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Posts Tagged ‘Healing from abuse’

Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.

Jesus loves me, He will stay
Close beside me all the way.
If I love Him when I die,
He will take me home on high.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus, loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

We think of this as such a simple children’s song. The words are simple, but the message is strong…..Jesus Loves Me!

During my “days of captivity” I wasn’t allowed to do a lot of things that I thought were a normal part of life. One thing I wasn’t allowed to do was go to church.

At first, I thought it would just be a phase, but the more I wasn’t allowed to go to church, the more I wanted to be there, and the more I was told that I wasn’t going. My spirit ached and my soul wanted to worship God and be with God’s people. I found that there was a church service that aired on Sunday mornings, so every Sunday, I sat down on the couch and was glued to it. I sang along, and drank in the message from the Pastor. I longed to be there worshiping with them, but for the time being, I knew it would have to do. I looked forward to this time each week and after the service, I would usually sit down at the piano and play and sing some of my favorite hymns.

One Sunday, I was feeling extremely depressed and guilty about not being at church. I sat down and turned on First Baptist Church. They began singing “Jesus Loves Me” I sang along too, and for the first time, the message of this song really came across to me…….no matter what……Jesus loves ME! I began to cry as I sang along. After the service, I sat in silence talking to God, telling Him how much I wanted to go to church, even just ONE time. God reminded me that He knew that, He knew where my heart was and that I wanted to be at Church worshiping Him on Sunday, but He also knew my circumstances and what would happen if I tried to go to church.

That’s the wonderful thing about God. He knows. And He loves me. He loves you. …No matter what.

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When I first left Jake, I stayed with friends of my parents who lived in the same town I was living in.  I stayed with them for a day and since he is a Pastor, and Pastor’s schedules are a little bit hectic on the weekends, his wife asked me if I would like to spend the weekend with some friends of theirs.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I gathered the few belongings I had with me and went with her over to their friends house.

I was very nervous, I had so much on my plate, I was all alone and about to stay with some people for the weekend that I had never met and had no idea who they were……I decided to take things one step at a time.  I knew my dad would be in town to help me soon, and ANYTHING was better than going back to Jake.

When we arrived at the house, Mrs. Jones (yes, we have the same last name…..what are the odds of that?) greeted us, took my bags and showed me to my room.  I followed her down the hallway, and we entered the most inviting room I have ever seen.  The carpet was a WALL TO WALL rag rug….not only was it beautiful, but SO cozy on your toes……….the bed, oh the bed was queen size, the head and foot boards were antique wrought iron (the kind with the swirls and the tall bed posts)  and the mattress…..are you ready for this?  The mattress was a luxurious, plush, overstuffed feather bed.  I had never slept in a feather bed before, and as soon as I saw this room, I wanted to curl up on the bed and take a loooooooong nap…….this place was divine.  The bathroom had an old fashioned tub that has feet on it.  The entire room looked like a place that Anne of Green Gables could only DREAM of sleeping in.

As soon as I was settled in, Mrs Jones showed me the rest of the house and asked me to go to lunch with her.  The house is sooooooo beautiful.  It’s only a couple of years old, but they had it built to look like an old farm house, complete with a porch that wraps ALL the way around the house, and their cute little potting shed matches the house.

Mrs Jones and I headed to lunch at Subway.  This woman who is probably close to 70 is a lady in every sense of the word, she carries herself graciously and engages people in very interesting conversations without being too nosy.  We ordered our subs, mine came to $6.00, and let me tell you, making the decision to spend $6.00 on lunch without having to ask Jake if it was OK to spend my money was one of the BEST feelings I have ever had.  I enjoyed that lunch so much, just talking and listening to Mrs. Jones and making decisions for myself without fear of being punished……..it was incredible.

After lunch, Mrs. Jones took me to the supermarket and told me to pick out whatever I wanted to eat while I was at her house.  I picked out some Juice, soup, and some chips, she kept asking me about things that I like and was putting more in the cart for me.  She sent me to the candy aisle to pick out a treat for myself.  We went to check out and the Easter items were on sale, so Mrs. Jones told me to pick out an Easter bunny for my little one that was on the way.

