For forty-five years I lived under abuse. I prefer to focus on the fact that I survived, that I have broken free from it finally, and that I can teach my children to not be abused or abusers themselves.
In order to survive, though, I developed coping mechanisms. These truly were the difference between living or taking my own life, every day. They have become a part of who I am. They aren’t bad things. They really aren’t hurtful to anyone, even to myself. Now, however, I have to consider not whether they are good, but whether they are needful.
While I still can’t explain exactly what happened two Thursday’s ago, I do know that I came closer to God than I had at any other time since I left in February. In that moment I realized that, while my coping mechanisms aren’t bad things, they may actually be keeping me away from this close relationship simply because they truly are my “go to” when things get overwhelming and I might not need that anymore.
Over the past few years I have spent time examining marriage in light of God’s Word. I found that marriage is a far more spiritual thing than I have been taught. In Scripture, the image of marriage is used to convey our relationship with Christ. There is supposed to be an intimacy in marriage that should echo our personal relationship with Christ. The problem that I’ve seen is that most of us do not want the latter relationship. I’m not saying we don’t want to be saved, or even that we don’t love God, I’m saying that intimacy with Him seems to be something we just don’t talk about or possibly experience. This seems especially obvious considering the state of marriage within Christianity.
I think there is definitely a lack of knowledge and understanding on this matter, I myself was led to believe that a “personal relationship” with Christ basically constituted praying for what I needed and wanted, going to church, and obeying His Word. But I also think, from my personal experience that this intimacy the Bible talks about is quite possibly the most terrifying thing a human being can ever know. I noticed as I drew close to God in that manner, that everything else truly began to fall away. Not just worries and cares, but good things I wanted as well, until I was on the verge of having nothing left of anything I’d ever known. It was an oddly peaceful feeling, though. Not like losing my dreams to the abuse at all.
The world I’ve known might not be a good one, but it’s all I’ve ever known. It’s comfortable because it’s familiar. I was explaining this to my kids and I said it’s like eating at McDonald’s for almost every meal of your life and someone comes along and offers you a limo ride to the best food on the planet. You excitedly get in the car but as you’re riding along you see In N Out (Hey, that’s as fancy as we get around here). You’ve eaten there before and it’s pretty good. It’s worlds better than McDonald’s, that’s for sure. So you tell the friend, “You know, thanks for the offer of the best food ever, but I think I’d rather just go to In N Out because I know what that food will taste like and I only have your word for it that your food will taste better.”
God tells us He wants only what is best for us. But we only have His word. He doesn’t give us an exact picture of what that will be, where it will lead us, what we will gain, what we will lose. But our own lives, we think we have a pretty good handle on that. We know how to cope with problems, we’ve been using the same things for years. They’re not drugs or booze or anything else truly sinful, so it’s good enough. That’s what we tell ourselves, anyway.