Denial is a Funny, Terrible Thing

Well, I just found this in my private mail and I have to confess that I am heart-broken! There are women out there who have been through this very same scenario and have had to stuff down their feelings and frustrations in order to create the perfect picture of a happy family. I am only going to print part of this because some it is very personal. I pray that those of you who are Christian leaders in your churches will realize this is all to common in churches today that place PERFORMANCE OVER FAITH AND LOVE! SHAME ON YOU CHURCHES, PASTORS, ELDERS AND SO-CALLED SHEPHERDS IN THE HOME! Jesus spoke His anger at injustice.  He spoke plainly and labeled the behavior of those who perverted or twisted in any way God's love and His will! There are abusers in your churches and women who need your protection! THESE PERPETRATORS OF EVIL MUST BE KNOWN FOR WHAT THEY ARE. THE ABUSE MUST STOP NOW!

This is an exerpt of a letter from someone I will call Debbie A:

We looked like the ideal conservative Christian family unit, just busting over with family values and stuff. Those who knew us back in the day still have difficulty believing my story strictly based on the pristine appearance we trotted about in public. That was my doing to be the perfect Christian wife. The beast played along.

Well dressed and respectful–I saw to it, even if it meant beans for a week because of a strict budget he put me on. Believe me when I tell you it was not worth the hassle spending more than the budget called for because it would mean I was inept at handling money. Still, I held my husband’s hand in public (when he let me). I called him baby. My husband called me sweetheart but only when anyone walked within earshot, or he wanted sex, or for me to conform to his wants. Our home was always spotless clean, the yard mowed, the bread homemade. However, if I stepped out of line the house cleaning was never good enough to please Mr. Perfect who could do it single-handedly. It didn't matter that the wife didn’t laugh at the husband’s jokes, or that I was the butler, the cook, the maid, the "go-fer," the chauffeur,  the religious castle fool to be scoffed at!  It made him happy people thought that I never smiled enough. That gesture made me the "bad guy." He could easily point to me as the one holding the family back from being complete. I covered up his abuse so thoroughly that everyone thought that dear man was the stronghold of the family, clearly. However, he made sure the wife seemed mighty uptight to friends and his kids-I say "his" because he brought his children into the marriage. If the kids jumped when dad raised his voice, it just showed how well he’d trained the kiddies. They never realized I was the one who risked being the bad guy by teaching his children the obedience they never learned from him.
Hard to admit now, but I wanted and needed my husband’s approval and affection. If he only gave it with others looking, or when he wanted sex, so be it. It was a game we played. I could sit close, hold his hand and, for a few moments at least, pretend everything was okay. It looked good to the kids, our friends, and our families. We both knew the rules. When company backed out of the driveway, the atmosphere changed and we returned to our corners for the duration, that is unless he needed sex...which was constant!

Red Flags Waving
There were signs of course if  a body knew where or took the trouble to look. The constant jokes about my cooking or cleaning or general lack of intelligence might have been a clue. Even my kids made fun of my intelligence when my husband pointed out how stupid I was for someone so educated. Of course he would dig up abstract facts that had little bearing with anything but to make him look more intelligent. The digs taken at the children’s expense, burrowing word by word into the softest parts of their spirit carried an edge that bordered on the masochistic. One of my girls became so downtrodden from her step-father's constant criticism that she became depressed to the point of hating herself enough to attempt drug suicide. We had a dysfunctional household that looked so pristine you had to really dig deep into our family values to find it! So while some things were more obvious than others, nothing stood out and grabbed you by the throat. Except for one small little detail.
Our home looked like something from a magazine shoot. Sounds good, right? The insidious nature of this lies not in the presence of possessions, but in their absence. Our big, beautiful home was devoid of family personality but his exploits were everywhere to be seen. If a neighbor visited, which I assure you was rare because of his constant ravings about his own abilities, they would rarely return. I couldn't even hang a picture on a wall without his scrutiny.

Is that really who I am? Sometimes I was lead to believe when I pointed out my sorrow that I was actually the problem, oversensitive he said! His insistence that I tried to blame him for my unhappiness was also a constant!

Excuse me?

I Have an Enemy and it isn’t God.

