How can guilt, worthlessness and depression be RESOLVED?
I had to also resolve not only my own guilt but also why I felt so worthless and depressed. I felt like a loser and in my daughter's opinion I was one. God was merciful to me, however, after spending 23 years trying to please someone who was unpleasant. I did not think I was the kind of person who could readily trust another man ever, but I was wrong. I was inspired to move to the farthest coast from my former family and begin my life over again. I had been a housewife and mother for most of those dysfunctional years but I did manage to squeeze in a few years to finish my nursing education. With that education (even though I had not practiced for many years) I went to another state to live for nine years. I met a man who is my soul mate and best friend. God did not make it easy for me but my character developed and the choices I made were the right ones because we have been married happily for 15 years. I would never trade the last half of my life for the first. So I know that there is hope.
My children as well as yours will have emotional scars but you can not blame yourself for them either. Life is hard and choices have to be made that are not good no matter what you decide. In my case I knew that my ex would not support my children and me. He would go to jail first and told me so. I did not have an education and could not get a job I could keep. I did not have a driver's license for ten of those twenty three years. Worse of all I did not feel I could succeed even if I tried. If I would have left him then my children would have been in a state of sheer poverty when they needed to be free to be kids. If I moved out and left them with him they would not have been my children. So I decided to remain until all possible options had failed to make it work. I am not an advocate of easy divorce but mistakes in judgment are made and marriages do fail. God's own marriage to Israel FAILED and He gave the whole nation a writ of divorce, so to say that God would not permit divorce is not telling the whole truth. Not telling the whole truth is how the Pastors control their flock.
"Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I HAD PUT HER AWAY AND GIVEN HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also." (Jeremiah 3:8, NKJV throughout)
Jesus told the Pharisees that it was because of the hardness of man's heart that Moses permitted men to put away their wives. Notice he was not talking to the ladies here. It was not the hardness of the lady's heart:
"He said to them, 'Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.' " (Matthew 19:8)
In that society women were considered second class citizens and did not have a say in it anyway. They were bought and sold as so much chattel except for the few like Joseph who was a man of God whose heart was soft and teachable.
As a believer and someone who was determined to do what the God of the Bible said and not veer from it to the right or to the left required a lot of years of study and some bad experiences too. For instance, I had just begun to go to church again when an abusive explosion happened and I just ran away from home. I took my two teenaged kids and drove to the west coast alone on a few bucks I had managed to save without his knowledge. I went to every Bible study offered and met new friends. At that time the issue of what God says about divorce and remarriage was raging in our church. My new pastor told me to go back to my husband IF he spent the money to take me back home and allowed me to continue attending church services. I dutifully went back to my husband and resumed what most people thought was an idealized marriage. In reality, however, it was not.
Rather than be permitted to come to church alone my husband accompanied me everywhere I went. He would veto any plans I might have made with church friends and things just were not going well. Every sermon ever given on women and submission was thrown at my feet as if to challenge my behavior as not right with God. What it taught me was that when I do pray and do submit to God, He will step into the battle and since he hates evil will vindicate the victim. There were times when only a miracle would have changed my ex-husband's mind so that the kids could attend a social activity or allow me to attend a weekly Bible Study. This went on for seven more years until my son's drinking problem caused him to be arrested and jailed for the third time for driving a car while drunk. My son, however, went on this drinking binge because my ex-husband had held a knife to my throat and threatening to kill me.
So, while my son was in jail my husband decided that he could not continue in our relationship. I stood up to him at last because at that point I did not care if I lived or died and he could no longer frighten me. I have never allowed anyone, man or woman, to scare me into behaving against my own interests or my own moral integrity again. God does not want us to submit by force but because we love him. When the pastors of the churches begin to preach on the subject of marriage they forget to completely read all the scriptures pertaining to the subject. If they told both sides of the story they would not be able to control their congregations and it is the men who in most cases give money to the church. Because of the money and control pastors have a vested interest in favoring men in a marriage.
Do ministers use the Bible AGAINST women?
Let's look at a favorite passage used by some pastors to nag and try to control married women:
"But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.
"But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
"Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.
"But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.
