At the end of myself…at the feet of Jesus

Matthew 25: 40, And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.


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Am I Being Abused? Kindle book is finally truly ready! yea!

I got my first book up on Kindle officially a little over a month ago. I wrote it, edited it, put it up, and was seriously unhappy with the way it looked. So I worked on it. Again and again and again.

In the meantime, my husband–our abuser–was fired yet again from his job. He lasted in this one six years. Before that, he was unemployed for two years. Before that, he was fired from four separate jobs over a period of four years. And even more before those.

He’s been seriously grumpy. Depressed. Angry. Frustrated. It’s affecting everything.

I’ve been really sick this past month. I have a bunch of chronic health issues, and with all the stress they reared their ugly head big time. But the Lord is good, and He was with me all the time. Helping me. Guiding me. Protecting all of us.

So now, finally, after every single thing, my new Kindle book is finally looking the way I want it to look. And I’ve learned a few things (or a few dozen) about getting kindle books up and ready. The name of it is Am I Being Abused? A Woman’s Guide to Domestic Abuse.

I’m having a promotion starting next Sunday. The price will drop to 99 cents, and work its way back up from there to its normal price of $3.99.

Here’s the Amazon description of my book and a look at the table of contents:

 

Written by a domestic abuse survivor and the co-author of A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church, this new book helps women navigate the difficult question: Am I being abused?

If the thought has crossed your mind that you might be a victim of domestic abuse, the most important question that you can ask yourself is: Am I afraid of my husband? If fear defines your relationship, something is seriously wrong. There is a world of difference in an unhappy marriage and an abusive marriage. As you read through this book, you’ll develop the tools necessary to tell the difference.
In this book, you’ll learn…

~How to tell if you are a victim of domestic abuse
~How to tell the difference between true and false repentance
~What you need to do if you are in an abusive relationship
~How to identify your God-given rights

With lists, questions, recommendations, and guidelines Am I Being Abused? A Christian Woman’s Guide to Domestic Abuse offers the reader a way through the valley of abuse and into hope and healing.

 

A message to my readers

Introduction

Dedication

Chapter 1 Confused, mixed up, brokenhearted feelings

Chapter 2 Am I being abused?

Chapter 3 Delving deeper

Chapter 4 He said he was sorry: true vs. false repentance

Chapter 5 Our God-given rights

Chapter 6 Practical matters

Chapter 7 Things that have been a blessing to me

Is divorce permissible in cases of domestic abuse?

Am I saved?

About the author

Resources

If you’ve got any questions about it (or about abuse in general), or if you just want to share your story, leave a comment on here or message me at thecrossisall@gmail.com.

Hope to hear from you.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Anna

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Looking at Domestic Abuse Through a Biblical Lens

I guess my perspective is different from many Christians. I have lived among abusive people my whole life. The good Lord saw fit to not just dip my feet in the water of abuse but to plunge me into its depths. Because He graciously has allowed me to live in the midst of abusers (though many times, I must confess, I’d have much preferred He hadn’t), I have an understanding of what abusers do and what the abused go through at their hand. In the end, the pain God has allowed me to deal with has been a blessing in some ways because it’s opened my eyes in a way some folk’s eyes are never opened. I know the pain of abuse. I’ve lived with abuse. I’ve been abused by multiple family members at various times of my life. I understand abuse far too well. Because of this, this is where I take my stand: Domestic abuse in any form, by anyone towards anyone, is sin and the church needs to wake up and realize that there are abusers in their midst who are masquerading as Christians; these abusers are hurting their families, sinning against God, and bringing reproach on the church and on the name of God. The church needs to educate themselves about abuse. They need to help the abused who members of their churches. To fail to do so is to choose to sin.

If you’ve not walked in the shoes of Christians who have been abused by those they’ve loved, I guess it’s easy to look away. After all, you don’t understand what’s going on. Anyway, some of the people being accused of abuse are “just the nicest people” or “the best Christian man I know”. Right? It’s much easier to dismiss the accusations than it is to have to deal with the messy fall-out. Anyway, God hates divorce, doesn’t He, so what can you do?

