In the wake of infidelity (Helping the victim)

Last night as you sobbed your heart to your Heavenly Daddy

He pieced you back together, dusted you off, and woke you

To fresh mercies this morning.

You made it through another day.

Never let anyone tell you what your brave should look like

How you should act or respond.

This is how you heal. One hard fought day at a time.

In your weakness He is strong.

This is how you mend your broken.  

 

This I have learned from my own life traumas.

I also learned what a woman needs most from her friends in the middle of her shocking news…that her husband is being unfaithful is for a friend to listen. Affirm her, acknowledge her pain, pray for her. As in…lay your hands on her shoulders, or hold her hands, and pray over her in person. Pray over her home; room by room. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16b

She simply needs to process her thoughts out loud. There is something about talking to a friend that makes it real; not some crazy notion in your head. It’s healing. Validate her pain.

I understand that this may be uncomfortable, it may emotionally upset you. Yep, it will! Christ has called us to get messy and show empathy and love to those in need. Scripture tells us, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”  (I John 3:17) I believe the same principle applies here. To see your sister’s hurt but have no pity, how can the love of God be in that person?

If you think listening to her is taking sides and may jeopardize your friendship with the husband; think again. To not take sides shows the perpetrator and the victim that you have chosen sides.  We must take the side of the oppressed. Neutrality shows the oppressor you are on their side.

Here is another nugget of wisdom. Unfaithfulness is always the responsibility of the unfaithful. They had opportunity to say no. They had the power to change their circumstance. They had abundant choices for wise counsel; for help before it was too late.

You can be friends with both at the same time. One calls for tender love; the other calls for tough love. Don’t think you’re getting caught in a triangular relationship where you’re betraying trust. If you feel caught in between with he said, she said; make it clear to him that he needs to be honest with his wife. Say something like this, “I want to make sure that you understand you need to be honest with your wife in all aspects of your marriage which includes not withholding information. I’m concerned that you are showing me another area of your life where you are not disclosing the truth to your wife. For your good, and the good of your family, I need to call out the deceptions.”

Why? Matthew 18:15 applies, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Most importantly, the goal is to bring them to repentance and reconciliation if possible.

“It’s a poverty when God’s words are watered down for the sake of being culturally sensitive, in the name of comforting others or not being offensive. His absolute truth is by nature going to offend because it requires of us change. Perhaps more scary, it requires us to do nothing but ACCEPT His grace and the promise of salvation — we CANNOT earn it! We can sooo love others to Jesus without backing down. Confronting wrong is NOT the same as pointing unkind judgmental fingers. After all, Jesus saved His most pointed comments for those who should KNOW BETTER, not for the unsaved. He loved them, but gently and firmly said, “Go and sin no more.” He DID NOT say, “That’s not really sin if you really want to do this.” Cindy Sigler Dagnan 9/14/2014

Repentance is not God’s way of condescendingly reminding us of our sin, failures and mistakes. Quite the opposite. It is our chance to approach Him, and through repentance receive forgiveness, healing, power, wisdom and blessing. Repentance is a beautiful gift. God does not dole out punishments, although there may be natural consequences, but instead gives good gifts to those seeking His heart and will.

I have also found that people are forgiving when they see repentance that leads to fruit. In other words; you will be known by your actions and not just your words. 

“Above all, love each other deeply,

because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8

Ideas for practical help

  • A restaurant gift card,  or freezer meal, for a day when she is having a difficult time functioning.
  • A gift certificate for a massage. Physical touch can help release loads of stress.
  • Offer to watch the kids while she has a counseling appointment, attorney appointment, or doctor appointment.
  • Offer to help her clean her house. She will appreciate the company and conversation as much as the help.
  • Stop by, or invite her over, for coffee or tea. Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean. It’s likely she will cherish the grace of your realness over tidiness.
  • Create a playlist of music to minister to her in her trauma.
  • Call and pray for her over the phone.
  • Lend a listening ear in a judgement free zone.
  • Send a note of encouragement with a scripture you are praying over her.

I’m afraid of the space where you suffer
Where you sit in the smoke and the burn
I can’t handle the choke or the danger

Of my own foolish, inadequate words
I’ll be right outside if you need me
Right outside

What can I bring to your fire?
Shall I sing while the roof is coming down?
Can I hold you while the flames grow higher,
Shall I brave the heat and come close with you now?
Can I come close now?

So we left you to fight your own battle
And you buried your hope with your faith
‘Cause you heard no song of deliverance
There on the nights that followed the wake
We never thought to go with you
Afraid to ask

What can I bring to your fire?
Shall I sing while the roof is coming down?
Can I hold you while the flames grow higher,
Shall I brave the heat and come close with you now?
Can I come close now?

Lay down our plans
Lay down the sure-fire fix
Grief’s gonna stay awhile,
There is no cure for this
We watch for return,
We speak what we’ve heard
We sit together, in the burn

What can I bring to your fire?
Shall I sing while the roof is coming down?
Can I hold you while the flames grow higher,
Shall I brave the heat and come close with you now?
Can I come close now?

Domestic Abuse: 5 Biblical principles & 5 guidelines

October is Domestic Violence awareness month. I’m aware that DM is alive and well; which includes in the church.

I currently have 30 Christian women in my county who I advocate for in person and/or Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallon the phone, and for whom I pray. Many times they just need to be listened to and validated.  I can report that only 2 of these women have churches who believe them and stand by them. Most churches want the couple to come in and meet with the pastor so he can get a feel for what is going on and if abuse is truly taking place. Couples counseling DOES NOT WORK for a destructive, abusive marriage. The abuser will sit and lie his way through the session; denying or justifying the problems while acting the part of a loving, tender, and godly husband.  This is why the woman is not believed. (I also know abused men who have gone to their church leadership, but were not believed. Since I minister mainly to women I state women throughout my blog.)

Leslie Vernick is a Christian and biblical counselor who has spent years in the trenches teaching women in destructive and abusive marriages how to reclaim their voice and strength. Now she is helping first responders (church leadership) so they can correctly apply scripture when a woman in an abusive relationship approaches them for help. To do this, church leadership needs to respond to the abused and the abuser. How? It’s not difficult if you have the proper training, but sadly most pastors, church leadership, and even Christian counselors do not have a background in spotting and dealing with domestic abuse. Leslie provides the opportunity for church leadership to fill this void and provide hope and help those seeking it.

Please remember; abuse is not a marriage problem—it is an abuse problem. The abuser needs private counseling and serious, firm accountability.

What Does The Bible Say About Destructive And Abusive Relationships?

Leslie Vernick receives frantic calls and e-mails each week from Christian women (and some men) who feel scared, trapped, hopeless and helpless because their most intimate relationship is abusive; verbally, physically, economically, sexually, spiritually or all of the above. The Bible has something to say about the way we treat people and as Christians we should all strive to be Biblically wise in how we handle these difficult and painful family issues.

Below are five Biblical principles that will guide your thinking about this topic.

Leslie Vernick, Author

1. Abuse is always sin. The scriptures are clear. Abuse of authority or power (even legitimate God given authority) is always sin. Abusive speech and/or behavior is never an acceptable way to communicate with someone. (Malachi 2:16-17; Psalm 11:5; Colossians 3:8,19).

2. Abuse is never an appropriate response to being provoked. In working with abusive individuals they often blame the other person. This can be especially tricky when trying to counsel couples. There is no perfect person and victims of abuse aren’t sinless. However, we must be very clear-minded that abusive behavior and/or speech is never justified, even when provoked. People provoke us all the time but we are still responsible for our response (Ephesians 4:26; Luke 6:45)

3. Biblical headship does not entitle a husband to get his own way, make all the family decisions, or to remove his wife’s right to choose. At the heart of most domestic abuse is the sinful use of power to gain control over another individual. Biblical headship is described as sacrificial servanthood, not unlimited authority and/or power. (Mark 10:42-45). Let’s not confuse terms. When a husband demands his own way or tries to dominate his wife, it’s not called biblical headship, its called selfishness, and abuse of power. (See, for example, Deuteronomy 13; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2-4 for God’s rebuke of the leaders of Israel for their self-centered and abusive shepherding of God’s flock.)

4. Unrepentant sin always damages relationships and sometimes people. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2-5) and from one another (Proverbs 17:9). It is unrealistic and unbiblical to believe that you can continue healthy fellowship with someone who repeatedly sins against you when there is no repentance and no change. We are impacted in every way. (See Proverbs 1:15; 14:7; 21:2822:24; 1 Corinthians 15:33).

5. God’s purpose is to deliver the abused. We are to be champions of the oppressed and abused. God hates the abuse of power and the sin of injustice. (Psalm 5,7,10,140; 2 Corinthians 11:20; Acts 14:5-6.

What’s next? How should we respond when we know abuse is happening to someone?

We must never close our eyes to the sin of injustice or the abuse of power, whether it is in a home, a church, a work setting or a community or country (Micah 6:8). The apostle Paul encountered some spiritually abusive leaders and did not put up with it. (2 Corinthians 11:20). Please don’t be passive when you encounter abuse.

However, because we too are sinners, we are all tempted to react to abusive behavior with a sinful response of our own. The apostle Paul cautions us not to be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Below are five (5) biblical guidelines that will help you respond to the evil of abuse with good.

1. It is good to protect yourself from violent people. David fled King Saul when he was violent toward him. The angel of the Lord warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Jesus because Herod was trying to kill him. Paul escaped from those who sought to stone him. We must help people to get safe and stay safe when they are in abusive relationships. This is not only good for her and her children, it is good for her abusive partner. If you are not experienced in developing a safety plan and assessing for lethality (often women are more at risk when they leave an abusive partner), refer or consult with someone who is knowledgeable in this area (Proverbs 27:12).

