Galatians 6: 2, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Psalms 11: 5, The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Women who are suffering in an abusive marriage usually suffer alone. This is true even if she is a member of the Lord’s church. Women who are being abused are afraid of reaching out for fear of the repercussions she or her children might face. They are humiliated by the fact that they are being abused. They feel alone, misunderstood, and broken. They are often told if only they didn’t, hadn’t, or wouldn’t, do thus and such, their abuser wouldn’t abuse them. All of these things make it hard for an abuse victim to find the help and support she needs. What follows is a peek inside the life of an abused woman from one who has walked in her shoes. If we don’t understand, we can’t help them. If we aren’t willing to talk about it, no one will ever understand. It is my hope, indeed it is my prayer, that by our burgeoning willingness to address domestic abuse in the church, we can make a difference for our sisters who are suffering under the heavy hand of domestic abuse.
May God open our eyes and our hearts to the suffering of our abused sisters in Christ….
She gets up in the morning, full of apprehension. There’s so much to do, and only herself to get it done. If she does it the wrong way, or at the wrong time, if she fails to do something that she ought to have done…she doesn’t even want to consider the consequences.
Her life is full of chaos, despair. She doesn’t want to give into despair, doesn’t want to doubt God. But is God even pleased with her? That she has to wonder. Her pastor told her to search her own heart, make sure her motives are pleasing to God, and that God would be pleased with her. She wonders if she has done it. She’s tried. Her Bible is underlined and highlighted. She tries hard to live it out. But no matter how hard she tries, no matter what she does, her husband says she’s not submissive enough, that’s she’s lazy, and selfish. Her pastor tells her that if she loves her husband more, obeys him better, things will get better at home. He assures her that her husband wants to be a good husband; she just has to be a good wife first. Daily she searches her Bible to see where she’s failing, to find out how to be more holy. If only she could do better, be more, be more perfect, then maybe, just maybe, her husband would be happy with her. Maybe things wouldn’t go so bad so very often.
She hurries to get her children ready for church. Serving breakfast, finding lost shoes, combing hair, washing faces, and cleaning up, are her jobs. Always are her jobs, even when her husband is going. But today he isn’t. Last night, there were things he wanted to do. Friends he wanted to be with. Places he wanted to go. He came in late, exhausted, and agitated. Today he is just too tired to spend time “in that place.” She tries hard to keep the children quiet so he can sleep. If he awakens, things will not go well.
She sits through the church service trying to follow along. She wants to worship God with joy like she used to. Before.… She sings, she prays, she listens to the sermon, to the announcements, but as she does her mind strays. Will the service go over and cause her to be late getting home? Will her husband be angry? Will she fail to get his lunch on time, fail to please him in some way and things escalate? Will her children be too childish once home and frustrate him? He says he loves them but he gets so irritated with them so very easily. The same could be said about her. No matter what she does, no matter how hard she tries, she never measures up to her husband’s ever-increasing demands. She keeps trying to bring her mind, her heart, back to this moment. Back to worshiping God. The sermon ends. She feels like crying.
While others are talking, making plans for an afternoon of fellowship, of rest, terror crashes in on her. She’s afraid to make eye contact with those who speak to her. She’s afraid that someone might find her secret out, might see inside her. Might notice the bruises, crudely covered by makeup. Might notice she always hurries away. “We don’t have time for you to play,” she tells her crying son. “Hush, we’ve got to get home,” she tells her talkative daughter. Her husband is awake, looking disheveled, scowling, as she walks in the door. Her heart sinks. She sends the children to their room. They start to fuss, wanting lunch. “Please, I’ll be right with you.” But she isn’t. Her husband comes first, demands to come first. He always, always, comes first.
She goes through the afternoon in a haze. Her head is pounding, meeting the rapid ratcheting of her heart. As she feeds her children, as she cleans, she talks to God, tells Him she wants to please Him. Begs Him to change her husband. Begs Him to change her. Begs Him for forgiveness for ever doubting Him. For a moment, hope rises. Maybe there can be a better day…someday. From another room, her husband screams at her son, calling him stupid. Reality rushes in. This life, right here, just like this, may be all there ever is. She rushes to try to sooth her son, calm her husband. He turns on her, anger in his eyes.
She goes to bed alone, exhausted, tears spilling down her cheeks. Her children asked why Daddy did the things he did. Why he said the words they were forbidden to say? So young. So full of fear and confusion. She tried, she really did, but it just wasn’t enough. Not for her children. Never for her husband. It was never enough for anybody. She was never enough. She justifies that he shoved her. That things got so far out of hand. She really shouldn’t do things to set him off. She really ought to try harder…shouldn’t she? That’s what he always tells her, no matter how hard she tries. His words of condemnation play around her head. His threats loom heavy. She falls asleep praying for a better day tomorrow.
She gets up the next morning, full of apprehension.