No, you’ve got your facts wrong. God doesn’t hate all divorce. If He did, He wouldn’t have divorced Israel. But, it’s easier to say He hates divorce and just tell her that if she wants to please God she has to stay with her abuser, than it is to risk the wrath of her abuser, than it is to have to sit down and study that Scripture in context, or than it is to actually have to step up and figure out a way to help those who are abused.

Or it’s easier to say “Just leave” and leave it up to her to figure out how.

It’s easier to tell her that the man she’s accusing of abuse can’t possibly be doing what she’s said he is. After all, seeing him once a week or even two or three times a week means you know him far better than his wife does. Right? Wrong. You dismiss her concerns because you don’t want to be bothered.

Because you aren’t looking at her situation through a biblical lens.

There are a lot of godly women out there who really love the Lord and who haven’t a clue what they need to do because their man won’t stop abusing them, neglecting his duties, won’t provide properly and on and on, but who cares? It doesn’t affect you. It doesn’t stop you from sitting down to a good meal forgetting that somewhere in your city, a woman who loves God with all that she is, is struggling to figure out how to keep food on the table for the rest of the week, or is pulling roaches out of what little food she has and serving it anyway, or is not eating herself in order to feed her kids. It doesn’t stop you from buying two or even three cars while ignoring the fact that this woman who has claimed to be abused but you’ve wondered about her faithfulness because she isn’t always in church, isn’t showing up to church because she has no running car. It doesn’t stop you from buying brand new clothes for your family, forgetting that the woman and children you think are dressed so poorly probably don’t have a way to buy any clothes–not and have a hope of keeping food on the table. It doesn’t stop you from going on a vacation, all the while ignoring the fact that she’s about to be evicted because her husband failed to pay the rent–and this isn’t the first time it’s happened to her.

You need to know. You need to look. You need to see. You need to listen: Abused women, children, and sometimes even men (because, yes, men can be, and sometimes are abused by their partners), because of the stress they live in, tend to have more health issues than the non-abused and are often not allowed to have access to health care. They tend to eat more poorly, often because of lack of resources. They tend to be quiet and subdued because they are afraid of anyone finding out for fear of what will happen when the abuser finds out someone knows, or because they fear being looked down on because they’ve been abused, or because they’ve just been abused so much that they haven’t the strength to pretend all is well. Abusers often keep their money for themselves, even demand that the abused turn over their earnings to them, then they do what they want to with it (frequently providing for themselves but not for their family). Sometimes the abuser wastes his money through gambling, through drinking, by doing drugs, through other selfish purposes or by carelessness. Some abusers are so careless in their own lives that they keeps losing their job so they lose everything–over and over again. Whatever the reason, many of those who are abused live in roach-infested, mold-ridden, run-down houses, own shabby second-hand furniture, drive a barely working car (if they are allowed one), and wear clothes most of us would throw away. They are alienated from others because their abuser makes them be–so no one finds out his secret. They often don’t have friends. They often have no credit or their credit has been ruined by their abuser, and they often have no money, so they feel they have no way out.

The abused Christian woman (or man) who gets up each morning and prays for the strength to get through the day and does all that they can to protect their children, to raise them and provide for them, is fighting a war most of you will never have to fight. And because they are so often ignored by the church, the very ones who should be helping them, they are fighting it alone.

You can ignore what I’ve written. You can refuse to care. But if you do, please don’t say you are doing all that you can to honor the Lord. According to statistics, one in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her life. Maybe it’s a parent, a sibling, another relative, or her partner doing the abusing–but some of these “statistics” are sitting in your church.

I’m one of them.

This is just one issue the church is facing. Abortion. Biblical ignorance. Promiscuity. Poverty. Orphans. And on and on and on, the issues just mount up. Ignore these issues, forget that your help is needed and tell God you plan to do so or repent of your failure to care and ask the Lord how you can help. Somebody somewhere needs you to pray for them, to lend a helping hand, to be a friend, to teach them the truth of God’s Word. Look around you. God commanded us to be His hands and His feet. What are you doing to obey Him?