2. It is good to expose the abuser. Secrets are deadly, especially when there is abuse in a home. Bringing the deeds of darkness to light is the only way to get help for both the victim and the abuser. If you are working with a couple and notice that the woman defers to her husband, regularly looks to him before she answers, blames herself for all their conflicts, speak with them separately. (Proverbs 29:1; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20). If you are a victim of an abusive relationship, it is not sinful to tell, it is good to expose the hidden deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Biblical love is always action directed towards the best interest of the beloved, even when it is difficult or involves sacrifice (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:13).

3. It is good not to allow someone to continue to sin against you. It is not only good for the abused person to stop being a victim, it is good for the abuser to stop being a victimizer. It is it is in the abuser’s best interests to repent and to change. (Matthew 18:15-17; James 5:19-20).

4. It is good to stop enabling and to let the violent person experience the consequences of his/her sinful behavior. One of life’s greatest teachers is consequences. God says what we sow, we reap (Galatians 6:7) A person who repeatedly uses violence at home does so because he gets away with it. Don’t allow that to continue. (Proverbs 19:19). God has put civil authorities in place to protect victims of abuse. (Romans 13:1-5) The apostle Paul appealed to the Roman government when he was being mistreated. (Acts 22:24-29). We should encourage victims to do likewise.

5. It is good to wait and see the fruits of repentance before initiating reconciliation. Sin damages relationships. Repeated sin separates people. Although we are called to unconditional forgiveness, the bible does not teach unconditional relationship with everyone nor unconditional reconciliation with a person who continues to mistreat us.

Although Joseph forgave his brothers, he did not initiate a reconciliation of the relationships until he saw that they had a heart change. (See Genesis 42-45.)

Biblical repentance is not simply feeling sorry (2 Corinthians 7:8-12). Repentance requires a change in direction. When we pressure someone to reconcile a marital relationship with an abusive partner before they have seen some significant change in behavior and attitude we can put them in harm’s way. We have sometimes valued the sanctity of marriage over the emotional, physical, and spiritual safety of the individuals in it.

The apostle Paul encourages us to distance ourselves from other believers who are sinning and refuse correction. (See 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15).

A person cannot discern whether a heart change has taken place without adequate time. Words don’t demonstrate repentance, changed behaviors over time does. (Matthew 7:20; 1 Corinthians 4:20)

As Christians we have the mandate and the responsibility to be champions of peace. Dr. Martin Luther King said “In the end what hurt the most was not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

In honor of victims of domestic abuse who need wise help, please forward this article to other Christian leaders who may need to learn how to see domestic abuse through the lens of the Scripture.

The Heart Of Domestic Abuse

By Chris Moles

Domestic abuse and violence are on the rise in our culture today, and just as prevalent in the church. With an estimated one-fourth of women in the church living with abuse and violence, pastors and biblical counselors need to have the resources to offer hope and help.

It is time for godly men in the church to call abusive men to repentance and accountability. Here is a valuable resource for every church leader and Christian man.

 

Many Christian counselors, pastors, and lay leaders are still woefully ill-equipped to handle this very important issue despite 1 in 4 Christian women reporting being in a destructive marriage. Leslie Vernick invites you to visit her new website that she designed to educate and equip pastors, counselors and church leaders on this very important topic.

 

 

Toxic Tuesday: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

3 Ways To Spot A Wolf In Sheep ‘s Clothing 

Leslie Vernick 

“One of the ways bank tellers and merchants learn to distinguish real money from counterfeit is by examining genuine $100 bills over and over again so that they are more wolf 4likely to spot the counterfeit bills when they see them. In the same way we can learn to recognize destructive people by knowing what to look for.

Some may object to any attempt to identify wolves among us because it sounds uncharitable and judgmental to call someone a wolf. Only Jesus knows a person’s heart so who are we to judge? Yet, Jesus himself warns us that there are those who claim to be believers, they may even be leaders in the church, but they are vicious or ravenous wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).

The apostle Paul warns Timothy that there will be people who act religious, but are puffed up with pride, who are unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, and cruel (2 Timothy 3:2-9). Part of spiritual maturity is gaining the ability to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Why is this necessary? Because Paul reminds us that even Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Evil pretends to be good.

wolf 3Sometimes we make a naive assumption and it gets us into terrible trouble. We assume that if someone claims to be a Christian and talks like a Christian, that means he or she is a Christian. That’s not true.

Just like there are counterfeit $100 bills that attempt to pass for the real thing, there are those among us who attempt to pass for Christians but underneath they are ravenous wolves. How do we tell the difference?

Jesus said by their fruit you will know them. A wolf can be an expert at talking like a Christian but when you observe his or her behaviors over time, they look more wolfish (aggressive). As the saying goes, the sweetest tongue often has the sharpest tooth. Here are three things to watch out for.

1. Wolves live for the love of power rather than the power of love. Wolves refuse accountability and resist submission to authority. You’ve heard the phrase lone wolf? Wolves in sheep’s clothing have themselves as their highest point of reference. They often use charisma and charm to “win” people over but they do not have mutual or reciprocal relationships. People are to be used, possessed, exploited or controlled rather than loved.

2. Wolves look like sheep and talk like sheep but they bite like wolves, especially when the sheep are disagreeing or dissenting. Winning and being right are their highest values and they do whatever they need to in order to stay “on top”. wolf

When operating in church or religious settings their methods are often underhanded and cunning to seem less obvious or aggressive. They don’t want to look like wolves, that’s why they pretend to be sheep.

3. Wolves are experts at deceit. That’s why they are so successful at making us think they are true sheep. Jesus tells us that Satan, too, is an expert at deceit. That’s why he doesn’t go around with horns and a tail but as an angel of light.

Wolves pretend to be good and to care about the sheep but those closest to them (especially their family) know the truth. They’ve been bitten again and again and again.

But the wolf’s ability to maintain his cover is one reason why it’s so difficult for church people to believe the person who has been wounded by the wolf. They fail to see him as a wolf and assume that the problem is two sheep biting one another.

That’s not true. Wolves have much sharper teeth and stronger jaws than sheep do. A sheep cannot harm a wolf. A wolf kills sheep.

It’s interesting that God chose a wolf as a word picture to portray this type of problem person. A wolf is a predator. It has a strong jaw and 42 sharp teeth designed to stab its prey to death.

As Christian counselors and leaders, let’s not naively close our eyes and think that there are no wolves among us. They are everywhere and we must learn to recognize and stop them from wounding and killing the sheep.”

“The Church has been rather slow to acknowledge the validity of emotional abuse, especially in marriage – and real change can only start if pastors, lay leaders and other counselors start to see the reality that many people face.” ~Leslie Vernick

Counselor Leslie Vernick has made it her “mission to bravely stand up for those who suffer in the shadows.” Her “heart is more and more heavy to help churches know how to competently and compassionately help those in destructive marriages.”

I believe Leslie to be the best of the best in the field of ministering to spouses in abusive marriages. She recognizes abusers and helps the person on the receiving end of the abuse set boundaries, maintain safety, stay committed to truth, remain open to the Holy Spirit, be responsible for their self and respectful toward others without dishonoring their self, and practice empathy and compassion while setting boundaries.

With this in mind Leslie has started a web-based ministry to counselors, pastors, and church leaders. This makes the task of learning about marital abuse/domestic violence reachable for anyone who wants to learn. Because…there are wolves in every congregation.  Almost all counseling centers on communication issues between two people; when in some cases the problem is abuse. Abuse is not a marriage problem. Abuse is an abuse problem—a character problem, and the abuser needs individual help; not marriage counseling. (This applies for marriage, extended family relationships, or non-family relationships. Abuse is abuse; not a communication problem.)

Leslie has numerous free articles and video resources available; as well as, the opportunity to sign up for more resources. If you are in ministry this is a must have area of continued education you should consider. I highly recommend in today’s culture that anyone who works in church leadership should have training in this area.  Click here to check out Leslie’s web-site: Leslie Vernick: Training Church Leaders and Counselors in Abuse.

wolf 5

 

My Toxic Marriage

NPD 16

A recent Toxic Tuesday post, How to Love a Woman In a Destructive Marriage, detailed how to respond to a friend who confides in you about abuse taking place in her home.

Unfortunately for some women—friends, family and church members don’t believe her story. After all, many abusers are wonderful at playing the devoted victim! I believe this is true because many abusers suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and consider themselves special. They are not held to the same standards, morals or laws as the general population. Even when caught, if they admit to doing it, they insist it is not who they are. It’s a twisted mind for sure!

After nine years in my own destructive marriage I finally told my parents, and my husband’s and my ministry mentor, what had been going on in my home since shortly after I said, “I do.” No one was surprised. The mentor told me that he had believed for some time now that my husband was mentally ill but he hadn’t said anything to me since he didn’t know if I was aware or if I would believe him.

Why did I take so long to tell? you may be asking.

Good Christian women don’t tell.

Good wives don’t talk poorly about their husbands. You never tell your family because that will incite them to not like him—and they might encourage you to leave him. We are taught at Bible college, in the church and by godly older women that we never speak poorly of our husbands; especially when you are in the ministry—which we were.

We are to encourage our husbands, respect our husbands, forgive them, pray for them, hope in them, help them, and make love a daily action even when we don’t feel like it. Be intentional about how we respond in love; not frustration or anger. Don’t dwell on the negative; concentrate on the good parts. Be the one to set the tone for the atmosphere in your home to keep it positive and productive. Let go of pride.

Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s marriage. Don’t compare your attitude or actions to his. Pray that God will change your heart and through that, improve the difficulties in your marriage.

Care, adore, smile, kiss passionately, forgive, forgive again, be gracious, listen, compliment him, comfort him, and be content. Stay…always stay the course—it WILL pay off. It will!  It does not matter how you feel; what matters is how you respond. With God, all things are possible!

