The {Current} Lies I’ve Been Telling Myself

I treat my mind and heart worse than I treat my enemies. I say things to myself that I would never, ever consider saying to anyone else, because they are so very unkind.

And here are my two current lies I’m telling myself:

One, I am lazy.  I have wrestled with this one for most of my adult life. Even though I worked every summer during high school and college. Even though I raised (and am still raising) two children, now on my own. Even though I have taken care of a home for the past twenty-one years. Even though I have written a half dozen books and several e-books. Even though I worked on staff at my church for four years over women’s ministry and small groups and communications and first impressions and such. Even though I’ve built a speaking career and have spoken over one hundred and seventy-five times. Even though all that, I consider myself to not be hard-working…to be lazy.  And it’s because of this one reason: because of voices (some internal, some external) that make me feel like since I do not drive to an office and clock in at 9am and clock out at 5pm and then drive home, because at this current sweet season, I am designing my life around how God has wired me and doing what I feel he wants me to do and has gifted me to do, that I am actually not really working at all.

But here’s the truth that I have to remind myself…

I may not clock in and clock out in some random office, but I – especially lately – never clock out mentally. I even dreamt recently that I was trying to help a woman in a hard marriage. It is always on my radar. I am always thinking about the women in my Facebook groups or my blog readers. I am aware at all times that there’s so much more work to do, that I have barely scratched the surface of helping hurting women feel not so alone and crazy, or elevating the beauty of Christian marriage, or shaking the Church by the collective shoulders over domestic abuse or what-have-you.

And I may not clock in and clock out in some random office, but I have cranked out more content in the past six months than I did in the past five years combined.

And I may not clock in and clock out in some random office, but I am doing meaningful work, important work, and every day, I hear from at least one woman that what I do is helping her.

So, I am not lazy.

And two, I am not resilient. I am fragile, weak, unable to handle what life throws at me. I was pretty upset with myself recently for two things. How long it took me to bounce back from the ending of my friendship with the good man and that after the crazy online dating incident, how I pulled my profile down that night and pretty much recoiled, telling a friend the next morning, “I’m out of the game, man.”  I’ve been kicking myself for not just doing what I heard Carrie Underwood say she used to do after a break-up…how she’d take a day to be sad and then she’d move on to go be awesome. Ha! O-kay. Yeah. I really pretty much don’t do my life that way.

But here’s the truth that I have to remind myself…

I have been through hell over the past twenty years in several areas of my life, and not only did I make it through, I am way stronger than I have ever been — even in a sad season, even in a desert season, no matter how I’m feeling — I am stronger than I give myself credit for being.

And not only that, I think there’s a reason it might take me a bit longer than the average guy to bounce back. Because God wired me up to use my pain to help others. So if I’m going to commit my life to that — and I have — then I want and need to make sure I have fully processed and learned and decathected the whole thing from top to bottom so I can wring it dry and pass along both the lessons and the comfort I’ve received.  If I were sad after a hard thing for just one day, most of this blog and Unraveling wouldn’t have been written.

The time I take to walk through something hard or sad is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of depth and sensitivity.  And it’s how God created me. And I am grateful. I am grateful to be introspective and melancholy and have something to offer other women in pain. If it means I have to sit in the pain a little bit longer than the average guy so I can eventually help someone else, I’ll willingly do it every single time.

So, I am resilient, even if it doesn’t look like it to the outside world.

Everyone knows the power of words and we try hard, for the most part, to speak kindly to others. But we need to do the same for ourselves.

What lies have you been telling yourself lately that you need to refute with Truth?

 

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

By |August 25th, 2014|heart|3 Comments

Special Announcement

CoverAs many of you may know, I will be releasing my first novel, World Split Open, in September. I am so excited about this I can hardly stand it!

What you don’t know is this: it will be available for a LIMITED TIME ONLY.

Here’s what some early readers are saying about World Split Open:

“I loved World Split Open. I could relate to EVERY emotion, thought, prayer, and desire of the main character…it felt like me! That in itself was comforting even though the story is fiction. I look forward to this releasing so other women can experience it.”  – a reader

“In World Split Open, Elisabeth Klein doesn’t gloss over the pain or the heartache of a difficult marriage. I’m thankful Elisabeth left it slightly messy.”  -Brenda Burney

“I loved World Split Open. It was very realistic. The ending was very unexpected, but good. I think women will be able to relate to the main character, and it will reach hearts and make people think. Great story!” – a reader

I will be rolling out details soon.  So, if you’d like to be notified when and where you will be able to get your copy, you can sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/ox9p6e4

(And bonus: when you sign up, you will receive a free copy of my Top Ten Tips for Getting through a Crisis AND have the chance to pay whatever you want for my three e-books. Bam!)

