The best lesson God taught me also turned my life around.
I confess I had trusted in by own abilities. And why not? I knew everything, right? As God rescued me from me and my pride, he taught me a lesson in three parts:
1. Believe God is who he says he is: good, in control, loving, just, merciful.
2. Believe what he says about you: valuable, significant, blessed.
3. Believe that you have an enemy who steals, kills and destroys, but God has defeated him.
Even as a Christian I leaned toward self-dependence, then the hard hit.
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One Saturday morning many years ago, awful memories of past abuse flooded my mind. So I sobbed from a sacred place in my soul at the time God chose.
This star-flinger, this day-numberer, this God drew me toward him, beginning with the lesson of who God is.
Lesson 1: God Is Who He Says He Is
Among the most beautiful bible verses is the one where God describes his character. I wrestled with whether to believe it is true or not true. Here’s the verse:
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming,’The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.’ Exodus 34:6-7
Compassionate, gracious, slow ot anger, great love and faithfulness, and forgiving–did I believe this of God? Do you?
If you’ve been hurt by someone who should have protected you, you may struggle believing these truths. You are not alone. Others struggle as you do.
In fact, the counselors listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory on my website biblically and lovingly counsel all of God’s healing hope to their counselees. Why not check out the directory for someone near you or who meets by Skype?
In addition to daily Bible reading, I journaled, exchanging the lies I believed for the truth. It looked a lot like this. My journaling and listening to gospel-centered music also helped got me to the place where I believe God is who he says he is. What helps you?
Lesson 2: I Am Who God Says I Am
God says all of his daughters are chosen. Before you took your first baby step, before you were conceived, before God fashioned the heavens and the earth, he chose you.
The moment you believed on Jesus as your Savior, your old self died. You became a new creation. You are in Christ and Christ is in you.
This “in” means you have a place as a member of Christ‟s body, vitally united with him. The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus — yes, the heart of the gospel — made possible your true identity. God now sees you as blameless because his Son is blameless, having paid the ultimate price to conquer sin and death. Being “in Christ” is the true you.
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Does knowing you are chosen change the way you think and feel about yourself? about God?
Lesson 3: God Defeated the Enemy
Can you guess the big lie Satan wants you to believe? It’s NOT that you’re not good enough, though he tempts you to believe that one too. It’s NOT you’re unsuccessful or unattractive or a total mess-up or a waste of space, though you and I have fallen for some of these lesser lies, haven’t?
Can your believe I bought the lie that I was a defect? Have you?
This isn’t the big lie either. It destroyed my peace, though. God — through life-giving Bible truths and uplifting Christian music as well as counseling — showed me the truth: that I and every believer in Christ is his precious child and God also revealed the big lie at the core of my shame lie.
So what’s the big lie?
The Big Lie Is. .
The big lie Satan tempts you to believe is the same one Adam and Eve ate up in the Garden: God is holding back, that he couldn’t care less, that he’s not. . .good.
And the Truth Is. . .
Satan is defeated!
From Life Lesson to Action
As I embraced this three-part lesson and intentially put God first, he revealed a purpose for my life: to help Christian women know that they are valued by Jesus, who wants to heal them. Yes, to counsel hearts to hope! Still, I felt afraid and told God so.
Our conversation went like this.
“Lord, I don’t know how to begin.”
“Do not worry, Lucy. I’ll show you.”
“How will I know it’s you?”
“You will. The Holy Spirit who’s in you will confirm my words. You’ll know.”
“I don’t think I’m ready for this, Lord,” I said. “What if I mess up?”
That’s where we left things. God said trust. I sat there, speechless.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7, ESV
How about you? Where has God changed your thinking? Are you ready for deeper healing?
Are you tired of living a less-than life? Why not contact me
to set up a no-cost introductory phone consultation? Remember, God loves you, whoever you are, wherever you’ve been.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Emotional abuse destroys a marriage. Sometimes it leads to physical abuse. Today’s guest blogger is Lilly Park, an assistant professor of biblical counseling at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis, IN, provides hope an help to wives. This article (Responding to Emotional Abuse in Marriage) first appeart on the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is used with permission.
