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Releasing a book about how to break the cycle of unhealthy relationships, find restoration and learn how to build healthy relationships, always invites the question ‘Have you married yet?’. People look straight at my wedding finger for evidence and I reply ‘No, not yet’.

Like my inquirers, I once thought that walking the journey to wholeness would eventually ‘reward’ me with a great relationship and without realising it, I felt under pressure from both myself, the media and the women I met, to prove that doing things God way would ultimately reward me and others with marriage.

Fact is, God did not save me for marriage, He saved me because He loved me and wanted me to be free from broken relationships and that is the message He wants all of us to understand. It is a bit like the Spiritual Prosperity message promoted in some denominations, if you are following God you will be blessed in your finances – as long as you pay your tithes and give to the church and if you are struggling there is something wrong with your faith.

Fact is when we do good, we sometimes suffer for it, in fact we are called to suffer for Christ. Jesus said we would have trouble in the world but to be of good cheer for He has overcome it. So while I walk with Christ, I do suffer in my flesh when my longings for a companion are not yet fulfilled. I suffer when I choose to wait rather than choosing a sexual relationship or dating someone or staying with someone that is not right for me. That hurts and I suffer for doing good, yet the rewards from God are far greater. I am blessed for doing things right and I trust God that everything He chooses in my life is for my best.

My last thought on this is that there are lots of safe and fantastic singles who have not been through abusive relationships and haven’t met Mr right. A healthy background doesn’t guarantee a partner, so lets not assume that following the steps I outline in my book, means we will be rewarded with marriage. There are thousands of Christians who haven’t met the right person yet, and even with all my healing and blessed wisdom God has given me to help other women, I too have not met the right person – yet. In fact, all of my dating relationships (and one engagement that didn’t lead to marriage) since I have been saved, God has used to help me grow and learn and become more like His son.

Doing this work has not saved me from disappointment or heart break from a relationship not working out. That is the reality of living in a fallen world and being a woman saved by grace. What it has done is saved me from a life a continued abuse, living without hope, destroying myself and the people around me. It has let me know how loved I am by God, that I have value and something to offer others – a life with God. That has been the rewards, which far out weigh my desires for marriage.

Jesus taught us that we can learn about people by seeing what kind of fruit they bear in their lives. We can’t read what goes on in a person’s heart but we can learn about them through their actions. Just as its important for women to learn to recognise a man by his fruit and work out whether he is a safe person to be around, it’s equally important that a woman thinks carefully about what she is teaching others about who she is.

One of the areas I have struggled with the most is feeling confident about the convictions and beliefs I have in my heart. One of damages of abuse is that a woman has difficulty trusting her instincts and rather than feel confident about what is right she doubts her perceptions and abilities to make good choices. She makes excuses, waits awhile to see what happens, puts things off, denies how she feels and blames herself before holding others accountable.

God’s will is to make abused people strong, so that they are no longer downtrodden and afraid. He wants you and I to be sure of right and wrong and to stand for what is right especially when our hearts are convicting us to do so. If we don’t live out our inner heart’s convictions we will live in darkness and make wrong choices and our actions will lead others to learn things about us that are not true.

When I hide, its like taking the long route to my desired destination. I might experience lots of new things along the way but it takes far longer for me to be where I really want to be. After roadblocks, deters and unnecessary painful experiences, I come to realise that if I had spoken from my heart in the first place, I would be in a very different place.

Yet God is bigger than our denials and fears. Seeing our weaknesses, He uses the long path to teach us, change us, refine us and make us stronger. Nothing is wasted with God. So rather than mourn your failures, know that God will take all our blunderings and use them for our good. We learn obedience through our suffering and when we are faced with speaking the truth again, we find it a little more easire to say no, or express our preferences without fear, for we know that the truth is the only way to freedom and staying safely in the will of God.

As we practice living the truth, we find that we are slowly becoming a light on a mountaintop, for everyone to see, no long shackled in silence and fear and trembling, the chains that held us captive now falling from our feet and hands and we step into that wonderful place of dicovering what it is like to be who God really created us to be.

In my experience, overcoming my fear of people and letting my actions declare the truth in my heart has been the greatest challenge in overcoming the cycle of destructive and unhealthy relationships. I would be interested to hear what your greatest challenges have been.