What Is On The Mountain?

Who could possibly desire to smoke “weed” when our highs in the Lord are far greater than anything we would smoke? I have never smoked even a regular cigarette, so can’t speak to anything “smoked”, but certainly have heard folks talk about the experience. I know every day of our lives can’t be a mountain top encounter. However, I know that when seeking God’s direction for us, even the valleys can be filled with “son” shine and fragrant flowers.

If we allow it, the daily elements of life can rapidly pull us into dark valleys of despair, disappointment and frustration. Each of us also realize that often while attempting to seek only the positive of life among the cacti, Satan will try us to the maximum.  We comprehend the more we seek God, the more Satan is there is tempt us. I’ve heard several pastors and bible study authors say recently, “when Satan has us in his grasp, there is no need to entice us.”  I have to remind myself of this when I see persons whose lives have very few or minor trials. I have compared myself to them, asking God why, when I’m trying so diligently to do what He wills and to be where He desires me to be, must I be the one that has been stung, burned and scarred by life? God reminds me He knows this, but He is with me.

I will never forget the wise words from one of my Christian counselors. I shared with him that as a Christian I didn’t wish to be angry. He queried me in-depth about this concern. I informed him, it would be detrimental to my testimony. His reply took me off guard. “God gave us the emotion of anger, so it’s fine to be angry. However, it is what we do with the anger which matters.” I reflect on that often while tussling with life. When I’m in the valley, I choose to climb up and out as rapidly as possible to experience God’s high for me. Emotions such as anger prevent us from experiencing the joys God desires for us. Psalm 28:7 NIV, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. “

Are Your Ears Open?

When you have those times of life when you are discouraged and if you live alone with no one to converse with, do you reach out to a friend for a word of encouragement? Do they “listen” with their ears and hearts? Perhaps, they are too eager to give their opinion.  It’s not always words of inspiration, but quite often adverse.  These persons may choose to diminish our heartaches, to validate their circumstances are worse than ours. We understand life is not always ideal. Nonetheless, we seek the “gift of encouragement” during these perplexing situations.

Isn’t it wonderful that because God always knows our needs, He often gives us what our fellow mankind refuses?  After reaching out to a friend while encountering a particularly arduous situation, I realized they lacked understanding or concern. God knew this even before I telephoned the friend or read His word.

As I read my devotional, Chuck Swindoll shared what I needed, “encouragement is the opposite of discouragement. Hope is the opposite of despair. When you accept the fact that sometimes seasons are dry and times are hard and that God is in control of both you will discover a sense of divine refuge, because the hope is then in God and not in yourself.”

However, when you know someone has confided in you seeking encouragement, I trust you will use God’s gift of “hearing and listening” to be an inspiration to them. Romans 5:3-4 NKJ, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character, and character hope.”

Is This Love? Conclusion

Dear Readers,

As I’ve taken you on this short journey of domestic violence, I trust it might have caused you to reflect on situations you have been aware of but dismissed as DV. Focus Ministries says, “behind closed doors is a cancer that has permeated our Christian community and is destroying our families. There is no typical batterer…but the word of God calls them fools. Not every fool is an abuser, but every abuser is a fool.”

Brenda Branson and Paula Silva, “Violence Among Us”, states, power and control are the fundamental elements that drive abusive behavior. When joined with entitlement, they become powerful forces in an abuser’s mind, giving him the right to speak or act in any way necessary to gain and maintain control over his wife and children.” There is also an excellent resource on white collar abusers, Not To People Like Us, Hidden Abuse In Upscale Marriages.

As with my own saga of child abuse and DV there were hundreds of emotionally and physically painful situations which were not shared in these few short blogs. There were countless incidents which bore deep scars into my heart; the nights of sleeping in my car in parking lots to avoid the physical abuse, knowing that my husband mandated I work and bring home a paycheck, but then went to the bank to remove my name from any/all assets so they would be in his name only, telling our daughter he didn’t care if I starved to death. The list is lengthy and the assaults equal, but I did survive each of these situations and countless more with God’s love and strength.

