Keepers of the Secret

Melissa was one of the few people I felt comfortable around, and it is only now, after looking back at our lives, that I know why. She was a few years older than me, and before I moved to another state, she married David, the only man who she felt ever paid her any attention. In my eyes, Melissa was an extraordinary person. She did even the small things with the greatest amount of care, and as long as everyone else was having fun, she seemed content to be in the background and remain unnoticeable. For as long as I can remember, she talked about becoming a teacher for children with special needs, but she always let things get in the way of pursuing her dream. And when she married David, she gave up on this dream altogether. She let him convince her that college was an unachievable goal. After he manipulated her self-esteem, he took control and had the final say on all her friendships and just about every other aspect of her life. She accepted and excused his emotional abuse.

An abusive environment is breeding ground for insecurity and low self-esteem. Often children learn to be keepers of the secret, and they sometimes gravitate towards one another, never speaking their truth verbally, but knowing it spiritually. Melissa and I shared this unspoken truth, and the moment I witnessed the interaction between she and David, I knew exactly what had happened. Like a magnet, her insecurity had attracted that familiar cursed and deceptive cyclone we both knew so well. Its rotations are both oppressive and comfortable, pushing its victim further in the shadows. It was what she knew, but she would not acknowledge abuse for the web of dysfunction and evil that it is. Instead, she would cling to it as if it was all she deserved, like it was her last and only hope to be loved.

The Creator of the universe loves us. The enormity of this reality should fuel our every move. When it does, we hear the voice of confidence resonating in our hearts, because Romans 8:16 tells us that the Spirit will testify within that we are children of God. If we allow it, the confidence of truly knowing God loves us will bring us out of the shadows and into the light as we begin to walk through God’s process of Fathering us. He pours His love into the gaps that we have tried to fill with other things.

There is no question that if those we love most have harmed or caused harm to come to us, the ground that would normally secure the foundation of our minds and hearts will break; and it is a sizable crack. The tremors from this crack vibrate brokenness, and it is so uncomfortable and hurtful, that some of us will let those with parasitical tendencies latch on. Everything that an abused person in this cycle of insecurity and denial is fed just goes right through those cracks and adds to their brokenness. We can never get full this way, but many who have been abused will continue to chase the thing that keeps them empty.

We must see ourselves as worthy, not just a little bit, but a lot. Galatians 5:1 declares that Jesus Christ has set us free, and we should never again let anyone put a harness of slavery around us. This freedom that Christ offers is our birthright. He is our Brother, and we are his siblings because of his sacrifice. He gave his life for the remission of our sins and rescued us from the kingdom of darkness. He delivered us from the bondage of low self-esteem, insecurity, and feelings of worthlessness. All this self-loathing negativity comes from satan’s kingdom, and he wants to continue to rob us of life’s vital juices so that we will walk the earth completely depleted of joy, and dependent on his kingdom of fear, sadness, and shame. We can resist this plot of deception and destruction, and we should.

Jesus Christ said in John 3:19(NLT), “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” To love light is a choice, and there is no gray area. We will either love it or love darkness, and loving darkness is not a good choice. It’s the worse one of all. God hopes we will not make that choice. The thing is, sometimes we’re not aware of what we’re doing. We’re accepting whatever comes our way, not discerning what’s from heaven and what’s from hell. We must know that we have a choice, and we can rely on God’s help. We have to wake up and realize that the packages from hell we can and should refuse. We owe it to ourselves to receive freedom from the secret, so we can be released from the pain. When we take even the tiniest step to love ourselves this way, God will begin to fill the cracks and teach us what it means to be free.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Keepers of the Secret”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

A Prayer to God for Help

Heavenly Father,

You said in 2Chronicles 7:14 that if Your people would humble themselves, pray, seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways, You will hear their prayers. You will respond by forgiving their sins and allowing Your healing, restorative power to flow into their lives. Please, hear our prayer for Your help! Humility requires that we acknowledge the honor You are due and recognize that You always know what is best and Your way always works best. Humility means that we come to You with a heart that is truly sorry for not giving You the place in our lives that You deserve. We humble ourselves before You, Father God. We know that You love us, and we demonstrate our love for You right now by confessing our faith in what You accomplished by giving Your Son to die on the cross for our sins.

