Trusting God After Leaving An Abusive Relationship

Long ago before I made that decision to follow Christ I was sitting in church complaining to my sister that I didn’t want to come to church any more because I didn’t believe. She said, “Fake it till you make it.” Yeah, it sounded funny to me too at the time!

She meant to stick around and hear it out, so that I’d have enough info to put the pieces of the puzzle together in order for me to see the full picture. Then it hit me. I’d been in church for a long time with a wall up.   The reason for that was the many years of abuse created some serious trust issues within me. Church was a nice break from the reality of my life so I stayed put.

The Home Life

Living in that one sided relationship that started when I was only fifteen years old, I was married at 18 and felt that I’d lost my identity to a kid living in a man’s body.

Fear had me living for someone else instead of me. Three months into our marriage and my life was becoming a violent and vicious cycle of denial and abuse.  I washed his clothes, cooked his meals and lay in his bed lying to myself.  The truth was that he was a womanising, violent, drug addict who was so messed up, convinced he was right and didn’t want any help to change.

I was so scared to face the truth about my situation which would make see how broken I really was, or to confront him which would mean a violent reaction.  The lies I told myself were numerous but the big one was telling myself that he would change from the strange person before me who was becoming the embodiment of every loathsome characteristic I didn’t like in a human being.

When the threats began, I felt trapped like a hostage in my own marriage. The situation seemed hopeless. He was totally convinced that my family were trying to separate us. Yet my family had never interfered in our relationship. When I tried to leave him he told me that he’d sneak in the house at night while we slept to kill us all.  Believing that he was capable of carrying the threats out, I stayed.

When we separated the only things I got out of that relationship was PTSD.. Years later I found out that I had been living with a certified Schizophrenic.

So after my experiences giving myself over completely to God took an enormous amount of trust.  Then I discovered that true love is found only in God.

God is Love and the source of love  

I was convinced that I hadn’t fully learned what love was so a quest began to understand God’s love.  This bible passage below describes His Holy (perfect) love and after reading I saw how distant we all really are from it.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails…….”.

GET HELP

If you’re in a violent situation don’t bury your hurts by lying to yourself.  See a counsellor, a church leader, your pastor and even your doctor for help. Don’t do it alone.

Lifeline 13 11 14 (Australia)

If your life is in danger don’t hesitate to dial 000.

Dealing With A Past We’d Rather Forget.

Recurring thoughts happen for a very simple reason.

Most of us have done things in the past or have had things done to us that we’d rather not think about.   These recurring images and thoughts can bring about mixed emotions. Numbing the pain with addictions and substance abuse in order to forget will just make us repeat or ‘groundhog day’ until the next time the brain gives you another nudge jolting your memory.

These thoughts just don’t and won’t simply go away.  They are written deep within the hard drive of your memory as being, “undealt with.”  So they’ll just keep popping up until you file those thoughts in the right spot which is behind you. The only way to do that is to forgive yourself, forgive others and forgive God! Whatever method you’re using other than forgiveness won’t work and the cycle of recurring thoughts will keep going until you forgive.

You might still be angry, but if you don’t let go you will be stuck in a level of emotional immaturity and your character and actions will form around that bitter root.  To get past it simply make a choice to forgive even if you don’t know how to. Let it go. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and bitterness leads to illness.

NOW FOR A SPIRITUAL TRUTH
The bible talks about the importance of forgiveness which is releasing someone from a debt and choosing to forgive, even if you don’t know how, to forgive them and no longer hold them accountable.

Matthew 6:14 – “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

If you read the passage above you may have picked up on the fact that YOU are attached to that unforgiveness.  By forgiving others you release yourself!

WIKIPEDIA
Forgiveness
is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.

ONLINE
I’ve read that unforgiveness is like swallowing poison hoping the other person will die.

WHAT FORGIVING IS NOT
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you have to be friends with or associate with the person you’re forgiving.

Pray the following prayer if you want to forgive but don’t know how.

Lord Jesus,  today I make the choice to put the offense of (name the offense) behind me and to forgive (name the offender/s) that hurt me even if I don’t know how to.  I ask for your forgiveness and love to flow through me and  I ask you to forgive me for the unforgiveness and release me and (names) from effects of the sin and from bitterness and resentment. Cleanse my heart and make me whole. Amen.