Abuse becomes the “norm” for the victim and a way of life. They never know what will upset their abuser. During a recent interview to become a volunteer for an organization that helps abused victims, I shared that even though educated, I was an idiot when I believed my life would change with love and devotion. The interviewer reminded me that many victims of DV believe that.

Yes, I overcame the beatings and physical bruises from my childhood. Over the years, even the unkind words my parents spoke against me faded with time. I also returned to college to complete the education Charles requested I abandon. However, as I’ve said to dozens of counselors, I never understood the abuse from my husband for he is the one that asked me to be his wife; not reversed.  I loved him, or I would never have chosen to marry him. Even when he withheld what I so greatly yearned; his emotional and physical love, I continued to believe; to have the faith and trust that God would heal us.

The greatest sorrow during the 44-year marriage was when I learned Charles withheld years of love and devotion to me, but readily and quickly gave it to another when he began an affair before our divorce.  That is a sorrow which will remain. However, as I also noted during my volunteer interview, God didn’t allow such abuse and destruction of a marriage, family and home, if not for His glory. As I shared when I began this series of blogs on DV, I have been a survivor. God gave me the strength to not only endure, but to be a testimony to others whom may be walking the same path. Please remember, those sustaining such trials, seek only someone to hear them, to believe them and to understand them. Proverbs 29:11, NKJ, “a fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”

Is This Love? Part 8

As I continue to share some of the highlights from the Faith Based Domestic Violence Training at Focus Ministries, there is no way I can cover all that we discussed, but hopefully as you read some of the traits/actions of an abuser, if you know of anyone experiencing such treatment, you can recommend they seek solace from the abuse. I had no resources, so I continued to endure my abuse.  God knew this would happen. I don’t believe abuse is God’s divine will, but rather His permissive will. The end result will be that God receives the glory for allowing me to survive and share that I was able to overcome the sorrows and evils of abuse.

Focus Ministries states, “abuse is a heart problem, not a marriage problem.” This is most valid, for what man whom loves his mate abuses her? We have covered numerous areas of both verbal and emotional abuse. Yet they are too vast to include each of them. There is probably not a survivor whom has not experienced shaming, insulting, ridiculing, using words to destroy self-worth, demeaning, accusing/blaming, abusive anger, withholding, discounting, blocking/diverting, judging/criticizing, trivializing, undermining, forgetting, ordering and denial. For me personally, I have experienced each of the above traits and most often dozens of times during our 44-year marriage.

One of the most disappointing was when I was seeking so earnestly to become a better wife. While attending a bible study on becoming Godly wives, we were reminded we are not to putdown, criticize, complain about and/or condemn our husbands. We were asked to find one good trait about them every day; not a fabricated accolade, but something which we sincerely admired about our mates.

In spite of Charles’ abusive behavior toward me, he was and remains a good man. He was not a good husband to me, for his desire was not to be my husband. Nonetheless, on the third day of sincere gratitude to him, his harsh words of mockery caused tremendous heartache. He shouted at me as he said, “I’m so sick and tired of your contrived compliments.” I sobbed, as he bellowed at me. I assured him they were not contrived, but sincere. I reflect on the countless times I tried to show him how much I loved him, but my words and actions were received in anger and hostility.

As stated earlier in this series of blogs on DV, one can heal more readily from physical abuse than from emotional and verbal. The abuse toward the victim is as individualized as the abuser, but one of the current traits of emotional abuse is gaslighting; a tactic in which a person, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality or sanity. Yes, I certainly did. I was accused so often of being mentally ill, that I sought psychiatric counseling and was assured on each occasion that I was not at all mentally ill. However, psychologists and psychiatrists cited I suffered a type of PTSD from the length and severity of abuse.

