I don’t want to write this.
Like AT ALL.
But, for the past few weeks, I’ve been waking up at night churning to write about this.
This is something I can’t be quiet about.
So (deep breath) here it goes…
Many years ago (I won’t get into how long ago – you might think I’m old) 😉 I was in a relationship with a guy I was crazy about. He was everything I wanted. Except….he had a temper. And at times would become violent.
The outbursts weren’t horrible at first (well, maybe they were but I was too young to understand what was happening at the time). Each time they became more and more violent. More scary. More threatening. More damaging – emotionally and physically.
But, I loved him.
And I believed he loved me.
Round and round we went until I eventually left.
It’s been a LONG time.
I’ve healed. I’ve forgiven. I’ve chosen to love. I’ve moved on.
But, two years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest, I struggled with low blood sugar and one morning I passed out.
I was in the bathroom when it happened. Apparently, I hit the corner of the sink and wall on the way down. My face was pretty beat up.
When I came to, I was disoriented.
I didn’t know where I was. All I felt was the cold tile on my face and the swelling pain in my body.
I hadn’t felt that way since….
I started to shake and scream and cry hysterically.
Zac rushed in, picked me up and frantically called the doctor.
While he was getting ice packs and talking to the nurse on the phone, I sat motionless on the couch. He kept trying to talk to me, but I couldn’t talk…
I was quiet for a long time.
Eventually, he took me to the hospital to have the baby checked out and make sure everything was okay.
I remained pretty quiet.
But, random tears continued to fall throughout the day…
I wish I could explain to you what I was feeling. I wish I could’ve explained it to Zac. The feelings that returned in that moment on the floor were hell – one that nearly shattered me so many years ago.
(And, please don’t email me and ask me who it was, how old I was, etc. I’ve forgiven them and I love them. I decided long ago that I would not damage their reputation or air their dirty laundry. So please don’t ask) 🙂
BUT, I share this part of my life to lay the groundwork for this blog…
Over the years, God has brought many women into my life who have dealt with abuse. Many specifically who are married to men who are violent.
I hate this.
I hate that this happens.
I hate telling you that this happens in church.
In Christian families.
But it does.
One particular woman called me in hysterics after her husband violently attacked her children. But, I was her second phone call.
Her first call was to her pastor.
His recommendation was for them to come together for marriage counseling (with him) to focus on “restoration”. (All while her husband is going crazy beating her child in the background) No mention of safety. No mention to call the police.
She ran and ended up on the other end of the phone with me.
I walked her through calling the police and following the appropriate steps to gaining safety for herself and her children.
But, sadly that pastor’s reaction isn’t unusual.
Again, I don’t like writing this, because I love pastors. I love churches. But, this….this is something that is killing us.
And it’s breaking God’s heart.
The thing is, these pastors and churches, sincerely believe they are doing the right thing. They believe God hates divorce. And he does. But, they value the marriage as a greater priority than the people inside of the marriage.
And when domestic violence is involved, it is so dangerous.
I love you church.
I love you men and women.
But we can do better.
I once read a book called, Refuge A Pathway Out of Domestic Violence by Donald Stewart. He’s a veteran police officer and a Jesus lover. (FANTASTIC book btw) He shares countless accounts of domestic violence in the church and exposes a great need for understanding and protection for these women.
He challenges the idea that many pastors hold to which is: divorce is only biblical when there has been marital unfaithfulness or abandonment.
He takes a strong biblical stance that domestic violence is biblical abandonment.
I agree with him.
But, this isn’t an invitation for a theological debate. That is not the purpose of this blog. The purpose is to open your eyes to the women around you who may be living in a cycle of domestic violence.
They may be afraid to ask for help. They may have been told God wants them to stay. They may believe this is all God has for them and their children.
One of the women I walked through domestic violence wrote this after feeling abandoned by her church for not returning to her husband. She writes to her husband,
To the Abuser:
Why did we leave? Most of the time you are a “normal” guy. There are even times we have a lot of fun and laugh. So it isn’t because you are awful all the time. You are not always that monster. Maybe 10% of the time you are an abuser. And at first look that doesn’t seem like a lot. And for awhile I was even wondering if I could live with the 10%. Should I throw away the 90% for the 10? Did the 10% justify leaving??? But then I realized that after the 10% was over for you, the tears and the blood were not dry yet. The painful words are still lingering. We were still in fear. In fear of the next time, wondering when and what would set off the next barrage. And I realized that your 10% became our 100%. And that is enough to leave over.
I cry when I read this.
I cry because it’s so real.
And it’s not at all what God desires for his daughters.
He never intended us to live in a prison cell of fear.
Because He’s GOOD.
Sweet sisters, God is GOOD. SO SO GOOD. He’s such a good Father. Would any good father regulate his children into living like this? Afraid of being hit. Afraid of watching your kids be hit, be locked outside at night or threatened with knives and other weapons if they ever tried to leave?
He protects. He guards. He heals. He loves. He provides rest. He provides safety.
Because He’s GOOD.
This is an outcry to challenge the church to walk like Jesus. Just read the gospels. Watch Jesus’ character. What do you believe he would tell an abused, beat up woman seeking safety from her abusive husband?
I will say it again.
He’s a GOOD FATHER.
AN AWESOME FATHER.
I’ve walked with these women. I’ve sat in attorney’s offices with them while they shake trying to tell their story. I’ve been on the phone with them while they cry. I’ve looked in the eyes of children whose parents left them with black eyes and shattered trust.
But, I’ve also watched these women run to Jesus.
I’ve watched him transform a frail, broken shell of a woman into strong mighty warriors. I’ve watched it happen. And it’s AWESOME.
I know Jesus.
I’ve seen Him heal, restore and free these women and children.
All that being said, do I believe God can restore a damaged marriage? Yes. Do I believe he can restore one that included violence? Yes. But, not with the victims remaining in the home.
Restoration can happen if and only if the abuser seeks professional help (long term) and there is a strong network of professionals involved that walk them through that process. And even then, it’s something that should be handled very cautiously.
(If you or someone you know is in living in fear, please contact the police. File a report and ask them to refer to you a shelter for battered women and children. It isn’t something to be ashamed of. It happens to the poor, to the wealthy, to the Christian, to the non-Christian alike. It is part of the broken world we live in)
I love you. I champion you. I champion your story. And I pray that we ALL can open our eyes to those around us who may need us to help them find their voice.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8
Hugs (and kinda teary eyes),
PS: I mentioned earlier, please don’t use this as a forum for theological debate. Any comment you write could be read by a woman living in a dangerous situation. These situations are real. Please use sensitivity and understand that your words could be the difference between her life and death.
PSS: A quick edit here: verbal and emotional/mental abuse can be equally as damaging if not worse. The internal scars can last much longer than a physical mark. If you are reading this and that is your situation, please know that everything I stated above applies to this kind of abuse also.