Standing in her apartment, tears flowing and blowing our noses into napkins, my daughter and I had a heart to heart. Over the past months she had become increasingly troubled to the point of anger. At the same time, I understood the anger, because I wrestle with it myself.
You see, our family has experienced trauma and the aftermath. We cope while trying to heal. We remember the pain while trying to get questions answered. We strongly believe in God because we have experienced Him, yet our faith wavers as we navigate the aftermath.
Divorce is never pretty. It may be amicable, but it is still the upheaval of your entire life. The spouses are not the only ones affected; the children carry a heavy load. To add to the load, my children have watched the church support the abusive spouse, never reaching out to help their mother or them. And if that wasn’t enough, my children have dealt with a father who tried to harm them to the point of going to jail.
The hardest part of recovery has been the lack of people who could understand. Psychologists understand well, but most pastors are completely ignorant. Living with mental illness and a person who lives a double life while being emotionally abusive is just beyond most people’s comprehension. It’s much like chocolate, unless you’ve tried it, you’ll never know what it truly tastes like.
Recently I found a Facebook page with over six thousand women across the country who had experienced nearly everything we had gone through. And guess what? Most were homeschooling women. My daughters and I have experienced a great deal of affirmation and healing because these women know what it’s like. I praise God for this resource!
If you’ve experienced what I’m talking about, then you know. If you haven’t, may I share something with you? There are a lot of women like me out there. We typically try to blend in and not draw attention to ourselves. We feel like we don’t fit in. We are divorcées and therefore a failure in most conservative evangelical churches. We hurt because our children deal with the aftermath and are looked on by the church as less. We feel like we live behind glass—isolated because no one can understand the unbelievable. We can’t relate to the trivial concerns of other women; we’ve experienced something that has opened our eyes to great evil.
These women, including myself, are sensitive. In our healing journey, we learn to detect the signs of spiritual and emotional abuse. What I see now are the many ways Scripture is used, often by women in the church, to keep the status quo that left us in an abusive place. These women might be well intentioned, but they are rarely educated in the areas they speak on. They toss around Scripture without any exegesis, and if you suggest a different way of viewing that Scripture or Christian tradition, you’re bombarded and blasted as an apostate.
I challenge women who do not understand to be kind. Listen and love. Allow a woman to heal instead of demanding conformity to your belief system. At the very least, just pray.
I Corinthians 13:2 states it well:
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, but have not charity, I am nothing.