When someone you love dies, it feels like the world keeps running right by you. In the beginning, friends and family will say they are sorry for your loss or some other words that they try to comfort you with. Others will not know what to say and not say anything.
Everyone tries to help in their own way. But in reality, nothing they say can help, nothing can take the pain away. There is a feeling of wanting to cry out, “How dare you keep going as if nothing is different!”
Everything is different. The world is a darker place because they are gone. Sometimes, there is a feeling of people just wanting you to “get over it” and move on.
What if we cannot “get over it” and go back to work or doing whatever it is we typically do? Our entire life is different, and it feels like nobody notices, nobody slows down to acknowledge that an incredible life is now gone, and their laughter is no more.
There are feelings of wanting to shout into the air as people hustle and bustle by you, “Do you care?”
How dare others move forward as if nothing is different. Maybe nothing is different to them. Maybe you are alone in the hurt and not sure where to go or who will even listen. The pain is real, the desire for the world to just stop spinning and take notice of the loss is real.
I have learned that the world will not stop spinning, people will not stop hustling and bustling, work will not stop piling up. None of these things will occur. It is during these times that we must find a safe space, wherever that is to you, and we must pour our heart out to the only One who knows exactly how we feel. The only One who loved that person more than we did: Jesus.
We must allow Him to comfort us; we must. There is no other answer, there is no other path. I am not saying we will heal after ten minutes of prayer. Not at all. This wound may never heal, but with Jesus, we will learn how to function in our new world. One second at a time, then one minute at a time – Jesus is our Comforter (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
We cannot move forward without Him. This wound is too deep for us to just absorb. Find your private time to talk to Jesus, do it for your loved one that is no longer there to tell you to do it. Cry, yell or sit still with Jesus whenever you need the world to stop spinning. Jesus never tires of hearing from you, and you can have the same conversation with Him 100 times, and He will hold you 100 times and listen to every word you say because He loves the sound of your voice.
When abuse occurs, tell someone immediately please. If that person does not believe you, try another person – please. I know this is very hard, it takes tremendous courage. Please do not do what I did and stay silent. Remember that we have the Holy Spirit in us who raised Jesus from the dead. In Him, we can do this! He wants you to begin the journey of healing. If you are not comfortable telling anyone in your life, The Victim Connect Resource Center lists many hotlines that are situation-specific (children, military, women, teens, rape, domestic violence, trafficking, etc).
After you tell someone that listens, find time and give yourself space to truly understand and process that what happened to you does not define you. What does define you is how you react to what happened to you. Pray a lot. Pray specifically. Find a prayer partner to pray for you. This journey to healing takes time and there are days when you do not want to or feel like praying. This is where you need at least one prayer partner who will pray for you faithfully daily.
Realizing that God does love you, despite what happened, was also a journey for me. I had index cards with prayers and verses to help me when I needed reminders. Examples include:
“May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:18-19
You are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). You are precious in His sight.
“Long ago the LORD said to Israel: ‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.'” Jeremiah 31:3
“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. […] But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:5,8
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
The prayer I pray:
“Lord, I submit every corner of my life to You. Show me what I have yet to submit to You. Help me to release my need for this to feel fair or to see (him/her/them) punished. Rip out any bitterness in me. Show me what I can learn and how to grow closer to You through this. I need your peace. Help me to heal and forgive. Rain down on me the powerful healing of the Holy Spirit. Replace my pain with a focus on You and Your love. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.”
When I first started to pray this prayer, I meant only a few of the words. I begrudgingly prayed it every morning. I did not want to forget or let the ones who hurt me “off the hook.” I had to keep reminding myself that God will take revenge. I needed to focus on His love for me and who He wanted me to become as a result of all this. I had to believe that this was not my fault. I also had to see that dragging around unforgiveness was only robbing me of the abundant life that God came to bring to me. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” As for the people who hurt me, I can tell you that they did not care what they did to me. They never thought about it again; I was the one who was caught in my cycle of reliving it and not healing.
As I forced myself to pray this prayer, I began to mean more of the words. Any step towards obedience, God will bless. It is okay to pray a prayer like the above one if you do not quite mean every word; you are obeying by crying out to God, trying to release the hurt and trying to forgive. Healing takes time and patience. It takes help from God, prayer partners, professionals and support circles. I read books, I journaled, I cried, I was angry and felt every other emotion you can think of. There is no right way to heal. There is no timeframe that you “should” heal by. But heal, brothers and sisters, please heal. Allow yourselves to heal.
