Category Archives: Blaming the Victim

Peace to you.

            

 

Peace.

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I wish you peace, not just for the holidays. Not the peace of religion, but the peace of faith.

What I wish for you is awareness of the PROCESS that is the life and faith of you and others. I wish you both comfort and growth, knowing that they are not often simultaneous, but can be.

May we all hear past the memes, ads, and rants to the heartbeat of every other – which is essentially one life shared here and now.  May we speak words that enlighten and connect so that understanding will make our dwelling together easier as we share our time on this global patch.  May we listen beyond anger and hard words to the underlying fear expressed there, then answer that fear with compassion. May we guard our own hearts, without guilt, but with increasing wisdom, from those who don’t understand and so believe they prevent fear by creating fear.

May we see past the glitter and lights to see people as individual treasures, not stereotypes or cultural caricatures. May we see that this world does not define us…we are already part of Someone much greater and already nestled in eternity, and we define ourselves within that greater belonging.

May we begin to end violence by ending it toward and within ourselves. Then in all thoughts and words. In all responses to others. In all of our wishes and prayers.

I love you. I just do.

Happy Holidays.

Peace.

 

#Why I Stayed

A domestic violence advocate told me that the entire month of October, which is dedicated not only to Breast Cancer awareness, but also Domestic Violence awareness, should be spent explaining the answer to THE MOST COMMON QUESTION: “Why does she stay?”

The answers to that are as varied as snowflakes or grains of sand, and as plentiful, because there are so many reasons and so MUCH abuse, on all levels, that is either ignored or fully sanctioned by our society. The answers are important. Please look into #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. There is also a #WhyIAbuse, but I have seen no comments from abusers there.

I know many women who left, and a few who stayed. Hindsight is not 20/20 even though we hear the phrase. We have no idea what trajectory a life would take given alternate choices. So my question to myself: “Did I do the right thing, to stay….then to leave?”

My youngest daughter tells me that she remembers the anger in the air, but didn’t know what it was from. It has cost them. But would it have been better if it was out in the open, with open fighting (there was plenty of that, too). Would it have been better if I left, and they lived a dual life? Would it have been better if they had to cope with him alone? No way to know.

This is why I stayed:

#fear – of losing my kids, hurting my kids, creating greater instability for my kids, being financially unable to care for them, leaving them alone with their dad when he was “weird,” disappointing God, doing the wrong thing and regretting it

#hope #love  #faithfulness #long-suffering #denial #naiveté

Ephesians 5:21-33 (and many others)

This is why I left:

#fear – of losing my mind, taking my own life, wasting my life, failing my kids, not being there for my kids, God’s silence, suffering, desertion, ruin, being a fool.

#hope #love #faithfulness #wisdom #courage

Ephesians 5:1-7 (and many others)

For some who left, it was fairly clean and decisive, however traumatic. Many others have been re-abused and further abused by ex-spouse, court system, families, and faith communities. They are enduring things I think may have crushed me. I had it good, very good! When I hear their stories I recognize my greatest fears in staying AND leaving. For very few who stayed, there has been improvement and a decent to good relationship.

I think the word is out for those who care to listen: it is hard to stay – it is hard to leave – it is hard to be abused.

I think the word is out also that a hugely neglected issue is #WhyIAbuse.  Abusers don’t respond because they don’t believe they are abusive, are ashamed they are abusive, want to be secretly abusive, or don’t care because it doesn’t apply to them. True, but incomplete.

I have too many questions to list them all in one post. But here are my top three:

If so many men, women and children are victimized, predominantly by men, as a worldwide proven phenomena, why are we still so essentially impotent in addressing men who do violence – instead accepting male violence as normal, normative…you know, just the way it is? #WhyViolence

Best estimates of multiple studies indicate that around 25% of women are assaulted or abused, and that children privy to that violence are also affected, and that abuse by males is the single most significant health concern of women as a whole, worldwide, and that it is…you know, just the way it is. If that is the way it is, and has been, the misplaced responsibility a reality – why don’t all women take self-defense classes, promote one another financially, carry protective weapons, remove the status-builder of feminine companionship from men who are not respectful, teach each other the signs of abuse, and talk and act to strengthen and protect one another? Yes, I know this is almost like blaming the victim. I still want to know this, because I want to know how women can make each other stronger until abuse stops and we don’t need to anymore, how MEN and WOMEN can make each other stronger, period. #GotYourBack

