There are one-hundred beautiful blog posts for mamas out there these days. And they are lovely. They speak about the difficult issues that only mamas can understand. The long days, the rough nights, the spit-up, the inability to get a shower ever in peace. But, our mamas have their own sets of challenges. And these ladies are my heroes. Every time I meet with, email or talk to a new mama we are helping, my soul gasps at what they have come through. And I know that people don’t know; they don’t see; they can’t imagine. But, mamas . . . we want you to know that we know, we see and we can imagine. So, here’s to you, strong single mamas. We love you:
Here’s to you, mama, when you are laying in bed alone and you wish there was another healthy adult around the house because you are afraid. Here’s to you for trusting in God through the tears.
Here’s to you, mama, when that three-year-old comes into your room every night because she is afraid and she needs cuddles. And you cuddle, even though you are beyond exhausted.
Here’s to you, mama, when your teens rage emotional because they feel insecure and you feel helpless and all you can tell them is that God is not like that man who hurts them.
Here’s to you, mama, when your heart breaks because your boys need a father and you burn with anger because the man you married just refuses to be a good man for their sake.
Here’s to you, mama, when you do the job of both parents, beyond exhaustion and with no money. And you are creative. And it is amazing.
Here’s to you, mama, when you go in to confront that mean teacher who feels like it is OK to pick on your kid because he knows there isn’t a father around.
Here’s to you, mama, when you look at the thirteen dollars in your checking account and you make it work. You are resourceful.
Here’s to you, mama, when you eat less and lose weight because there isn’t enough food and your children are growing.
Here’s to you, mama, when you hide in the bathroom and let the tears fall. The tears that fall because you are lonely . . . and you never thought life would turn out this way. Here’s to you for pressing on.
Here’s to you, mama, when you get your kids back from his house and they are leaky buckets and you love them and you hold them and you let them cry and you fill them back up again (somehow), even though you are running on empty.
Here’s to you, mama, when you pick up your kids, after a long day of work, and you are so so so tired but you make dinner and help with homework and get them to bed. And then you stay up late to catch up. Because you are strong.
Here’s to you, mama, when you ask for help. We know it is hard.
Here’s to you, mama, when you pray for money to buy shoes or warm pajamas.
Here’s to you, mama, when you have to undo the abuse your babies have suffered at his hands. When you have to correct the rotten mental abuse and convince your children that they are worth more than all of the stars in the sky.
Here’s to you, mama, when you use the gift card someone gave you all on your kids. Because you never seem to stop sacrificing.
Here’s to you, mama, when you fight off false guilt and ugly looks from others. When you take your kids to church, even though it is hard, and people don’t understand. We applaud you.
Here’s to you because you never gave up. You could have but you didn’t. So many others would have. And, someday, your children will rise up and call you blessed and will marvel over all that you did — on your own — with so little support. Someday, it will all be worth it. Those beautiful babies you have? They will be amazing adults because their mothers cared enough about them to remove them from the abuse. And loved them through the hard years. Happy Mother’s Day to you, special mamas. We love you and we believe in you.
There is SO MUCH happening over at Give Her Wings! If it seems like we’ve been quiet, it is because we have been BUSY LITTLE BEES! And it is all such wonderful work, friends. We are so thankful for all the support we continue to receive to help so many mamas. In fact, we helped TWO mamas this month, already! But, more about that soon. First, we HAVE to share with you that one of our favorite people, Leslie Vernick, is doing a fabulous webinar called “5 Red Flags that You are in a Destructive Marriage”! HELLO! How important is this? We respect and admire Leslie and trust her whole-heartedly. She will help you to become “crystal clear” about whether or not you are in a destructive marriage AND what God says about this. In her webinar, you’ll learn where the Bible talks about these things and how abuse affects people. She will also give you steps to take if you find yourself in a destructive marriage. To sign up, please click here: 5 Red Flags that You are in a Destructive Marriage. She will also open it up for question and answer and there is a special bonus at the end! Sign up today! The awesome part? ITS FREE!!!