During our conversation, she uncovered my love of sewing and creating things, so she stopped at the fabric store on the way home and encouraged me to pick out fabric to make some things for the baby, she helped me choose the fabric and thread and then insisted on paying for them.

For three days, I spent time with Mr. and Mrs. Jones, and by the time I left, I felt like I had known them forever and honestly, I didn’t want to leave their house when it came time.

Mrs. Jones served me breakfast in bed and my toast was on crystal and my juice was served in stem wear.  I couldn’t believe that she was literaly treating me like a Queen……..for months, I had been treated like a slave, and this woman was spoiling me and treating me like I was a Queen.  I felt so undeserving, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

I accompanied Mrs. Jones on all of her errands, to the bank, to the hardware, to the grocery store, helped her drop things off at a thrift store, we went to Target, and the dollar store (she had never been in a dollar store before and couldn’t believe that everything was only $1.00!)

In just three days, I felt like I knew this woman, she taught me so many things……she carries a tape measure in her purse so that while she’s shopping, she can measure items that she likes and pick the perfect one for her house without making extra trips home to measure and back to the store.  She taught me how to drive a golf cart.  She made me three different kinds of Chicken salad sandwiches (they were all delicious)  She has three sinks in three different places in her kitchen, one for dishes, one for preping food, one as you come in the kitchen door to wash fresh produce from the garden.  She has a bathroom in her garage so that she can use the restroom while she’s cleaning in the garage or doing laundry….this woman amazes me, she thinks of everything.

The first morning as I was getting dressed and doing my hair, she walked past the restroom and said, “That blue is so pretty on you.”  I thanked her and started crying my eyes out……I hadn’t had compliments about my appearance for months.  When I was with Jake, I wasn’t allowed to cut and style my hair, I wasn’t allowed to wear my makeup attractively and I wasn’t allowed to wear clothes that looked nice on me. (They day after I left him, my co-worker took me to the store to buy the 2 pairs of jeans, 4 shirts and the curling iron and make up that I had with me, and then I promptly cut my own hair in the bathroom that evening.)

Mrs. Jones asked me lots of questions about my hobbies, my family, my baby, and my dreams.  This woman had no idea what I was going through, but somehow, she had the ability, the GIFT to take my mind off of all the hurt, control, abuse, hateful words, fears and stress that I was going through.  She was able in 3 days to show me more love and concern than I had been shown in months by someone who claimed to love me with all of his being.

Although I was sad to leave, I was so glad that God brought this woman into my life and granted me three days to spend with her.  She didn’t know what was happening in my life or why I needed to stay with her for the weekend, but somehow, this woman was able to encourage me, to mentor me, to empower me, and love me like a daughter.  She’ll never know what a blessing she is to me.

I think about Mr. and Mrs. Jones a lot. Grace has the Easter bunny in her toybox and everytime I see it, I’m reminded of a lady whose kindness, love and big heart blessed me at just the right time in my life.  I send her Christmas cards every year with pictures of Grace and I and an update on our lives.

Mrs. Jones is truly an angel, and I believe that she is someone that I would have never been blessed with meeting, had I not needed to escape from Jake.

Those three days were some of the best days I’ve ever spent with someone, and they were exactly what I needed in the middle of all of the stress, burdens, fears and chaos at that point of my life.  I pray that someday, God will use me in someone else’s life to bless them the way that Mrs. Jones has blessed me.

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When should you forgive someone?  When they apologize and ask for forgiveness?  When someone offends or hurts you?  What if they don’t apologize, should I still forgive them?

Forgiveness is a tough subject.  Everyone likes to be forgiven, but it’s not always easy to forgive.