I look at e-mails, Facebook and Twitter posts, “news” articles, memes and advertisements. What I see is a lot of persuasion without honesty, investigation or conscience. From people I otherwise respect very much I see promotion of dramatic half-truths or untruths that are hard to verify, but meanwhile polarize not clarify. POLARIZE NOT CLARIFY. (Men abuse…well, women abuse too…my statistics…your statistics…and it’s all the president’s fault…ya know?). Why are we so eager to choose sides at the expense of honesty that could yield solutions? That is grass-roots, bottom of the barrel, sneaky, subtle terrorism.  #GetReal

We share this world at this time. We are in this together. There is a lot of violence here. Does it now seem appropriate to ask, “Why do we stay?”

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I invite you to also visit:

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This Year’s Topic:
After decades of “awareness”, why is violence against women still so common?
We’re discussing what’s at the core of
A Culture of Contempt

 

 

Peter’s Famous Quotes

“Can you fix it?” (A shirt ripped to shreds during drunken brawl with friends)

“I guess I’d better carry the checkbook.” (I told him that I wouldn’t bail him out if he got a DUI).

“Poor wacked out thing, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

“I don’t recall that.”

“What good are you if you can’t have babies?” (I felt it was best to have no more children).

“You’re a cold, calculating, conniving bitch.” (?????)

“You never address my concerns.” (An excuse to not address my concerns)

“Maybe Mommy will reconsider.” (When I backed up HIS parental rules)

“It’s just stress – don’t spend money on a doctor.” (Half my face was paralyzed)

“If you want to be depressed, OK. But it doesn’t have anything to do with me, my drinking, or the girls. And don’t spend too much money on it.”

“There is no place in our family for anger.” (A 90-minute bedtime lecture, one of many)

“You’re being ‘No-Fun Diane.'”

“Why do you make up things to be mad about?” (Previous Post: The Day I Figured It Out)

“I rate our marriage a 9.5 on a scale of 10. How can you say it’s a 4?”

“I’m the best engineer they ever saw.”

“I’m the best cook ever.”

“I’m the perfect father and  husband.”

“There’s nothing wrong with a couple of beers after work.”

“Even Pastor J*** says there is nothing wrong with a few beers before church.”

“Your calling the cops on me makes you really hot.”

“I prayed for renewed love for my wife, and He has given me such a love for my wife!” (In context, do you believe him? How about if he said this during counseling?)

“God has given me the grace to drink socially.”

“Simple, yet brilliant. I paid for it, I can piss on it.” (Regarding urinating in inappropriate places)

“You’re such a hypocrite.”

“I saved you from being a spinster.”

“You just have PMS.”

“You’re a f***ing a***ole bitch, you know that?”

“I’d like to smash your face in.”

“I love you.”

“God has given me such a love for my wife.”

“Let’s teach Children’s Church together!”

****

Now stop. Close your eyes and for a few minutes BE the spouse of the speaker above. Step into shoes, skin and role. 

What would YOU hear as truth?  At first….then later?

On what would YOU base a marital relationship? Which statements would you trust to define WHO you are married to? Which parts would you dismiss as just a bad mood?

How would you FEEL? How would it change the way you think about planning for the future? Having children?! Taking on a mortgage together, or building a business.

Would you look at it as bad behavior, done by choice? Or would you see mental illness or self-esteem issues, done without total volition? How would that change your response? Would you consider leaving (and leave children in his custody, at least part-time?)? Or decide you are one flesh and it isn’t an option?

Welcome to the first episode of the Domestic Violence marathon reality show called “What Am I Dealing with Today (month, year, decade) – And How Do I Respond?”

OK, put yourself in your own shoes again.

What would you believe if Christian friend related this to you? Perhaps a wife who seems to have a great guy for a husband? Or from a wife in couples counseling, when hubby has a perfectly good explanation?

