The Apology I Will Never Receive — By Megan Cox

Megan is the Founder of Give Her Wings, has an MAR in Pastoral Counseling and is certified in Crisis Response with the AACC. She has also written the book Give Her Wings: Help and Healing After Abuse.

After witnessing yet another Christian leader who is “too famous” to acknowledge the pain and suffering of the “little people”, who are women who were abused in the most conservative of churches, I realized, today, that I would never ever be able to get them to see our point of view. Its frustrating. But, when you feel you have done all you can, and still they don’t listen, acceptance brings peace. They are not going to listen. And I might just need to stop trying.

I found out, this week, that a man who knows nothing about abuse is going to write a book, commissioned by a publisher (Lifeway?), about abuse. This man has ignored my pleas for years. Its painful to see that. Once I stopped crying, I prayed. I prayed for this man. I prayed his book will not do more harm than good. I prayed God could use it. Like Paul, I want to believe that God can use anyone — no matter how unqualified — to speak truth. I hope this is the case. God also spoke to me. He said to forgive him and others (this is a big deal for me) and I decided to write myself a letter. Forgiveness has been a painful, yet beautiful, process for me over the years. And something I have had to do over and over. What I have written below is what I wish I could have heard all these past seven years. I’m going to stop wishing for that, although it would bring tremendous healing to my heart and countless others. Its just not going to happen. 

I’m going to write a letter to myself and then give all of this to Jesus, knowing that He knows; He cares; He sees; He is just. Tears are running down my face, right now, as I write this. It is so hard. Its so hard, friends. 

So, here goes . . . . 

*Disclaimer: There have been two Christian, leading men, in my life, who apologized to me, personally. Gary Thomas apologized to me when I told him how my ex husband and others had used his premise of “marriage is to make you holy, not happy” against me. Danny Akin apologized to me for how my ex used his book “God and Sex” to sexually abuse me. This brought healing to my soul. I admire them for their humility.

Dear Megan,

We know what we did to you. You came to our seminary, looking for Jesus and trying to be a good wife so that your husband could pursue his “calling” of being a missionary. You gave up a successful career (you were a concert pianist!) because you loved Jesus and believed that your husband was “specially called”. We affirmed that. You never felt that anointing, you only felt love for God and wanted to know Him more. You were kind of just a “regular Christian”. We understand, now, that God lives in everyone. Everyone who wants Him to! You had lost your parents in a car accident a few years earlier and you were searching for meaning and truth. You embraced theology and doctrine and graduated with three babies, one on the way, and straight ‘A’s (a B in Church History — we’ve all been there). It took you six years. It took you six years because we were indoctrinating you on how you would not be a fulfilled or purposeful woman unless you abandoned birth control and homeschooled. And yet you pressed on. When you were graduated, we didn’t acknowledge you at your church, where you had served for several years. We gloried in the graduation of the men. But we were silent about you. In fact, most of us didn’t know you were studying. You felt we would judge you for doing something outside of motherhood. We see that now.

We also recently discovered that the man you sat by in church for 11+ years was abusing you in every way possible. He was also a porn addict. When you spoke about it, and took that risk only a few times, we judged you harshly. We told you you were not giving him enough sex and were not submissive enough. We told you that it is “every man’s problem” and you should show compassion. We are sorry. We are sorry that we made you the bearer of his sin. We are sorry that we held you responsible for an addiction he has had since he was eleven years old. That was wrong.You were quiet and alone. Your husband was telling you you deserved it and it kind of looked like we thought that, too. We unknowingly aided in the total destruction of your esteem. 

He told you that if you told anyone, you would ruin his ministry, as appointed to him by God. We affirmed that many times. Your livelihood and that of your children was completely dependent upon your silence and masked cheerfulness, while he worked as a pastor. We put you in a lonely prison. 

When you finally left, we started harassing you. It wasn’t even a matter of withdrawing. We were aggressive. We made fun of you on social media, when we were not calling you out. We didn’t listen and we didn’t believe you. Because you were on your own with four children, your main concern was supporting them. We didn’t help you; we told you to obey God and go back. We made you believe, for a little while, that God wants you to be abused . . . that you were in the wrong . . . that you were deserving. If we acknowledged the abuse, we coupled that with how we all pay the price for our “poor decisions” so you still had to go back. We wouldn’t recognize his charm during dating. We didn’t recognize your vulnerability. We didn’t see that a person could actually fool people and pretend to be godly — until the wedding night. We cannot imagine the horror you have suffered. We caused you tremendous psychological pain as we would not help you (only condemn you) and you had to look for other resources outside of our church in places you had been taught, by us, were not of God. 

