, though . . .

Sometimes, I find my hands all tensed up and gripped in fists . . .

Sometimes, someone says something and it triggers me and I start to sweat and my face gets hot . .

Sometimes, I avoid certain situations (although I’m working on this) . . .

Sometimes, I still have nightmares . . .

Sometimes, I still have to use weighted blankets or pillows to sleep.

At the same time, I now have compassion that I never dreamed of . . . 

I know how to love deeply and fiercely . . .

I have a spirit of empathy that sees the hurt that a lot of other people do not know how to see . . .

I am a better counselor . . .

I have been refined by Jesus . . .

I help other women who have gone through the same pain . . .

I am able to help my children . . .

I am able to express my emotion through art  . . .

In a way, the sadness is beautiful. It keeps a fire, in my belly, to help others. And it reflects a part of Jesus that only He understands. He and I get it. He was there when I went through the pain of abuse, abandonment and being “shunned” by my very own people. He was there when every word of gossip was spoken. He was there every time my ex husband shamed me or made me feel dirty. I am not alone in this. And neither are you. 

I believe He rescues His people for a purpose but I also believe that it hurts. We live in a dialectic personhood. We have our joys and our sadnesses and that is not a bad thing altogether. It is only bad if we are swallowed up by the sadness and do not see the hope that we have, as Believers, that He is working in us, through us and on us. My friend, He is doing this for you.

My prayer for you, today, is that you see that hope. It is there. Jesus never promised that our lives would be flawless. In fact, I would argue that he promised they would have affliction. I believe Him. I also believe in His ability to heal and to make beauty from ashes. He can and will do this for you. It sounds as though there is so much discovery of YOU to do. What makes you joyful? What brings you pleasure? What do you enjoy? Who are you now, aside from him? Who is the girl that he tried to ruin but couldn’t ruin? Do not give up, yet. And please take care of yourself. You are His precious girl. Take time to heal.

Love,

Megan

How Do You Know When it is Time to Leave Abuse? — Thoughts by Megan

Question for Megan: So, I’m waiting for the Lord to provide a bit more emotional support, etc. from my new church and I believe “my gut” will tell me when it’s time to leave the marriage for good. Were you confident when you left your ex husband? How did you know that the time was right?

No, I was not that confident when I left my first husband. I was shaking in my little boots. I was with him for 11 years and I never had any emotional/financial/family support for leaving him. A few family members offered for us to stay with them — but I knew that it was only for a time. Those family members would eventually expect me to go back to my abuser (insist on it, even). Except for Give Her Wings team member, Adam, I was alone in my suffering. And Adam couldn’t help me much, during that time, because he was dealing with his own life issues, like we so-often are. What finally happened was that I HAD to leave. I watched my ex-husband hold one of my children upside down by his ankles and shake him out of anger. That incident came upon the heels of my realizing that my children and I all had bruises on our upper arms from his grabbing. And that it was, indeed, abuse. The abuse was getting worse and nothing . . . . nothing would help him. We had tried three years of counseling. Our pastor was involved in my ex’s every-day life. People knew and were trying to help. He probably felt cornered. And he never did well when he felt cornered. 

My child was being destroyed. And I felt like the rest of the the children were not far behind.

When I left, I thought that God would no longer be with me. But that’s how bad things had gotten… My thinking was that I could at least save my children but that I would go to hell. That’s how brainwashed I was, spiritually.

At the same time, I didn’t see that I had a choice and I felt like surely God would have mercy on that. Surely (tears just thinking about that time period).

But I have seen many many many women who simply received peace from the Lord and knew it was time to go, even when they had no idea what future they were facing. It was an act of faith and an act of trust. I had a sort of an “its OK to let go” peace ONLY as we got on the airplane to leave for good. It was like we were being whisked away on Aslan’s breath . . . it was a strange peace that, even though I did not know what we would be facing, it was going to be OK, in the end.

And it wasn’t easy. It is never easy. But we rescue our children, and that is beautiful and, I believe, God honors that.

Now, looking back, there never would’ve been a perfect scenario where I felt confident in leaving. I just did not have people around me who loved the kids and me enough to forego their own legalistic ways of thinking and desire for us to be safe and helped. I don’t blame them . . . they just cannot see beyond their paradigm. I get it.

At the same time, I wish, now, that I had left much earlier. I wish I had not waited for things to get quite that bad. I wish that I had not waited for some sort of a sign. I wish I had not believed that, if people saw the abuse, they would care more. They didn’t. They still held on tightly to their ideas of marriage being more important than life itself.

I think one of the hardest things for Christian women is making the decision to go. It’s so incredibly agonizing. We are waiting for an act of God and we don’t always get one! I have never met one truly, God-fearing, God-loving woman who simply left because “it was easier”. If you love Jesus, leaving a marriage is not the “easy way out”! Heavens, no! 

Sometimes, we just have to look at our children, look at the devastation, and look at the possible devastation in the future and make a decision and do it.

I mean, your children will need help, regardless. My choice was thus: Would I rather they grew up with a harsh father who would probably never get help (because, deep down, I think he thought he was “just fine”) and then be an adult who realizes, somewhere in his/her mid-20’s that things are not “right” and then watching him/her go through ten years of therapy due to his entire childhood? Or, would I get them out then and now and help them, as children, to overcome so they could grow into healthy adults with an intact version of their Heavenly Father and give them a chance for a healthy childhood? I know . . . I know, I know, I know that unraveling the views of an unhealthy and unloving father to show an adult child that “God is not like that” is much MUCH more intricately complicated and difficult than no father at all . . . but for the gracious example of Yahweh. I knew this. That was my tipping point. That was what saved us. In the end, of course, I remarried a wonderful father and example for my children and I consider myself truly deeply blessed. But, I did not know that would happen, at the time. And I was willing to go to save my babies, even if I would struggle as a single mom of four for the rest of my life. There is a certain amount of responsibility that we have, as mothers, to protect our children — however that looks. And I am not one to shirk that responsibility, no matter how hard, no matter who is involved. Family, church-friends . . . I did not care. Setting boundaries was an easy decision when it came to my little lambs. 

Of course, God was with me. Because, ” . . . . even in the valley of the shadow of death . . . “, He is there. No matter what decisions we make, He is ever-loving, ever-merciful, ever-mindful of our situations. Making the “wrong” decision in your eyes and/or in someone else’s eyes does not stop God’s grace from flowing, in your life. But, I am here to tell you that protecting yourself and your children is never a wrong decision. God wants you to be protected. He is your Father.

Love,
Megan