How about a non-Christian friend? Would scriptural admonitions matter? Would you be more likely to believe that a non-Christian would act like this? Would you be more or less likely to suggest prayer, submission, waiting, obeying authority, etc.?

How about your sister or daughter? How would her story sound to you? What would you say? Would you support her in some way? How?

No physical abuse here, but this IS abuse. Even the love, taken in context. It doesn’t cause bruises, but it does create scars:

Permanent…etched in DNA, cellular functions, memory, physical reactions to stress, trust, faith, children who carry it to the next generation. There is recovery, just as after a serious injury there can be recovery, but a limp may remain. 

How much of a limp depends a lot on the treatment given at the “hospital.” Hearing me?

Here are some places to start, if you want to learn more:

Violence in Families — What Every Christian Needs to Know, by Reverend Al Miles

Domestic Violence — What Every Pastor Needs to Know, by Reverend Al Miles

The Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Blessings,

Diane

Join me at “Ending the Silence…?”   

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Ending the Silence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Color is Purple

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I am honored to be included with a number of wonderful authors on the website:

 Ending The Silence.

I invite you to visit the site for my articles and those of Lundy Bancroft, Melodie Ramone, Catherine Givans, Sherry Rentschler, P.J. LaRue, Vanessa A Ryan, Stephanie Neighbour, and Jenna Brooks (who is site originator, organizer and administrator), with individual site links and comment and contact opportunities. Each lends a valuable perspective to the diverse issues of Domestic Violence.

Throughout the month of October, Jenna will also be featuring Stories In the News, helpful information, and a Survey with results to be collected during the month, and write-in survivor’s stories.

I will be trying to post more often, on both sites. And I encourage you to take in the wealth of insight and information that will be available on all fronts during the month, not only web-based, but in communities. Check your local newspapers for articles, web-browse where services are located in your area and what they do. 

There is a HUGE need in churches, who preach compassion, to learn HOW to apply that to DV. 

I hear the salutation, “Love in Christ.”  And think of the motto, “Be Prepared.”  

This month is an easy opportunity to do both.

Blessings, Diane

Covenant Abuse – by Joseph Pote

Joe Pote is a fellow blogger (Redeemed!) and author of the book: So You are a Believer Who has been through Divorce.

With Joe’s permission, I have included the link to his excellent post about domestic violence in marriage, from his blog “Redeemed!” I REALLY hope you read it. In fact, skip my posts for the rest of the month if it will give you time to read his!! 🙂 Watch the video, read the post, and all of the comments.

http://josephjpote.com/2012/10/covenant-abuse/#comment-3522

I read his book. I wish I had read it before my divorce. I wish ALL of the churches I had attended had read this book! I’m probably more suspicious than many about scriptural interpretation, but I found new and credible perspective, expressed with balance and wisdom.

FrontCover

Click photo for more information.

“Emily” and I talked about changing public opinion in my post “Why I Squawk” (http://wp.me/p2GxIs-58) I guess I still see such potential for change change coming through knowledge, empathy, and commitment .. passed on one to one. So please talk, squawk, teach, encourage, admonish with the information you glean. Pass the word, so you may help spare another abused spouse from being abused a second time by incorrect and defeating scripture. So they don’t have to “Run The Gauntlet” (http://wp.me/P2GxIs-2) but instead grow in faith and hope.

Thanks!

The Day I Figured It Out (contains obscenity, possible trigger)

 

Abby and Emily looked like this at the time of this story.

Abby and Emily looked like this at the time of this story.

“Peter” strode into the kitchen, cornered me and announced: “You’re a fucking asshole bitch, you know that? ” He raised his hand to squeeze and rotate my face, then neatly stepped beside me and kicked me in the butt.

Abby and Emily were happily coloring at the table, several feet away. All was happy, peaceful.

My counselor had told me to use “I feel” statements. So, I said, “I feel bad when you do that. I want you to stop.”

He sneered, repeated “You’re a fucking asshole bitch,” squeezed my face, and kicked me in the butt.

I said, “I want you to stop doing that.”

He sneered, repeated “You’re a fucking asshole bitch, ” squeezed my face, and kicked me in the butt.

I said, “You know, when you act like this, you put me in a really difficult position.”