Second, we have two new mamas! Read about them below:
Lindsay lives in a state where we do not have a team member. We called upon the family of God (who has never let us down!) to help us to reach this sweet young girl. Victoria answered that call. Our dear friend, Victoria, drove to meet Lindsay in a small town in the mid-west. Victoria took her out to eat and ministered to her in an incredible way. Lindsay is only 25 years old and has two precious baby boys. One night, a few months ago, Lindsay left her abusive marriage with her two boys and $5 in her pocket. She headed straight for a shelter, which kept her safe for two months until she was able to find an apartment. We found out that Lindsay only had ONE BED for furniture, which she was sharing with her babies. We were able to help Lindsay furnish her new apartment and get back on her feet with some money for bills to spare! Hooray! Lindsay now has a job and she ALSO has a college scholarship! Victoria is helping us to find a childcare voucher for Lindsay so she can plan, what looks to be, a bright future! Recently, her ex husband has been arrested for drug possession. He has been in and out of prison. We are confident that Lindsay will be able to have custody of her boys and be able to move forward. Please pray for her, though, as she is hurting. It is so hard to be a young single mama!
Natasha was also a mama who was “out of reach”. So, our dear friend and “angel”, Penny, went to see her on the East Coast! We are so grateful to Penny for what she did! Not only did Penny take her out to eat and bless her and her children, but Penny brought her own remedies to help one of Natasha’s sick babies. If you don’t know about Penny’s business, check it out here: Aromatic Insight and Inspiration. Penny has also donated (at cost) a BEAUTIFUL product going into our Mother’s Day packages for our mamas. But, shhhh. I don’t want to ruin the surprises! Penny fell in love with Natasha and so did we! Penny and Natasha discussed how we could best help this precious woman with a handful of children whose husband chose to abuse the gifts he once had. He, too, has been in prison due to the abuse and drug possession. He is coming out of prison soon, however, and Natasha is terrified that he will want custody of their youngest little lamb. We believe we can help Natasha to fight this. We also are going to help pay for some repairs that need to be done on her car so Natasha can take a job as an uber-driver. Yay! Natasha is getting back on her feet and we are doing all we can to help.
Did you know that we also help these beautiful mamas with day-to-day stresses? We are available to them! And we love it. Look at this precious text we received from Natasha the day before Easter.
Carrie was able to zip a gift card over to her so she could do easter baskets for her little lambs! We love to help!
We are looking ahead . . . there is SO MUCH NEED, friends. The Give Her Wings team loves what we do and it is a lot of work. Please pray for Lindsay, Natasha, Leslie and our team as we press on and do what we are called to do — to love the widows and orphans, for this is true religion!
Disclaimer: This is a sketch to help people understand what it feels like to go through an emotionally/mentally abusive relationship(s). It is not a description of where I am currently, but where I was several years ago. We focus, so much, on physical battering but many of our constituents suffer in a deeper, under-the-surface and very soul-killing way. May this open the eyes of those God chooses to bring to our community.
My soul is bruised . . . the deep, core, very real, eternal part of me has been crushed. I feel destroyed but I am not. Crushed but not destroyed. That vulnerable and guttural piece of my heart that trusts God loves me has been ripped out of me and exposed to lies. Oh, how I wish it would heal like a broken bone heals! How I long for hands of salve to come and to put me back together. But, no one can see. They don’t understand that I am so afraid . . . so afraid to look anyone in the eye; so afraid to speak; so afraid to raise my voice, to make a decision, to celebrate anything. I have been pushed down so incredibly far by people who tell me they love me. The confusion is astounding.
My soul feels small . . . I feel small. When my voice finally speaks, it angers those who are bent of my smallness and they dig in even deeper. “How dare she speak out? Who does she think she is?” The risk I took in opening my mouth results in even more pain. I took a daring, tiny step and they knocked the wind out of me and put me back into my place.
My soul is hiding . . . No one understands how difficult it is for me to be with people. What if they discover that maybe I really DID deserve the pain inflicted upon me? What if there is something about me that I do not see? What if I really AM all that they say I am? Each gathering is a victory. Every time I laugh, it is a song of mirth I put into my treasure box. Each time my children laugh, it is a cool drink of water to my soul that is oh-so-thirsty . . . a reminder of the decision I made to help them to be healthy.
My soul is grey and colorless. I remember, with longing, the desire of my youth. The music, art and beauty I had planned for my future. I remember the hopes of home and family . . . all used against me. Every vulnerable thought I shared in the early days of courtship . . . used against me in my darkest hours. Every need that I had . . . used against me as a weapon of control. Every physical weakness . . . used against me in my exhaustion.
My soul has lost its dignity. I do not feel like a person but an extension of those who feel entitled to hurt me. I am no longer seen. How I long to be seen! I once had dreams and desires! I am an empty vessel, giving up her body and her hopes to those around her. Serve, serve, serve . . . it is seen as “noble” for me to be used. I am used. I am used up. I have lost my beauty, my youth, my dresses, my femininity, my hair, my body. I am no longer “happy day”; I am no longer the girl with the “pretty pretty smile”; I am no longer “guileless”. All those who were kind to me are gone. So long gone and I am left with their words and memories to fight against the hateful voices that pierce this black-and-blue soul. I tell myself, “You are worthy because you are human.”
