It’s amazing how much God will open my eyes when I honestly open my heart to Him.
I’ve been caught up for many years in the lies and manipulations of my ex and just lately feel as though that horrible fog is lifting. I don’t mean that soft, quiet mist that greets you at the dawn of day and leaves a fine, shimmering coat of moisture across the lawn. I’m talking about the thick, rank fog that conceals those evil, snarling monstrosities that lay in wait to reach out and snag you with hooks and claws — and drag you into their cold, dead embrace — consuming you even as you struggle to find a way to break free. Sounds dramatic, but when we believe the lies we’ve been told, it’s a pretty accurate picture, at least when those lies were used to cause fear in order to control.
I spent 18 years in a union with a man who stood before God and promised to love and protect me, then spent every day of those years taking God’s precious words of love and manipulating them for his own devices. He took God’s Word and created excuses to neglect, abuse, cheat, lie, and beat me down until I believed I was nothing and had nothing, but for the grace of my spouse. He became the great and mighty, who could give and take away according to his whim, or my behavior, which never measured up, no matter how hard I tried. For the majority of our
marriage union he had me convinced that at any moment he would take the kids and disappear, then have me declared incompetent because I battled depression, and at one point tried to commit suicide. Because he was the one to give and take away, I believed every lie he told me, and they were legion. Most were about me — and none of them were in any way positive.
Abusers have a way of convincing the ones they abuse that it’s their fault. It was no different in my situation. I believed that I earned each ugly response from my spouse, even if it was just a perceived slight on his part. Sometimes he abused me because he thought I looked at him the wrong way. Imagine that — trying to always monitor your facial expressions so that you aren’t ducking for cover. But it’s impossible, really, because what was correct on one day was incorrect on a different day. If you think it’s confusing to read, it’s nothing compared to suffering through it. It messed with my head and still does.
All that in order to share with you what I’ve recently been learning. This new understanding came about through the testimony of a man at church one recent Sunday. He was speaking of what a treasure his wife was to him and that she was a virtuous woman who did only good to him. When I even hear someone mention Proverbs 31 or a virtuous woman, it raises my hackles because of the multitude of lies I heard from my spouse about how I was not virtuous, submissive, obedient, etc…. But I began to wonder what it meant when this man said his wife did only good to him. Did they never fight? Was she a mousy little thing who said, “Yes, dear” all the time? Did she carry out her husband’s bidding, no matter what he asked?
After reading through Proverbs 31 and praying for wisdom, God told me to talk to Pastor Randy. I have a lot of respect for him because he gives sound advice based on God’s word and the testimony of his own life, but I’m not very comfortable talking to men in general about personal issues, so a new lady friend from church sat in with us. I wept as I told them I had no idea what a virtuous woman really was, then shared with them what I had been taught by my spouse. I cannot describe the overwhelming need I had to finally know the truth. Pastor Randy and Val advised me to throw away all the garbage my spouse had drilled into me and to open the Word of God with fresh perspective…new eyes and a renewed heart. It was difficult to do because it was extremely difficult to know what parts my spouse taught that might have been true. Then I realized that didn’t matter. I threw out everything. Only then was I able to truly drink in the Living Water and begin to not just read the truth but to know it and claim it as my own.
I’ve learned that a real marriage isn’t about the husband being the dictator and the wife obeying his every whim (or in some cases, the other way around). It’s about love and respect. Taking care of each other. Being there to support and show strength when the other is struggling. It’s a partnership, founded on Christ and the holy precepts God set forth in His Word. It’s a setting aside of the ego and allowing God to be the One who leads. It’s also about having peace, knowing through thick and thin, your spouse will be there, looking out for your best interests, never seeking to cause you harm…and so much more.
It was a great lesson, and one I desperately needed to learn. Don’t you think? I was so happy to finally see and know truth — it set a part of me free that had been in chains for so long. But the lesson didn’t end there. God told me to take what He had shown me and apply it. I don’t mean He told me to run out and get married. He showed me how I’ve been so bitter and disillusioned with love and marriage that I’ve passed those thoughts and feelings on to my children. I hear my sons say often they don’t ever want to be married. Why would they ever look at love and marriage in a positive light when their mother has only negative things to say on the subject? They all knew how much I despised the thought of marriage, because to me marriage = prison. There won’t be another negative word about marriage to cross my lips. It wasn’t marriage that hurt me, it was the person to whom I’d been joined.
My greatest desire for my children is that they grow in wisdom and live their lives serving our Savior. I want them to be healthy, happy adults — and if God intends for them to have a spouse, I want to see them in a happy marriage, not surviving a life of misery. For that to happen, they need me to show them what is good and right. I pray for God to cover me in grace as I work to change what I’ve taught them thus far.
I know my bitterness concerning marriage hasn’t just affected my children. Everyone close to me has had to endure it. And I’m so very sorry. I love you for loving me in spite of it.
So this is my new prayer: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” ~Psalm 19:13-14
Along with that, I ask Him to fill me with new words that will not only bring Him glory, but that people would see less and less of me and more and more of Him.
Give Me Words To Speak — Aaron Shust
Calloused and bruised
Dazed and confused
My Spirit is left wanting something more
Than my selfish hopes
And my selfish dreams
I’m lying with my face down to the floor
I’m crying out for more
Give me Words to speak
Don’t let my Spirit sleep
‘Cause I can’t think of anything worth saying
But I know that I owe You my life
So give me Words to speak
Don’t let my Spirit sleep
Every night, every day
I find that I have nothing I can say
So I stand here in silence awaiting Your guidance
I’m wanting only Your voice to be heard
Let them be Your Words
Let them be Your words
I just don’t understand this life that I’ve been living
I just don’t understand
I just don’t understand these lies I’ve been believing
I just don’t understand
I know that I owe you my life