You are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Your name is holy, and You are like no other. May Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There is so much confusion and sorrow in the world, and many people think this is Your Will, that You are punishing us because we haven’t listened to Your instructions and guidance, and we haven’t been good stewards of the earth. Your blessings are not earned, because we could never do anything good enough to earn all that You have done for us. You are not punishing us. You love us, and You bless us because love is Your nature. Love is who You are. Your Will is for us to live the more than abundant life that Jesus Christ came to the earth to make available. You want us to have a life full of Your grace, peace, and joy. This is Your desire for every person, and it has not changed.

Giving Your Son as a sacrifice for our sins is the greatest love act in all eternity, because Your Son is Your most precious treasure, and You didn’t spare Him for us. When we believe that You love us this big, we value ourselves differently because we can have confidence in our worth. We begin to see ourselves as children that are privileged to imitate Your nature. We cannot forget both the joy and unprecedented hate that Your Son was greeted with. Yet, he didn’t allow this to alter or stop him from doing the work You commissioned Him to do. He is our example of supreme love, and like Christ, we must be committed to do the love work You have commissioned us to do as well.

Philippians 2:13(NLT) tells us, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Heavenly Father, we invite You to work within us through Your precious Holy Spirit, because we want our lives to please You. There were times when we went off and did our own thing, not realizing that we could invite You to take the lead, and that we would have access to Your incredible love, power, and strength. We got ourselves into all kinds of trouble by choices that involved the wrong people, relationships, and connections. In many cases, we denied our identity in Christ and behaved in a way that was beneath our privilege. Please forgive us for this.

We’re in an environment that is extremely challenging, and so many of us feel very limited in our ability to access resources or to be resourceful. We’re experiencing feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and we can’t see a way out. We feel desperate and alone. Please help us, Father! You tell us in Your Word that You are our Sufficiency. You are our Source for all blessings. You declare to us in Psalm 84:11(NLT), “For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” You love us way more than we could ever love ourselves. You are our Rescue in the time of trouble. Please, Father, give us a pure heart and renew in us a right spirit. Let us abide in Your shadow so that we are continually covered beneath the umbrella of Your care.

We repent of our sins, and we place ourselves under the guidance and Lordship of Jesus Christ. We trust him with our whole hearts to lead us in the path of Your purpose and Will. You tell us in Philippians 4:19 that You will supply all our need according to Your riches in glory, and that You will do this by Jesus Christ. He is the channel by which Your abundance and blessings flow, and we rejoice in him, because through him, our hope is complete and unfailing. You tell us in Philippians 2:9 that You have given Jesus Christ a name above every name and have highly exalted him; and it is in his precious name, the name of Jesus Christ, that we pray. Amen. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“A Prayer to God for Help”,  written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

God Loves Us!

Do you know that the opposite of faith is fear and that the two cannot exist in the same place? We will either believe one or the other, but we cannot believe both. We can’t have faith and fear at the same time. This tells us a little bit about the power of these two heavyweights. Faith and fear will change the trajectory of a person’s life. Fear will paralyze our efforts and bring our lives to a dead halt. On the polar opposite, faith in God will unleash the power of Christ on our behalves and send us catapulting to new heights. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes wherever the Word of God is heard and believed. By the same token, fear is present wherever the Word of God isn’t heard and believed. Fear is the root cause of the evil and terrible things happening in our world; it is because people have refused to believe the truth.

Some will say this is too hoaxy or simple minded, that it’s an ‘out there’ premise with no merit. The intellectually inclined might find that it defies the philosophies and prowess of great minds. They might say it puts a spiritual bent on complexities that couldn’t possibly be explained by the truth of God’s spiritual doctrine. Yet, the condition of the world before us speaks extremely loud about the extent of humanity’s capabilities and limitations when we refuse to invite God’s love to reign. It shouts from the roof tops about our aptitude for great wisdom and even greater foolishness, for our great compassion and love, and even greater selfishness and desire for power at all costs. Far too many of us have abandoned God’s truth and latched on to pride and arrogance. But despite it all, God loves us, and if we will honor His truth, it will be the glue that holds our lives together.  

Genesis 1:26 tells us that God gave us humans dominion in the earth. From Him we have received the gift, permission, and authority to reign over our own lives. Romans 11:29 says that His gifts and His calling are without repentance. This means that God never has to do a do-over or a take-back. He never violates His Word. He will not overstep our free-will choices, not ever. He watched as human beings, the very ones He sent His only begotten Son to rescue, nailed Jesus to the cross and crucified him. In this unparalleled sacrifice, God showed us both the condition of the human heart and the unconditional, unlimited overflow of His matchless love.