And I remember that He is El-Roi — the God who sees me.
They could beat my body but it would not have the same affect as the beating my soul has taken. I would rather have physical scars to show. If it were not for the white-knuckled grip that my Lord has always had on my heart, I would not have wanted to live. Rejection is invisible. I cannot show you the scars but you will sense the scars, if you spend time with me. You will sense them. My soul is scarred. My heart is cracked all over . . . but the oil of gladness was poured over to bring those tender parts together. Tissue has built up and my heart is well-loved, but no longer picture-perfect-pretty.
And, oh . . . how my soul has grown. Grown to love and grown to pour more into those around me, now . . . those around me who know how to love, also. And we grow together. And we heal together. And all I can do is be who I am. Broken, beautiful, aching-for-eternity, Jesus-loving, bad-ass-Christian, mothering, wifing, fighting, artsy, a-little-bit-crazy, often-weeping, expressive, full-of-mercy, honest Megan. My soul was beaten, yes. But, my soul is also loved by the One who said He would never leave my side. And, now, I am ready to walk through the Valley and call to those very ones who wanted to break my soul . . . calling to them, “Let the Shepherd take you to the High Places!”
I am ready to walk beside those whose souls are bruised.
As I have mentioned to many, I love the idea of moving forward into health. I want, so badly, to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice can heal all of our twisted and corrupt relationships. I do believe that. But, I also believe that it simply does not always work out that way. We are a broken people moving through a broken world. Sometimes, the Enemy (or our own hurting self) has (have) ruined things so completely, there just will not be repair. It is a brutal truth. So, now and then, I read something that reminds me of what my former life was like, when infested with un-health — in myself and in others, and I’m shocked that I even used to live that way. In fact, I do not know that I could even recognize what health was, back then! And, so many of our hurting mamas do not know what a healthy relationship looks like, either. We receive countless emails from women, asking us if their situation is “normal”. A lot of the time, we have to say no, that is not normal for a Christian marriage or a Christian friendship. I am convinced that so many Christians no longer have a compass for the beautiful and life-giving relationships that we can have in Christ. So . . . here is a short-list for what is healthy and what is not. I hope that this helps:
The Idealization-Devaluation-Discard cycle is NOT HEALTHY. Many are familiar with this common pattern of abuse. You are on a pedestal one minute (which is not healthy), then you find your most vulnerable traits being devalued. You start to be criticized and put down and then you are discarded — often publicly — in some of the most hurtful ways imaginable. In a healthy relationship, your secrets are considered precious, your story considered beautiful and your very self is considered valuable. This is normal. There is no silent treatment, no stone-walling and no withdrawing when you have failed to meet someone’s extreme “standards”.
Gaslighting is NOT HEALTHY. This is a technique that character-disordered individuals use to convince you that your perception of a disturbing incident is inaccurate. This causes a person to feel confusion and a new mistrust of their own vision, hearing and the very sound minds that God has given.In a healthy relationship, misunderstandings are explained, there is healthy forgiveness and a lot (A LOT) of validation. And listening. This is normal.
Smear campaigning is NOT HEALTHY. This usually comes during the “discard” stage. If you have reached this point, the relationship is over and finding a semblance of health with this person(s) may never happen. Let me be clear: finally speaking out about the abuse in your marriage is not a smear campaign. Friend, I know how long you kept this a secret. Sharing with safe people is empowering. And, if he didn’t want others to know about what he did to you, he shouldn’t have done it to you. Uplifting and empowering friends and spouses are normal. Loving each other into being the best “Megan” and the best “David” that we can be for God’s glory is the name of the game.
Triangulation is NOT HEALTHY. This is the act of bringing in a third party to cause feelings of strife and a whole lotta’ drama. This doesn’t always mean that that person is even present. Maybe your husband raves about another woman’s beauty or talent. Or he speaks about his ex wife or girlfriend as though he doesn’t know if he should have left that relationship. Over and over, insecurity is bred as you never measure up. In a normal relationship, there is security. Exes are no longer a part of our lives (if you can help it!). There is no comparison. In fact, in Christian relationships, you know you are loved to your core. And you are free.