Soli Deo gloria!


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You are not to blame for his buse

If you are a woman who is being abused by your husband, you need to know that his abuse of you isn’t your fault. You didn’t bring the abuse on yourself. You aren’t, by somehow failing to please him in some way, asking to be abused. Your failures as a wife, however great or small, whether real or imagined by him, in no way gives your husband the right to seek to destroy your body, your mind, your heart, or your being. If you are a woman who is being abused by a man, the sin lies squarely on his shoulders and not on yours at all.

You didn’t cause the abuse by being sometimes being difficult. It doesn’t matter if you somehow “slip up” in your duties at times, serve supper late, fail to pick up the dry cleaning, or keep the house in a bit of a mess when you get busy. Maybe there are things you can do better but that can be said of all of us. Nothing you’ve done or haven’t done gives him the right to yell at you, smack you, terrorize you, castigate you, assault you, rape you, discipline you, or abuse you in any way, shape, form or fashion.

Abuse of any kind is the fault of the abuser. Abuse of any kind means the abuser is sinning not just against you but also against the Lord who created him.

Abuse needs no excuse. Abusers need no reason to abuse. They abuse because they are abusers. They don’t think like normal people, they don’t react like normal people, they don’t respond like normal people. They think, react and respond like abusive people because that is what they are. Because of that, it doesn’t matter if you failed or if you didn’t fail, they will abuse you anyway. Abusers can be driven to abuse by anything, or by nothing.

If you are being abused you have a right to protect yourself. You have a right to leave. To tell your story to someone who can help you. To get to safety. You have a right to protect yourself and your children. You have a right to divorce. You have a right to live in peace. You have a right to live a life that is free from abuse.

There’s a life out there that’s free from abuse. It’s where most people life. By God’s grace, it’s where you can live also.

Soli Deo gloria!


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The Church and Single Moms

I was raised by a single Mom. Not single by choice but rather by necessity due to my Dad’s abuse, Mama struggled alone to be our provider and to fill in for the Dad who was incapable of loving either of us. It was hard. Her own health wasn’t good, yet no matter how poorly she felt, she worked on for bills had to be paid. My health wasn’t good, either, and I spent my childhood in and out of hospitals. For many years, we practically lived in doctor’s offices. My doctors gave up on my living long enough to make it out of childhood. I don’t think Mama ever did. Fortunately, the doctors were wrong. I survived. Through it all Mama tried. She supported us for many years through her sewing. A gifted seamstress who could make anything from wedding gowns to men’s suits, Mama was bent over her sewing machine from sunup until long after I was in bed. Often she didn’t stop until after midnight. The next morning, she was up and going again.

I am writing this because my mother was a single Mom and because, while the church sometimes stepped up and did all that they could do, they often didn’t. I’m grateful for all that those who loved God and loved us did for us. For their prayers, their kindness, their love. I’m especially grateful that they stepped up and helped her escape her abusive marriage. But we were still often alone. My mother still had no one to turn to for counsel most of the time. No one to help her navigate the rough waters threatening to overwhelm us both. She was still lonely. She was still alone. Because she was alone, her fears often overwhelmed her and then poured out on me.

I often write for abused women since my mother knew abuse and since it’s reared its ugly head in my own family too. Some of the issues that abused women face and those faced by single Moms overlap. Some of the suggestions I will be putting forth over the next several days could be effectively applied to abused women/mothers or married-wives-single-Moms (it is just what it sounds like, a married wife whose husband either refused to or is unable to step up to the plate as Dad).