We can see that picture of you now when you left. You had no transportation and you pushed a stroller to our church on a busy street with a toddler on your back and two small children holding on to each side of the stroller. You were so afraid for their safety but wanted to get to church. When you got there, all four children clung to your skirt. All of you sweating from the journey. Everyone was afraid. All five of you cried during the hymns. Our pastor went to you and lovingly convinced you you could trust him. You walked home, having some hope. When he came to visit, he said that he wanted to get your husband on Skype and tell him to “come and get his wife.” You became terrified and asked him to leave. After that, you couldn’t trust. And we don’t blame you. We did that.

You and your children could not go to church for two years. You huddled on your tiny kitchen floor every Sunday, drinking hot cocoa and teaching your children bible stories. That was our fault. We take responsibility for it. 

You couldn’t get a job because you had gone to a seminary from a denomination where women are not hired as pastors (except as “children’s ministers” or something along those lines). We teach that. Your degree was in counseling but you were not licensed, as we didn’t do that. You had no recourse. And other churches did not want someone who went to an SBC seminary. You had been a homeschooling mom or stay-at-home mom for 12 years. Your resume wasn’t stellar, by any means. We took away your options. We made you dependent on your abusive husband who only sent money when he felt you might come back to him. We didn’t get it because, as men, we were always able to be pastors. We didn’t think about how much we were hurting you by putting you a box and stamping it with the words “God’s will”. 

After that, he stopped sending you any money (it was only about $6000 total over the course of a year), once he realized you would not leave the country, again, and put yourself in forever-isolation. For three years, he justified not paying child support. And we supported him. We kind of saw him as a victim for a long time. We don’t, anymore. But, that probably doesn’t assuage your pain. We are starting to understand. But it is just the tip of the iceberg. 

You had to leave the church you had loved because you were constantly judged for leaving an abusive marriage. Somehow, others knew better than you what happened in your own home than you did. That was pretty crazy of us.

The fact that you clung to Jesus, still, despite all that His people did to you — passively and aggressively — is miraculous. We think we know still . . . we still think that we have a corner on truth. But, we’re starting to look bad for it, so we’re jumping on the band-wagon and writing books and holding conferences about abuse. But, you’re still not invited. We’re not sure why . . . maybe you remind us of what we did. And we can’t handle it or admit it, yet. You’ve always been uninvited because you don’t fit our cookie-cutter, Christian woman thingie we have going on. We don’t listen to you, which is unkind. We admit it. When we look at you, we see what we did and we can’t take it. Our consciences would be overwhelmed. Because it isn’t just you . . . its thousands of women that we silenced. And we are deeply grieved.

We are so glad that a godly man came into your life, adopted your children into his heart and proudly gave them his name (of whom you won sole custody of — yes, we see you fought that battle alone, as well, in the midst of our persecuting you) and now adores and provides for you all. He is a hero to us. David helps you run your non profit and, as a result, hundreds of women have seen that there are good men out there — men who care. And that’s been going on for seven years now. 

Sometimes, it is best to start over. Instead of covering up or doing some mild form of damage control. Sometimes, its best to say something like, “Wow. We really really screwed up big-time bad. Before God, we silenced 50% of His children when we shouldn’t have. We let His daughters and His children (little ones) be abused and kept sending them back into abuse. We fed them to the lions in God’s name. God, have mercy on us. What can we do now? What is wrong with this? What have we done?!” And you do it in a big way. That’s what God’s people do sometimes, through space-time history. They do a big, giant repentance. Instead of just seeing “a little bit of sin”, God’s people have, in the past, seen giant lifestyles of sin and torn their clothes. What little bit of “woman stuff” we are doing now must feel to you and to others like a greater wound. We’re still leaving all of you out — you who have faithfully and painfully ministered to the abused for years and years now; you who lived in poverty for years yet still ran a non profit for women ignored or, worse, attacked by US (without pay) and helped hundreds of women be helped by the Church, when we refused to help them or listen to them.

Megan, we humbly repent of this. We see it now. We see what countless others have done because we failed, as a people. We acknowledge you. We see that we were just too famous to acknowledge you before. But, now, we acknowledge you and your pain, and that of your children. We also acknowledge ______ and ______ and ______ and so on . . . . We were tone-deaf. We had Marie-Antionette syndrome while we cozily and comfortably preached from our pulpits. 

We are sorry. Please forgive us.

