In this post, I am going to tackle the difficult subject of the differences between abusive love and God’s love. Typically I open up with the scripture I am using and we will get to it further down, but I think today you need to know that I am just as broken as anyone else. This post hits close to my heart and I hope it will speak to yours as well, Dear Reader. I will be sharing the testimony of a past marriage to give you an idea of what an abusive relations ship can look like. For me it was a marriage, but the idea of abusive love transcends into friendships and even work relationships. We will also be looking at the warning Paul gives us in regards to the company we keep.
If you haven’t read about how Christ saved my life as a teenager I will give you a quick recap. I was caught in an abusive relationship that led to my seeking drugs, alcohol and when that didn’t numb the pain any longer I turned to suicide to end the suffering. If not for one friend who taught me the love of Christ over abusive love, I would have never seen the next morning or know the hope I have now. That miracle was only the beginning of God delivering me from evil that would plague my life and try to destroy the lives of my children. See I was ransomed thru salvation, but life had left a hefty scar and I ended up seeking validation on my own without God at the very front of my dating life.
I was in college when I met a man who was a few years older than me. Wouldn’t you know it we hit it off and very quickly stared dating: I had on those love blinders where the person I was infatuated with was perfect and no one could convince me otherwise. Why would they be able to when he said all the nice phrases I thought a man should? He showered me with gifts and was always patient when we disagreed. The one thing that should have been a red flag was that the conversations always came back to sex. We had dated three months when I finally gave into the pressure and said yes to giving my body to him. I wanted him to love me and I wanted to be deserving of another person to know my past and say that it was alright that I was molested because they would love you anyway. Unfortunately this man held that love and desire for ransom. I was only good enough if we had sex, and he had other sinister plans. I found out that I was pregnant after six months of dating, and I would find out five years later that he had sabotaged my protection to trap me with him because I was catching on to how he was. My blinders had begun to dissolve and it became apparent that he hadn’t accepted Christ and I wouldn’t marry a non-Christian. It was simply something I wouldn’t budge on and when I confronted him with it he ‘Came to repentance’ and was baptized.
After many months of pressure from my family and his I reluctantly agreed to marry him. Something didn’t sit right with me about him, God Himself told me in a prayer not to marry him, but I gave into the pressure and fear of being a single mother. He did become a Christian after all, so maybe that meant God had changed His mind? We dated for Six moths before we got married. I will give this advice until I die: Wait at least a year or more before you decide who you will partner yourself with for the rest of your life. People can pretend to be anyone but it is harder to keep up pretenses for that long.
A week after we were married things began to change in his attitude to me. I went from his bride to the woman who would be his slave forever. He worked, played video games, went out with friends, and had all the freedom he wanted. I wasn’t allowed to make friends, had to beg to see my family, was without a vehicle when I needed to go to appointments, was not allowed to have any money or buy anything besides groceries and baby items. I also was not allowed to have a say in what happened to my body, and so whenever he wanted sex I never got to say no. The first time I tried ended up in disaster as I was bruised, bloody and left to cry alone listening to him play video games in the next room like nothing was wrong. We only ate what he wanted, went where he wanted, and when he wanted another child I had no say in that either. He stopped going to church and when I asked him why, he said he lied about becoming a Christian so I would marry him. He was that manipulative.
I had devised a plan though of joining the Navy, and when the timing was right I would take my two daughters, leave him and there wouldn’t be much he could do. I told him about a meeting I had set up with a recruiter and told him I was going whether I showed up bruised or not. He relented and left because he was angry and I couldn’t go anywhere without a car, but I would try to get a ride later since I had a week before the appointment. He was rather calm about it for that week and had given me space which wasn’t normal but it was a welcome change. As I was about to call my mom to fill her in on my plan and get a ride to the appointment when he came up to the porch and shoved enlistment papers in my face. He had taken my dream of a military career and enlisted in the Air Force. We couldn’t both serve, so he got that honor instead. He was a vindictive man who wouldn’t let me have a dream beyond the four walls of our house. After he finished basic and training we moved 1,500 miles to Minot AFB ND.
The next couple years we would fight and argue over everything. He hated me and refused to take us to church or anything that took him away from his computer and gaming systems. I only had friends when he was deployed because he hated for anyone to have my time. The one bit of time he did allow me was to go to counseling for the abuse I went thru as a teen, but when I came home the girls would be an emotional mess or hurt. His response was always, ‘I told you not to leave them here with me. I am incapable of caring for kids.’
My oldest daughter was wild to the bone and my second oldest was three but had signs of Autism. She hardly spoke, never played with other kids, always lined up her toys and screamed when there was too much noise or action happening. She said only 14 words in total, was in occupational therapy three times a week, my husband was deployed and my youngest son was ten months old, so to say I was trying was an understatement. We were on a Skype call when my daughter that only spoke a little refused to talk to her dad, and when I asked why the answer she gave would change our lives forever. She described that he had been molesting her and her sister. I turned off the video and opened a chat to confront him with the information, and he typed a full confession right then and there. I took that confession to my neighbor who called his higher ups. He was arrested and we went from having a good sized house, nice cars, little bills and what the world would call a great life to living with my family in under a month. In May of 2012 my ex husband had his day in court where he was found guilty of several crimes against children. He is currently serving a life sentence at Ft. Leavenworth Penitentiary in KS with no possibility of parole. The years after that would be a journey of learning to trust in God all over again. God brought us to my current husband who led us to church and has loved us like we were always his. You better believe that the year long dating rule applied to him, too.
This is what it looked like for me to live thru an abusive marriage and I shared all of this to get into the lesson of God’s Love vs Abusive Love because if I can leave you with knowledge that would spare you from that snare, then I have done my job. We will be in 2 Timothy 3 and as you turn there I want to describe to you what red flags to look for when in a relationship. What is Abusive love exactly?
