Megan’s Response to Recent Happenings in the Church

As I prayed for the Church this morning, I sensed God bringing me peace for the first time in days. My heart is grieving over all of the issues that are happening within the church, but I am grateful that there is a little bit of justice and that the painful uncovering of infested wounds may begin to bring some healing.

At the same time, I am still seeing the re-victimization of precious women happening. They are shamed into being silent. They are told to put the past behind them; they are told that they are bitter for bringing up their painful stories of abuse and misogyny. It HURTS to watch. I have seen men praised, of whom I know personally, who have carelessly put women down a hundred times. Today, I noticed a grand tweet praising a seminary professor who went to school with me. I’ll never forget the day that he blew up at our theology professor because I received an ‘A’ on a paper and he received a ‘B’. I sat there, in silence, watching him. I was afraid because he was so incredibly puffed up as he told our professor that I only received an ‘A’ because he liked me and I played the piano. It was humiliating. I have seen people ask for prayer for the man who perpetuated abuse at my seminary . . . and very little asking for prayer for those who are victims of abuse (not to mention their children). I have seen outrage over the “ruining” of men’s careers when these very same men ruined lives. What about the victims?

I don’t understand why there are not more expressions of deep sadness over the lives of the victims. But, if I focus on it too much, I become deeply sad. And, while that fuels my fire to continue with our work, at Give Her Wings, it also takes my mind off of issues at hand, on which I need to focus.

While praying this morning, the stark reality of the fact that only God can change hearts has hit me, once again. People get caught . . . but it does not equal repentance. Not real repentance, at least. We see it all the time. I have seen cover-ups, back-pedaling and discrediting of truth-telling victims. These leaders are not changing their minds. They are not saying to themselves, “Oh my word. What have we DONE?!” No, power is a powerful addiction. Its the same old story that we see in the New Testament. The religiously powerful seem to always abuse. How many times did Jesus point out the down-trodden, oppressed, poor and weak as His rightful followers when they knew Him? Everything is always upside-down.

I cannot wait until Jesus makes it right-side up again. Come, Lord Jesus.

Seeds have been planted and the ugly has been exposed, but powerful men still love their power and they will not give that up so easily. Deep-rooted ideas connecting to poor theology about women are not going anywhere, anytime soon. And it aches to know that.

Women still have very little voice, when it all comes down to it. But here is my joy: Women have a great big voice with God. No powerful man can alter that truth. And that is Who I will go to. He sees, He knows, He is intimately aware of the thoughts of all men and how some of them denigrate and belittle God’s daughters. We are not at the end, yet. So, in the meantime, I am praying. I am asking God to continue to expose evil and validate victims. In the meantime, we will continue our work at Give Her Wings to help women who have been shamed, left desolate, in pain and unsure about whether or not they are in the Kingdom of God because of what churches have done to them. That is all we can do. Please support us. We need you, now, more than ever.

Love,

Megan

 

“Sunflower Joy” by Megan D Cox

God is MOVING at Give Her Wings! – New Dreams, New Mamas! –

Friends!!  I cannot even begin to tell you all the ways that we are seeing God’s hand at work here at Give Her Wings.  Being behind the curtain can be a scary, yet exhilarating place to be!

We have taken on several new mamas since our last blog post, both as financial mamas and encouragement mamas.  We are currently in the vetting process for quite a few more!  God is providing at every turn.  And while we get super excited when we see what God is doing for our ministry and allowing us to move forward and grow, we are MOST excited … ecstatic even… when we see what He is doing in the lives of our mamas.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels

While I want to spend a little time today telling you about one of our newest mamas, I want you to be on the lookout for new blogs and stories about the ladies we call our veterans.  These mamas have been with us for awhile now, and we have asked them to start sharing their “success” stories with you all.  Let me tell you though, that here at Give Her Wings, we might define success a little differently than most.  But you will see what I mean when those stories start rolling out.  If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter, now is the time!!  (You can do this at the bottom of the page 😉 ) You won’t want to miss these stories as we publish them!

If you aren’t on our newsletter list, you might have not heard about “Mandy.”  This sweet mama chose this alias as it holds a very special place in her heart and in the story of her fight to be free from abuse.

