Tag Archives: abuse

Dear Men, I Do Not Exist For You

[I really think I’m going to have to start issuing ruffle warnings.  As in, your feathers are about to be ruffled.  Consider yourself warned.  Ruffle, ruffle.]

Dear Men,

I do not exist for you.  I do not exist to satisfy your desires or to cater to your whims.  I am not obligated to respect you,  like you, befriend you, be attracted to you, date you, marry you or sleep with you.  There is nothing wrong with me if I am not drawn to you (and not necessarily anything wrong with you, either, I must add);  I am just not here – living this life at this point in time and space – for you.

As the Westminster Confession of Faith says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” That is, the divinely-appointed purpose of humanity, of any life, of my life “is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever.”

My life is not now and never will be about your needs.

Yet I’m told it should be.  And I’m not just hearing it from secular culture, I hear it from the Church.

I will never forget a conversation I had with a godly, older married friend a number of years ago.  We were discussing whether or not it was right or okay to have something you would leave your husband over when entering marriage.  She maintained that it was not right or okay, that a woman who had such a contingency was not fully committed.  I admitted that I felt I would leave my husband if he was ever unfaithful to me, because I didn’t think I could recover from that.  She returned with, “If a man’s needs are being met in marriage, he won’t ever go outside of it to fulfill them.”

That scared me off of marriage for a long time after that, because what the mess kind of standard is that?  I’ve been asked many times about my singleness: did I struggle with my sexuality? Was I a commitment-phobe? Was it because I had a front row seat to a messy divorce? Nope.  It was because for many years I was deathly afraid of marrying the wrong man; I mean, the really wrong man.  I was afraid I’d end up loving and marrying a black hole of need that I would never be able to satisfy.  Maybe I’d be sick, or upset, or otherwise just not feel like “it” and he’d take his needs somewhere else.  And of course, because for whatever reason I wasn’t up to giving him what he needed (forget my needs), his infidelity would be my fault.

I reject that now.  I reject that my actions ever FORCE someone to sin.  I reject it because I am not now and never will be held accountable for someone else’s sin.  God is never, ever, EVER going to ask me if it ever happens, “Lydia, why was your husband unfaithful?” In my feelings of betrayal, should I ever encounter infidelity in my marriage, God’s not going to say, “Okay, but Lydia, what could YOU have done better?”  That is NOT how God operates: “A bruised reed He shall not break” (Isaiah 42:3a).

And in case you’re wondering, I now also desire a healthy, Christ-focused (not husband- or wife-focused) marriage.

Where I am now in my attitude is unfortunately not the point, however; the fact that I was ever terrified of marriage because of being blamed for someone else’s sin is a problem.  And it’s not a problem because my attitude toward marriage was wrong; it’s a problem because someone placed (or at any rate, tried to place) a burden on me that God never intended.

This burden is not rare in the church; in fact, it’s all over the place, anytime a husband is unfaithful to his wife.  And it all boils down to this: the wife is spending too much time on things other than her husband.

Every time I encounter this attitude, the old fear in me rises up, and I spend days and weeks vanquishing it again.  I have to re-remember that I am not living this life for the pleasure of any man; I’m living to glorify and enjoy God.  I have to re-remember that any man who stands in the way of that is not worthy of my respect, good feelings, friendship, attraction, time, commitment, or body.  And since I am having to re-remember it, I am re-reminding you, dear men: I do not exist for you.

It’s ironic.  The Field contains this sort of romantic subplot, and I was really conflicted about whether to leave it in or take it out.  I left it in because it’s so personal, but until today I hadn’t been able to formulate why it was so personal.  It’s only sort of romantic because the heroine doesn’t choose her love interest; she chooses her purpose.  And that’s what I’ve had to do a time or two.

Because I don’t exist for men.

 

 

 

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Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out

“Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 33:23).  My parents used to say that to me all of the time, and when I read this article, or any article involving such heinous sin in Christian leadership, I think of this.

Christian leaders who are involved in unrepentant sin, you can be sure, you can be very sure that your sin will be exposed. Maybe you really think you’re getting away with it because you’re above everybody else and you make the rules and you don’t answer to anyone, and maybe you’ll continue getting away with it for a long time.  But it will come out. You can take that to the bank and cash it.

And when it does come out (it will, it will, it will), you will lose everything, because nobody buys a politically correct statement that lacks sincerity (and by that point) credibility.  Because there is nothing respectable or honorable or worthy or defensible in using your position to inappropriately touch anyone. Not ever. I don’t care what you say your intentions are.  And neither does anybody else.

Be sure, if you are sure of nothing else, that your sin will come out. And you will bear its consequences.

I’ll leave you with just one other verse: “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11).

 

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With The Future In Mind

I watched a short called ReMoved on the Relevant site a few weeks ago.  (Watch it here).

