Tag Archives: Psychological Abuse

Cloud Gazing and Being Worthwhile

P1010379Do you ever lay on the grass with a friend (of any age or species) to share what you see in the clouds? You may point and say, “See, over there, third cloud from the top of that tree, kind of up on the left side, there is a nose…and over there you can see the guy’s necktie?”  Silence.  “Right there?”  “I don’t see it…” “No…right THERE, where that little knobby thing sticks out…right THERE.  “Oh yeah, cool, I see the dude…uh, oh, well, um…he really looks kind of like a duck.”

That’s kind of what it’s like reading blogs and news reports sometimes! And finding a bottom line to anything. Or formulating my own thoughts.

Since I began blogging last year, it has been more natural for me to desperately explain psychological abuse via personal stories, and express anger and indignation about the support of abuse via Christian views and counsel as I “Ran the Gauntlet” than to speak with passion about how it SHOULD have been. Or, the main goal, how it CAN be! This is because I didn’t live it as it should have been. What I want most to convey really lies outside my experience.

I was also desperately disappointed by unrealized expectations of version of God I believed COULD help, comfort, speak, and empower with faith, but didn’t. I still don’t understand, and it is beyond crazy that I should hang it all out there again, this time having no expectations of God, but rather the assumption that His help, comfort, empowerment were completed 2000 years ago. This is joyful, but also very tender and private. So bold and yet so tentative that I feel like a liar to say anything at all. I can’t explain it; I can only rest, trust, wait. Not very interesting to read about. I don’t know how I want to say it any more. I don’t feel clever. I’m starting to feel real.

My stats are way down, which is fine, but indicates my words aren’t resonating as well. No cliffhangers any more like, “Will she jump? Will she believe?”  I’m sure some liked the intensity and drama. But the thing is, I don’t! Or words like abuse, and abused, and victim. Past tense, intensity and negativity aren’t where I want to live. Or Christian bashing, even when warranted! Even just within myself, when it never finds a page or ear. It hurts. I think that when one hurts, somewhere all hurt. I can do better.

My voice is different, and I haven’t quite found it.

I’m going to spend November diving deep into the space between words, and relax. I am going to write a 50,000 word novel during the inspiring and challenging National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s going to be a novel that has nothing to do with domestic violence, my past, or problems to be solved. November 1 is an hour away where I live. I have no outline, no sure plan.

I’m going to be cloud-gazing!

I can see whatever I want to see!

It will be worthwhile!

I will stop in to see you at your blogs, and maybe post here, if I like what I have to say. I will answer if you check in on me.

When I’m finished, I’m going to call out to you, invite you to join me in the grass, stretch out my arm right next to your line of sight, and say with glee, “Oh, LOOK, do you SEE it??!”

(Even if you don’t, it will be fun trying!).

Blessings,

Diane

P.S.  If you will, please pass on your favorite writing (or other) music! Inspire me! Get me moving! Say, “Oh LISTEN to this?” And I will!

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.

Blessings,

Diane

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The Faith of a……..

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The Faith of a……

Green and alive, a kaleidoscope in swaying tender grass. A whispered breeze, its breath bearing the fragrance of honeysuckle. Early morning, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful day. A child. Sweet tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy, plump, and slightly sweaty cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body resting, still for once, as all intention focused upward, in adoration and anticipation. Daddy. Papa. Abba!  

The faith of a child.

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Adorned with flowers, a kaleidoscope in sunlight dancing through intricate stained glass. Breathless stillness echoing restrained yet festive voices. A young woman, tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body moving, all intention focused ahead. A Savior. A man. One flesh. Mystery.

 

The faith of a woman.

Ephesians 5 in motion. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%205&version=NIV

She makes her groom a lovely dinner. He doesn’t like it. Or her driving, or the way she does her hair. He asks her to keep herself more presentable and lose weight. He doesn’t laugh at her jokes. He snorts with derision at her requests and suggestions. He corrects her choice of words. He insists she cooks the eggs just right, and hangs his shirts just so. He makes himself clear, whether loudly, or quietly. He lets her know that her hobbies and work are somehow inferior. He brings her flowers. Takes her to dinner. To church. He acts gallant and she loves him. He becomes angry and controlling, and she tries to please him. The cycle continues. Romance and retribution. Love and fear. Hope and despair. She becomes isolated from friends. Unsure of herself. Timid. She wonders if she is losing her mind.

