God's Healing at Work

It only took one time…

I was married for fourteen years. We were blessed with two children. I lived in abuse for some of that time. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence; there were good times in between. There were good days, weeks, and sometimes months, but they were tempered with fear and restraint. I learned veryquickly: that tone of voice, that physical stance, that look…it only took one time.

Seeing him beat a friend while telling me that if I didn’t get in the car with him right now, he wouldn’t stop…it only took one time. Disagreeing about how much money to tithe and suddenly being lifted off my feet, his hands around my neck…it only took one time. Arguing about where to live and what to do about an inheritance, and being picked up and thrown into a door jamb, watching him load a gun and threaten to kill himself if I left, all in front of our children. Watching my oldest child weeping that Dad was going to kill himself and the youngest struggling to unload the gun…it only took one time. And each ‘one’ time, he was sorry, really sorry.

But for me there was a last time. I filed for a restraining order, again. This effectively cut me off from my church, since my husband was going there. My pastor told me that I needed to be in joint counseling with my husband and that I needed to forgive. I felt criticized and victimized all over again. “I wasn’t allowed to be safe”, and “It was my responsibility to fix it”…this is what my pastor was telling me.

In all honesty, if I hadn’t had a group of women who took me in, loved me, cried with me, prayed for me, offered me shelter, challenged me and supported me without judgment or condemnation, I would have crumbled. They were the arms and heart of God that met my need. I experience God’s grace and comfort through them. Oh, that there were more people willing to hear the yucky stuff--to listen, believe, and care.

Date Rape

I have been a victim of several types of abuse, but what I would like to write about is date rape. I was raped when I was sixteen, but it wasn’t by a stranger. It was by my boyfriend. I remember it vividly, because it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Several times I was forced to have sex with my boyfriend, and once even forced to give him oral sex in front of his mother. It was humiliating and very uncomfortable, but what does a young girl do? I mean, he loved me, right? NO! I have learned that no man that physically or mentally abuses a woman really loves them. Through God and my support group, I have found true peace and joy within myself.

A much broader scope

I am a verbally and emotionally abused wife. My husband was a very angry man who grew worse as time went on. I was saved as a teen and am now 71 years old.

During my many years of going to church, no one addressed the need in my life. I was told I needed to be submissive, a better Christian and wife. Many hurtful years ensued, until a support group was formed in my church.

At first I didn’t join in, not knowing I could be helped. But now I am so thankful. I have learned about boundaries and anger management, and have been assured that what I thought the Bible said about submission was true, not just one verse, but in the context of the whole scriptures. As Ephesians 5 says, we are to submit one to another and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it. This is a much broader scope than “wives submit to your husbands”, period.

I am so thankful to God for what He has brought into my life, and for the women who are like me, supporting one another, and the loving woman who brought this into our church body. Our church supports this much needed work, and I am thankful for them also.

Freed from Shame

I stayed silent about my abuse for thirty years. I rededicated my life to Christ and started attending church regularly, about fifteen years ago. Still I kept my shameful secret, until I joined a Christian women’s support group two years ago. There I finally felt safe enough to disclose this awful thing that had happened to me. I thank God daily for this group of women who love me despite my abuse, maybe even because of it.

Our group has freed me from my shame and self-destruction, and given me a new and better relationship with God. With their help and support, my soul is being healed. Now I am looking forward to a future free of the pain and shame of a lost childhood. My life is improving daily, thanks to my group, and the love of my Lord and Savior.

Support through trials

I’ve been in this support group about three years. When I was invited to come, I was a mess. I am a mom, and now a grandma a couple of times over.

I was molested by a cousin when I was young, and have always been very protective with my children because of this. We are a God-fearing family, loving, supportive, and wanting to be used by God. Therefore, it was quite a shock when our only daughter started experimenting with drugs in junior high. Soon after, she started running away.

I’d find her weeks later over on the west coast, and go get her. Sometimes she came home willingly, sometimes kicking and screaming. She became very abusive: verbal and physical attacks, lying, stealing, breaking all our rules, manipulating and controlling. It seemed she would come home with a new problem every time; STD’s, strung out on meth. She would have nightmares and withdrawals. After two years of this I told her I wouldn’t come looking any more if she chose to leave home. Before the next year was out she was gone, pregnant, and asking me to help.

I was as involved as a sixteen-year-old runaway would let me be. I was at the birth. I told her if I ever found her doing drugs I would fight to get her son.

He was taken away from her before he was a year old, and put in foster care for five months. I have now had my grandson for fifteen months. I have full legal custody. My daughter is in prison for some of her crimes.

I tell you all this, so you will see some of the trials I’ve been through. I am thankful for the support of my sisters in Christ, to be able to share deeply with them, cry hard, laugh long and rejoice over the tiniest step forward. They shelter me, support me, pray with me, and hold my secrets as a precious and rare gift. Without them I wouldn’t have made it this far with my sanity intact!

Jesus has been first and foremost with this group, and I wouldn’t trade a one of these sisters for anything! It takes time to trust and open up with the full truth. These women have been patient, loving and kind. The healing will come….

In the Palm of His Hand

I was born in 1941, and had a very happy childhood until 1952, when my Dad was seriously injured in an accident while he worked as a lineman. It was in the Mojave Desert of California, where the wind blows all the time. He was working on a pole next to the high lines, when a gust of wind blew a hot wire against him. The pole had a faulty ground wire, and he took 27,000 volts of electricity. They had to amputate his arm at the elbow, and the high voltage damaged his brain.

My Dad developed paranoid schizophrenia; one minute he was suicidal, and the next homicidal. He could not be controlled. He was addicted to prescription drugs, and overdosed repeatedly. We witnessed him try to commit suicide many times, saw his violent rages against our Mama. We saw and heard way too much, and suffered beatings ourselves, but the authorities couldn’t see the harm to the family. Finally he came home with a gun, intending to kill all of us and then himself. After this terrifying incident involving the whole family, they at last realized he was truly a sick man, and put him into a mental hospital. We had suffered for three years by that time.

Two years later we were orphaned when our Mama was killed in an auto accident. I was 15, my sister ten, and our brother six years old. We were placed into the hands of a “family friend”. This man had raped me four months before Mama died, but had threatened harm to her and my siblings if I told, so I said nothing. I was naïve, and my sex education consisted of brutal rape. After he became our guardian, I was married to him and became pregnant. While I was trying to stop him from raping my ten year old sister, he punched me in the stomach, which caused many complications for my child. I didn’t lose the baby, but she has suffered major and perplexing health problems.

He did rape my sister, and abused my little brother. My siblings were taken from him after two years, but I didn’t manage to get someone to help me get away from that horrible life for four years, which were years of pure hell. My own aunt and uncle did nothing to help, and told us “It couldn’t have been all that bad, he took care of you, didn’t he?”.

After starting to attend the support group at our church in 2003, I learned to forgive this man. I learned that God doesn’t want anyone to be abused like we were, and that forgiving didn’t mean it was okay, it just meant that I could let go of this man from the jail inside my heart, and let God take care of it all. It was like a ton of weight was lifted from my shoulders. The sweet relief was breathtaking.

I have learned much about God; that he always loves me and will never let me go, that I can trust Him, that He never wishes this kind of harm on anyone, and that He is ALWAYS there to take care of all that does harm us. The people who harm us will have to face Him, and He will deal with it all. Some have said my sister and I should write a book. If we did, it would be called In the Palm of His Hand, as that is where He kept us all through that ugly, horrible time.