I want you to consider your life as it is right now at this moment. You may be sitting at home watching your favorite television program. You may be headed out the door to your local supermarket to pick up a few necessary grocery items. You may be doing laundry. You may be reading a fabulous book. You may be entertaining company. You may be praying. You may be facebooking. You may be tired and cannot wait to retire for the night. There are a list of optional activities you may be doing at this moment, in the next moment, or perhaps tomorrow as your day begins.
Let us discuss the first option. You are sitting at home watching your nightly television program. Imagine you actually own four televisions, in four different rooms of your home; but you can only watch what he is watching. You better have already made dinner and served him. It becomes quiet in the room and your attention is not interrupted, so you dare to sit down, dare to eat your meal, and dare to turn on a television so you can relax. I think not. He comes out of hiding, and demands to know why you are not in the room with him, watching his preferred program. For convenience and solitude, you chose to eat privately, but he insists you watch a television show that he is interested in. If you express your own personal preferences or wishes, something is most likely to get broken. The meal will turn cold and inedible quickly. Besides your appetite will disappear altogether, buried beneath anxiety, fear, and inevitably a deluge of tears. Rage is your appetizer, main meal, and dessert for the evening, again. Where do you go?
Let us discuss the next option. You need to run to the grocery store for a few household items. Milk for the morning coffee, food for the dog, and toilet paper for the obvious. Maybe you will pick up a redbox rental while at the supermarket. You cannot drive to the store, because you do not have a car. He does. You cannot borrow the car, because he will not allow you to get a driver's license, much less pay for it. So you must negotiate with him in order to be transported to the store. You better have food benefits, because he cannot manage a dime, and is not about to spend money on toilet paper. You should have some cash hidden somewhere after you endure the frequent humiliation, of going to your pastor for financial assistance. He works when he can, but it is his money and under his ultimate control. Soap, toilet paper, and laundry detergent are not necessities according to him, because the last twenty dollars in the household budget are for drugs. And if your lucky enough to negotiate a ride to the store, prepare your ears for the barrage of profanity that will accompany your entire trip. Sometimes he becomes so enraged during the ordinary practice of responsibility, he occasionally leaves you at the store. Where do you go?
Third option. Laundry. It never ends. You wake up in the morning and want to cry because the pile of dirty clothes never dissipates. It is always there. He reproduces that massive pile every day. You can have it all done and perfectly folded, organized, and put away, but it grows back violently. And if the demanded item is not washed or dried, he grows violent. The cartoon, the Tasmanian devil; he spins and moves so quickly, he leaves chaos and clutter everywhere he roams. I remember one time being in front of the washing machine and unexpectedly getting hit in the face near the eye, hard and swiftly. It happened so quickly and fiercely, I was stunned and momentarily blinded. Where do you go?
Fourth option. Let us not even discuss reading a book. It will never happen with any degree of success, unless you can guarantee he is asleep, dead to the world due to manic exhaustion, or he has left for work. You could steal a quiet moment within the confines of your imprisonment to journal thoughts, but hide your documentation, for if he finds it it will be ripped to shreds, for no thoughts or emotions are your own. The ONLY thing that remains personal, private, and ultimately yours is suffering. You will have no choice but to find God in the pit, for that is where you exist. He is there.
"Oh, you gotta get out of there." "Oh, he is a psychopath." "Oh, you gotta leave him, get away from him." You hear this from any and every acquaintance ALL the time. DUH!!!!! No car, no money, no job, no resources, and really no family and friends, so WHERE DO YOU GO? I remember when my son was still an infant, watching him hold the baby in one hand and hunting knife in the other. I can still remember vividly the sensation of the tip sticking in my back. At that point I was already covered with injuries. He attempted to crush my ribs with his full body weight and knees, but within an instance he came to his senses. He went in the bathroom, guilt-ridden with remorse, crying, saying take the knife and please kill me. Where do you go?
I will tell you where you can go if you can find it deep within your victimization, and summon up the courage to blindly trust, when the world dictates and indoctrinates ever so differently and with contradiction. You go to the feet of Jesus, even if a fist is in your face. You go to the foot of the cross, even if your beaten from head to toe, hair pulled out, broken bones, spittle in the face, existing in psychological terror. Do you think Jesus has not experienced domestic violence? I think this is why when I would plead with God to help me, beg Him to open a window because clearly a door was not being availed, and tell Him I was so angry at Him; the Lord would whisper to me the same thing over and over again. " Having done everything, stand firm with faith as your shield." I would tell God if I have to endure this any longer, I going to have a nervous breakdown. He would reply, "No your not. Stand firm with faith as your shield." Needless to say I lived in agony. Forget the physical violence and the mental abuse; the spiritual annihilation was the foundation of the torment.
I understand today, God clearly had a plan for me to gain something through this situation. What the world would consider horrific, I had a subtle notion that the Lord permitted man's a misuse of free will to bring out a greater good. The perpetrator would go into rages, his eyes would blacken, pupils dilate, foam would seep out of the corners of his mouth, and he made an eerie grumbling sound that was low in volume but reminded me of an animal. And then the altercation would ensue and the experience became surreal because I could not feel the blows most of the time, and I could only see Jesus. Jesus looking upon his tormentor. And I intuitively knew God had given this man no authority to end me life and I would survive the episode. Fear is misleading for it contaminates the imagination with what could happen, and blinds the person from God's knowledge of what ultimately will happen. As miserable as I was at times in this journey, my suffering had eternal value, and today I certainly will not waste it.
We must remember every perpetrator was at one time a victim, usually of the same violent acts they commit against their intimate partners. It is about power and control, and not anger, mental illness, or addiction. These exacerbating facets are involved usually, but that is not the origin of domestically violent behavior. People whisper behind your back as to why you would be with such a person, or remain. It never occurs to such persons to speculate why does he hit her? I say who is the greater perpetrator; the person who commits this violence or all the people who know about it and do nothing to help the women and their children? Which is the lesser of two evils or are they equivalent? Can you imagine if Jesus avoided every sinful person during His torment, and refused to forgive His batterers, how many souls would be lost? Do you realize we are those same persecutors of the beloved body of the Lord when we sin?
The story does not end here, but the Lord is writing the outcome with my cooperation. I can say this. I am free from insanity, emotional pain, and anger and bitterness toward this individual. I spent more than two years observing and experiencing the gravity of his spiritual sickness. It was far more painful being on the outside looking in, than anything he had done to me. That is grace. I remember the devil telling me his soul belonged to him(satan). He kept saying over and over again, " He and I are one.... He is ours, he has always been ours." I told that nefarious nag, "Only God determine man's salvation." Now that it is Lent, I reflect on these moments of tough experience, and I continue to find healing, peace, and grace, and love for the sinner. Thank you Jesus for even the smallest taste of this cross.