A while back, I posted about a woman wrote to me about doing The Respect Dare book. Having completed all the assignments, she found herself stuck on the last one, where she was to talk about what she had learned as a result of completing the dares. When I wrote about her circumstances originally, I was shocked with her situation.
Her husband was still beating her, although less frequently.
And the last time he assaulted her, it was less severe.
She could actually get out of bed the next day without too much trouble.
His words continued to lack gentleness and kindness, although he did say “thank you,” to her once, which was unusual.
He continued to criticize her at every turn, although for some reason, she felt the emotional injuries a little less.
At the end of her description of her struggles with this cruel man, she concluded that she felt led to model Christ to him, because he had no others in his life who knew Him.
She literally said to me, “I am led to be a martyr in my own home. I married poorly, but Christ’s light is shining in me, and I lay down my life for His glory. My husband is precious to Him, as am I. I choose to endure these things that my husband might be saved.”
I marveled at what she saw God doing in her relationship, and the tenacity with which she had developed. I also think I didn’t encourage her to separate and find safety strongly enough. I encouraged her to talk with her pastor, a counselor, etc.
What I didn’t know at the time was that there are too many in the church who are telling women to endure these things – that “submission” essentially means she has no voice.
That’s not biblical.
And I fully disagree with the many leaders who claim Matthew 18 has no place in marriage and is reserved for church discipline. That’s utter nonsense.
I also know now from psychological research, that when a wife gives her husband everything he wants, and hides sin like this, she is not just enabling him, but creating an environment where the sin gets an even tighter hold on him. She must be a respecter of herself as a temple of the Holy Spirit – and yes, that can be as scary and dangerous to do as enduring the abuse he’s dishing.
But every once in a while, someone like this gal lets me know she’s staying, enduring, and actively choosing suffering, because she feels led.
And I support her – even though I don’t personally agree with her position on staying – and I do my best to continue to share resources and encourage her to take action that brings life to their family, dangerous as it is.
I will tell you their stories help keep my own life and complaints in perspective. It’s tough to feel sorry for yourself when others are enduring physical and verbal abuse.
Proverbs 24 come to mind today:
11 Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.
What’s mind-blowing is that the woman who wrote to me doesn’t have it as bad as some.
Each day, NOW, in this time period, every 3 seconds, a Christian is martyred for his or her faith.
Check the Voice of the Martyrs Website for a free copy of a book that will put whatever you are dealing with into a different perspective.
And today, I dare you to pray for the Christians who are persecuted around the world, some in their own homes, right here in America. Be thankful you aren’t one of them.
But if you are one of the too many women whose husband is abusive, I dare you to be brave. I dare you to get some help. There is a cycle in abuse, and you are not breaking that cycle by believing his apologies “this time.” He has to be healed.
So do you.
And you can be of great help to your husband, even though he won’t enjoy it, by putting an end to the enabling and helping him get some help.
It’s not your fault. No person has a right to hit, slap, shove, or threaten another. No one has the right to make you feel afraid, to call you names, scream at you, isolate you from others, control what you eat, drink, or spend.
And you can’t help him overcome this or change your circumstances by keeping quiet. And if you have kids, you are teaching them to abuse or be victims themselves.
It has to stop.
Yes, I am daring you to call your husband to a higher standard of behavior, to help him be a better man, by putting an end to the destruction. Understand that if he is treating your children this way, you have an obligation to protect them.
Here’s a resource from Family Life Ministries that will help you: A Way of Hope – Seven Steps Toward Breaking the Cycle of Violence, by Leslie J. Barner. It’s less than $2 on Kindle – and you can download a free reader onto your computer if you don’t have a Kindle. Here’s how to do this if you don’t know.
Dare you today to view your own circumstances through the lens of Christ and the Holy Spirit, paying attention to whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy, and excellent (instead of being contentious with those you live and work with) and pray for those who do you harm. I hope you see yourself and your children as those positive things.
But understand that The Respect Dare book has little to no impact in these circumstances, but will grow you closer to God – it should be done after or with A Way of Hope, when jail time or reconciliation has taken place and you are safe.
Thankful to be on the journey with you.