Sun streaming in windows of a home that always feels dark. Bright, guarded eyes, darting to and from his face, alert to the ebb and flow of his mood. A body rigid, all intention fearfully focused on learning the rules, and following them perfectly. Or else.

She prays that God will heal her, heal him, and bless her with strength and wisdom. She listens to others, and tries to do what they tell her is right, because something seems wrong with her faith, with her, and her marriage. She doesn’t know what to believe any more. She talks about this at her Bible study. She doesn’t know she is experiencing psychological and emotional abuse. No one else does either. Time passes, children are born, and she walks a tightrope between joy in her life and children, and fear of her husband. She is so tired.

And she can’t please him. He says it is her fault. He wouldn’t get so angry if she was a better wife, a better Christian. Then he wouldn’t want to hit her, or body block her against the wall, or tickle her too hard, threaten her with the children, or humiliate her in bed. Or embarrass her in public. It’s just that he loves her so much, and it could be so much better. If she would just get it right.

She goes to church, and talks with friends, hears sermons, and reads her Bible. She dares to speak to her pastor and a few Christian friends. They tell her to submit to her husband and that God will honor her. That if she is completely obedient, God will be her protector. That she should walk by faith, not by sight. She is told that he might be an unbeliever, in which case her goodness and kindness could win him over. And that she should not let the sun go down on her anger. That she should forgive seventy times seven. She is suffering for and with Christ. God hates divorce. Their relationship mirrors that of Christ and the Church, and she must keep trying.

What they just told her is TO SHUT UP AND PUT UP.

She is NOT in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an ABUSIVE marriage. Her husband does not relate to her as Christ to the Church. He does not honor her. He does not love her. He will not change. He sees no need to change. He is entitled. He is a 2 Timothy 3:1-4 man.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Timothy%203:1-4&version=NIV

Over time, she will find that neither God nor her husband seem to honor her submission or obedience. She wonders, as the abuse escalates, what to do about the reality of her life by “sight” while she is waiting in faith…for what, now? She wants to leave, but is afraid for herself and her children, and of what he might do.  There is so much unexpressed anger and frustration at unresolved and un-repented meanness that she goes to sleep with it and wakes with it. She drives it inward, downward until it doesn’t show, and becomes depression. She wills herself to forgive, but doesn’t really know what it means any more. She is suffering but wonders why God wants it that way, since she has prayed and believed and valiantly suffered for Christ. But she just doesn’t feel any of the peace that passes understanding that was promised. Or wisdom. And since she feels fear, not love, God must not be pleased with her. But she doesn’t know what else to do. He doesn’t seem to hear HER prayers. And she is tired, and confused, and doesn’t trust her husband, or God, or Christians who counsel her. She wants to be strong and be noble for the faith, but there just isn’t much left. She no longer knows what to believe. She no longer believes.

One in four women are abused to some degree. And the children, who carry it into the next generation.  The church is NOT immune. Christian Domestic Violence Advocates, who attempt to educate others, tell me that those in CHURCHES are the hardest to reach, because they are afraid the advocate is promoting divorce. I have encountered rigid theology, in which the letter of the word is more important than the soul of the abused. 

httpfreepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com~florencenywindowsAltar.htm

 

Shards of sunlight reflected from intricate stained glass. Voices from inside, singing? A woman, traces of curl limp against a shadowed face. Steady, guarded eyes, hooded by disappointment and mistrust. A body moving, one foot after the other. No savior. Nothing left to say. Nothing left to trust.

The faith of a victim.

The End.

 

No, no…NO!

I don’t like the way this story ends. So let’s write a different ending:

She is not in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an abusive marriage. She talks to her pastor, and to her Christian friends. They listen respectfully, carefully and lovingly to her. They assume her truthfulness, and choose to believe her. They don’t know what to say, at first, other than, “I am so sorry you are dealing with this. He seems so nice; I never knew. What do you think you need? How can I support you?” Then they look for information on the type of behavior she has described, and learn about abuse. They tell her what they learned. They present options, but don’t push. They give her support to leave, or to stay, knowing that she is united with Christ one way or the other. They remind her that God loves her, and doesn’t want her to be abused. That fear and anger are normal, but she will move past them and again know joy. They re-read and study up on Malachi 2:16 so they can regard it the way it was likely intended. They include her in fellowship that is fun and healthy, and has nothing to do with jots and tittles. They point her to agencies, and advocates, and wait with her as she makes her choices, in whatever time it takes. And if she does divorce, she becomes a single woman, not a tainted woman. It wasn’t her fault. She bears no shame. They remind her of this. They remind OTHERS of this. As often and as long as necessary. I have also known those who understand, and speak words of strength and love and encouragement.