“False selves” and “True selves” are an UNHEALTHY BINARY. “Charming guy” in public and “mean guy” at home is one of the most confusing and hurtful dynamics out there. It can cause distress, cognitive dissonance and PTSD (and the accompanying forms). A person who loves you will not ruin your special days, milestones and holidays. If you cannot understand why a person would or could be so kind to others but so unkind to you . . . if you truly believe that there is something inherently wrong, in you, and that you deserve this treatment, something is VERY wrong. In beautiful, life-giving relationships, people and milestones are celebrated! This is a biblical principal! Birthday parties are given! New life is a miracle! Even stepping stones need to be recognized! In normal relationships, we are the same in our homes as we are “out there”. There simply is no difference. We are the same “on the outside” as we are on the inside.
As always, Jesus is our perfect example of relational health. He empowered, He forgave, He was kind, He blessed people a lot . . . in fact, I believe that His love was so deep that it almost hurt the objects of His affection. Do you know what I’m talking about? Where your heart strains, as you cling to his robe after His resurrection? Your hands shake because your heart is beating so hard because of Jesus’ love for you? The tears don’t stop because no one ever loved you like this God-Man? He knows everything about me . . . and He loves me. He does not use my secrets and pain against me. He does not exploit my weakness. And He adores me. He smiles when I create; He delights in me and sings over me; He likes me, even.
Oh, if we could only love like that. Oh, how I want to love like that.
We are so thankful to Marie for writing a guest post just for our ministry! We have long since supported and respected Marie for all she has endured. Marie is the author of “Redeemed from the Pit” and “Plugged In: Proclaiming Christ in the Internet Age”. She is also a trained counselor, who is now focusing her ministry on helping emotionally abused women. She is currently writing a third book – on abuse women endure, and the Church’s failure to address it.
Fourteen months ago today, I stepped into the kitchen of my new home – a two-bedroom apartment – to find that my landlady had left me a case of rice pilaf, hot cocoa and eggnog mix, a bottle of steak sauce, and tins of chocolate cookies for my children. It was, by far, the kindest gesture any Christian made towards me during the painful month of my divorce.
My landlady, a woman approximately twenty years my senior, understood first-hand the stigma of being a divorced Christian woman. Happily married now to a loving man, Cheryl had also gone through the pain of betrayal and subsequent difficulty that comes with suddenly finding oneself a single mom.
Paying it Forward
I realize I am far, far more fortunate than the women helped by Give Her Wings. This is why I support their ministry, not only financially but also by speaking up for abused women and writing about the secondary abuse we often face from our churches. Where the Church has largely failed to help women who have had to escape abusive situations, ministries like Give Her Wings and secular programs have stood in the gap. Fortunately, I have never faced homelessness. I have two degrees; a rewarding and well-paying career as an interpreter, and my children are well beyond the age where they would need childcare. Following months of intimidation attempts by my ex-husband, I was able to hire a lawyer and am now receiving child support. The other “mamas” are not so lucky – I am painfully aware that Give Her Wings is often the only resource standing between them and abject poverty.
During the journey of the last year, however, what I’ve come to appreciate is that moral support and encouragement from other Christians is even more important to “getting back on my feet” than a steady paycheck. And by “feet”, I mean my spiritual groundings. The worst part of emotional abuse is that after time, you start to actually believe you deserve it. Even when we finally wake up, and realize that the abuser is the one with the problem (and not us), the struggle to leave is compounded by those who enable the abuser (and shame the victim, trying to paint her as the villain for standing up to the abuse). All too often, abused women’s churches are guilty of this. Secondary abuse by clergy is insidious, because we have been conditioned to believe these men speak for God. The all-too-common practice of trying to convince women to ‘reconcile’ with unrepentant abusers is a horrible sin, which only compounds the woman’s pain.
When you have left an abusive marriage, it is vitally important to get connected to a loving, Gospel-preaching faith community. Telling women that ‘abuse is never grounds for divorce’ is not biblical, nor is shunning or excommunicating them when they leave. Once the marriage covenant has been broken by abuse, women need godly counsel and compassion that will help restore their identity as daughters of the King. There are many good churches that will do that. Even if you have been hurt by a church, there are others that will help heal your wounds. My current pastor and many people in my church have done just that, and it has been vital both to my healing and to restoring my trust in Christians again.
Coffee and Compassion
Last year, my former pastor harassed me (mainly by email) for 10 straight months following my divorce. The harassment turned to blackmail three weeks before Christmas, when I was threatened with defamation if I refused to repent of the ‘sin’ of leaving my abuser (this was four months after I resigned membership from his church). Exhausted by the 50-60 hour weeks I was working in order to survive, and worn down by the pastor’s constant gas-lighting, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Without his knowing the details of my situation, my new pastor emailed me one morning simply to ask how I was (no one at my former church had ever done that). Alarmed by my answer, he and his wife arranged to meet me at Panera Bread that very afternoon…..where he let me cry and shared the Gospel with me for three straight hours. Two women in the church, around my mother’s age, subsequently ‘adopted’ me. They would often invite me over for coffee in weeks following. At Christmas, I learned that someone had anonymously donated a ‘love offering’ to me so that I could buy my children Christmas gifts.