This post is dedicated to the women I’ve met who have inspired me by their faith and strength in the midst of painful marriages.
Good Marriages, Broken Marriages
I’ve seen marriages that reflect Christ and the Church: husbands lovingly leading their homes and wives lovingly submitting to their husbands. How good (and hope-filled!) it is to see real life examples, especially at a time when marriages are being attacked from pornography, homosexuality, and cohabitation. I’ve also seen broken marriages and emotionally abusive relationships, which has taught me a lot about faith.
The women I’ve met believed in submitting to their husbands and tried to do so. At some point, however, they began to change negatively without knowing it. They isolated themselves. They questioned themselves. They started to make excuses for their husbands’ sins.
Some might say that you should continue to submit to his leadership, pray for him, and trust God. Is it acceptable to seek help and possibly even separate, if necessary? When I think of marriage, “protection” is one of the concepts that comes to mind. Perhaps that’s why emotional abuse, or any kind of abuse for that matter, in marriage saddens me in a different way.
My desire is that God might use this blog post to encourage those who are weary, to challenge those who are not trusting God or seeking counsel, and to provide some help to those who are not sure how to help women in emotionally abusive relationships. I’ve also met men who have been abused by their wives, so I certainly do not believe that only women are abused.
Bible Doesn’t Label ‘Emotional Abuse’
The Bible doesn’t use the label “emotional abuse,” but it does prohibit it.
First, we are not to curse people who have been created in the image of God (James 3:9).
Second, emotional abuse violates the two greatest commandments: love God and love others as yourself (Matthew 22:35-40).
Third, emotional abuse violates God’s design for marriage where the husband lovingly leads and the wife lovingly submits (Ephesians 5:21-33).
Fourth, it violates Christian living by denying yourself (Mark 8:34) and speaking wholesome words (Ephesians 4:29).
Fifth, it displays pride and a lack of fear of God, which leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18). A husband who commits emotional abuse deceives himself to be a king who deserves glory, honor, and praise.
Sixth, emotional abuse is betrayal to God and people by trying to be like God and deceiving others.
Nature of Emotional Abuse
A common term found in the definition of emotional abuse is control. Emotional abuse occurs when someone tries to control you through actions or words. They might not physically hurt you, but they know how to instill fear through intimidation and manipulation.
If emotions are produced by your evaluations or perceptions, then emotional abuse involves hurting how you view yourself and others. Over time, you negatively view yourself. You might question yourself, blame yourself, or not see the severity of the situation. You become a weary person, trying to please your husband’s unreasonable demands but rarely is he pleased.
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The women I’ve met endured emotional abuse for years and no one knew about it. They didn’t even know until they finally talked to someone. (Of course, the same could happen with physical abuse.) Emotional abuse is unacceptable and sinful. It is slowly killing a person. It is also not the same as occasional arguments in marriage; it occurs frequently.
Common Themes in Emotional Abuse
Anger. Emotionally abusive anger is a sin (Colossians 3:8). In this case, it reveals a desire for control. For example, a husband sends texts or calls throughout the day from work and gets angry if the wife responds too slowly. Or, he gets angry if she disagrees with him.
Manipulation/hypocrisy. This sin is revealed in different ways:
- The husband is a different person in front of a church leader and others. He knows how to blame the wife.
- The husband starts crying in the counseling session and convinces the pastor or friends. Then, everything that the wife had shared in the past carries little weight. After all, he cried. The wife trusts people even less.
- The husband meets with other family and friends to win them over.
Fear/Threats. In some cases, this involves finances or child custody if the couple is in the process of a divorce.
Blameshifting/Denial. “If you did what I told you to do, then I wouldn’t have been angry.” “When did I say that to you?”
Isolation. The wife spends less time with family and friends because her husband does not want to see them or another argument happened.
Minimizing the problem. The husband says that the wife is exaggerating. Sometimes, the wife minimizes the problem. Another instance is when the person trying to help is deceived or doesn’t know how to help. “Every marriage has problems.” “Both the husband and wife have issues.”
In-laws. Leaving and cleaving never happened in the marriage. The in-laws are the leaders in the marriage, not the husband. The in-laws believe that their son is perfect or they see their son’s faults but place the blame on his wife.
