Category Archives: Seeking Help from Pastors

Oh, Lord I Need Thee…Your Answer, Christian?

A Christian…drawn back to God by an enormous sacrifice and gift, through no action of their own, dead to law, with the mind of Christ, seeking discernment, filled with love and gratitude, who prays like this:

  Sam Robson

Answer this: Can such a Christian answer the woman (your daughter, sister, mother, neighbor) below with lectures, law, and theory? IS IT POSSIBLE?

Below are a few of HUNDREDS of videos addressing wives behavior toward husbands, quickly selected during a full afternoon of viewing. There were a number addressing husbands behavior to wives, too (not as many, none by women). I claim no responsibility for context within each speaker’s total perspective because a victim listening will most likely hear each talk on it’s own, as I did. Nor do I convey support for any ministry – take these videos as they are. If these speakers wish to include the 25% of their congregations/listeners who are abuse victims, they will have to explain how their assertions differ in the context of various types of  abuse.


 (The following were hard to find – if you know of any Christian videos talking safety and God’s love, please let me know – I want to start a collection).

These are better:

Christian? What did Jesus rescue the Christian from?

Got Grace? Please pay it forward.



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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



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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.

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.


Click photo for more information.

“Emily” and I talked about changing public opinion in my post “Why I Squawk” ( 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” ( but instead grow in faith and hope.


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!


Yesterday I posted about mental illness, sin, and abuse. I said I am experiencing greater compassion and forgiveness. I am.  I have periods of peace, IF I have low stress and plenty of time to myself.

I also have, to varying degrees at different times, a shock sensation in the middle of my chest, fear of failure-the future-making a wrong choice-regret-hurting others-making mistakes-not coping,  memory problems, sleep problems, rapid-fire thinking, feeling like I’m living on the perimeter of what is supposed to be my own life, bursts of anger when stressed (especially at myself for not coping as I think I should), long-term utter block about making some huge decisions, near panic that I have to get moving paired with total stall about steps to make anything happen, because that circles back to the HUGE decisions, suicidal thoughts (rare, I get through them, hope, don’t want to hurt those who love me).  Run-on sentence.  Run-on experience.

12 years in a  paragraph: It was better for a time after I divorced. I was moving on with life, re-educated for better pay (M.S. Soil Science), married a great, calm, loving man. Then I encountered workplace abuse, repeatedly.  Really.  (This is embarrassing: do I have a “please torque me around” tattoo on my forehead?)  I tried to see it through – then resigned. I tried to see it through again – then resigned. Tough for a while. A lot of anger. Better again, working at a couple of low-responsibility jobs with few other demands. Better yet after eliminating food sensitivities, and with hormone support and stress reduction to improve my screwy adrenal pathways that divert to produce cortisol rather than progesterone (hence, anxiety and sleep problems). The adrenal issue is, apparently, a possible byproduct of (drum roll) long-term stress. Happily and comfortably off antidepressants after 23 years. Now, my wonderful 90 year-old parents need help and change but can’t quite get around their deeply ingrained collecting and habits – 1700 miles away. I’m just back from 2 1/2 months with them. No quick fix there.

I live in a small town, and have talked to the local counselors and psychiatrist, (who has almost flippantly said that I might be bipolar, or obsessive compulsive, or that depression may have just burned out brain cells that aren’t coming back – as he writes out another, different, prescription). In counseling, I heard a lot of, “well, what do YOU think?”

Overwhelming? Not compared to what many of my blogger friends deal with. Maybe quite manageable for most people. Even to me, it sounds like a soap opera. Sounds like high drama.  Sounds like excuses. Waah, waah. Time to get off my pity pot? No one can do it but me. So, in the absence of a voice from heaven, or real insight from counselors, friends and clergy (a couple of lovely bloggers excluded), I am troubleshooting it myself. I want to be stable, wise, calm, clear, faithful, peaceful, responsible, steady, trusting, decisive (about anything!!!), resilient, FAITHFUL – but I’m not. Could this be the after-effect of 20 years of “running the gauntlet?” Or is it just me? Hey, God, what do you suggest?