After twenty years of being told that she was completely unworthy love, her self worth had diminished to near nothing.  While she still struggles with the lies of never being good enough, smart enough, modest enough, submissive enough….the list goes on and on…she found something special in this name. Amanda means “Worthy of Love”.  She believes God led her to that name to allow her to see the true meaning behind it.

This sweet mama and her precious children have endured abuse in almost every capacity.  Currently, she is fighting against the lies he is perpetrating against her in court in an effort to keep her children, get them into a healthy and safe environment, and just be free.  Please keep her in your prayers as every day is a struggle.

We thank everyone who has helped us financially and in prayer to support our mamas as they take one step at a time toward freedom…and realizing their true worth.

Pssst….don’t forget…

Do You Struggle With Hate Toward Your Abuser?

The struggle with hate is a very real issue among former targets (or current targets) of abuse. I include “current targets” due to the fact that so many of our mamas still often experience post-separation abuse from their ex abusers.  It is all understandable. Every single one of these ladies feel like they gave the best part of their lives to a narcissist –their younger selves, their stronger selves. They gave up their dreams, their hopes, their bodies their sanity to hold together an abusive marriage that lasted way too long. And look at what he is doing to their children. And what he has done. These ladies are spending their energy reserve trying to care for children who, very often, have to see him every week or every other weekend. And he hurts them. I get it. I really do.  Here is a direct quote from one of our mamas:

I hate what he is – he pretends to be a Christian but is the antithesis of a believer. He is a master deceiver and built our life on lies on top of lies on top of lies. I hate that he made me trust him when he cannot be trusted in the least. I hate that he manipulates and abuses the children. I hate that he made me look like the bad guy for filing and moving, when in reality it was his years and years of cheating and gas lighting and abuse that did it. I hate that he makes me out to be a gold digger when in fact I pay all the bills for the kids and he contributes almost nothing. I hate that he stole my youth, my innocence, my trust.

I used to hate my ex husband, I don’t mind saying it. It was an issue that was between Jesus and me and I have resolved it, with much help. My ex husband took my life and my body and used everything for his own gain.  Without going into tremendous detail, it took years of therapy to undo what he did to me. I hated him for that. I hated him for ruining our marriage from the get-go. I hated how he treated our children. I hated him because he knew what hurt me most and always did what hurt me most. I hated him because he seemed incapable of love.

I recently posed the question, on the private mama’s page, of whether or not anyone else had this struggle. I was shocked when there were over ninety comments in just a few days. It wasn’t just me. Some of the women still hate (I don’t blame them), some have healed. And then everything in between. I learned so much from this discussion. Those who have found a way to reconcile hatred for the sinfulness of their ex husbands and yet have no bitterness are my heroes. And I think I have finally reached that point, myself, which has released me.

Do you struggle with hate? Its OK. It won’t be this way forever. But, here are my observations, with help from my friends. After the observations, I will tell you how I overcame and resolved my own struggles.. Remember, though, each of our situations are unique. The way that I overcame will be entirely different than how you overcome. All I can do is share what I have done, for better or for worse. I hope this helps:

1    The ladies who have been able to go completely no contact are able to overcome their hate much easier than those who are constantly being poked at by their exes. It was faster and easier for them because the thorn was removed. Going no contact, for me, brought me tremendous healing and clarity. I began to see that the rest of the world does not function like my abusive marriage functioned. Most people are normal people. But, the women who still have exes tormenting them, on a regular basis, have a great mountain in front of them to deal with. But, they are dealing with it . . . . here is one way that I thought was particularly insightful:

2     Hate can be used. Here lies an oxymoron for the Christian, right?! But, typically, abuse victims tend to be more empathic than most people, which is why they are often chosen as a target for abuse. One of our mamas said that, because she always wants to quickly forgive and forget, she had to use her hate in order to keep herself and her babies safe. Once she was in a safer place and had moved away from her ex abuser, she could let the hate go. It reminded me of the Israelites when they had left Egypt. They forgot. They wanted their leeks and onions. They forgot what slavery was like. They complained. They had to be reminded of their former wretched slavery in order to get to freedom — to the promised land.   Here is another thought:

3   Holy hate is not a bad thing. “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” ~Proverbs 6:16-19.

How many of us were taught that “hate” is a bad word? When I was growing up, we could get soap in our mouths for using that word! But, the truth is, hating the destruction that abusive men cause is not bad. God hates the violence that causes divorce (Mal. 2:16 ESV — and FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, FRIENDS, READ IT IN THE ESV OR ANOTHER more literal TRANSLATION). We can join Him in hating this.