I’ve never been a single Mom myself but as the daughter of a single Mom, I do have a birds-eye view of single Mom life. I know the pain Mama felt at being the odd-woman-out. In a world of couples, she was alone. Consequently, we were rarely invited out. Couples simply didn’t know what to do with us. It’s a complaint I’ve heard from other single Moms. The only person, outside of family, who ever invited us anywhere was the one other single Mom in our church. She herself knew the trials my mother was going through since she herself was going through them also. For many years, they watched each others back and shored each other up. It was nice having someone who understood, who didn’t stumble over asking me where my Daddy was or worry because there was no man for Mama to round out the seating arrangements at suppertime. In a world of couples, they were two lonely women doing the best that they could.

Loneliness is one of the main problems facing single Moms. Along with the myriad other problems such as exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, coping with depression, fear, confusion, wondering if they are messing up, being sure they are messing up, desperation and, quite often, poverty. The problems meant for two must be solved by one. And it’s hard.

The main thing that single Moms need from the church is for truth to be preached, unwatered down and non-sugar coated, and then lived out. Through truth proclaimed and lived, the Moms will get the spiritual succor they need to grow, to know the Lord and to depend on Him and they’ll also get the support from fellow Christians that they need. Truth lived out can’t help but help those who need it most. Single Moms definitely fall within that group.

Over the next few days, I’ll be writing more about the church and single Moms. Once truth is lived out, sometimes ideas are needed as to how it might best be applied. That’s what we’ll tackle next.

 

Soli Deo gloria!

 


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What the Abused Really Need

I remember the morning my Daddy jumped up and, cursing, screaming at Mama, “I’m going to shove your *** teeth down your throat!”. I can’t say I remember what happened that lead up to his outburst (though they were common) but I clearly remember jumping between them and yelling at him to “Leave my Mama alone!”. Mama was trying to pull me back, afraid of my father’s reaction. Instead of acting at all, he stared at me and turned and left the room. My memory ends there though I wish I could remember what came next. What did Mama say to me in those moments following his attack? Did she scold me for interfering? Did she hold me close and cry? Did she quickly dress me and herself and leave the house? I simply don’t know. Mama’s been gone for a long time now and even when she was here, asking her questions about my father led her down a pathway I seldom dared to tread.

Mama was an abused woman. I was an abused daughter. I married into an abusive family. The seeds of abuse grow in the hearts of those who have not the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and lay to waste precious lives. Abuse is sin, plain and simple. Those who live in abuse, grow up in abuse, have a difficult time understanding the love of God, trusting God or even understanding human love and trust. When your sky has been black around the clock all of your life are you really going to believe someone who tells you that where they live and, indeed, everywhere else, the sky is blue during daylight? Who could believe such a thing? That would be…weird.

Normal behavior is weird when you’ve been abused. What’s normal to others is so abnormal to you. They speak of trusting. You can’t trust. They speak of joy and happiness. You don’t feel. They speak of engaging, being involved, accomplishing goals. You go numb, hunker down and simply try to survive. The pathway to survival might include drinking (as it did for my father who himself was abused as a child), it might include drugs, promiscuity, overspending, dedication to perfection or any other kind of addiction or coping mechanism. They do that because they often don’t know what else to do. No one is there to teach them, help them or to care. They need someone. They need Christ.

Some Christians respond with loving compassion to those who have suffered abuse. My mother was blessed in that regard. When we finally managed to escape my father, we settled down in her hometown of Tallassee, Alabama. There we joined a church and that church surrounded us with love. They cared what she’d gone through. They hurt for her. They supported her in leaving my father. They even supported her when she, fearing that he would come kill her, take me and vanish with me, as he’d threatened to do so many times, decided to divorce him. The leadership of the church was with her every step of the way. Her story is an anomaly.  Most women suffering from abuse don’t have such loving responses from their churches. That hasn’t usually been my experience nor that of  most women I have spoken with.

You might think that domestic abuse is something you will never have to deal with. Something far away and foreign to you. You might be right but, honestly, I don’t think so. More likely you simply aren’t adept at seeing the signs. One in four women in the USA is affected by domestic abuse at some point in her life. One in four. That means that somewhere along the way every single person has likely come across someone who has been abused or is presently being abused. Most likely, you’ve come across several. Likely there are some in your church right now.