Amber and gold, swirling grasses bow and sway. A fragrant fall breeze, bearing the scent of mown hay.  Leaves frolic and dance, as if celebrating the abundant harvest. A warm and mild afternoon, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful sunset. A woman. Sweet tendrils of curl springing free to gently caress a  sun tanned cheek. Wise, wide open, unguarded eyes calmly gazing with serenity and trust. A body resting, focused inward, in adoration and companionship. Jesus. Abba!DSCN0041

The faith of a survivor.

The Beginning.

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

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A Crusty Old Cactus

Dust powdered my feet as I stood at the top of Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, overlooking the city. My eyes raced across the panoramic view, taking in the generalities, but missing the specifics. That was because my mind also raced across the panoramic view of my life, taking in the overview of successes and mistakes, joys and losses. I glanced to the side and all the scanning stopped, inward and outward.IMG_0859

I stood beside a 20 foot Saguaro cactus. It looked as though, over its lifetime, it had been so bumped, kicked, assaulted by human or nature, that it could hardly stand. Its base was shriveled and darkened, covered with scars. Farther up, less so.  Two thirds of the way up, it was green, robust, round, and thoroughly armored with the spines that are normal for the species. And at the top – a FLOWER! It was blooming!

This, I thought, is me! I liked the looks of that crusty old cactus!  And my life, however imperfect.

I am no longer a victim.  I NO LONGER FEEL LIKE A VICTIM!

I’m breathing, sleeping, jumping off cliffs, taking one day at a time, and laying my heart wide open before God.

After being frozen for months, for years, I am profoundly, utterly grateful for a number of things:

A friend who talks with me about God, Christ and faith without judging me, and without control or arrogance. A number of bloggers who very, very quietly, in words of peace, encourage me to faith like theirs…no hype, no insistence on words or doctrine, maybe no doctrine at all….more like a whispered, “this is what freedom smells like…follow the scent, breathe deeper, and also live in the One Who gives us breath.” The clamor and control of abuse has left me deaf to louder voices.

A way of seeing God and Christ that is gradually melting my sad heart and moving me forward to a place some rest and some faith. Progress.

Your prayers.

Friends I have lost touch with many moves (and moons) ago, but who have had a sweet effect on my life by their sincerity and support, and by the example of how they live their lives.  They are the Christians I went on walks with, shared kids with, shared my heart with – and who responded by being steady, sincerely loving God, knowing me very well and still loving me, seeing and hearing the parts of my situation I shared with them, admitting it wasn’t OK…and leaving it there…as displayed confidence that I would make the best choices possible. Hello, Cathy T.!  Michelle J., Rosa P., Terri H. and Karen J.? I love you, and I will be getting back in touch to tell you so!

Medical intervention for perhaps bipolar issues (perhaps not) – that has turned the volume in my mind and heart down from rock concert screams to loud conversation. Medical intervention for adrenal depletion and nutritional deficits. Therapy.

Love. Beauty. Peaceful moments. Generous thoughts and words.

Those beautiful, beautiful people in my family who love, trust, communicate, accept each other (and me!). Safety from those who don’t. And a husband who is a diamond in a world made of stones.

Hugs, kisses, touch, laughter, funny faces, odd habits, mispronounced words, photographs.

If this is manic, bring it on! If this is faith, more and deeper! If this is normal….sigh… it’s about time.  The problems are not all solved, the wounds are not all healed, the questions are not all answered. But life is looking better the longer I grow.  Maybe I am looking better the longer I grow!

Like a crusty old cactus.

Flowers

Blessings to you,

Diane

If Someone Told You To Jump Off A Cliff…Would You?

Last Saturday I was asked…are you going to  jump?

Mmmm.  40..50 feet? Probably not.

For $100?

I’m not stupid. You’re not going to give me $100!

How about if I took a video, and you could say you did it?

Yep.  I’ll jump!

I walked to the edge – thought, what if I belly flop, hit the rocks, twist in the air and get hurt?  I wanted to jump. Too afraid, I backed away, to the disappointment of observers perched on rocks below and on the cliff. “Awwwwww” (they wanted to see the mom-type jump). I watched two jumpers (survive and) beckon from below.