Says team member Ruth,

I detest my ex because he embodies everything in this verse. The difference is, I do not allow that emotion to rule me, but instead, allow that emotion to ground me to what is True and Righteous. I’ve spent enough time catering to him, I’m not about to give him any more of my energy. I don’t think about my ex every day but when I do, I pray. Hate isn’t a bad thing. We should feel repelled by such wicked characters.

4   Many women feel indifference and wonder if they are sinning . . . they wonder if indifference is the same as hate. To that, I would say “no” — not in this case. Indifference can be one of two things. First, it may be a survival tactic in the midst of trauma. It is clear to those who have studied PTSD that dissociation is often the best way a person can survive a constant barrage of abuse. Ignoring, distancing one’s emotions, pretending to be somewhere else . . . these are all methods our subconscious minds use to simply make it through. It is necessary. Second, being indifferent could also be an indicator of having healed. For most of the women we serve, their marriage disintegrated years and years before they bravely take the step to leave. They have already worked through the hate and have moved on. The divorce was simply the last step in a lengthy process to get healthy.

5   Hate is a normal response to abnormal behavior. This is craziness we’re dealing with, friends. When someone snaps at me, out of exhaustion, I don’t struggle with hate toward that person. I say to myself, “Oh, man. She is so tired and stressed out.” Done. But, consistent abuse is abnormal, psychopathological and evil. Hate naturally follows. We have to accept that we are responding normally, while understanding that we cannot live in that place forever. We all know that bitterness will eat us up from the inside out.  But, give yourself mercy and time. There are stages of healing. As the wise mama above said, use the hate. Let it be the first step — the one that sets you and your babies free. Then, move to the next step.

For me, the next step, once we became financially stable (big shout out to my awesome husband, David!), I was finally able to get trauma therapy, including EMDR. A few years ago, as I described the things from which I suffered at the hands of my ex husband and others, I heard my wise, older-lady counselor says these words, “That. is. brutal.” I wept. She saw it and affirmed it. Through her wisdom, I began to understand that my ex husband did what he knew. He does what he knows. He decided, at one point in his life (AND despite all of the godly counsel he was given), that his way of entitlement and ownership was best. Contrary to the Gospel, he decided that he would always see me as his slave, as well as his children . . . just there to fill his cup and build him up or else . . .

I saw it. I remember the day where I saw that he is simply not capable of true, genuine, selfless love. He lived in his version of “the law” that had been passed down for generations. He did not want to be free. And, if he could not be free, neither could we. This is what helped me:  He is simply not capable of anything except mental, emotional and (a few times) physical abuse. That’s sad. Truly, deeply sad. He won’t ever get to experience the truly beautiful act of sacrificing something to see one of his children (from his first marriage) succeed. He will never get to understand that incredible rush of running around to make sure all kids’ events are attended, well-cheered on and supported. He will never understand how it is to give to someone freely, knowing that that person gives himself/herself freely, as well. He will never get to see them grow into the amazing people they are becoming. He will always be in charge, which means that he will never have the possibility of saying to his wife, “I’m going to support you for this season of our lives”, like my David is doing for me. He will never be anyone’s “safe” person. He will never get to see anyone freely choose to love them back and serve and bless them because she is loved so well. He will never have the good kind of pride, that my now-husband has, of being able to say, “I always give my wife just a little bit more than she gives me.” That was David’s goal when we married. And he is over the top. My ex will not be adored because of that. He will have things his way . . . and we all know how that feels, right? When we were children and we wanted our way, that just didn’t feel great. I just imagine being a grown up and struggling with wanting to control everything and everyone. That is a never-ending leaky bucket that cannot be filled. One can never have enough — always afraid of losing control. That is miserable.

In all of this, understanding his dysfunction will never and would never justify our staying with him. I can understand without subjecting us to abuse.

That is where I finally found this strange, unique compassion for this man who had stolen so much for me. He’s missing it — and choosing to! I cannot even comprehend what would have to happen to my heart to keep me from wanting to inquire about my own children or check on their well-being. I am sorry for him.

