I’ll preface this post by saying it was written, as was the previous post, God Knows at a point at which I was again accepting an end to pursuing justice in my own situation, and feeling the injustice for myself, my children and the new victim, keenly. I am happy this time to have found a greater peace; that it is definitely time to ‘shake the dust off my feet’. I have spoken up, but have not been heard. Having God’s specific words to me coming frequently to mind, has helped immensely this time – summed up now by these words, ‘Leave it all behind’.
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a good girl.
I made a decision to follow Jesus at a young age, and have wanted to be a good girl all the more since then – be a good girl, not just pull off looking like one. I wanted peace inside, so deceit could have no part in it. I hated having guilty feelings from doing the wrong thing, so I was very grateful when I came to understand justification, Satan’s defeat, my value as a child of God, and the relief of believing, trusting, and having faith in the one and only all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere-present God. After all he did for me, I wanted to be a good girl and please him. So, I made choices that I knew were necessary to please him; honesty and humility were vital to that. Doing what He wanted first and foremost was essential to pleasing him.
As a child I wanted to please my parents, my teachers, my extended family, church people, my friends. I much preferred things to be well between me and others. I felt unhappy when admonished. I was afraid of incurring admonishment at school or friends’ homes, so made every effort to be a good girl in every situation. I got a little tied up in knots trying to please everybody, with perfectionistic tendencies appearing, but gradually came to understand my equal value to others before God, and that my first responsibility was to please him first and foremost, not other people. He is the only One worthy of my worship, so I couldn’t be distracted from pleasing Him by depleting myself trying to please everyone else.
I also came to understand that loving others is a way to love God also. I needed to find His will for me, so that my energy was spent doing what He wanted me to do in regard to pursuing love, justice and mercy, for His glory. I didn’t have to fix everything in the world, just do the part God wanted me to do, knowing others had their part to do, and God was overseeing everything. I also learnt that smothering people is not love, enabling them to continue in self-destructive behaviours is not love, and that addressing sin with truth and grace is more loving than ignoring it, with counterfeit mercy.
I served in a few short term missions, became qualified in the health care field, and eventually married and had children of my own. Loving my husband and my children, so they were encouraged and knew the love of our Heavenly Father, became a primary focus for my loving worship of God, my first and foremost love. Loving sacrificially, serving, affirming, having grace toward my husband and children, and apologising promptly when I hurt them, pursuing our seeking God together, accepting our children as blessings from God and training them to love God and love others were all part of my worship response to my God, who had sacrificed so much for me. I expressed to my husband that my love for him and our children were part of my worship of God.
I had shared with my husband that as a child I wanted my dad to think of me as a good girl. I felt very sad as a child when I didn’t meet his expectations. As an adult I was more focussed on God thinking of me as a good girl, and one day calling me His ‘good and faithful servant’. I had also told my husband that the couple of times he had said, “Good girl” to me had meant a lot to me. Other women might think it was patronising, and maybe it was, but I had pleased my husband and it brought happiness to me to hear him say so.
Unfortunately affirmations were few, and there was considerable inconsideration toward me. I still felt great contentment as I was so thankful to God for the blessing of marriage and of each child, for all His wonderful provision, and for the lessons I had learnt over the years.
Some years later I was patient with aberrations from what I could ever have imagined a loving Christian husband doing, or saying to me. When it came to a significant conflict in our marriage, one that further impacted trust and eventually care of the children, I found over time that there was significantly more unjust reproaches, accusations, and manipulative control tactics being used with increasing frequency.
I was patient and prayerful, but even after a significant period of professional relationship counselling, I came to realise my husband’s behaviour indicated to me that he had no intention of changing his behaviour toward me; no intention of relinquishing his belief in his entitlement to maintain control over myself and the children, and little ability to empathise with our felt needs if he had to give up anything he wanted for himself.
For a woman wanting to be a good girl, and disciplining herself her whole life to that end, being consistently, unjustly accused cut at my core needs and values. It was hard work to stand against it all. Though I maintained my self-value, it took a lot of energy to do so. I was sure God had other purposes for my energy than being enslaved and oppressed by a man pretending to be a worshipper of God, who was coveting secret sins, and who’s home life when out of the public eye, bore no resemblance to that of a godly man; words and actions inconsistent with that of a caring and loving husband, a father who doesn’t exasperate and embitter his children, or an honest man.
I addressed my husband’s unrepentant behaviour by separating, with a view to giving him the best chance of addressing the dysfunctional behaviour he was aware of, and respecting the reasonable boundaries I had laboured to explain my need for. He followed this up with continued disrespect of boundaries, reproaching and accusing me while seeking the pity of others, pleading ignorance of why I left, making some remorseful-sounding confessions, and misrepresenting me to our children, to extended family and to friends.
I decided to apply for a divorce on the basis of his continued abuse. My husband made penitent sounding promises to some, but neither his promises and confessions, or the concerns I raised, were followed up with agreed accountability measures within the Christian community. The Christian community’s failure to address his confessed sin or his broken promises, or in fact his slander of me for his own ends, left him in a state of being undisciplined for his wicked conduct as a professing Christian.
To discipline is to love. I discipline myself because of my self-value and my love for God, including confessing wrong-doing to others and to God. I was a good girl who loved my husband; a good girl who brought discipline to him through separation and divorce, valuing both my husband and myself, a child of God, in doing so. Because the church has had only counterfeit love for him, they have not loved me either, leaving a good girl; a survivor of abuse and oppression, and then of slander, without vindication. The most unloving thing my former husband could do to me, he’s done; misrepresent me as guilty, when he knows I am innocent.
Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent–both are detestable to the LORD. Proverbs 17:15