NOTE: Today’s guest blog deals with sexual assault and its repercussions. While we pray it is edifying, the material may be upsetting to some readers.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault or other violence, please seek help. The Victim Connect Resource Center lists many hotlines that are situation-specific (children, military, women, teens, rape, domestic violence, trafficking, etc).
When I was growing up, we lived a 30-minute subway ride to a major US city. Each year, Mom would take me on the subway to the city for Christmas. All the stores were decorated and there were special lights up and Christmas shows. The city was so beautiful and so full of light and love. It was an amazing trip that I looked forward to every year. On the year that I turned eight, Mom and I did not sit together on the subway. I do not recall why; the subway was not crowded. There was plenty of room for Mom and I to sit together. Maybe she wanted me to feel independent or that I was a grown-up. I cannot say. While I do not recall the specifics of why we were five rows apart, I know we were. I also know Mom was on the opposite side of the subway. She was facing forward, so her back was to me. These are details I do remember.
As an 8-year-old girl on a subway heading toward a major city at Christmastime, I was focused on the lights I would see, the music I would hear, and the lunch I might be lucky enough to have. I loved the hustle and bustle of the city, everyone walking quickly because they were on their way to the most important thing ever. The department store windows would look amazing with scenes of Santa, Christmas presents being gift-wrapped with red ribbons and scents of pine. . . . Then it happened.
A man I did not know sat with me. He had a light tan long coat, wool. He was a white man, definitely older than me by a few decades. As an 8-year-old, I cannot say that I was taught to be leery of strangers. Maybe I was. Even if I felt uncomfortable, my ability to exit the subway seat was blocked by this man. He sat next to me in a way that nobody sitting around us could see what he was doing. It all happened so fast. I could not scream, I felt like I was under water and I could not breathe. I could not think. While I will not recount the details here, that was the day I saw a grown man’s penis for the first time. It was the last day of my innocence. I would never be and have never been the same since.
There is nothing from that day that I can remember about the city. Not the lights, the music, the hustle and bustle or whether we even had lunch in the city. I genuinely have no recollection of the trip after the subway ride. That evening, Mom was in the kitchen cooking. I went up to her while she stirred something on the oven and said “Mom, today on the train, a man sat with me and he had his penis out and. . . .”
She said to me, “Nothing happened. There is nothing to talk about. We do not need to bring this up again.” She never turned to look at me, she never stopped stirring. I did not know what to do. I left the kitchen. Out of all the events that happened that day, that moment is what became burned into my brain. That was a life-changing moment, and I had no idea the impact that moment would have on me for the rest of my life. Yes, what that man did to me was incredibly horrible and wrong and I have my opinions about the justice I want God to serve upon that man. But what scarred me more was my mom’s response.
This story is not intended to belittle my mom or anything remotely close to that. My heart’s plea is that we learn from what occurred that day and what could have been done differently. If someone comes to you and shares with you that they have been assaulted or touched without consent or anything like that, please listen. I plead on behalf of all victims, please listen. It takes incredible courage to come forward and try to share what has happened. There is fear, shame, and guilt. There are questions of, “Did I ask for this? Did I do something that invited this into my life?” There is a lot of self-blame. “This is my fault. I deserved this.” Or questions of, “Why did God allow this? Why am I suffering?”
If you are a victim of any kind of abuse, know this: It is NOT your fault. You did NOTHING to invite it, you do NOT deserve it and God does NOT want you treated that way. He died for you and how dare someone treat you as anyone less than the child of a risen, all powerful King! God will deal with the ones who hurt you. Deuteronomy 32:35 says, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their will feet slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.” This is a promise of God. You may not see the Lord take revenge, but do not doubt for a second that He will avenge what was done to you in His time and in His way. Hebrews 10:31: “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
I know what it is like to want to hurt the people who hurt you. But please do not allow the enemy to gain a foothold in your heart or mind. When bitter thoughts come, take them captive, focus only on things that are true, honorable, right and pure (Philippians 4:8). I also know what it is like to have a gaping hole in your heart, to be walking around with a fresh wound that gets salt poured into it daily. When the enemy comes against me, I use the name of Jesus. I let the enemy know, “You cannot have me or my thoughts, I belong to Jesus.” I pray against the enemy telling me that I am not worthy of love. I listen to worship music when I feel attacked or discouraged. One of my favorite songs to turn up during those times of discouragement is by Tasha Cobbs Leonard and featuring Nicki Minaj, “I’m Getting Ready.”