Here is the catch—God gives us free choice and your spouse has a choice in the outcome. The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.

Through the advice of my mentor I confided in one local friend, a long distance friend who would help my mentor confront my husband in hope of reconciliation and healing; as well as, tell a friend/spiritual leader of ours and our mentors from a former ministry who was very concerned about my marriage, concerned about my husband, concerned about me and wanted the very best for my daughter. It wasn’t easy telling a single detail. I didn’t know if they would believe me, tell on me to my husband, or walk away from the relationship.

Two of these close friends who knew all the ugly details of the abuse and walked the road with me for a time after telling them of my destructive, abusive and unsafe marriage, still attempted to silence me from speaking truth and achieving safety. I can’t speak for what their heart motive was; perhaps my truth made them uncomfortable. Did it hit too close to home? Was the evil, messed up truth about my spouse unbelievable? Had the narcissist won them over? Was legalism involved?

One of my friends told me, “I’ve prayed about this and God will remove his hand of protection from you if you go through with this divorce. You are taking yourself and your daughter out from underneath God’s covering, blessing, provision and protection. You are not supposed to do this and you will be sinning against God if you go through with it.”

I thanked her for her concern and told her I would pray about it more before finalizing the paperwork; however, I had only taken these measures after prolonged prayer, in depth Bible study, extensive counseling, and out of obedience to the Lord. I felt like God had held my hand while I skimmed the surface of hell begging my husband to return to me. He refused. In fact, during our time of a therapeutic separation when he was supposed to be seeking professional help and healing so our family could be reconciled; he instead took a preaching ministry and moved away. Because after all, God had called him to preach first and foremost and he was following God’s calling on His life. Good-bye to his wife and daughter—we were in the way of his career. I had spent the last two years refusing to seek another ministry because he needed spiritual guidance and serious professional emotional, psychological and psychiatric help. He decided to no longer wait for my permission; he left and moved on without me.

The other friend, George (name changed to protect his identity), whose own wife was delivered from an abusive marriage through the death of the abuser (first husband), wrote me an email after I gave him the latest report I received from my husband’s psychiatrist. I received discouraging news at every psychologist’s, neuro-psychologist’s and psychiatrist’s appointment I attended with him. But on this given day I heard the final blow that sealed the fate of reconciliation.

Unfaithfulness I had forgiven and mental-illness I could live with if he would acknowledge it and seek help and stay on his medications but hearing, “He has started down the slippery slope of pedophilia from which there is no return” was the death blow and I knew our daughter would never be safe. Before this day I kept thinking he was just mentally ill with an addiction to pornography and with help he could get better.

My hope for my husband’s healing was over. I asked the doctor a few questions and sought clarity but the doctor was clear, serious, and gave me his professional opinion about my daughter’s safety.

George had asked to be kept updated on doctor appointments, progress and prayer needs but the pedophilia information proved to be, unbeknownst to  me, the last straw. Here is the reply I received via email:

Carolyn-

I understand that life has been difficult for you. But please don’t make it more so by continually pleading your case in the court of public opinion. Whenever I hear from you it is a constant stream of bashing your husband. I’ve not said anything before, but now I must. Your husband is my friend. I know he is not perfect, but then again neither are you or I. It’s almost as if you’ve been building a case against him ever since the first of hint of problems last year. Your husband has always been different. Always. He was when we were in college. He was when you fell in love with him and married him. He is now. He could make us laugh like no one else. His nice guy looks and golden vocal cords along with his love for God and the church made him a joy to be around. All he ever wanted was to succeed for God. That dream appears to be a long shot now. But give him some dignity. Stop confessing his sins for him. You said in the email that you have been able to help some women whose husbands have left them, as if that is your situation.  Carolyn…he didn’t leave you.

If you made a mistake marrying him, say, “I made a mistake. I left him because I couldn’t take him.” Don’t write husband bashing emails. What good is that doing??? Are people lining ups saying, “Poor Carolyn,” and that’s helping you? If so, then something’s wrong there.

In love (for all three of you),

George

To this day I cannot imagine how I could have made it through this time in life without my godly ministry mentor and his wife.

Sobbing, I called them and asked if I had been inappropriate with the details I had given about my marriage and my husband’s issues. They said I had not been and then asked me to read the email from George.

After hearing George’s reply they recommended I stop all contact with him; immediately. They were dumbfounded at how he could feel this way after seeing and hearing first hand, my husband’s delusional and irrational behavior and his denial of needing help for his problems and mental illness. All they could guess was that the classic textbook narcissist had struck again; a professional liar and actor who had won over another pawn in his game.

As for, “His love for God and the church made him a joy to be around,” investigators from three different law enforcement agencies have contacted me through the years investigating allegations of child sexual abuse by my ex-husband. All these investigators have said they believe his pedophilia goes back to his teen years and that he purposefully chose the ministry as a way to access child victims from a place of trusted leadership; pastor. The investigators also believe the list of child victims is well into the hundreds but because he targets very young children, who are mostly too young to tell, he stayed under the radar. Until last summer…his reign of terror is over.

No, my husband did not file the separation papers, I did; but make no mistake…he was the one who left in every way except for the paperwork. For him to file the papers would potentially ruin any hope of his future in ministry and preaching. He HAD to be portrayed as the victim.

Had I listened to George and my other local friend, my daughter and I would most likely be dead; at the very least we would have been further abused with my daughter suffering the greatest through it.

God allowed, encouraged and provided a way out of this marriage along with Biblical grounds for divorce.

I hope this testimony brings awareness to women who desperately need help, friendship and love while they seek safety and support during an unsafe and/or difficult marriage.

Be a blessing. Pray scripture over them; in person. Offer to watch their children so they can see a Christian counselor, run an errand, or just need an hour to be alone. Invite them over for lunch. Take their children to the park for an hour. Give her a gift certificate for a massage. Drop a bag of groceries at the door. Or head over to Give Her Wings ministry website to find out how you can help. There is a , “Books we like” tab for suggestions on books that would make a great gift for a hurting wife, and it would be one way you could show her you understand and care.

You could not plan for this
No, there was no silhouette
Up against the pink horizon
To warn you of the hit
But you absorbed it all with grace
Like a child you spoke of faith unmoved
That holds onto you

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you/You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you

You could take your loss
You could hide away from us
With your grief lassoed around you
But you’re laying it in the sun
And you stare straight into the light
You say you’d rather go blind than look away
What can I say?

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you
You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you

Video

Toxic Tuesday: The Great Porn Experiment

Porn alters the brain: Bad news

If/when you stop using porn the brain can heal over time: Good news.

I’ve seen this TEDx lecture by Gary Wilson circulating over the last month and every time I think, “I’ll post this on my blog”. Today is the day.

When discussing sensitive topics I like to give a warning: This could be a trigger for different people in different ways. For the abused it could trigger painful thoughts or body memories. For the porn user it could trigger temptation.

There is a brief picture of women in bikinis at one point in the lecture/video.

I hope that every person who has access to the internet watches this video because Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallsooner or later porn will likely rock your world. Porn is everywhere; especially soft-core, and it’s impossible to not have it turn up somewhere before your eyes. It’s not impossible to look away. Watch this video for clarification as to why we must look away and teach our children the importance in doing the same.

 

6 Things Personality Disordered People Do

personality

What do you do when you attempt to understand and be understood by someone with a personality disorder? (narcissistic, borderline, or obsessive compulsive personality disorder) but you’re stonewalled from the onset?

What do you do when you can’t have a conversation because they begin with trying to protect their lies to you and about you, and maintaining their abusive behavior toward you?

Remember: It’s not their fault.

1) They refuse responsibility.  (This is the #1 sign of an abuser. They never accept responsibility; and therefore, never apologize.)

2) They lie.

3) They look down on you.

4) They slander your reputation.

5) They are duplicative (phony).

6) They project (mirror their abuse on to you as if you are the one who committed it).

Abuse is never their fault.  It’s always your fault. Someone’s fault. To them, it’s not their Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallfault they hurt or abused you, it’s your fault for being hurt-able…abusable. If your feelings are hurt it’s your fault – for having feelings. You may be told you’re making the choice to feel bad, or hurt, or that you’re being overly sensitive.  If caught doing something insensitive or selfish, they will insist they have no idea what you’re talking about. Or they will mirror the truth of what they did back on you. Crazymaking at its best—gaslighting.  In their mind they had to do it because of someone or something else. If you imply that anything is their responsibility, they give you excuses, lies, and/or denial. From their perspective, you shouldn’t care — you should be willing to put the past behind you and pick-up as if the abuse never happened.

This may sound like a good idea; putting the past in the past. Not bringing it up again and allowing the relationship to continue on as if nothing happened, or with the forgiveness to forget and go on.

Forgiveness in our heart is always healing for the abused person but that doesn’t mean we extend the forgiveness to the abuser in word or deed. If they haven’t confessed, repented, and asked for your forgiveness then God does not require you to verbally extend the forgiveness to them.

Here is the problem with forgiving or forgetting without an apology and a change of heart from the person with narcissistic personality disorder (borderline, or obsessive compulsive personality disorder)…it is the same as telling them: “I’m okay with the way your treat me, the way you lie about me—the way you abuse me. You may continue this treatment and I will continue to allow it.”

You may need to change the dynamics of how you interact with this type of person. Remember: Abuse is not a relationship problem, a communication problem, or a marriage problem. It is an abuse/sin problem. For this reason victims should not receive counseling with their abuser; not even in marriage. The abuser needs serious, long-term, professional help for their abusive nature so they can find the root of it, receive healing, and gain freedom.