In addition to gaslighting, Charles implemented some of the other forms of emotional abuse; “no judge would see you as a fit mother” (when I attempted to leave him when our children were young), “you are too sensitive” and “you are too emotional”  (I heard each of these statements from before we married through post-divorce), “if you hadn’t aggravated me, I wouldn’t have exploded at you,” (yes, how often I heard this one), “something is really wrong with you “(gaslighting).

“Abuse has no place in love.” Words spoken so honestly! Ephesians 5:25 NKJ, “husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

 

 

Is This Love? Part 7

As stated in the earlier DV blogs, abuse encompasses the minor emotional assaults to the major beatings which terminate in death. Do you believe silence is abuse? Professionals are not speaking of just sitting quietly while occupied with an interest, but deliberate and defiant refusal to address another person.  While our children resided in the home there were 15 days of total silence from Charles. There have been shorter periods of ceasing all communication, but this was the lengthiest. When we awakened there was no reply to “good morning”. When he arrived home, there was no reply to my greeting of “how was your day?” There was an adamant refusal to any form of communication.

I met with my pastor due to the perplexing behavior of Charles. He was a pastor with a great concern about his congregation and telephoned Charles for a meeting with the three of us. When the pastor queried Charles his behavior, his sole reply was that he was punishing me for not doing what he told me to do. Charles couldn’t recall the offense. How great is an offense one can’t recall?

Threats are also a form of emotional abuse, unless acted upon with physical and then they are both emotional and physical. I was threatened on a routine basis if I considered divorce or if I continued to discuss the abuse. “I will make you pay” and “you will live to regret this” were as commonplace comments from Charles, as “what is for dinner?”

Is restraining someone from leaving a room abuse? According to the NCADV shoving, poking, twisting limbs, blocking exits, pinning down, grabbing, pushing/pulling, pinching are all forms of physical abuse. I endured each of these and some to the extent of causing extreme emotional distress. Often times when Charles was physically abusing me, I would cry out and call him Clyde. He understood the motive behind these accusations due to the extreme physical abuse from my father, Clyde, until I was almost 18 years of age.

At age nine, our daughter pulled up her sleeve, exposing a bruise on her arm and stating, “Mommy, look what Daddy did.” Unfortunately, I too carried those same bruises routinely. He didn’t just grab our arms, he would twist them as he loudly and defiantly stated, “you listen to me.” Being shoved into closets and pinned against walls brought on something akin to an anxiety attack for I was reliving every merciless beating from my father. White collar abusers don’t want others to see their abuse, so they are careful where and how they abuse.

I’ve been awakened out of a sound sleep, while being dragged from bed by one arm. Charles had decided he wanted to talk and he believed physical abuse would stimulate my hearing. I have had his fingers poked repeatedly into my tightly, closed eyes.  I would cry out to please stop and utter over and over, “my ears work fine, but please, please don’t do this.” The physical abuse lingered for over 35 years of our marriage. Even though Charles didn’t bring blood to my body as my father did, the harshness and strength of his restraints while also yelling at me and spitting in my face left me shaken for days. Ephesians 4:32, ESV “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…”

Is This Love? Part 6

As I shared when I began the series of DV, this is atypical of my blogs on gratefulness. However, because this is a subject which most churches choose not to address, it is something which I feel is important to bring to the attention of other believers.

There are some support groups for victims of DV, but not for all.  I live in an area of approximately 1.25 million people. However, there are no support groups for women like myself. If I were currently being battered and needed emergency shelter, I could seek refuge. There is no support group for women living in or moving from the situation.  This is another aspect of the ostrich syndrome, “just can’t be happening if the women are with their abusers.”

Focus Ministries states, “abuse is not an isolated or a random incident in a relationship. It is a pattern of behavior. It is not the loss of control, but the opposite.” There are numerous traits and certainly abusers don’t display all the traits. However, if a victim must experience even several, that is too many. Charles frequently displayed some of those traits with his moodiness, nitpicking, putdowns, yelling, criticizing and withdrawing affection. Charles’ blatant refusal to show any form of affection, not even a hug, were among my greatest challenges in our marriage.  Having been severely battered by my parents, I trusted that the man I married would not only love me emotionally, but certainly physically.