What to Do For the Wife
It is not uncommon for emotional abuse to lead to physical abuse, so seek counseling as soon as possible. We might think that emotional abuse would not happen in Christian marriages. I’ve seen cases where the husband was a church leader.
Don’t keep it private. You think that your spouse will change or won’t get angry again if you’re more obedient. Be careful of such thinking. In a way, it deceives you to think that you’re in control of the situation.
Find someone who will believe you. Sometimes, church leaders are deceived or don’t want to get involved in messy problems. Don’t give up until you find a godly person who knows how to help.
Biblical submission. This is not obedience at all costs. Yes, wives are to submit to their husbands, but not to sin or sinful treatment.
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Prayer. Pray for the spouse’s repentance. If the spouse is not saved, pray for his salvation. Pray that God would protect your heart from anger and bitterness.
Trust God. It is so hurtful when family or friends don’t believe you or desert you, but God knows the truth. You can rest in His care and know that vengeance belongs to Him.
Remember God’s character. He is faithful. He is all-knowing. He will never desert you.
Be Wise When Helping a Hurting Wife
If someone shares about any kind of abuse with you, know that a lot of courage and trust were involved. Be careful of shattering it! Most likely, this person is vulnerable and fearful. As I often tell people, good intentions are not enough. I’ve seen friends get involved by meeting with the husband and then they are left more confused.
Watch out for complaining and gossip. Use wisdom in determining how much the person should share with you. In the end, our effort to minister shouldn’t have enabled a venting session, but a return to God’s perspective session, which gives hope and honors God.
One woman said to me: “If God allowed this pain to happen so that my husband might know Christ, then it was worth it.” She also recognized that God used the trial to draw her closer to Him. At that moment, this person who never completed college taught me about faith in a way that I didn’t learn from books and lectures.
It’s easier to submit to a loving leader in the home, but to love a husband who constantly questions you, belittles you, and lies to you is a powerful display of faith in God.
Join the Conversation
What additional biblical counsel would you give to an emotionally abused wife?
Brian Borgman, Feelings and Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009), 26.
Resources for YOU!
COUNSELING: Are you or a friend in an emotionally abusive relationship? May we encourage you to seek help from a trustworthy person at your church or from a biblical counselor? Please contact me, and I’ll give you hope and get you in touch with help.
DOWNLOAD: Here’s a helpful reminder of who you are in Christ. Go here to get it.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Worry is EVERYWHERE today, and it’s making you sick. Scrolling through Facebook is enough to churn anyone’s stomach nowadays. So much hate, so little grace!
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Yet God says, “Do not worry” about anything. But how?!
In this short article, you’ll discover:
- Jesus’ wise words on worry.
- Worry makes you sick.
- How to stop worry.
Wise Words on Worry
Read this peace-filled passage, these Jesus words:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
Luke 12:22-24 (NIV)
Birds and wild flowers — valuable, yes. But God values you so much more than them. Don’t his words calm your soul?
Worry Makes You Sick
Here’s what happens to you when you worry. And almost anything contributes to worry-stress: grumpy kids, a messy house, an overbearing or passive husband, gossipy coworkers. . .but especially your attitude about your circumstances.
So what’s your main stressor? How do you respond?
You feel stress in your body. Stress may tighten your neck, tense your back, or bring on a migraine. It can mess with your digestion and raise your blood pressure.
You eat poorly. You are more likely to turn to more snacks and less fruit, plus LOTS of chocolate and skipped meals. Here’s a better choice right here
You skip exercise. When stressed, you may lack the energy to work out or take a walk when getting moving will actually energize you. And it wil give you more time to ruminate on my worries.
Wouldn’t you like to know how to stop worry?
How to Stop Worrying
Simply, FOCUS. Focus on Jesus and his love. Focus on God and his greatness and protection and care. This thought journal right here helps you do transform your thoughts.
Stop focusing on yourself. Be other-centered. Be God-centered.
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With a new focus, right now decide one thing you can do — yes, action! — that helps someone. I’ll start with a few ideas and I’d love to hear yours.
