I do not tell this story to scare women who are in their own hell on earth. Cheryl’s story is a sobering one. I have heard people say, but he wouldn’t really hurt me or take my life. My sister felt the same way. The reality is it takes a second to end a life, to forever change the world. How many people would the loss of your life effect?
If you have experienced abuse and the church minimized it, you are not alone. You are not crazy and “under God’s wrath” for not wanting to live like that. I grew up in the church and watched my parents deal with corrupt pastors. If they confronted the corruption, they would be given the cold shoulder by all the leadership until they finally left due to the passive-aggressive hostility. I thought this was normal.
What would the warning label look like for something like Rejection? Betrayal? Fear? I wonder what you would place on a warning label like that? Using caution and warning labels all came about after someone experienced the consequences of a poor choice. It's why we have laws and regulations to protect society, right? Cook thoroughly. No texting while driving. Wear a hard hat. And so on.
The last two years I've neglected my garden. Other things were more important. I managed to use some of my extra time to weed, but nothing beyond that. I remember last year staring at my garden plot, after weeding it, and thinking it was good to get rid of all those pesky weeds. And it is! But leaving the garden with only dirt, I left it vulnerable and bare.
Love is a shield. When you wear this perfect love, you are protected. Wait a minute?! What are you saying? How is this true? Don't you know I've been burned by "love", I have a whole story to prove it! Don't you know the people I trusted and allowed to love me also pained me? Betrayed me? Cut me so deep... I never wanted to "love" again! How can you say this?
Before I married Brian, my cup was whole, pretty, and of value. Carelessness and abuse chipped it over time, eventually breaking it beyond repair. It became scarred, useless, ugly, and of absolutely no value. How many of you feel like this cup? I didn’t think I could ever be whole again. I didn’t think I would ever have value or purpose. I felt irreparably destroyed by my relationship with Brian.
I couldn’t put much money aside, and I had no privacy. Brian controlled the money and everything was monitored. Questions were asked for anything I did or researched on the computer. I still managed to come up with reasonable excuses for opening a personal bank account, researching my credit, and a few other things. These are things you have a right to do. If you ask Him to, God will give you creative ideas and wise answers when you need them and help you prepare for the unknown future. Thankfully nothing will surprise Him.
“If you EVER tell anyone what has gone on in this office between you and me, I will break every bone in your body. Do you see this [oak] desk? I had one like this at the last church, and a teenage girl in my youth group made me angry. I broke the desk in half with my fist. I will do the same thing to you. I will break both your arms, and both your legs if you ever say anything. Do you understand that clearly?”
As I was informed soon after the wedding: “You’re my wife and the Bible says you can’t withhold yourself from me. I expect you to be available when I want it.” His expectation was every day and extra on Sunday “because that’s what I want and that’s my right.” My feelings didn’t matter and it wasn’t up for discussion. I did submit my body, but grew to hate it.
I had many reasons for my own rotten marriages – they were my reasons, usually born out of fear of being alone – and I prayed for God to bless MY CHOICE. He was with me, but He didn’t snap His divine fingers and cause my corrupt husbands to suddenly transform into decent human beings. I had to live with the consequences of my choice. When I came to my senses and called out to God for help, He was there to guide me out of the hell. His blessing was on my LEAVING.