Throughout the whole ordeal, I was surrounded by strong, Christian friends who lifted me up at my lowest points. Most of them are members of other churches, but all are strong believers. Yet the dichotomy was striking in how one church’s leadership took the stance that I was the one in sin, simply for standing up for myself; whilst another church emulated Christ’s role as a Protector and Defender of the innocent. It would have been impossible to hold onto my faith in God if I had not been embraced by His children in this way. Spiritual abuse can be the most damaging type of all, because it skews your view of God. If an institution claiming to act in His Name is systematically tormenting the weakest and most vulnerable members of His Body, the sheep will be so beaten down that eventually they will leave. In His mercy, Christ has provided true shepherds – like my current pastor – who continuously reveal Him to the hurting. Relentlessly, he takes me back to Scripture to show me how we are all a part of “His Story” and partakers of His grace.
Remembering Our True Identity
One of the most important things my pastor has taught me is simply a “refresher course” on what I’ve often counseled women myself: finding my identity in Christ; and not in the opinion of others. After 11 years serving and fellowshipping at Heritage Bible Chapel, I saw the side-long glances and heard the gossip started by women I had previously considered friends. None of them knew the real story, but at least a dozen women in that church had known (or suspected) I was in an abusive marriage. For months after I left, my former pastor continued to spin his version of the story, even going so far as to Facebook-message friends of mine invitations to have “conversations” about me with him. It seemed the torment would never end.
Yet Pastor David and my other spiritual mentors continuously reminded me that Jesus Himself was unjustly slandered, and to continue to focus on His opinion of me….not that of others. It is a hard lesson to learn, but nothing else will bring us the inner peace and lasting joy in Christ that we so desperately need in trials. He also counseled me to forgive my prior church leadership, who are simply deceived in their hearts. Like Paul massacring early Christians, they actually believe that what they are doing is an act of service to God.
The journey is long, and unexpected roadblocks often come up. The most difficult struggles are not always financial, but rather spiritual. Surviving after divorce, even absent spiritual abuse, is incredibly difficult. No one can do this alone and thrive. There are many who will try to break your wings; do not let them. Seek out instead those who will help you heal, and enable you to soar again on wings of eagles. If you are depressed, get help. Give Her Wings can help you find a safe, Bible-preaching church in your area, and is starting to compile a directory of trained counselors (including myself) equipped to help you. There are many soldiers in this battle, and you are not alone!
Last weekend, I (Megan) received a frantic message from a precious friend. HER friend, “Belle” (Belle is from the south!), was about to be evicted. In fact, she had 48 hours until Belle and her two little lambs would be out on the street. We scrambled. By God’s providence, one of our team members was just an hour away from Belle. We were able to minister to her quickly. As she talked to our team member, we discovered that Belle was recently divorced from a high-ranking (yet abusive) military officer. Unfortunately, he is able to get away with a lot of post-separation abuse because of his rank. Everyone seems afraid to challenge him. Belle has already suffered massive physical abuse within her marriage and now she is dealing with the painful emotional abuse that often results after a divorce. Friends, this man is intimidating and rough. Due to his position, he was able to cut Belle off from all of their friends, leaving her incredibly isolated, and skip payments for child support. He is taunting and powerful.
Belle is incredibly capable, smart and beautiful. She is doing all she can to build up a business in real estate. Due to the missed child support payments and beginning her work from the ground up, Belle found herself in dire straights, financially. She said, “I just never could have imagined ending up here!” We want to assure Belle that nothing is ending. Not on our watch! In fact, we are doing all we can to bless her, her children and show her a new beginning! Belle’s family blamed her and rejected her, to add insult to injury, and so Give Her Wings wants to come alongside Belle and help her to REALLY KNOW that she is accepted by the Church and by Jesus, due to His redeeming work on the cross. Her inclusion in His Church has nothing to do with her marital status to an abuser!
Because of your GENEROUS giving throughout the month of March, we were able to help this precious lady and her babies stay in their little apartment! We don’t know how to thank you! When we help a mama, our donors are joining us in showing Christ’s love! Belle is deeply encouraged, today, because she knows that so many people still believe in her! Have a blessed day, dear ones, knowing that you enabled Belle to find rest (and sleep at night) for the first time in months!