He allowed the sacrifice of Christ because He will not overstep His Word, and His Word never fails. This is the truth! Truth’s nature is not to bring condemnation to the person that believes it, but to liberate them. Romans 8:1 declares there’s no condemnation to those who belong to Christ. God is our Creator! He knows the condition of the human heart, so our knowledge of our capacity for both good and evil is not to bring shame to us but to present us with the choice of repentance, correction, and elevation. These are truth’s staples. The Lord Jesus Christ declared in John 8:32 that we will know the truth, and the truth will make us free. We cannot be free by believing a lie. Only the truth will allow us to walk in liberty.

God still blesses us despite our shortcomings. He loves us! He has proved to us through Christ that His goodness isn’t based on who we are, it is based on who He is. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, God has shown us that no matter what we do or how smart we believe ourselves to be, He’s the One with the plan. His Will goes forth no matter what. Romans 8:28(NLT) gives us insight into the perfection of His Will and plan. It says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” This is a powerful truth. The blame game is a useless exercise. We need to allow space in our minds and hearts for the reality that God has a plan that works brilliantly. Each of us has a part to play in His plan, and if we’ll recognize this and study His Word, we will come into consciousness about the unique purpose that Heavenly Father has woven in the inner sanctum of our being.

The world can be all types of crazy, but God’s purpose will prevail. When we step into His plan, our lives begin to make sense because we’re aligning with our destinies. We’re aligning with the unique spiritual DNA that is deep within. It has been waiting to be activated, and when it is, we come alive in a way that doesn’t make sense to much of the world. It will make perfect sense to us though, because God’s Spirit will testify with our spirit that we are indeed His children.

1John 5:4(NLT) tells us, “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” Our faith in God and in what He has accomplished on the cross through Jesus Christ is what makes us an overcomer. We don’t have any power of our own. Our sufficiency comes from God. He’s our Source. He’s the glue that holds our lives together, not another person, system, agency or relationship. Don’t get it twisted. It’s not about our brilliance. It’s not about our intelligence, talent or anything else. God gives us what we need to overcome any obstacle through our faith in Him. So, we need to step out of the world, and through faith leap into the arms of our Heavenly Father. He loves us so much. For many of you, He’s been knocking at the door of your heart for a long time, and there’s not a better time than now to let Him in through His Son, Jesus Christ.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“God Loves Us!”,  written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

The Lord is Close

Again, I ask and encourage everyone to include in your prayers those who are in abusive situations and are also facing greater risk because of pandemic restrictions. If you are anything like me, you are saddened by the suffering and loss people are experiencing, but your heart is also swelling with gratitude for the roof over your head, the food on your table, and the health that allows you to live and breathe each day. These are things many of us have taken for granted, but one of the most precious blessings we have taken for granted is the closeness of our Heavenly Father. Many of us have overlooked how easy it is to reach out to Him, and to do so in a time when we need His strength, love, and power most.

Psalm 145:18(NLT) says, “The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.” What does it mean to call on the Lord in truth? The answer to this question will require us to know a little bit about a person’s motivation for calling on the Lord. Psalm 46:1 tells us that God is our refuge and strength, that He is our ever-present help in the time of trouble. It is important to know this because we desperately need God, and many are getting woke to this reality now. But coming alive to the reality of God’s blessing and provision is more than just calling His name—plenty of folks do that in vain, and sometimes in the most offensive way. To call on Him in truth is to know who it is you’re calling.

A lot of things that we think God is interested in, He’s really not so much. He doesn’t care about designer brands or whether something is in or out of style. He is not nearly as concerned about what is on the outside as He is about what is on the inside. He wants our hearts to have a place where His truth can land and take root. In other words, we should desire to meet God with something He can latch on to. He’s an eternal God dealing with a people that He desires to give eternal life. 1John 4:8 tells us that God is love. Love is not only what He does, Love is who He is. And the thing we ought to know about this is that Love has a nature, and it’s to give richly and continually.

