This is Part 6 of a series on surviving abuse.
If you are being abused, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline on their site or by phone at 1−800−799−7233.
I had to learn forgiveness. I needed to forgive my abuser, the same one who abused my kids.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”
Matthew 6:14 NLT
It took time to forgive. I learned that praying for someone daily is a great start on the road to forgiving that person. I started to pray daily that is how I would behave towards my abuser.
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:32 NLT
Please take note that forgiving someone does not mean that you agree with or condone their behavior. Forgiveness is for you, not the one you are forgiving. When you harbor unforgiveness towards someone, you are giving that person control over you. You are better than that.
When I saw how hard it would be to forgive the abuser for what he did to my kids, I knew only the power of prayer, a strong support system, and spending more time with Jesus would enable the forgiveness to flow. There were days I absolutely did not want to pray for my abuser, but I did it anyway. After about a year, I finally let it all go. I let go of the hurt, the resentment, and whatever else I felt. It was very freeing to say to God, “He is yours, deal with him as you see fit.”
I know God does not condone abuse; we are created in His image. I also know He does not take kindly to people who abuse kids.
“And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”
Mark 9:42 KJV
I now faithfully pray for my abuser multiple times a day, and I mean those prayers with all my heart. My prayer has been and continues to be, “Let today be the day that (spouse) walks closer to You than ever before.”
I realized recently that specific prayer is something I want, too. Each day, I want to be closer to Jesus than the day before. Therein lies the key – pray a prayer for your abuser that you would pray for yourself, too.
And the other key is that a relationship with Jesus is all that matters. There is nothing else in this entire world or lifetime that will be more important than a relationship with Jesus. If you know Jesus as your Lord, strengthen your relationship everyday. The closer you are to Him, the closer you are to having the wisdom, strength and discernment you need to live in a way that pleases God. Every day, I pray that God will help me to be Christlike to my abuser.
I am learning that being Christlike does not equate to weakness. My therapist says to be “aggressively Christlike.” I am very much still a work in progress in this arena. I treat my abuser as Christlike as possible because I have three kids watching me. They know Momma loves Jesus. I must set an example for them.
Throughout my divorce and the time leading up to it, my spouse did and said many things to try to hurt me or the kids. And as he ramped up his ugliness, I ramped up the Light.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
John 1:5 NLT
This verse came to life before my eyes. I was praying and fasting and studying the Word so much that my abuser could not stand to be in the same room with me for more than 90 seconds. The light makes the dark flee. This was a huge unexpected bonus for me.
Jesus is the only One that can help my abuser. It is freeing to let him go. Put that energy towards deepening your relationship with Jesus and showing the fruit of the Spirit to everyone around you.
As a single Mom, my identity has completely shifted. I have to look my kids in the face everyday knowing that they witnessed how I treated their earthly father: The words I said and did not say, the actions I responded to and did not respond to. I worked daily at being Christlike, and I continue to work daily at it.
The abuser is still in my life, although in a much more limited way. Due to prayers and the strength from God to be as Christlike as possible, I walked away knowing that I did everything I could to treat my abuser as a child of God, as a person made in the image of God.
You must stay strong in the Spirit, do it for Jesus, and do it for your kids. Do it for yourself.
I refused to stoop to his level and engage in mind games. Because of my relationship with Jesus, I had and have daily peace. Recently, I asked my abuser how I could pray for him. He asked for “peaceful sleep.”
While I am sorry he is having trouble sleeping, I sleep just fine.