 

This is what ANA (After Narcisistic Abuse) has to say about this subject in regard to a narcissist:

“Many mentally disordered individuals project frequently. Narcissists, however, are some of the most actively and severely projecting people encountered. Ever full of accusations and criticisms, the most crazy-making thing about most of the narcissist’s claims is that YOU are doing exactly what THEY are doing. (Projection.) Have they just lied to you? Well, you’re about to be called dishonest. Are they cheating you out of an opportunity? You’re going to get the finger pointed at you for being sneaky. And you can’t say a word to them about something hurtful they have done, because that makes you an abuser – of them. You can’t give them anything but glowing feedback without their raging at you, but you’ll be the one constantly criticized severely and then called freakishly oversensitive if you show any feelings about it. And if they say so, it’s law — you don’t know what you’re talking about.

If you dare to question a narcissist or request things like healthy boundaries and honesty, you’re going to become public enemy number one. The “Mr. or Ms. Wonderful” mask immediately comes off, and there is no level they will not stoop to in order to “punish” you. They have myriad ways of attempting this; some are covert, and some are open and obvious. The narcissist has a seemingly inexhaustible obsession for making people who cross them “pay”. Once they set their sights on you, you’re a permanent enemy, and their seething spite will feel as intense years down the road as it did when it first began. The length of time they can keep up the full intensity of their hatred for you and their campaign to exact revenge is absolutely dumbfounding to non-narcissistic people.”

If you have a personality disorder, or are in a relationship with someone who suffers from a personality disorder you will likely need ongoing, professional counseling at some point.

My motto is: Wise people; strong  people seek help.

Counseling/therapy is not for “crazy” people. Counseling is for human beings. Don’t let anyone shame you away from receiving the help you need.

See: Solutions-Hotlines-Help, or Articles/Videos: Other Sources in the margin, header or footer of this blog (depending on which digital platform you use).

Video

Toxic Tuesday: Lysa TerKeurst’s Betrayal

My heart aches for Lysa.Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

I suspected this for several months. The  times I listened to Lysa in Bible studies or on pod casts over the last year I wondered if this was the difficult circumstance she was living in of which she couldn’t speak. There are some things so profoundly deep and traumatic that when you hear someone else speaking with such words…your betrayed heart reaches through multi-media and feels their secret soul-hurt.

I realize publication dates precede the release of her letter. I don’t know when it happened or when she made it public, but I’m grateful she was obedient in her calling to write a book and Bible study that would help her, and help others who would go through similar circumstances.

Rejection, Heartache, and a Faithful God

No person’s rejection of me can ever exempt me from God’s love for me.

“A Gut-Honest Look at Love.” That was the title of my first blog post of this year. Based on 1 Corinthians 13, I wrote, “Love isn’t what I have the opportunity to get from this world, love is what I have the opportunity to give.

This perspective on love has been a lifeline during the most painful season and decision of my adult life. I so wish we were sitting face-to-face so you could see my tears and hear the deep grief in my voice as I share this with you. My husband, life partner and father of my children, Art TerKeurst, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a woman he met online, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 25 years. For the past couple of years, his life has sadly been defined by his affection for this other woman and substance abuse. I don’t share this to harm or embarrass him, but to help explain why I have decided to separate from him and pursue a divorce. God has now revealed to me that I have done all I can do and I must release him to the Savior.

Continue reading the continuation of Lisa’s letter here….

 

If you find yourself in a season traveling the same road as Lysa you may find her book “Uninvited” at Amazon or Christian Book Distributors (Book, study guide, DVD study, or Audio book)

Uninvited…

The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.

In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers:

    • Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt.
    • Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence.
    • Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.
    • Stop feeling left out and start believing that “set apart” does not mean “set aside.”
  • End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

 

Continue reading the continuation of Lisa’s letter here….

Toxic Tuesday: Manifesto of the Duplicitous

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard

For those of you who believe a Christ follower, pastor, church leader, soul winner, family values proponent, or godly leader in a high position could never abuse a child, rape a woman, murder a loved one, or steal from the church…have you read the Bible? The heart is deceitful above all things. Spiritually saved or unsaved humanity is capable of the darkest offenses.

Here is an excerpt of a letter from an individual who was previously in a position of authority, leadership and influence over, unknown to them, a toxic character. Of this corrupted personality the above mentioned leader wrote:  “He…

“…was duplicitous and deceptive, living a double life, disconnected from reality, certainly from spiritual reality.”

Here are the personal values of the Jekyll and Hyde described in the above quote. A soul in a bottomless pit of sexual addiction, a personality disorder, and mental illness.  A creature who blindly victimized the unsuspecting, the simple, the harmless and the innocent.   Who, by society’s standards, is an impostor perpetrating the vilest offenses.

This offender was hired by a church leadership which didn’t dig into the accused offender’s background. Rumors swirled but the leadership believed the offenders spin rather than doing a background check. Because of the church leadership’s lack of integrity to protect their flock innocent children were harmed.

This manifesto was penned to prove sincere devotion to God, to the ex-spouse, to the church, and to show they were healed and worthy of trust, respect, forgiveness and reconciliation.

  1. The economy of this nation depends on my acceptance of personal responsibility.
  2. I will seek to understand and empathize with others.
  3. My family is this nation’s citizenship.
  4. My family and friends are carefully selected allies with whom I have agreed to never war against.
  5. My happiness is not my first goal. Meeting my responsibilities is.
  6. True happiness is found in maintaining and growing in my relationships with God and others.
  7. I must daily be reminded that faith, decency and honor are the highest virtues of man.
  8. A poorly kept house is the first sign of danger: it is the thing most found in slums.
  9. Depression is a state of mind that wrecks the economy — not the reverse.
  10. Appreciation for nature and the arts are essential to maintaining health and centeredness.
  11. God is my First Love; my family and friends come second; I am third.
  12. I must gain independence before I can become interdependent with others.
  13. My attitudes, moods, and expressions must always be a reflection of God’s grace.
  14. God is Sovereign over the affairs of this and every life.
  15. ln every conflict and in every war — whether found from without or from within …is a Iust for what one hasn’t. May the passion of my heart, mind, soul, and strength be to love God completely; and my neighbor as myself.
  16. Faith, Hope, and Love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
  17. lf I bring anything of value, and pour it into the lives of others during my lifetime, may it all be of eternal value and for the good — not of taxing pain nor hurt by telling lies, victimizing others, nor of a pursuit for my own selfish gain and ambition.
  18. l am saved by Grace through Faith … my focus is not, nor can it be, on my righteousness for I have none. My focus is on Jesus Christ – the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He alone is the Righteousness of God, Who is received by Faith, reflected by Obedience, and revealed in Love.
  19. Although I have inherited a sinful nature, I am not captive to it. I have died to sin, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. He is my Hope of Glory.
  20. My life is a constant effort to remove idols and to tear down barriers. The television is my most visible idol and enemy.
  21. My daily regiment must include physical, mental, emotional, vocational, and most of all, spiritual exercise.
  22. Every meal should be eaten at the table.
  23. The windows should not be covered while the master is home. Light must be allowed to pour in.
  24. I will laugh and entertain with a clean sense of humor.
  25. Monotone fails to inspire … l will use effective and sincere inflections to motivate, challenge, and uplift others.
  26. l am committed to sexual and otherwise moral purity and excellence.
  27.  l will seek revival and restoration daily through confession, repentance and recommitment.
  28.  l will surrender my anger, frustrations, anxieties, and struggles to God daily.
  29.  I am a living sacrifice, not conforming to the world, but being transformed by the renewing of my mind.
  30.  Not a cent should be spent without giving thought to paying off every debt and investing for the future; however, it is acceptable to feed the birds on occasion.
  31.  The house and grounds are to reflect excellence and beauty – the canvass for a creative mind.
  32.  I am not an abuser who robs others of joy, but a gift-giver who offers all of myself to feed the souls of others consistently and in such a way that grows far beyond myself to touch lives within a darkened world in a very special, illuminating way.
  33.  Early to bed and early to rise, as a flexible rule.
  34.  My heart will not be allowed to grow cold, nor my conscience to be hardened. But I will maintain a sensitivity to things of beauty and a love for the Divine.
  35.  l will maintain a strong defense and readiness for personal or civil action as needs demand.
  36.  ‘The former ways” — even if only idealistic — are still to be desired over all others.
  37.  I will speak up and take a stand, even when unpopular, for the right.
  38.  I love my God, my family, His church, and the United States of America, and will honor, respect, and remember those who are older and wiser – and those who have gone before us.
  39.  The Bible will be open and visible in my home.
  40.  All I have is the Lord’s.
  41.  Verbal prayers will proceed every meal and will be said at the beginning and end of every day.
  42.  I will share my faith and the Gospel message with someone every day.
  43.  I will offer tithes and offerings, as God provides, to His storehouse, the Church.
  44.  l will not limit God by my unbelief but will seek to discover and fulfill His will for my life and for the lives of those entrusted to my care.
  45.  I will remember that humility honors God and welcomes His blessing.
  46.  I will remember that God seeks a bold, not weak faith in His ability rather than my own.
  47.  I will remember that Jesus died for the sins of the entire world, not just for those in my tiny little circle.
  48.  l will remember holy days – birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations.
  49.  I will maintain and build upon close and distant past and present friendships.
  50.  Only Jesus can erase sin and hold it no longer to my account: yet it is my responsibility to perform the ongoing ministry of reconciliation – that of healing and re-uniting broken relationships.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In light of innocent victims; numbers 15, 17, 23 and 32 are the most disturbing to me. Number 32 is off the charts unhealthy and twisted when considered in the context of predator and victim.

15.  ln every conflict and in every war — whether found from without or from within…is a Iust for what one hasn’t. May the passion of my heart, mind, soul, and strength be to love God completely; and my neighbor as myself.