“Oh, yeah…how’s that?” he mocked.

“Yeah.” I said. “If I allow you to treat me like this, then I teach those little girls at the table to buy into the same thing for their marriages. If I divorce you to make you stop, then they are trashed by divorce.”

He didn’t say a word, but seemed to tire of the game, and left the kitchen.

The girls happily colored and chatted at the table, oblivious.

OUT OF THE BLUE. I hadn’t done anything “wrong,” there was no prelude or issue. I suddenly understood something.  I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING. THIS HAD TO DO WITH HIM, NOT ME.  He wasn’t being picky, he was being ABUSIVE. For five years it had been eggs overdone or underdone, toast overdone or underdone, shirts not hung correctly, using the wrong word, wrong tone of voice, wrong route on the road, sausage overdone or underdone or “consolidated.” This time….it was nothing. Just because he felt like it.

A note on denial and crazy-making: I waited a couple of days, until Peter had changed back into Dr. Jekyl, and asked him about the incident. He didn’t know what I was talking about! I described in detail what he did and said. He looked at me as though I was insane, and said, “Why do you keep making up things to get mad about?”  I never knew whether he really didn’t remember, or if he was just not copping.

Over the years, he has told me how cruel I was to control him with threats of divorce (four times over 19 years – this was the second).

Now, I wonder what is going through your mind as you read.

My first guess is that you are confused about why I didn’t walk out of the kitchen, but stood there and “took it.” (He was blocking my way – it would have required a shove or physical body block to get out – which could provide an excuse for physical violence – escalate).

You wonder why I didn’t just INSIST he stop. (Because I knew that raising my voice or using what he called a “pointed tone of voice” would make him ANGRY and loud – escalate – and alert the girls of the ugliness in front of them).

You may wonder why I had seen a counselor alone. (Because, for him, it was MY problem. I guess, for me, it was my problem, too. I had to learn to cope better, because I was sinking).

Or why I hadn’t left long ago. (Didn’t want the court system to give him unsupervised partial custody, or for him to be more angry and with partial custody, hope for healing and that the “real and nice” Dr. Jekyl version of Peter would come to stay, honoring and fearing God as I understood Him, love for kids and him, no way to prove his actions, eroded confidence, financial inferiority, no one else seeing the problem – and more).

Or what did I do that might have provoked him? (ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, or heck if I know).

If so, you are responding typically, by focusing on WHY THE VICTIM STAYS. Which is just a gentler way of blaming the victim. Which maintains the status quo in public opinion about domestic abuse.

Did you also wonder:

What motivates him to abuse?

What would stop him from doing that?

What is his brokenness that needs to be healed, and how can that be done?

What can she do to protect herself and her kids?

What would she need for proof in a court of law?

How are his actions affecting the kids?

What recourse does she have?

How can he be held accountable?

How can I strengthen her and widen her options?

If you were wondering these things, you are FOCUSING ON THE ABUSER ALSO, which is right. And on stopping the abuse. And on practical, proactive steps to empower the woman/children to greater safety and health. And you are one person who can nudge public opinion in the right direction.

This doesn’t seem like such a hard change in perspective, once it has been explained. A Christian, however, may experience some conflict with scripture as he/she understands it, and some challenge from other Christians for focusing on the types of questions above, rather than more scriptural options.

Such as:

Wives and submission (the Bible tells me so)

No divorce (only half of the verse….)

Causing him to commit adultery (a man has needs)

Causing him to stumble (poor guy)

Not acting in faith (God is saying yes, no, or wait….wait for it…..wait for it)

Giving way to fear (God won’t be pleased)

God’s ways are not our ways (so don’t think for yourself)

God won’t test you beyond what you can bear (so you must be able to bear it)

Etc.

Not everyone expressed these views. They were just out there….for consideration and confusion.

So….. I figured out it was abuse. But I still didn’t know what I was allowed to do about it. As a Christian wife, that is.

Round Two with “The Hammer.”

