Kick Off Those Shoes! (Revisted)

This original post has recently had some views. I didn’t remember it by the title, so I clicked to reread it. As I did, I noticed something that I needed to correct. It’s something the Lord has taught me in the past five years. So, below is the post updated, with my correction. Er, rather, the Holy Spirit’s correction. I don’t know who the recent readers were, but I hope / trust they see this and read the correction. The correction, by the way, is in Step 4. I definitely will write more on trust in another post.


Women don’t lie about being abused.

There is too much shame attached. Of course, this isn’t to say there aren’t women who will lie, so maybe I should qualify my statement: I have found that a woman in a marriage she values and wants to keep, to a man she loves and believes in, is more likely to lie by saying she has not been abused, than to lie by saying she has been abused.

And, just in case you aren’t sure where she stands in regards to her husband and her marriage, always assume she is telling the truth.

On the same note, I have found that when a man—any man—makes any statement of denial concerning abuse, he is always judging by his definition of abuse.

And, he is always wrong.

Recently, a pastor and his wife became quite famous, as she advocated for his freedom from an Iranian prison. He was finally released last month, but the joy of his homecoming was dampened by her confession to supporters that he had been an abusive jerk.

(I might have added the “jerk” part.)

Instead of welcoming him home with open arms, she filed papers and sent the kids. They both remain in the public eye, seeking public affirmation, and claiming they want to keep their troubles “private.” As they both post about their private life on Facebook and grant interviews to the press, their claims to want privacy seem a little disingenuous.

All things being equal, he’s getting the lion’s share of the media attention, and she’s winning the Facebook sympathy vote. Her defenders, aka Team Wife, gather around and reinforce her victimization, while Team Husband assures him this is the Devil’s workIt is how church folks traditionally handle these kind of troubles.

Feeling sorry for the victim is natural, if not very helpful. It’s probably the main reason it took me so long to trust anyone to pray with me for my husband. I knew a pat on the hand wasn’t going to help me. Yes, his abuse hurt me very much, but I knew God did not define him by his sin. Of course, I wanted comforting—living in an abusive marriage is like walking in shoes that are not only too tight, but have cut glass for insoles. I was not about to refuse a pair of fuzzy slippers, but I did not want pity.  I wanted prayer partners to stand in the gap for us both. I wanted warring saints who would not fight against my husband, but fight the Enemy on his behalf.

Let me tell you, there were very few people I could trust. There were even fewer who actually believed he could be delivered.

I don’t know enough about these two people to know if they really want to save their marriage, but if they do, they are doing it wrong.  For more than three years they portrayed themselves as martyrs for the cause of Christ, and now that their secret sins have been brought into the light they each still want to play the martyr in their marriage.  Even worse, they are allowing the court of public opinion to try their cases against each other.

It’s not okay. In fact, it’s sickening. Well-intentioned Christians are feeding their egos with scores of Facebook comments.  Articles and interviews are skewed in favor of whichever victim the publication wants to defend. I suspect ghost writers have already been hired, with book deals under negotiation.

You can say I’m being critical, or worse, but I don’t think I’m wrong.  And, what you may not be detecting in my words is the real concern I have for them, and for the Body of Christ. If we actually care about these two people, then we should pray they stop this public show.

I have walked many miles in the shoes this woman now walks, which is the only reason I have the right to say anything. And, I know there are women reading this who are examining their own shoes right now and saying, “Yeah, those look familiar.” While this woman may never read my words of exhortation, those who are reading these words need to know that there is hope. Being in an abusive marriage doesn’t mean you must endure a life of suffering. However, you will have to reject the easy comfort of those fuzzy slippers. The proper footwear for a woman married to a High-Maintenance Man is combat boots.

If you love your husband and want to save your marriage, despite his abusive behavior, I am going to share the short and simple advice I give every woman married to an abusive man. Of course, I prefer the term High Maintenance Men. I coined the term years ago, because I thought it accurately described a man who wasn’t exactly easy to love, but very much worth loving. Men cannot stay high maintenance, though. That is not God’s will. However, He has provided a way for men with abusive behaviors to be transformed by the power and grace of God at work in their lives, and when they have a Proverbs 31 woman willing to walk that walk of faith with them, they really are guaranteed to succeed.

God is always on the side of those who seek after righteousness! 

So, here are seven, simple steps to get started. (Sorry for the alliteration. It wasn’t on purpose!) Mind you: this is my simple version, with minimal detail, but maybe enough to stir your heart to faith and action.

Remember, what God did for me He will gladly do for you, too!