So I have recovery to do. The abuse is in the past. Now I live with the ME that is left picking around in the debris of my emotional health.  The me who has some big decisions to make that will affect the rest of my life, my dear husband’s life, and my parents’ lives. Now it is ME who fears coming unglued and being vilified and ostracized, who expects those I love to decide I am just too heavy to be around (and would be almost relieved if they did – then I wouldn’t have to take their needs into consideration, too).

Self diagnosing….I wonder if it might be the constriction characteristics of complex PTSD. Not full-blown. No flashbacks, or anxiety attacks. Definitely triggers. I’m looking into getting different professional help. Try, try again, I guess. I never before thought it could be PTSD, because I haven’t had a life-threatening trauma…just lifeSTYLE-threatening, SANITY threatening, long-term HELPLESS-feeling trauma. Some family members may see me as a lazy hypochondriac. Oh, well.  Can’t do much about their opinions, if they even have them. My husband doesn’t “get” this, so he patiently and passively waits on me to figure it out. My closest friends are devout Christians. They have their own ideas. Tremendous love and support, but this is my baby.

Often lately I am able to relax,  to “hear” God, or myself, or the universe….in any case… to feel calm, loving, hopeful, strong-enough, get to the core of the issues without freezing again. Able to bask in forgiveness and let my heart out of its tight little cage. To quiet my mind, and open myself to faith, in whatever I am able to believe. I nurture that most protectively. It feels like the beginnings of real healing.

This is what helps – A LOT:

  • Bloggers who encourage and empower with their stories, prayers, courage.
  • Gratitude, and lots of time alone and peaceful.
  • Meditation, prayer, massive journaling (and blogging).
  • Visualizations of spiritual protection and barriers against bad energy, soul ties, or spiritual strongholds, for lack of better terms.
  • Writing and speaking affirmations of progress, faith, hope, self-encouragement.
  • No Bible advice (book or human) – too misused, too confusing – staying open, asking questions, but not willing to juggle jots and tittles or commit to blind obedience.
  • Physical care: good nutrition, avoiding food sensitivities, avoiding blood sugar spikes, exercise, rest.
  • Complete start-over with God/universe – no expectations, but being wide open to a more positive paradigm than via churchianity. Being still enough to “hear” and maybe see the Person beyond the hype.
  • Some very good books with really relevant information.

This is a long, odd post. I know. Makes me feel very vulnerable. But there is a purpose. How do other people know what it feels like if no one talks? How do people support someone when they HAVE NO CLUE? Other bloggers have blessed me with their honesty. My turn, I hope.

At this point, enter from right stage, my friend “THE HAMMER.”  (Tomorrow’s post)

Seeking Help from Pastors # 6 – Pastor 6 of 6

Pastor # 6 – South Dakota


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. 


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!















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.

Seeking Help from Pastors # 5 – Pastor 5 of 6

Pastor # 5 (and wife) – SOUTH DAKOTA

One more time.

OK.  I was freaked – again (still). Thinking separation/divorce – again.  We went to a pastor – again.

Pretty pastor E had a plan. We would meet with him and his pretty wife to do a Marriage Bible Study. This one is really good, he said. This will get to the heart of the problem, not just put a band-aid on it.

We did the meetings and the exercises over a course of many weeks/evenings.  Pastor and Mrs. E  made a point to remind us several times that they were doing this on their own time.  We felt apologetic for taking their family time, but didn’t want to disregard their desire to help or their method of doing so.  I don’t remember the content of the Bible Study – or the name. It was another workbooky thingy where you fill in the lines. Usual content; usual verses.

Usual result.

Give them credit. They tried. Really. So did I, sincerely.

I don’t understand why, when people who are praying for guidance to deal with a situation (here I refer to Pastor and Mrs. E), they can be so far from the mark. Again, what hinders prayer for wisdom?