You don’t know what to do? Be Christ to them. If they don’t know Him, teach them of Him. Then serve them. That’s what He’d do. And that’s what they really need.

 

 


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What Domestic Abuse Victims Need From the Church

I was born into an abusive home. My father was a drunk and when drunk, he was violent. In the aftermath of our successfully escaping him, my mother, unable to deal with all she’d been through, became a verbal abuser herself. I married into a family where emotional abuse and manipulation was the norm. I know abuse firsthand. I can testify as to the depths of its pain; moreover, I can testify, as an abuse survivor, to the overall failure of the church when it comes to understanding abuse or handling well those who have suffered abuse.

Statistics say that one out of four women experience domestic abuse of some form in their lifetime. Men are victims of domestic abuse far more than most people realize. When those who have suffered are members of the Lord’s church, the faithful among them have an obligation to help them. When, for whatever reason, we shy away from this obligation, either through ignorance or willful refusal to get involved, we lay waste to the Gospel we claim to believe. Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet concerning domestic violence so few do.

What abuse victims need from their fellow Christians is pretty simple and straightforward. We need you to be Jesus to us. Do what He would do, say what He would say, were He the One ministering to us. But isn’t that what we all need from each other, anyway? And isn’t that what we’re called to be and to do? Christians are called to stand in the place of Christ here on the earth and be His representative and do the works He would do. To fail in this is to fail in serving Christ.

Some Christians do care and want to help but really have no idea what to do. Domestic violence is a terrifying and unnerving thing both for the family involved and those aware of the problem. What makes a man (or a woman) treat their family with such cruelty? We can call it narcissism, explain that they grew up in abuse or offer a thousand different explanations but the truth remains the same: Domestic abuse is sin and the abuser is living outside of God’s laws. We can all mess up, treat others with disrespect or even be cruel at times but when it is a pattern, when the abuse defines your actions, you are an abuser, you are living in a continual sinful state and you are not saved. Being an abuser and being saved simply aren’t compatible. That is one thing the church needs to learn: true abusers, no matter how much they pretend to be, aren’t true children of God. They can’t be.

But their victims need help. If God has put them in your path, perhaps He’s calling you to be His hands to them. Don’t know where to start? Here’s some things that Christian victims of domestic abuse need from their fellow believers:

 

The Pure Gospel

The church long ago got away from the pure gospel. We water it down, mix it up and serve it with a side of fun. No wonder it doesn’t save. It can’t save. It’s poison. We need preachers dedicated to the truth of God’s Word who are willing to stand up and preach that truth without changing it one iota. We need Christians who long after righteousness. When we have that–the pure Gospel preached and lived–we’ll see more Christians helping abuse victims and we’ll see less abusers masquerading as Christians.

 

Someone to listen to them

If someone came to you and confided to you that they were having problems at home, would you listen? Most of us are uncomfortable when it comes to hearing such information but listening is actually the first step towards helping abuse victims. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to stand up and say, “I’m being abused”. If someone tells you that, sit down with them and get their story. Then see what you can do. Yes, some people lie about being abused and you have to be aware that that can happen but it’s really not the norm; far more women lie about not being abused when they are being abused because they are afraid of their abusers. So listen.

 

Pray for them and with them

After listening to them, pray with them. Pray specifically for their needs. Then continue to pray for them and let them know you are praying. Prepare to work for often we are the answer to our own prayers. Someone needs to do this–often that someone is you. 

 

Someone to care for their needs

Do you know what keeps a lot of abused women and children with their abusers? The lack of money to leave. If a woman is trying to get herself and her children to safety, don’t spend time telling her why she’s wrong, what you think about her decision or trying to talk her out of it. She knows what it’s like to live in abuse and you don’t. Even if she stays, chances are great that she and her children need something or maybe a lot of things. Financial abuse often accompanies other types of abuse. Instead of lecturing, get busy serving and help them.

