Oh, my heart is so full of things I want to say, that I feel I don’t know where to begin. Please bear with me as my heart is heavy with these words.
Abuse is wrong. Abuse in ALL forms is wrong. I don’t care if it’s physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, etc. And I don’t believe being a submissive wife means that you allow your husband to abuse you.
The Bible says in Ephesians 5:25-28, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives…” (emphasis mine). If a husband is abusing his wife, in any way, he is certainly not leaving her spotless or without blemish, and thus not loving her in a Biblical manner.
It’s something that on the whole, the church is just ignoring, and from the stories I’ve heard, it’s a rampant problem. My ex and I sought various types of counseling for years before our divorce. For many years, I never labeled what he did as abuse. He said and did things that “weren’t nice,” but he never beat me, so he wasn’t abusive. But he tore me down year after year until I was just a ghost of my former self. I literally ended up in the hospital with my organs shutting down before I realized how bad things were, and how desperately things needed to change. And yet, I stayed. I stayed another year or so until I just couldn’t do it anymore. I firmly believed I was going to end up dead (from sickness) or in a mental health facility.
Originally I wanted a trial separation, but my ex refused. He wanted all or nothing. When I went to talk to my pastor, he said (and I quote), that since I had never been “hit in the face” that I didn’t have a Biblical reason for divorce. He acknowledged my husband treated me poorly, that he had a raging addiction to pornography, but apparently he wasn’t the right kind of abusive for the church.
I left the meeting and filed for divorce.
Eventually, I met and married Andy and joined his church. The Lord convicted me for some things regarding my divorce, and I confessed my sins to Him and moved on. Except I couldn’t. My spiritual life was stagnant. I was going to church faithfully, reading my Bible, listening to godly music, but I was so distant from the Lord. I began to earnestly cry out to Him, “Show me what I’ve done!” “I NEED you, Lord!” “Bring me back to you!”
The Scripture says in Number 32:23 to “…be sure your sin will find you out.” And boy did they ever. Over and over and over again. The Lord brought to mind time after time that I was not the wife that I should have been to my Ex. You see, I started out as every young Christian bride, planning on being the submissive loving wife, but as he let me down, I stopped trying. I gave up on him. And honestly, I became a hateful, vile wife. I said and did just hateful things that I am deeply ashamed of. Things that there is no excuse for, as I have the Holy Spirit living inside me. And as the Lord brought those things to mind, it became clear what I needed to do. Not just confess them to the Lord, but seek forgiveness from my Ex.
I talked it over with Andy, and he graciously listened and prayed with me. I set up the meeting with my Ex for the next day. I met with him, and with tears in my eyes, apologized for not being the wife that God had called me to be. You see Ephesians has some words for us wives too. It says in 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” It doesn’t say if they’re nice. It doesn’t say if they deserve it. It just says if they’re your husband.
Now, again, I’m not saying anyone should stay in an abusive marriage. That’s between you and the Lord. But I chose to stay for 6 years. And during that time, I should have done my best as a wife to follow the instructions given to me by the Lord. And I didn’t. Who knows the changes that could have been made in my Ex if I had. I never gave him that opportunity. Maybe it would have all ended the same. I’ll never know.
I also felt God calling me to apologize to that pastor who gave me the terrible advice. He was my pastor, and I had placed myself under his authority. To be honest, apologizing to him was WAY harder than talking with my Ex. Not that what he said was right AT ALL, but I should have been willing to sit under counseling with him and my Ex for a period of time, and I wasn’t. I simply wanted his stamp of approval on my actions, and when I didn’t get it, I stomped out.
But here’s the deal. The only reason the Lord blessed is because I truly humbled myself and truly sought forgiveness only. Because you know what? Neither one of them apologized back. My Ex has always blamed me for the divorce, so I imagine he felt pretty validated. And that pastor? His response was pretty smug. But, I got my clear and full relationship with Jesus back.
As 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
It may not be your Ex. I may be your parents or a sibling or a friend who has wronged you that you may need to ask forgiveness of It’s not easy, but peace with God and yourself is SO very worth it.