Spiritual Abuse Part 16__Men of God, Rise Up! Protect Your Marriage!

By nature I default to the stronger leader as long as the leader stays grounded on Biblical truth. I also default to male leadership, most likely because of my upbringing, and because my husband truly is a leader worthy of my respect, honour and… yes, the ‘s’ word… submission.

Tim is a man of integrity, unlike any I have ever known before. We have been happily married for eighteen and a half years. Well, most of them were happy years. We did have some very rough times as well. Times when we were not certain our marriage would make it. Or at least I wasn’t certain. Tim never, for even one millisecond, entertained another option.

About eleven years ago I had given up on our marriage. I wanted out. It all felt too complicated and I felt I had lost myself somewhere along the way. I started to look into other living options, started to plan how I would survive without Tim, how we would share our five children and not make it a big ugly fight.

 

Leading up to this, in the first seven years of marriage, Tim and I had never had a ‘fight’, really. We had disagreements but, for the most part, we are as compatible as two people can be. So why would I want to leave a man who never treated me abusively, or harmed me emotionally or physically? When life was ‘peaceful’, why would I want out?

We had grown apathetic in our marriage. We merely co-existed. We didn’t understand each other. We were both ‘nice’ and kind, but the depth was lacking. I wanted desperately to ‘know’ him and ‘be known’ by him. I wanted him to pursue my heart, to enter into my inner world, and I wanted to be part of his. Yet, both of us had retreated.

Add to this a health crisis, on my part, that left me physically weak and psychologically fragile, and I simply could not cope with distance in our relationship. Dark thoughts and hopelessness invaded my heart and mind.

When I proposed to Tim that we part ways, peacefully, and told him I wanted out of the marriage, he was crushed. The pain I saw in his eyes that day, told me more about his deep love for me than I had understood before. He heard my heart, no defences. I shared with him how abandoned I felt, how distant I felt from him, emotionally, and like I was the one who constantly had to keep our marriage alive.

Tim showed leadership that changed our marriage. He stepped into my heart, so to speak, and got to know who I am. He apologized for hurting me, for not protecting me and not ‘knowing’ me.

I don’t know how it came about, but Hilco and Joyce, a couple from the church we attended at that time, Koinonia Christian Fellowship, came to see us. They listened to us, prayed with us and gave us some basic tools to help us fight for our marriage together.

Beyond being ‘nice’, he made a promise to know and care for my heart, and invest himself in building our marriage, in protecting me and fighting for me and our children. Being a man of his word, he did just that. This leadership has continued over the years. We’ve had gaps, but through those ‘seasons’ we learned to fight ‘together’ for our relationship.

The greatest gift Tim has given me, over the years, is his unconditional love. No strings attached, he has embraced me, as I am. In every situation, when the storms hit, and ‘life’ threatened our marriage, he has taken it seriously and ‘tuned in’ and sought God with me. He has always treated me as equal, and has not withheld important information from me, and has included me in decision-making.  He hears me, and listens to my advice and then together we make decisions, with the final call being up to him, in many cases.

This respect, and feeling valued, has made it easy for me to submit myself to Tim’s leadership.  I trust his heart toward me and know, without question, that he longs only to bless me. (He does this from his heart, but the pay-off for him is pretty good too.) On the flip side, there have been times when Tim gave up something he felt strongly about, or wanted, because I was not at peace with it. That is part of healthy relationship.

We were created for relationship, for mutual respect, and in love to submit to one another. Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church. Lead with a servant heart. Spiritual Abuse makes room for control, abandonment and expecting to be served, but that is not the example that Christ gave you. You will win your wife, if you hear her heart and validate her feelings. Take time to pursue her—she longs to be the apple of your eye. Be quick to say, “I’m sorry”, if you have wronged her. It will build trust. Pray with her. Get to know what makes her ‘tick’ and speak her love language.

Ladies, be patient with your husbands as they learn a better way. Encourage them. Be your husband’s number one cheerleader. Don’t leave that for another woman.  Believe in him and support him. It is a two-way street, and God has given us a lot of influence over our husbands. Above all, pray for him and with him, rather than trying to change him.

Gentlemen, fight for your marriages, it is worth it. Take it from someone who almost lost the best years of her marriage. Someone whose husband refused to let pride stand in the way.

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/

The Heart of a Daughter

Confidently I stood in front of the neighbour boy who was taunting and teasing me. Hands on my hips I declared, “If you don’t leave me alone I’m going to go get my Dad!” Even as I spoke the words at age seven, I understood something. My father wasn’t ‘there’ for me and I would have hesitated to ask for his help. The young boy mocked me again and made fun of my dad as I turned and marched into the house.

If there is one legitimate and deep longing inside every young woman it is this: to be loved, protected and adored by her Daddy. It is a longing that is suppressed by many women, unfulfilled but acknowledged by some, and satisfied for a few.

I am strong. Am I stubborn? I can be a little bit at times but not typically. Stubborn is that quiet ‘refuse-to-listen-and-hear’ attitude. Strong is the rock-solid confidence in what you believe (even when you’re wrong) that still listens to other voices and weighs what is being said and, with time, if the other voice makes sense or echoes of truth, it surrenders. Because of this strength I have at times convinced myself that my loss as a daughter was less extreme than it was for other women because I didn’t ‘need’ a dad as much they did.

I was about to turn 21 when I acknowledged for the first time the extent of betrayal and loss I had experienced because of fatherlessness. When my friend’s parents stepped into my life and started to help me disassemble my beliefs, look at my denials and begin to explore the horrific aftermath of my childhood and youth, I was shocked by the pain that lingered just below the surface of my existence.

That initial look at truth landed me on the couch and weeping for three days straight. I had spent my whole life running from the pain and suddenly, with one question, that wound tore open and left my heart in agony. What stands out in my memory is a song I heard the day after my first encounter with truth. I don’t remember the exact words of the song but the concept was to share our pain with our Daddy, referring to God, and let our Daddy bring healing. I listened to that song repeatedly in an effort to reconcile the fact that the pain was imposed by my father and at the same time I was to invite a Daddy to heal it.

As the tears came and went, during that three-day period, I repeatedly felt God hold me. The comfort my spirit drew from that ‘Presence’ still amazes me. Through the years I have often returned to that moment to remind myself that God is my Daddy-Father. I recall well how gentle He was with my broken heart and spirit and how His love washed over me time and again. Had it been any more powerful, He would have had to show up in physical form.

Many years later I had the opportunity to weep with my earthly father as he repented and I found deeper freedom in being able to extend forgiveness—again—in spite of the ache in my heart.

It’s a beautiful gift to forgive. But the reality is that the deep longing never really leaves. The last few months I have had many moments where grief rips at my heart. Many moments where tears surface. Moments where restlessness consumes me—restlessness I could not identify until today.

All these years later I find myself still reaching, still longing and still crying for that relationship with an earthly father that I never had as a child. It has surprised me again how raw that pain can be. How deep that inner longing still reaches.

It all stands to reason. With the upcoming “Faith Girls Unleashed Conference” I am moving into the fulfillment of a dream that I’ve carried in my heart for many years.  What could compare to a Dad being there and saying “You Go Girl! I’m so proud of you for giving it everything you’ve got for a cause you believe in!”

For a moment I want to find a father figure here on earth—someone to share my heart with in that special Daddy-Daughter way. Someone to talk to about my struggles—a ‘real’ shoulder to cry on. Someone who will cheer me on when I’m doing well, love me, hug me and laugh with me…

Instead I reach up and cry out to the same Daddy that walked through my deepest hell with me and I realize I have a Daddy who is all of that and more.