* Holds love for ransom. Examples: I will only love you if you spend all your time with me. I will only love you if you leave your friends for me, steal for me, buy me things, do drugs with me, drink with me.
*Is self serving.
*Causes you to question your morals or worse go against them.
*Takes your attention away from God
*Lies to us and calls us unworthy of being treated like a decent human being.
*Gives impossible standards to see us fail and then mock us for
*Destroys or passions, dreams and gifts out of jealousy
*Does not respect personal boundaries and rushes decisions
*Seeks to see us suffer
The bible warns us about such people Read 2 Tim 3: 1-8
‘But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, slanderous, without self control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of Godliness, but denying it’s power. AVOID such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.’
That is a very to the point example in the bible calling out what kind of person to avoid in a relationship. People who are like the description given by Paul are cunning and can hide their true colors until they no longer need to. After that they think they have you. I can tell you from experience it is not worth staying with someone like this. Paul says to AVOID THESE PEOPLE just like God told me not to marry my ex husband. I paid the price and my children suffered dearly at the hands of an evil and abusive man. But there is God’s love which is what we should be seeking from those we date and potentially marry, to our friends and close relationships.
If that is the negative example then what does God’s love look like?
- Loves us outside and apart from our sins. I believe there is not a person who has gone to hell that God did not love. If my ex were to have true repentance and really come to Christ I would gladly celebrate with him in heaven. It would be unwise for me to seek him out on this world but I do pray for his salvation.
- God’s Love calls us worthy of Jesus’s Sacrifice John 3:16
- Says we deserve peace, Joy, love and hope!
- Guides us out of trials and tribulations. God did not love me less because I made the wrong choice in who I married first, he had enough grace to love me thru it, deliver me from it and to bless me out of it.
- God gives us His word to guide us away from evil and into heaven to be with Him forever! Accepting Jesus as our savior if how we secure our place in heaven; but living and lining ourselves up with the Word of God is the map to our callings in God.
- God seeks us out to redemption and beauty. He wants us to live our very best and to be able to be blessed along the way. He also puts us in the place of stewardship over what he has already blessed us with.
If 2 Tim 3:1-8 is a guide of who to avoid then 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 is a guide on what to seek out when you are looking at a love.
‘Love is patient, love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist in it’s own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, Hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends….’
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The other question I get often is why would God allow such horrible things happen to us, and I think Paul answers that very well back in 2 Tim 3:10-17. He had been in prison and rejected by people for Jesus’s sake, but he was wise enough to see God using his suffering for good in his own life.
“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my precautions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed all who desire to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from your childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation thru faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
In this scripture Paul is saying that despite being persecuted for his walk and preaching of Jesus as the Savior, God always delivered him. Knowing the enemy sought out to silence him thru a martyrs death shouldn’t discourage us because in reality they set him free to walk eternally by God’s side. Before his death Paul became a very influential man in the early church and reached several for Christ along the way.
Scripture in and of itself is so important when you are walking thru those deep dark valleys. I had given up little pieces of myself and my faith for the sake of being married and having the American dream; in all reality I was just afraid to be alone. Being alone was a terrifying thought to me as I saw all these idols being stripped away by my ex husband’s folly being found out. I was afraid of being alone to raise three kids and that first step of turning him in was easy, but the next step of being a single mom with no home was so hard. The third night after not eating or sleeping and going on pure adrenaline I sat down after the kids were asleep on the stairs and I didn’t feel anything at all. I had called all my family, preschool teachers to bring them up to speed, and moving companies to rent a truck. I just didn’t have the strength to breathe in that moment. As I sat there in this nothingness, a hymn from my teen years started rolling around in the back of my head, ‘Whispering Hope’. As it played in my mind, I was remembering all the stories I had read in the bible of peoples lives who were in ruin and God delivered them. I remembered Paul in the prison praising God in spite of his circumstance and the walls falling down around them.
It was almost like scripture came flooding back into the void and God was using His Word to take my hand and gently urge me up. He was holding my hand and saying, “this is not over, remember all the promises I have for you, all the good I have coming for you that is just on the other side of this valley. You just can’t stay here and admit defeat, you are my daughter and you are worthy of all my blessings, but I need you to pick up your feet and take another step. Keep moving toward me Child and I will restore you.”
We like to give into insecurity that robs of us our callings, by thinking that we are not important to God because we are not heroes whose lives are written down in history. I have news for you: God loves you just as much as Abraham, Moses, David, Joseph, Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, John, Peter, Thomas, Timothy and Paul. God ransomed you with the gift of His Son on the cross and that makes you just as valid in the story of God on this world as anyone. God loves you so much that He wants to be with you in Heaven for all eternity.
Even though I want you to stay clear of someone who would abuse you and cause you harm, if you are like me and you have already been thru something like this I want you to know that God can bring your from it, thru it and above it. If I had not gone thru the hardship of an abusive marriage, I wouldn’t understand the danger there and I would not be able to speak about something I had not lived thru. God took that time of my life and has used it to equip me with the calling to help lead others from abuse. Maybe you know all to well what that is like and are still there. You can reach out to someone who you know is a follower of Christ. They will want to help you, and there may even be people who have told you they will help before; I believe the invitation of help would still stand. You need to take God’s hand in faith and let Him guide that first scary step. If you have suffered and are out of a situation like this but don’t know God’s love or salvation thru Jesus, you reach out to a pastor and I’m sure they will be happy to speak with you about that decision, again with no judgment. There are people out there who love you and we want the best possible life for you. Living in step with God is how you get freedom to love and be loved unconditionally.
I pray you take these steps to heart, Dear Reader. I pray that God protect you on your journey out of that cycle as much as He has for our family.