 Take this poll: 

Seeking Help From Pastors # 3 – Pastor 3 of 6

Pastor #3 – COLORADO

You’ve heard the term Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde? From the book by Robert Louis Stevenson? When I hear the term, it usually refers to a person with strong personality/mood changes, like two different people, one kind (Jekyl), one cruel (Hyde). I married Dr. Jekyl.

I loved Peter. He was warm, funny, intelligent, wise, and positive. He had a past, but had earned my respect for the way he was making a good life, with focus and determination. Again, I loved him and I believed in his worth and goodness. The day after our wedding, I got a glimpse of Mr. Hyde, his evil twin. I met Mr. Hyde in person the day we returned from our honeymoon. Not uncommon; abusers often seem attentive and loving , to change abruptly shortly after a wedding. But I had never been exposed to this information.

So here we were, 10 years later, in a new state, in a new town. I hoped that it would be a new start. After years of never knowing when he would switch from Jekyl to Hyde, I hoped Dr. Jekyl would be back to stay.

Our first night there, Peter had a few beers and started to urinate in the closet. Not abusive intentionally, but still weird, disorienting, lonely, RIDICULOUS. It was an issue we had discussed before – but rather than admitting how sick it was, he made a joke out of it (which IS abusive). An intelligent, well esteemed, professional man, refusing to recognize the degree of weird this behavior showed. (Weird that didn’t usually show outside our family). I felt stunned, enraged, frustrated…..and also shut down, isolated.  Can’t figure out that set of emotions! I invoked the D word (divorce) for the third time in our marriage. (Funny thing, he was suddenly able to locate the bathroom after that.) That issue solved; no divorce.

During the next couple of years, it was the same old, same old.  Except that I was getting tired, losing my resiliency, and wondering (again, more) if God either didn’t hear my prayers or didn’t care. And still wondering how to deal with all of it for the best outcome. I prayed for guidance, wisdom, discernment, faith, help with my unbelief, healing for him, healing for me, protection for the girls, strength, or a whirlwind or telegram or still small voice to tell me His will.

Matt 7:7-11 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

I attended church, secular counseling, a codependency support group (awesome), Al-Anon, and took antidepressants. Eventually, when Peter was out hunting, I prayed for God to either heal him or “take him home.” I didn’t want him to come home. For a while I quit praying, because I was tired of flapping my jaws to a white ceiling. Of course, I started praying again, just like I always started hoping again in my marriage. Faith, hope and love.

The girls and I watched him fall down stairs, stagger, bully, and just be strange – alternating with being fun, wholesome, and affectionate. I forcefully took keys to drive home from “family outings,” playing the family police I didn’t want to be. He called me “no fun Diane.”I told him that if he didn’t stop drinking, I would leave. And, terrified and defeated, I contacted a divorce attorney.

Counseling, he said, so we trotted off to charming Pastor C, who had a plan. He would find a mentor for Peter, someone who could support him and hold him accountable. Peter was all for it. I was hopeful…again.

But…. IT NEVER HAPPENED…. again. Pastor C apparently forgot or had other things to attend to, because there was no more communication. I felt the moment was lost. Peter didn’t pursue it. Pastor C didn’t pursue it.

Why didn’t I pursue it? What had I ever, EVER said, that influenced what he did? What more could I say to the Pastor? Shame him into acting? Remind him? I felt powerless. I felt I needed higher power, higher authority, male influence to speak for me. Humiliatingly, embarrassingly sad in this “modern age,” but not UNUSUAL. Pretty common, in fact.

Peter pretended not to drink any more. (Years later, my father and brother told me he did drink, proudly, when he was with them.) His abusive style was pretty much the same. But he stopped falling down stairs, staggering, slurring, and urinating in strange places. I thought he had stopped drinking. Overall, it was an improvement. And I still wanted the girls to be safe and in as healthy an environment as possible given our reality. I didn’t want to keep them from their dad, especially Dr. Jekyl, but didn’t trust the courts to not allow unsupervised custody, which could leave them alone with their dad, Mr. Hyde. And I was still trying to walk by faith and not by sight, and not displease God. Just enough improvement. I didn’t divorce.

