by Paula Silva

Ann sat in the front pew as directed trying to focus on the words coming from the pulpit as her pastor, husband, expounded on God’s grace and love. Pointedly he unfolded in Scripture instructions for loving others stating the key elements of love. Ann’s mind wandered to the instant replay of life before church that morning. She recalled the harsh words that were thrown at her like bullets and reinforced with a slap across her face. Were the marks of the handprint still visible or did she cover them well with makeup? Fear of someone noticing began to envelop her. How would she explain this away like she had done with the others?

With plastic smile in place, she returned to the moment catching key sentences here and there. “Love is kind and patient. Love is not rude, not boastful, not proud, not self-seeking. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” Yet behind closed doors, the sermon was condemning, cruel, shaming, and attacking. Was she doing something to provoke a demeaning message from the person who was supposed to love and cherish her? Confusion had become her constant companion. She was drained from the emotional roller coaster that was prevalent in her life. When and how would the ride stop?

To others her husband was kind, gentle, and giving; but to her and their children, he appeared to be Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Walking on eggshells never certain of when and where the explosive episodes would happen became the environment of their home. Sometimes there were apologies by her husband, but true repentance never occurred. Gifts were given but with strings attached. She noticed that these episodes had become cyclical. The honeymoon phase no longer was welcomed for she knew he would explode again. Headship and submission were demanded usually prefaced by Scripture and finger pointing. “Is this all my fault?” echoed in her mind.

Ann fumbled in her purse looking for a kleenex for a tear had trickled down her face. She noticed a receipt that she had forgotten to give to her husband. Instantly a scene flashed before her eyes. She pictured her husband towering over her demanding an explanation of her purchase. Anxiety and fear entered her once again for she was uncertain of what actions he would take. Would he throw things at her this time or would he tighten the financial control? She already had to deposit her paycheck into a bank account with only his name on it. What more could he do? Her thoughts seemed to be spinning out of control. Her mind was caught up in all the possibilities as her body tensed.

Startled by the words “God loves you” coming from the pulpit, she was drawn back to the service. Ann glanced at the stain glass window. She noticed the varied colored pieces that had been skillfully placed to form the intricate design. Her mind wandered to the hopes and dreams she had once carried inside now stomped on and broken by her pastor. Every single shattered piece represented the treasures of her heart. Ann began to mentally list her treasures:
    •   Her relationship with the Lord
    •   Her soul and spirit
    •   Her feelings, attitudes, opinions
    •   Her beliefs, values, ideas, thoughts
    •   Her talents, abilities, personality
    •   Her desires, hopes, dreams

Was she being a good steward of the treasures God had created in her, the treasures that made her unique? Ann began to realize it was her responsibility to protect these treasures. Setting appropriate boundaries would be necessary. Being consistent and giving consequences when they were violated was essential. Didn’t God give consequences in Scripture when his boundaries were violated? Allowing others to come in and destroy her treasures was not good stewardship. But what was she to do?

Her concern turned to the ministry and how it would be impacted if she spoke up yet she was drawn to a passage in Scripture she had memorized long ago. “Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” I Corinthians 3:16-17

Within her hurting heart, she heard a still, small voice. “Ann, the sin of domestic violence that you are experiencing must be exposed and confronted. It is the most loving thing you can do for your husband, but you cannot do it alone. I am with you and for you! I, the Lord, will lead you to someone you can trust to reveal what is going on behind closed doors. I will direct you to the resources you will need. Stay close to Me. Don’t worry about the ministry. It is my ministry not your husband’s. I will take care of it.”

In the midst of her thoughts, questions lingered. Does God love me that much to free me from this oppression and bondage? Will He make a way where there seems to be no way? She glanced at her hand symbolically picturing the shattered pieces of her life. She recognized that she had been holding onto each little piece trying to figure out how to put them back together. As she looked up, her eyes were drawn to the cross. “Give Me your broken treasures,” she distinctly heard.

Ann glanced back at the stained glass window. A rainbow of color shone through. Another tear rolled down her cheek. She heard a soft whisper. “Ann, I have collected the pieces. They are in my hand. Be patient for I am creating a unique masterpiece so My glory will shine through these jagged pieces.”

“I have caught every tear. I keep them close to Me. I know every heartache. Nothing is a waste. Hold on to Me. There is a purpose, My purpose, in all of your suffering. There is coming a time of rejoicing when everything will be revealed and you will be restored.”

With renewed hope, Ann looked around the congregation and her eyes were drawn to an elder and his wife. “Is that the one to trust with my secret, Lord?’, she asked. She did not know what the future would hold, but she maintained the assurance that her faithful God would make a way where there seemed to be no way.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 27:14

© 2010 FOCUS Ministries, Inc.,
Paula Silva
FOCUS Ministries, Inc.

FOCUS Ministries, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization that provides a safe place for pastors’ wives, teens, women, and families who experience domestic violence and abusive relationships to find hope and healing in Jesus Christ. FOCUS offers free counseling, support groups, and literature. The ministry provides domestic violence training for churches and organizations. Training for support group leaders is offered at the Train the Trainer seminars.