In Christ, 

All the churches that persecuted me, 

All the christian family members who persecuted me, 

All the friends who persecuted me, 

The seminary that knew my husband was abusing me and shut me down, 

The church that said I was anti-God because I wanted to help women who were destitute

All the church leaders who ignored my emails, 

The people who showed up on my doorstep to tell me to return to my abuser, 

The pastors who called me to try to get me to go back, 

And those who ignored facebook posts and tweets about what was happening on their watch. 

25 Replies to “The Apology I Will Never Receive — By Megan Cox”

  1. Oh my. Yes. That’s what we need, but will never, ever hear. I have also had to walk away and let it go, and give up all hope of any kind of restoration with former pastors and their followers. Saying, “okay, God, they are Yours and You can have them.” really is incredibly freeing.

  2. This is beautiful, Megan. The part about church on the kitchen floor was heartbreaking. I am so glad that God brought you out and made you free! And I’m so glad He brought you and David together, so that you could both be used to help others whom God desperately loves, and is desperately pursuing.

    Thank you for being His hands and His feet. I am sorry that too many in the rest of the kingdom of God have turned their backs. I am sorry for the times that I have been ignorant as well.

  3. It breaks my heart that you endured all that you did. You deserved to be heard, seen, believed, and supported. You are so brave for sharing your story; Your words are beautiful and healing!

  4. Megan
    Praise God that your heart is for Him. Thank you for being courageous enough to step out in action! This letter is beautiful. So many women share a similar story to yours. Speaking up in love and forgiveness is undeniably difficult. You are paving the way for truth in love and forgiveness in action while unwavering in your trust in Jesus. ❤️🤗

  5. I’m crying as I write this Megan. The anger and heartbreak I feel, because of what happened to you, and is continuing to happen to countless others, really guts me.
    But I’m determined to be a part of the solution, because I am not going to stay silent. Those days are over.
    Thank you for not giving in. Thank you for fighting on, despite the continued abuse from the church, when it would have been easier to just give up.
    God has big plans for you sister, and I’m so happy to be here to see it all unfold!! I love you!

    1. Plans for us BOTH, my warrior-sister. We will be a part of that solution. We ARE a part of that solution! And only God could stop us — not man. Hugs!

  6. I want to give you a big bear hug!! Now I would do something if I saw this hurt….reach out somehow….but it is only because my eyes are now open to abuse because of my own situation. So I too apologize with a heartfelt apology for being one of the unknowing ignorant fellow church member sitting on the pew with you but not really caring to see you. Thankful you found healing and a new life!

  7. Oh Megan . . . We know too much to turn back now . . . in spite of the evil we see among the top echelons of Christian leadership. We live in a dark day, when those who shame and blame abuse survivors are the ones who are asked to write the big-name-publisher books about abuse. But we still see the light of Jesus Christ shining, even though it might not be in some of the big bustling conferences and mega churches. It’s still shining. Hugs to you, friend.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful words, Rebecca. And your camaraderie and belief in what we are going at Give Her Wings. You are so precious to me — priceless.

  8. Beautifully written by a beautiful woman who never stopped loving our Lord Jesus Christ.

    When we leave this Earth, I truly believe on the day of judgement, we will feel every single emotion we cause others to feel. Whether it be fear, despair, joy or love – we will feel every emotion we caused towards one another.

    I don’t wish ill towards anyone. I pity those who just don’t get it. Because in the end – in eternity – they will – but then it will be too late. They will be like the spirits who lament in the Christmas Carol, wanting to intervene for Good but lost the power to do so. So they are tortured in eternity for their inability to love their fellow man.

    God be with you, my dear sweet sister in Christ Jesus. xo

    1. Yes . . . I would not want to face Jesus on kicking victims when they are down . . . on ignoring them when they are pleading to be heard or seen. I am able to give it into God’s hands, like so many other things. And learn. Thank you, Ruth, for standing by me, always, and fighting these spiritual battles along withe me.

  9. Yes, this is exactly what happens, over and over. It hurts your heart so badly to be seen as the one who “tore her family apart” for leaving a man who was the one doing the real damage. Living in an abusive home is NOT better for the kids. Seeing their Mom protect herself and them, get free from abuse, and be supported by the church in doing so; that would be better for the kids. A homeschool, Christian mom soundly rejected me this past weekend when she asked about my husband and my homeschooling and I told her I was a single mom. She actually pulled her body rigid, narrowed her eyes and turned away from me. I just stood there still shocked, even after years of seeing it. It never gets easier.
    To my “unsaved” friends, I am hailed as a hero who did the right thing and speaks for other women; yet the “Christians” around me give me nothing but rejection and scorn. So sad. I have to agree with Ghandi – I love your Christ, but I do not like your Christians, your Christians are SO unlike your Christ.