Last week, our sweet daughter (Mila, 13) had a bad experience at a birthday party. A few nasty texts and some typical middle school drama put her in tears. She lost, at least, one friend and felt betrayed by others. It was pretty rough. We hugged outside of the party place. My mama’s heart ached, wishing she did not have to experience these types of relationship issues. Simultaneously, my heart swelled as I watched her grow into a new level of maturity. As we drove away, she wiped her tears and talked with me about how to navigate all of the new relationship challenges she will have at school. We talked, also, about how some of the girls (and their families) simply have different values than we do and it becomes obvious during the adolescent years. With tears in her eyes, Mila looked at me and said, “Mama, I’m so thankful for Jenny. I just want to be with Jenny.” Jenny is Mila’s super-good friend. Both girls are seeking Christ and both girls are growing into mature young Christian women. So, on the way home, we stopped in at Jenny’s house so Mila could sense some of that “Jenny-love”. We all chatted outside their home and the girls ended up having tons of time together over the weekend. Mila knows where she can find safe-haven. She knows who her safe friends are.
The next morning, I was praying. I broke down and wept because I have learned, time and time again that Jesus is my “safe friend”. He is the one I want to run to whenever things feel strange or unsafe or hostile. I have always loved The Message Version of these verses:
You’ve always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all, A lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest. You’ve always taken me seriously, God, made me welcome among those who know and love you. Psalm 61:3-5
I do not know how many times I have holed up somewhere, crying out to God and finally feeling *safe*. His truths give me safety . . . something to stand on, something to cover me. Breathing room . . . a safe-house . . . to the God who takes me seriously. When everything is falling apart, I cannot wait to talk with Him. I love Him so so much.
He will never leave you; you don’t have to have “abandon issues” with Him.
He will always love you. Furthermore, He even likes you! Did you know that?
You can be completely yourself with Him.
He has good thoughts toward you; He is never judging you.
He is excited about your future.
You make Him smile (He probably laughs over us in that good-natured way, too)
He wants the best for you.
He is happy for you when good things happen to you.
He is jealous of you and protective of you. In a fierce way.
When He receives a gift from you, He probably puts it on His fridge and beams with pride. (OK. He might not have a fridge, but, if He did . . . )
One of the greatest lies we can hear from the Enemy is that ever-pointing finger of accusation, “God doesn’t want to hear from you; you have messed up too badly this time; God is disappointed in you.” Oh, friends. How I wish I could somehow come against this ancient lie. We have heard from several beautiful and hurting women, just this week, about how they have not been able to pray because of another “mess up”. I often try to get these sweet women to imagine what it would feel like if her child were crying on her bed, not willing to allow you to come into his or her space and bring help and comfort. Do you know that God is your Abba Father? Bring whatever it is that is keeping you from Him! He is full of grace and forgiveness! And, oh, how He wishes you would open that door. He will never force because He is a gentleman that way. He just wants you! . . . Hand gently touching the door of your heart, forehead pressed against that boundary separating you and Him . . . listening to your sobs and hoping. Hoping that His beautiful girl will let Him in so He can offer His mercy and love and healing and wrap His big beautiful arms around your heart.
Go to Him tonight, darling girl. Open that door. Talk to Him. He is your safe Friend.
Recently, we made a post about going “no contact”. It was incredibly popular and we received several messages asking about how to go no contact with abusive individuals. As a result, we decided we ought to blog about some suggestions as to how to protect oneself. At Give Her Wings, we consider three different methods of “managing” these high conflict personalities (with several caveats) to be basic strategies.
1. No Contact: This is the most highly recommended form of avoiding abuse. We cannot stress the need to be free of abuse enough. We urge no contact over and over and over again. No contact means no communication via phone, texting, email and “in person”. But, it also means no peeking at a person’s social media. No twitter, no breezing through photos, no Facebook, nothing. Furthermore, it means asking others to refrain from communicating with you about the abuser, as well. This can all be very difficult for two reasons. First, it is overwhelmingly problematic for a former victim to go no contact. We do believe there is such a thing as Stockholm Syndrome. There is also a great, big natural desire to forgive, forget and move forward. It is often too difficult to sift through all of the painful feelings, PTSD and intense desire for things to be “set right”, especially when the abusive person is love-bombing. The victim finds herself alone, being pursued and struggling with breaking trauma bonds. Truly, only the power of Christ can help her. Second, it can cause conflict or uncomfortable feelings when we have to ask a person to stop talking about, sharing or gossiping about said abuser. I have written a little guide on writing friendly notes concerning setting up boundaries here.