I “Ran the Gauntlet.” I am no longer RUNNING the gauntlet. I can choose. I took hits leaving two jobs because I chose not to deal with abuse. I don’t have the resiliency. Just like accommodating a gimpy knee or weak back, I accept and work with what I’ve got. In time I hope to be stronger; this IS the real world.  But NOW, I experience out of proportion anxiety and confusion when I encounter: yelling, forceful in my face YOU statements,  chronic interruptions, too much too fast (of anything), noise, clamor, intensity, meanness, lying, drama games, rigid dogmatism, entitlement, arrogance, forcing, shallow character judgments.

May I tell you about my friend?

We’ve been close friends for 15 years, through my divorce and her 3-year separation. Through times of mutual devout faith, and times when her faith continued and mine waned. Through my anger at God and her defense of Him. We’ve laughed a lot and been able to discuss anything. All the forbidden topics – politics, religion, relationships. We have made annual pilgrimages to hyperventilate over glitzy Christmas decorations and fabric.

I have known her to go half-cocked on some things – to easily embrace “facts” I didn’t see evidence for – and to be very confident of choices, changes, opinions she makes quickly and decisively. She is a hero, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, infidelity by a husband she adored, addiction, homelessness, domestic abuse. She was raped, conceived, and raised a beautiful daughterwho is now a missionary. She adopted and raised a child from another country. She was an actress and a businesswoman. She has re-started with class over and over. She believes God  speaks to her often, clearly, and that He is preparing her for a great ministry. She believes she has the gift of discerning illness and healing. One of her favorite quotes is part of Job 13:15 – “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” I think we have seen each other’s flaws through rose-colored-glasses of friendship.

Until last week.

Last week she gave me this counsel: You are a USER, USING the people waiting on you (“No, I’m not”) Yes you are, a USER. Everyone is walking around the elephant in the kitchen, but no one is telling you the truth you need to hear (“what is that?”) You need to make a decision (“I’m trying but the stakes are too high to make a mistake”). You need to just do it, just make a decision. Do you fight with your husband? (“No.”) Go home and fight with your husband – he’s the most passive man I have ever known. (“No – I’ve controlled with anger in the past – it doesn’t work”). Then divorce him – you’re using him. (“He can make his own choices”) Blah, blah.

I went home stunned. I felt hammered, cornered, like a failure, more immobilized, anxious, afraid. I looked at my bottle of Lorazepam (recently prescribed – I’ve only taken 1 1/2 tabs in the month since then). I looked at the WHOLE bottle, and thought of the frozen lake a few miles away. How it would be a relatively tidy way to make a decision. (Sorry, really dark). I took one tab and went to bed.

Since then I have gone from utterly fried to surprisingly calm. Like something burned out and clean. I’m not angry, not shocked, not hurt, not even sad. Shut off like a faucet.

I talked again with my friend, The Hammer.

I wondered if she would have anything to say about her proclamations to me the week before. Nope. Small talk.

So I brought it up.

Me: The way you talked to me the other day – I don’t want to do that again. (Friend: OK) I reminded her of how she felt before her separation – totaled by depression, unable to think or sleep, feeling overwhelmed and trapped and on-the-edge, and under condemnation from her spouse and church. (Yes.) Do you think maybe I am feeling similarly? (I think you need to make a decision.) This feels like the same energy as pushers/abusers Peter and C***, and V****.  ([Silence with authoritative stare]) Do you think your counsel to me was Godly? (Yes! My pastoral studies teach that….blah, blah, blah, blah.) You believe that telling me to go home and fight with my husband is Godly counsel? (Yes.) Do you think you were telling me the truth with love? (Yes! Jesus says he came not into the world to bring peace, but division [paraphrase from Luke 12:49]  ….and I think you have PTSD, your emotions are all over the place, you have no control of it….). I think so, too, maybe. Do you know anything about PTSD? (No.) Do you think the way you pressured me is the way to help someone who is dealing with PTSD? (Yes.). So you don’t know anything about it, but you think you know how to address it? (Yes.). Anything else? (Everyone is walking around the elephant in the kitchen, and I am the only one who loves you enough to tell you the truth. Enough to risk our friendship for it!). I see. You know, I believe I’m done here.

“OK.” she said. (Direct gaze, firm chin, head high) I left her house with her calling out “You are walking away from the one person who loves you more than anyone else in the world!”

