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Edith: “I don’t understand his behaviors. He told me a few minutes ago that he loves me, yet he’s calling me stupid and lazy for leaving dirty dishes in the sink. Why does he say he loves and then treats me this way?”

“Why does he say he loves me, and then hurts me?” Women in abusive and potentially abusive relationships often find themselves asking this question.

Before we can answer the question, “How can he say he loves me and then hurt me?” we must first define what love is. Although most people agree that certain behaviors are associated with love, there are individual differences. I associate love with hearing the words “I love you,” physical and emotional intimacy, the acknowledgment of occasions that are important to me, listening to and validating my feelings, appreciation of the things I do, assistance with child care and household duties.

  • How did you define love before you entered your relationship?

In an abusive relationship, what a woman considered to be love when she entered the relationship changes over time.

  • f you are in a relationship now, ask yourself — how you know that your partner loves you
  • How do you define love now?
  • How does that definition differ from your definition of love before you entered the relationship?
  • Has your definition of loved changed to accommodate your partner’s behaviors or beliefs about love?

For example, some women come to believe that the fact that their husband wants to have sex with them means that he loves them, even when he physically and/or emotionally abuses them. Or women come to believe that a man’s gifts, apologies, and extra attention after he physically or emotionally attacks them is a sign that he still loves them. His words and actions are inconsistent, which leads to confusion.

  • Do you ever feel confused about your partner’s feelings for you because his actions contradict his words?

If you feel confused by your partner’s behaviors or feel that your definition of love has changed to accommodate his behaviors, you probably wonder how you got to this place.

In this blog and series of blogs, I discuss the concept of “love” and how it applies in abusive relationships. My next blog will discuss how an abuser’s actions gradually change his partner’s definition of love, view of herself, and ultimately, her own behaviors and habits. Later blogs will provide some solutions for women who are in abusive relationships. This material will be presented from a Christian perspective. I will share my insight as a survivor of domestic abuse and as the author of The Path to Hope.

Dig into the well: ” How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 36:7, NIV).

Check out my book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, The Path to Hope: Restoring the Spirit of the Abused Christian Woman for more on how transformation occurs.

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April 20, 2016 0 comment
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I am overwhelmed with my thoughts. They are jumbled up with no sense of direction which has intensified the feeling of giving up. Consequently rejecting any information that might lead to a solution base focus; my brain feels like it is in overload and can’t process any new information. I asked myself, “What I am doing here?” I am not sure what “here” means. Gazing in so many directions and making subconscious evaluations have led to the feeling of defeat. “I can’t do what they are doing”, I say; and that self-defeating thinking has contributed to my state of mind.

My child-like behavioral characteristics are also coming to the surface. It feels like God is still, and I am a child with no supervision. It is frightening to feel like a child without protection or skills, attempting to venture into the complex and vast social media. I am fearful that I will be swallowed up by the all-knowing and lack-of-conscience social media world. In addition, there are so many uncertainties related to the role I would like to play that it is difficult to discern God’s voice. As a result, I am throwing tantrums, blaming God for bringing me here. “Why did he allow me to write a book?” “Why did he allow me to share my soul and the souls of others and then let me stand here with no direction?” I have invested a lot of money and time, for what purpose?

I can’t stay here, but how do I get out of this state of mind? Then, I am reminded of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Elijah had a great victory, but when he heard that Jezebel was trying to kill him, he ran away. He suddenly forgot a miracle had occurred when he prayed and fire came down from heaven and destroyed the sacrifices of the prophets of Baal to their gods. When approached by an angel after he ran away, his response was, “I have had enough, Lord, take my life for I am no better than my ancestors.” Due to his fear of Jezebel, he doubted his accomplishments and discouragement led to defeat. He might have felt that he wasn’t good enough and might have questioned God for letting his life be threatened.

