Regular readers of these humble ramblings know that if I use all caps this is serious stuff. Most of the feedback I get at this site is incredibly thoughtful, graceful, and kind. Some of the feedback makes me sigh deeply and wonder how they could possibly get that interpretation from what I wrote? Sometimes the legalistic spiritual hall monitors will drop by to make sure I parsed a verb correctly and then they will dump a little deposit of condescension or judgment. A few try to use this site for their personal agenda without regard to the actual point of the post. Those responders find themselves in the cyber trash can. Last week I received some feedback that made me sad, anxious, and a little frightened. And that is why I felt compelled to write this warning.
I had written a blog called “Do It Anyway”. The gist of the article was that we too often take the safe route and don’t take the risks that God might be asking us to take. From that article I received this response from a reader.
I’m sitting at work trying to hold back tears all morning over whether
I should leave my very emotionally abusive fiance and return to being a hermit, and then I read this.
What would Jesus have me do. So much pain.
The feedback post was signed “Withheld”. I have been agonizing over that note. My article was directed at people who are wounded by life and love and then never try again. It was directed at people who let little differences become big issues. My thoughts were directed at Christians who cannot extend grace but demand to receive it. The situation that “Withheld” described does not fall within the parameters of that piece. Being in a relationship with an abusive person requires help beyond your humble correspondent. I can tell you that an emotionally abusive person before marriage will likely get worse after marriage. I would suggest you find professional advice and the godly counsel of mature Christian men or women (I don’t know your gender).
I do know this. Jesus would have you be in a relationship that honors Him. Can you do that in this relationship? It seems unlikely. The major point of my article was not intended to suggest that you stay in an impossible situation and simply suffer without hope. The point was choosing to keep trying and taking the chance to find relationships that grow you and honor Him. You cannot do that by becoming a hermit. That is not what Jesus would have you do nor is that His design for us. And I am sure of one more thing that Jesus would have you do. Take the pain to Him and allow the comfort of the Holy Spirit to help you though this time.
As for my disclaimers to readers of this site…
- I am just a sinner saved by God’s amazing grace who is silly enough to share his journey in these ramblings. What I write is not necessarily gospel truth. It is like dumbed down proverbs…hopefully some godly principles gleaned from experience and His word.
- I write about what God is teaching me as I follow Jesus. Some of that may touch you or apply to your life. Some of it may make you feel superior (that is my ministry…to make other Christians feel better about themselves). But please do not take what I write as absolute truth for you. Evaluate anything that you read (from me or any other Christian writer) against the template of truth that is God’s Word. Seek the counsel of godly men and women who have lived the journey and lived it well.
- Because I write about principles and not specifics (except my own) you cannot automatically assume that what I write applies to your situation. Again, test it against His Word, through prayer, and through the sounding board of other godly men or women. Paul told the saints at Thessalonica to do just that.
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.
Note the admonitions leading up to testing the words of others. To be joyful, pray without ceasing, be thankful, listen to the Holy Spirit, and then you can “test” what is said and hold onto what is good.
I began my book When Bad Christians Happen to Good People with this disclaimer.
I am a hypocrite. I can be arrogant and selfish. I have been known to stretch, conceal, or slightly massage the truth. I am sometimes inconsiderate and insecure. I struggle with lust and impure thoughts. My ego often rages out of control, and I battle foolish pride. I can be lazy and foolhardy with my time. I get angry, petty, and ill-tempered. I am sarcastic and cynical.
I am a Christian.
Not much has changed. I have gotten a little better on some of that list and a lot better at some others. But I am still in an ongoing, sometimes agonizing and unending process toward holiness. Sometimes I stumble on truth and I might even communicate it in a way that connects with you. But real truth comes from the Word of God and the indwelling of His Spirit. That is the quiet little voice that is trying to get your attention during the crashing storms.
I am honored and blessed that you visit here and read my words. Just remember that I am only a fellow traveler on the narrow road. Sometimes I hit a home run. But sometimes I swing mightily and miss by a mile. Leaning on His Word and His Spirit will help you discern the difference.