How weird is that? Yep, studying to be a pastor. In my book, those are the same old “gauntlet” weapons: pride, ignorance, entitlement, scripture, and verbal assault – and tolerating that #&% is not in my best interest. No resolution with calm communication. No openness.  Just hammer away with the Word of God in a spirit of righteous entitlement. Been there done that. Motivation is irrelevant. History is irrelevant. Her integrity is irrelevant. Giving the benefit of the doubt works both ways. It’s OK. Not my deal. Shut off like a faucet. I don’t hate her, don’t judge her, don’t even feel sad, just know this is too toxic. Acceptance. EXIT in peace.

And I AM more peaceful. I have my own decisions to make, in my own time, as I am able. Between God/ the universe and me.  I will honor others needs, AND mine. Without guilt and forcing. Without pushy, strident voices. I will do the best I can, listen to my heart, my conscience, and God, the best I can. I choose to neither control nor be controlled. To neither judge nor be judged. Health. No more gauntlets. I CAN CHOOSE!:

Galatians 22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Life looks beautiful today! Blessings and Peace!

Hammer or Helper – Knowing That We Don’t Know It All

I was hammered this week by a very good Christian friend as I attempt to make decisions that are fracturing me and torturing others as they wait on me. So the post by T.K. Coleman on his blog, “Tough-Minded Optimism”  (re-blogged on my post,  Nov. 20) really resonates, but in the context of how we understand and advise others.  My friend delivered her pronouncements and judgments from the passenger seat of my car as though she was Moses standing on the mountain with stone tablets in his hands. She heaved those tablets right at me.

She was trying to force a decision, get me off the fence, give me a kick in the pants. But it felt more like being bludgeoned further into a corner with a big stick. She wants to see me relieved of my painful inner conflict, because she cares about me.  But probably, even MORE, she wants to be relieved of the pain SHE feels by seeing my pain. Way MORE than she wants to integrate the complexity of my decision, to hear my heart and good intentions. It is easier for her to see it simply, judge me, and be more comfortable. (This is also relates to why people blame the victim – to relieve “cognitive dissonance.”).  She feels justified, self-righteous, loving, and helpful.

A quote from T.K.’s post:

What is left out of the above analysis, however, is the plethora of other factors that can constitute difficulty or ease for a person.

We have not yet discussed their childhood or their past traumas. We have not yet discussed their quality of education. We have not yet discussed differences in gender, ethnicity, or physical appearance and the advantages or disadvantages that come along with those. We have not yet discussed any addictions, allergies, or other ailments that may complicate life for them. We have not yet discussed the quality of their relationships with family. We have not yet discussed their support networks of friends and colleagues. We have not yet discussed their fears, insecurities, and personal weakness. We have not yet discussed their ability to process their emotions and cope with everyday stress. We have not yet discussed their personal philosophies and the burdens or benefits that accompany their worldviews.

We have not yet discussed many of the very things that could completely alter our perception of who is and who isn’t suffering.

Do we NEED to discuss those things? I hope not.

I hope that we can be skeptical enough to subject our assumptions to rigorous scrutiny whenever we feel inclined to put ourselves on a pedestal that elevates our hardships above the hardships of others.

Bravo!

When my children and I were being abused by our Christian husband/father, several people counseled me to stay, based on limited information and their own life perspectives. They didn’t understand, but they felt qualified to judge. My friend, the hammer, once went through a period when she had to leave abuse from her Christian husband for a time. She received similar counsel – strongly – from both camps. She was sinning to leave; she was a fool to go home. She once expressed gratitude that I had supported her during that period by being steady and non-judgmental. I understood her dilemma (somewhat, as I was in kind of the same situation, sort of), accepted what she needed to do (valued her and her health), and didn’t act mean to her spouse (stood with with her against abuse but respected the person). I wish everyone, everywhere, and IN EVERY CHURCH, would frame the quote above, re-read it often, and consider all those issues with prayer before speaking.

I admit it. I’m guilty. I’ve put myself on the judge’s pedestal. I’m framing that quote. Really.