 

The Online Dating Sites I Used

In the past couple weeks, I’ve been asked a handful of times what online dating sites I used and what I thought about them, so though I am no expert in this, I’ll toss in my two cents.

But let me first toss out two caveats:
If you are separated, my deep belief is that you are married until you are divorced. In other words, to protect your heart and the heart of the other party or parties, I strongly advise that you do not date at all until you are officially divorced.
And if you are recently divorced, my deep belief is that you need time to heal. Probably more time than you think. So, my suggestion is that at the very least, you do not date for one year post-divorce. Trust me when I say that your healing is paramount in preparing you for your next relationship. And I say these things with no ulterior motive other than I care so much for each one of you, my sweet readers.

Okay, so to be upfront with you, this was my timeline:

June 21: joined two sites.
June 26: date #1 with bachelor #1.
June 28: date #1 with bachelor #2.
June 29: bad thing happened with bachelor #2.
June 30: took profiles down, declaring the month NO-BOYS-JULY. (hahaha!…I’m cute)
July 5: profiles back up (because I’m a girl whose prerogative it is to change her ever-lovin’ mind), adding one more site to the mix.
(Fine-tuned my process.)
July 16: date #1 with bachelor #3.
July 18: my two-year divorc-ary
July 19: date #1 with bachelor #4.
July 22: date #1 with bachelor #5.
July 24: date #2 with bachelor #5.
July 27: took all three profiles down to see where things go with bachelor #5.

I tell you all this to show you I wasn’t on the sites very long at all, which gives me limited experience. In fact, I just read a comment from a reader that she’s been online dating for ten years.  I couldn’t imagine doing that, as it practically felt like a part-time job.  But even with limited exposure to these three sites, I do have some thoughts that might help.  And again, this is just MY OPINION. I am not endorsing one site over another. I get no kick-back (though I wouldn’t mind being in one of those success-story commercials if things keep going well with Tall-Shadow. I always wanted to be on television…this could be my big break!).

Anyway, I’ll simply tell you the three sites I joined and my experience with each one of them.

eHarmony: I joined this one because I loved the idea of the questionnaire that you have to take to set up your profile.  It was super thorough and I even had a friend help me so I could be objective. It took about 45 minutes and it gave me loads of confidence that I would be matched well.  Unfortunately, I only had two men show interest, and neither I was very interested in back. And the process felt pretty slow to me. You have the opportunity to send the other person you’re interested in five questions, then they answer, then they can send five back. Then you sort of continue that process.  That’s all good and fine, but I’d rather just old-fashioned emailing. To be honest, I had expected more yield for the money and upfront time. But that’s just me.  I was glad I had also signed up for…

ChristianMingle: This one had originally felt like my back-up, but bachelors #1 through #4 came through CM. Who knew?? It didn’t cost as much and was much quicker in the setting up stage. And right away I was being “smiled” at by multiple guys. (Blech.) I had set up a rule that I was not going to initiate any contact with any men, but that I wanted to be pursued. I then added the rule that I was not going to even respond to those stupid smiles, especially if the guy couldn’t be bothered to personalize the corny message (“I like your smile so I’m sending you a smile in return” or something like that…really??). But CM also has an email system, so if a man took the time and effort to read my profile and then write something appropriate and I thought he was cute and he lived somewhat in the area and I liked what he had to say, I wrote him back. (If there were no pictures, I deleted. If he lived far away, I deleted.)  The downside is that without the lengthy questionnaire on the front end, I’d simply advise that you’ll need to be a bit more thorough in your sifting process.

So, those were my original two sites. Then I took my five-minute sabbatical and when I decided to move forward, I was literally sitting on my couch with my laptop and the TV on, when a Match.com commercial came up and I thought, “What the heck?” (Famous last words.)

Match.com: I had NO INTENTION of not using a Christian site, but I was super curious how that site worked and if that would open up my options a bit (I do NOT mean that I was opening up my options to men who didn’t believe and love Jesus, just opening up my options in general).  So, here’s the funny thing: I saw many of the same men on Match that I saw on CM. And another tip: if you think you have to sift on CM, you REALLY have to be wary on Match.  I made my profile so freaking clear…in fact, here’s a portion of it:

Untitled

 

Okay, so even if you outright say something like DO NOT CONTACT ME, I HATE MEN…you will still get winks and liked and favorite’d and emailed. You will have to grow a  pair thicker skin if you want to navigate this thing well.

