Need More Time?
I remember the deafening brief silence in the room after she told her story.
Our worlds rocked by the horror of what she not only endured, but rose above, not only put all of our own personal challenges into perspective, but completely shredded any notion of perfection in families.
Awed by her resolve, her bravery, and inspired by what God had done, the entire class erupted into applause, and honored her with a standing ovation.
She is the woman whose story is told in Dare 39, in The Respect Dare.
Her story of incest, rape, abortion, and hope inspired all of us in a Daughters of Sarah class.
Once in a while, someone will email us or fill out a feedback form with the cruelest comment of all, that the stories aren’t real. These are moments where I experience something I can only label as, “righteous anger.” Yes, I get angry at other times, but honestly, most of those times, my anger is SIN. But there are the above moments, the anger boils at people who should understand and don’t, who shouldn’t judge, but do. And because I knew her, because her story is worthy, I want to defend her.
Over the last four weeks, I received a few comments about Dare 39.
Normally, I’m able to sort through feedback with discernment, but after a week of criticism and personal attacks aimed at me (thanks to a controversial blog post – be sure to check the comments!! Especially the 3rd with the link, it’s excellent), the most recent of the comments caused me pause. Asked to change the content of the dare, I began to wonder. And because the nature of the request was polite, I began seriously considering it.
I even started to doubt that I had done the right thing in the first place when I wrote it…
My resolve to obey God actually wavered.
(coincidently, our family had also fallen ill with a bug, my husband was out of country again, and I was getting little sleep, little time with God, and became distracted by physical illness and pain, and voices that were not His)
At any rate, somehow, I forgot that I adamantly experienced tons of “coincidences” and “miracles of memory” (those of you who, like me, are pushing 50 or are older know what I’m referring to here… J) and confirmations that the stories in The Respect Dare were chosen by Him.
I forgot the few hours it took to actually write the book as the stories and questions literally poured onto the pages as fast as I could type them.
I forgot the confirmations of what I felt led to do and how to do it that actually came from His Word. (Did you know that the phrase, “publish ye,” is ONLY in the King James? J)
I forgot how certain I was that it was His doing in the first place (while I was happy to take ownership over the typos and other errors).
I forgot the reverence and awe I experienced when it was finished, just in knowing that I had been a small part of something He was doing.
And I forgot the other “coincidences” and “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me!-strange-happenings” that have the book being published by Thomas Nelson in December.
I forgot, because I spent about four days consumed and distracted, living life at the last minute, instead of by plan, with the first and most important thing of the day consistently NOT happening: spending time with Him.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly our focus changes when we lose daily time with Him. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – nothing impacts our faith journey more than daily time with Him (or the lack of it).
And I’m 100% certain that starting my day alone but with Him, studying His Word, dwelling on its Truths, focusing on His will, and listening for His instructions make those days radically different than days spent indulging in the tyranny of the urgent. It is a small sacrifice to make time for Him…it’s always so much easier to get up late and rush to wherever we’re “supposed to be.” Might I suggest that the first appointment of the day is earlier than the rest, and the most important?
Don’t really want to get up early and spend time with Him? Ask Him to help you ache for Him like Isaiah does here.
At any rate, I somehow managed to follow the Bible’s advice, and asked for suggestions from those wiser and smarter than me.
And the end result was an outpouring of support and gentle reminders of what I was supposed to do in the first place – and a very specific direction on how to help those who can’t relate or find the story disturbing. I stand back in awe at what women I’ve never met have shared with me to encourage me to leave the story in…the original woman of Dare 39 is in good company. There are many like her out there.
Sacrifices of transparency, confessions and testimonies of healing have filled my inbox in the last several days. I weep for their pain, and I celebrate their bravery, and rejoice with them at what He is doing in their lives.
Some things that happen to people are meant to be disturbing because they just are.
I can no more water down their pain than I can the testimony of the Cross. And as we become tougher as women, knowingly walking into stories of hardship and suffering, we can choose to also encounter those in the trenches that Jesus hung out with more of His confidence, His love, and His impact. And we can marvel at the tsunami-sized hope that He provides to those suffering storms of unimaginable proportions.
So yes, even though I’ve been repeatedly told that the story isn’t graphic, I am going to add a small disclaimer in the way it was suggested to me by the women who have earned the right to talk about these things, to help those who might be upset by the raw truth of their experience and pain.
But the story needs to stay.
Their ability to live, love, and forgive should inspire us all, and put our own lives into perspective. God used the woman of Dare 39 to change me, to bring me perspective on suffering, to help me realize how weak I really was, and give me hope of what was possible in me and my marriage, because of what He had done for her. He called me to an action that changed so very much in my marriage and all my other relationships – and I know He is doing the same for others, too.
And so many women who are suffering with similar issues have found a voice, healing, and hope as a result of God’s choice to put it in there. We offer supporting resources to those who want more information here. What is neat, is that even those who had negative comments about it inspired action on our part – without them, we wouldn’t have had this dialogue about Dare 39, and as a result of that discussion, we put up the resources page, and will be adding to it in the coming days. Please feel free to share your story and/or resources on the above link. One of the reasons we suffer is to provide encouragement to those enduring pain now and help them grow closer to Him. I find that so inspiring!