It took years for me to begin to heal. I first had to realize what happened was not my fault. I had to truly believe that God loves me. I had to forgive the ones who hurt me, and I had to heal. It took me many, many prayers to realize that I am worthy of love. I also needed someone who would listen to my story, pray for me and believe me. To this day, the enemy will try to pick at that wound and reopen it. It is a scar I proudly carry because it is healed and my story can now help others.
Heavenly Father, we lift up Esther and all survivors of childhood sexual assault. The innocent whose lives are forever changed. Lord, we ask that You give them peace. That You bring into their lives any help they need. That You ensure their voices are heard. That You help them to use their stories for good. We know You are Love. We also know that You are Justice. We ask for Your Justice for these survivors. This is a dark, broken world. Please use Your children to shine Your light. In the blessed name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
NOTE: Today’s guest blog deals with sensitive subjects, including abortion, in a candid manner. While we pray it is edifying, the material may be upsetting to some readers.
In the city that I live in, there are multiple abortion clinics. A simple Internet search provides you with all you need to know to select one. The location, the reviews, whether to expect picketing, where to park and so forth. The date was January the 6th. I had eaten breakfast and asked my best friend, who was also my ex-boyfriend, to drive me to my appointment at the clinic. He asked me if the baby was his, I said “No.” I did not discuss my decision to terminate the pregnancy with the father of the baby. I determined that it was my body, and so it was my choice. My decision was based on me feeling that I was too young to have a baby, the lack of relationship with the father of the baby, and that my mother would not be supportive.
I had not envisioned that my first pregnancy would be like this. I thought I would be happily married, and it would be an occasion to celebrate. I thought that both families would be filled with joy, and there would be so much love. At the time of my visit to the clinic, I was legally married and the father of the baby was my husband. He was dating another woman, he was possibly with her the day I went to the clinic, I am not sure. I was not thinking about him or what I was doing. I needed to not think about anything, just be numb. This was no big deal.
We pulled into the parking lot and maneuvered past the picketers holding up various signs, such as “Baby Killer.” They were pro-life Catholics. Instead of saying awful things, maybe just maybe, if one of them had said something compassionate. . . .
But it was my choice, I take responsibility for the decisions I made that day and leading up to that day. I entered the clinic and checked in. I was told to go into a room and strip down to just a paper gown. I was given a little bracelet that had the key to the locker where I would place all my items. I was to wear nothing, no jewelry, no watch and have no phone of course. Just the paper gown that covered some things and the little bracelet. I entered a holding room, full of pregnant women. There was one girl in there a few years older than me. I am sure it was obvious that I did not know what was going on and that I was scared. She had pretty blond hair and told me not to be nervous that she does this all the time. I asked what she meant. She shared with me that abortions were her birth control. She did not choose to use any other forms of birth control. She assured me that all would be fine, it would be over quick, and I would just feel cramping afterwards. We sat there together in those paper gowns, her comforting me and me trying to pretend this was no big deal.
I had been sexually active about a year at that point with two different men. My ex-boyfriend who drove me to the clinic was my first and the man I married was the second. I was not comfortable with nudity and certainly was still trying to figure everything out. The paper gown left little to the imagination, which made me uncomfortable. The little voice inside me was screaming, “Leave!” I was alone and scared and felt that there was no other path. I was called into the exam room where a female performed an ultrasound on me. She shared that I was 13 weeks pregnant and that I may be “too far along” for them to proceed with the abortion. I joked that I had “a big breakfast” and did not think that I was that far along. I had no idea how far along I was.
After my husband and I split up, I lived alone in an abandoned house. I had no furniture, no anything – just me sitting on the floor curled up in a ball as Christmas approached. I wanted to die, I did not attempt suicide to be clear, but I certainly wanted to die. I knew that I was pregnant, I knew that my husband was dating another woman, and I knew that I felt utterly alone. It was during that dark time that I decided to terminate the pregnancy. I reached out to my ex-boyfriend, and he promised to take me to the appointment.
