By: CHRISTI PAUL

OF ALL THE THINGS you think of on your wedding day, “Dear God what have I done?” should never be one of them. But somehow I knew, even then, as my new husband snarled at me (just an hour after we said “I do”) that I was not where I should be. But it was too late.

The anger I saw in his face, the cursing from his lips, the manipulation, control, and isolation was just beginning. For years, I battled feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, and hopelessness. My husband was supposed to love me more than anyone. Yet, his violent outbursts, hateful words, and threats pierced me. I tried to deny it. I tried to live with hope. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t make a mistake by marrying him. But at the end of the day, I knew the truth –– and it was crushing.

When I finally left my husband, there was a lot of work to be done. The luggage at the end of my new bed wasn’t the only baggage I was carrying. There were scars, distrust, painful memories, and a trunk-load of other stuff weighing me down. However, when I decided to take the grueling journey toward healing, I found wholeness in God.

If you, or someone you know, have experienced domestic abuse, there is hope.

STEP 1:
Get real with yourself.

Don’t be afraid of what you’ll find. Examine why you let an abusive person into your life (and stayed with them) –– for a week, a month, or 20 years. What were you missing? What did you fear? Sometimes women stay in an abusive relationship because they fear that their children will suffer, or they won’t be able to financially support themselves. The “unknown” can also be terrifying. Whatever the reason, it all comes back to our relationship with God. If we genuinely believe that God deeply loves and provides for us, our faith can dominate our fear. Matthew 6:34 encourages, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes (The Message).

It is important that we take a long and honest look at what we believe about ourselves, and what we believe about God. It is easy to say, “I completely trust God,” but those words get put to the test when we are in desperate situations. Often times, domestic violence victims believe that God offers His best, but they struggle with the notion that He offers His best to them. Abuse is not God’s best for you. Despite what you’ve been told by an abusive person, you are valuable, beautiful, and strong. Most importantly, you’re a child of God. –– And God has equipped you to survive.

STEP 2:
Forgive.

Forgive yourself for getting into an unhealthy relationship. We all make mistakes. There’s not a person on this planet who doesn’t have a skeleton (or two, or three, or more!) in a closet somewhere. God has forgiven you, so forgive yourself.


More in this category: « Redemption Is It Time to Heal? »


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