I had an atheist email me. I had a seventy-one-year-old wink at me. (To quote Jimmy Fallon as Sara with no ‘h’, “ew“.) I had men from New York and Florida and Colorado ask me for drinks in the first email. So, clearly, most men don’t actually READ the profile.  (Boys.) You will have to be prepared to either ignore/delete or send a polite ‘no thank you’ and move on.

But, if you’re willing to keep an open mind (an appropriate, Jesus-y open mind, of course), and do your due diligence, and keep praying for discernment, you actually can meet a good man. (I met several, and then I met the box-ticker.)

So, there you go. No matter which site you choose, God is active and present in your life. If he wants you to be partnered up, I have NO DOUBT in my mind that he will bring someone – a really good-for-you someone – to you when you’re both ready.

And in the meantime, continue walking closely with Jesus. Continue becoming more healthy and whole. Continue serving. Continue worshiping. Continue reaching out and staying connected. Continue living.

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

Can I Share Stuff with My Kids?

So a few months ago, I was in a funk. My life, as I knew it, felt very strange to me. Where I could typically see the road ahead a bit, I saw only fuzzy murkiness. (I hate fuzzy murkiness.)

Usually, when I swing in and out of moods or my hormones go up and down, though I’m sure my kids can tell a bit that I’m going through something, we sort of have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy, even though they’re in their mid- to late-teens.

I assume they don’t want to know, or it would be inappropriate for me to share, and, well, they’re teenagers, so it’s pretty rare that they check in with how I’m doing.

Except this time. Because this time I told my kids on the way home from school that though they could totally talk and tell me about their day, I was feeling kinda off and I didn’t want to talk, but I’d listen.  So, I heard the normal rundown and we went about our business when we got home.

Then we went out to dinner, like we do every Wednesday night before youth group, and I was just sort of sitting there.  I was even bumming myself out, to be honest. I still didn’t want to talk, I wasn’t feeling any better (it had only been two hours, so I wasn’t expecting to, but still), and my daughter rested her head on my shoulder, in sort of a, “I love you, Momma” kind of way.

And I took a deep breath and said, “Do you guys want to know what’s wrong?”

I think they were surprised I asked. And they surprised me right back by saying yes.

So I tried to explain it, the best that I could. How my life felt odd to me and how I was frustrated and a bit scared and felt confused and just plain weird and I didn’t know what was coming and how I hated not knowing what was coming.

And they both nodded and said, “Me too.”  In fact, my daughter said, “That’s how I feel every day.”  Now, I know they do not feel the way I feel because our life circumstances are completely different, but you know what?  Oh yeah.

Even though I once was a teenager, I think I forget that what I’m feeling, in a very profound way, is what they are feeling as they try to look down their roads and can’t make anything out either.

And I was blown away by not only their interest in me, but their immediate resonance with what I was poorly trying to describe.

Yes, we quickly switched subjects, as I can only assume it’s a bit unnerving to have the head of your household basically say she feels like she’s sinking, but we had those few moments together, my children who are on the verge of adulthood and me.  And no one can ever take those away.

What can you appropriately share with your children today that will bring you closer or make one or both of you feel a little less alone?

 

If this post encouraged you, you’ll want to check out “Moving on as a Christian Single Mom”, found here.

 

Mean Boys

I have a story I want to share with you because many of you have a difficult relationship in your past, as I do, and I want you to learn from my journey - especially those who are on the other side of divorce and are considering dating.

A little while back I wrote about trying online dating and how bachelor #2 and I had some major chemistry going on during our first date but then something happened and we didn’t move forward.  Well, I want to tell you what happened and how I handled it at first which wasn’t all that great and then how I eventually handled it which was, if I may say so myself, pretty freakin’ awesome.

Let me say before I dive in that I’m not saying any of these things in an effort to badmouth this man. This man will remain nameless and faceless to you. I am saying it because there are characteristics that you may come across out there in the world and I want you to think through how to handle men like him in general.

I will now be the first to scream from the mountaintops that there are indeed good, good men out there…I have met five in the past few months, and I’m just scratching the surface.  But sometimes a man who is not yet healed is out in the dating world prematurely and can hurt you. So here’s my story.

Bachelor #2 and I hit it off. During our date, we talked about everything, including the fact that I had just been on a motorcycle date two days prior and that I had already agreed to a second date with bachelor #1. (Some might recommend not discussing one date with another date, but my life is all about full disclosure and I just wanted each man to know what I was doing for their sakes.)  Bachelor #2 was cool about it, suggesting I go on a bunch of dates, though he jokingly said, “In my professional opinion, you can probably just take your profile down now,” as in, he and I had met, and there was no longer a need for further exploration.  It was flirty and cute, so we wrapped up, and I knew I wanted to see him again.