And, therein, I find my peace. And the bitterness is gone and the hate is gone and I just feel . . . nothing. To me, my ex husband is just another person who had an unfortunate upbringing and chose to live in that lack of fortune. And for me, finally — healing.

Regardless of your story, I believe that Jesus can always bring healing, even if it takes years. And, even if it takes years, there is still progress within those years, even if it is baby steps. And that is OK. Celebrate those baby steps as you and Jesus figure out how to overcome, eventually, as needed. And ask Him. I know He will tell you.

Love,

Megan

Art Credit: Megan D Cox

 

Megan is a Pastoral Counselor and also President of Give Her Wings, Inc. She carries a Masters of Arts in Religion in Pastoral Counseling and is certified in crisis counseling with the AACC.

A Former Victim’s Need for Self-Compassion

When I sit down to have coffee with a brave, brave woman who has left an abuser, one of the recurring themes in her lament is, “How could I have gotten myself into this? I saw the red flags and I married him, anyway. I should have known. I’m educated and smart. I never thought I would find myself in this position.” Listen, I understand. I will never forget standing in the middle of my mess and saying to myself, “I have a counseling degree and here I am . . . ” And the comments that others make about how they would never have put up with abuse for so long . . . or that they would never have been in that situation in the first place . . . these things hurt. They make it all worse. Its just a little bit more of re-victimization and a lot more judging.

So, here are the thoughts I have regarding self-compassion and the entanglement of “I should have’s” for former victims of abuse:

  1. Anyone who feels the need to tell you they would have never ended up in an abusive relationship is simply not your friend and not worth your time. We have the Holy Spirit, thank you very much, and we do not need people to point their fingers our way to tell us, right upon our leaving, how foolish we were to marry this person, in the first place. If there are extenuating circumstances, we know what they are. People who say foolish things about abuse are not educated in how abuse works (thought-reform).  They have not been in your shoes, in your home or in your difficult relationships. They do not get to judge. Let them go. In these vulnerable moments, our need is support and empathy. Period.
  2. If you park your emotional car in the parking lot of “I can’t believe I am finding myself in this position . . . “, you will stay stuck. There is plenty of time, later, for allowing the Lord to help you to understand what happened. But, for now, it is not your job to condemn yourself. Don’t you think you have had enough of that? Sadly, it seems the Church’s default is legalism. There is some tough condemnation there. Then, there are the lingering and ever-present words of your abuser(s). A cornucopia of finger-pointing and blame. Friend, be your friend. You need a friend, right now. And move forward. Be proactive. Do what needs to be done.
  3. There is not some deficiency in you that would cause the abuse to have occurred. Do you hear me? It is not you. It is your abuser’s psycho-pathology. He has used everything possible to abuse you — your loves, your vulnerabilities, your pain and fears, the Bible — because of his sickness. No more self-blame. NO one deserves to be treated that way.
  4. You got out of it is as quickly as you could. I know, I know . . . we all wish we had not stayed as long as we could. But, considering the kind of oppression we were all under (from all sides!), the fact that we escaped or walked away is nothing short of a miracle. As soon as you could understand the full extent of the abuse and pain, you left. You are to be commended. We all know the courage that entails.
  5. Look how far you’ve come. Do it! Just look back, over the past weeks or months or years and be amazed and wonder-filled. I mean, you have choices now. You did not have those choices before. You can make a decision, right now, about what you will do with all you have learned. That’s exciting! What you have accomplished, in the face of perceived hopelessness, is incredible. You have been brave, in the presence of intense fear. Each time you choose to stand up a little bit straighter and look people in the eye . . . each time you do not give into terror but breathe through those panic-attacks . . . each time you take one, tiny step toward independence or self-improvement, you are looking evil in the face and saying, “You will not conquer me.”
  6. The Christian life does not work this way: If I do thus and such, I will have a good marriage and a good life. This is the fallacy that is rooted in legalism and is can cause severe depression. Affliction happens to the best and shiniest of Christians because Jesus told us affliction would happen. The promise is that He will not leave us when affliction occurs. So, rather than beat yourself up, trying to figure out where you went wrong when you were trying, so hard, to make the right decisions before God, accept that life is messy. It always has been! And then look at the mess, knowing that Jesus loves you and is with you in the mess, and figure out what to do with it all.