Consider this if you are “supporting” a woman in an abusive situation:

Encourage her by –

  • listening for understanding – and trying to really HEAR her
  • identifying abuse as abuse
  • backing her with practical helps (financial aid or sources, lodging, legal, counseling, etc.)
  • sharing your belief in her strength and good intentions
  • sharing your confidence in her happier future
  • thinking through pros, cons, and alternatives with her
  • being patient – she is under crazy-making stress
  • keeping her company and doing normal, fun things
  • trying to provide her with TOOLS and STRENGTH to enable her to make HER decisions
  • respecting that she will make the best decisions she can with the resources she has

Do not assume that she is wired the way you are. Do not coerce, badger, or insult to force her to decide what she is just not able to decide yet. By doing so, you abuse her further and, in-effect, assert that it is her job to make YOU comfortable with her choice and timing.

If her struggle is too painful for you, help her connect with others who have the resources YOU don’t have – take care of both of you. Don’t guilt her, and don’t guilt yourself.  You can’t fix it.  You are a small piece of a long process. She needs your peace and steadiness, not your control.

How much kinder our world would be if we would know that we don’t know it all, and maintain respectful humility as we interact with others, especially when we are in a position to impact their lives with our judgments and advice!

For consideration:

Rom 14:13  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Matt 23:23-24 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.

If I missed something here, feel free to comment. I would love to hear what you have to add.

I love the humanity in T.K.’s post! He is looking at how we compare suffering. But I see his wonderful list of variables as a way to question any assessment of others, especially those we try to “help.” Wisdom, discernment, accountability. Terms tossed around but often not applied in the heat of the moment when advice is being given. How much kinder our world would be if we would know that we don’t know it all, and maintain respectful humility as we interact with others, especially when we are in a position to impact their lives with our judgments and advice! 

T.K. Coleman's Blog

Upon what basis can we say that one person has it easier than another?

Typically, such claims arise out of an observation in which, relative to some specific issue, one individual or group of individuals is seen to encounter less challenges than others.

For instance, a person who owns a car would appear to have an easier time getting around than a person whose options are limited to walking. It seems to be not only self-evident that the former has an easier time than the latter, but it would also seem outright cruel to deny that fact.

What is left out of the above analysis, however, is the plethora of other factors that can constitute difficulty or ease for a person.

We have not yet discussed their childhood or their past traumas. We have not yet discussed their quality of education. We have not yet discussed differences in gender, ethnicity…

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Seeking Help from Pastors # 6 – Pastor 6 of 6

Pastor # 6 – South Dakota

PASTOR F IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT CHRISTIAN LOVE, RIGHTLY APPLIED, MEANS.

Peter took a business trip. When he returned,  he liked country music instead of rock music. He said God had suddenly given him such a great love for his wife that he required marital intimacy at least twice a day, and cried crocodile tears when I told him that when he yelled and badgered me he might as well be bashing my head against the wall. Model, loving behavior, except that my sleep and, shall we say…my physical limitations, with respect to his new-found love for me, was, well, irrelevant in the face of his new-found “love” for me. Model behavior disappeared when I got sick and couldn’t or wouldn’t, shall we say….keep up with him.

A few months later, a good friend passed on anonymous information from friends of hers (“that she would trust her kids to”) that they had seen him with a prostitute (time and place omitted), and were concerned for my health. (I paid hundreds of dollars to be tested for every disease under the sun – nada….all is well). Anonymous rumor? Lovely.  I asked him. Of course, he acted horrified that anyone would tell such lies about him. I looked for documentation, but never found it. His best friend claimed to know nothing, admitted that he probably wouldn’t tell me if he did – but suggested I have said testing. He had Peter’s back, I guess.  How noble.

Very soon after that, Peter had a serious “reaction to a drug for gout” that resulted in the weirdest behavior I had seen yet. We were out of town, and he was so far into the twilight zone (publicly, embarrassingly) that I snuck away and called the hospital to ask about his symptoms given the medication he was taking. They said bring him in. I tried. He got out of the car.  Scared (this time for him), I called the police for assistance. Long story shortened, the police officer thought he was on meth, the ER doctor said he was agitated and uncooperative and wouldn’t give a urine sample and that if he was having this type of reaction to that drug, he had some serious psychiatric issues. I said we had been for counseling many times. The M.D. said, “YOU AREN’T UNDERSTANDING ME. THIS IS NOT A YOU AND HIM PROBLEM. IT IS A HIM PROBLEM. AND GUYS LIKE THIS WON’T GET HELP.” Some wake up call!  Peter berated me for calling the police. Not one bit of concern that it was his behavior that scared me, or that I was scared for him, or that something should be addressed. Just blame, shame, blame, shame. And anger. I asked him if he was using drugs. He said no. I asked if he would tell me if he was. He said no. Where do you go with that?