Now you’ve prayed,  the decision you made might not match your feelings right now, but they eventually will.  If those thoughts come up again, simply tell yourself that all is forgiven and move on.  Don’t dwell on the past because when you entertain those thoughts they tend to move in and take over.

JUST AS DIRTY AS I AM

God welcomes everyone. As we learn from him and about him, we can’t help but fall in love.

It was 1996, I’d recently gone through a divorce with a violent, drug addicted and schizophrenic man who had me living in fear for almost 17 years. Wanting to get closer to God in the cold Canberra winter of 1998, my sister took me to her little Pentecostal church held at a local school hall, as they didn’t yet have their own building. Looking around at people with seemingly perfect lives noticing they were nicely groomed wearing dressy but casual clothing, their kids were happy and all I saw was one big happy family. Panicked within (anxiety), in my mind there was no way I’d ever fit into this scene.  Within me there was a storm.  At the time I was angry, sad, unhappy, lonely and just sick of life.

Feeling uneasy about being there I confided about those feelings to my my younger sister who is a strong Christian.   She said to me, “Sandra, don’t think that these people here have got it all made, they’re just as dirty and dysfunctional as you are.  The only difference is that they admit it and want to change.  They acknowledge that God is the source of all life and that it’s God who cleanses them. You don’t get into a bath unless you’re dirty!”

Then she said something else, “God accepts you as you are so let him in and he does the changing from within.”   I thought, “what? Wait a minute he accepts me then he changes me?  Isn’t that a contradiction?”   Reading my bible, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Jesus and his words.

I read somewhere that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. It’s not the sin God loves, its us. He wants our hearts and Jesus also came so that we may be reconciled to God, have life and have it abundantly.  So the change in me was that I was going to befriend God and learn the true meaning of life and love it?  That was exactly what happened. The changes were gradual but sure.

It’s June 2017, I’m still in the bath, I’m not perfect and I’m slowly transforming into what God wants for me and I have inner peace in my life.  We hurt and deal with our hurts in our own dysfunctional way that can make us really bitter, or we can be free from fears and hurts while keeping our peace.  Its Jesus who wants to heal our hearts with his perfect love that casts out all fear.  

If you’re worried about sin, God forgives us, no matter what we have done.  What the bible calls sin, is sin, everyone in the world falls short because God is holy.  Nobody is perfect and we can’t point the finger in judgement of anyone else.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son for who-so-ever believes in him shall have eternal life” John 3:16  OK it states who-so-ever.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done? That’s powerful.

If you believe that then pray this short prayer asking Jesus into your heart.

Jesus, I know you died for me and take me as I am.  I’m not perfect and will never be that in this world.  Thank you that you took my sins upon your body and they were crucified with you on the cross. I ask your forgiveness and for you to come into my heart and grant me your peace. Let me grow in your wisdom and in truth. Fill me with the Holy Spirit that I may have your helper so I can follow you. Amen

What can you do now?

If you prayed that prayer, find a local Christian church, be baptised, read your bible and pray regularly. Walk close to God and remember that nothing can separate you from His love. If you have done all that and are filled with Holy Spirit you have been born again as the bible requires you to do so you can enter heaven. Live in relationship with Jesus offering constant prayers for those you love and for your enemies.

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True Happiness & Real Love

sunrise-1226471_1280Around peak season at work I’m called to help out in other areas due to the demand of the job. This has challenged me to stretch and grow beyond what perceptions I had of my own capabilities. Although towards the down slide of this period, a close family member’s health concerns began putting a strain on my emotions.

What I found out about myself through all of it was that I am in control of my own happiness.  Instead of allowing a situation to control me affecting my work, I quickly faced realities, said a quick prayer permitting myself to feel and to heal.

As a result, I realised that I’m truly happy, content and that God has it. We can’t control everything.  But we knock ourselves about trying!

Most people go to work every day, do their tasks and go home to their private lives not thinking about work until they’re on the way to their jobs again.  Me, I’m always on it taking notes writing ideas down that whirr around in my head of things that I hear, read, see on TV or hear on the radio. It’s so much fun that I’m growing. I love my job.

At home life is good. My husband and I have a happy marriage, kids and a lovely home.   We’re all doing things we enjoy doing and are living a life that we enjoy living.  But this isn’t the real source of my happiness.

