September 21, 2009
Mary DeMuth, She Reads Featured Author
"And I say, ‘Oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest." Psalm 55:6-8 (ESV)
I'm not normally one to sense family secrets about people's lives, but this time I did. The moment "Sarah" walked through my front door for a Bible study, God whispered to me, "She needs help."
A few weeks later she asked if I could come over and talk.
She welcomed me to an immaculate house and peppered me with questions about how I managed our home. At first I answered her questions directly, but as she kept asking, I realized she was really asking something else: Why can't I be enough for my husband's expectations? She seemed frightened, jumpy.
That day my new friend Sarah confessed that her husband abused her. Emotionally. Physically. Psychologically. I prayed for her, gave her my phone number, and felt her burden in my gut.
She called after a violent episode, her two children crying in the back of her car. "I'm afraid," she told me.
I encouraged her to come over. Nearly at that moment, a friend of mine arrived and, through a series of God-moments, we worked together to get Sarah and her two children to a safe place.
In doing so, we feared for our safety. Her husband stalked us, called us in the middle of the night screaming. During one conversation, my husband asked him, "Why are you in seminary?"
"Because I want to pastor people." He said it as if the answer were obvious.
My husband cleared his throat in the quiet of our room. "If you can't shepherd your own family, you can't expect to shepherd others."
The man erupted, spewing obscenities. "She just needs to learn to submit!" With that, he hung up.
Since this time, we've encountered several hurting women married to men who pursued, or were active in, ministry. These women felt trapped, worried, and afraid. And because their husbands held the position they did, these wives didn't know how to find a safe place.
As a fiction author, I have written a series of novels with the purpose of exposing this kind of pain in Christian families. I didn't write to impugn or to harass, but to shed light on a sad reality. So that silent sufferers wouldn't feel alone. So that redemption could shine on such a dark family canvas.
Do you know a "Sarah"? Whether she is a friend, acquaintance, or the woman you look at each day in the mirror, there is something you can do. Pray fervently that God will give you the wisdom to find shelter. Pray for the courage to tell the truth, or to be a safe place for her to tell the truth. And believe that no one "deserves" punishment, violence, or verbal thrashings by a spouse. Remember that God's heart for marriage is unity, mutual understanding, longsuffering, love that overlooks shortfalls, and camaraderie.
May we all seek God's design for marriage and may those who need to find shelter hurry towards it.
Dear Lord, whether I am a Sarah, or a friend of a Sarah, give me wisdom. Make me aware if You desire for me to take a role in helping someone. I give You everything, including my fears, worries, and stress. Shine Your light on my family, I pray. And lead me to Your safe place. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Mary will be guest posting on the SheReads blog this week. If you would like to ask questions anonymously or dialogue further about this devotion, she welcomes you there and would love to hear from you!
When Life and Beliefs Collide: How Knowing God Makes a Difference by Carolyn Custis James
If you're a Sarah: Seek solace in a safe friendship and share your story. If you fear for your life or your children's lives, contact your local battered women's shelter.
If you know a Sarah, pray that God would show you how you can be used in her life to help her find shelter from what she is going through.
Who benefits from me keeping a family secret like this?
How is it loving to allow someone to hurt you or others?
Ephesians 4:15, "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every aspect into him who is the head, into Christ." (ESV)
Ephesians 5:11, "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness but instead, expose them." (ESV)
© 2009 by Mary DeMuth. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105