Abusers also show frequent periods which DV professionals refer to as the “honeymoon period”. They will treat their victim with kindness for a short duration and then return to their numerus modes of abuse. These include but are not limited to: “I’m sorry”, pleading for forgiveness, promises to go to counseling, enlisting family support, “I’ll never do it again” and crying.  I have experienced each of these, some more discouraging than others, for I so greatly wanted to believe Charles was sincere.

I recall vividly when we had just celebrated our 25th anniversary while residing in FL. The marriage seemed hopeless. I had exhausted all resources for reconciling the marriage and contrary to the numerous directives from pastors to remain, I had no choice, but to be file for divorce. Charles turned on the tears of remorse and made countless promises, including all of the above.

I shared the analogy with him that for years I had been drowning, pleading for help to save the marriage. I said he would dangle a lifesaver over the edge of the ship, but always refused to throw it to me. The further I drifted out to sea, the less he was there to save us; our marriage. He sobbed as he said he wanted to save the marriage. After I withdrew the divorce petition, he had returned to the abuse and this time greater than before.

He also promised he wanted to go to my family as an accountability factor, touting he understood he had not been a godly husband or father and vowing he would do better. Those words died on his lips for he never made any effort to be accountable to anyone, including me. Such false and shallow words are certainly more destructive than making promises which one had no intentions of keeping. John 15:12 NIV “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

I Have Better For You!

Dear Blog Readers, As I shared when I began this latest series of blogs on domestic violence, I noted I’m sharing some of the outline and highlights from a training I attended with Focus Ministries. A reader noted the blog is too repetitive. Yes, the aspects of DV may indeed be to some persons, especially […]

Dear Blog Readers,

As I shared when I began this latest series of blogs on domestic violence, I noted I’m sharing some of the outline and highlights from a training I attended with Focus Ministries. A reader noted the blog is too repetitive. Yes, the aspects of DV may indeed be to some persons, especially those whom have never been victims of DV.

What about persons whom have been in a devastating accident or had a terminal illness or lived through a natural disaster, yet ALL survived and noted, “this is what has imprinted me.” This is what has made me the person I am today. I could not be as productive in some of the countless volunteer capacities which I’m involved with had I not been a part of that community at one time. I volunteer at a food pantry for I was born and reared in poor home and often went to bed hungry.

I’m a Casa (court appointed special advocate) for I was severely battered as a child. I make pillowcases for critically and terminally ill children because my own family lost many of its’ members to cancer. For over 50 years, I have prepared meals for those with a need which I call “care meals” for I have felt the sting of having a “need” and desiring a caring hand.

Thus, as i shared when I began this current series of blogs, it is to share w/those whom know of someone that is a victim of DV. If you haven’t attended workshops/training, etc. and certainly if you have never lived through such a time, then yes, this is “boring and routine.”   I have read and re-read many person’s testimonies whom have shared the same story for years and years. Joni Eareckson Tada comes to my mind as well as many others in the faith-based community whose lives are living testimonies to the glory of the Lord.

As I shared on day one of this current DV blog, numerous counselors and those even in my church or local community have said “but why are you not angry and/or bitter?” I can proclaim, “because of the Lord. He has given me the strength to endure.” The notes from the training will be concluded in the next few days of blogging. This has been a format to share with those whom have not attended such training.

If you do choose to read, there might be a small snippet of information whereby you recognize that a friend or family member may be experiencing this. You can perhaps then say, “I hadn’t realized that before.” Just yesterday I received a message stating my blog has opened their eyes to something they now realize a family member is experiencing. When I have covered the highlights of the Focus Ministries training, I will resume the format of appreciation in “daily living.” Blessings, Jane

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