Seeking Help From Pastors #1:
I totally respect and appreciate most pastors. They must stand as judges and advisors. They have a challenge when it comes to Domestic Abuse, especially when it is psychological, and there are no wounds to show. They have dedicated their lives to the service of others, BUT may have limited counseling skills, life experiences that may not have prepared them to understand the reality of abuse, and busy schedules with MANY people to attend to. No one can handle everything, and people can be very demanding of pastors. In addition, pastors have to wonder how heavy or difficult a situation can get, and deal with “he says – she says” information. How can they know? Theoretically, they should be able to pray for discernment and receive guidance from God. (James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.) I’ve done that a LOT, and am pretty sure I still don’t know the whole truth when people squawk to me about others. Would REALLY like a solution to that!
My kids will be Abby and Emily, for their privacy. I’m going to use the pseudonym “Peter” when discussing my ex-abuser. It suits my sense of humor (“let she who has ears…” ). Please, feel free to also use the name when you mention your abusers (for privacy and protection). Besides, it could be fun.
Pastor #1 – NEVADA
Peter grabbed the car keys from my hand because he didn’t want me to drive angry. I was angry because I lived a double standard, where he bought dirt bikes and boats, and I was HARRASSED for buying my favorite breakfast cereal – and told that things like a new crib mattress (for our garage-sale crib), stroller, and vaporizer (“she will just get dependent on it”) were not acceptable purchases. (I got them anyway, with birthday money). Trying to deny me medical care was another issue …for another post. Almost every need or issue for discussion was a means for him to twist logic, create obstacles, and play with my mind….for fun, I guess.
We had been married for a year and a half. I had made a terrible marriage mistake. And Abby was 8 months old. I didn’t want her bounced from house to house, or subjected to him alone. I didn’t trust the court system to protect her, didn’t feel it was right or healthy or feasible to live on the lam to escape with her alone. I didn’t think he would back off if I did, and wasn’t willing to take the risk. And I hoped things could get better. From the start, I adopted the role of BUFFER, and PROTECTOR (and scared little mouse!). Throughout EVERY – SINGLE – DAY – OF – EVERY – SINGLE – MONTH , I weighed the options of leaving or staying and the consequences to Abby.
So, I went to talk to a nearby pastor. An interesting choice, in retrospect, because I wasn’t thinking much about God at the time. I told the pastor that I was having a really hard time staying married. She told me that every marriage requires 3 persons: Husband, Wife, and Jesus. I said I didn’t understand the trinity, and didn’t know what to believe. She said to step out in faith and Jesus would help me believe. So I said the sinner’s prayer and went home with hope that God would help me and show me what to do.
Pastor’s Mistake #1: She didn’t hear the whole story before prescribing a solution. Granted, for a Christian, salvation is a FIRST step. The problem was that it was the ONLY step. She probably believed, as many Christians do, that if you are open to God, all else will fall into place. It may for some; it didn’t for me. Ideally, this would have been an opportunity to educate me in tough love, valuing myself (as, supposedly, God does), and putting me in contact with some advisors who could name and address the abuse and support building and maintaining faith through trial.
Pastor’s Mistake #2: Thinking, and recommending (or seeming to), that church attendance and biblical instruction will provide the tools necessary to deal with the situation (which she apparently didn’t understand). I did this with abandon! I loved the people at Church – WONDERFUL PEOPLE – and wonderful women who were intelligent, loving friends, and an absolute blast to be around. I loved the Bible Study and the services. To study the Bible, I literally went to the coat closet (a new twist on a prayer closet, eh?) in the middle of the night after putting restless Abby back to sleep. I went to the closet, because I didn’t dare wake Peter. And, I started learning more about SUBMISSION, and REMAINING IN THE CONDITION TO WHICH YOU WERE CALLED , and other good stuff. And I wanted to obey God and receive His help.
Pastor’s Mistake #3: Not being informed about the nature of abuse – Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Psychological Abuse as a priority in her ministry. Because it is a HUGE issue everywhere, Church and non-church. TO IGNORE OR BE IGNORANT OF ABUSE IS TO IGNORE THE GREAT COMMISSION! And the effects of abuse on society, on FAITH, on children, wives, and even church membership. It is HORRIFYING that this issue takes the back seat to the typical routine matters of Churchianity!
For the record: I did and do absolutely love this wonderful woman! She was a great positive influence in my life through her life, teachings, and ministry while I was in Nevada.
Please respond with scripture you would give to me to address the situation discussed? Would you admonish or encourage, or both?
Next Post: Pastor #2 and relevant scripture