I tried again (right to left):

Yes, I’m alive. Onlookers clapped and cheered for me, which felt out of proportion sensational. It was exhilarating! It hurt, and was worth it! IT WAS A BLAST! No, I couldn’t insert the video here. But  thumbnail photos work great…you can’t see me too well in a swimsuit!

At a point in time, I BELIEVED, and I JUMPED.

I’m truly flummoxed at what inspired me to jump, my motivation to jump, the WHY. I watched others, absorbed their experience with gravity, rocks, and water, and BELIEVED I could make the jump, too. I assessed the risks, decided what data I believed, was at first hesitant, then…jumped.

You know me. You know this analogy is about faith. About taking the leap:  BELIEVE. Again, after running the gauntlet.

If I had leaped like this before and hit the rocks or flopped and worn bruises, would I have been willing to try again? Or said, “I no longer believe I can jump without getting hurt (I don’t trust this theology/God/Bible/Christians).” Or “I no longer consider this worthwhile (I’m tired of trying/caring).” Or, “I don’t believe in jumping off cliffs” (I’m an atheist).  What would it take to overcome those obstacles to believing that I could jump safely? Would it be enough if someone TOLD me that THEY flew like a bird and landed like a feather, and that I would too, if I just BELIEVED the way they do? If they quoted Bible verses about mounting up with the wings of eagles? How about watching them jump, land, and swim?

Another person’s reasons would be different. So, WHY do people BELIEVE? HOW do they decide WHAT to BELIEVE? And HOW do they actually BELIEVE? About anything, really…marriage, politics, global warming…but I blog about faith and domestic violence. Lately, about MY faith. I’m reading your posts! I hear you say “I just believed…in spite of what I don’t understand.” Even after abuse and disbelief or through trial. After believing perhaps mutilated scripture. How the heck do you DO that? You say, “I just did it.” HOW DO YOU DO THAT?????!

Standing on the rock – or jumping.

My experience with Christianity paired with abuse: Supernatural knowing – fail. Empirical evidence (life experience) – fail. Blind belief – fail. Understanding scripture – fail. Observing, listening to others – fail, if it doesn’t apply to my situation or they aren’t credible sources.

Regarding credible sources: I voiced my “mean God” perceptions to two close Christian friends some time ago. (It was anger – which they didn’t need to hear; but I really wanted answers from two who I thought would know, and they did claim to have the inside story from God….).

Source #1: “You are simply spewing hatred for God!”

Source #2: “You are hanging over the pit of hell.” 

Let’s hear from Source #3:

Another dialogue with Graeme (Hardwired to Christ):

Diane (speaking):

As you wonder if I am getting sick of you responding in a contrary vein, I wonder the same in reverse – especially my obstacles to crossing the line into belief. I am not consciously trying to AVOID believing.  It’s just that I have gone in blind, in faith, before and it just didn’t work for me. I’m avoiding the humiliation and disappointment of hanging myself out there and doing it again.  And I respect and appreciate beyond words the time and thought you have invested in sharing with me the reality of resting IN and WITH Christ, new creature, kingdom and earth at once, to the core of your being, that you experience.

Graeme:

I also don’t want you to go in blind – I also have tried the approach of saying things I didn’t really believe in and looking like a fool for it. In contrast I am suggesting a process of going in fully informed, a process of stepping into the one thing of which we are certain, ‘the sacrifice of Christ’ – but not until we have seen in it the rock solid love of God.

Diane (part of 2400 word “download”):

….God creates us to have free choice, but the consequences of disobedience are horrendous. Being deceived is no excuse.  Consequences for all, because of the  choice of two.  Which side of God is that? LOVE or JUSTICE? Now we have a sin nature and are MORE likely to sin and be deceived, but still take full BLAME for the wrong “free choice.” Heaven or Hell.  A choice? The FAULT of the humans who chose, not the ONE (or three) who created the set-up.  Dominion GIVEN, BY MAN, by choice,  to a different, created, FALLEN being, who has already disobeyed and been kicked out of heaven by GOD (not my man, who doesn’t have that power).  GOD who kicked satan out then GAVE stupid MAN the authority to choose to pass the world to said fallen angel, by disobeying one command, the ONLY command. Hell. Separation from God forever. Nice. Or Burning in eternal fire of punishment, for making the WRONG choice of a FREE CHOICE. Even nicer! This is so much like what abusers do, really. Love and obey me, no matter what I do to you. I have the power, and I give you choices. If  you choose wrong, I will punish you, and also hurt the kids. Oh, yeah, and I love you more than anyone else loves you. I AM love….

