I had some interesting personal reflections in the past couple days, as I launch back into a new semester of school, begin work on honor society activity planning, and work on writing new material and respond to comments and private e-mail about existing posts.
I thought with irony about the comments by Tom Holladay of Saddleback Church on the subject of domestic violence. One of the problems with his dismissal of the issue was the way he condensed the entire situation to one of “avoiding pain.”
Without even getting into all the other problems with his answer or the extensive theological errors involved, I have been thinking about the dramatic difference in being set free from the chains of abuse.
This was certainly not why I left my marriage. I didn’t even have this on my radar. But I have been unbound as a person by being released from an abusive marriage. Now, in my case, I must qualify this with the understanding that I spent 13 years growing and being changed by God inside my marriage before I left it. So this would not necessarily be true merely by the act of leaving an abusive marriage.
But seven years into my marriage I began to ask God to change me. My purpose at that point was to have him fix whatever it was that was wrong with me that was causing my husband to be angry at me and causing me to cause our marriage problems. I completely believed my husband’s and mother-in-law’s perspective that I must be doing something wrong.
I think God may have had a little smile on His face when He said, “Sure, I’ll do that for you,” knowing He was answering a different question than the one I thought I was asking. He did change me. He started right away by beginning to expose the abuse of my past and getting me to deal with it. He began to teach me the truth from His Word – line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.
He started to show me who He had made when He created me. He showed me that He made me very deliberately with particular gifts and abilities – and these were good things. So when my husband belittled these gifts and abilities and personal characteristics of uniqueness, I began to understand my husband’s perspective must be wrong because he was calling God a liar. God called His work “very good” but my husband was always calling it bad or evil.
That person that God called “very good” was not only beaten down in my marriage, that person was called evil, those attributes that God designed for His good were criticized, belittled and condemned, and most of all – I was forced to deny my God and everything He had created in me, taught me, just about every breath He put in me, to obey my husband.
Within my marriage, it was not acceptable for me to be me. My husband did not like my gregarious personality. He did not like me to do things outside our home – and I never was a wandering butterfly. It’s not as if he had any grounds to complain because I was never home.
He did not like me to teach, speak, write (he didn’t get me to completely stop this, though I did limit it), or sing (and he didn’t get me to stop this one most of the time). He even tried to get me not to go to church – and then told people I had “quit going to church.” He criticized every idea or thought I had that was not the same as his. He believed I was literally evil because I did not agree with his politics on every point. Pretty much everything about me was unacceptable, though he would say this was not true if asked point-blank.
I knew life would be different outside that bubble of complete condemnation and rejection. But I had no idea how radically different it would be. Because God had already done so much work healing me – the person of who I am — before I left my marriage, it has been similar to being a bird let out of a cage. That is such an over worn metaphor. But I can’t think how better to describe it.
I’m still feeling for the boundaries and haven’t found them yet. I don’t know yet what that fully-realized me God intends is going to look like. But it’s a person God called before the foundations of the earth with a specific purpose of good works planned, for which He has deliberately suited me. And I really like the person He created me to be! I love being me. It is exciting, exhilarating, a little scary, and awe inspiring to watch.
Filed under: abuse and the church, divorce, Family Abuse & Relationships, marriage | Tagged: anger, domestic abuse, domestic abuse in Christian marriage, domestic violence, marital abuse, rage, violence |