Some biological parents make the choice to give their kids gifts without contemplating whether their kids are ready or mature enough to receive them. Our willingness to be accountable and our ability to demonstrate gratitude are the standards that indicate the quality and potential of our stewardship. We don’t have to be perfect at it, we just have to be on the track that leads us on the path to become better as life progresses. An excellent giver is someone who contemplates the recipient’s ability to steward the gift. Personally, I wouldn’t give a Rolls Royce to a 30-year-old adult without a license, nor would I give a military grade weapon to a 5-year-old. This is based on the understanding of my tiny brain, so imagine the prowess of a God that has all power and knows everything. He is THE Excellent Giver! He knows what we need, what we’re prepared to receive, and whether we’ll be truly thankful to the point of using what He gives in the right way.

Unfortunately, this very fast-paced, instant gratification environment we live in has groomed many of us to always go for the quick-fix, or to be driven by impatience and only shoot for the just enough to get by. The reality is that these approaches don’t speak the language of love and honor, and God overwhelmingly deserves both. The truth is that when humanity was at its worse, John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave us Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice. He did this so that everyone who believes in this extreme love offering will not perish but have the gift of eternal life. Nothing or no one can do what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. And we can be assured that Heavenly Father is looking at how each of us receives this amazing gift and how we demonstrate our gratitude for it.  

Jesus Christ is the Father’s only begotten Son, and He allowed him to be sacrificed to save all of us. This is love! This is truth! So, when we come to God, we don’t have to put on airs or pretense, but we DO have to recognize the unfathomable reality of His love and power. Heavenly Father loves us in all our sin, all our fear, and all our pain. This won’t mean much to us if we can’t relate to the truth of who He is, and who we can be if we allow ourselves to accept His love and get close to Him. It may get worse before it get’s better. We need the Lord, and He desires to help us. He is close, and when we call Him recognizing the truth of His love and power, He will help us. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“The Lord is Close”,  written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Walk in Wisdom, but Don’t Worry

There are many people speculating about why it is we find ourselves facing a global pandemic. The most prevalent of reasons out there is that God is punishing us because we’ve strayed so far away from His Will. This belief does not square with His Word, because God does not punish people. He doesn’t need to use fear to show His people the way. He used the love of Christ to do this. 1John 1:5 tells us, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” Fear is darkness, and many of us that have endured or are enduring domestic violence and abuse can attest to this reality. Fear cripples in many ways, and it is designed and used by the devil to do just that. When our minds and hearts are gripped by fear, and we’re in panic mode, we can’t think clearly and act wisely or decisively. We must be extremely careful not to fall into this trap.

God is light, and there isn’t any darkness in Him at all; not one drop. He doesn’t use fear to get people to do what He wants. Our Heavenly Father is the Creator of all that exists. Genesis 1:26 tells us that He created us in His own image. He gave us the gift of free-will—the ability to make our own choices and decisions. So, we can be confident that He’s not in the business of forcing us to do anything. He’s a loving God, and love doesn’t force, restrict, or imprison. 1John 4:18(NLT) tells us, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

Darkness is dispelled as soon as light is introduced. Likewise, fear is dispelled when the love of God is introduced. One of the things that our current state bears out is the reality that we still have much work to do when it comes to introducing the love of God. We still have a way to go when it comes to learning to lead by the example of Christ, so that God’s perfect love will squash the darkness of fear and all its cousins.

Individually, our actions may not have immediate impact globally, but we can certainly do our part personally and in the lives of those we influence. Heavenly Father tells us how important having and using wisdom is in Proverbs 4:7. This verse says that wisdom is the principal thing and getting it is the very wisest thing any of us can do. This verse also says that whatever else we do, we should gain a clear understanding of how to implement wisdom so we can develop good judgment. Through media and several other channels, we’ve received lots of communication about what to do and what not to do. Using the wisdom we’ve received from public health officials is responsible in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, and we should be thankful to Him that we’re receiving the information we need to care for ourselves and others.

God tells us in Philippians 4:6(NLT), “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Another incredibly important way we can positively impact as many people as possible is to take care of ourselves spiritually. Heavenly Father tells us not to abandon wisdom for worry, but instead pray about everything, from our families and loved ones to the many we’ve never met all over the world. And when we pray, there must be a level of gratitude in our hearts and minds that although we are enduring challenging times, we know the Lord will bless us to get through it. As long as we are committed to not let fear override our faith in God’s love, we will continue to grow spiritually stronger and be a blessing to many others. ■


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cripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Walk in Wisdom, but Don’t Worrywritten by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Help Yourself, Then Help Someone Else

For many people, one of the more challenging truths to accept is Proverbs 23:7(NKJV). It’s a very well-known verse in the Bible, and it says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” It’s pretty astounding actually, because it speaks to the reality that we are all spiritual beings, and this is a reality most have not accepted. Our spirit-man or ‘inner man’ is the highest part of who we are. The brain performs functions that are so complicated we can hardly fathom the intricacy of its inner working, but even so, the brain does not define us. The heart is a wonderful piece of machinery, but it doesn’t define us either. People receive heart transplants all the time, but a new organ does not change one’s identity. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that the substance of a person is shaped and molded by the invisible activity of the soul. The soul’s centers of will, emotion, and intelligent creativity determine whether we will align with our highest self or betray it.  