I nannied for a family one summer and when their children did or said something that they needed to apologize for, they would say their apology, and instead of replying with “Oh, it’s OK” “No worries” or “that’s fine”  their sibling would say “I forgive you”  I really like that.  What a better way to start teaching children about forgiveness than to have them forgive their sibling when they apologize.  Sometimes just those words “I forgive you” are hard to say.

Some people say “I forgive you” or they talk a problem out and say that they forgave the other person but didn’t really forgive them.  The Bible says that when God forgives our sin, He forgets it.  He doesn’t hold it against us any more.  As humans, even though we forgive, we still remember, but we should try our hardest not to hold it against that person anymore.  We should show some mercy and give them another chance.  How many times should we give them another chance?  (this is tough, even for me, a person who considers themselves to be forgiving…..) Well, Christ says that we shouldn’t forgive people just 7 times, but we should forgive people until 70×7, meaning don’t keep track of the offenses, just forgive people.  But what if they did it on purpose?  What if I know they didn’t really mean it when they apologized?  What if I know they’re just going to do it again?  Well, God forgives you and I EVERY time we ask Him to, even though He knows our intents, and He knows if we will do it again, He is still there waiting to forgive us.

Do you have to wait for someone to apologize to you to forgive them?  No.  Absolutely not.  Forgiving someone is about you, not about them.  Forgiveness allows you to “get over it”  it allows you to stop harboring anger toward the person, forgiveness stops you from becoming bitter over the situation. 

One time a co-worker said something very bad  to me, that was about me, in front of other co-workers.  What my co-worker said was not true, but at the time, they believed it to be true.  What they said was very hurtful.  Two days later, she came to me and apologized for the situation and asked me to forgive her.  My response was “I already have.”  She looked at me very surprised and said, “You already forgave me?”  I said “Yes, that night when I went home, I forgave you.” 

You don’t have to wait for an apology, and if they don’t apologize, you don’t have to go to them and say “remember those bad things you said about me two days ago?  Well I forgive you for them.” 

 Not at all, all you have to do is pray about the situation and make the decision to forgive that person, whether they EVER apologize or not.  Again, when you forgive someone else, it’s for your benefit, not their benefit.

But, you don’t understand….what they did to me was hateful, cruel, immature, uncalled for, TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE……..well guess what?  It doesn’t matter.  Again, this goes back to my post on things I can and can\’t control.  Can I control the other person and the fact that they haven’t or won’t apologize to me?  No, I can’t control that.  What I can control is my attitude, my actions, and my response to the situation.  Did Christ wait for the Romans to apologize to Him for beating Him and hanging Him on the Cross?  Let me think about that…..If I recall, He said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  WHILE He was on the Cross, and I don’t ever recall an apology from the Romans. 

I’ve met several people in the last few months that have treated other people poorly because of something someone else did, or because of how someone else has treated them.  If they have truly forgiven the people in their past who have hurt them, they wouldn’t be bitter over it now and taking it out on other people.  Do you see how forgiveness is about YOU?  If you don’t forgive someone, they will never know.  They won’t be hurt by it and they’ll just move on with their life, while you continue to hate them, be angry at them, and become bitter over the situation.  This can go on for YEARS and even an entire lifetime. 

God calls us to be Christlike, and part of being Christlike is forgiving, WHETHER or NOT they apologize, WHETHER or NOT they forgive you, WHETHER or NOT they do it again.

Forgiveness is a very important part of our physical and spiritual lives.  Not forgiving people can even cause health problems. 

I’ve had many people ask me how I ever got over the abuse, the hurt, the pain, the emotional and psychological scars.  I’ve had a couple of newer friends of mine ask how I became a single mom, and when I say that I was in an abusive relationship and I decided to leave rather than be murdered, their eyes bug out and they say “I had no idea.”  “I would have never guessed.”  “How are you not a basket case?” 

It has taken time.  Lots of time, and lots of prayer.  As I look back, one of the first steps toward healing was forgiveness.  I wasn’t able to forgive him right away.  It took me several weeks, it was really over a month before I could bring myself to forgive him.  Did he ever apologize?  No.  Do I ever expect him to?  No, but that doesn’t matter.  I forgave him and allowed myself to start moving on with my life. 