Listen friends, treat yourself with compassion. In Jordan Peterson’s incredibly successful book, “12 Rules for Life: and Antidote for Chaos”, the very second rule is “Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping.” But, for an even more meaningful reason, consider this: Jesus cares for you, for your heart, soul and body. He adores you. His desire for you, beautiful and broken one, is that you live in a whole relationship with Him and others. In order to do this, you must start with being in a whole relationship with yourself. Jesus feels strongly about how you are treated — by others — but, also by you. You belong to Him! Show yourself compassion because, dear one, that is what Jesus shows you, every day. Be like Him.

Love,

Megan

 

 

For the Love of February!!

A Little Bit of Love for Galentine’s Day!!

Thank you so much to everyone who donated to our Galentine’s Day Campaign!  Our mamas were thrilled with their gifts that our lovely Audrey put together, with the artwork completed by Christin Hunt at Hope of Glory Designs!!  You can find Christin on Facebook by clicking HERE!

 

 

Our February Mamas!!

With your generous support, we were also able to help two mamas this month.

Little Sparrow

We’ve been following “Little Sparrow’s” story for a while now, waiting for her situation to meet all of Give Her Wings’ vetting requirements. We have named her “Little Sparrow” because she is so exhausted, from life, and she reminds of us a sweet, precious bird — the kind that God has His eye on. But, she doesn’t know about her wings, yet, due to being bone-weary. It will take her a while. She has had to take on so much pressure to keep her four children moving forward and keep their new household afloat.

Sparrow tried to leave three years ago but found out she was pregnant with her fourth child and returned. Her ex husband has been extremely controlling, in general, but especially financially and verbally. He became particularly abusive during her pregnancy, when she was most vulnerable (as is often the case). She has told us that the abuse was more intense when she tried to get closer to God and grow stronger in Him. This is very typical for abusers. When the target of blame and abuse begins to show some independent thought, abusers grip their victim even tighter, making it near impossible for her to leave — which is why Little Sparrow is so incredibly brave. Until recently, this sweet mama was very isolated. She recently tried to change churches and attend a Bible Study. However, her ex husband followed and circumvented any relationship she may have had with them. We are doing all we can to be the Church to Sparrow, right now, so that she can see that Jesus still has His eye on her — and cares very, very much.

Little Sparrow’s primary concern now is being able to feed the children and get them some counseling.This mama is hurting, dear friends, and we need your help. All donations from February are going to help both of our precious February mamas. Will you help? We love this dear lady with the broken wings. Pray for her, please.

Hope 

Hope has been a victim of emotional and physical abuse at the hand of her husband since before they were married. She witnessed abuse in her family as a child, and because of this example, she didn’t think it was uncommon when she married him. The abuse has extended to her children and included horrific threats of violence beyond the things he has already done.

Hope is thankful for the job she has, but it is still very difficult to care for herself and her three beautiful children with limited salary.  And with her previous car breaking down, she has incurred even more unexpected bills, insurance, and other things on top of her regular financial obligations.

Even with this, Hope continues to work and still homeschools her children, as well.  Her biggest desire is that she can continue to raise her children well and in the Lord!

This precious lady, with all her hard work, still needs help to make ends meet and be able to take care of her sweet children.  Please pray for her, for their safety, and that God will bless them with continued provision.

What’s Next at Give Her Wings?

Keep your eyes open for new and exciting things as we launch our Angel Campaign on March 1st!  Our angels are the back-bone of Give Her Wings, and allow us to keep growing, keep ministering to our current mamas, and be able to help new mamas as we go.

Happy Galentine’s Day!!

Dear Friends,

One of the things we strive to do for our mamas is give them the assurance that they are loved, cared for and appreciated!  This year our precious team member Audrey spent hours putting together these beautiful picture cubes for our mamas along with a beautiful sentiment and of course…chocolate!!!

We hope you’ll help us fund these gifts to help remind our mamas how special they are!  They are are special gals…our Galentine’s!  For just a single $10 donation, you can be part of making this day special for them!

Thank you for your support of this ministry and of our precious, beloved mamas!

Q&A: How Do You Hold Onto Faith in the Midst of Unjust Affliction?

For Megan (and/or other survivors): how did you keep your faith while divorcing your abuser, and watching your child suffer as the courts give generous access to an abuser? I’m exhausted. Battle weary and burnt out. I am losing my faith. I don’t want to but I am and don’t know what to do anymore. Any tips you have would be appreciated. (I’m in therapy with a wonderful counsellor, but I’m still so exhausted).

