In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month (October), I pray my story inspires others to run for safety!
My family had lots of dirty secrets. We didn’t air our dirty laundry. We didn’t get help. And the neighbors minded their own business.
My baptism was my parents greatest blessing to me. God became my constant companion. I prayed for God to wave His magic wand or sprinkle fairy dust or whatever it took to fix my family. I believed if I prayed hard enough, participated in the church; knew the Bible; obeyed God’s commandments and was “perfect”- God would answer my prayers.
I lost hope when my brother committed suicide and another died a year later.
I was angry! I didn’t want God to hold me or wipe my tears. I wanted God to raise my brothers from the dead; not later-NOW!
I thought-God must not love me. God allowed all these horrible things to happen to me. God abandoned me or God didn’t exist. No one was ever going to rescue me.
I wanted God to stop the flood of abuse but allow me to keep my family and all of our secrets. This was my plan; not God’s plan.
I realize now that God led me to a therapist who labeled the abuse, told me to get self-sufficient, run and never look back! But I answered, “No thanks God will save me.”
God didn’t give up on me. God led other people into my life to save me.
My first husband tried to kill me. I’m here today because God sent the police. God led us to a pastor who refused to marry us, but my parents said, “Marry him because the invitations have already been sent!” But God tried to again by getting the limo driver lost but my mother drove me to the church. I married the man who tried to kill me!
God kept trying. A compassionate doctor tried to save me from my abusive husband and family, but I assured him, ‘I’ll be ok’.
God sent the police to save my son and me but I had too much pride to go to a shelter.
Finally, I left my abusive husband, running back to my equally abusive family. I wasn’t safe. My son wasn’t safe. I couldn’t protect him.
God led me back to church and bible study. God’s word made me strong. The Holy Spirit gave me courage. I didn’t want to repeat my mistakes. I insisted my future husband had to attend church to date me.
During our wedding vows God told me to leave my abusive family but I wasn’t listening. God inspired my new husband to adopt my son to keep him safe.
However, the flood of dysfunction continued to climb. Hurtful people were still in our life. I was still keeping secrets. I had my own children and by denying the abuse, they weren’t safe.
Easter Sunday (2003) was a day of awakening for me. The pastor asked the congregation to raise their hands if they wanted to live forever. My husband raised his hand. I didn’t. I didn’t want to live forever. I accepted I would live forever but I didn’t want to live forever. I wouldn’t ask for another hour, minute or moment to serve my painful sentence.
I struggled with defining a “scripturally” correct relationship with my family. Honor your father and mother – but my mother hurt me, she hurt my children.
Turn the other cheek, but what if the other cheek belongs to my son or daughter? How do I protect my children and remain faithful?
I prayed earnestly for a savior and with each prayer I heard a voice telling me to run; screaming over the waves threatening to drown us that we needed help – we needed to escape.
I listened that Easter Sunday. I promised during my wedding vows, “Where you go, I go; where you live, I’ll live…so help me God!” (Ruth 1:17) Verse 16 actually says “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home.”
God called Abraham, Joseph, Moses, many prophets, his disciples and so many others to leave their families and follow Him…so why cling to mine???
Finally I said good-bye to abusive relationships. I committed to keep my children safe. Thankful for God. Thankful, my children and I could be safe.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord
make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
God enabled me to follow His path, forgive and love my abusers from a safe distance, and gave me a new church family. I never imagined God would give me the courage and the honor of sharing my story.
My children and I are safe. We live a happily and safely ever after in Christ’s peace. I pray for all my fellow sisters, brothers and their children living in fear. Lord, bring them to safety and drive fast! Amen