 So does forgiveness mean that everything is all better and I’d marry him anyway?  Absolutely not.  It just means that I am not going to become angry or bitter because of the situation.

In addition to forgiving him, I also had to forgive myself.  For the longest time, I kept asking myself  “How did I let this happen?”  “Where did I make the mistake?”  “What did I do to deserve this?”  “What did I do that caused him to abuse me?’  These are very common thoughts for a person who’s been abused.  Abusers are very good at convincing you that abuse is your fault and that you brought it on yourself.  I had to stop one day and tell myself that it didn’t matter how I let it happen or where I had made a mistake.  It happened, it’s over with, and I can’t make myself feel guilty or responsible for bringing abuse on myself. 

When you start forgiving people, I mean truly forgiving them, whether they deserve it, whether they ask for it, and no matter how many times they offend you, it helps you keep your focus on Christ and off of other people, it helps you heal, it helps you be a better person, it gives you a fresh start and most importantly, it brings you one step closer to treating people as Christ would treat them.

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10 years ago, I was in college and my boyfriend was they guy that every girl dreams of marrying.  He was good looking, talented, had a great voice, and was one of the most amazing piano players I’ve ever heard.  He had a passion for God and a love for the things of God.  I just knew that we would get married. 

One day, my roomate mentioned something to me that I had never thought of before.  She said that it’s not God’s plan for everyone to get married.  For some people, God’s plan for them is to not get married, and that she struggled with this area in her life and she finally gave it up and told God that if He didn’t want her to get married, then she was OK with that. 

As she was telling me this, I was thinking, “wow, that’s great for you.” but I just “knew” that God’s plan for me was to get married.  Inwardly, I struggled with this for many weeks.  I knew that God wanted me to surrender this area of my life to Him, but NOT getting married?  Was I really ready to tell God that I would be OK with it if it’s what He wanted?  I wanted to be a mom, a wife, have a beautiful family.  But most importantly, I realized that I wanted what God wanted for me.

After struggling with this inwardly for weeks, we were at a church service and I knew that it was time, I had to give up this area in my life and give it completely over to God.  At the end of the service, with the man I dreamed of marrying next to me, I sat down while the Pastor was praying and started talking to God.  “God” I said “if it’s not your plan for me to get married, I’m OK with that, I want your will for me.”  I was crying, and it was the hardest prayer I have ever prayed.

From that point on, I knew that it was in God’s hands, I wasn’t on the lookout for someone to marry.  I was more concerned with what God wanted for me than with marriage.  Singleness is a gift, right?  So I embraced that gift and started my journey.

Many days, months and years passed, I met another man who seemed to be every girl’s dream.  This one was incredibly fantastic.  He took me to operas, we went on trips, he loved music, had given his life to God and we began making plans to get married. 

Shortly after we were engaged, he changed.  His temper flaired up regularly, he became abusive, and I didn’t know what had happened.  He broke things, he swore, he spent all of my money, he stopped going to church and wouldn’t let me go to church.  Shortly after that, he became sexually abusive, and in a few months, I found out that we would be having a baby.  He began telling me that he wanted to kill me, and I couldn’t take it anymore.  I never once doubted God.  God wasn’t the reason for the abuse, and my faith is what helped me through many dark days while I was in this relationship and after I called off the wedding.

It’s been almost 3 years since our relationship ended, and God has done a miracle in my heart.  He’s healed my mind and emotions, He’s brought me so much joy and laughter, I love being Grace’s mom, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. 

Several people have asked me things like “Does Grace meet the guys you date?” or “Who are you dating?” or “When are you going to start dating again.”  My answer to them has always been “I’m focused on being Grace’s mom right now, I’m not worried about dating.”  While my answer was partially true, it was also a cover up.  For awhile, I told myself that I’d never get married, then last year, I decided that I could see myself getting married “some day” but not anytime soon.

