The thought that God loved me never crossed my mind as I gasped for air, his hands tightly gripped around my throat. My husband was an angry man and a misogynist – he hated women.
If only he had come with a list of words to never use around him or a manual on what not to do in his presence. With such literature, I would have been saved from the years of bruises, damaged dental work and scars that go deeper than the eye can see.
Why wasn’t I ever given a “heads up” from God? Why was I allowed to stumble into situation after situation that just fueled this man’s rage? Nope, I never felt any love – from anyone – during those times.
Growing up in a congregational church, I had heard that “Jesus loves the little children.” Being pregnant and unmarried at 18 is a crash course in growing up. No “little children” here – just a bride with morning sickness.
Within two weeks of saying, “I do” I was ducking swings. Pregnancy didn’t change that. A newborn didn’t change that. And another pregnancy didn’t change that. You can be hit in the head and told you’re nothing for only so long before you begin to believe it and can no longer think clearly. When I was in the throes of abuse, self-preservation and protecting my children were foremost in my thoughts. If God was trying to speak to me, I couldn’t hear Him. It was me who was lost, not Him.
I was lost when I was screaming for my husband to “please stop!” I was lost when I was forced out of bed to wash dishes at 2 a.m. I was lost when I was sleeping on the couch on icy northern winter nights with no pillows or blankets. I was lost when I begged him to “just kill me and get it over with”. I was desperately lost when my head was bleeding, I was spitting tooth bits, and I couldn’t raise my arms because of the pain. Yep, I was lost. I am a firm believer that one has to be totally lost before finding the way home, and I was totally lost.
What finally made me leave? After years of accepting the bait and switch of “I’ve changed” as an invitation to a normal life, something in me rose up as a dragon rises out of a misty bog in a fairytale to spew fire onto a marauding villain.
I fought back. Satan didn’t want me to fight back and leave a marriage of disparage and harm that would crush my spirit and future and that of my children. What made me bold? The sheer will to live? Self-preseveration? Temporary insanity? Call it what you will, but fought back I did. Surely it was God guiding my actions. With one cloudy decision that (for once) stuck, I grabbed my babies and fled. That is how I fought back.
With miles between us, my mind could focus. With months between us, my plans could be established. And with violence behind me, I could hear God. With God in my mind, I could learn about Jesus. And with Jesus in my heart, I could grow in Him.
Jesus doesn’t want us to be in unsafe situations. Proverbs 22:24 states, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.”
Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.”
If anyone sins against you in violence or verbal abuse, remember that Jesus does not want you in that situation. Tell someone. Your Christian sisters will listen to you. Call a friend. Call the church. Call your local battered women’s shelter. Call the Salvation Army. Just call.
Remember, as stated in I Corinthians 13:5, “(Love) is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
When (in Luke 10:38-41) Jesus told Martha that He wouldn’t make Mary get up from listening to Him to help her with dinner preparations, He was going against the culture of the time; women worked and men sat and learned. On that day, Jesus liberated women.
Going from victim to victor is the glorious result of the healing offered through the love of Jesus. We can apply the promise God made to His people in Jeremiah 30:17 to ourselves. “For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds, declares the Lord. Because they have called you an outcast, saying: ‘It is Zion; no one cares for her.’”
God has great plans for your future and that of your children. Be bold and yield to His will for your life. Remember that “a fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control,” as stated in Proverbs 29:11. Keep your head. Grab your children and get to safety. Jesus loves women and wants us to stay safe!