The Turning Point

It was the spring of 1993. I had been living in an abusive marriage for many years and had continued to honor my husband and submit to him as any “good” wife was supposed to, living under his “umbrella of authority.” But there was a critical turning point, and this was it.

The evening before, I had learned that my husband had initiated a dating relationship with another woman months before, not long after I had given birth to our third child. Though he assured me that the relationship was short-lived, I was devastated.

Emotionally spent and equally disillusioned, I left for work early the following morning, if nothing else just to put some distance between us. I wondered if I could ever trust him again, or if I even wanted to. Still, I couldn’t think only of myself; I had to think of our children. I had always believed that God could heal anything – even a broken marriage. But, at that moment, I questioned it all.

Settling in on the commuter train that would take me downtown, I felt blessed that there were few other riders at such an early hour. Silently the tears streamed down my face and fell onto my lap. I couldn’t quench them if I tried, and I felt not even the slightest obligation to hide my sorrow from the few early morning riders. The shock and grief were beyond anything I had known before. Leaning my head against the window as the dawn’s dim light began to glow with morning’s luster, I whispered perhaps the shortest prayer in my memory. “I can’t trust him, Lord.”

In the silence came an unmistakable, inaudible voice: “But you can trust Me.”

I was not alone. God not only knew the depth of my grief, but spoke to my heart the words I needed to hear in a moment when I did not expect to hear or feel anything. In the midst of such pain came one of the most powerful moments of my life.

What I failed to realize at that particular moment was that God had not only revealed Himself to me, but He had personally intervened, altering His role, and mine, within my marital relationship with those words.

It was not the first time John had violated our marriage vows. Our marriage had suffered on several occasions as a result of what I kindly refer to as “lapses of integrity.” In spite of these violations, I had continued to submit myself to my God-given authority – my husband – believing that time, faithfulness and prayer would ultimately bring us to a place of health and wholeness in our relationship. Looking back, in that moment on the train, God assumed the role that should have been filled by my wayward husband. John had stepped out from under the God’s protective will, and I had followed him into an unsafe place – as I believed was expected of me. God pulled me back under His wing.

I remember immediately assenting after hearing His voice. “Okay,” I whispered. “It’s you and me then.” My Father-God became my protector, intercessor and provider. The trust I had invested in my husband was safely shifted to God. At that point, He did not remove me from a failing marriage; He walked me through it with the strength of His tender, unwavering love.

Though I held to Him, life was not easy. In fact, things got much worse. Eight years later, the Spirit again compelled me – this time to leave home with our four children. And, less than a year later, He released me from my marriage. Divorce was not what I wanted and not what I expected.

Nevertheless, I cannot begin to count the ways God has proven Himself faithful. He has comforted me in my darkest hours. He has protected my children and me when it seemed we might be hurt or abandoned. He has provided for our needs. He made a way when there seemed to be none. He brought us a husband and a father. He has blessed us beyond measure.

Surely, He has restored the years the locusts have eaten. (Joel 2:25)

“You can trust Me.”

“I know well, Lord, that I can trust You. I know very, very well.”

From the ends of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever; let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.

Psalm 61:2-4

Copyright 2010 all rights reserved

11 thoughts on “The Turning Point”

  1. Cindy,

    Thank you for sharing it has been an absolute blessing to myself and many that you are so willing to unapologetically share what God has done in your life. Would you be willing to share more about what It looked like when you talk about how “He releases you from your marriage”? I would imagine that’s probably something that happened between you as the Holy Spirit but I would love to hear more of what that looked like.

    thanks!

    1. WOAH should have proof read that before I hit comment. You AND the Holy Spirit – not you AS the Holy Spirit. Big difference lol.

      1. Hello, Sam.

        I appreciate your comments – and the important clarification! 🙂

        I know I have shared the account of my release in several pieces, but at the moment, I can’t recall exactly where, so here goes.