Pastor’s Mistake:   Existing? No…too harsh.  Just lack of follow through.

Prov  31:8-9  “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

As Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

For consideration:

Good article from Focus Ministries on Jekyl/Hyde Psychological Abuse, 1998:

Which verses  apply, and how?

1 Cor 5:11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an -idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

1 Cor 7:10-11 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

Prov  31:12  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

Seeking Help from Pastors #2 – Pastor 2 of 6

Seeking Help from Pastors #2

At 10 a.m on Saturday morning I watched Peter take a drink from his second glass of wine and recognized the “festive” attitude that meant he would be having more. He had decided to take the boat and go fishing on the Colorado River, with his little buddy, 2-year old Emily (who had a mild virus and fever).

How could I prevent him from taking Emily on his drunken trip without “creating” rage, resistance, retaliation? I was poised for the usual, though still unpredictable, battle of wits that would determine today’s outcome, the mood for the next weeks, and how open he would be to other concerns in the future. It was MY RESPONSIBILITY. Who else was there to BE responsible? I had kids to protect. I was tense and focused. I wanted a peaceful Saturday with my family, and knew that wasn’t going to happen today, but was the ONLY ONE who had any way to minimize the intensity, IF I handled it very, very wisely.  If I had the right tone, right words, right logic, the right…..whatever.

I doubt I prayed right then; I don’t remember. But I was prayed up for sure – on my knees, on my face, and even curled up in the recliner trying to imagine I was sitting in my Father’s lap, or beside Peter’s bedside or the sofa where he initially slept most nights. And I knew the Word, having at that point read through the Bible front to back, including the “begats,” while asking for understanding.  And church. And Bible study.

I told Peter the truth: “Emily has a fever; she could get chilled on the river; she should stay home.” He tilted his head and adopted a patronizing, mocking tone:   ” …It’s 90 degrees!” he said.  I said,  “It’s cooler on the river.”  He turned to leave with Emily. I made eye contact and said: “YOU ARE NOT TAKING EMILY FISHING.” (The direct approach was rarely effective, but then… neither was an indirect approach; this time I lost my composure….Emily was NOT going fishing today).

Loud, angry words both directions, pretty much concluding with me blurting: “She’s not going because you are a drunk, and I don’t trust you to take care of her.” Nice. Good job. Smart. So much for submission, honoring my husband, and turning away wrath with a quiet word!

THEN, I was afraid. Afraid of the way he thought about me, the guns in the house (hunter), his rage, his very intelligent and twisted logic, and the potential for trouble later, how the backlash might affect the girls, how I would handle….whatever. I called the pastor, and somehow it was agreed we would meet him for counseling. Together.

How could I explain it all to a pastor in a session with my husband? And stay constructive? And credible? So I wrote a 4-page letter for the pastor to read before we met with him. I told him how I was called a bitch, a frigid, bitch, a fucking asshole bitch, a cold-calculating-conniving bitch. And how, on the days I was called a bitch, he was ESPECIALLY romantic later (but angry if I wasn’t responsive enough). I told him about the nightly liter of wine or six-pack, and Peter waking up to pee in the corner, or on the dresser … or the kid’s closet….or? And I told him about the guns in the house, and that I was afraid of not knowing how angry or weird Peter could become!

We met in the Pastor’s office at the church.  I was wary of not having issues addressed, and of possible backlash later. But, since I was equally wary of doing nothing, it was moot. Wary, scared, tense – and desperately, vulnerably HOPEFUL – that someone else’s voice and input would matter, since mine didn’t.  Pastor B gently and genially asked questions: What were the concerns? How is your sex life? Do you use alcohol? When, and do you think it is an appropriate amount?