After the procedure was over, I stumbled back to the room with the lockers and tried to find the one with my clothes. My head was spinning, and the locker number on the little orange coiled bracelet seemed so hard to read. I was pouring out blood and felt incredible pain. The nurse who assisted the male doctor during the procedure gave me very thick and long sanitary pads because she said I would “bleed a lot.” She recommended Tylenol for the cramping. I was embarrassed to have my legs spread wide with my feet up in the stirrups as a male doctor whose name I did not know was tugging hard on my insides as I lay there naked for all to see. I just wanted the procedure to be over at that point. I wanted the tugging to stop, and I wanted to put my clothes on and never think about any of this again. I kept thinking about what the beautiful blond girl told me. She had done this six . . . or was it seven . . . times. Why was I acting like a baby? Why couldn’t I be strong like her?
My ex-boyfriend stood up to hug me as I re-entered the waiting room. I was bleeding so very heavily, felt dizzy, and the cramps were bad by this point. He helped me out to the parking lot and into his car, past the picketers – shielding me as best he could. He knew I did not want to talk about it, so he talked about everything under the sun during the drive home to distract me.
In about a month, I recovered physically. I began to date someone new as the divorce proceeded. After the experience at the clinic, I went on oral birth control (I was not taking birth control prior). With my new boyfriend, I began to drink, a lot. So much that I would sometimes get alcohol poisoning. We were having fun and enjoying each other in every sense of the word. Life went on.
Sometime later, I had a friend who was a Pastor at a Presbyterian PCA church. He was always talking about Jesus and the Bible. I would listen, but not grasp what he was saying or really invest the time to try to understand. One day, I learned that there was an unwed young lady who was a regular attender of that church. She was pregnant and the church ex-communicated her. I wondered, how can a group of people who said they love everyone and are “pro-life” kick someone out who needed them now more than ever? I had to wonder if she had quietly gotten an abortion instead, nobody would have been the wiser. Nobody knew about my abortion, except the father and my ex-boyfriend who drove me. I never told a soul.
It was shortly after this incident that I met Jesus. I realized many things. That He is with me always. He forgives me for everything, yes, even abortion. He loves the pregnant, unwed lady in the church, too. He creates every life. A baby is alive at the moment of conception. He loves me. Yes, even a terrible sinner like me.
You never fully heal from an abortion. Your body may recover, but the scars are there. You carry them daily. It is not the easy way out; it is riddled with pain and hurt. There are also “what if?” questions. What if the baby I carried was a boy? What if the baby I carried would have cured cancer? You think about how old they would have been and what their life might have been like. You think about what your life might have been like. The pain that you carry will always be there, and nobody but Jesus can understand what you went through. We must give our pain to Jesus, because it is too much for us to bear. 1 Peter 5:7: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
In Jesus, we are forgiven. I am sorry if you have experienced a decision similar to mine. I am sorry for your loss and for your pain. I am sorry if you have been hurt by “the Church.” We are all sinners and mess up. Please do not turn your back on “the Church” if you have had negative experiences. Ask God to show you a new church that He would have you connected to.
Ask Jesus to forgive you, for He will. 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Once He forgives you, forgive yourself. Do not hold yourself in chains that the Savior has freed you from. Journal through your pain, open up to someone who will hold you while you cry and pray for you. There is hope and healing and power in the name of Jesus. He will bind up your wounds and give you the strength to carry on. All you have to do is allow Him to heal you.
Father in Heaven, we lift up all of the Esthers of the world. May they find forgiveness in You and themselves. May churches remember that You are love, that all of us are sinners, and that You love and forgive us all. May we all find You and walk closer to You. In the blessed name of Jesus. Amen.
Thank you to Esther for having the courage to share her story. If you are in need of a personal prayer, please contact Wounded Butterflies. We commit to praying for you and walking with you.
The process of obtaining a divorce has taken a very long time. During that time, God has moved in miraculous ways; He sent believers into my path at the most unexpected times and at the most unexpected places. For example, as various bank employees told me how my former spouse stole my identity and I started to cry, they quoted Scripture to me. That happened on four different occasions at three different financial institutions. Words of faith, hope, and love were shared with me by complete strangers. God is always going before us and walking with us and being our rear guard too.
“You will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 52:12 NIV
These are Scriptures, not my opinion or an empty hope.
I have seen Him move in less obvious ways too. He was very hard at work when I was struggling the most and wandering in my desert, although I did not see it.