He called me the next day and about a half hour into the conversation, he asked what I was doing the next day. I said, “I’m doing that thing that you probably don’t want to know that I’m doing.”  (2nd date with bachelor #1.)  And that’s when things took an odd turn.

“Wait, you’re going out with that guy?” he asked.

“Umm, yeah. We just talked about this last night,” I replied, thinking he was kinda kidding, but not really sure.

“Oh no. I’ve done this before. I’m not doing this again. I know girls like you,” he said.

Still trying to process if he were kidding or not, I said, “Wait, what?? I’m not a girl like that. I wouldn’t even know how to be one of those girls”.

“And you know what? You’re not going to be my girl either.” Click.

I stood in my living room, my mouth hanging open. What in the world had just happened??  I immediately tried calling him back (this is where my old patterns kicked in…I’m not proud but it was my kneejerk response, I’m sad to say). I left him a voicemail saying that he must’ve misunderstood me and that we had just talked about all this the night before and that I was simply trying to be a woman of my word by going on the second date with bachelor #1 but that I really did have more chemistry with him and wanted to see him again and that I really, really wasn’t “one of those girls” (whatever that even meant).  I then received several long texts filled with putdowns about my character and questioning my salvation, with a final statement of “do not contact me again”.

I was stunned, completely floored.  That evening and then the next morning, I recounted the conversation and read the texts to three friends.  They also couldn’t believe that someone who barely knew me would come across so territorial and they all pretty much agreed that it was a good thing I was tipped off to who he really was so early on, you know, before I could get hurt.  (Too late.)

But while with two of my friends, he sent me the first of many apology texts.

If I were one hundred percent healthy and healed and whole, I wouldn’t have responded to any of his texts from that moment on.

But I am not yet one hundred percent healthy and healed and whole yet, girls.  And though I really didn’t intend to give him a second chance at another date, I also didn’t cut him off right then and there.

More texts went back and forth for a few days, and then I decided to take a break from men in general, pronouncing a no-boys-July moratorium. I told him I was taking my profile down and to not text me as I needed to think and pray about all this.  He respected my wishes…for maybe a week.

By this point, I lifted my own ban on boys because, well, I’m a grown-up and I can change my mind if I want to, and I put the ol’ profile back up, and went on to meet three more men after that yucky incident.

So, I’m moving on and minding my own business when bachelor #2 comes back into the picture. He saw my profile was back up and texted me again.

He asked me if we could just be friends.

I said I’d think about it.

He asked me if we could go for a walk.

I said I’d think about it.

He kept texting saying how he’d messed up and failed me and God and himself. He’d text me novella-length texts. Too long for how little we knew each other.

And in these texts, he sprinkled terms of endearment like baby, angel, darling, and my favorite: you’re my girl. (Umm, no. I’m so totally not.)

But one morning I woke up to a few extra-long texts all in a row where he crossed the line (I know, I know…that one phone call when he hung up on me should’ve crossed the line…I’m a work in progress, people…it’s why you all like me so much).

Because in that text he invited me to go somewhere with him for the weekend, but then said, “I’ve made up my mind. You’re going with me. We’ll get separate rooms. I’ll pick you up on Friday night.”

Oh no he di-in’t.  Did he just tell me what to do???  Yes. Yes he did. He had just inadvertently poked the bear. Beth was triggered and Beth was mad.

I responded with a ridiculously restrained message of: “There are so many things in this text that make me uncomfortable. I am not going away with you this weekend. I’m rethinking the walk. I’ll be in touch.”

By this point, I was just planning to ignore all future texts.  But something interesting happened.  I had lunch with bachelor #5. (You know, the one who ticked all the boxes.)  And after that lunch with that sweet, sweet man, I realized fully how a man is supposed to treat a woman.

So when I got home from lunch with the sweet man, I texted bachelor #2 and said I’d like to go for a walk.  He, foolishly, suggested we take the train to Chicago and walk along the beach. I said no.  That we’d be walking on my street with my dog at 9am.  He, foolishly, then told me to make it 8:30 to give us more time, at another place in my neighborhood, and he’d bring me Starbucks.  I said no: 9am, my street, no Starbucks.  He then told me I was killing him.  (I was killing him?! Oh my lands.)

The next day came. We met on the corner of my street (don’t worry: he does not know which house is mine). I had Oakley and my phone.  He said hi darlin’ and we got walking. (This man.)  Anyway.

I led the conversation.  “So, tell me, do you read your texts to me before you send them?”

