Please understand, just because you know a couple doesn’t mean you know what goes on in their home. I know from experience.
To be clear; I do not know what went on in this family’s home.
A new article on the disappearance of Lynn Messer was published in the Sunday, St. Louis Post Dispatch. I will share my feelings and theories regarding this Christian, homeschool mom who has been missing for two years.
I have a different perspective than most of my friends, and homeschool community, on this subject.
Of course I’m coming from a background of living with a mentally disturbed man. A man who most people thought of as being godly, personable, funny, sincere, a dynamic speaker, a soul-winning preacher, a world traveling evangelist with a heart for hurting and needy children, a terrific communicator and writer. This was the side he wanted people to see. He lived his life on a stage; acting out the role he believed people wanted to see. Soaking in the accolades.
This is what I experienced living with this man. A dark, disturbed, dishonest, abusive, unfaithful, unbeknown to me: pedophile, controlling, woman hater who suffered from mental illness and a personality disorder. I never told people for years. Why? See: My Destructive Marriage. I left him when I believed it was probable that our daughter and I would not again wake up alive.
Now he’s in prison, but I imagine he is still a grand actor.
So what if I’m not the only woman who lived a life where no one would have ever guessed what my home life was like?
The letters I receive from readers tell me the problem is global. And I’m not talking about wide-spread in the secular, non-Christian arena. I’m telling you there are untold numbers of Christian women; including pastor’s wives and missionaries’ wives living in difficult, abusive marriages.
Because I read extensively on the subject of spousal abuse I can share that statistics report women who disappear under questionable circumstances are usually found dead; usually at the hands of their significant other and at the least, because of their significant other.
So when a local woman went missing two years ago my radar lit up. Of course the Christian community rallied around the man because they believed this wonderful man would never have a role in his wife’s disappearance. I hope they are correct. Their hearts went out to him when he was being questioned about his wife’s disappearance. Friends thought time was wasting and should be spent trying to find his beloved, “bride,” as he refers to her in his Facebook posts. He also refers to her as, “Ma.”
The husband’s writings reminded me too much of my former husband. Not fair, I’m sure, but I’m being honest about my gut feelings. The posts he wrote about his bride on Facebook were like reading ponderings, convincing arguments, and outright lies that my former husband would have written about me; to make people believe and understand how much he loved me, needed me, and could never go on without me. Non-truths; in the case of my former husband. I don’t know Lynn’s husband; I’m just saying there are oddities in this case.
I have prayed numerous times for this missing woman. I questioned if she was dead after reading the first few Facebook posts written about her.
Shortly after Lynn’s disappearance I received a financial support letter in the mail asking for local Christian, homeschooling families to send financial gifts to help the man, as a state lobbyist for the homeschooling community, during his time of difficulty. I tossed the letter in the trash and told my husband, “I’m not helping a man who I suspect holds guilt in the disappearance of his wife.”
I’m basing opinions off my background of studying a specific personality disorder. You see, people with narcissistic personality disorder, or tendencies toward it, have the same order of operations. What I read on Facebook reminded me of narcissistic supply. Local friends and fellow Christians could have unknowingly been giving narcissistic supply. People were providing love, financial gifts, meals, written encouragement, man-hours searching the 250 acre property for the wife, praise for the man’s character and marital devotion, prayers, and help around the farm. Maybe the support was correctly administered. I don’t know.
I’m not saying the man has been diagnosed with a personality disorder; I’m stating parallels I saw, which concerned me.
I figured that no one knew the hundreds of acres as well as him and, if a possibility existed that he was involved, he would know where the body was located.
Many women report living with abusive husbands. The following are a handful of ways some of the more subtle abuse happens: The man keeps her living like she’s dirt poor while he enjoys a higher social standing. She eats simple and cheap meals while he eats the finest of food. She wears the same old clothes for years or decades while he wears new clothes. He travels and goes on expensive trips while she stays home to keep the house. He enjoys friendships with other women away from the home while she is expected not to talk to men without her husband present.
I hear from women who live in defeat and depression while believing the lies their husbands tell them. Lies such as all his problems are her fault, she isn’t talented enough, doesn’t make enough money, isn’t pretty, is boring, isn’t a good mother, isn’t a good wife, should me more like a woman the husband holds in high esteem. So many women in these relationships live in despair. Many counselors don’t get it. The man seems so put-together at counseling sessions and many Christian counselors will not reprimand a man in the presence of the wife. Read more about problems with the false sense of male entitlement here. These women can end up suicidal when they fail to find understanding or help.
Couple with this a wife reconciling in her heart and mind a public man who boldly teaches the word of God and prays, with the private man who secretly treats his wife in the home with ridicule, resentment, the silent treatment, physical, emotional, psychological, and/or sexual abuse due to his addiction to pornography. This may leave a woman unable to grasp reality because she has been fed a constant stream of lies.
These women can’t give enough praise to make their man feel as special as he deems himself. The man in return doesn’t have kind works of affirmation or appreciation for who she is, nor does he recognize anything of value she provides. See: To Live But Not Exist.
These women may feel like they are crazy, will never be able to please their man, are only making life worse, and would be better off dead.
If this was Lynn’s life I wish I could have talked to her. I would have embraced her, cried with her, prayed over her and told her, “It’s not your fault. Don’t believe it. You’re beautiful, capable, talented, sweet, fun, caring and needed. You are lovable.”
I wonder what their kids know and think; opinions, facts or questions that haven’t made it to the media. They are grown adults and I can’t imagine how they have endured through these two years. They are who my heart goes out to; and the grandchildren.
My prayer is for closure to come to those who loved and valued, Ma.
As someone who had to learn to look for the thread of truth woven in a story or statement there were a few comments made on the Find Lynn Messer Facebook page, early in the investigation, that made me pause and wonder. These statements stood out to me and didn’t leave my memory. Maybe I have an over active imagination but I truly had to learn to read my ex-husband in this way to attempt to keep my daughter safe.
Located in a July 12, 2014, Facebook post: “In closing: For those of you who know Lynn best – you understand when I say that she is the strongest work horse on our farm. And, for those of you who know me best – you understand from Luke 14:5 that I only paraphrase Jesus’ figurative teaching, when I say that the only reason I am not with you in worship this morning is because ‘my ox is in a ditch.'” I wondered if she was literally in a ditch or hole somewhere on the property! Where were the animals placed when they died?
Located in a July 12, 2015, Facebook post: “…to be honest, I am torn between two opposites. First is that I have to admit not being able to focus due to so many stresses, and the conviction to be transparent about it when I don’t want to be.” About what did he not want to be truthfully transparent; despite the conviction that he should be transparent?
Located in a July 12, 2015, Facebook post: “I am at a loss as to how to interact with our family members and even my own grandchildren.” Was there a sense of guilt keeping him from fully engaging and bonding with his precious family?
You may think this is sensationalism…but women who have survived abusive men know this is all in the realm of possibility. I pray the parallels are simply coincidental.
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Top photo credit: Find Lynn Messer Facebook profile picture
Further reading on the disappearance of Lynn Messer:
The Missouri Times Messer Answers Questions Raised About Missing Wife