I can relate to Elijah’s emotional response after his great victory. I wrote a book on a topic that should be addressed in the church. God placed the desire in me to be brave and share my experiences and the experiences of others so that his daughters can achieve freedom from abuse. The abused Christian woman needs to have her voice heard and supported as she emotionally and physically attempts to protect herself and her children from domestic abuse. Even though I don’t consider myself a writer (still evolving), God didn’t let that stop him. He sent many helpers along the way to help complete his work. I have had numerous positive responses especially from women who are experiencing abuse. This is a victory! Yet, when I perceive that someone might have a negative response, doubts and inadequacy dominate all the positives. Immediately, I start to question my skills and abilities and God’s calling.

I love how the angel responded to Elijah. He didn’t state how ungrateful he was, or say, “I can’t believe you are afraid of Jezebel after seeing what I did.” The angel focused on meeting Elijah’s physical needs first by providing food and allowing him to rest. Further into the story, the angel confirmed that he will need strength because the journey ahead was too much for him.

As I reflect the on angel’s response to Elijah, I too need to rest from my self-destructive thinking. God’s response to me is not punitive, instead, he extends his arms for me to come and rest. Physical rest is required to revive my mind. When that occurs, I can then prioritize the skills and resources I need to market my book effectively and respond to God’s calling.

There is a great work ahead. Therefore, to be successful, I will have to not only rely on God for physical and mental strength but also on others.

I am thankful to God for his mercy towards me even when I let my tantrums question his plans for my life. Today I want to hold on to the words of the song “Great is Your Mercy” by Donnie McClurkin. “Great is your mercy towards me, your loving kindness toward me, your tender mercies I see day after day.” I pray that I see his kindness and mercies in all of my thoughts and actions.

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April 20, 2016 0 comment
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Isaiah 53:7-9, “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial, they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins- that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal…”

When I read these passages, I can only imagine how Jesus’s disciples and mother might have felt as they watched him go the cross. I can image that they were shocked and confused. They felt his pain or even anger. Wasn’t he the son of God? Where was his power? He appeared weak and vulnerable, but little did they know that in his weakness lay his strength. Though his most vulnerable moment was dying on the cross, it was at that moment they were and we are also saved.

The cross teaches me that in weakness or vulnerability, lies strength. I am not talking about being a doormat or letting people abuse or manipulate you, or covering up your love one’s sins due to the fear of the consequences of exposing them. I am talking about exposing your heart even when you are afraid of how others may react, or how they might see you. I am talking about being accountable for your actions, being honest, and speaking the truth even when it hurts.

In my life, I can see how vulnerability produces strength. As a victim of domestic violence, others might have seen me as weak. Due to shame and fear, I might have also seen myself as been helpless or weak. But, when I decided to rely on Christ’s strength, expose my situation for what it was and doing what was right, my weaknesses were turned into strengths.

It is not easy to embrace vulnerability, especially when you parent teens and young adults. As a parent, the teenage years were my most humbling years. I was no longer the source of wisdom. My heart and weakness were constantly exposed. My kids saw my deficiencies and were willing to express them. I may have appeared weak to them, but I knew my strength lie in admitting when I am wrong, not compromising my morals and values and being persisting in my faith.

As a single woman, life can be overwhelming. Taking care of a home (everything breaks down at once), taking care of the family, lack of finances, being pulled in many directions at once, loneliness and staying pure can all threaten my faith, leaving me at times feeling helpless. I may appear vulnerable, but I know it is during those moments that I need to expose my heart, confess my sins, repent, and ask for help.

The most vulnerable moments in my life have always been my speech. I talk fast and have a lisp. I stutter when I am overly anxious. My speech has been a source of ridicule and jokes as a child and even as an adult. I attempted to correct this by trying to slow down and speech therapy, but it hasn’t worked consistently. I can relate to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 where he begged God to remove his thorn. The respond was, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” I recognize when I speak of God’s wisdom with passion and convictions, my speech is clear and has power. It is through my weaknesses that God’s power works best. “But those called by God to salvation, both Jews, and Gentiles, Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:24-25

It doesn’t make sense that strength is found in vulnerability. It may be foolish to others, but I know it works, and the cross makes that possible.

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August 31, 2015 0 comment
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