He chuckled a bit. “No, I just write them, then send them, then delete them.”

“Hmm…yeah, well, I’m going to read you a few of your texts…”  And despite his protests, I did.

Baby this, and angel girl thatAnd I’ve made up my mind, you’re coming with me.

I then said, “Calling me baby and angel and your girl when you’ve known me for five minutes: completely inappropriate.”

Pause to let it sink in.

“But telling me what to do: completely unacceptable. You are the first man that I have been mad at since my ex-husband. You are the first man to bring up feelings like I had in my marriage. I did not leave my marriage just get back into something just like it.”

“Darlin’, you’ve got to know I was just kidding with all that,” he said.

I just looked at him.  “You get that this isn’t going to work between us, right?”

“Yeah,” he said, somewhat dejectedly.

“Good,” I said.

(Let me point out perhaps the best – or at least most ironic – part: my ex-husband and daughter drove by us as we were hashing all this out. No joke. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.)

So as we were walking back to his truck, he said to me, “I’m really sorry…this was all my fault,” to which I replied, kinda yelling, “I know! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

We parted ways and I high-fived myself all the way back to my house.

So here’s why I’m telling you this pretty personal thing (other than that’s what I pretty much always do):

First, if you’re dating, you must be aware that some men out there may treat you poorly. Some men who are dating should not be dating.

Secondly, you need to be self-aware that you might be triggered and to show yourself grace if you find yourself reacting the way you used to respond.  This all takes time.  Be gentle with yourself. And check in with someone else who is more objective to get her take on it if you need to.

Thirdly, though I didn’t handle it great at the beginning, taking that man on that walk and looking him in the eyes and saying what I said to him was maybe one of the strongest, most whole things I’ve ever done in my lifetime. It is huge for me to now see that, for the most part, I am not going to let fear or insecurity make all of my life-changing decisions for me. I am really proud of how far I’ve come (through Jesus, don’t get me wrong), and I want you to know that if you’re not there yet, you can get there. Jesus created you for wholeness, not to be freaking walked on.

Fourthly, for the love, DO NOT SETTLE. I almost – and I can’t even believe this – went out with him again. But I now completely realize that I would rather be alone than with someone who will treat me poorly.  This is probably a ‘duh’ for some of you, but for the rest of us, that may be a revelation that you have yet to come to.  In time, my friend.

And lastly, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: THERE ARE GOOD MEN OUT THERE who love Jesus and who will treat you well. I’ve met a handful and I’m currently seeing one right now. (Yep.)

Okay, wow…SUPER long post. If you hung in all the way til the end, thank you. But just like almost everything else I experience in this odd life that stings a little or a lot, I believe God lets it all happen to me so I can turn around and hand it back to you sweet ones as a lesson learned.

You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.  No matter what anyone says, no matter how you feel, no matter what your life looks like right this minute…you are loved.

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

 

 

What to Do If You are a Mom in a Hard Marriage

You’d think my trickiest mothering season would’ve been transitioning from being a married mom to a single mom when I went through my divorce a couple years ago.  And don’t get me wrong, that was hard, and it still can be challenging to navigate all this on my own.

And yet, that was not the toughest stretch.

My most difficult parenting season was the very-hard-marriage years.  And here’s why.

Because I was trying to do what they say to do in all the articles and books and that is to never argue in front your children, which I totally understand.  But what they mean when they say that is the subtle message of don’t let your children see your real marriage.

Talk about a seemingly impossible task in a marriage with abuse and addiction issues.  The best I could usually accomplish was trying to stop myself from crying before reaching my bedroom door.

So, moms, if you find yourself slogging through the daily monotony of motherhood dragging behind you the ball-and-chain of a marriage that leaves you crying yourself to sleep most nights, there is hope and help.

I’m not going to give you the tips that “regular” marriages get; things like touch more and submit more and cook his favorite meal more.

I’m not saying not to do those things, but I will say that what you need is sort of extra-strength.

Pray. You may be done praying. You may not feel heard anymore. It may seem pointless. You may think it doesn’t help anything, so why bother. But I’m going to ask you to keep praying anyway.  Don’t just pray that your husband will change.  In fact, you might even want to take a breather on that one for a little while.  Instead, I’d suggest you pray that God heal your marriage, bring you the help you need, reveal to you your true reality, and soften your heart.  These are scary prayers, but they are all prayers that God wants to and will answer.