I really – really wanted to die, and I wasn’t sure God wouldn’t just let me do it while He stayed silent. I was trapped and exhausted. It was time to act, right or wrong. The girls were 18 and 15 – old enough to have some means of control of their circumstances when with him. I knew I couldn’t be the buffer, or do it this way anymore. So, I told him I had to divorce, or I would die. He cried, but had nothing else to offer. In his mind, he had tried everything, but he just couldn’t please me.

And I began the broken record speech I gave him over and over for the next couple of months: “I love you. I want to be with you. I am not looking for anyone else. I don’t want anyone else. But you have issues you need to get help for, and if you won’t deal with them, I have to go.” His broken record speeches consisted of strategies for maintaining the status quo, and the statement that “I just need a woman who loves me.”

I prayed for restitution. For this course of action to motivate him to get help (Chuck Swindoll’s “isolation with restitution” concept). In a KIND of faith, I had taken a tough stand and prayed that it was what God would use to produce a healed marriage. Through and after the divorce I prayed this (even after I found out that he had replaced me before I was gone; I stopped praying after his honey moved in, and was going to get married).

The night before our divorce was to be finalized, I was so distressed that I called Pastor F (which stands for FULFILLING THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS – LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR !). Pastor F was a regional youth pastor/director, from another town, who I didn’t know well, but he was acquainted with Peter and me through Bible Quiz for youth, in which our family was involved. I told him my story very briefly.

He had seen us. 

HE COULD TELL WHEN A WOMAN AND KIDS WERE WALKING ON EGGSHELLS!

That something WAS  going on.

That I was taking the right course to make a stand.

My RELIEF was not because he supported my course of action or thinking. IT WAS BECAUSE HE COULD SEE!

HE COULD SEE THE PROBLEM.

HE COULD SEE ME!

AND HE HAD THE GUTS TO SAY SO!!!!

HE SPOKE THE TRUTH IN LOVE.

HE DID NOT ADVISE ME WITH LIMITED INFORMATION.

HE LISTENED.

HE HAD THE COURAGE TO HEAR.

HE DIDN’T “FIX” IT – HE LIFTED MY BURDEN JUST A LITTLE – AND STRENGTHENED ME.

HE WAS AWARE, AND SPOKE THE TRUTH OF WHAT HE HAD SEEN FOR HIMSELF.

HE BELIEVED ME.

HE GAVE THE BENEFIT OF HIS LIFE EXPERIENCE BUT DIDN’T GO DEEPER THAN A PHONE CALL WARRANTED.

HE WENT BEYOND THE HYPE, DOGMA AND DOCTRINE, TO SPEAK WHAT IT REALLY WAS, NOT WHAT WE ALL WISHED IT WAS.

HE DIDN’T PATRONIZE ME BY QUOTING SCRIPTURE I ALREADY KNEW, OR TAKING A NOBLE PASTORLY STANCE.

HE SPOKE TO PROTECT  ME AND THE GIRLS,  RATHER THAN GUARDING CHURCH DIVORCE STATISTICS OR DOCTRINE.

We haven’t had contact since then. It was as though he ministered to me by giving me a cup of cold water, and kept on walking….in the footsteps of Jesus.

Matthew 22: 39-40  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

James 13:17-18  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

As I write this, I feel such gratitude, for Pastor F and others whose care, ideas and words give strength rather than condemnation, limitation, fear.  And yes, faithless one that I am, I thank God for them.

I hope you will pass this on to pastors you know, even though it is uncomfortably revealing (for ME especially – I almost couldn’t post it), because maybe they will be encouraged by Pastor F to act as wisely and courageously when it is their turn to offer such counsel.

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