Graeme:

Love your work!! – I think you covered everything and I’m still here, and I presume God is too.

 I’m not going to shoot back a smart-arse Christian response to you, but just wanted to say that “that was a good spray” – and it causes me to dig past the level of clichés and down into the seam of gold – I will respond…shortly…

….All of the ills of life have a way of defining our existence; our past defines who we are, both good and bad. Unfortunately our past is shaped by fallen mankind, the kingdom of darkness, and the traumas and hardships we have traveled through. These hardships leave a big footprint, they do not pass quietly into the night, instead they claim their place in our consciousness on a daily basis, they are determined to complete the task for which they were assigned, to capture us for life in their orbit.

Is it possible for someone who has been so overwhelmingly constrained within abuse for a significant number of years, to throw off this restraint, and choose to live their lives in a completely different orbit? Can an abused person ever be defined by something that has nothing to do with their abuse, can they re-define themselves by the blood of Christ, can they choose to leave behind the past to the extent that it pales in comparison to their new identity in Christ? In other words, is it possible for the blood of Christ to so re-define us that we start over with a blank slate – that the pain of the past can grow strangely dim in the light of His wonder and grace?

In my view it is indeed possible, if we choose it we can see out the rest of our days defined by the love of Christ, but only if we truly want to, only if we are courageous enough to believe He is as good as He claims to be.

****

Which source would you consider before jumping off a cliff?

Blessings!!!!

Diane

Like Sun Sparkling on Water

Picture a river, wide and crisply cold. A magnificent, white hot afternoon sun. A gentle breeze. Look at the water, alive with fireworks, a million dancing reflections of that magnificent sun. Tears sting your eyes, from the painful brightness of the dancing light, from the heart-rending beauty of the sparkling  water, yet you don’t want to look away. If you try to catch a pinpoint with your gaze, it flashes and is gone, replaced by a million more, all laughing. They have you. But you don’t have them. LOL

I’ve been pondering ideas so sweet and new that my mind and heart can’t quite catch them, but I’m mesmerized, and don’t want to look away. They have me. God has me. I keep testing these out against my questions and rearranging my mental file cabinet, adding new folders to accommodate what I can’t assimilate into my current ineffective  paradigm. Sometimes calmed, sometimes angered by what I still can’t “take on faith.” There are so many directions I could go with this, that I just have to start somewhere.

We’ll start here: BELIEVE.

I believe in God. No matter how trashed my faith, I say to Him, “Wow…You are such an Artist!” I am touched by beauty in nature and between people, and animals figure in, too. I am awed by the immense complexity…off the chart, utter, beyond belief ORDER and artistry in nature. Even a blade of grass has millions of intricately connected parts functioning together. One blade of grass among billions. Among millions of other species and non-living things. On one celestial sphere among millions. I believe in God. In God the wildly artistic and intelligent Creator. And I can’t imagine this being done without love.

But these are things I can see and touch and smell. I find it easy to believe scientific researchers, and it is no big deal if they disagree or their statements prove false. To date, it just doesn’t affect my life on earth all that much.

Christianity is another issue. I spent 25 or so years as a devout Christian, happy going to church, teaching, studying, praying, bringing up my children “in the Lord.” From a place of need, I chose to believe what I didn’t entirely understand – like the Trinity, the need for crucifixion as the only way to be restored to God’s fellowship, and the like. I took them “on faith” and fully believed that I was “saved” and that I would receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Wonderful Counselor, to help me know how to do life with an abusive husband. I had EXPECTATIONS, derived from church and the Word, and I BELIEVED God  would operate, with me, as described. He didn’t. So, I listened to the legalistic rules, and learned to look at my flaws, pray more, be more holy, “have faith,” wait, listen for a still small voice, rebuke satan…….ad nauseum. He still didn’t operate as I  believed He would. And  I was more than disappointed. It affected my life on earth A LOT. The rug was pulled out from under me. And I have become very, very wary of who and what I hear from others, un-trusting of my own discernment, and of God’s willingness to make Himself heard by me. I wanted to just bag it, but I can’t stop listening for something I CAN believe. My friends Graeme and Angela call that a string, a connection between God and me, and that He is holding on to me. That I have a “God fact” (more later) that won’t let me let go of Him, either.