It hit me in the gut for a number of reasons, but the primary reason is that God has laid it on my heart to someday foster (and adopt) children.  It is something I regularly pray for my future husband and I.

The week I saw this short film, I was dealing with things from my past (and I suppose present to a certain extent) – a lot of pain and anger.  And I’d been wondering why it was so important for me to have gone through the pain in the past, and why it is so important for me to deal with the anger now.  I wondered why God hadn’t intervened in the past and why He  has forced me to confront what I’ve been through.

As I watched this film,  I felt God tug at my heart: This is why, He whispered.  In order to minister to the children I bring to you,  you need to understand where they are coming from.

In a place even the closest to me have not always been privileged to see, God is teaching me to love hurting individuals, who’ve been wounded by something warped and twisted that parades itself as love.   In a place of sticking to very difficult things, God is teaching me to persist in loving hurting people who are continually lashing out at me.   God is teaching me to be a continual outpouring of His love, His goodness, His righteousness, His grace; to walk with people, I mean really walk with people, even when it gets ugly; and to obey Him, to be exactly who and where He wants me to be.

Every part of my story He has written with the future in mind.

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The Skeletons in the Homeschool Closet

They are ALL coming out. (DISCLAIMER:  This post relates directly to the conservative Christian homeschool movement, NOT to homeschooling in general).

This has been a hard year for the conservative Christian homeschool movement.  First, at the end of October Vision Forum leader Doug Phillips stepped down from his post due to sexual immorality, leaving many of his followers disillusioned and shaken.  (And somewhat understandably so).  I am not and have not been personally involved with Vision Forum, and my comments about that scandal have been minimal.  Now, we have Bill Gothard of ATI stepping aside because of allegations of abuse that are now coming out.  As many of you may know, my family was an ATI family until I was around five.  Although we left the movement at that time, my family has continued to apply many of the principles Mr. Gothard taught.  It just got a little more personal, so I will say more about this particular situation.

First of all, I want to express my sincere grief for the young women who have allegedly (to cover my rear end legally here) been abused by Mr. Gothard.  I am so sorry they were left vulnerable by family and friends and were misused by a man everyone trusted and respected so much.  I have so much respect for their journeys in getting to a place where they could tell their stories at all, and pray continued healing for them as they continue their lives.

Secondly, I am thankful for ATI placing Mr. Gothard on leave and for taking these allegations seriously instead of dismissing them.  It means the world to me that they are not in denial about it, as some people seem to have been over the years.

Thirdly, and most honestly, I am angry.  And I’m not just angry at a leader who allegedly used his position to take advantage of vulnerable woman.  (Although I AM angry about that, for the record).  I am angry at the countless people who have dismissed these women and their stories, not just since they’ve been posted online, but for YEARS.  I am angry that it took ATI taking them seriously for so many others to take them seriously too.

I am angry because we in the conservative Christian homeschool movement are in denial about abuse.  Like, it doesn’t really happen.  Like, it’s all in their heads.  Like, maybe they’re remembering it wrong because it’s been so long.  And we wonder why it takes these precious women so long to take a stand and tell the truth. Why would they, when we all just think they’re liars or crazy or viewing their lives through a dramatic lens? When their own families

Okay, take a breath, Lydia.

Breathe.

You see, I was just talking to God about this anger last night on my way home from work, and I didn’t even know the allegations were being weighed by ATI.  And you may wonder how that can be, if I didn’t know.  Most of you have probably guessed by now that my anger is largely toward an underlying issue, and you’re right.

Just so you know, I’m about to go to a really sticky place right now in the most respectful way I possibly can.  I’m not trying to make anybody mad, or hurt anybody’s feelings, or turn anybody’s world upside down or whatever happens online these days when people read unsettling things – it just is what it is.  Okay? Okay then.

About a year and a half ago, my dad played the “umbrella” card on me regarding a major life decision.  (You ATI people know what I’m talking about).  I sincerely believed God wanted me to go one direction, but my dad felt another direction was best.  At the time he told me that as my father, he stands before God for what I do.  He assured me that it was his role to protect me.

While I went with what he decided (kicking and screaming, I must admit),  I was determined to understand this umbrella theory and its Scriptural background once and for all.  I had heard it many times growing up, and even embraced it (after all, it’s the pinnacle of Courtship: Homeschool Edition), but I had never heard a Bible verse to back it up.  I googled, asked friends on Facebook, searched concordances, and friends, I have STILL never heard a convincing argument for the “umbrella” theory, spiritual covering or protection.

That’s not the point, though.  (Sadly).  The point is that I can’t find anything in God’s Word about anybody but God being my Protector.  If I’m looking to Him exclusively to keep me safe and sound and away from all harm, I’ve made protection the point, and ATI-ers, it’s totally not.  Following Christ is a battlefield, and if you claim Him, you’d better be prepared to fight, man or woman.