17.   lf I bring anything of value, and pour it into the lives of others during my lifetime, may it all be of eternal value and for the good — not of taxing pain nor hurt by telling lies, victimizing others, nor of a pursuit for my own selfish gain and ambition.

23.  The windows should not be covered while the master is home. Light must be allowed to pour in.

32.   I am not an abuser who robs others of joy, but a gift-giver who offers all of myself to feed the souls of others consistently and in such a way that grows far beyond myself to touch lives within a darkened world in a very special, illuminating way.

I share this as a wake-up call to those in positions of leadership; especially within the church. If someone hands you a value statement similar to this; it may be time to pursue professional help for them.

The power of prayer and the courage of little ‘David’ voices against their Goliath put an end to this reign of ‘gift-giving’ and ‘illuminating’ abuse.

Image

20 Signs You Were Raised by a Narcissist

Do you have dysfunctional family dynamics or know someone who does? If you were raised by a parent with narcissistic personality disorder you will relate to these statements. Many of the sayings apply to being raised by someone with any type of personality disorder, but all of the below testimonials will validate children, young or grown, of a parent, or parents, with narcissistic personality disorder.

NPD 000NPD 67

Narcissist:

Someone so toxic they are willing to jeopardize

anybody’s reputation or future, including their own children,

to help themself get out of a sticky situation, conversation, sin, or

crime.  In their personality disordered mind it’s no big deal.

NPD 64NPD 62Toxic40NPD 58NPD 56NPD 44NPD 37NPD 27NPD 21NPD 16NPD 6toxic people boundariesToxic48Toxic47

narc parent 2narc parent 4

Narc parent

Video

Personality Disorders in Prominent Positions

Toxic46

Do you suspect someone you work with, or know, has a personality disorder? Has the leadership of your company, organization, or church been attempting to remove, dismiss, or terminate the person or their position?

Today I want to show you, with video, what someone with Narcissistic personality disorder Abuse supportersmay look like. While watching this short video, replace the character of Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, with a dynamic speaker who has a witty sense of humor and is a leader in the Christian community. Keep in mind that narcissistic personalities can still appear different; some are charismatic—some boring, humorous vs.serious, highly intelligent vs. below average intelligence, well spoken vs. inarticulate, life of the party vs. quiet. Regardless of their differences they have many characteristics in common.

Consider a person who intertwines scripture as a means for emotional control and twists verses to support their dominance over co-workers. A specialist who tries to tell others who they are with no regard to reality.

A person who uses their title or place of leadership as a cover for control, dominance, or even abuse is not only not a leader in the way the Bible sets forth but is instead a moral and spiritual failure. Let me make this clear: When it comes to leadership, domination is never a teaching of the Bible. But servant leadership is.

 

 Now add in a spiritual leader who is hired for being a biblically accurate communicator. Only to later find the person is aggressive and manipulative in the process of gaining control over an organization, church, corporation, committee, or an individual. When confronted about their behavior they insist that their underlying brilliance be seen, acknowledged and praised; not criticized. They are correct; explaining away and justifying their motive, words, or actions.
If you attempt to speak truth into this person’s life; you will not be given opportunity to complete your thoughts and you will not be understood.

When truth is revealed against the backdrop of their deception, sin, or crime they play the “I am special” card and, “This isn’t the way it appears” line. In classic narcissistic fashion they hold up a mirror and reflect the accusation being made against them back at the plaintiff. You will NEVER win an argument with a narcissist or point out their error since they are perfect and do no wrong. Remember the rules and laws do not apply to them: For more on this topic see previous Toxic Tuesday posts about Narcissism.

“Jesus…is the Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5) and the Lamb of God (Rev. 5:6) – He was lionhearted and lamb like, strong and meek, tough and tender, aggressive and responsive, bold and brokenhearted. He sets the pattern for manhood.” -John Piper

Narcissists like to explain why your accomplishments are of little importance and possibly not true accomplishments. They do not know how to encourage others and be genuinely happy for other’s successes. The only time you are praise worthy is when they can use your achievement to make themselves look better to someone else; or make it seem like your triumph was due to their input in your life.

You will not gain a narcissist’s understanding. You will be ignored, dismissed, and belittled Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallwhile the narcissist manipulates behind the scenes with no remorse or twinge of conscience toward the path of destruction they leave behind.

Narcissists are entitled to treat people however they feel with no regard to the other person’s feeling, needs, or input. They make executive decisions for everyone involved without allowing feedback, questions, or creative involvement. They are a god unto themselves and they like to surround themselves with people who believe everything they say without asking questions.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Narcissists have no boundaries with other people’s feelings, ideas, and needs. When dealing with this personality there are phrases that you need to memorize and keep in your mental pocket.

  1. That’s not what I was thinking; or had in mind.

  2. That’s your opinion.

  3. My decision is final.

  4. I’m not discussing this.

You need to know what you are going to say before confronting someone like this and stick with your script. Most importantly you don’t want to show any emotion. Positive or negative emotion only feeds the narcissist; known as narcissistic supply. You must starve them of the reaction they desire.

It doesn’t matter if you see this type of person committing a crime, yelling at someone, or telling a lie; they will deny it. Worse yet, because they are grand actors and liars it is easy to believe their cover story. I’ve been through this time and time again and I believed the actor/liar on every occasion…they were that good…until I understood I was dealing with a personality disorder. Before that I truly believed they were misunderstood, set-up, manipulated, not at fault, lied about, and…that I was the problem.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To be clinically diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder a person must exhibit five of nine criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 

Imagine being in a relationship with someone who meets all nine of the criteria. Once upon a time I lived with such a person. Now imagine the narcissism is the easiest part of the toxic relationship because underneath this surface lurks a tormented dark soul disguised as light.

One does not have to imagine long on this concept of darkness disguised as light since Satan has masqueraded in a cloak of light through the centuries.

Satan is not creative; just a good copycat who counterfeits everything he sees the Heavenly Father do. Satan produces many fake replicas; evil beautifully gift-wrapped with a forged logo or brand name.  As with counterfeit consumer products, Satan’s imitations are of a lower quality, sometimes not working at all, and often have toxic elements; producing toxic people—resulting in a lesser quality of life for God’s beloved children. Satan’s bogus plans, interjected into the lives of humans, have resulted in physical and spiritual deaths. Fatal poison has been packaged as the healing balm of Christ.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
Scripture cannot necessarily help you discern a narcissist, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, because they are some of the best actors you will ever see. Dealing with this personality disorder is outside the box for Christians and even for many psychologists. It takes a long-term relationship to identify if a person suffers from narcissistic personality disorder; meeting the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The complexity of a narcissist makes them interesting to study, infuriating to live with, frustrating to work with, and the subject of psychological and spiritual scrutiny.

People can suffer from more than one personality disorder, or have what is called mixed personality disorder where the person meets criteria from several disorders, but not enough in any one of them to make a formal and supportable diagnosis in that area, the appropriate diagnosis is Personality Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) with X, Y, and Z (or whatever) traits).

One of several overlapping disorders that can co-exist with narcissistic tendencies is obsessive compulsive personality disorder (completely different from obsessive compulsive disorder); characterized by a preoccupation of concern with excessive attention to details, mental and interpersonal control, and a need for control over one’s environment, at the expense of flexibility (everything is black and white to them). Money is viewed as something to be hoarded. Read about the entire criteria of this disorder at PhychCentral. If you question if someone you know has a personality disorder you should research disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders – DSM-IV.

Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Fatal Self-Love:

Video

Disappeared Short Clips: Lynn Messer

Below is a portion of Kerry Messer’s latest entry on the Find Lynn Messer Facebook page.

Kerry makes his case for why he isn’t happy about the airing of Disappeared. I’m adding a bit of my perspective to his story; rebuttals to some of his statements.

Disappeared was filmed before Lynn’s body was discovered and the purpose for allowing this program to share Lynn’s story was to hopefully help find her and to bring closure to the case.

Kerry Messer’s writing is in blue. My response is in red.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Hurting hearts have left a significantly large number of people vulnerable to wild imaginations. These have been fed by unbelievably hateful speculations and accusations founded in nothing more than a search for anything to believe in – something to cling to for an explanation.

Nope…fed by Spring Thomas, your girlfriend being identified as part of a search party on your property looking for your wife.

Fed by…Different, and reportedly untrue stories, you told investigators and your sons about the note that was at least in part, possibly in whole, written by Lynn.

Fed by your comments that Abram isn’t working through his grief in a healthy manner. You are the one who reportedly made inaccurate comments about the note to him, and forced their family out of their home? He has a right to defend himself and tell his side of the story.

Note: We are all sinners. We all deserve the worse, but we all desire grace. Through The Lord’s incredible love, He offers us the grace we need but don’t deserve. However, we are all still sinners by nature as well as by choice. And like it or not, a common default expression of our sin nature which every single one of us share is the propensity to remember the negative about other people more than the positive. We also fall prey to believing the worse about those we don’t know or care for. And we all tend to stand up for those we relate to while turning against those we do not relate to. And our personal worldviews are established more by our general biases and beliefs than facts or truths.

What? We remember the positive, but the negative is so overwhelming that it can’t be dismissed, overlooked, or forgotten. Our ‘biases and beliefs’ are based on biblical principles of the marriage covenant as set forth by God; not man’s own spin on what is or isn’t an affair.

Simply stated: We believe what we want to believe. We accept ideas as either absolute facts or as mere theories more often than not without ever examining actual evidences. If something fits our mental or emotional comfort level, we accept it. If it challenges our comfort level, we reject it. You can call it relativity, moral relativism, subjective reality, alternative reality, self-identity truth, modernism, post-modernism or whatever else the contemporary literature comes up with, but at its core it is nothing more than an expression of the sin nature we all possess.

