1 February 2022

I had planned to repeat my Facebook-Free February this year, but I haven’t done a very good job today. I suppose it could be Facebook-Free March or April. We’ll see. Maybe, I’ll start a day late.

As my husband headed off to bed tonight, he looked down at me (I was working on my laptop on the couch) and smiled with his whole face as he struggled to find the right words. “You…are…a…squirrely…rascally…challenge!”

I laughed out loud. “You know, she’s a very difficult person,” his future mother in law warned.

Well, his comment reminded me of something else. He reminded me of one a Shakespeare’s Sonnets I had included it in a poetry book I made him 34 years ago, when he left Long Beach, California for Boston, Massachusetts. He was coming here to study the saxophone with Jerry Bergonzi. This was his dream come true. We were just friends, but I was already in love with him. So, I decided to make him a poetry book. What is a poetry book? Well, it’s a scrapbook of poems or quotes, with pictures collected from magazines or greeting cards. Maybe, photo copied from a book. It wasn’t a gift you gave just anyone—only your very best friends.

So, on the night before he flew out, I drove over to see him to say good-bye. That’s what friends do, right? We hung out for awhile, and I gave him his gift as I was leaving—some time after midnight. I drove away in my ’72 Toyota Corona—missing floor board on the passenger’s side and a trunk that only stayed closed with a bungee cord—and I prayed and rejoiced and felt incredible peace. Oh, I definitely cried my eyes out, too. I knew I would never see him again. His poetry book was my last bid to leave my mark on his life.

I know it’s small potatoes, but we’re celebrating our 33rd Anniversary soon, and I’m grateful for a husband who loves a “challenge.” 🙂

So, this is the sonnet. Figured I should share. You can see I made his poetry book in a music notebook, instead of a scrapbook. Seemed appropriate for a musician.

I love the picture I included—it related to the poem on the facing page, too, which begins: “My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases….” (Love Poem, written by John Frederick Nims.)

It was interesting to look through that poetry book tonight. I’m glad for all the ways I’ve changed in 34 years, and for all the ways I’ve stayed just the same.

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.


KickOffThoseShoes

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.

FUZZY SLIPPERS
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.

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.

NEW SHOES
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.

The Promise After the Comma

Christmastime is often called The Season of Hope, but for the Christian every season is a season of hope. Being a Christian, we have good reason to hope and a good Father in Whom to place our hope!

Proverbs 13:12 talks about hope. It tells us that hoping can be very difficult sometimes!

“HOPE deferred makes the heart sick;
but when dreams come true at last,
there is life and joy.”
Proverbs 13:12 (TLB)

An easy illustration for that verse might be the expectant mother, waiting and hoping for the birth of her baby. Barring an unexpected incident, the mother-to-be has good reason to expect her dream will come true and her baby will eventually fill her arms.

Another illustration of that might be the parent who hopes for their prodigal to return home, and be restored to Christ. That is a harder scenario, because an infant in the womb cannot willfully refuse to be born. However, the wayward child can willfully refuse to be born again. This parent may hope for many, many years. And, I think that is the one we might describe as heart sick, the parent who waits for an unknown day when their prayers are finally answered.

Deferred Does Not Mean Denied

This past week I heard someone advising hurting wives about their husbands. They used this verse, Proverbs 13:12, to urge these women to give-up all hope of their husbands ever changing and becoming Christ-like men. “If you’ve been waiting and waiting, but it hasn’t happened, it is not God’s will, it is time to move on.” That is almost exactly what was said. This false teacher used this verse to give women permission from God to give-up, leave their husbands, and end their marriages!

Well, I’m sure you can guess that this did not sit well with me. I was actually dumbfounded. How could anyone make such a mistake, and interpret the holy Word of God so poorly—and so dangerously? This verse was twisted and warped so much that it became a contradiction of God’s Word.

I thought to myself that if I had heard this kind of counsel 25 years ago…oh, thank God I did not! I might not have been in a place emotionally or spiritually to stop, question, and consider the meaning of the whole verse. I might have trusted this counselor and self-anointed minister, though they never offered one sound proof for their interpretation. This false teacher was no less deceitful than the Serpent in the Garden, reassuring Eve that she was free to ignore God’s word and satisfy herself with the forbidden fruit.

Listening to this speaker twisting the interpretation of God’s Word was like watching a magician perform a sleight of hand trick. They not only ignored the portion of the verse that they could not warp, the promise after the comma, but they actually misinterpreted a common word we all know and use: deferred.

Let’s look at Merriam-Webster’s straightforward definition: withheld for or until a stated time. Have you ever deferred payment on your taxes? Or, received deferred enrollment to college? The bill isn’t denied, but payment is rescheduled for a later (but specific) date. Admission was not denied, but postponed for another semester.

In other words, to be perfectly clear, deferred does not mean denied. Withheld for a time is not denied.

This is good news by itself, but look at the promise after the comma: life and joy await. Oh, that is a great promise indeed! That is what God’s Word says to those who are walking according to His Word. As you wait day after day, do not believe the Devil’s lie that it is all in vain. When we are asking in agreement with God’s Word, why would He deny us? First John 5:14-15 assures us that He will not!

“And we are sure of this, that He will listen
to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line
with His will. And if we really know He is listening
when we talk to Him and make our requests,
then we can be sure that He will answer us.”
1 John 5:14-15 (TLB)

Do you see that promise after the comma? If He hears you, be sure that He will answer!

How Is Your Faith?

You might be asking: how do I know He hears me, that He is listening? Good question! Once again, we go to His Word for the answer.

“The Lord is far from the
wicked, but He hears the prayers
of the righteous.”
Proverbs 15:29 (TLB)

We have another promise after the comma. When we are in right standing with God, we can have every confidence that He hears our prayers. Therefore, according to 1 John 5:14-15, we can be sure that He will answer them.

How is your faith, Sister or Brother? That’s what it all comes down to, as we walk after the Lord. Hope is not a a wish or good intention, though we often use the word that way as we hope someone had a nice day or feels better soon. That is not the hope that comes from our faith in God and in His Word. That is a hope without substance, based on circumstance. Real hope comes by faith, and as we know Him and His Word more, that faith will grow. We will also learn to know His voice and His will for our lives.

God makes Himself very clear to us. He is not playing guessing games. Yet, the Enemy has deceived us into believing that God’s will is some mystery we must work our entire lives to discover. No, God will never hide His will from us. If we are struggling to know His will, it is only a matter of giving time to seek Him through prayer and in His Word.

Hold Fast

It is not always going to be easy to believe God for difficult things. There will be times when Doubt, Fear, and Confusion try to shake us from our foundation of faith. For me, those were the times I would read this passage that I kept taped to my bedroom wall for many years:

“Let us hold fast the confession of our HOPE without wavering,
for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

This verse offers us one more promise: He who promised is faithful.

Life and joy is awaiting you—hold fast! Literally, there is life and joy means it is a tree of life. How can one lose hope, when the promise of our hope is a tree of life? That is a promise, my friends. Do not give-up!