Here is what made me really, truly, to the core angry on my drive home with God.  Protection has been the ideal around which I think this movement revolves, and it has at times been beaten over my head.  But you guys,  I’m disillusioned with this ideal.  I’ve come to believe based on studying God’s Word and personal experience, that it was never my dad’s job to protect me.  It was his job to train me up in the way I should go (Prov. 22:6), and he did;  it was his job to bring me up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), and he did; but I can’t find a verse that says it’s his job as my parent to protect me, much as he wants to.  God would never have placed such an impossible burden on my dad, or any other father out there. On one level or another, every man would fail. (By the way, just to be honest, I did not come to this particular conclusion overnight, but after a season of a great deal of anger toward my dad for not protecting me in certain areas – which I will maybe someday talk about, but not today).  I’m honestly angry that people still place this burden on husbands and fathers, and that wives and daughters and (to a lesser extent) sons lose their autonomy before God.  And I don’t want to project or anything, but I think it makes God angry as well. (Yes, a loving God gets angry about things that displease Him).

Having said all of this, I should really thank the fabricators of the “umbrella” theory.  If my dad didn’t take his responsibilities as a father so seriously,  he might have considered sending my siblings and I to serve.  As it was, he didn’t, because he felt that some of the programs there should be undertaken in the home and local church.  Even if he had, if I had come back with reports that someone was sexually abusing me, he would have believed me, no questions asked. He would not have regarded Mr. Gothard’s position for a minute before calling him out on his sin.  (I have a great dad).

I hope those of us from the conservative Christian homeschool movement, along with ATI, take the stories of victims seriously and pray for and support them.  I hope we grieve with them and have the guts to be angry about what was taken from them (because, dear brothers and sisters, God is grieved and angry). I hope we pray for them, and find ways to help them heal.  And while we’re at it, I hope we evaluate where we’ve added (or allowed others to add) to God’s Word, and acknowledge how offended He must be when we do that – when we place on ourselves and others burdens He hasn’t.  I’m not asking us to reject all of Mr. Gothard’s teachings because of his sin, but that perhaps his sin can be the catalyst for looking at his teachings more objectively.  And certainly, let’s pray for honesty and repentance from Mr. Gothard in the days, weeks, and months ahead and for God to deal with him mercifully, as He has dealt with each one of us.

This is way longer than I intended it to be.  Over the past year and a half, the buried emotion I’m having to learn to deal with productively is not sadness or grief, but a lot of anger.  I have had to learn it’s okay to be angry, just not bitter – because there are things in this life that grieve and anger God, and with His Holy Spirit within us, we will feel that.  (And not always just toward others, but towards ourselves as well). Of course, of course, God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, but that does not mean we automatically dismiss negative things as positive.

Much love and prayers to my ATI and former ATI friends.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

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R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

I currently have several young women in my life suffering from the same problem in varying degrees:  relationships with men who have no respect for them. This post is not from a place of judgment, rather from a place of been-there-done-that-and-not-going-back.

On one hand, this is fairly cut and dry, if completely upsetting: they are receiving the respect they have asked for. Worse, they are asking for the respect they think they deserve.

None. On both counts.

That hurts my heart a lot. I want to come alongside of every young woman in this position and say, “What are you doing here? You deserve SO much better.”  I want to train them to see themselves the way God sees them, so they won’t be tempted to settle for less than His best.

But. When it comes to the human heart, things are complex. There is no formula because we are all unique.

Sometimes, even though we know his view of us is self-centered, we like the attention he gives us. And we stand by him. Sometimes, even though we know he is all wrong for us, his badness feeds our sense of adventure. And we go along with him. Sometimes, even when he makes us feel bad about ourselves, our heart has gone before our head and we have feelings for him. And we stay with him.

But at what cost?

We want to please him, so it all becomes about him. We begin to focus on what he likes about us, and sometimes forget what we like about ourselves. We let him take what he wants so we don’t lose him. And we let him hurt us, because we think we’ve provoked it by somehow not living up to his demands.

We lose ourselves.

And we deserve better.

We deserve men who view us the way God views us. Who pursue love God and want to live their lives for Him. Who love us and build us up.

Look. If I see you heading into one of these relationships, I will most definitely tell you that you deserve better. Once you’re in the relationship, I’m probably not going to speak against it, but I will take you out for coffee a lot, and seek to affirm you through God’s Word, because I know that man isn’t doing it. And if he breaks your heart, I’ll be there with the chocolate and chick flicks. (Same for if you work up the courage to walk away). I want you to understand your worth.

UPDATE: This may even seem simplistic, so I want you to know that the longer a relationship goes on the more complex the emotions about it become. I don’t want it to seem like I’m belittling anyone’s emotions. On the contrary, I respect them, which is why I’m generally the person who will support you no matter who you choose to date. Just don’t mistake my support of you as a person for my support of a harmful relationship.

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