Are you the one who believes in moral relativism? You are the one who had a girlfriend, at the least, within weeks of your wife disappearing. You are the one who admitted to kissing this woman but wouldn’t admit to an affair. Mr. Messer, sex is not the only aspect of an affair. By your own account you had a close friendship with this woman and were emotionally involved with her. Your sons have given testimony that the friendship predated Lynn’s disappearance and they even say it was an unhealthy attraction/friendship. I won’t argue when the relationship began and how involved it was; by Biblical standards you were having an affair while you said you still believed you were a married man. According to your testimony you were alone with her on multiple occasions, had a meaningful relationship and you kissed her on the lips.

So what in the world am I driving at?

The fact is, on the night of July 7th, 2014, I lost my Bride. Almost a year later, I lost my entire in-law family to scathing false rumors deliberately created to cause more pain and stress. Another year later and I lost the rest of my family to an avalanche of imaginative accusations. Sadly, much of the garbage seems to be very deliberately designed to drive wedges and divide already hurting hearts. All in the name of ‘helping’!?!?!

I find it odd how you plea that your family be more careful of their words and your feelings, while it appears from media reports and interviews of you that you don’t afford them the same courtesy. Furthermore; I haven’t heard wild accusations from them; just questions and accounts that are confirmed by multiple witnesses.

How in the world do people think they can help by spreading lies is beyond me. I have never known of anyone being benefited by folks bearing false witness. When is the last time you have seen healing amidst hurting thanks to an onslaught of lies? Yet far too many folks think they can help by repeating accusations without ever talking to the one being accused.

I guess we need to know the specific lies to which you are referring?

In two years and well over eight months I have had a grand total of three (3) people bother to contact me directly to ask questions about the things they have heard which concerned them. A great number of friends have responded to me in the course of our normal conversations about the scope of the dozens of false accusations they hear regularly. These are faithful friends who do not spread the garbage. But others have fallen prey to the trash talk and some have joined the chorus of gossipers and rumor mongering.

In Your Daily Journal video interview you listed 4 news outlets. I’ll add the St. Louis Post Dispatch as a fifth. Readers may view the video at the following link: Timer at 22:12 into the video. http://dailyjournalonline.com/videos/full-interview-with-kerry-messer/youtube_e7b0a20d-252f-51f8-a539-bdc241c44838.html

You stated: “There’s 4 news agencies that I felt actually tried to help us in the beginning; not just write a story but actually showed real interest in trying to help us find Lynn; The Daily Journal out of Farmington, The Missouri Times out of Jefferson City, Channel 12 News – Cape Girardeau, and Channel 2 News in St. Louis.” You said they were” the four who had shown real interest in who we are” inferring there were possibly others but you didn’t like the line of questions or the direction the journalist would take with the article.

What has all of this got to do with the title for this post “Help vs. Entertainment”?

First of all, God’s timing can seem confusing, but it is always best. This week I was already struggling with the key themes of Psalms 108 and 109, and that short line which has dogged me and aided me at the same time for over two and a half years, “…vain is the help of man”.

Secondly, man’s help has been of great value throughout this entire ordeal on countless fronts! But no man’s help has had an ounce of healing influence on my shredded heart. No man’s help has offered any significant solace to the stresses that have been eating me alive. No man’s help has given any light to this path down here in this dark valley of shadows. Yet I owe a great measure of “thanks” to literally hundreds of people who have helped in the ways they could, and can, and continue to do!

And thirdly: While entertainment has varying degrees of value under certain circumstances…

My Bride’s disappearance is not supposed to be a source for entertainment!!!

No, not entertainment; this confirms that your sons and their families were desperate to find their mom. They wanted resolution and if a national show could give a glimmer of hope to finding answers it was worth it.

It is not helpful to use Ma’s death, nor any false rumors, imaginative speculations, or accusations, as a source of entertainment!!!

The gut wrenching discovery of Lynn’s remains is not an acceptable source of entertainment!!!

Again, this show was planned in advance of the discovery of Lynn’s remains and Lynn’s remains were not found until after the show had concluded its filming.

They know their storyline is not true!!! And they do NOT care!!!

This is NOT news! This is entertainment at the expense of a distraught family!!!

Our tragedy is NOT supposed to be sold to advertisers!!!

Our pain is NOT supposed to be used for entertainment!!!

You appear to be one of the only family members, if not the only, who takes issue with this television program.  

Are we motivated by past friendship, loyalty, sympathy and fear for the person offended or by the distress, pain and heartache of the children of the dead? Make certain your compassion is properly placed and driven by love of truth and justice.

The following links are clips from the televised program which uses actors to portray the Messer family. The first link in embedded; the second link you have to click to be taken to the video.

 

https://www.investigationdiscovery.com/tv-shows/disappeared/videos/the-moment-that-the-family-of-lynn-messer-discovered-she-had-vanished Disappeared

 

 

https://www.investigationdiscovery.com/tv-shows/disappeared/videos/the-moment-that-the-family-of-lynn-messer-discovered-she-had-vanished

 

Video

Toxic Tuesday: Unsafe Relationships

patrick-doyle

 

Are you confused by a relationship?

Does the person you love seem not to appreciate, or to like little, or to like nothing about you?

Do you feel mildly harmed?

Do you ever think about the other person, “Oh, that wasn’t very nice. Or…Oh, they didn’t mean it”?

Do you justify the words and actions of this person?

Do you find yourself denying your instincts?

Are you the person responsible for making everything in the relationship okay?

Or worse…

Do you feel greatly  harmed?

Do you feel like you’re losing your mind?

Do you feel like you can’t do anything right?

Do you feel manipulated?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions—the below video may be the best invested 22 minutes of your week.

Gain strength, become educated, increase clarity, seek help. For me, Patrick Doyle is the best of the best for sorting out relational questions and difficulties.

 

 

 

Toxic Tuesday: #1 Sign of Emotional Abuse

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

If you want to have a stressful life or know what a stressful life is; live in an emotionally abusive relationship. Within the church I think this is more prevalent. And oh boy, would I like to know why!

*Disclaimer— Emotional abuse can take place in any relationship: Friendships, neighbors, parent/child, siblings, co-workers, extended family, but for today’s purpose I’m referring to marriage. Although men can also be the victim, most of the people I come in contact with are women who are suffering in emotionally abusive marriages, or have left an emotionally abusive marriage.

I’ve heard many women say if only he would physically abuse me so someone could see the proof!

If someone hits you in the face and you get a black eye; it will be easy for onlookers to understand what happened. People will say, “Oh, he hit you; that’s wrong. He shouldn’t do that. I’m going to call the police.” Simply put: It’s physical abuse.  On the other hand; when you are alone with him and he says things to you no one knows about, he ignores you, gives you the silent treatment, withholds physical intimacy, withholds finances or necessities from you, and you rarely can do anything to please him, but can’t prove it; you feel hurt, crazy, afraid, intimidated, broken hearted,  unloved and neglected. This is more difficult on so many levels but also just as wrong as physical abuse; it’s emotional abuse.

Here is an example: A husband has a good reputation at church for his service, work, ministry, and/or is known as kind, with warm smile. At home he’s neglectful, doesn’t take responsibility for his actions, he never repents, picks fights, he’s verbally mean, or… he never says anything. He completely rejects the person and disregards them.

Do you recognize yourself in the above scenario? Do you feel like you’re losing your mind?

When you’re with someone who never takes responsibility for their actions you start to feel like you’re crazy. You’re know there’s a problem but when you go talk to your husband he responds, “No, I didn’t do that…you did that…you over react, you read too much into things… that wasn’t me. ..and you…and because…and that’s not why…scriptures says you’re supposed to …you can’t say that… you know…because that’s why…figure it out…I’ll be patient and give you time.”

You’re left wondering what on earth is going on.  Your head is spinning and you feel confused, lonely, hopeless, depressed at one time or another, and like you can never get an answer to your question, an apology, or closure to an issue.

Ask yourself this question. Does he ever take responsibility for his actions? No?

Then you need to know this: If you could hold an Abuse-O-Meter to the heart or head of your difficult person it would read, “Unsafe abuser” because the best gauge, the number one indicator for an unsafe abuser is that they never take responsibility for their behavior.

Yet in scripture God instructs us to confess our sins, to take the log out of our own eye, and if we know our brother has something against us—to go make it right with him. God does not tell the abused or offended to make restitution with the abuser or offender. The Bible places responsibility on the offender to make peace with the offended.  Can you imagine there is a human being on planet earth who will never need to take responsibility for a rude action, offensive comment, or ill treatment of someone?  That’s not realistic.  I only know of one person in the history of the world who could have done that and He is Jesus. Yes, the One and Only Son of God who is now seated at the right hand of our heavenly Father.

So if you’re with someone who never takes responsibility, explains everything away, justifies every word, thought and action—that’s a clue.

Next you need to understand that they are in complete denial and don’t realize what they’re doing. And no, you stand no chance of explaining it to them. You would be better off talking to a wall because any time, energy, emotion, logic or love you spend attempting to break through to them will simply cement in their mind that you are even crazier than they originally thought.

Counselor, Patrick Doyle explains DENIAL  as = Didn’t even know I was lying. That’s how much unsafe abusers believe in themselves

It takes an excellent counselor/psychologist to understand the self-deceived abuser who  believes their own rhetoric, lies, denial, rationalization, minimizing, justifying, and spiritualizing. Abusers believe every word they say. That’s why they’re so convincing.

You can’t perceive their nonsense which seems like pure foolishness to you. Although you may feel like you’re losing your mind; let me assure you, you’re not. Don’t believe it for a moment. And if you’re concerned you will lose your mind then you should seek professional help. Strong people seek help. When you’re in the middle of such messiness it can be difficult to see clearly, discern wisely, and respond with logical application and consequences. Let someone not emotionally involved see through the fog for you.