Dare you today to ask Him to help you spend time with Him every morning. When I first did this, He started waking me up at 5am. J He wants to be with us, wants to us to learn to hear His voice…Double-dog-dare you to share or join the conversation by commenting or click on the Isaiah link above…Triple-dog-dare you not to waste time condemning yourself (or others) for wandering away – just go do the right thing.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)
Thank You, Father, that You are this way. Oh, Amen.
Glad to be on the journey with you – the company is awesome!
Love to you,
Mandi – I am praying for you. I can’t imagine the pain and anger at having your sons taken away. I have met women who view ‘getting out’ as failure. I have met women who are abused emotionally and physically who continue to stay believing they are doing the right thing. I believe that are times though, when we are called away from the situation, when God wants to get a spouse’s attention and speak without us there to possibly muddy the waters.
I believe that God is in charge. Of everything. That the pain and hurt we experience in our lives can be used for good. I believe that He loves you and your children. And your husband too.
I hope you have been able to find a trusted counselor to speak with. My marriage has had emotional issues, not physical, but my wounds still require careful tending. Yours do too, I am sure. Speaking to someone helps me sort them out.
There are times when I am not ready to forgive. I simply confess it – God, I do not have a forgiving heart. – and ask him to forgive my hard heart. A simple prayer I learned years ago, ‘Lord, make me willing to be willing.’ is a prayer I prayed for years regarding physical, emotional and spiritual abuse that I had experienced.
I am praying for you, and celebrating your strength, courage and willingness to be transparent.
Blessings to you, Sister.
Thank you 🙂 I am very blessed that we live in a modern era and my kids have been able to reach me via text and e-mail. In a world where we always hear about the bad stuff on the internet and facebook this is a huge case for technology. It’s both harder and easier in that I can communicate in some sort of morse code across the miles, even though their ages and developing literacy skills can create a gap in communication. It is bittersweet. I have responsibility and investment but no control. I want to just kick and scream that I can see that they need more, and while they are not abused they need more than they are being given. I want to support them in surviving their circumstances but to get too close is to make myself unable to function. The gap I need to be able to keep moving forward is the gap that stands between me and letting go. It’s still a failure to me sometimes.
You’re right about how important it is to have a witness to the story, it can’t die unmourned. Even though I am working towards putting my life back together sometimes its one step forward two steps back. Having a support system is so important. Realizing that we can’t do it alone and one person can’t be everything. I hope to build up my structure and life plan to a place where I can implement network building in my acquaintances and friends offline.
Many many thanks
Thank you Nina for being Courageous…. love you, and continue to pray for you and your ministry… Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Oh, girl, you spur me on. 🙂
I needed that Word.
Love to you, beautiful.
I think sometimes because TRD is being used by a lot of women who are trying to save a marriage, we forget that it really isn’t just in our hands. You can pray for an abuser, but to sacrifice yourself to abuse is not an acceptable answer. There is no glory in submitting gently to the hands that bruise and the mouth that kills with words. If I look back over 15 years, can I say it was ever right? I wanted it to be. I believed love would conquer all.
Right out the gates. Flag over red flag overlooked and even rejected with conviction because I felt if I loved this person correctly they would grow. He did. More abusive. It started off with play sparring on the first couple dates. HUGE RED FLAG. There is no such thing as play sparring, it is a way that abusers get you comfortable letting them into your space in confrontation and as their disrespect for you for letting them get close grows, the play aspect dries up.
Let me clarify. You’re still looking for the banter you thought you were involved in, something that before resulted in a swat on the bum or slap boxing in play suddenly has cold eyes and anger. So long as this person maintains control, so long as you stop growing so long as you submit to their authority ahead of all other voices then maybe you can continue to love this person, you can help them see themselves. Nope and nope and nope. This person will tear you away from anything and everything you ever were or thought you knew in an effort to put them first.
Unfortunately after two kids and his being away for months on end on business trips I started to realize I’m not as much of an idiot as I was willing to let someone tell me I was at 18. I’ve kept a household running with two kids under three for the last few years. You either grow or you die. The fire got hotter. He cheated. I left for a bit and at the end of a summer came home to try to ‘fix things’ I created a survival plan – lock myself and the kids in my room with the phone. Sometimes this would work, sometimes no. The kids being present wasn’t going to stop him. He would kick me in the back while I was holding our then infant daughter without a second thought. My family was over and I was holding her another time when an ill timed choke hold pressed the right vein and I passed out holding her and a plate of food. I woke up on the floor wondering what day it was and why my son was screaming hysterically and why my mother was holding my daughter.