Read. You have probably read every Christian marriage book out there, like I did. And there are a ton of them. But there are very few difficult Christian marriage books out there.  I’ve got two I’d like to recommend.  The first is Leslie Vernick’s The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.  This is the best difficult Christian marriage book I’ve ever read by a professional, and it’s practical and biblically based.  And I have a new e-book/PDF entitled Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage. With all the books I’ve read out there, I never came across one written by a woman who actually experienced and lived through a difficult marriage.  But I have, and I remember the pain and confusion as clear as day, and I wanted to reach out with the hope of Jesus.

Reach out. This will probably be the most difficult step.  Because you maybe have already hinted about your marriage issues or you perhaps have already asked for help, and you were possibly given that “regular” marriage list and patted on the head and sent right back in to battle, weapon-less and without protection.  But I assure you that there are people and places you can go to get good, solid help.  I’d start with places like Celebrate Recovery or AlAnon.  I’d check out a Christian counselor. And I would prayerfully seek help from your church’s leadership. However, if you do not feel heard, believed or understood, I would move on and ask again until you are heard, believed and understood.

Sweet mom trying to get through your day with the additional burden of a difficult marriage, please know that you’re not alone. Please know that God sees your tears and your pain. And please know he wants to bring you and your family healing.

Desert Seasons

These past few weeks, months maybe, have been different for me.  I worked myself into the ground and found myself crying during a leadership coaching session, telling my coach that I felt like I was pushing a boulder up a hill, only to have it come rolling back down on me. That I was working my butt off and felt like I had nothing to show for it. That I had next to nothing to give anymore. That I wasn’t seeing the point.

In other words, I was completely exhausted.

Later that day I made a decision: to take July off from writing and businessy-type plotting.

What unfolded was one quiet day after the next.

I purged every room of my house. I read a few novels (Me Before You, Telling the Bees & Saint Maybe to be specific). An Alias marathon took place on my couch. I took two, three, sometimes four walks each day. I took some bike rides. I took Oakley to the dog park. Sara and I meandered around downtown Geneva. And I just tried to stop thinking so hard, all the time, about everyone’s pain.

But here was the interesting thing. Though I was lingering in my quiet times and taking along worship music on my morning walks and my mind was about as emptied out as I knew how to let it be, I felt…nothing.

The first couple weeks, not only did I feel no restoration of my soul, nor did I hear a single anything from the Spirit, I remained exhausted and, well, done.

This is where the worker bee in me would normally step in and try to come up with another few spiritual disciplines to try out (as if, after over twenty-eight years of following Christ, I haven’t more than likely tried them all).

But I didn’t this time. I simply told myself that it seemed to me like I was in a desert. And that I might not know why. And that God could do whatever he wanted with me. And that sometimes, you can just be. You don’t always have to work yourself up into a frenzy; you don’t have to manufacture experiences or closeness with God.

So my friends would text, “How are you feeling today?”, I think, hoping, that one of those times I’d answer back, “Refreshed!” or “Heard from God today!”  But I’d just start saying, “The same. In a desert. And it’s okay. I’m okay with it.”

So this seems to continue the very quiet lesson I seem to be learning and relearning in every area of my life these days, and it’s this:

Whatever I feel, whatever I’m experiencing, is okay. It’s all okay. And it’s all going to be okay.
And I’m going to be okay.
And…you can’t – for the most part – force yourself out of feeling something you’re feeling,
so acceptance is the least painful way through.

Desert seasons are not fun seasons. They are typically not hugely outwardly accomplishing seasons. They are quiet seasons, sometimes uncomfortably so. But I believe they are necessary seasons. I believe that things are being worked through – emotionally and spiritually – that can only be worked through in the silences and slowings and stillnesses. And I believe, like every other season, it will sweep back out, ushering in something new and different, with lessons of its own for us to learn.

Everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. –Ecclesiastes 3:1-

What season are you in?

 

 

If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click here for more information.

 

Church, Wake Up to Abuse

I am a very grateful girl. My pleas for help were misunderstood for a dozen years. And now, in this safe place, I can honestly say that I am grateful that they were.  Hear me out.

Because my experience is one of not being helped and being helped, I know both sides of the continuum because I experienced both sides of the continuum firsthand.

I do not wish it on anyone else, of course. I wish every pastor and church leader and adult ministries director and small group leader understood the difference between marriages going through a rough patch and marriages that are characterized by abuse or addiction issues. But that is not the case.  I hear stories all the time of women who went to their church for help, thinking it was their safest place, and not getting it.

In fact, I’m reading Jeff Crippen & Anna Wood’s A Cry for Justice right now. These people get it.  This is an all-too-familiar cycle that already-abused women suffer through at the hands of their church leadership. Please read this with an open mind and heart…if you are a church leader, does this sound like you?