If you wonder if you’re in an unsafe relationship; locate ‘SOLUTIONS-HOTLINES-HELP’ in the margin of this blog and click ‘Mosaic Threat Assessment.’ It will direct you to an assessment questionnaire which is a strong indicator of possible danger.

Here is what I keep hearing from wife after abused wife:  She goes to a Christian friend, a spiritual leader, or her pastor and she receives this counsel, “Be Patient. Wait on God. Love him more. Be kind. Forgive him, kiss him more passionately, be more available in the bedroom, be more interested in his day, engage him in conversation, speak words of affirmation, show him respect and he’ll come around.”

Here is what Christian, counselor Patrick Doyle has to say about such advice: “I can tell you right now that if somebody has that much denial and they’re that harmful; loving them more will only embolden them to take more ground and be more mean…in their, kind, sort of way because of how they interpret it. When you start being nice; they figure you realize what’s going on and you finally came to your senses. Now you’re going to do it their way which is the right way; obviously, because that’s the only way there is! Their denial is so thick; they believe it!”

There you have it. The number one indicator of an unsafe abuser: They never take responsibility for their hurtful behavior.

emotional-abuse-pic

Video

Recognize and Prevent Emotional Abuse

psy-abuse

This is for those of you who don’t have time to watch the almost hour long video attached at the end of this article. If you are in an abusive relationship and you do have time to watch; you will be greatly validated and encouraged. You’re not crazy…it’s really happening…you’re living through untold trauma, and you are incredibly strong to have endured for so long. My prayers are for you.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

I present to you, Patrick Doyle, counselor at Veritas Counseling and theDOVE.us

Recognize and Prevent Emotional Abuse

The core of marital counseling revolves around emotional abuse.

I was aware of a situation involving a woman in another state. Her husband was a very well respected man who early in the marriage; and thereafter, was abusive.  He was a stalwart member of the church who was well respected. The abuse kept going on until finally the woman realized through some counseling, and finding out her husband had a longtime porn addiction, that she needed to speak up. Well, her church didn’t really get it; they didn’t understand what she was trying to say. They genuinely wanted to help but they thought maybe she was making this stuff up…how could this be; we all think this guy’s great. As time goes on and she becomes more and more bold about revealing the truth to the pastor of her large mega church, he finally gets it. She actually went in the pastor’s office and had him watch my (Patrick Doyle) video on emotional abuse. Here are some excerpts from a letter that he wrote to his leadership after watching the video and ‘getting it’… about what the church is going to do to deal with this issue because he’s starting to see that they’ve missed the boat on this.

I am disturbed by the fact that women are coming forward telling me sad stories of long-term calculated abuse by their husbands. I’m aware of 6 or 7 cases that are current. These are good women who have experienced long term, 10-25 years, of abuse to varying degrees.  In some cases the abuse has been physical leading to domestic assault charges and imprisonment. In other cases the abuse is more subversive yet no less damaging. Emotional abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, roll abuse, financial abuse, and sexual abuse.  Sometimes I wish they would all just walk into my office with a black eye so I could see the indisputable evidence and call the police. Instead they tend to walk in with blackened and bruised hearts that bleed pain. It is more difficult to discern the extent of non-physical abuse but I am becoming more attuned to the signs of an emotionally and psychologically battered woman. These are not crazy women who are trying to find some sinister way to get out of a marriage; thus, submitting false charges against their husbands. I’m talking about good and godly women who over time have lost hope that they will ever be treated with honor as a wife, a woman, or a fellow heir of the grace of life. I am typically taken off guard thinking that their husbands were charming, gentlemen of God. Oh, what a false front an abuser is able to display.

We all know there is a difference between a difficult marriage and a destructive marriage.  We all have difficult marriages to some extent. There’s no such thing as a pain-free, argument free marriage. There is anger in every marriage leading to disputes, hurt feelings, and the need for healing. I have not called this meeting to discuss difficult marriages, but I am talking today about destructive relationships where one person is being systematically and consistently broken down by the other.

I am most deeply disturbed by the fact that in several of these cases these men are protecting their place within our church while the abused is made to feel like an outcast. The abuser sings in the choir, sits in the front row, leads in the men’s’ ministry, carries the friendship or support of a pastor or an elder, serves on some ministry team, plays in the band while the wife is made to feel like an unforgiving, un-submissive, self-willed, hardened sinner. The wife feels embarrassed around our church people while the abusive husband smiles and drinks coffee with his boys (church members).

Here is a transition: This man wants to do the right thing, but it’s hard because people come in and you don’t know if they’re trying to work you, manipulate you, or what.

Listen, someone who is in an abusive relationship…one thing abusers do is they never take responsibility.

Abusers never take responsibility. This is a key to recognizing one. As Christians we should be leading the way in taking responsibility. With abusers you can never get a clear answer in a question, or there is a constant blame shift, avoidance, minimization, justification, and spiritualization. They shift blame and everything becomes your fault.You start to feel crazy and doubt yourself which empowers the abuser all the more.

In the church what is said is, “If you’ll just love them more, if you just cook them the right meal, if you just have more sex with them, if you’ll just be patient then this will clear up.”

Listen, if you allow an abuser an inch they will take a mile. The more you submit to their abuse the more they are going to abuse because every abuser I’ve worked with is in abject denial. The abuser believes their own rhetoric. They will stand in front of you, look you dead in the eyes and believe what they are saying. When this happens; listen to your spirit!

For outsiders who wonder if someone is in an abusive relationship; listen to your spirit. You may want to ask the woman or her children, in a safe setting, if there is abuse in their home and ask if they need help.

When someone says they are a believer but they have no conviction or comfort—they don’t have the Spirit. I don’t care what they say, how many church services they go to, how much Bible they know—the evidence is in whether or not they are convicted. The conviction will lead to the fruit of the spirit. Right? You can feign the fruit of the spirit for moments at church, in front of your pastor, in Sunday School, at a pot-luck dinner—but behind closed doors with the person who knows you the best…if they aren’t the ones seeing it, then I’m really concerned.

If your wife (and kids) are feeling abused (and I don’t care if you’re an abuser or not)—that’s real—and we have to deal with that. If the wife, or kids, are misinterpreting something it will be easy to fix, but if they’re not then maybe we can heal the marriage before it absolutely is destroyed.

Sometimes they do this sham of responsibility taking…”I’m sorry. I know I did that.” Then they just keep on doing it. Listen, the evidence of conviction is a change in your behavior not just words. God does not convict in general; He convicts specifically. So when the abuser comes to you they need to confess specifically the sinful words, thoughts and actions (to God and to their spouse). Changed behavior is the evidence of conviction. Conviction, repentance and changed action all have to take place.

Are  you abused and feeling trapped (which is part of the abusers arsenal) but you’re at a point where something has to break, something has to stop; you recognize that it’s coming to a head?

I say this with all due respect. Don’t call the church. (Yours may be the exception, but there are tragic stories about women who went to their church and were placed under church discipline for talking poorly of their husband, and/or removed from the church for separating from or divorcing their abuser.) I don’t know if the church is prepared for this; you’ll have to make that assessment. Somebody has to know what they are doing and someone has to be willing to get involved. If somebody comes to counseling he can get involved in a certain degree, but really where the church has the ability to be transformational is to get involved in a big way on a day-to-day basis. That’s how we can really help these people. In my church we’ve set up funds to support women temporarily; to give them money so the abusive husband can’t control them financially. I’ve seen it a thousand times if I’ve seen it once. They start controlling the money. How’s the woman going to live? Those are real questions. That’s where we can come (help) balance the power.

If you think you are, or might be, in an abusive relationship talk to somebody who knows what they’re talking about. If you’re going to go to someone who gets involved and then they back away; that is way worse. In that case, don’t even broach the subject until you know you have support that’s going to stay. This is where the church has done a lot of damage. They get involved and then they back out because they get uncomfortable, in over their head, or whatever.

Do your research, ask around the community, take the knowledge you’ve learned to find long-term support because I’ve never seen an abuser who has gone that far and said, “Oh, you’re right. I’m going to quit being abusive.”

It’s possible churches get it and they do want to help; such as the pastor who wrote the email read at the beginning; earlier. They recognized it and set up something in the church to address abusers and the abused. The pastor; along with church staff and leadership took training for it because they care about the people.

Much of this teaching can also apply to parent/child relationships.

 

This is Carolyn speaking: There aren’t many Christian counselors out there who know how to handle abuse in the Christian home. Most will want the abused wife to attend counseling with her abuser. THIS SHOULD NOT BE. When calling a counselor’s office ask them what their policy is for helping abuse victims and their abusive spouse. Separate counseling is best. I’ll give you three recommendations for the St. Louis area at the bottom of this post. They do not take insurance; so you have to file ‘out of network.’ If you’re local and have an excellent referral please comment with contact information at the top of this post. There is also a link in the margin for Focus on the Family: Counseling service and one time free referral.

 

Counselors in the greater St. Louis area:

Terri Dempsey – (West county & Farmington) Encouragement, validation, and practical application for setting boundaries…with humor.  Double majored in Psychology and Theology receiving a Bachelor of Arts from Blue Mountain College.  Received  Master of Arts degree in Psychological Counseling from Southeast Missouri State University in May 1991.  The combination of a Christian and secular education allows her to understand and fit into both worlds.  Scripture tells us to be in the world but not of the world.

She treats most mental health issues and specializes in trauma, personality disorders, and difficult cases in adults, adolescents, and children.  She is certified in EMDR. In treating anxiety and depression whether in adults, adolescents, or children, there is often a common thread – trauma.  Trauma can be the basis of eating disorders, anger management issues, and severe stress as well as identity issues in children and adolescents.  If your spouse suffers from a personality disorder you will find help for staying, or leaving.