And I’m hearing something!

Graeme (Hardwired to Christ, MyBroom), replied to my comment on his blog: “My own situation is challenging, tho’ quite different. I was a victim of the Global Financial Crisis and lost my life’s work in property development. I heard all the well meaning rhetoric about what God would do for me too — and it was like trying to make a pie out of dirt, it was beyond me I didn’t have the inner resources to exercise faith. Then followed several years of wilderness struggling, I knew God was there — I just didn’t know Him well enough to have any confidence in Him — so I prayed and studied and prayed because I knew there must be a way to live by faith, to really have the word of God work for me — I came up with one key ‘fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of your faith’ ….I began to see Jesus, I began to believe that irrespective of my circumstances I was safely hidden in His work on the cross — this became my primary truth — I had little else theologically resolved in my mind, just that one thing — Christ had proven himself to me on the cross. I don’t exercise belief to get through a situation — I rest in the work of the cross — it is not a process that I have to get right…, it is a fact that Christ got right already and I am just sitting in His work.”

It’s the darndest thing! I had given up on having a “relationship” with Christ, as Christians say, but this presents something truer. Being so one with Christ – one being, one creation – that I don’t pray to Someone out there somewhere, but have murmured conversations with Him to lives and dwells in me. To be so secure in God’s love and approval, which would be because of Christ not me, that everything else is secondary to that reality (perhaps just as basic as everything earthly is secondary to my next breath). For starters. This hits me full in the chest and I cry big tears.

I  just have to believe. It all happens by faith. But I don’t know how to get around the things I have to believe first: Does God love me? Is God good? Can I trust His Word?”

I know the following verse well, and have not found it to “come true.” But it’s possible God wants me to revisit this, and so I am:

Matthew 11:28-29  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

More soon.

Blessings!

Diane

Personal Responsibility and the Twitchy Arm

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Suppose you have a twitchy arm.

You may have had it all your life. Or, maybe something happened to you…and after that…well, your arm STARTED twitching. Most of the time rests comfortably, happily by your side. It accommodates your every command. It is your right hand man (!) as you work, or lovingly stroke the sweet, silky soft hair of your young child.  It lifts an open palm and waves at friends. It holds your Bible at church, and may even reach for the sky in praise.

But sometimes, the nerves go awry and the arm abruptly snaps outward, slamming into anything nearby. Ouch. It can really do some damage, too. Sometimes your arm hits people. It splits lips, blacks eyes, and doubles people over with pain. Sometimes it damages property. Sometimes it is embarrassing.  Sometimes, it’s kind of handy…it keeps the people around you on their toes. It makes them easier to get along with.

You feel bad about that, once in a while. But what can you do? It isn’t your fault. It just happens. People need to understand that this is just the way you are! You don’t MEAN to do damage…you don’t really want to hurt people or things. Your motives are good. You even apologize sometimes. Maybe even pay for the damages.  But how unfair is that?….It just isn’t your fault! Your arm has a mind of its own. You have no control. And, after all, you aren’t perfect…just forgiven.

It isn’t your FAULT. You are not to BLAME.

BUT YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE.  

So give yourself (and others) some space.  Adjust your environment or put yourself where you do no harm. Seek treatment, or wear a straightjacket! It is a hassle. Not fair. But it is what it is. Not your fault, but still your responsibility.

Whatever the twitchy arm is for each of  us, don’t we owe it to ourselves and others to DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO DEAL WITH OUR OWN TROUBLESOME ISSUES, rather than passively allowing them to inflict damage? Which elevates them to entitlements? We can’t be perfect… but we can take the initiative to take care of ourselves, with healthy self-love and acceptance, if possible. To get help. To admit and be honest about our problem. And if we are harming others, we need to commit to do whatever it takes to get right, so we can relieve others of the daunting task of tiptoeing around us, walking on eggshells, flinching, watching, and ducking that blasted twitchy arm. To be responsible for ourselves, rather than making others responsible for themselves AND us. And to remove ourselves from endangering others for a time, if necessary, while we get it together.

And if you have a friend with a twitchy arm? Be kind, but let them know it isn’t OK to make excuses. It’s your responsibility. It’s their responsibility.

******

Note:  I hear from DV counselors that abusers don’t generally improve much from anger management training (it’s not about anger, it’s about CONTROL).  Please comment if you know of an instance in which an abusive individual has made a documentable “to the marrow of the bones, restoration of trust” turnaround. If so, what do you believe made the dramatic change possible? 

