Serenity gifted me with tickets to see a Christmas musical at a local church. The thought of stepping into a church was enough to make me feel sick to my stomach but she was so excited about having gotten me tickets, that I decided to just suck it up and go. I asked Arcadia and Sean’s mother to go with me.
Stepping foot inside that church was hard. It felt wrong and I was waiting for a lightning bolt to come from the heavens to strike me dead as I approached the church. I wasn’t thinking about the whys of these thoughts, I was just trying to look forward to the musical and spending time with two woman I care about.
I’d been invited to a party after the musical so when it was over, I looked at my companions and said, “Let’s go!” I practically ran from the building. I knew what was coming. You can’t go to a church function like this without them taking 10 minutes to present the Gospel and asking you to make a choice for God. I did NOT want to sit around and hear that. I took off from that church like a bat out of hell.
During the past few days, I’ve really been thinking about this and wrestling with it. I love Jesus! I truly do. But I do not like the majority of people who claim to be His. So many of them hurt me along the way by telling me that the horrificness of my marriage was my fault. I wasn’t praying hard enough. I wasn’t submitting enough. If I just prayed harder, God would save Bubba and my marriage would heal. If I just went to church more, God would listen to me more. The Bible forbids divorce unless there is adultery (and at that point, I didn’t know that Bubba had been less than faithful to me). I just had to grin and bear it because, as Christians, we are called to suffer for Christ. I was suffering for Christ by honoring the vows I’d made to Him.
For three years, I sought guidance from religious leaders and from Nancy about what was Biblical in regards to leaving my marriage. I poured over Scriptures. I compared everything I read with the concordance. I looked at different translations. And through it all, I had in the back of my head the people telling me that I just wasn’t a good enough Christian. It was my fault my marriage was failing because I wasn’t a good Biblical wife.
I’ve gone to church less than a handful of times since I left Bubba. I felt the need to be with God. But I never seemed to find that closeness I’d been looking for and left church with a vague sense of unease that I didn’t dig into. I had so many other issues to work through that this got pushed to the back of my mind. It was something that could wait.
Now, with things in my life having a more routine feel and being as far along in my healing as I am, I find myself thinking about the spiritual abuse more and more. I find myself treating this as I did the sexual abuse. I don’t want to think about it, I don’t want to deal with it, yet I think about it so much. Is it time to start digging into this and looking for a church home? I would love to have that yet I can’t help thinking of the church homes I’ve had since God saved me. I can’t help but think of the people who have proclaimed to be Christians and how they helped my abuser by throwing God into it.
The really ironic part is that throughout our entire marriage, Bubba was so emphatically anti-Christian. He hated everything to do with Jesus. He would often tell me that if I started talking about God all the time, he’d divorce me, if I started carrying my Bible around, he’d divorce me, etc….. If only Bubba would’ve understood that the God he hated so much had people working on his side to keep me his victim, I think he would’ve converted.
Once I left, it was miraculous how Bubba found Jesus so quickly. Yet another rung on the spiritual abuse ladder because all those same Christians who had tried to keep me in my marriage were all praising God over the miracle of Bubba finding Jesus finally. Our prayers had been answered! They just didn’t understand that this was just another way for Bubba to manipulate me back into the marriage. He started to understand that I was serious about staying separated from him so he dangled in front of me my heart’s desire – a saved husband. I was the only one who didn’t believe that he was saved. I was the only one who saw it for the manipulation that it was. Then they decided I was an even worse Christian for doubting his salvation and not running back to him.
Yes, I know I need to work on this. I pray about it, but I distrust every new person I meet who identifies as a Christian. Strangely, the women I’ve known for years who say they are Christian, I’d trust with my life. I know them to be good people because of how they’ve acted toward me. I don’t doubt Arcadia, Endellion, or the other women I know who pray for me and love me no matter what I’m going through. But when I meet someone new and they mention something about God, I recoil.
What I really need is to get back in to counseling. With no insurance and working every day, I can’t make it work. I can’t even get my kids to their counseling appointments more than once a month each because I have to rely on Hannah to help get them there. I think I’m going to be stuck here for awhile. Right now, I’m ok with that. I keep praying. I trust God. He will not abandon me. This will eventually work out, I’ll find a way.
I’ve refused to let the abusers win in the past. I won’t let it happen with this either. It is just going to take time.