At the end of the meeting, I recall that he encouraged Peter to be “gentle” with me. And that Peter and Pastor B had calmly discussed that, no – a beer before church isn’t such a bad thing. As we walked out of the office, I started crying. Pastor B took me aside and explained that he was taking it easy to keep communication open, which I totally understood and supported.  The tears were relief (at having named my fears, and having hope of help), and simply release of pent-up tension. Peter’s take on the meeting: “Well, even Pastor B sees nothing wrong with a few beers before church!”

I didn’t push for another meeting. Obviously, neither did Peter. VERY SADLY, neither did Pastor B. Things remained pretty much as they were before the meeting. I was lucky (or blessed?) that in my case, things didn’t get violent.

Pastor’s Wise Choice #1: Keeping Communication Open. Should Pastor B have dug deeper with Peter and boldly confronted his “sin” as he dealt harshly with his wife? Would it have just given Peter an excuse to be angry and end all communication, if he had? I don’t know. I understand keeping communication open, because so often it is a PROCESS or COLLECTION of small pieces of wisdom that actually produce change – if change is going to happen at all. If Pastor B hoped to be able to “disciple” Peter, he didn’t dare shut his ears in one sitting.  On the other hand, by saying so little, he said, well… little.

Pastor’s Wise Choice # 2:  He DID NOT tell me to go home and be more submissive! May God bless this man every day of his life!

Pastor’s Mistake #1: Counseling the abuser and the victim together.  First, it is scary (and very, very embarrassing) to talk about intimate and awkward marriage issues in front of another person, an authority figure, that you may not know very well. How effective is it to put an  already arrogant, entitled man in a position where his wife “talks bad” about him to the Pastor, then send them home together so she can face another day of “pay backs?” THIS IS NOT ONLY AWKWARD, IT IS POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS…AS IN LIFE THREATENING.  How likely is it that the wife will feel safe enough to tell what is actually happening, without minimizing it for her own safety, psychological or physical? NOT VERY.

Pastor’s Mistake #2: Not following through. What good was it to keep communication open if there was no further communication (that I was aware of, or that made any difference).

Pastor’s Mistake #3: Not preaching specific marriage behaviors that indicate RESPECT from the pulpit on a regular basis. At the time, and ever since, I have heard many sermons on marriage. They all cover 1) the ideal Christian marriage, 2) submission and love, either wives to husbands, or each spouse to the other, and 3) the evils of divorce. Abusive husbands are MASTERS  at using all or parts of these sermons to hammer their wives with their wifely failures. And abused wives are MASTERS at clinging even more to the HOPE that one day that is the way their marriages will be, and trying even HARDER to be the kind of wife that will make it happen (by submission, patience, self control,  walking by faith rather than sight, and a thousand other Biblical recommendations). Which fuels the cycle of abuse. She tries to be perfect; he abuses.  Instead, sermons need to set a specific standard of NO EXCUSES for men – that yelling, tantrums, pushing, shoving, name calling, regarding their wives concerns as less important than theirs, not listening to their wives’ counsel, being sexually insensitive, controlling or manipulating with money, isolating wives from family or friends, belittling, insulting, and using humor that isn’t funny to both parties – are all ABUSE and are all SIN. AND that the saying “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” does not apply here. Simply addressing the evils of divorce without such specific teaching is like applying a band-aid to a limb severed because no one teaches that saw blades are sharp.

For consideration:

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)  For we live by faith, not by sight.

Ephesians 5:21-24 (NIV) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

This is pretty definite. Submit as you do to the Lord. I’d say submission to the Lord would be pretty unconditional. So what if the husband is harsh, mentally ill, or even evil? If a Christian, lay or pastor,  quotes this to an abused Christian woman, who is desperate not to lose God’s favor, what is he/she actually telling her to do? If she does submit unconditionally, does God really provide special protection for her and their children’s lives, health, FAITH? Are you sure? Have you ever seen it work that way?

Would the verses above apply to letting a drunk husband take a young child fishing? Or to continuing hope for a healthy marriage?

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