By now many of you have read my blog posts regarding our journey over the last few years. And I'm fairly certain a majority of you have listened to the podcast that I was on a few weeks ago.
I have received so many encouraging messages from so many of you! Some of you have shared how you are or have gone through difficulties recently and seeing God's hand in our story has encouraged your heart to keep trusting through the dark. Those are the kinds of messages that have blessed my heart! Thank you for sharing those...and I assure you, I have been praying for you!
Those messages blessed me because that was my hope through this entire journey...that God would use it to show His power through our story.
Those encouraging messages have been balanced out with the harder ones we knew would come. So while encouragement has been an amazingly overwhelming response, there have been other responses too.
Retreat--friends who listened and have then pulled out of any contact with us
Questioning--all the "what if" questions..."what if" it would have happened differently. Accusing questions.
Blaming/Shaming-- somehow making the situation our fault. "How could you?" "You must be angry". "You're just upset because you didn't get your way".
The thing is, all of these responses were expected.
What we experienced was abusive behavior. One major characteristic of abuse (sexual, physical, relational) is the victim is blamed.
"many who have been abused find themselves being blamed by others for the hurt they endured, in subtle or overt ways. While it usually begins with the perpetrator, experts say victim-blaming is a cultural phenomenon that can have a debilitating psychological impact on a person already struggling to recover from abuse."
This is a huge part of our culture. Its the same attitude that creates and upholds Rape Culture. The victim is blamed for whatever reason seems fitting. We can see this as horrific in sexual assault situations and even domestic violence, but when it comes to relational abuse we seem to overlook it.
But it is very real.
So for some of those responses that have cast blame on us, here are some answers for your questions.
No, I'm not angry. We aren't angry. Did we experience bouts of anger? Absolutely. All you have to do is Google "anger and grief" and you'll find its a normal response to loss. We experienced major loss (of dreams, relationship, the life we knew, etc) so anger was a part of the process. Its an emotion that we have worked through and when it comes creeping up, we take it to the foot of the cross. We ask Jesus what we should do with it. Sometimes it means we take a long drive and cry. Sometimes it means we go over the riverbank and throw a rock (or a few) into the river. We've learned to deal with our anger in healthy ways. So are we angry? Was that our motive? Nope.
We aren't sharing our story because didn't get what we wanted (basically we weren't sent to church plant as we originally thought). We understand God's sovereignty and He hasn't led us to plant a church right now...but there's still dreams of that some day...maybe. Was our motive a childish one similar to throwing a tantrum because we didn't get what we wanted? Nope.
Want the real reason we have shared our story?
Here it is...
"Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free"
Truth brings light to darkness.
Truth brings healing.
Truth allows us to see our need for Jesus.
Truth is a part of God's character.
The motive for sharing our story is so that others may find freedom, encouragement, healing, and ultimately the heart of Jesus through the truth.
We aren't defined by the circumstances we have walked through. We are moving forward. Part of moving forward is recognizing the pain, walking through it in a healthy way, taking it to Jesus, fighting lies with truth, and moving forward from it.
We are not defined by it...but our stories have been shaped by it.
I am deeply sorry if my words have injured you.
I am sorry if the words you have read or heard are offensive to you.
We are not casting any blame on you.
I am not sorry that I spoke (a tiny peek into) the truth of what we walked through.
We all walk through difficulties and sometimes they are harder for others to face than they are for us to face ourselves .
(all the moms out there, say amen?--its hard to watch our kids hurt and sometimes we would rather pretend it isn't there).
We plan to continue walking this path with Jesus. We can't see what He has in store up ahead, but He's asking us to take each next step with Him. So that's what we are doing.
Thank you for how you have participated in shaping our story!
While we would never want to walk this same hard journey again, we are beyond thankful for it!
Without this piece of the story, we wouldn't know our Jesus the way we know Him now. When we were out on a limb on our own, Jesus was there providing each thing we needed. Holy Spirit has shown up for our family in ways we didn't know possible until this hard season.
Don't believe the lie that we are angry or vengeful.
We are thankful!
We are so amazingly thankful.
We know we are loved by the Father and there's nothing we need more than that.
May these words minister grace to your soul.
"That it may give grace to those who hear" Eph 4:29