Write a thank you note and mail it.
Help your child with a school project.
Phone a family member or friend and ask about her life.
Think About It
How does the action of helping someone help squash worry? What are other choices you can make to stay safe from worry sickness?
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Self-counsel: When you counsel yourself with biblical truth, your emotions become more stable and you respond in better ways. Why? Because you’re speaking truth to your heart! This article by Heart2Heart Counselor Ellen Castillo appeared first here at BC4Women blog and is used with permission. Check out Ellen’s page in the Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.
A couple of months ago, I was in a car accident. My van was totaled, but my daughter and I were not seriously injured. Whiplash, bruises, and soreness have become our daily battles, but those things will get better.
Emotional Effects Post-Trauma
The emotional effects are the most difficult to overcome. I have counseled many post-accident and post-trauma victims. As biblical counselors, we know how to come alongside someone gently in the immediate days following trauma. We know how to eventually begin to target the heart when we see unhealthy and unbiblical responses to the trauma.
When the trauma is our own, do we know how to “self-counsel” our own hearts? There is no trauma too big or too small when it comes to the need for counsel.
When we find ourselves repetitively dwelling on and reliving the accident details, condemning ourselves for the guilt we might bear for the cause of the trauma or accident, having panic attacks at the thought of re-entering normal life again, getting behind the wheel, or seeing the place where the trauma occurred, we must cling to the good counsel we offer to others by offering it to our own hearts.
Goals of Biblical Counseling
One of the goals of biblical counseling is that the counselee would eventually be able to do self-counsel. Self-counsel means that when someone is struggling with sin or suffering, she can turn to God’s Word for answers. She can read, study, memorize, and pray as she seeks to bring the gospel to bear on her struggle.
In that process, God can reveal her heart issues, and she can focus on mind renewal as she repents of her sin. This is how we are all to live, every day, as self-counselors.
Good Self-Counsel Helps for Trauma
As I continue to recover from whiplash as I write this, I have found these things to be most helpful. This is good self-counsel for someone who has recently suffered any kind of trauma:
- Take every thought captive. Remember that every struggle we have begins with a thought. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to destroy the things in our thoughts that are not consistent with the gospel.
- Focus on what is true. Philippians 4:4-9 is a passage to go to often and consider it as sort of a checklist. Run your thoughts through that Philippians 4:8 grid, and redirect your thought life.
- Rehearse the gospel. This phrase is not a cliche, it is life-giving. Thinking on the gospel recalibrates our minds and reminds us that we are no longer under condemnation, that we have been given a new identity, and so much more.
- Fight the fear with the knowledge of God’s sovereignty. God is either in control or He isn’t, and I believe He IS. Yes, even over my car accident. I do not need to know the why’s or how’s in order to trust His promises. Romans 8:28 keeps me from dipping too deep into the “why me’s”.
- Know when your natural initial responses are becoming debilitating, and ask for help. Low-grade temporary depression, for example, is common to most trauma victims. But debilitating depression requires intensive biblical counseling. If you are unable to function at home or on the job, spend most of your day isolating or sleeping, have turned to substance use to self-medicate, are unable to make decisions, or get along with those you love, then it is time to ask for help. God’s Word has answers you need, but we sometimes need someone to come alongside us and show us the way.
- Some people say that “time heals” even trauma. I suggest that although that may seem to be true sometimes, it is only God who can truly heal a traumatized heart. Because of my self-counsel, I am struggling far less with the effects that the accident had on me.
How to Self-Counsel
To self-counsel, you must seek Him more intentionally, dig deep into His Word – read it, study it, memorize it. Keep a meaty prayer life, stay in the church, and in fellowship with Christian friends who encourage you (and also admonish you as needed.)
Serve in ministry at your church, putting others before yourself. And do not hesitate to call on a biblical counselor if you are stuck, and she will be glad to come alongside and offer help and hope. These are the things that helped me and I believe they will help you, too, regardless of your struggle.
Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) “Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
A right and godly focus cuts through the complications of life and brings peace to your heart. In her article, which appeared first here on her website, Heart2Heart Counselor Karen Gaul shares insights from story of Ruth as well as Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Life has a way of being very complicated. It is so easy for us to get lost in the situations that happen around us that we quickly lose our focus and our way. We become overwhelmed, disillusioned, fearful, maybe even bitter and angry.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians it seemed that might be the case. Paul hoped to encourage this church. I wonder if they were thinking that since Paul was a follower of the Way and was imprisoned that maybe it could happen to them too. Perhaps the scuttlebutt around town was “imagine Paul in prison, chained up. I wonder if he is going to be killed soon? He must be scared. This is terrible. How could God let this happen? Is Paul wrong?”
But this is what Paul writes,
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Philippians: 1:12-14
Deciding Your Focus
Wrong thinking is one of the first places we look focus.
You can hear it in the true story of Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah.
Naomi’s focus: Naomi faced famine and moved to Moab, a godforsaken land, where her husband dies. Her sons marry idol-worshipping women. They produce no offspring. Then her sons die, leaving her with two daughters-in-law. Life couldn’t get much more difficult than that.
She believes God’s hand is very heavy on her and that she has been emptied of anything and anyone who mattered to her. Now she was old. Death would have been a welcome visitor for her. She saw nothing but her difficult circumstances. Poor Naomi … lost, alone and disillusioned and bitter. She sees no hope for her future..
Ruth’s focus: Ruth, on the other hand, could have thought that if she went with Naomi to Israel, she would not be welcomed. She could have thought: “I will never marry or have a child. Perhaps I will face abuse and ridicule. I may starve.”
These were all real possibilities for her future. Yet she did a remarkable thing. She wanted to be where God was in the Land of Bread, and she was determined to go. She persisted and off Ruth and Naomi went to Israel.
Orpah’s focus: Orpah, the other daughter-in-law, returned to Moab and her idol-worshipping life. She lacked God’s perspective. To her, returning home looked most promising.
Listening to Paul’s Solutions
The aspostle Paul…
- clarifies the gospel
- focuses on results
- looks at the big picture
Paul clarifies things so this little church isn’t discouraged or fearful. He doesn’t go into the details of what has happened to him. Instead, he reminds them that the Gospel is being advanced all over the place.
Paul focuses on the results. Paul reminds them that he is in chains for Christ and that the Gospel is advancing.
When we get lost on the problem, doesn’t our vision become limited? Naomi couldn’t see past her circumstances, Ruth saw something way beyond herself. She was going to be in the place God was and she couldn’t wait to get there. It didn’t matter what happened to her as long as she was close to Him.
We become self-absorbed when we focuse only on the horizontal of life. Our world gets smaller and smaller and it appears nothing will ever change. Naomi was caught in that place for quite some time.
But Paul took advantage of his circumstances and shared Jesus to everyone who was attached to him as well as anyone else. Ruth also took advantage of her situation and lived a life of integrity committing herself to the care of this older bitter woman who she loved. Both Paul and Ruth were witnesses of what a follower of Jesus looks like and people noticed.
- How can we think differently about the situations that happen to us? What might God be up to?
Sometimes we know the purpose but other times we don’t. Paul took advantage of this situation and proclaimed Christ. Ruth on the other hand just lived her life in love and obedience to the God she found. She wasn’t a great teacher or spokesperson instead she lived a life of grace and others noticed.
Paul looks at the big picture. Paul sees he is in chains, and other believers speak more boldly. And that is all that matters to him, that Christ gets proclaimed.
God desires for us to change our thinking. We live in a soft and comfy world and we quite like it that way, but following Jesus comes with great cost. We might not be in chains like Paul was, but there will be ample opportunity for us to suffer and go through hardship and in it we can choose to respond like Naomi and get bitter or we can like Paul see the big picture.
Paul endured, he suffered, he sacrificed, he gave and he served because he loved.
How can we take up that same challenge?
During your darkest hours God is working, He is up to good things. He wants to redeem your struggle and use it for nothing but good in your life. You may not always know what He might be doing but you will know the end result is to make you reflect Christ more. (Romans 8:28,29)
What an honor we have.
Will you allow God to use your suffering to produce in you a most pleasing aroma for Him?
An Invitation to You
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,