Step 1: Do not protect him.
There are many kinds of abuse. If you are being physically abused, or if he is engaged in illegal activity, leave or make him leave. Call the authorities. God does not honor our protecting him from the consequences of his illegal behavior, and physically hurting you—or anyone else—is illegal.

Step 2: Put your faith in God. 
If you are not a Christian, these shoes definitely won’t fit comfortably. Of course, knowing Christ isn’t a hard thing. Click HERE. Then, come right back. I’ll wait. 🙂

Step 3: Forgive him. 
Sometimes, we hold onto forgiveness like a trophy we will only bestow upon our husband once he has proven himself worthy. Bad idea! This is completely contrary to the Word of God, which makes it clear that unforgiveness is a sin that separates us from the Lord and frustrates His will in our lives. The truth is, unforgiveness is as great a transgression as his abuse. They both divide you from God, and from one another, and you cannot win this fight for your marriage without spiritual unity. You need to be playing for the same team! Holding onto unforgiveness is giving place to the Enemy, and that will only bring more division. It is a very spiritually powerless position that will almost guarantee the end of your marriage. 

Step 4: Forgiveness and trust work hand-in-hand.
Abuse violates trust, and this is one of the hardest things for anyone to get over. However, the Holy Spirit taught me that the Bible’s call to forgive 70 times 7 is a call to forgive as God forgives—that includes trusting that person once more. We are told in this world that trust must be earned, but that’s not true; it’s not even realistic. Trust is given. And, in the Christian marriage our trust is given to the One Who is the most trustworthy, our Heavenly Father, to not only accomplish the redemptive work that needs to be done in our marriage, but in the two members of that marriage. And, He will do that.  

Step 5: Trusting Him is essential.
Recovery is a process that takes time. Walking this road from brokenness to healing is going to require you have Someone to lean on every step of the way, and the only person who will be there for you even before you call to Him for help, is God. Putting your trust in Him as you begin this fight really is essential.

Step 6: Pursue Him.
No one is 100% innocent. Sometimes, women find that they are allowing a lot of “little” sins, like unforgiveness, into their life, and justifying them with his bad behavior. They don’t think of their discontentment as sin. Or, maybe, it’s gossip or greed they overlook. Or, just spiritually neglecting our walk with the Lord. There are so many ways we transgress. This is why I urge you to invite the Holy Spirit to examine your heart, to see if there are any “wicked ways” in you. Then, repent. And, keep repenting. And, then begin to pursue God like you did back in the day, when you were new to your faith. Stop skipping services, and other opportunities to be in fellowship. Take in every anointed sermon you can find (Sermon Index is a great source), and read the Word for yourself. Surround yourself with the Word. Make posters and hang them up around your house! Listen to worship music that is filled with spiritual truth. Pray like every prayer is a life-sustaining breath. You will need to be spiritually fit to fight this battle, so pursue the Lord with all your heart, as if your life depends on it.

Step 7: Leave him to God.
Let God take care him. Hopefully, you are working together to reconcile, so there should be much spiritual fellowship going on, but don’t take the position of being his spiritual mentor. You should not disciple your husband. The Holy Spirit may well use you to exhort and encourage him, but let God have His way with Him. Pray for him, tell God all the thing you think He needs to fix in him, but leave him to God.

The burden of recovery is not meant to be entirely on one person. Sometimes, one member is more able to take the steps of faith necessary to begin the process, but ultimately it takes two willing souls.  It is a shared burden, and a shared blessing, through which God can do a wonderful and remarkable work of restoration. And, restoration is my hope for this couple I’ve discussed, and for anyone reading this who is living under abuse.

Sister, kick off those shoes! If you need to pad around in fuzzy slippers for a time, give those blisters a chance to heal, that’s OK. However, you can’t stay in that easy place. You need to get to the work of fighting the spiritual battle that comes with being that Proverbs 31 woman. Abigail did not rush to confront David in her fuzzies! She knew what she was facing, and she was equipped and ready.

One day—this is the good news you need to remember every day—this fight will be over.  It really will! And, when it is done you can put those combat boots away. You won’t throw them out, because you are a Proverbs 31 woman. However, they won’t be your daily uniform. You’ll get to go out and buy yourself a brand new pair of any shoes you want! And, you can let him buy them for you.

My Filthy Rags

I had three major confrontations with the Lord in 2001. They began at the women’s Bible study (testimony here) and continued through the summer, when I finally dipped into a pile of articles Doug had given me to read.