(314) 983-9300, by text at (314) 960-7589 and by email at hopecrossingcc@gmail.com

St. Louis Office
Castlewood Baptist Church
1220 Kiefer Creek Rd. Ballwin, 63021

Farmington Office
#7 South Jefferson
Farmington, MO 63640

Dr. Clay Coffee (St. Louis County) received his Ph.D. in Family Therapy from Saint Louis University and his Master of Arts in Counseling and Masters of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary.  He is a Counselor in Training working with couples, families, and individuals.  For typical marital issues he does couples counseling. For family issues he does group family therapy. He has served as a pastor and counselor in church-based settings for over fifteen years: working with couples and families in conflict

providing premarital education and counseling

caring for individuals and families walking through divorce and remarriage.   His additional areas of clinical interests and experience include working with adults experiencing grief and loss

anxiety and depression

the trauma of emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse

spiritual transformation and relational distress

parenting issues and season of life transitions.

Clay has also taught graduate courses on ethics and counseling and presented at national conferences on topics such as addressing family violence in the church and coordinating care between counselors and churches for the well-being of clients. His dissertation explored the influence of at least one partner’s religious conversion on the marital relationship and developed a tentative theory for helping both partners navigate potential loyalty conflicts.

Clay has a wife, 3 children and a black lab named Pepper.  He enjoys playing tennis & golf with his wife, co-managing a fantasy football team with his sons, watching and discussing movies with his daughter, and playing his guitar. (314)720-2710 ext 5  clay@killeencounseling.com 

 

Christy Brimm (St. Charles county) at Kaleo Counseling: kaleostl.com – Her bio states she works mostly with kids, but I’ve been told she is terrific, due to her passion and personality, for women who are in extremely difficult and abusive relationships.
Christy received her Master of Arts in Counseling from Missouri Baptist University and her Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. She has gained extensive experience working with children, adolescents, women, and families via her 20+years serving in the Church. Her ministry experience has come in the form of working in children’s ministry, youth ministry, leading a life group for young families, and through leadership in Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). Christy has training in both school and clinical settings and is interested in offering gospel-centered counseling to youth and adults who find themselves in need of healing and wholeness. She also has a special interest in doing play therapy with children and working with families on parenting and relational issues. Christy is a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor and is supervised by Martha Ankney, LPC. She sees clients at the St. Charles office and is an out-of-network provider. You may email Christy at cbrimm@kaleostl.com.

 

 

Video

Toxic Tuesday: Do You Have Biblical Permission to Leave a Toxic Spouse?

Today I’m sharing the blog post that has daily, for 3 1/2 years, remained the most read article I’ve written. I’m not an expert in the field, but rather a survivor of a student field trip. I’m passing on lessons learned that took me years of relational toil, prayer, counseling, Bible study and research. Later in the article, and in the margin, I link to Leslie Vernick who is a godly professional on this topic. I cannot say enough good about Leslie. I wish she had been around 19 years ago when I was in the middle of dealing with my toxic husband who was a pastor, abuser, and pedophile who suffered from mental illness and had a personality disorder.

(*Disclaimer: Mental illness does not make one an abuser, pedophile or criminal, nor does is diagnose one with a personality disorder. Most sufferers of mental illness live a normal, productive and fulfilling life with the help of therapy, dietary lifestyle changes, and/or medications.)

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

 

Do You Have Biblical Permission to Leave a Toxic Spouse?

 

No matter how they treat me; I will choose agape love.

No matter what they do; I will forgive. Over and over.

No matter how messed up they are; I will be their helpmate.

No matter the mental illness or personality disorder; I will love in sickness and in health.

No matter the inability to parent; I’ll keep the children safe and sheltered.

No matter the addictions; I will pray for healing and restoration to come.

No matter the anger; I’ll wait for the therapy to work. I know they will get better with the help of a godly professional.

No matter the grounds for divorce; I will pray for forgiveness, restoration and family unity. After all, as Christians with God on our side, we can do the hard thing and make it through.

But what happens when you are the only one practicing these principles and actions?

Have you been to counseling, done the homework, practiced the applications, prayed and fasted but you are the only person in the equation who participated in all the above? This is the point where putting all the marriage and Christian help books away is beneficial. These books are for people in a relationship with a mentally healthy spouse. We all have issues. We all sin. But living with a toxic person is not the subject of these books. They are terrific books—wrong subject.

Did you attempt an intervention with the goal of leading your spouse to repentance, restoring the relationship, and providing emotional healing only to be told, “It’s all you. You’re the one with the problems. There’s nothing wrong with what I do or how I treat you”?

Did you serve them therapeutic separation papers to show how serious you were about saving your marriage and saving your family? Have they shown no serious action to remedy the situation? Or have they shown minimal—surface only, “Is this enough to satisfy you?” action? Yet there is no change in heart, attitude, addictions, words or actions.

If you feel led by God through much prayer; keep going: Agape, forgive, help, remain true to the covenant, protect, seek professional help, pray, fast and pray some more. Over and over. If this is your decision I highly recommend you visit Leslie Vernick’s website.

 Here is where the strategy must change:

Are you concerned for your safety and/or and the safety of your children due to abuse?

I want you to hear this in the sweetest most tender voice as I envelope you in a hug and gently declare, “God does not expect you to live like this.”

Are you concerned you will not be alive come tomorrow morning due to an angry and/or violent spouse?

Imagine I have my hands on your shoulders, as we look at each other tear-stained face to tear-stained face, “God does not want or require you to live under such conditions.”

Many theologians, pastors and Christians with the best intentions have written on this subject.  I am in no way an expert or professional and this is why I always reiterate the importance of praying, fasting and seeking godly professional counsel.

I grew up believing divorce was wrong. Period. Christians work it out.

It took years of experience and additional years of biblical counsel, Bible study, prayer and fasting to realize there were biblical grounds to leave a toxic relationship.

For more background information on toxic relationships, toxic people, boundaries, intervention, and therapeutic separation please read past ‘Toxic Tuesday’ posts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

God states that He hates divorce; not the divorced. God has experienced what it feels like to have someone leave Him. He knows the heartbreak His loved ones will endure and He understands the generational stronghold Satan will attempt to wield over the family members. He desires to protect us from the hurt, pain, consequences and future oppression of divorce.

Scripture does not clearly address divorce due to  the circumstance of being married to an abusive; toxic spouse but we know, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16.  If we have a question about life we know we can find applicable help in God’s word.  Here are some verses to consider when in an abusive relationship:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.” Ephesians 5: 25-29

 “The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.” I Peter 3:7

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” I Corinthians 5:11

 “Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.” Proverbs 23:9

 “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Proverbs 26:11

“Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” Proverbs 27:3

“Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.” Proverbs 27:22

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6

 “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” Philippians 3:2 

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

 “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.” Titus 3:10

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matthew 18: 15-17

 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11

Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.” Proverbs 14:7

Our nation and our individual states have laws regarding abuse. If  something below is taking place in your home it needs to be reported to a law official immediately and you need to take safety.

  •          It is against the law to abuse another person.
  •          Physical and sexual abuse against children is against the law.

Also report it to the social welfare/department of family or child services office, a doctor of psychology, a local child advocacy center and possibly the Victim Witness Advocate at your local District Attorney’s office. You can call the Victim Witness Advocate at the state Attorney General’s office if you need help locating an advocate in your area.

Yes, your spouse may be arrested, but maybe this will make him/her realize the seriousness of how out-of-control they have become; possibly leading to real help, true repentance and possible restoration; although statistics backing this up are slim. You have every legal right to defend and protect your children and yourself. God does not expect you or want you to endure such abuse.

To say your abusive husband cannot change would be to deny the power of Christ. The flip side of praying, waiting and hoping for an abusive or severely mentally ill husband, or a husband with a personality disorder, to change is this: They have free choice and God will not make them do what they do not ask for or want.

The Bible gives two reasons for divorce; adultery and abandonment. Theologically many argue abandonment strictly means the physical state. I submit, in the case of abuse they have  emotionally and physically abandoned you through; abdication, blocked intimacy, isolation, loneliness, neglect, rejection and lack of protection. They have also; most likely, physically abandoned  a sexually monogamous relationship with you. I mention infidelity because I am yet to hear of abuse that did not include unfaithfulness; it’s possible but rare. They have left you with permanent psychological scars, often financially restricted or stranded you, verbally destroyed you (at this point many women wish they had the bruises and broken bones to prove the abuse) or; physical and/or sexual abuse of you and/or your children.

I view abuse as abandonment for these reasons: When the marriage covenant is made on your wedding day your husband promises, (the wife’s covenant is the same to her husband) “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor, cherish and protect her, forsaking all others for as long as we both shall live.” When a husband is verbally and emotionally assaulting, beating/abusing his wife and/or children (I am not talking about thoughtful and lovingly administered spankings to teach your children right from wrong and to keep them safe from danger) he abandons the vows he made to his bride on their wedding day. Women who have suffered through a sexually unfaithful husband and an abusive husband can testify that the abuse is worse than the sexual infidelity. When her husband beats her, verbally shreds her, emotionally rejects her, or sexually assaults her, he has abandoned their vows and his relationship with her.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do you feel trapped, despairing, brokenhearted, hopeless, devastated, betrayed, frightened or dead due to abuse?

Christ came to set the captive free as prophesied in Isaiah 61.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.  Isaiah 61:1-3

Freedom is found in Jesus.

Boundaries are necessary.

Safety is essential.

Healing is possible.

Tomorrow will come with ‘the oil of joy instead of mourning.’ It takes time; time does not heal. God heals—in time—even though scars remain.