Once the pattern is established the rules change. This is the fun part. You’re not allowed to be “good” you are a problem, THE problem and this person will make you listen. This person will use any and all means to tear you down because anything you build is an intolerable refusal to reflect the emptiness in them. Any changes you make in yourself will be met with an increased intensity of abuse. The stronger you get the stronger the attacks will be.
The neighbors knew. The school knew. I was your kids home room mom at school, a PTA officer, an active HOA member. I hosted your garden club a few times. You weren’t really sure so you didn’t want to ask any more when I said I was running down the stairs to get the kids out of some sort of trouble and slipped. After all, we all have – maybe she’s just a massive klutz. Call the cops? Absolutely not. I can handle my own fights thank you very much. LOOK AT WHAT WE’VE BUILT. If I work hard enough – but there is no hard enough. I actually choreographed an evening of light chores to attempt to placate his need to see me working all hours of the day. (folding towels, wiping down counters, dusting) Sitting and watching TV in the evenings was further evidence of my laziness. The computer was me being ‘boring’ and reading a book, I’m ignoring my obligations. Warm ups for dinner? Unacceptable.
The whole point I suppose of my long tirade is that be sure that in forgiving you first GET AWAY FROM YOUR ABUSER. Do not mistake an abuser for someone who you can ‘love – or respect better’ it wont happen. Expecting reasonable responses from unreasonable people in this case is protracted suicide. This is a person who thrives on the self doubt they’ve planted in you. No one can tell you when it’s time, but when it comes, there is a silence like nothing you’ve ever felt before. The line goes dead and somehow mysteriously you don’t die from it. The sky seems too big. The world is a terrifying and exhilarating place and this person is no longer standing between you and it. Just driving down a road without having to be accountable for why seems like stolen sweets.
I see the value in forgiveness, but I also feel there are a percentage of women in abusive situation who are still in denial. Who feel there is something they are doing, and that to move out of this pattern is to fail. It is not failure, it is not an easy way out – My ex has physical possession of two of my kids, he pulled them out of school without my knowledge or consent, took them across the country to North Carolina and said you want them, fight for them in court. We had already been separated for a little over a year at this point. He knows as a single mom (I still have my 3yo daughter) I can’t afford to do that. I barely keep gas in the car. This is no easy way out, but would I be here to talk about it if I hadn’t? Probably not. It’s been a year since I’ve seen my 10 and 12 year old boys. Their pain and my loss right now obstructs forgiveness. In time, – I don’t ‘hate’ the man, but there are days where I’s like to see him naked and face down staked to a fire ant hill.
Mandi, I’m so sorry. I’ve been thinking a lot about you and praying about your circumstances since you wrote this. I wish I could say something encouraging to you right now, something that would spur you on…but in the absence of that, please know right now that you have been heard. Your story hasn’t fallen on deaf ears.
Love to you in the now,
Thank you 🙂 I’m finding that TRD actually is supportive of the recovery process. It doesn’t indulge in woe is me style thinking, it’s productive, it’s in the now and it gives a solid framework to find what’s healthy in a relationship. I didn’t have a plan for what I wanted my family to be. I’m seeing *why* I made some of the choices I made and where learning better communication skills will create a culture of giving and productive interaction in my future. Building a network of likeminded women is an important step to surrounding yourself with people who can influence positively. There are good days and bad, but I find the more I surround myself with positive people the more good days I have, and the more I appreciate them.
I, too, was in an abusive marriage. I understand a lot of what you are talking about because I lived it, too. I am glad you got out and you are safe. You are right that you cannot change an abuser. I, too, thought I could if I changed things and tried to change a lot of things for a long time, but they are never happy. There is always something wrong with you. I wanted more than anything to keep my family together and did not want a divorce. I grew up being taught you just don’t get divorced, but I never imagined myself in that situation. I wanted to believe that he would be “won over by my behavior”. I believe that, and the respect and submission in the Bible is talking about a normal marriage. An abuser will not be won over by your behavior or changed by your respect or submission. In fact, that will just tell him he has control and he will use it against you.
Forgiveness takes a very long time. It is a process, not something immediate. I think the healing comes first and you can’t really forgive until you have done a lot of healing. You just need to be open to letting God work in your heart and letting him heal you. But it can take many, many years of being out of the situation to be able to let go of the hurt and anger and to forgive. It is a long healing process when you have gone through something so painful and damaging.
I was also that upper class woman who did all the volunteering and everything looked great. No one would have suspected and no one asked when I had a fat lip or black eye.
I hope that you are able to get your children all back some day. That just adds to all the heartbreak to not have your children. I’m so sorry!!
You sound like you are a strong woman. You sound like you now understand the abuse and see all the wrong things he did. You are a precious daughter of God. You do not need to be treated that way. Lean on the Lord and He will take care of you like a perfect gentleman. I will be praying for you.
Thank you for leaving in Dare 39. It is a difficult subject but one that is ignored all too often. Good for you. I checked out the resources page and would like to offer some more suggestions however I am heading out the door to work. I will post some abortion recovery resources later today. Bless you in your day.
Thank you, Colette! 🙂
Your suggestions are welcome.
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