1Corinthians 6:19-20(NLT) tells us, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” Our physical body is our temple. It is made of dust, and when it is no longer alive, it will return to that of which it was made. This is not to say that we should regard the body any less than the magnificent creation that Heavenly Father formed it to be. However, we have no right whatsoever to assign to it functions higher or lesser than the ones sanctioned by our Creator. He has told us that the body was created to be a temple that houses the presence of His holy and powerful Spirit. If we worship the temple rather than the Holy One who lives within it, we have made our body an idol. Idolatry is the practice of worshiping the creation and not the Creator; this is a sin.

Jesus Christ said in John 6:63(NKJV), “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” The vitality, fulfilment, and richness that God intends us to experience in life can only be found in Him through Jesus Christ; it cannot be achieved through efforts of the flesh. It is impossible for you to give yourself life. You may have honed or increased the gifts, talents, and abilities you have, but you didn’t gift them to yourself. All that we are, everything that you and I own or have in our possession comes from God. Acts 17:28 tells us that it’s in Him that we live, move, and have our being. So what most of us have to do is to change our thinking about our relationship with God. We must begin to see that He’s at work on the inside of us, and then we must allow Him to come into our hearts in a greater way so that our lives will change. Romans 12:2(NLT) tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

When we don’t understand the partnership between the human spirit, soul, and body, and that all must be aligned and humbled to the Spirit of God, we become disconnected from our own hearts. It shows up in the form of being constantly disappointed and continually emptied of life’s nutrients and favor; all because we seek treasure where there is none.

As a spiritual being, God saw fit to give us this earth experience. Ephesians 1:11(NLT) tells us, “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” He chose us way before we passed through our mother’s womb. He knew us as His spiritual children, and He ordained that we should help others see the light of Christ. He appointed the time and place of our births, and we were handpicked by Him for such a time as this. It’s an enormous, incomparable gift, and we must see it this way; for we are in time, and God is not. Therefore, it is pressed on us to be conscious of the reality that life on earth is a necessary and beautiful process. We are going through it, transforming into the person God already sees when He looks at us.

You must align with the reality that your spirit contains the treasure, and it’s with you everywhere you go. Yes, Christ is just that close. It is not selfish to choose to free yourself from the affliction and bondage of abuse. It is an action to move yourself and your thoughts to higher ground, where Jesus, not pain, is Lord! Don’t allow anyone or anything to stall or impede your process, because you are transforming into the very image of Christ, then you can help someone else do the same.■

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Help Yourself, Then Help Someone Elsewritten by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Turning Pain into Gain

The notion of turning your pain into gain sounds a little pollyanna-ish for some folks, and I get it. Domestic violence and abuse can drastically change the way a person views the world, and sometimes it is very hard to snap out of being pessimistic. Personally, I felt so down on myself that I made a practice of always expecting the worse so I wouldn’t be disappointed. I was in that place so long that I had to be reprogrammed mentally and emotionally. It took a while for me to start believing that good things could happen to me, and that I was as deserving of them as anyone else. The thing that I got caught up on was how in the dickens did I end up with so many bad things happening in my life in the first place. There was no way I could get on the good foot if I couldn’t make sense of why I kept ending up with the wrong person and making the same mistakes over and over again.

I’m a person that loves organization. I’m not always organized, but I love it when things are in a place that makes sense and stay that way. Part of my professional life involves assessing the pieces of the puzzle and putting them together so that a cohesive picture emerges. In my profession, I understand from the get-go that the pieces I’m working with are not perfect and that the puzzle isn’t perfect either. Almost without fail, each and every time, I’m able to organize the pieces in such a way that my work blesses me and countless others. This very simple approach to my work gave me a foundation for comprehending how God could take someone like me and make the pieces fit. With all my bumbling around and making a mess of things, He continually pulls me together so that, like my work, my life blesses me and countless others.

