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,
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.