She was fading. A long, slow fade from what she used to be – vibrant, optimistic, confident. To others, she still appeared this way, but inside, she struggled to keep going. Some days, to even go at all.
No one knew how beaten down she really was. There were no marks on her face or body, no telltale bruises or scars. In fact, the weapons used against her couldn’t even be seen or touched. They were words, hurled at her by the one who claimed to love her.
“What are you wearing today? Don’t embarrass me.”
“You need to lose weight so our daughter won’t be ashamed of you when she’s older.”
“You’re so freakin’ average, no one even notices you.”
His words beat down like rain on her spirit, washing away what little remained of her self-esteem…and her love. Her attempts to tell him the damage he was doing only resulted in denials or placing the blame on her.
As bad as that was, though, the anger was worse. The sudden outbursts, screaming, slamming things around…that wretched ugliness that came over him when things didn’t go his way. And mostly over such insignificant matters. It frightened her to think if there was ever a major problem.
She tried to understand. But to see him all smiles and laughing at church, worshiping God and loving everybody and then turning on her, sometimes before they even left the parking lot, sent her mind into a tailspin. Was it her? Was she really that bad of a wife?
Out of desperation, she confided in a couple close friends, but no one else. This kept it from being too real. Who would believe her anyway? But inside, she was weakening under the enormous burden of secrecy and role-playing she felt forced into.
All her life, she was taught that divorce was bad. Something good Christian girls didn’t do. And what about her daughter? How could she selfishly tear apart her home just because she couldn’t handle his moods and demands? But this would mean living this way the rest of her life. An oppressive hopelessness began to cloud her days and often drove her to her knees in tears.
One particularly bad day, she cried out to God, mentally and emotionally spent.
“God, I’ve tried so hard to be a good wife and mother. He says he loves me; why does he attack me like he does? I’ll never look like a supermodel or do everything perfect the way he wants. I don’t even want to try anymore. I want to obey You, but how can I live like this forever?”
She wept tears of bitter hopelessness until there simply were no more. It was then she felt that familiar stirring, that still, small voice that lately had seemed so far away.
“My precious, beautiful child, you must first know how much I deeply love and care about you. YOU – the person inside, not the physical body I’ve given you to live in. Yes, I do want you to take care of your body, My Spirit lives there. And I want you to be healthy so you can enjoy this life and do all the amazing things I have planned for you.
But your physical appearance has nothing to do with My love for you. Neither does your ability to be good at everything, efficient or smart about everything. You were My idea and I made you exactly the way I wanted you. You do not have to spend your life endlessly trying to improve or ‘fix’ what I have created.”
She blinked her swollen eyes as she pondered His words.
“I’ve given My children free will and, sadly, some abuse it. And abuse others. But you must trust Me that I haven’t left you and it does not go unnoticed. I’m working. My grace will be sufficient, whatever may come. Remember that you will always have hope, because you will always have Me. Cling to Me and I will deliver you through this, I promise.”
He left her with Psalm 71:14, “But as for me, I will always have hope…” which she repeated over and over and over and, for the first time in years, truly believed it.
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