One day during my quiet time, I heard God telling me to approach a co-worker and share the Gospel. I had no idea what this person’s values were, let alone religious beliefs. So I started to pray for the Spirit to show me the right time and way to reach him.
I enlisted the help of a friend of mine, who is a prayer warrior, during this time to ensure that two of us were praying. Over the next few weeks, I prayed and was shown how to approach my co-worker in a way that would be embraced.
As someone who loves to share the Gospel, I have witnessed many reactions from others; everything from acceptance to rejection and in between. The more you share the Gospel, the more experiences you have that you can apply to future situations.
I asked my co-worker if he believed in a higher power. He said yes. I then asked what faith he was. He responded Baptist. I have learned that when someone responds with a denomination, we should not assume they know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. More times than not, they are not actively practicing or that was how they were raised and so on.
It is critical to ensure they know Jesus as Lord. To do that, I ask one key question. The question that immediately polarizes the conversation. There is no gray space:
“If you were to die tonight, where would you go and why?”
I have never seen this question fail to guide the rest of the conversation. Either the answer is something like, “Heaven, because of Jesus” or not.
My co-worker and I had been friends for about two years by the time I asked him “The Question.” We each were married and pretending that all was well in our lives. We each were burying pain. We each were experiencing and ignoring similar suffering. We each were being abused by our spouses, in different ways but nonetheless abused. We each stayed for different reasons. Mine was the kids and his was because he felt trapped and hoped not to live much longer.
We knew none of this about the other when God burdened me to ask “The Question.”
At that point in my marriage, I was channeling 100% of my energy into my kids. So what if my spouse treated me the way he did? The kids were fine. Not true, but I believed it at the time. Kids see more than you think they do.
I prayed and looked for the opportune time to ask my co-worker, “If you were to die tonight, where would you go and why?”
Ever since I was saved, I love sharing the Gospel. It is mind blowing to me that the Creator of the universe chooses to use sinners like me to share Jesus with people. The most meaningful moments in my life are having the honor of watching the veil be pierced, the scales fall from eyes and people realize their desperate need for Jesus. They physically change before your eyes, whether they start to cry, drop to their knees or just grab you and hold on. It is an incredible privilege. Sharing Jesus is what we are left here to do (Matthew 28:19-20). You interact with eternity when you share the Good News with people.
My co-worker’s reply was, “Heaven, I hope. Because I’m a good person?” No mention of Jesus.
Over a series of conversations and emails, I explored the Gospel with my co-worker. One Sunday afternoon, I was incredibly burdened to enter a time of intense prayer for him, though I had no idea why. I had never felt like that, as if the Holy Spirit was telling me to pray as if my co-worker’s life depended on it.
So I did.
My co-worker recently recalled:
For years – most of my marriage, in fact – I had been repeating the words “I wish I was dead” inside my head for most of almost every day. Despite these negative thoughts, I had not often seriously contemplated ending my life on my own. It was simply a wish, a desire for it all to end. Then, I wouldn’t be trapped anymore.
That Sunday afternoon was different. Actually, that whole weekend had been different. By the end of it, I was devising creative methods to kill myself with objects I had on hand. The thing is, I didn’t really understand why I wanted to end it all. There were no logical reasons. Not even illogical ones.
I was blessed in that JC had recently started talking to me about Jesus. I had started reading the Bible. Knowing a little about my anxiety, she had introduced me to a local church that also streamed its services online. Many of those early sermons had spoken to me. On this Sunday, I was hoping for the same. I needed to hear something to get the dark thoughts out of my head. Instead of a real service, though, it was only what I call an “infomercial” for the church’s community groups. Not helpful. At all.
Though she had no idea what I was going through, I prayed JC would have some words for me that would help, and I promptly fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon. When I awoke, there was an email from her, along with a link to an older sermon by a different pastor.
When I went upstairs to my little office to watch it, this sermon gave me some perspective about the gift that is life. Yet, I still felt in a dark place. I revealed some of this to JC when replying to her email.
Once my co-worker shared with me what was happening, I realized that while I was crying out to Jesus on his behalf, he was wrestling with spiritual warfare. He was not yet a believer, so God had sent me to battle for him – to pray for his very soul.
