When My Isolation Bubble Popped and I Watched It Happen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warmly and Set Freely,

Megan

My book, my painting. MDC

10 Replies to “When My Isolation Bubble Popped and I Watched It Happen”

  1. This spoke volumes to me. I have been in several abusive relationships….both physical & emotional. The verbal abuse was more hurtful than the beatings. I am now married to a wonderful Christian man & am so blessed. The enemy tries to bring up my past & sometimes he succeeds. I so want the past to be just that….the past.
    I also realize how much hurt my children (now grown) endured. My heart breaks over that.
    Thank you for your encouragement. I live in a very rural community. Attend a wonderful Church, but really have no friends. All my family lives far away & I deal with a lot of loneliness.

  2. I recently (as in 5 days ago) saw the woman who had the last affair with my husband. We were at a picnic together and I managed to avoid her as there were plenty of other people to interact with. But afterwards, I struggled with envious thoughts that I hadn’t thought in almost 3 years (i.e. her marriage seems stronger than it was before, while I’m now divorced; she has a brand new van while I could only afford one that was 13 years old; she’s lost weight while my weight has been going up and down depending on my emotional stability; she has help putting her kids to bed at night while I do it myself every night, etc.) BUT, thankfully, God has reminded me that if it weren’t for that last affair, I might still be in an abusive marriage. God knew what it would take to make me put my foot down. That was the first step. Then, when my husband was out of the house, God opened my eyes to the MAJOR dysfunction in my marriage and how it was affecting my children. So, while I don’t forsee myself purposefully seeking her out, if I find myself at the same function with this woman again, I may actually go up to her and give her a big hug and tell her, “Thank you!”
    So, I don’t know if this even qualifies as an isolation bubble popping event because I’m not exactly sure what an isolation bubble looks like in my life. But I saw similarities in your story, Megan – I was giving a person all this power, when, in reality, where I am now has ultimately been a result of God working a rescue mission for my kids and I!

  3. 1. God is so good!
    2. He got you where you needed to be to hear that message
    3. That wasn’t even JD-our Pastor, preaching. So again, God is so good!
    I grew up in the Catholic Church and shame and hypocrisy were the norm. The road God took me on was one crazy, rocky, dangerous road. But I can look back and I know He was there moving me slowly to where my relationship and faith are secure in Him.
    May you find His perfect Peace!
    Soli Deo Gloria-Glory to God!

  4. Your story is very healing. Here is my story, in a nutshell. I have had to totally detach from my extended family. My emotionally abusive husband passed recently. He did a ton of damage on his way out so no one would believe the truths I knew. I couldn’t stay on top of all the abuse. It spun me. It was tumultuous. He hurt many doctors along the way. It was amazing to watch. My poor kids ages 18-27 wanted so much to honor their dad and believe his every word. It was heart wrenching. They do not want to hear a word from me. I have learned to let God handle that. My job is to love them and help us all heal. I am not hurting financially. I have a great counselor and some friends who understand. It is hard to understand this level of emotional abuse. God has blessed me in many ways. No more abusers in my life. I have had to change churches and small group and all, but God helped me know me where to go to church.

  5. Megan, Congratulations! This is amazing to hear how things look on the other side! I am so glad that you heard God and did not give up. Sharing your pain and triumph is undoubtedly the victory that some will need to give them strength. God works through others, whether good or bad, to bring us where we need to be. Keep your eyes on Jesus! May you and your children see that you are highly favored from this day forward. Blessings!

  6. Megan, I was thinking along the same lines you were just yesterday after reading the article that went viral about “Jane’s” rape while at The Master’s Seminary. I was so discouraged by the story, but at the same time, I saw how her experiences have led to an exposing of evil within Christianity. It’s tragic but powerful for change.
    When I read your thoughts that “God did this” it didn’t sit well, because I still don’t believe that God causes evil to happen to us. I believe He uses it for good purposes. The good thing is seeing the bigger picture though, right sister. ❤️🤗
    These days, I really struggle with the formalities of church. It’s the stained glass, shallow appearances and holier-than-thou attitudes dressed up that I hate to be a part of because it’s what allowed my earthly father to deceive so many, including myself for so long. I struggle to continue, knowing that not all people in the church are like him. Even so, I do believe those who are set on white-washing the church and life are the most hurtful.
    I just try to be very real and honest. I try to warn about wolves. It’s a horrific thought, but they are often fathers — even preachers — but I hope that my experiences might somehow help others who have suffered so long in silence and confusion and spiritual abuse like I did. Thank you so much for this beautiful ministry! 💓

  7. Thank you for this. I’m looked at as such a rebel because after escaping an abusive situation, I speak out, especially when it’s a minister. Fortunately, my father, who is also my pastor backs me 100%.
    One visiting minister said, from the pulpit, that if you aren’t married, you are only half a person. I almost got up and walked out. As I was fuming about it to my dad later, I said, “What about Paul? He was single and encouraged others to stay single!” My dad very quietly asked, “What about Jesus?” YES!
    Some of these preachers bring WAY too many of their own ideas into the pulpit as gospel.
    But the way I look at it is this…God knew we could and would survive the abuse and come out the other side stronger. He picked us as his special firefighters….we’ve been there, felt the heat and are going back in for more survivors. Gear up, ladies, they are depending on us!

  8. You are very encouraging! And you live in my old stomping grounds! I am back there from time to time and would love to visit with you. I am so glad that your dad backs you up! I understand almost walking out on that situation. I almost walked out of my husbands funeral…oh my!! So glad I didn’t but everyone who was looking at me could tell I was so put out that I couldn’t sit still. I was doing all I could to stay in my seat!

  9. When pastors or Christians put the sin of divorcing an abuser on me. “I had an affair, you got a divorce. There’s grace for both of us”. I did everything in my power to save my marriage. But in the end, I had to choose to save myself and my kids. I don’t want to accept grace for my ‘sin’. I don’t want it to be called sin in the first place. :'(

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