"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?" (1Corinthians 7:6-16)
Who is the authority in this passage, God or Paul? God inspired Paul to write this and I agree that we should look to other ways to solve marital problems rather than easy divorce but who is really taking it upon himself to make these statements? As one of his children God the Father promises to never leave you or forsake you and that he is not a respecter of persons. One has to ask how would Dad like it when I come home with a broken wrist because of a bad mistake in judgment? God hates evil. So is Paul speaking for God the Father or does he have some other reason for making these statements? Do the pastors ever analyze that possibility? The whole point is that if one is called by the Father before the other one in a marriage that was already consummated neither partner has the right to make the spouse's religious convictions grounds or justification for a divorce contention. If you are living in peace and no one is hitting you or vice a versa (lack of peace does not mean lack of physical violence only, it also means emotional and intellectual and spiritual violence) then divorce is out of the question.
On the other hand, Paul tells us plainly that it is God who has called us all to peace. Abusive marriages are not, by definition, marriages based on peace and therefore are subject to separation for safety and can be legitimately ENDED. When the divorce is proposed by the abusing spouse it makes it easy to let it go without contesting it. As Paul says then an unbeliever is free to go and the believer is not bound. John plainly tells us that one who hates his brother does not love God.
"If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (1John 4:20)
So it behooves all men who are seeking God not to hate their spouses or any other man or woman because they are themselves in their false beliefs if they do. A man who loves his wife would not be able to hit her any more than he could take an axe to his own leg.
I believe that when a pastor preaches to the ladies he needs to first put the blame squarely where God puts it. If you notice, all of the warnings that God himself makes is addressed not to a woman but to the MEN of the household:
"And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say to all the MEN of Israel . . . " (Deuteronomy 27:14)
"All of you stand today before the LORD your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the MEN of Israel. . . " (Deuteronomy 29:10)
According to the apostle Paul it was not Eve who was condemned by God, for she was deceived by the devil, but Adam who was not deceived:
"But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." (2Corinthians 11:3)
Because women are more emotionally sensitive than men Eve was the easiest of the two for Satan to lie to and he succeeded in just that. This is why we need a good mate to help us make those decisions because his natural focus is logic and these two aspects make a balanced decision which is complementary not competitive in any way.
God can help you cope with or heal any depression you may have as he did for me. Elijah experienced depression when he hid in the cave (1Kings 19). Did God punish or criticize him for it? No, he fed him and comforted him until he had rested enough to be sent on his way into another chapter in his life. I spent about six months in the depths of depression and did contemplate suicide but of course that choice was not to be made.
Be kind to yourself and allow yourself some extra time to rest and sleep and mediate and fast if necessary. Sometimes menopause causes this to be worse too but I find that when I am depressed it is because of some major decision I have to make or some trauma I had just experienced but it will heal in time. Get close to the Father and ask Jesus to intervene on your behalf and to heal you.
Rather than turning to a pastor for help turn to the Holy Spirit and allow God to fill you with this power so that you can read and put into practice the things His Word says to do. It may be that the minister who gave you advice, like the one that tried to help me, was a hireling that does not care about the "sheep" or members he serves:
"But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep." (John 10:12-13)
Each of us learn by putting our trust in the wrong things until we have to make a choice. We can continue to listen to an uncaring hireling or we can listen only to the true and faithful servant the Shepherd of God, Jesus the Christ who is the head of the church not the pastors or hirelings. Read his word and do what he did and teach what he taught. This is a major hurdle for us all to pass over.
Should abusers be FORGIVEN?
If we find ourselves helping others we are helped. If we give our lives in service to God in whatever way he chooses to lead you then you will be served and healed. And mostly when you have learned the lesson that Jesus cried out from the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34), you will begin to realize what true peace is. Your ex-husband as well as mine are victims of this hate filled society led by Satan the Devil and need our prayers not our wrath. You do not have to like him but you do have to love him as God loves you. And this is probably the worst part of being abused and that is to bring yourself to forgive them even if they do not repent or apologize. Many times apologies are insincere anyway and I would not risk confrontation again just to find out if he has changed, it is not worth it.
I might suggest when or if he should come after you again that you call the domestic abuse hotline in your state or country if there is one. When God inspired you to check out his web site he was in fact coming to get you as a lost lamb to set you free from this kind of abuse and oppression ever again but it will take some work on your part as well. May God bless you and keep you and may he give you his peace that passes all human understanding as He has for me.
A couple of the MANY helpful organizations and materials on the Internet regarding marriage and abuse are: National Domestic Violence Hotline (USA) and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.