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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Church, Will You Not Care?

There are many like me, women whose men have, through their abuse, torn the very fabric of their lives to shreds. There’s no organic wholeness to our lives, just a grasping terror due to trying desperately to hold on. There’s no plan for the future, no stability to plan one, just a prayer to make it through this one minute. Over and over again, this one minute lived takes us places we’re both afraid to face and hungry to embrace. Maybe it will bring the change, the hopeful future, we long for. More likely, it will bring more of the same deadness, full of fear and confusion, that has haunted our lives for years.

This is the life of an abused woman. As fear grows, hope diminishes until she is afraid to hope. Too much disappointment is a destroyer, a killer of dreams. As the blows from her husband intensify, be they verbal or physical, she retreats further inside herself, afraid even to look up lest she make him angry. It’s no different if the abused wife is a Christian. The life she lives, she lives alone. Afraid both of the consequences she’ll face at home for reaching out to others and of others reactions should they find out the secrets of her life, she hunkers down and cries out at the foot of the cross.

Does God see her? Does He care for her pain, for the pain of her children? Does He want her to stay? Will He enable her to leave? How can she provide for them? How can she protect her babies? How can she make it through another minute, let alone another day? Thoughts and prayers, hope and fears, bump against one another during the crawling fearful minutes of her day. In the late night hours they mix and mingle, twisting crazily into one another, giving her yet another night of fitful sleep and terror-filled dreams.

You wouldn’t know by the responses of the church that God cares. They are more willing to ignore such a woman than to get involved. Time and time again, an abused woman’s story is told; time and again, her story is ignored or disbelieved by those who claim the name of Christ. Refusal to listen, to help, to get involved crosses all denominational lines. If advice is given, it’s usually bad. “Go back home, serve him, keep praying and know that you are suffering for Christ” seems to be the most widely used piece of junk advice Christians have to offer. Junk because in that one sentence, they are both linking Christ to her abuse and excusing themselves from having to extend any effort to help her.

But her pain remains. The tears keep on falling. And, for now as in the past, most churches keeps right on failing abused women and their children.

Church, do you see our tears? Do you not care for our wounded hearts? We are mourning, will you not embrace us? Will you not care? Do you not remember that the same God who told you to rejoice with those who rejoice also said to weep with those who weep? We are weeping, we wives of men who abuse and misuse us, will you not join us? Will you not weep with us? Will you not weep for our children? Will you not be Jesus’s hands to us, gently wiping away our tears? We are your daughters, your sisters, your friends. One in four women, women you know, are weeping, reeling from the pain caused by their man. Will you not help us?

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Coming to the Aid of the Abuser?

Isaiah 5: 20, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

When an abuse victim approaches her pastor or a member of her congregation to share her story of abuse at the hands of her husband, it is likely she does so at great cost to herself. If her abuser finds out that she has “betrayed” him, she is likely to pay. How she pays will depend upon the level of abuse and the type of abuse she receives from her abuser. Yet, fully aware of the dangers to herself but unable to “go on like this” anymore, she takes courage and approaches anyway. Sadly, instead of finding a place of refuge, she is likely to be disbelieved or to be sent back to her abuser with commands to “try to understand him more” or to “figure out what you are doing that sets him off”. If she happens to mention the “D” word, she will, in many churches, be told that it is sin to consider “destroying her marriage”.  Rarely does anyone stop to consider that her story might be true and that, by sending her away, we have come to the aid of the abuser.

It is so easy to accuse, castigate and condemn without ever stopping to think that we might be wrong in our accusations. When we are dealing with an abuse victim, our failure to listen, to believe, to come to their aid just might lead to them suffering severe injuries or even death.

We must take the time to really listen to the wounded ones who come our way. Go out on a limb and believe the abused woman. What if the story she is telling you is true? How must your denial of it come across to her? If you were the one who had been greatly wounded by someone and you took the chance and confided it, how do you think you would feel if the one you confided in refused to believe you?

Are we pleasing to God when we cast sorrow upon original sorrow by castigating and accusing those who have been abused? Do we honor our Lord by ignoring their suffering, by dismissing their stories, denigrating their pain, refusing to listen? Do we bestow grace by walking away? Do we show Christ-likeness by refusing to believe them simply because we don’t want to? Because it’s inconvenient to get involved? Because we are so sure that the one she is accusing is “such a godly man”? What if we are wrong? By refusing to believe her, we are calling evil good and are aiding her abuser.

Are we so callous as to fail to seek the truth and, through our failing, perhaps even become a pawn in the hand of Satan, an instrument used by him to pour salt into a fellow Christian’s open, bleeding, wounds? All of this in the Name of our precious Lord? Sadly, from my experiences and those of many I have known, these responses are often the norm.

To say we believe God is one thing. To live as if we believe is quite another.  If we really love Jesus, we must live out our belief: the way we treat other Christians is indicative of our love for Him. When we are confronted with the stories of the abused woman, pray we remember that the Lord has taught us, in 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.”