One day without a word, my spirit flooded with the understanding of the goodness of a loving Father who tenderly cares for His children. Of a God who never saw me critically but instead loved me so much that He took my sins upon Himself and died for me. I remembered times of actual sorrow at my abusers hands and compared side-by-side with women whose husbands actually loved them and shared that love openly without criticism. I recalled the tone, the touch, the gentle fingerprints all over My Lord's  loving care and how He held my heart in His hand. I saw how He prepared me for each transition and contrasted that to the gloom and doom of my everyday experience.

I saw—all at once—just  how twisted my thinking had become! The church, my husband, his family, and even our children made me believe I could not love. They made me think that my anger was out of place, so I obediently prayed and asked God to make me a better Christian woman and to swallow my desire for love.

Never once had it occurred to me that I was being robbed.

Robbed of joy.

Robbed of peace of mind.

Robbed of blessing of every variety—spiritual, financial, interpersonal. It took verses like the ones I am listing here to make me see that there was a thief in my home robbing me and my children of all that God had wanted for me, love, joy, peace. etc.

John 10:10 “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) and notice. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, then; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Here’s the thing: For years, I did not know my enemy. I was living with the devil or at least one of his demons. Every good gift, every blessing he offered was tainted with conformity to his desires and my joy was instantly stolen. That tends to happen when you’re sleeping with someone who’d rather see you dead than admit he was the evil one in the home. Everything that I desired for the home or my children came with a price-conformity to his wants and wishes!

The fear, the torment, the pain had to go someplace. The more I denied my marriage was the problem, the harder I kept  trying to find a slot to file the overflowing animosity pointed squarely in my direction like a laser sighted missile. The only time I could find relief was to give in and give him what he wanted.

The bible says that God is good and I believed that. Somehow, I blended the reality of my hell on earth with a religious explanation that made no sense whatsoever. I lived every day with someone who both hated me and had no natural affection for his own offspring. Looking back, it’s not so surprising really that I thought my world was coming to an end.

Denial is a Funny, Terrible Thing

Let me assure you—I don’t live in that cesspool  any longer. Once I recognized the enemy for who—and where—he was, I got the message pretty fast. Getting out of a toxic environment improved my outlook instantly. My kids tell me I look fifteen years younger. Looking through the pictures, I believe they’re right.

With every moment, this remarkable joy grows sweeter. It takes practice to learn to walk in freedom. Sometimes I still feel the pull of old ways of seeing both my God and this fallen world. But these days, I’m assured I can trust the future to the One who tends to sparrows.

When and if sorrow comes–as it does to all of us walking here below– I rest knowing Who will rock me in His arms.



Debbie, I told you I would print this but I can't even comment on this any further because it makes me so angry that this is allowed in Christian homes. All I can do is pray that good men and women of God who see this, take it to heart, and decide to change things in churches around the world and call out these abusers for what they are...DEVILS!
See you next Blog,
Ted

Comments

  1. Reading Debbie's letter makes me angry ... not just for her, but because I can relate to many of these things and know that there are others who do too. Thank you for posting this, it's an encouragement to me.

    On a side note, I have to say to any women reading this, not to let anyone label you as weak because you have stayed in a bad situation. Don't feel bad or stupid...No one has walked in your shoes and many have no idea what it is like when it has been drilled into your for your whole life that it is your God-given duty to remain in subjection to your husband no matter what. Many women are taught this and stay because of their desire to obey what they believe is biblical truth. I've come to realize now that God has not called women to live like Debbie or others in similiar positions.. doing so does rob them of peace and joy and allows the abuser to continue in their sin.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Laura for your comment. It is a crime that continues to plague marriages. Many Christian leaders complain about divorce and the break-up of families being the cause of America's weakness. They complain about the devastating effects on the church, but do nothing to stop the abuse of women and children in their church except a hand slap to the men who perpetrate this evil. Women are treated like second citizens in many of the so-called evangelical churches today and told they must be silent and adorn themselves in such as way and manner as to bring out the best in their husbands...what about the scriptures the tell the man he must submit himself to God and his wife and die to his own desires and willful behavior in order to serve as a true shepherd in the home and lead by example? Again, my deepest thanks and I appreciate you sharing your anger at this situation. I know exactly what you mean by the fear that some churches put on the woman to remain in a emotionally harmful and even dangerous marriages.

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