We are not random beings, detached from the divine order in which God created everything in the universe. There was a time in my life that I felt very random and disjointed, but this was because I didn’t know the truth of God’s purpose for my life. Proverbs 16:4(NLT) tells us that the Lord has made everything for His own purposes. When it comes to our individual lives, He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11(NLT) ““For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”” When the heft of this truth became anchored in my heart, I understood more clearly why Adam’s and Eve’s actions were so catastrophic. God had provided beautifully for them, but they no longer wanted to be under His sovereignty and declared their independence.

They made a big mistake, and the consequences were dire. This is what happens when we buck up against God’s plan, consciously or unconsciously. When we fail to yield to the One who has all power and knows best—the One who has a plan for all of us, life loses its flavor. Many of us walk around feeling lost because we say we don’t understand how God designed this thing called ‘life’ to work. Some bad stuff happened to us, so we figure we can’t trust Him because He didn’t prevent it. We use this as an excuse to abdicate faith and cling to fear. God will judge us for running from His Word and abdicating faith, because He knows that we get ‘woke’ with a quickness about the things that are important to us. If we wanted to know Him and find refuge in Him, we would.

Like the many that have endured domestic violence and abuse, I was confused, angry, bitter, and resentful. There may be aspects of what I experienced that I will never get over, but the Spirit has turned my past pain into gain, and this is something God wants to do for every person that is suffering or has suffered. The Apostle Paul said in 2Corinthians 4:17(NKJV), “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Paul went through some pretty rough stuff and here he calls it light affliction. He lets us in on the reality that God will take our suffering and make it work so gloriously for us that the joy we experience will replace the pain.

1Corinthians 14:13 tells us that God is not the author of confusion, but of peace and order. He is life, and He has given us what He is. Heavenly Father didn’t give us such an extraordinary gift of life so it would be a vicious cycle of negativity. None of us have a perfect story, but all of us have the ability through Christ to transform and turn things around. Paul said in 2Corinthians 4:16 that we should never lose heart, because even though our outward bodies are growing older, our inward man is being renewed day by day. In other words, life gives us an opportunity to grow spiritually stronger through the Holy Spirit every day, and we should do our very best to embrace this grace we’ve been given.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“Turning Pain into Gain” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

How to Help with A Domestic Violence Situation?

A wonderful lady became very emotional while sharing her concerns for her older sister. They were very close at one time, but her sister has been in an abusive relationship for years, and it has caused a rift between them. Her whole family has begged her sister to leave her marriage, and a few times it looked promising. Things were so bad that they just knew she wouldn’t let herself be in that relationship another minute. They were in a huge fight and this couple’s seven-year-old son jumped in and tried to defend his mother. Surely this was the last straw, the family thought; but it wasn’t. Even after its clear that her child is suffering, having to defend one parent against the other, her sister still will not leave this abusive marriage. In the concerned woman’s words, “We are all so devastated, and we don’t know what to do anymore. She refuses to leave him, even though it’s tearing everybody apart.”

It is true what they say; no matter how much you want a person to change, they have to want to change for themselves. We can’t make a person change, and we can’t make them want to change. God doesn’t allow human beings to get inside each other’s heads and hearts. We have enough on our plates to keep our own temples in check, and we simply can’t do this for another person. It’s very plain to see that when it comes to the wounds and pain in someone’s life, only God can heal and help them change. He knows what to do and how to do it. His ability is leaps and bounds beyond our own. So we must understand that in these instances, often prayer becomes the only, most loving and effective gift we can offer.

When we pray for someone that perhaps isn’t praying for themselves or doesn’t know how, we’re standing in the gap, asking the Lord Jesus Christ to intervene with his unlimited resources and power. Our faith is integral in this. We must not ever view prayer as a small role in situations like these; it is truly the greatest thing we can offer. It takes our responsibility to a whole other level because we are in partnership with Christ. 2Corinithians 5:20(NLT) tells us, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”” We can be of tremendous help through prayer and be effective in ways that go far beyond our physical and mental limitations.

How else do we help with a domestic violence and abuse situation like this, especially where children and family members are involved? It can make us feel very inadequate, overwhelmed, and anxious, but God tells us Philippians 4:6(NLT), “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Spiritual warfare will always require believers to kick it in high gear through our faith. The first thing we must do is shift out of the natural plain and breach the walls of the supernatural, where resources are infinite and powerful.