I’ve discovered that inner peace & joy comes from within. It oozes out from the core of my being. I can’t fill my heart with temporary things that fade, nor can I lie to myself about them.  Once those things are gone, I’ll be left feeling empty inside.  So instead I’ve opted to fill my heart with love and truth.  They’re the eternal things that will stand long after I’m gone from this world leaving a legacy of peace, love, hope and truth for others who remain.

Love in the purest sense of the word is explained well in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This verse reflects God’s love for you!  GOD IS LOVE. This is the truth. Jesus said, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32.

  1. He is patient
  2. He is kind
  3. He does not envy
  4. He does not boast
  5. He is not proud
  6. He will not dishonour others
  7. He is not self seeking
  8. He is not easily angered
  9. He does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
  10. He always protects
  11. He always trusts
  12. He always hopes
  13. He always perseveres.

Nothing else but God can fill the void.  Not your spouse, partner, parents, friends, your job or the material possessions you own can take the place of God.  Make him first in your life and your joy will be complete.

By Sandra Ciminelli.

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Submission To One Another In Marriage

Harmonising a marriage is difficult but not impossible.

In my observations, the bible is taken out of context by some when it comes to women submitting to their husbands and vice versa.   A subservient 50’s style housewife is an out-dated picture that doesn’t fit with modern day masses of women holding full time working careers while taking care of their families.

Being submissive to our spouse isn’t a mindless act of subservience but instead it is an informed choice and an act of love and respect.  The bible calls for mutual submission of both men and women to each other. When a husband and wife act out of mutual submission, their love grows and flows into all aspects of their life including their intimacy.

Mutual submission and equality when it comes to love & respect in a marriage

From a Christian perspective, while we are to mutually submit to each other, we are also to treat our husbands with the love and respect they deserve. They too are to treat us with the same love and respect.

If I’ve learnt anything is that marriage shouldn’t be a struggle for power, but a union powered by love.  Yes, a power union!

What men and women need to keep in mind

A woman’s submission is not a license for a man to overpower a woman or mistreat her in any way.  A man’s submission is not a woman’s license to nag or say and do as she pleases.

Marriage is an ongoing commitment to love one another where submission to each other is purposeful in cultivating unity and intimacy in a relationship where couples can show appreciation and share loving affection for one another.  The bible says that man and woman become one flesh. This describes what happens spiritually and physically, but also mentally within the relationship and even though we are individuals, we become one.

When submission is not OK.

Husbands and wives aren’t to sin against God.  Nor are we to allow our husbands to cause us to sin.  This includes sexual sin.  We need spiritual boundaries!

 “A lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect.”  A quote from the book, ’Boundaries’ by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend have written another excellent book titled, “Boundaries within Marriage”. 

What about turning the other cheek?

Turning the other cheek does not mean turning a blind eye!  Nor does it mean we should allow a man or a woman to be violent against us, verbally, physically or otherwise. Mental abuse is as damaging as physical abuse.  Sin must be confronted.

Trust God

“I have plans not to harm you, but rather plans for you to prosper”.   Jeremiah 29:11

How to confront Sin

In everything we do, even when we are angry we are not to sin.  Ephesians 4:26

The bible instructs us to gently and humbly confront one another.  Galatians 6: 1-2

What you can do when you are angry to calm yourself down:

  1. PRAY – Pray for your husband or wife and spend time in prayer seeking the Lord before having this conversation asking for God’s direction and timing.
  2. REPENT – Search your own heart and repent of sins, now you’ve repented and are forgiven show your husband or wife  the same grace.
  3. RELEASE – Go for a walk to cool down then, determine to leave it in God’s hands once you’ve said your piece and let go of any unrealistic expectations.
  4. PRAY – Pray for your wife or husband seeking his/her wellbeing.
  5. FORGIVE – Forgive your wife or husband. When trust is lost it also becomes difficult to regain.  Marriage counselling can help couples learn to start over.
  6. TALK TO A CHURCH ELDER – If he continues to sin then talk to your church elders.
  7. SEEK COUNSELLING – Talk to a counsellor who is a trained listener.

By Sandra Ciminelli

Finding Help

Search for one near you www.theaca.org.au

Relationships Australia1300 364 277

24-Hour Telephone Counselling

Numbers to call if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide.

Lifeline on 13 11 14

MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978