“I Told My Secret, and the Church…”

A true account by S. Michaels

I lived on the gorgeous Pacific Coast of the United States. Beautiful sunrises, sunsets…sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks just off shore. The sea…sometimes calm and sometimes tumultuous. The seashore…a place to dream, a place to hurt or a place to escape the confusion and loneliness of life. Everyone should have such a place to go.

The years have taken an emotional toll…a marriage too seldom calm and too often tumultuous. The gorgeous Pacific Coast now so far away…I needed a new place to dream, a place to hurt and escape the confusion and loneliness that engulfed my Christian existence. I found it on the lap of God where He covers me with His wings; a place where my trust and faith get renewed and His balm of Gilead heals my heart.

I never told anyone about the verbal and emotional abuse in my marriage. I did the expected thing for a Christian wife—I kept my secret for over 35 years. I, and our children, endured the stress from the abuse…not calling it abuse for no one in the church ever talked about this insidious pervasive form of abuse…even though the Bible does.

We went to church every time the doors were open and held many positions in the church. My husband appeared spiritual, meek and wonderful to everyone who knew him and I kept my secret…as a good Christian wife should…or so I thought.

The abuse escalated, as any abuse will if left unattended. He never hit me but he started drawing his hand up to backhand me…once too often. I began to be afraid of him and absolutely did not know what recourse I had as a Christian wife. I didn’t even know if I could talk to my pastor without my husband’s permission.

God began speaking to my heart about being a help meet* to my husband. At first I didn’t “get it” for I worked and purposed to be a help meet for over 35 years…and I believed a good one. But God finally got my attention and I realized I had not been a godly help meet because I did nothing to help him stop sinning…for abuse is sin. God shocked me and drove me to His Word, to my dearest friend and Titus 2 Woman, and to my adult daughter. At my daughter’s urging I eventually telephoned my pastor after my husband, for the first time, unleashed on me in public–at church–because he had looked for me and couldn’t find me.

My pastor had praise for me for keeping my secret…for honoring my husband and making my husband always look good to others. He had no words for me…no counsel. He decided that for him to confront my husband would be to drive him out of the church…the place he needed to be to grow in the Lord…to change. He prayed with me while on the phone. He never checked back with me to see if anything was better or worse.

God had to change much religious thinking I had been steeped in for over 40 years…wrong thinking. I finally came to the point, in abiding fellowship with God, where I stepped forward to be a help meet and tried to help my husband see we needed to go to counseling. What was his response to me? Rage! He told me he would leave before he talked to anyone about himself. He told me he was too far gone for help.

Not long after that encounter—after days of prayer–I took a deep breath and with a calmness that surprised me I ‘drew a line in the sand.’ I never told him I would leave him but I told him, “NO more!” My failing health could not take the stress of living with his ups and downs and his only acting like a Christian at church. I would not, could not, take it anymore.

He had no response and was totally silent for several days. I then began to hear him speak and act in ways that let me know he had obviously taken this matter to God. There were victorious changes…slowly. Are the changes superficial or steeped in his heart? After two years I still cannot really tell. However, I had helped him strive to quit committing the sins of scornfulness and anger towards me…his wife whom he is commanded to love as Christ loves the church.

*Genesis 2:18 “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” When God created Eve, he called her an help-meet whch are the Hebrew words ‘ezer kenegdo’. Help meet is our word for “lifesaver”. Kenegdo means alongside, or opposite to, a counterpart.

When my husband was drowning in the in the sin of scorn, anger and hatefulness was it not my God-given responsibility to come alongside him as his lifesaver …his help meet? And I firmly believe by my silence and not being his life saver I enabled him…in reality giving him permission to treat me any way he chose.