There are so many dynamics involved with domestic violence and abuse, and sometimes what lurks beneath the surface is not apparent, and it is beyond our ability to understand it. The greatest thing we can do is be a vessel for the Lord to work through in any way HE deems fit. This means that we don’t interject our own emotional stuff into the situation, and we do our best to remain calm. We have to be attentive to the Spirit’s leading, as he tells us what to do and how to do it. Philippians 2:13(NKJV) tells us, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” And sometimes, His Will is that we stay on the wall in prayer, and He will take care of the rest. In any case, our faith in God and His ability is crucial.

Witnessing the impact and effect of domestic violence is a very difficult thing. There’s no doubt that we must do what we can to be supportive and compassionate, but it is very important not to make an already troubling situation worse. Those that are being affected need us to be spiritually strong and very patient. They need to know we’ll give them a safe and discreet space and place to talk openly, without judgment. If we are led by the Spirit to do so, we can help with finding legal support and other resources, but again, God is the Healer and Provider. We’re not to try and takeover or control the situation. More than anything, a person that is suffering the abuse of domestic violence needs to feel and be empowered. This begins internally first, and only God can do this work within the people who need it most, and we must partner with Him through prayer. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“How to Help with A Domestic Violence Situation?” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

A Blueprint of What to Expect

By now we’ve become used to the reality that when bad things happen in our pasts, they can impact our present and futures. When seeking emotional therapy and counsel, we are often asked about our relationships with our parents as well as traumas that might have occurred in our childhoods. One of the reasons for this is because children who endure abuse, neglect, and dysfunction within their homes begin to struggle as early as kindergarten. As they physically mature through adolescence and adulthood, they can become stunted emotionally, and cease to mature beyond the trauma they’ve experienced. Although many of us that have endured domestic violence and have been in abusive relationships may not link it to a childhood event, often challenges with recognizing or breaking negative patterns is a symptom of a traumatic childhood experience.

Spiritual growth through the Lord Jesus Christ requires us to shift out of a mind-and-heart-set of fear and into one of faith. The very nature of spiritual living is to believe in what we cannot see—to trust our spiritual sight more than our physical sight. Our flesh is a temporary house for our spirits and souls. It isn’t an eternal temple, and only allows us to dwell on earth for a season. We’re supposed to use life’s lessons to release our fears and cling to our faith. This is the only way to embrace our true identities. It is the only way that love will become anchored in the very core of our highest spiritual self in Christ. Then, we will be prepared for the next chapter of life in the Spirit after we leave this place.

A childhood trauma like domestic violence and abuse is a disruption in our emotional growth, and if unaddressed, it can prevent us from growing spiritually. Impressionable and vulnerable, children don’t have the necessary tools to discern the truth and make the right choices about what to believe. When a trauma occurs in their young lives, it profoundly impacts their emotions and responses to life. It can make fear, and not faith, the governing emotion of their existences.

1John 4:18(NLT) says, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” God’s love has no fear, and in truth, it kicks fear to the curb. This gives us a clue about how we should be handling fear; we must let God’s love into our hearts, and we also have to recognize when we’re allowing fear to run the show. Because of trauma, our minds can become stuck on trying to protect ourselves from danger and fear habitually. We don’t often realize we’re doing this, and it can do a number on adult relationships and social interactions. Of course, we all want to be loved by a quality individual, but a mind-and-heart-set of fear can keep us from recognizing exactly when a quality individual is in our midst; and furthermore, we don’t have an appropriate blueprint for what we ought to expect from him or her.

The ‘Empty Container’ Syndrome
One of the habit patterns of many victims of domestic violence is choosing partners that are not equipped for healthy relationships. When we’re stunted emotionally, in some ways we don’t mature. The radar isn’t all the way up when a rachet’ individual is lurking around, trying to run a serious manipulation game on us. We can’t tell when someone is just an empty container, so we begin to invest our hopes in them. The program running in our minds computes that they might rescue us from the fear we still haven’t addressed through the love of Christ. This person doesn’t give us nearly enough to hang our hats on, but we cast our anchors anyway. Incapable of loving us in the way we deserve, the empty container accommodates our insecurities, expands them, and then moves on to the next willing vessel.