“1. Victim reports abuse to her pastor{/church leader}.
2. Pastor{/church leader} does not believe her claims, or at least believes they are greatly exaggerated. After all, he “knows” her husband to be one of the finest Christian men he knows, a pillar of the church.
3. Pastor{/church leader} minimizes the severity of the abuse. His goal is often, frankly, damage control (to himself and to his church).
4. Pastor{/church leader} indirectly (or not so indirectly!) implies that the victim needs to do better in her role as wife and mother and as a Christian. He concludes that all such scenarios are a “50/50” blame sharing.
5. Pastor{/church leader} sends the victim home, back to the abuser, after praying with her and entrusting the problem to the Lord.
6. Pastor{/church leader} believes he has done his job.
7. Victim returns, reporting that nothing has changed. She has tried harder and prayed, but the abuse has continued.
8. Pastor{/church leader} decides to do some counseling. He says “I will have a little talk with your husband” or “I am sure that all three of us can sit down and work this all out.” Either of these routes only results in further and more intense abuse of the victim. This counseling can go on for years! (One victim reported that it dragged on for nine years in her case).
9. As time passes, the victim becomes the guilty party in the eyes of the pastor{/church leader} and others. She is the one causing the commotion. She is pressured by the pastor{/church leader} and others in the church to stop rebelling, to submit to her husband, and stop causing division in the church.
10. After more time passes, the victim separates from or divorces the abuser. The church has refused to believe her, has persistently covered up the abuse, has failed to obey the law and report the abuse to the police; and has refused to exercise church discipline against the abuser. Ironically, warnings of impending church discipline are often directed against the victim!
11. The final terrible injustice is that the victim is the one who must leave the church, while the abuser remains a member in good standing, having successfully duped the pastor{/church leader} and church into believing that his victim was the real problem.”

In my first twelve or so years of asking for help, this was my cycle, and it happened several times.  I can gratefully say that I did eventually get the help that I (and my marriage) so desperately needed, but I need you to hear me.  The above cycle is real. The above cycle happens more than you want to believe. The above cycle absolutely MUST STOP.

If you are a pastor or are in church leadership, I believe that God is counting on you to wake up and to get this right.  His children are in need of your help, your intervention, your wisdom, your prayer, your support.  If this sounds like how you’ve handled these situations in the past, it’s not too late to make living amends by doing research and changing your approach.  Please. On behalf of every woman who is dying (physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually) in her marriage, I am begging you to do things differently from this point forward. Marriages and hearts and lives are at stake.

Two questions I’d like to leave you with from A Cry for Justice:

Do I see abuse in the same light as the Lord does, or have I been guilty of minimizing or even denying it?

Have you ever considered that the Pauline exception of abandonment just might include the emotional, spiritual, or financial abandonment often faced by victims of domestic abuse?

Please allow me to pray for you as you lead and counsel and offer support:

Jesus, I lift up every pastor and church leader who comes in contact with a woman in an abusive or addiction-fraught marriage. Please open their eyes and minds and hearts to the realities of these women. Please give them the humility to admit if they’ve been wrong and the courage to course-correct. Please give them the wisdom they need to stand up and fight for these women, for their children, even for their husbands. Please do something, Jesus. We need you.  These women and children need you.  Amen.

Recommended resources:
A Cry for Justice by Jeff Crippen & Anna Wood
Divorce and Remarriage in the Church by David Instone-Brewer
Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage by Elisabeth Klein
The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick
No Place for Abuse: Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence by Catherine Clark Kroeger

To see my complete list of recommended resources, click here. And if my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click here for more information.

I’m Back

So, I took July off from writing and thinking so hard and strategizing because I was just plain wiped out, and it was just what I needed.  I rested, I read, I walked, I dated some boys.  It was fun and slow and quiet and just plain good.  I feel so much more me again. I have started to re-remember why I do what I do every day and it’s a really good, calm, settled feeling.

So as I continue to plot and plan how to reach as many hurting women as I can with hope and healing, here’s a little of what you can expect.

I will be posting here on the blog on Mondays and Thursdays. Though you, of course, are more than welcome to read every single post I ever toss up here, these days will have certain themes as I realize my audience is a bit varied.

Mondays: I’ll touch on topics related to difficult marriages, abuse, the Church.
Thursdays: I’ll write about divorce, single parenting, dating and pain in general.

During my time off, I combed through all 647 posts and categorized them correctly, so you can look to your right and click on a specific topic that hits home for you.