        With a little background – I left with my children in March of 2001. After leaving, my husband suddenly “changed.” He pulled out all the stops to get me back. After three months of his vigorous efforts to get back into my good graces, I allowed him to return home – against my better instincts. The abuse began to ratchet up almost immediately. Three months later, I insisted that he leave again, but I still did not have a peace about divorcing him. He made no effort to change after that – just an ongoing routine of blame and shame and name-calling and belittling and harassment. Still I waited. Four months later, I was on the phone with him when he lied to me. I had information he did not know I had, and I called him on it.

        Silence.

        And in that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit release me. It was as though the huge burden I had been carrying had been suddenly lifted from my shoulders. I heard no inaudible voice as I have at other times in my life, but it felt as though He was saying, “You have fulfilled your obligation.” I had perfect peace.

        I calmly told my husband “That was it.” He responded, “What do you mean?” and I said, “You just told your last lie. I’m getting a divorce.” I have never once doubted that singularly profound moment. It was incredibly powerful. And, when my husband did all in his power to make my life a living hell after that, God’s presence was more intense and powerful and affirming than at any other season in my life.

        I think it’s important to note, however, that not everyone’s story is like mine. I have met countless women who have all had their own moment of understanding. Some just woke up one day and knew it was over. Others do their homework regarding abuse and God’s design for marriage and realize they are far beyond what God called them to. God deals with each one of us personally and in His own unique way – and time. I always urge women to seek His heart and follow Him. Not the church, not what you’ve been told. His voice.

        In my book, “God Is My Witness,” I emphasize the dual roles of conviction and peace. Conviction reminds us when we may still have a cause to wait, and peace is His gift when we are doing what He has called us to do – or not do.

        I hope this helps. Feel free to e-mail me personally from the contact page, if you’d like. Thank you for stopping by.

        Cindy

  2. Hi Cindy,

    I am 23 years into my marriage with 3 kids. Husband was out of the home twice in 2013. The second time was in December, I reluctantly allowed him back after 3 months.

    No, he has not changed in the almost 2 years he’s been back. He’s mostly emotionally abusive. He doesn’t see anything to change and says this is who he is. I guess this is typical of abusers. And he denies being abusive.

    I feel I am being nudged to leave. My husband has been the income provider for most of the marriage. He has been into pornography, emotional affairs, gone to strip clubs and stared at women when we were out in public. He minimizes all of this. I also found out about inappropriate emails to a high school girlfriend and my sister. Says it was a joke. When I first found out I was hurt, and in a state of disbelief.

    Over the last 6 years since finding out some of these things, I don’t feel like I ever got resolution. I guess there isn’t with an abuser. When I want to talk about this he would get angry, I would get upset and he makes it out like I’m crazy and talks to me like I need help.

    He said he won’t leave again, it’s his house too. I think the final point of no return was a few days ago. He made a crude comment about me in front of our young adult son. I told my husband it’s disrespectful and degrading. He defends and rationalizes. I know, there really is no way to have a conversation with him.

    I do worry about our kids taking his side. I hope I’m strong enough. This is a lonely road, but I don’t want to live this lie anymore. He’s military and I will get 50% of his retirement, I pretty sure he doesn’t want me to have any of it. I don’t know how bad the post separation abuse will be.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and others who share too.

    1. Hello, Marie.

      I’m glad you found the website and are receiving a measure of support for your current situation in what I offer here. I trust you are seeing that what you have described in your own relationship constitutes abuse. I know it is intimidating to leave the relationship. There is no way to know for certain what is to come, but I can also tell you that there is another, more peaceful life that awaits you on the other side, where healing can be found.

      I do not expect that it will be easy, or that he will make it so. But when you mention “post separation abuse,” you will have much more power and control over your own life once you are no longer living in the same home with him. You can take the steps necessary to protect yourself and begin building a new life for you and your kids. Yes, he will probably lie about you and paint you as an evil woman. That is typical. But I have to believe that either your kids know the truth – or they will discover it for themselves over time. If you have not yet read, “Seven Long Years,” my account of such a season, I would encourage you to do so. You might also want to read, “Life on the Other Side” and “Maybe I Was Married to an Abuser.” It may be a battle, but personally I believe it is a battle worth fighting – to reclaim your value and your life.