I want to hear YOUR dialogue and beliefs about this, more than my own,  so I may not answer all comments. Not being rude, just inquisitive!!!

And/or….more generally, what is YOUR “twitchy arm?”  (If you care to share it!)

The Big “D” and Malachi 2:16

Malachi 2:16  God hates divorce……

Ever heard that one? Ever quoted it? I included a survey of this verse in an earlier post, but got only two answers. One respondent answered “other” but I couldn’t access a comment. The other respondent said they had never heard the verse. One of the multiple choice answers was, “have you ever heard the SECOND HALF of the verse?”

Have you?

I found the complete verse, book, and context when I read through the Bible cover to cover the first time. Trying to see God and Jesus in context. The version I remember reading is different than what  pops up when I access Bible Gateway. So I went to other, older versions (like me), and voila! Here it is! So, let’s look at Malachi 2:16  in several versions:

    • New International Version 1984
      “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
    • New Revised Standard Version
      For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.
    •  New International Version
      “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

NOT ONCE in 20+ years was this verse quoted to me, in its entirety or in context, by friends or clergy. Just the God Hates Divorce part.

Why was that? When so much care is taken to quote some other passages in context? Was it because the “God Hates Divorce” part came first in the verse, and was therefore more important? If God hates divorce AND he hates a man who covers himself with violence as with a garment….which does He hate most? And reading the entire book of Malachi, I saw that this related not only to a husband and wife, but to Godly offspring, and God’s covenant with an entire race. And what should I DO based on that? I chose caution, conservative (legalistic) interpretation, that man meant person, and didn’t want to take any chances with Godly offspring. And, aside from any Biblical admonition, to protect my kids from their dad and the court system.

Then I wondered why, if marital unfaithfulness (meaning sexual unfaithfulness as defining adultery) was the only acceptable reason for divorce, did marriage ceremonies (which sanctify the covenant of marriage) include words such as “love, honor and cherish?” I wondered why we didn’t just stand before the preacher and say “I promise not to have sex with another till we die,” and leave it at that…since that is what seemed to be the actual substance of the arrangement. Since meanness, coldness, fear, financial ruin….verbal and physical abuse, are often considered non-sufficient grounds for divorce. Or for accountability within the church. And since Ephesians marriage verses seemed to be recommendations, rather than contractual requirements.

Matthew 5:32  But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 19:9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

******

At the time of my divorce, I understood it this way: I will go to hell more surely by taking my own life than by divorcing my husband.  I was shocked and bewildered by God’s silence, my unanswered prayers for healing (not just of Peter; I was willing to change, too) and for guidance. And had come (from a start of open-hearted faith) to believe that God was a harsh taskmaster, demanding colossal sacrifice and endurance in the form of testing and somehow displaying His glory, demanding no shrinking back or He would be displeased, and that fearing Him is a good thing (even after checking out the word “fear” in Strong’s Concordance for many verses hoping it really meant “respect” or “honor”). And that once divorced, I would, Biblically speaking, be forever in a poor plan B. These are some of the ideas, views of God, that come from some skewed interpretations of scripture and Christian counsel. And formed part of the gauntlet I ran.

I didn’t understand much about covenant, Biblically speaking. Thanks to Joe Pote (http://josephjpote.com/) I understand much better NOW. I wouldn’t dream of trying to express the content of Joe’s book, So You are a Believer…Who has been through Divorce…, because I could in no way accurately abbreviate the points he so clearly makes. But I will say that I have now been introduced to a kinder view of God’s interest in my former marriage and my life, which gives me greater peace in the present. This is what I learned (my understanding): God doesn’t use covenants to enslave or abuse – He redeems us from bondage, including that of marital abuse (and the word redeemed means a lot more than I thought it did); divorce isn’t sin (treachery IS sin); I have not missed God’s best plan for my life because I have been through divorce; I am not to blame for my divorce (it is not always the fault of both parties);  “divorced” is not an eternal condition that overshadows me or defines me – I am not Peter’s ex-wife – the marriage covenant no longer exists, so I am just Diane; my second marriage is not sin (my covenant with Peter no longer existed; there was no covenant to violate); my husband and I are each married to one person – the husband of one wife – the wife of one husband (we are not bigamists married to each other AND to our previous spouses – our former marriages no longer exist) and any evaluation for ministry can be made on that basis.