A New Blueprint
Proverbs 4:23(NKJV) warns, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Our hearts can be magnets for people who keep us comfortable in fear, and this is why Heavenly Father tells us to stand guard—to watch what goes in our hearts and watch what comes out of them. One of the first things we must do as good ‘watchers’ is to interrupt the program of fear that is running in our hearts and minds. And we can know the extent to which this fear is imbedded by what we are willing to accept. Love doesn’t hurt us, harm us, tell us lies, play games, keep secrets, manipulate our fears, exploit our insecurities, keep us in the dark, or make us feel less than the treasure God says we are. We must reject this treatment and nip it in the bud immediately, because if crumbs is what we’ll accept, crumbs is most likely all we’ll get.

When we love ourselves enough to interrupt fear’s programming, we can change the way we think so that we wear God’s love like a second skin. In 1Corinthians 13:4-7(NLT), Heavenly Father tells us exactly what love is, how it behaves, and what we can expect from it. This passage says, “4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Renewing our minds and hearts to God’s standard of love allows us to draw a fresh blueprint with new expectations. It gives us the wisdom to make sure that only a truly loving person can follow them.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“A Blueprint of What to Expect” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Been There, Done That, Not Doing It Again!

Fear and regret are a combination that can wreak havoc on our lives, especially when domestic violence and abuse is a part of our history. A biblical teacher that taught me a great deal about God’s Word would often warn, “Don’t let doubt get stuck in your craw.” She would say this because she understood that patterns are a big part of the way every human being operates, and a pattern of fear and doubt is the biggest conduit to getting stuck in life. We start learning patterns before we learn how to talk, and we carry them into every facet of our existence. Patterns of behavior impact the way we treat ourselves, the way we interact with others, and most importantly, the way we approach our relationship with God. For the most part, regrets impact our lives after we’ve matured some, but fear is a blocker right out the gate. The insidious thing about fear is that it can be stuck in your craw and you don’t even know it.

If you’ve been around people who speak openly about the domestic violence and abuse they’ve suffered, you’ll know they often speak about its vicious negative cycle. Some will say that, like a magnet, they tended to draw individuals to themselves that were wonderful in the beginning but turned out to cause them tremendous heartache and pain. After repeating this pattern of choosing a partner who abuses, many people become insecure in their judgment and decision-making. They are fearful of making a catastrophic mistake again, so they don’t trust themselves to discern between someone who loves without harm and a person who tries to manipulate love through harm.

Proverbs 4:23(NKJV) tells us, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” To keep your heart is to watch what goes in and what comes out of it. God tells us the reason we must be watchful of our own hearts. It’s because the heart is a springboard for the issues we’ll face in life. God wouldn’t tell us to be watchful of our hearts if we lacked the ability to get it done. Neither would He tell us to watch our hearts if we didn’t NEED to get it done. We are to watch our hearts so that we can recognize negative habit patterns that work against us, and then correct them. There are more people who don’t do this than those of us who do. Many people are comfortable where they are. That ol’ sneaky, manipulative, and evil devil keeps them comfy in self-sabotaging behavior, so they’ll continue to be blind to it. God commands us to wake-up and snap out of it. We accomplish this by changing the way we think, introducing new patterns, and then eradicating the stuff that ain’t working for us. It’s recognizing the stuff that ain’t working for us that ought to become our motivation to seek a better way.

When we learn that our hearts can draw something that harms, we must have that much, and even greater faith that our hearts will draw something that fulfills our purpose and keeps us continually attuned to the Father’s love. His love is no ordinary love, and through Christ He makes us complete in it. God tells us in 1John 4:18 that there’s no fear in His love, because His perfect love will demolish our fears. We begin to see this in real-time when we no longer allow the doubt and fear of making a bad choice to occupy the driver’s seat of our lives. Jesus Christ is Lord! He’s the Head! He has earned and deserves all the driving privileges that come with this job.

The shift in our focus from self to Christ is a requirement for believers, and it is the best thing we can do for our lives. Going higher in him is often achieved from a vantage point of viewing all the mistakes we’ve made in the past. Through those mistakes, we earned the right to declare, “Been there, done that, not doing it again!” No need for regrets. Our mistakes helped to bring us to where we are today; still living and growing, with a chance to be better and stronger than we’ve ever been. Jesus Christ is why the combination of fear and regret can be kicked to the curb. When we’re trusting his love and following his example, we can have confidence that we’re no longer who we used to be, and that the magnetic force of the love of Christ will keep us on track to God’s blessings.■

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“Been There, Done That, Not Doing It Again!” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!