The newspaper, thrown to the floor, lay at his feet as he bolted out of his chair.
She felt just like the crumbled wad of paper, disheveled, cast aside, but also afraid.
The rages he flew into became more and more verbally aggressive, and not knowing what to do, she simply cowered and prayed, waiting for the verbal assault to end, hoping no hand would strike her.
“Oh, Father, what do I do?” she asked.
Proverbs 19:19 came to her mind, “A man of great wrath shall suffer the penalty, for if you deliver him (from the consequences), he will (feel free to) cause you to do it again.” (Amplified Bible)
She got up and left the room.
“Where are you going?” he demanded.
“Somewhere I feel safe,” she replied.
This one comment stopped him in his tracks.
She entered the bedroom, locked the door, and put a chair against it.
She heard him stomp back into the family room.
She knew he was returning to his newspaper.
Twenty minutes of prayer later, she returned downstairs.
She walked over to his chair, kneeled down next to him and took his hands in hers.
“You are a good man,” she began. “I admire how hard you work. I love your strong hands and all these deep callouses – they show your efforts in providing for us.” Her fingers traced the deep caverns and creases in his well-worn palm. “Because you are a man of great strength, I need to deeply know that you will never hurt me or the kids with these hands. I never want to be afraid of you again. I am learning to be a better wife, and I know I fall short often, and I can’t stay here if you are going to act like you did tonight. I’ll try to listen better, if you’ll try a little harder to be patient while we are working through our issues. Deal?”
“Deal,” he replied.
She kept praying, listening, responding. They kept working. She didn’t bring it up again.
Until he lost control again, this time he broke a vase.
She left him for a few days.
And she kept praying, hearing, responding.
They continue working. It’s slowly getting better. She’s encouraged. Her faith is great.
When I listened to her story, I remembered a man I dated in college.
I understood what it was like to be afraid of someone you loved. He was pressuring me towards marriage, and although I knew it was a bad idea, I didn’t know how to get out of the situation. I really thought he’d hurt me if I tried to break things off.
His rages got to the point where one night he had me pinned up against the wall with his hands around my neck, whacking my head against the wall repeatedly while choking me.
Even though I didn’t know the Lord at that point, I fully believe it was Him who not only told me what to do, but gave me the guts and the strength to do it.
Though I was getting dizzy, somehow, I managed to bring my hands up and push him away at the shoulders. I must have hit a nerve or something because his grip around my throat loosened, and I was able to pull myself away. I opened the front door of the house and grabbed the phone to dial 911. The entire time I was yelling at him, telling him to leave, that I was finished with him and wasn’t going to see him any longer. I told him the police would be on their way if he didn’t leave immediately.
I was shocked. I had never behaved like that before in my life. My behavior even scared me, and I wept over it.
And later, when I came to know Jesus Christ, I realized that only He could have been involved that night.
There are those who are less fortunate than I, some of them are reading this right now. We sometimes hear from abused women who take Daughters of Sarah® and read, “The Respect Dare.” We’ve seen women who have felt led by God to martyr themselves in their own homes, just like the Christians who are martyred daily, beaten, and sometimes crucified (yes, that really still happens) for their faith. We’ve seen women who feel led by God to leave their husbands, often taking their children with them.
We support both types of women, even though they seem to be at extreme opposites.
And we are honored to pray for them, too.
Who am I to tell those precious souls what God would have them do?
The night before Jesus died, He prayed, asking His Father to “take this cup” from Him. He also submitted to the Father’s will, regardless of what it was.
Dare you to ask God to help you have that kind of faith today…the kind of faith that gives you the strength to endure not just ridicule and embarrassment, but physical difficulty. Check the Bible. Few things bring about great faith other than suffering on the part of God’s people.
Oh, that I would learn best only through blessings! J Consider this:
Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peacewith God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
I have come to understand that suffering is different for different people. I no longer cast judgment on others’ circumstances and think I know what is best for them. Who am I to think I know what God would be doing in someone else’s life?
Nobody can know that unless God Himself reveals it to them. I’m not sure that He does that very frequently (the whole “plank in your own eye” thing…). We’re too judgmental.
I am also learning to say, “Thank You,” for my own difficulties and challenges more quickly now. It still sounds something like, “Thank You, Father, for this challenge, for this pain. I don’t understand it, but I trust Your great character and goodness. I know You could prevent this from happening to me if You wanted to, but I trust You have a plan for me, a plan to bring me good and not harm. I will trust that You know best, and thank You for this blessing of difficulty. Help me know You more, help me know what I should do here. Please keep me within Your perfect will.“
And then, like the man Jesus asked if he had enough faith to believe He could cast a demon out of his son, I close by praying, “Yes, I believe, help me in my unbelief!” (It’s a great story. Jesus even gets after the disciples for their lack of faith! Here’s a link to it if you’re interested.)
But if we are to be good parents, sometimes we have to allow our kids to reap the consequences of what they have sown, not rescuing them, otherwise they don’t learn, and the behavior repeats itself. This also applies to many of our other relationships… and knowing the difference between showing grace and being a doormat requires a deep relationship with God. God’s doing the same thing, often, with us.
It’s also easier for our husbands to treat us with respect (1 Peter 3:7) if we behave in a way that deserves it. And again, only God will know, moment to moment what we should do.
Double-dog-dare you to get to know God so well that you can know what to do in the stressful moments of your own life. Only He has the answers. Maybe a prayer like this would help you get there – “Father, I believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. I believe Christ came to earth as a baby, died, and rose again and that He was and is God. I want relationship with you. I know that my sin separates me from You. Please forgive me for the things I have done and continue to do daily. (list what you can remember here) are all things I am so sorry for doing. Please forgive me. Help me forgive others. Help me come to know You more. I don’t get it. I want to. Please fill me with Your Spirit such that I can make decisions that please You. Help me in my unbelief and moments of doubting. Help me live my life for You and only You. Help me make You Lord of my life. I don’t know how to do that! Thank You, Father. Amen.”
If you live in the Cincinnati area, however, and you want a bunch of other gals to walk along side you as you are figuring this marriage and faith stuff out, come to the class. We’re having a taping event on January 5th, at Horizons Community Church in Newtown, Ohio. You can find out the details of the class then and sign up, or if you are from outside the area, it’s a great way to hear the teaching segments and evaluate the content for bringing it to your church sometime. We start at 8:30am, and it runs til 4pm or so. We’ll even buy you lunch for being part of our audience. J
If you’ve already taken Daughters, please know we need your help running small groups and praying during the class and during the taping. Please come – do it again – it’s one of those things you can do over and over again and have a different experience each time.
Regardless, please know that God’s gift to you this Christmas might very well be a deeper relationship with Him in 2012.
Triple-dog-dare you to open it.
Love to you,