Those articles would eventually be life changing, but I didn’t want anything to do with them at first. Oh, I was very happy for him, because he’d finally found a ministry that actually addressed his spiritual need. It was the first time we’d heard anyone use the term sexual addiction, and these men* had testimonies to back up their articles. He felt so much hope, and I was hopeful, too. Maybe, this was the answer we’d been waiting for, and all my suffering would finally be over. 

You see, while I recognized there was a spiritual war going on, I didn’t realize Doug and I each had battles to fight. I thought this war was his war, because it was his fault. If he would just do the right thing, we’d win the war and live happily ever after. Wasn’t I doing my part?  Keep the home fires burning, Caroline! Despite the fact God had been dealing with me all year long, calling me to yield to His will for my life, I just didn’t understand that there was something for me to do. I was sure our problems started with him, and would only end when he stopped living a chronic cycle of Sin-Repent-Repeat. In the meanwhile, I would be the good Christian wife I thought I was and endure this suffering. Isn’t that what longsuffering means?

Wives, God doesn’t call us to endure our husband’s sin. If we’re just holding our own, trying to get better at enduring, we’re wasting our time. That’s as far away from being a help meet as we can get. Yet, I know that’s what most wives think they’re supposed to do: don’t quit on him. Without meaning to, they become his enabler.  

You see there is a difference between godly endurance and human endurance, and too often we confuse them. Godly endurance stands out, because it bears spiritual fruit in both you and him. It doesn’t enable him to stay unchanged and in sin, but instead reminds him that his race isn’t over. We don’t ignore his fall and fail to hold him to account, but urge him to get up (repent) and keep going.  

I’m not sure when I gave in and picked-up an article, but I do remember the words took me by surprise. Like a tsunami. The first article was called, “Why People Remain in Sin and Bondage,” by David Kyle Foster. I remember thinking that maybe this article would help me understand Doug better, but instead it helped me understand myself better. It was an incredible experience. Yes, it was life changing.  I very clearly recall sitting in bed and sensing the presence of Christ beside me. I could see myself next to Him, my head down, looking at the pure white drapes of His robe. It was then I finally saw my filthy rags. I wept, I repented. My eyes were opened. For so long I had seen myself somehow ahead of Doug on this course, but suddenly I realized we were in the same place. I had no advantage over him, because I didn’t struggle with his brand of sin. I was not further ahead, because I had grown-up in Sunday school classes. We were equally wretched sinners, both in need of a Savior. 

Looking back now, I realize that God was preparing me for what was soon to come. If our family was going to survive the onslaught Satan had prepared for us, I was going to have to rise up out of my selfish version of Christianity and become a woman God could actually use. I was going to have to put my flesh in its place, just as much as Doug would—though in very different ways. I was now in the war.

*David Kyle Foster (Pure Passion) and Steve Gallagher (Pure Life Miniseries)

In The Beginning

About 20 years ago, Doug and I were in the battle of our lives. We didn’t know it, but we were at a turning point. How we came through this was going to redefine the rest of our lives. And, though we were battling for the same cause, we were fighting on different fronts. He had his fight, and I had mine.

Of course, I did not understand any of this at the time. From my perspective then, this war was essentially his fault, and his deliverance was going to bring an end to the conflict. That was the focus of my prayer life: that God would deliver him.

However, God had a call on my life that I wasn’t answering. It was the call to be my husband’s help meet. Though I had grown-up in church, I was never taught the true, biblical meaning of the word. I never heard a pastor preach on it, and my premarital counseling never even mentioned it. No one ever told me it was God’s call on every wife’s life. No one ever told me the spiritual responsibility I had, or the spiritual authority God had given me. I wish I’d been equipped from the beginning with all I learned that year, and the years since, because I think it would have made all the difference.

That’s why I blog about it now. I am desperate to see Christian men fulfill the call of God on their lives, but they cannot do it alone. 

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18, KJV

God recognized man’s need, and made woman. However, there is a job to be done here. It is not just a title; a position of honor. It is a calling. 

And, it’s a calling I am still learning to answer. I have an excellent Teacher, but I am a poor student. So, I am learning as I type. I am determined to keep typing, though. I believe there is at least one woman who will read this, receive it, and it will make all the difference for her, her husband, her marriage, her family, and the Kingdom of God. I believe that with all my heart. It is a call that may not be easy, ladies—especially, if your husband is not walking with the Lord. However, it is a ministry unto the Lord. Your obedience to this call has eternal consequences—and, eternal rewards! 

So, yes, I will be writing more on the subject and filing these posts in the “Help Meet” category so they can be easily found.

God bless you tonight. ❤