 

An advocate

Leaving an abuser is a dangerous time for victims. Staying in an abusive marriage is also dangerous. Abuse is killing, even if it isn’t physical. She needs an advocate, someone who will stand up for her, help her find the help she needs, help her to navigate the legal system should she choose to leave. In case she decides to stay, she’ll need an advocate, probably many, to make sure she and her children are safe.

 

Someone to point them in the right direction

You are in a fog when you live in abuse. It’s difficult to get through the day let alone make wise decisions. You’re constantly afraid and don’t know who to turn to. If you have children, it’s even worse. There’s nothing–nothing at all–more painful for a mother than to watch, hear or see your children being hurt–be it physical or not–and being unable to do anything to stop it. You aren’t sure who will believe you, who will be willing to get involved. So many aren’t. Remember this and get involved. Pray for them. Listen to them. Get their story. Help them to make good decisions, to get to a safe place, to know how to protect themselves and their children. If you don’t, who will?

 

Someone who will let them make their own decisions while offering guidance as needed

With all that said, it’s also important to let the victim learn to make their own decisions. She must move from victim to survivor and learn to discern truth from lie. She has to learn to trust again and that includes trusting in herself. She’s been lied to by her abuser, told she was worthless, that her opinions didn’t matter. You know what? After hearing it over and over, she started to believe it. She’s been told she can’t do anything and she feels helpless. Help her to grow and learn to believe in herself. Help her learn to discern truth from lie. Help her to find the information she desperately needs and offer your guidance when asked for it but, through it all, help her see the importance of making decisions about her life herself.

 

Abuse victims have suffered much from their abuser. The one who ought to have loved them, hurt them instead. Don’t add to that hurt by seeing and refusing to help. Get involved. Do something. Anything. Just be determined to honor God in it and He’ll give you the opportunity to serve. You–and she–will be glad that you did.


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What Would You Do?

If you knew that a woman in your church was being abused by her husband, what would you do? Would you get involved and help her? Or would you take the easy way out, play ignorant and stay silent?

If you are like most Christians, the second option would be your choice.

I’ve talked to women from all over the world who have been abused by their husbands. Almost without fail, these women have confided that when their situation became known, their church family either abandoned them, accused them or ignored them. Rarely did anyone, especially a pastor, elder or leader of any kind, try to help them.

Why is this, do you suppose?

My thoughts are that, 1) Christians are woefully ignorant of the dynamics of an abusive marriage and are happy in their ignorance and, 2) they are afraid of getting involved.

Both are sin.

If you know of a situation where a woman in your church is being abused by her husband, even if the abuse is not physical in nature, and you ignore it or refuse to get involved, you have failed to act as Christ’s ambassador and you have by your actions willingly lied about the nature of Christ. If you know that abuse affects Christian women and some of those women are in your church, and you still turn your head and refuse to learn what you can do to help, you are not representing Christ, you are representing his adversary, the devil. Strong words? Actually, considering the nature of abuse and how it violates the very foundations of Christian marriage, they aren’t strong enough.

Domestic abuse is nothing short of terrorism carried out in the home. It is vile, violent and a corruption of laws of God. It matters not what form the abuse takes: Abuse is abuse, period. All forms of abuse are sinful. And that is what we need to remember.

For too long, women who have finally gotten the courage to speak out about their abusive home life have been vilified by members of the Lord’s church. Because she dares to speak up and accuse her husband of abuse, a woman is often told she is not being submissive, obedient or kind. She’s told that by making the accusation, she’s being a faithless wife, a liar, or an abuser herself. She’s told to go home and pray, submit more, obey more and try harder to please him. By following this “advice”, some women have died.

One out of every four women in the United States will be abused at some point in her life. Out of a hundred women, forty will. Some of those women are in your church. What have you done to help them?

What will you do? What will you tell a sister in Christ who comes to you with her story of abuse? Will  you listen? Will you try to help? Will you dare to get involved and be Jesus to her?

Ask yourself what would Jesus do? Now, ask yourself, as His ambassador, what will you do?

Now go do it.