Exactly one year ago today, I went naked on the internet… figuratively speaking. I wrote a blog post shedding masks I had been carrying for more than a decade. I hit publish, and then quaked in writer’s remorse.
It was terrifying.
But I knew it was right. I knew I was being called by God to shed the black cloak of other people’s secret sins, and choose to live in the sonlight. To choose freedom from the weight of the lies and manipulations and control projected by an addict and abuser. The terrifying unknown was balanced by a sense of incredible peace, and hope, and healing.
It wasn’t long before the stories began rolling in.
The anguish, the pain, the asking for help from dozens – then hundreds – of other women in similar situations.
Women married to sex addicts.
Women suffering unspeakable abuses.
Women so systematically disassembled by someone else’s shameless narcissism that they weren’t even able to discern what had happened to their identities — and yet still certain that something was very, very wrong.
Women married to high profile pastors and spiritual leaders who feel they have absolutely nowhere to turn for help and support.
And men too… men who found the courage to break silence and seek help to be referred to other men who could help them after being wounded by abusive women, or other men.
One year ago today, I would never have anticipated the explosion of growth, of healing, of a ministry I would never have sought on my own — but in an area so deeply, desperately, needing a chorus of voices to speak out and #BreakTheSilence and say #MeToo. Most often, most sadly, also saying #ChurchToo.
As a result, the Underground Sisterhood was formed — an invitation-only, confidential online peer support group for women in crisis due to abusive relationships with spouses who exhibit narcissism and sexual addiction. The Bucket Brigade was created to promote education and awareness about abuse issues, along with colleagues such as Jennifer Jill Schwirzer and Nicole Parker. Radio shows, seminars, television programs… God has brought opportunity after opportunity to share healing and hope to victims of abuse.
In the process, I have been forced to rely on God for absolutely everything. Eighteen months ago, I quit my steady job to provide better emotional and educational care for my children at home. At the time, I did not know how God would provide and protect us, but I was convinced my children’s needs took priority. Since then, I have seen God’s overwhelming love and care in ways I might never have believed before. But isn’t that the essence of the divine? Performing the incomprehensible in ways that we can’t humanly quantify?
During 2017, I cannot explain in concrete terms just exactly how God has done what He’s done… I’ve tried to add up the math on how our bills have been covered and how the rent is paid on time, and why my kids haven’t grown out of their clothing and shoes despite having grown an awful lot — and the math doesn’t add up. I’ve tried to figure out how for nearly three years we’ve almost never gotten sick, or had the normal wellness things that cost extra money — and it doesn’t make sense.
The mountains of challenge and difficulty we have faced, have often seemed insurmountable. Mountains ranging from basic needs to emotional heartbreak. But then God brings me stories of His providence in other seasons, often for other mothers who were seeking to provide for their children, such as:
For all these forty years, your clothes did not wear out and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Deuteronomy 8:4
There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the LORD had promised through Elijah. 1 Kings 17:16
The widow afraid of losing her sons who came to Elisha and said “I have nothing at all except a flask of olive oil. And Elisha said, Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars… Soon every container was full to the brim!” 2 Kings 4:2-6
During this year, I have experienced God stretching my own faith in ways that empower me to encourage others that He keeps his promises. And he uses His faithful children to bring those promises to life when others are in need. I know He does, because I am living it.
For the last several years running, I have faced each new year with blended pangs of uncertain hopefulness mixed with fear.
Hope that the new year might bring change.
Fear that it would prove to be more of the same.
Hope that freedom would spark faith.
Fear that God might not follow through.
This year, there is no fear. There is only faith.
Because this December 31st, unlike any year before, I know that God is love.
He is exactly who He claims to be.
He is capable of what He claims to do.
And if He has proven all those things for me, then in 2018 He can do the same for you… too.
Happy New Year!
There is no fear in love,
for perfect love casts out all fear.
1 John 4:18