I emailed him back with a high-level overview of spiritual warfare and gave him some suggestions, including Scriptures to read. My co-worker then accepted Jesus while I was still in fervent prayer. I did not receive his email with the news right away, though, as I had been burdened by the Holy Spirit to remain in focused prayer.
While he had been wrestling with his faith, I had literally been crying out to Jesus and spending hours in prayer for him. I have never been that focused on anyone for that long in prayer without knowing why.
After I concluded my time of prayer and worship, I picked up my phone and there was the email from my co-worker sharing his decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
My co-worker recalled:
JC had referenced a number of verses in her email about spiritual warfare to help me, including some in John. As I was flipping through my Bible, I could not find John. I was still a newbie at all of this, but I had never once had a problem finding a book before, including John. I even went to the index, and yet still found myself looking on the wrong page.
I realized something did not want me to read those references, so I focused my mind until, of course, they were there – as they had been all along.
After that, I knew that I had to accept Jesus in my heart. All the while, unbeknownst to me, JC was praying for me. If I ever had any doubts about the power of prayer, that Sunday evening abolished them.
Even after I was born again, very dark images tried to enter my mind that night as I was falling asleep – right in that time where you are not quite awake but not quite asleep. But I prayed them away. . .twice. . .and was able to have a restful sleep. It was all so very fascinating to me to realize that the world worked in a completely different way than I ever thought.
Ever since those hours when I was praying for him and he was battling spiritually with his belief in Jesus, my co-worker and I have become what I will call “spiritually entangled.”
God blesses obedience. My co-worker, Snow, heeded the call of Jesus, and I prayed when I felt led to. Being spiritually entangled is an amazing gift that I struggle to explain. We hear each other’s thoughts, we feel what the other feels – physically and emotionally – and we each help the other grow in Jesus daily.
Even though we are no longer co-workers, we communicate daily. We read Bible plans and pray together via text or over the phone. We challenge each other to have faith in Jesus, despite trials.
Presently, Snow is my best friend, and we are each unmarried now and working on healing from the abusive marriages we endured. Years later, we still hear each other’s thoughts and feel what the other feels. The more we pray and read the Bible together, the more the spiritual entanglement grows.
God was moving in mighty ways while I was wandering in my desert enduring many trials during my divorce. God was also moving in mighty ways as Snow and I battled for his soul.
Jesus was aligning the lives of two wounded butterflies to cross paths with each other. Our paths are permanently intertwined – one that would join Jesus in helping me heal so I can soar.
“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 58:8 NIV
However your marriage ended and for whatever reason, there is life afterwards. God has plans for you, there are many, many verses about this.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT
God is not done with you here, or He would have called you Home. Tell yourself that as many times as necessary until you believe it. He uses everyone who is willing to be used.
For me, the actual process of getting divorced resembled a daily, mental, emotional, and spiritual beating due to the choices of my former spouse. Regardless of the choices of others, however, you can control yourself – how you react or not. It is critical to grow in your relationship with Jesus. This is true whether you are divorced or not; consider this the mission of our days. We must be close to Jesus so we can fulfill the command He gave us.
“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:18-20 NLT
How we can go and tell others about Him if we do not know Him? Put as much as energy as you can into knowing Jesus – pray, read the Bible, fast, seek Him with all of your heart. Disregard what others say and do, and keep your eyes squarely on Jesus. He goes before you, walks alongside you, and goes behind you.
“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5 NLT
“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT
I was a wounded butterfly, very wounded. In every sense of the word: physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, mentally, and any other way you can contemplate. In many ways, I allowed my spouse to take who I was created to be in God and mold me into what he wanted me to be instead. I own that – I needed to seek deep within to begin to see the places where I put my spouse above who I am in God.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 NLT
Once I started to see, I fell into the arms of Jesus and asked Him to please take over every piece of my life – and I had to mean it. I faltered, there were and are times that I seized back decision-making. When that happens, the quicker I realize I have done it and turn it back over to Jesus, the better off I am.
God has been working on my heart and my kids – healing us and restoring us to who we buried to appease my former spouse. God is bringing back who we are in Him and highlighting new pieces of ourselves that He created. It has been freeing to give Him the chisel and step out of the way.
The way God works is beyond human comprehension. Sometimes, we can figure out what He is doing and other times, not. I believe in the Bible, so I firmly believe that no matter what is happening to me, God will use it for my good.