    1. I’m so sorry for her response. People in the church world always love to talk about a “godly response” and consider it and ungodly response for us to leave abuse. Then, they turn around and give US an ungodly response like you described in your comment — devoid of any compassion or any fruits of the Spirit. Hugs, friend.

  10. Hard to read, dear friend. So much pain inflicted by so many whom you thought would come alongside you and support you, love on you and to shelter you and your children from that wicked man. Their failure is appalling, yet steeped in an inability to see the heart of God for marriage, designed to be a sacred bond – never bondage.

    Yes, they should have sought forgiveness, yet you have done for them what they failed to do for you – forgiven them.

    Forgiveness is a hard and beautiful thing – to lay our hurt and anger into the hands of God, release those who have wounded us so that they no longer hold sway over us, and to refuse to give the ignorant and the tyrannical power over our lives for even one more minute… Those people failed you, but God did not. And He is using your truth to minister to others who are walking a similar path and will continue to bless your faithfulness!

    1. Cindy, Thank you. I wasn’t even thinking about how what I was doing by forgiving is what they failed to do for me. That brings me a lot of peace. And yes . . . I agree. Forgiveness is a hard and beautiful thing. And something I do over and over and yet has gotten so much easier. You are important to me. Thank you for who you are, my sister.

  11. My take on “the apology you will never receive”:

    Dear Megan, the truth is that we didn’t even see you or hear you. You were supposed to stay in your box, the category in which you served the image we had of ourselves. We didn’t want to know you outside that box. In our desire to make ourselves look good (and keep ourselves looking good), we simply couldn’t afford to allow your story and your pain to bring us down. Your role was to serve your husband as he served our system and image. We expected you to continue that service without causing either your husband or us any discomfort and certainly no scandal. You were supposed to stay quiet. When your actions and attitudes threatened us, we did what we could to distance ourselves from you. That meant humiliating you, rejecting you, pushing you away—all with the hope that others would not connect your suffering with us. Frankly, we didn’t really care about your husband, we just cared about ourselves and our image. We supported him because he had the better chance of redeeming the situation in a way that would make us feel good about ourselves again. He also carried credentials that formally connected him to us. You, on the other hand, were simply a tool for him and, indirectly, us to use to serve the image we wanted to project.

    It grieves us to realize how we hurt you, but the system/ministry we have built is too important for us to make real changes. So, no, you are still not invited. We don’t want you to stir rebellion and discontent in the hearts of others among us. The image will suffer if we begin to value the people in our ministry as real people with sins and weaknesses and struggles. The happy, but dedicated, face is the only one that reflects the superiority of our mission. The suffering of most of those in the system will continue in order to carry those who make us look good to the world and to other church groups. So, please don’t expect us to support your current work or welcome your voice among us.

    1. Pastor Dave — As I have already told you privately, I cannot get over the accuracy of your take on this. I mean, it is so healing to me to know that this is truth. There is something in me that wants to believe that these people are my sisters and brothers and we can all forgive each other and meet in Heaven one day, yada yada. And then I get SO HURT. I have to accept that this is how they feel about me (and most of the other advocates, as well). And in acceptance, there is peace. Your words are a much-needed severe mercy.

  12. And they don’t stop with the women; they slander and destroy the decent men out there who stand up for the abused. In a back-handed way, they probably did you a favor, as painful as it was. They drove you away from themselves.

  13. How I wish you would have received that apology, Megan. It makes me so sad that the world listens to women and values their standing up for truth, while the church tries to keep us in a box, silent and submissive, using our gifts in only ways permitted by leadership.

    I stayed with an abuser who harmed my children and me for many, many years, because I was counseled to love, to forgive, to bear all things and believe all things and hope all things and endure all things…because love never fails, don’tcha know. So, I failed to protect my children, and I lived through darkness and depression and gaslighting and crazy-making, dying to self, loving God, and wanting to die. For years and years and years.

    Now that I am finally free, I have hope and rest and peace in the midst of difficult circumstances.

    But I can tell you that I’m mighty suspicious of “leadership” and of “biblical counselors”.

    The best thing I read in the comments is the comment from Pastor Dave. He gets it. And I know he is not alone; there are other men out there who really get it. I’d like to meet some in real life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *