This post is part 2 in an ongoing series by a survivor of domestic and family violence who has committed her story to writing for her own healing and to encourage yours.
Praying through the pain
There are signs that many wives tend to ignore which a spouse may display indicating a breakdown of the individual’s Christian commitment to the Lord and by extension, a commitment to his or her spouse. Note the telltale signs that we often rationalize or ignore. There are some obvious ones that I allowed to drift over the years, without confronting earnestly, with professional assistance from a pastor or counsellor. I will share with you two of the major signs, indicative of the now irreparable damage to my marriage.
Praying as a Family
God has to be at the apex of our relationship. That triangle puts in perspective, our relationship first to God and then to each other. God’s word tells us in John 15, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 4 – 5). Ryan Higginbottom (2020) makes the point that the context in which this verse was used is important. He notes that Jesus was in conversation with his disciples on the evening of the last supper, and was emphasizing the fact that He is the vine and His Father is the vinedresser (John 15: 1). I see both sustenance and pruning, as integral components of this symbiotic relationship.
The focus however, is on ABIDING. Higginbottom summarizes for me, the importance of abiding in HIM as he posits, “Any disciple that wants to bear fruit must abide in Jesus and Jesus must abide in Him. This mutual abiding...points to a unity, knowledge, obedience and love that is self-sustaining and supernatural.” Hence within the marital context, both parties must individually and collectively cling to the true VINE for sustenance, if it is to survive the vicissitudes of life - if it is to maintain and cherish the love. Holding tenaciously to the Vine was the only hope of survival for me when I realized that my husband had abandoned his first love-Jesus Christ.
Praying together was a thing of the past for us. It was no longer an integral part of our daily routine. You see, we cannot lie to each other, when we pray together. It is best to avoid praying together and subdue the truth from each other and God, as if He doesn’t know. The maxim, “The family that prays together, stays together,” is a truism. Prayer is the glue that holds a couple and a family together and so I prayed – hoping for a change.
Worshipping God together as a couple and as a family consolidates the Headship of one’s family and brings into sharp focus the Centre of our being. Attending Church on a regular basis, prioritized for us, our role and responsibility as believers in fellowship with other believers. When my spouse stopped attending Church with me, I tried cajoling, without any success. I grew more and more anxious and angry, as I recognized that there was nothing I could do to influence him to attend and worship with us. My frustration mounted as the years went by, and eventually I came to the realization that he no longer was interested in participating in any matter pertaining to our Christian faith. I was helpless and surrendered it to God, as there was nothing I could do, but pray.
Praying through the pain brought very little solace during those early years when I realized my marriage was in trouble. Any glimmer of hope was his commitment to selfish and reprehensible behavior. Yet I continued in Him, reading His Word and praying in a valley of dry bones. And today as I continue the process of healing, God is still with me.
Sources: New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Context Matters: Apart from Me You can do Nothing, Ryan Higginbottom, (April 13. 2020) Accessed on November 2, 2020 from knowableword.com.
1. All writings in the Survivors' Corner are written by survivors of domestic and family violence.