I don’t think about marriage very often, but in the last few weeks, God has been working in my heart, and I realized that I need to give up this area in my life and let God be in control.  Several times, the thought came into my mind “you need to let go and let God take control”  and I kept pushing the thought to the back of my mind or coming up with excuses like “Yea, but what if He sends me someone who’s a total geek?”   “I don’t want to go through all that again”  “I don’t want Grace to get hurt.” so, I refused to pray about it. 

Finally, I gave in just 2 days ago.  “God” I prayed, “if it’s your plan for me to get married, I’m OK with it, I just want your will for me and Grace.”  It was the second hardest prayer I’ve ever prayed.  I went to bed and I remembered the prayer I had prayed 10 years ago….It’s funny that in those days, I struggled with the possibility of not getting married and now I’m struggling with the possibility of getting married…and I am amazed at the work that God has done in my heart.

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I saw this on a sign not long after I left Grace’s Dad.  As I read it, I laughed to myself and thought “Yea……right, they don’t know what I’ve just been through.”  I went through the rest of my day and that night, the sign popped into my head again. “There is Always, Always, ALWAYS Something To Be Thankful for.”  I thought about my life, and then I thought about the sign again.  It said ALWAYS, “Well maybe this is a general statement.” I said to myself.  “They can’t literally mean it……it just looks good on a sign.”  and I left it at that. 

The sign kept “haunting” me……I kept thinking about it, so I decided I should test it to see if it’s true.  I went to bed that night and thought to myself, “WHAT, out of this gigantic MESS, do I have to be THANKFUL for?” I thought for a second and then it came to me…..You’re alive, you have a baby girl on the way, you have a family who loves you no matter what, and you have a God who loves you more than anyone on this earth ever will. 

WOW, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I started crying……I don’t know how I ever had the strength to make it through each day when I was with Grace’s Dad.  Once I was away from him, the reality of what he planned to do if I had lived in our home even 48 hours more sunk in……..I have SO much to be thankful for just in the first thought that came to my mind.  “You are alive.”  It gives me chills even as I type this…….I was hours away from loosing everything, including my life. 

Every day, I wake up, and I am SO happy to be ALIVE!  I am SO happy to be Grace’s Mom!  I am SO happy that I can just be HAPPY with my life, who I am now, and where I’m headed.

This sign was one of the turning points for me.  It helped me realize that my outlook determines a lot of things in my life, and that even though bad things, terrible things, HORRIFIC things happen in our lives, if we look deep enough, and we try hard enough, there is Always, Always, ALWAYS SOMETHING to be Thankful For.

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A co-worker of mine taught me a lesson several years ago that really helps me put things into perspective.  He shared with us a concept called the “Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence”  I like to call it “Things I can and can’t control.”

He drew two circles on a page one was the circle of concern, which is things that I can control.  The other circle is the circle of influence, these are things that influence me and my day, but they are things I can’t control.  He had us write things in the circles.  We wrote frustrations we had, we wrote things that happened at work that we didn’t like, we wrote all kinds of things, and then we talked about the two circles.

What I learned from this exercise is that the only things I can control are myself, my words, my actions and reactions, and how I treat other people.  I CANNOT control other people, what they say, or what they do.  I cannot control a co-worker or a friend who makes decisions that I don’t like.  I can’t control the weather, traffic, or other people’s reactions.  So I need to stop trying to control everything.  I need to give up control.  I needed to figure out the things that I could and couldn’t control.  The things that I could control, I needed to do something about, and the things that I couldn’t control, I needed to let go.  I needed to stop letting them get on my nerves, stop stressing me out, and stop making me frustrated.

Even though the circle of concern and the circle of influence are not necessarily Biblically based, I think this exercise is good for everyone including Christians to do.  This exercise is something that I did during my “healing process.”  I didn’t necessarily do it all on paper, but i would ask myself, “Is this something that I can control?”  If it was something I could control, then I had to find a solution to take care of the issue.  If it was something I couldn’t control, I had to learn to give it to God because ultimeately, He controls everything.