(If you want to do a very good thing, buy this book for your church library.)

There were two sides as I Ran the Gauntlet: my abusive Christian husband with his destructive and misinformed words and control on one side, and the Church with its destructive and misleading scriptural interpretations and control on the other.

As I am blogging and listening, both sides of the gauntlet are beginning to disarm and go away. Some of the harmful ideas used by both sides are now useless weapons, rusting on the grass. I’m listening. And feeling the breeze of freedom and the sun on my face.

Good Sabbath, my Blogger Church.

We Learned Something Post #1

A well-dressed, middle-aged couple walked into Starbucks Tuesday afternoon, as I sat with my computer and chai near the door. The woman entered first, with the man behind her. There was something subtle about his body-language. No swagger, or strut, or leggy man’s man walk. Just a trace of ‘his underwear is too tight.’ End of thought. I went back to my computer.

Minutes later, apparently having found no suitable seating inside, they went out the door to the patio. I overheard him saying irritably that he doesn’t LIKE to sit outside. But they did. As I worked I glanced up occasionally. She was cheerful, animated….but something was off there, too. His body language (back to me) was still different. Gut feeling, but what? Next glance, she was still cheerful, like “making nice” cheerful. The words for him? Testy. Malevolent. Well contained.

He stood up and began pacing. I watched her…wondering if she was smiling or crying. Until her face broke apart and she was sobbing, shaking,  hands to her face. He remained rigid, cold, commanding.

I started shaking, too.

They moved a few steps to the curb, where she sat, shaking and sobbing, as he first stood over her, then moved back a few steps. Stern. Hard faced. Then they were standing in the parking lot. Same. She was talking through sobs. He was talking, hard edged words I couldn’t hear, hard face.

My fingers didn’t work well, but I located the local domestic violence phone number, and wrote it on what I had available – a teabag. I went outside, greeted them both, and asked the woman if I could speak with her a moment. She looked at me, like she wanted to. He said, to me, “NO, we’re having a good conversation here; leave us alone.” I did. I didn’t want to place her at risk by making him angrier. Shortly after that, they were gone.

Since then I have attended two DV support groups. I related the incident, and got feedback from five professionals who work with DV. This is what I learned from their experience:

I should not have approached her.

It could make the beating she gets at home worse.

He will likely be angrier, and blame her.

It placed me at risk.

I may have validated her experience as inappropriate, and thereby given a little support. But with risk to her and to me.

Better response: Go out of sight and call 911 or Police Dispatch.

Because – the police, if properly trained, will separate them, which gives her time to think.

Because he will not like being embarrassed or focused upon or challenged.

    • Which may subdue him.
    • Which may make her beating at home worse.
    • Which may drive his behavior farther underground, less visible to others, still as dangerous to her.

BUT, the event will be documented, which may help her later to prove need of help, restraining order, etc.

If Police are properly trained, she may receive helpful information.

Each of these DV professionals had dealt with similar situations (they also seem to have the “radar” – one said she tunes into such interactions least once a week – usually in parking lots). This is what they related:

A woman fled into the ladies room at a restaurant. The DV counselor went into the restroom, made no eye contact, but put a DV hotline card on the sink. Then left the room. She said this is because the woman may be ashamed and unwilling to interact. She may utilize the information – maybe not today or for 5 years – but she knows the option is there.

Another woman in a public location was being berated. When the abuser looked away for a moment, the DV counselor slipped a card to the woman and whispered for her to put it in her shoe. They said that abusers often search phones, purses and clothing, but rarely check shoes.

Placing DV information, card, etc., where an abuser may find it can be dangerous. It is best to do nothing rather than being too indiscrete. One way or the other, you have no way of knowing the nature of the abuser’s response, the danger to the  victim, or the danger to yourself. You do the best you can, and hope for the best.

It takes a victim an average of seven tries to leave an abuser, for various reasons. A lot of fear, confusion and denial working.

I stopped shaking after leaving Starbucks. I’m shaking again as I write this post. I’m also learning that shaking is good – it is the body’s way of releasing trauma, whether primary or triggered. So, OK.

There is improvement. I responded better than to the man in my post “To Hell In  A Hand-Basket.” I hope I didn’t set this woman up for worse abuse. Hard to know. But at least you and I know a little more and are better equipped to respond in a way that actually MIGHT help, WHEN we encounter this again.

Please pass on what we just learned.

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