Also, if you want to make sure you receive my blog in your inbox for your convenience, you can sign up for it by clicking here.  As a thank you, you’ll receive my Top 10 Tips for Getting through a Crisis AND the kinda crazy (what-am-I-thinking?!) option to PAY WHATEVER YOU WANT for my three e-books. Yeah, I rock like that.

A reminder that my novel, World Split Open, releases in September in e-book form AND paperback. I’m so excited about this I can hardly believe it.  And by excited, I also mean a tad scared. But in the best ways.  So, be looking for that.

And my speaking schedule is resuming in September with a few retreats on the books.  If you or your women’s ministry or MOPS’ group or church or DivorceCare group would like to book me for an event, click here for more information.  I would LOVE to come speak in your area and meet as many of you as I can!

Let me just toss something out here…  I need you each to know that just because I have now been divorced over two years and I am venturing out into the world of dating absolutely does not mean that I can no longer resonate with those of you in difficult marriages or that I’m living chaos-free in the peaceful pastures of post-divorce-land.  Umm, no. I am meeting with a sweet woman in a hard marriage and when we talk, I remember vividly how it felt and I know – like really, really know and understand – how she is currently feeling. I still get it.  You can trust that. And I am in the middle of a divorce-related situation that is absolutely mind-numbingly nuts that I have no idea really how to navigate. So, yeah, I still get what it feels like to be divorced. You can know that.  I have been where you are. I am where you are. I understand your pain.  And Jesus has walked me through every last moment up til now and will continue to hold me through what’s to come.  I hear you, I understand you, I’m on your side.  We will get through this. YOU will get through this.

And in the meantime, girls, we’ve got work to do.

If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click here  for more information.

What If You’re the Mean One?

Ah yes, anger that flares out of control. I was an angry, angry woman for a very, very long time.  I’m not saying I don’t have anger issues anymore, but I will say, it has been, I don’t know, six months since I yelled at someone.  And I’ve confessed this here before, but I used to yell several times a day.

This is a strange phenomenon in the domestic abuse world because the typical picture imagined is that the perpetrator is mean and loud and throws things and sometimes hits and totally yells.  While the victim is meek and mild and mousy and wouldn’t even think to stand up for herself, let alone raise her voice.

In my case, things were flip-flopped.  He was the calm one.  I was the out-of-control one.  And talk about then having to try to prove my case fifteen-plus years later when everyone pretty much knew me as the – pardon my French but there’s no other way to say it – Christian bitch.  People thought, I’m sure, Well, if I were married to Beth, I’d fill-in-the-blank too.

So, sweet one in a difficult marriage, say this is you.  Say your abuser is charming, and more subtle in his attempts to manipulate and control, and say you are a mess, retaliating in your anger with loud words and perhaps even violence.

I may have shared this before but I remember the day the lights went on for me on this specific issue.  We were outside and an argument was starting up.  The words of my current counselor were ringing in my ears that the moment I felt myself about to lose control, I was supposed to say something like, “I can tell I’m going to lose it…I need to go calm down…we can talk about this again in (ten minutes/tonight/tomorrow morning/whatever).”

The argument had taken a nasty turn and I was going to try this tactic.  Because I desperately wanted to get better.  I was honest and said I was about to lose my temper and I needed to go cool down.

The response, “What? You can’t have an adult conversation?” I paused, feeling confused and defensive.  “No, I just really want to try to work on my anger and I need to calm down.”

“If you walk away now, we’re done with this topic.” Then it hit me in that moment that after years of being told to stop yelling, to quiet down, to lower my voice, of how much my yelling was despised…it turns out, my yelling was actually loved.  Because I looked out of control, and completely looked like the bad guy in the equation.  And those comments above – things I had heard for years – were controlling, manipulative threats.  So, I turned around, and literally fled, running through my yard as fast as I could to get away. I ran away like Joseph from Potiphar’s wife.

Because, as it turns out, I believe the desired response – all those years – was for me to sin in my anger.

So here’s what you need to do, and it’s going to be difficult: whatever you do, do not let your abuser incite you into losing your temper and losing control.  Because then, he will win.

Take my counselor’s advice: say that you need to stop and cool down, walk away, and then come back when you’re more collected.

And if your abuser says things to try to trap you into staying beyond your boiling point, don’t bite. “What, you can’t have an adult conversation?” “Yes, I can, but I’m going to go calm down first.” Then walk away.  “If you walk away now, we’re done with this topic.” “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I still need to go calm down.” Then walk away. Trust me, nothing is worth losing self-respect or ground you have gained in trying to get healthy.

And, listen, if your abuser is really trying to change as well, he will be more than happy to give you the time you need to collect your thoughts.  Stand strong.

 

 

If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.