2. Low-Contact must occur when a former victim is unable to completely disconnect. This is seen, mostly, when a victim has to parallel parent with an abuser. This, also, is extremely taxing. We hear, repeatedly, how deeply a former victim wants to be completely liberated from the abuser. These momentary connections with an abuser are used and manipulated (by him) to try to pull the former victim back into the fog. Or, he jabs at her, throws her off balance or attempts to make her feel as though she will never be free of his influence. It is simply awful. In order to go low-contact, a former victim needs to shut down as many avenues of communication as possible and leave the door open for only one. Conversation must be limited, as well. For example, “John, I will only communicate to you via email and only about the children. If you cannot abide by this, I will contact my attorney for further advise”. And then, the former victim must be strong enough to keep to this promise or else be ready to inflict consequences. It always helps to have accountability. Perhaps someone to call or text when the temptation to stray away from these boundaries threatens to overcome. So, at this point, we just want to admit that we know there are a million different scenarios. Maybe low-contact is not even possible, which brings us to our final suggestion . . .
3. Grey Rock Method: We drew the name for this technique from this article here: The Gray Rock Method of Dealing with Psychopaths. Essentially, the author writes that one way of warding off the attacks of an abuser (particularly one with whom a victim shares custody of children) is to be a “boring person”. To be a gray rock; to be bland. In other words, to have an emotionless affect when an abuser jabs. Many psychopaths, sociopaths or those who are just flat out emotionally draining crave drama. If we do not give into that drama, they will soon lose interest and, perhaps, wander away on their own, eventually looking for a new place to stir up crazy. This method is different than just cutting abusers off.
The article makes sense and there is much good to be pulled from it. At the same time, we want to caution readers to recognize that it is not written from a Christian world view. That does not mean there are not some gems in there (as we have seen time and time again from “secular” psychologists and authors). But, there are a few times in reading the article where it is obvious the author may not share the same values as we. We also cannot claim that the gray rock method. will “work”. But, it might. And it is certainly something to explore.
One positive aspect of the gray rock method is that it keeps the victim from feeling powerless or losing control. It may anger the abuser more — for he or she cannot get a “rise” out of the victim — but it may aid in helping the victim to stop feeling so powerless, crazy or out of control. We do caution our readers, however, to be careful. If “gray-rocking” makes an abuser angry, there needs to be another way. I do know that some abusers scream and scream and do all they can to get a rise out of the victim. Of course, this is miserable.
We hope that this helps, as a short guide, all of you precious ladies who are trying to enforce boundaries and feel as though you have some control over your life! If you know of any other methods or you have thoughts or ideas, please comment!
Remember, each time you allow him to have unnecessary contact, in your life, you are allowing him to abuse you all over again. You are too precious and too valued to allow that — ever again. No contact. Low contact. Grey Rock. You can do this.
Imagine standing on the dark and dangerous downtown streets of a city, at two in the morning, bargaining with a drug dealer to get back the car your husband traded away for drugs. It’s a difficult scenario to put yourself into, and one “Faith in the Storm” never thought she would live out, over and over again.
“Faith” fell in love with a man who was a Christian, a requirement that was very important to her. She was told of his previous struggles with drug addiction, but was assured it was in the past. For several years, it was in the past, but the pull of addiction drew Faith’s husband into a dark and violent place. Bruises, broken teeth and falling asleep to the echoing of his vile words in her head became commonplace. She wanted a way out for herself and her son, but could not find one. Thankfully, God could and God did.
A person living in Faith’s apartment complex had heard the screaming, knew about the abuse, and offered a vacant apartment for her if she needed a place to go. This was the chance she had been waiting for. With determination, Faith gathered the strength to leave. After 13 years, she could be free and her son would no longer live in a stress-filled home that aggravated his medical conditions.
Leaving is rarely easy and Faith in the Storm soon found herself receiving hundreds of calls and texts a day from her husband (post-separation abuse). He would show up at all hours of the night, on drugs and without warning, demanding to see their son. Faith realized she needed a protective order and bravely took steps to protect herself and her son.
“We are learning to live again without the stress,” Faith said as I listened to her story. They no longer live in a home with floors coated with eggshells needing to be tiptoed around. There can be peace.
However, in the midst of her new start, there are challenges. Challenges that Give Her Wings needs your support to help Faith overcome. She has taken the scary step of leaving behind the past and now needs help as she transitions into carrying the financial responsibilities for herself and her son. Give Her Wings stands ready to provide that help, but we cannot do it without your generous prayers and financial support of this ministry.
