Guest Post by Sage Sparrow
I’m a survivor of domestic abuse and I remember the day my world as I knew it came crashing down around me. I got a phone call from an elder at my church hours before I was planning to help lead a children’s program.
Don’t come, not for this, not for choir, not for holding babies in the nursery, not for anything.
I broke down in ugly tears. Only a few weeks prior, I had left my abusive husband. More than a decade of all kinds of abuse directed toward the children and me. This was enough to disqualify me from church service. It’s for your healing was the excuse I heard. I can only imagine how healing it would have been an hour a week to see the faces of the preschool children light up as they played or talked about Jesus. Instead, I sat in the lobby while my own children attended their groups. I can only imagine how healing it would have been to have been surrounded by a choir who had sung with me for over a decade. Instead I sat in the congregation as a well-known singer. I heard more than once, “Choir not paying you enough?” I can only imagine how healing it would have been to rock a baby to sleep in the nursery. Instead, I listened to a sermon calling people to serve and how they always needed more childcare workers.
Each Sunday became an exercise in pain management. Passing choir members in the hall who “don’t know why you’ve suddenly “quit” the choir.” Passing elders and wondering how they could equate isolation with healing. Passing former “friends” who didn’t believe me. Avoiding my abuser (because he’s still there too). Trying to go into worship with all of these people and listen to the pastor preach against abuse so eloquently, while not being able to recognize it when my husband strode into his office with a charming smile and introduced himself as “victim of an unloving wife.”
Months went by and there was no indication of reinstatement to church life. Meanwhile my abuser had told the church he wanted to reconcile, claiming he had been forced into legal action because of me. I offered to show them the court documents to prove which one of us had filed to start the divorce (him). I attempted to explain to the church how this was a lie as he was making false allegations against me with CPS (Child Protective Services) with the intent to win sole custody and make me homeless in the process.
Shrug. We’re still praying for you and for your marriage to be restored. We can only believe what he tells us, even if his actions seem contrary. Maybe you can serve again when all this is over.
Half a year of this torture had passed with at least another half year before “all this” could have been considered over. In secrecy and desperation, I attended a different church’s service. I found healing there. Compassion, prayer, genuine worship, acceptance.
If you are a survivor reading this and you are in a church where you feel shamed, anxious, cast aside, isolated, and treated as anything less than a believable, lovable, beautiful woman who is more than welcome to worship, I submit to you that you haven’t found your church yet. Church is the way God set up for his children to come together as a family to worship and fellowship. Jesus went after the rejected, despised, and the unloved. His heart is for the oppressed.
“The LORD is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.”
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
“But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners.”
“Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.”
8 thoughts on “The day my world came crashing down”
It’s very sad that so many who call themselves Christians cannot see beyond the lies of the abusers! But in a way it’s understandable, as they are so very clever at making themselves look so perfect out in public. When my turn came, a while ago, to “get out of it”, my own parents sided with him, falsely accusing me of horrible sins, to shame me into going back, I suppose. The pain of that treacherous rejection was worse than the pain of the break-up… which in itself was terrible.
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“In secrecy and desperation, I attended a different church’s service. I found healing there. Compassion, prayer, genuine worship, acceptance.” I THANK GOD you didnt become bitter and leave the faith!
What a terrible misrepresentation of the Lord in that oppressive church. Press on sister, thank you for sharing this important post.
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Ugh yes I can understand… After 5 years and a move 14 hours away but still the same church …. I have new friends and feel more a part of the group. Although very alone in raising my kids and figuring out my finances
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This spoke to me. Specifically, because I was also betrayed & rejected by ” friends ” & my old Sunday School class. People I trusted, people I thought were real, turned on me. They believed him & had been my friends. They wanted me to come in & sit down with them & him to work things out. I wasn’t safe around him & I sure wasn’t about to be ganged up on by 3 people, instead 1. Flying monkeys is a word that I became sadly aware of. My ex is a covert narcissist as well as having Intimacy Anorexia. I didn’t know until summer of 2018 what was really happening or what the name was to the unexplainable crazy making. God rescued me from a cage. I was slowly dying inside & He protected me & provided for me when I moved out & back home. God is my Husband.
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I completely understand and have experienced the same. God bless you, be with you, and comfort you.
God has brought you a long way, Joy, since that time and he has given you a mission that you are fulfilling faithfully. You are an inspiration and a light to so many. You are “a good and faithful servant.” Love you, cuz. ❤️🙏
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I’m so sorry you were treated by those who were meant to love you and be your burden bearers. This should never have happened. I’m glad you found true refuge in the Lord. He never wanted this to happen to you.
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Thank you. I hope to be able to use my story to benefit someone else.
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