Yes, I was a severely wounded butterfly, but that never changed the fact that I am His masterpiece.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
At my most wounded points, I kept fighting to keep my eyes on Jesus – many times, that meant collapsing on the floor in a puddle of tears. But He is always there. He is always before our eyes.
Focus on Him.
He has worked on me and is still working on me. He has repaired my wings and sent me on new journeys that I never could have imagined. He has used me and my story to help others in ways that I could not have envisioned in my wildest dreams. If you seek first the Kingdom of God above all else, He will move in your life. Give Him everything – your wounds, your hurts, your shame, your secrets, your regrets, whatever – give it to Him. I now have blessings that I can barely describe in words.
In a future post, I will share one of the most incredible blessings Jesus gave me. One I was definitely not seeking. He sent another wounded butterfly to help me soar even higher in Jesus.
Today’s post serves as a sort of epilogue to JC’s multipart series on surviving abuse. However, abuse recovery is an ongoing process, and she will likely provide further updates down the road. Below are links to all of the installments in the “Nobody Knew, Yet Everybody Knew” series:
My kids and I are now safe – we moved out and are beginning the long, arduous healing process. You never know how badly you were “damaged” until you are out of a situation. Once my kids were freed, I began to see how much they had lost themselves to survive in that environment.
It was such a slow fading away of ourselves that none of us saw it. We would tone down our laughter or our jokes for fear of being too loud and causing an outburst. We stopped having people over because we were ashamed of what my spouse might say to embarrass us or the guest. We stopped going out because there were so many hurdles to get “approval.” Not to mention trackers were on all our phones so we could be hunted down when desired.
It is now easy to see how much control my spouse asserted over us. The weapons that were used against us were sometimes subtle, sometimes not. When my therapist said I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I thought, “no way.” But the more I live out of that environment, the more I see that my kids and I definitely do have PTSD.
My spouse continues to attempt to control me and the kids, even though he is not physically present in our lives. Just this week, he stole more money from the kids and then came after me again. The games continue weekly, sometimes daily.
Here is the secret to continued survival and, even better, for you to flourish: Peace – and perspective from that peace.
In John 14:27, Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (NIV).
I either believe Him or I do not. If I believe Jesus, then I have His peace, and I need to focus on that. He also told me not to be troubled or afraid. If my spouse wishes to steal from his kids, there may be nothing I can do about that. But – this I know – God loves my kids even more than I do. He is their Father in Heaven and nobody will be successful messing with His kids. Sure, things may temporarily appear that way – but God is justice. We tend to focus on God is love, and He is, but God is also justice.
There is nothing I can do sometimes to protect my kids against the attacks launched by their earthly father, so I pray daily for their father and rest in the knowledge that God is justice. Sometimes I do not even know what to pray, but the Spirit does (Romans 8:26). My role is to pray for their earthly father daily and, in God’s strength, to best protect the kids God has loaned me. What God does with those prayers and what God does with someone who does such terrible things to his own children is up to Him.
It is very hard to heal the wounds when you keep getting attacked. I have had to learn that my healing is not contingent on the attacks ending – because they may not. My spouse lives to hurt me and the kids – so I needed perspective. I turned to the Bible, and God gave me this verse:
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 NLT
This does not mean we are barred from defending ourselves or our kids when physically attacked (as mentioned in Part 2). It does mean that there may be people who live to hurt you. Abusive spouses may make it their missions in life to hurt you, especially once you leave them. They may not relent, and you need to be prepared for that.
You need to understand that God is your Protector. God has made it clear we are to fear Him and not be afraid. We are to take everything to Him in prayer and not worry about anything. He is in control. This perspective can be hard to maintain at times when it seems like your abuser is constantly coming out on top. But, make no mistake, God sees all, and God is justice.
Your path to healing must be rooted firmly in Jesus and Jesus alone – not whether your spouse stops the mind games, the manipulation, the hate, the theft, the lying, or other forms of abuse. Once you have removed yourself and your kids to a safe environment, expect the hits to keep coming in new forms. Surround yourself with your support group, get a good therapist, do not be afraid to call the police, and above all, anchor yourself and your kids to the Protector, the Savior, the Creator of all things – Jesus Christ.
Please bless all survivors of abuse. May You fill them with Your strength, Your peace, and Your resolve.
May You restore what slowly faded away, so Your light may shine ever bright through them.
You are love. You are justice. You are our Protector. We love You.