      You are not alone in this. The important thing is to educate yourself on the dynamic so that you see the abuse when it happens and identify it as such. The more you understand, the stronger you will become.

      I wish you well and thank you for taking the time to write. You are welcome to comment or ask for direction as you have need.

      Cindy

  3. I can’t believe this site exists. I stumbled upon it through a marriage builders article. I feel crazy 23 hours out of my day and finding this site has given me some relief and hope. I am surrounded by people that support my husband and his version of events-that never seem to tell the whole story and I don’t want to tell anyone what he actually does out of fear they’ll hate him too. Part of me still loves him and wants this to work. It’s getting physical though — not to the point of leaving marks or hurting me-just scaring me. Our church and family definitely lean towards “what are you doing that makes him to do that or treat you like this?” I’ve read on multiple abuse support pages something similar as I did here– (paraphrasing) “The more you learn about abusive tactics, the more you’ll recognize it.” I know exactly when he’s being abusive and/or manipulative or lying…I guess the list could go on. My question is: What then? How do you not crumble under the heavy rock of what he says and does? I feel completely helpless and trapped. I am well passed resentment and have a hard time even functioning anymore. What do you do when you see it plain as day and A) no one else does and B) what do you do with the knowledge of how an abuser works? How do you put it into use?
    Welp that was long winded. Wow I’m so happy I found this site. Thank you so much for investing your time into a topic that seems brushed over by our Christian community right now.

    <3

    1. Hello, TAB.

      I’m glad you found the website and want you to feel welcome and validated here.

      You are not alone and, as you have discovered, both ignorant friends and an uneducated church continue to enable abuse in the body. I am here to help. This is my ministry. Please let me know what kind of information you need, and I will try to direct you.

      Of course, my book, “Why Is He So Mean to Me?” (second edition) will give you the whole enchilada in one meal. As an e-book it is only $8.95 here (and probably less on Amazon), which is by design to get it into the hands of as many women as possible. There are reviews here and on Amazon if you are interested. There is also a wealth of information in the articles here on the website, and phone consultations with me are also available – paid by the minute.

      At the end of the day, you cannot control what others think and live your life according to others views or expectations of you. All abuse victims find themselves up against a wall of public opinion. Know from the outset that many people will never “get it.” Your job is to respond and live your life according to the truth.

      Thank you for taking the time to write. I hope to hear from you.

      Cindy

      P.S. If you can direct me to the piece on Marriage Builders that referenced this website, I would be most appreciative.

  4. Wow. I can relate to so many of your experiences as an abused Christian wife, but especially this one. A huge moment for me came one day when I was venting and pouring out my hurt before the Lord, concluding with the statement that I couldn’t trust my husband. As clearly as if they were audible, God spoke these EXACT words back to my heart: “I know you don’t trust him…Trust ME.” In retrospect, it was the beginning of my journey toward “letting go” and placing my husband & marriage 100% in His hands–at which point God immediately orchestrated events which (while terrifying) would lead to my & my kids’ safe removal from the home, and ultimately out of the abusive situation.

    1. Hello, Diane. Thank you for taking the time to share your own experience which is, as you noted, so very similar to mine. I’m sorry you had to go through that terrifying experience and that God worked through it to set you and your children free.

      I hope you are recovering and receiving the emotional support you need. Years ago, when I left my abuser, help was not so easy to find. I’d like to believe there are more, better resources out there, although even in my present experience, the contemporary church still often fails to validate and emotionally support victims. Feel free to let me know if there is any way I can help or direct you. You can always email me through the About Me/Contact Cindy page.

      Thank you again for taking the time to share your experience.

      Wishing you well,

      Cindy

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