Your question is incredibly honest and I find that to be beautiful. I understand — I really do. There have been a few times, in my life, where my faith was hanging by a thread — A THREAD. And it felt like it was going to be impossible to ever move forward with Jesus again.  After I left my ex husband, my family kind of joined forces with him and seemed to turn against me. I have never been so alone, in my life, and I just could not understand why God would allow all that was happening. And the exhaustion. Further, I felt like my life was in a fish bowl and I could not find freedom nor protection. It was like their hobby, for a few years, was to try to destroy me and take away anything or anyone that I had or trusted. There is so much more to the story but, here is the bottom line: I found that the faith I was losing was not my faith in God, but my faith in people (which I decided was OK during that time). Further, a lot of the faith I had was connected to false beliefs I had about God. My faith was actually about to receive a complete overhaul. And what I discovered . . . . was that God was taking me into a very deep (and often dark) place where He would reveal Himself to me in ways I could never imagine. His Words would begin to jump off of the page and into my heart and light a fire there. What I thought was faith before was nothing more than rule-following . . . striving . . . a shallow, black and white imposter of a vibrant, life-giving, love-of-my-life interconnectedness with Jesus.

I was holding onto a faith that wasn’t really real and holding God accountable to be doing the things I thought He should do.

Here are the things I falsely believed, at the time:

1. That things would always go well for God’s children if they did what He asked (lived a godly life, etc.)

2. That affliction was a sign of a lack of trust, on my part.

3. That if I made the right decisions,  my children would not suffer and be protected.

4. That God’s people would always be there for me.

5. That I could overcome trauma (death of my parents at a young age, abuse, etc) by having enough faith and that I did not need any intense therapy to overcome.

6. That I was now a “second-class citizen” because I had to divorce.

7. That God would not use me, since I was divorced.

8. That my children would be scarred, because of my divorce.

9. That women were God’s “afterthought” and were created to serve men.

10. That I was supposed to put all of my desires, gifts, time and energy toward my husband’s calling (bury my talents for fear).

These were my “faith”. And that “faith” actually needed to go. I confessed to God, in tears, that I believed these lies. And I only found mercy from Him. All He did was love me! Once that old stuff was gone, I was free to take a deep breath and tell God that I wanted to know HIM. Not through His people, but through a deep and abiding, every day relationship with Christ. Not through what I heard preached in former fundamentalist churches and seminaries . . . but through reading the Bible, myself, and getting to know Him, as a Person. And everything changed. I wouldn’t go back to that old “faith” for a million dollars. Now, I know God. And He knows me. And we have this thing together. And I work from THAT place.

Now, I am nearly-thankful for the rejection I suffered, because it drove me right into Jesus’ arms. I am kindred spirits with the man thrown out of the temple (John 9) . . . the one Jesus came to look for so He could make the man His. I relate to that. And the people who rejected me? They probably need each other and I am glad they have one another.

I go to church, where my husband serves as Lead Pastor. And I love the people there. I go healed; I go solid; I go, knowing what I believe and in Whom I believe.  And I hope to love . . . and love and love. From a place of health and healing. Faith is simple and utterly intricate. It breathes and moves and revives and uplifts. It says, “Here, beautiful child of God. I’m going to shake your world . . . it will come down crashing until you only have me. Now, its just the two of us. What will you do?” Faith calls us to dig into Scripture, with everything in us, leaving the old, broken faith that did not work behind. It challenges us. Faith dares us to put away the comfortable things and embrace the counter-intuitive. And we trust, and we do. We do ministry. Real ministry now.

“Jesus doesn’t call us to simple. He calls us into complexity. The human soul, psyche, mind, and emotions are complicated. And if he calls us to anything, it’s to enter into the mess that is day-to-day life alongside broken people in the midst of chaotic circumstances. Scott”
Scott Sauls, Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides

So, my sister. Do not give up. Shake off that old snakeskin and move, now, into what is real — what will last. Move into that awesome plan that God has for you. This is your race. It is not fair, nor is it just. But, it is the path Christ has put you on, and only you. And it is your calling to grip the hands of both Suffering and Sorrow and climb that impossible mountain. God believes in you. We believe in you.

Love,

Megan

Hinds Feet on High Places

 

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