Near the end of my time with Faith, she said, “No matter what lies ahead, I know the worst is behind me.” I could not agree more! We believe in Faith and we believe we can help her! Please partner with us and click here to help us financially support this precious mama. Thank you, friends!
I grew up firmly believing what I had been taught: Divorce is not an option. I chose a man who claimed to be a strong Believer. He wanted to go to seminary and be a missionary! He led worship, was talented and believed in family. Surely, if we both loved Jesus, we could get through anything! On our wedding night, I wept quietly in the bathroom alone, as I had discovered exactly what my husband thought of me: ThatI was created to be used by him. And, oh . . . did I feel it. For the first 11 years of our horrific marriage, I held on to (what I believed) were promises God made about marriage. Most of those “promises” were twisty half-truths other Christians told me:
1. If I showed him unconditional respect, he would become respectable.
2. If I “suffered for Christ”, God would fix this mess.
3. If I were more lovely, I would be easier to love.
4. God was using my husband to sanctify me.
5. If I were more submissive, my husband would love me.
6. If I gave up more of myself, I would be pleasing God.
7. I would be more like Christ if I sacrificed myself on the altar of marriage.
8. If I could somehow manufacture a “quiet and gentle spirit”, in the midst of chaos, I could actually be responsible for my husband’s salvation.
Then came the day when I realized that my children were going to be destroyed. And none of the above requirements mattered, anymore. Then, another day when I realized that my husband was not going to change because he liked the way things were. Then came the day when I realized that he enjoyed seeing me strive, as he withheld the love I so desperately needed. He felt he had control over me as he watched me try to “respond appropriately” to his attacks (when I did not fall apart, in which case he pointed his finger at me in derision). Those 8 “commandments” gave him even more power over me. So, on a day when he did the unthinkable to my oldest child, I decided to leave. I went against everything that I had ever known or ever been taught in order to protect us. Half of me was saying, “God wants you all to be free.” The other half was saying, “God wants you to stick it out.” I was experiencing cognitive dissonance. My mind was warring against itself. It was so confusing that I had thoughts such as, “Well, God is no longer with me but He is pleased that I am giving my children a chance to have a healthy life.” What?! How could those two separate thoughts come together?
It took a year of unraveling and study about what God really says about me, about His children and about marriage to finally find some relief from the dissonance. The lies I had been told had to be undone, one at a time and (not only that), truth had to be accepted. Slowly, the fragments of my mind began to be pieced back together in all the right ways. And I found peace with Jesus (and joy) and calm, cognitively.
For many of “our” mamas, that cognitive dissonance can cause extreme anxiety, sleeplessness, panic, uncertainty and can shake one’s faith down to its very core. Do you know how many of the mamas to whom we minister believe that they will never be in a right relationship with God again? Or, when things are hard, that God is punishing them because they could no longer stand the abuse and had to get out? Part of our service here, at Give Her Wings, is to help untangle these lies with biblical truth. Not only have these mamas been reduced to almost nothing (in their minds) by their ex husbands, but they have been reduced by church people, as well, because these precious ladies could not keep their marriage together. (Of course, all of this stems from our strange idolization of marriage over the gift of life, but that is another blog post.)
One of the ways we counter-act these lies is by constantly reminding these precious ladies of whom they are. Our emails, letters to them, gifts, etc., all include their names, followed by, “Beautiful child of God.” We also explain that none of us is responsible for another person’s salvation. No way. We tell them that they do not have to die for their husbands to come to Christ — that Jesus already did that . . . and it was enough. We tell them that their lives matter more to Jesus than their marriage (this is often shocking to them). And we tell them that God was not pleased by the abuse they endured (also shocking).
Have we, as a Church, really swung this far over in our thinking about marriage that these precious ladies believe that they are going to hell because they left an abuser? Or that they will barely eek into Heaven? As hard as it is to admit . . . yes. And I say this as a woman who is joyfully married to an amazing man and who now has a healthy marriage and family life. I have a very high view of marriage . . . but not idol-high. There are things that the Bride of Christ needs to go back and fix. We have some undoing to do. Right now, we are doing the best we can, in our little ministry, to do just that.
If you are one of the women who has been so deeply hurt by the same lies I once also believed, please know this . . . He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6). You are written on His hand (Isa. 49:16) and there is no place you could ever go to escape His presence (Psalm 139:8). You are deeply and infinitely loved by the One who died for you. Did you hear that? He died for you . . . so you would not have to die.