No matter what situation you are in, this exercise really helps put things into perspective.  Another part of this exercise is when you identify the things you can’t control that get on your nerves or are stressing you out, you need to find something that you can control that you can do so that it will stop getting on your nerves or stressing you out.  So for example, if  you get stressed out by traffic, you can’t control the traffic, but you can control what route you take to get to work.  So, you could take a different route that will be less stressful for you.  If you are planning to go on a picnic and it starts raining, you can’t control the rain, but you can come up with a plan “B” instead of sulking all day about not being able to go on the picnic. 

I know that my examples are little things, but this concept works with big things too.  I’ve found that whenever I’m having a problem or something is getting on my nerves, if I stop and think “Is this something I can control?”  Things really come into perspective for me.  If it’something I can’t control and it’s causing me problems, or unnecessary stress, I’ve learned that it’s something that I need to give over to God to take care of.

This concept has lowered my stress levels DRAMATICALLY.  I encourage you to try it and see for yourself how well it works.

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 Awhile back, someone who I thought was a friend, came up to me and told me that they thought that secretly I am very angry about what happened in my life and how I was treated.  They also went on to tell me that they knew that I was in a “bad spot” in my life right now having to be a single mom to Grace and that they wish that things had turned out better for me, but this is how my life is now, and that they felt sorry for me.

While this person was talking to me,I was thinking “is she really saying what I think she’s saying?” and I wanted to drop my jaw.  I felt that what they were saying to me was hurtful and unkind for several reasons:

 #1, I am defineatley NOT in a “bad spot” in my life, nor have I ever felt that I was.  I have always wanted to be a mom, and eventhough I never dreamed I would be a single mom, this is my life now, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

 #2, I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me, God has blessed Grace and I so much more than I ever imagined was possible.  We never go without or lack for our needs or wants. 

 #3 is that I am not angry.  Yes, I was treated unfairly, Yes, I was abused, Yes, what I went through was horrendous and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,  but God has taken those hurts away and given me love and joy in my life…..I don’t sit around thinking about it all the time, I’m done talking about it to family and friends, I don’t keep bringing it up.  (the most I’ve talked about it in the last year is on this blog, which I felt I should share because maybe it will help someone who is in a similar situation, has been in one, or knows someone who is.)  It is something that happened to me, but it is NOT my life now.  I feel like if I keep talking about it and feeling sorry for myself, I’m not letting it stay in the past, I’m still keeping the wounds open and living that life.  This is another concept that has helped me heal. I’ve given it over to God.  Jake will have consequences for the way he chose to treat me, even if not in this life, he will one day account to God for it. 

So even though I was shocked and unsure of what to say, I said, “I appreciate your concern for Grace and I, but we are not in a bad spot in our lives, we are where God put us, God takes care of our needs, and I’m not angry.” 

She just kind of looked at me like, “what?”  She went on to say, “Well, I’m sure you are angry about it, I used to have a real problem with anger and if you need me to pray for you about it or you need someone to talk to, I’m here.”  Again, I thanked her and told her “I’m not at all angry about it.  I decided right away that I was not going to be a bitter person because of it.  I chose to use my situation as an opportunity to become a better person because of it and I know that God allowed me to go through a tough time in my life so that I could be a help to other people who are going through something similar.”  She looked very confused about my statement.  People have a hard time believing that I don’t sit around and feel sorry for myself.  Yes, I had to heal to be able to get to this point, and healing took time, but the key for me was deciding right away that I was not going to become bitter and not focus on the hurt. 

God takes us through some dark valleys at times, and our human response is to become bitter and hold onto the hurt. We even blame God at times for the pain and suffering, but truly, God allows things to happen in our lives to bring us closer to him. When we are in a crisis, our response shows us our true self and our character. 

Will you draw closer to God and become a better person because of your trial, or will you get mad at God and become a bitter person?

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