Category Archives: As I See It

Ida Takes on the Almighty and Gets Owned in the Process

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Today was one of those days you’d like to hit the delete key.

I’m a school nurse. You can imagine, I hear some sad stories. Some are heartbreaking, some are a shame, some are just so much foolishness.

Today involved CPS, a criminal investigation and one of the most vulnerable little girls on our campus. While caseworkers and cops paraded about interviewing everyone in sight, I wept in the clinic. The afternoon was devoted to thinking of all the various ways to inflict damage via bandage scissors ensuring a certain perpetrator would never hurt another innocent child again.

Sometimes, it just hurts to breathe–

There’s just no way to let something like this go. The man who harmed this child harmed everyone who knew and loved her. Collectively we grieved today, separately we gnashed our teeth and blamed ourselves for not being omniscient demi-gods with the power to rewind the clock. We pointed fingers, assigned blame, looked backwards with perfect 20/20 clarity and thought of a thousand ways any one of us might have prevented this if we’d just been a wee bit more suspicious.

This evening, I had myself a nice little rant-fest directed at the Almighty.

Why? Why didn’t someone protect her? How on earth did they get away with this without anyone noticing? Oh and, by the way—why are the wicked free to roam around, picking off the vulnerable like prey in the first place?  Why don’t You come on back already and put a stop to this, we’re getting slaughtered down here!

Dear God above, please make this stop–

Right in the big middle of my righteous indignation, I saw Jesus during His thirty-three years walking about our fallen planet. With a clarity that bespoke divine intervention, I saw the crowd around him, liberally sprinkled with murderers, pedophiles, thieves, and adulterers cleverly disguised as upstanding citizens.

Solomon wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. And while surely wickedness has increased as we approach His second coming, none of the sins around us are anything new. Which leads logically to the conclusion that, in His oneness with the Almighty, Jesus had to know that murderers and rapists and child abusers were lurking about, carrying on their evil and yet, never once did he threaten to castrate anyone with bandage scissors.

In my semi-hysterical frame of mind, this seemed a bit odd.

And then I remembered—He came the first time around as the sacrifice for sin. He saw each and every one He met as a candidate for forgiveness, no matter how wicked.

He did not come to condemn the world. He came to save the world. He called them all to repentance. The rapists and the murderers and the pedophiles and the thieves and whores and gossips and gluttons. He came to save them. He did not come for the righteous, He came for the wicked because they were the ones who needed a physician.

Someday, He will come again as the Lion and all this evil and the suffering that rides shotgun will end. But in the meantime, Jesus died—on purpose—to save sinners. All the pitchforks in the world will not save our society—it  will not fix one damn thing. Only rebirth and repentance can transform evil. In the meantime, we are all given the space and time to repent.

So am I saying we just need to forgive the criminals and move on? Not hardly.

I’m saying that my desire to inflict harm on one shameful sinner would not change a thing. But what would this world look like if those who did their evil in darkness repented and brought forth works of repentance? What if we stopped pretending that everything is a-okay, that all the nice looking folks are just exactly what they look like on the surface and start calling sinners to repent?

True Story (with possible omission in detail because it’s been awhile)— 

A young man from my hometown robbed a convenience store. He shot and killed the clerk and did not get caught. Not long after, this murderer accepted Christ and experienced a radical rebirth. Old things passed away. He spent every moment of his life trying to make up for his crime. He preached to the young people in town, warning them against alcohol and drugs. He became a youth pastor. He married and became a father and loving husband. He preached Jesus and repentance and salvation through Christ alone. And he kept his secret for years.

Then one day, he did something totally unexpected, something that made headlines all over the place. This upstanding citizen walked into the police station and turned himself in. He left his church, his wife and his sons to go to prison for the foreseeable future. He told his stunned friends and family who clearly thought he’d lost his last marbles that he could no longer live with himself.

You see, words alone were not enough. Works alone are not enough. This young man knew a secret and bravely worked out his own salvation with fear and trembling.

Following repentance, those who harm others must make restitution in kind. When John said to bring forth works of repentance, this is what he meant. When Zachias said he would pay back everything he stole, this is why. He didn’t offer to clean the temple, teach Bible Study or go to counseling. He gave back what he took and compensated his victims for their loss by giving extra.

This young man brought forth works of repentance. The very real change inside his heart eventually burst forth in fruits of righteousness. He did the right thing. He gave peace to the family of his victim, he admitted his guilt, he accepted the judgment of the society in which he lived and paid the price because it was the right thing to do.

What must I do to be saved?

Ever wonder why Jesus told folks to go do things when they asked this question? Sell all you have and give it to the poor seems to conflict with salvation by grace alone. And yet, how can anyone who’s heart has truly been reborn into the Kingdom of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness sit all comfortable, year after blessed year, right there in the hog wallow of their former  existence filled with adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like? It absolutely makes no sense.

Furthermore, is it even possible for those dead in trespasses and sin to do anything so contrary to their nature as going to prison for a crime they got away with years ago?

So what if we stopped pretending that evil does not exist and start calling the wicked to repentance? What if the power of God to save the lost broke forth  mightily and those who commit atrocities in darkness came to the light and experienced the life-changing power of regeneration?

Ida Mae spends some time repenting—Again

I was wrong. I would’ve called fire down out of heaven and turned the man who harmed my little friend into a pile of rubble. You see, while I was sharpening my scissors, I forgot that whoever hurt my sweet little student is someone’s son. Someone’s brother, someone’s father, someone’s husband. Someone, somewhere loves that man despite what he’s done.

God loves that man.

So now, I’m praying he will be exposed so he will not harm another child. I pray that he will repent and the power of God will transform his life, taking him out of the realm of darkness and into the light of the Kingdom of Heaven. I pray he will one day call others to repentance.

I repent of my hard-heartedness but, dadgumit, I will also stop pretending that evil cannot possibly lurk about in perfectly respectable looking packages and tell anyone who’ll listen that Jesus died to save the worst of these.

This gospel of the Kingdom must be preached again and that’s just all there is to it. repentance

 

 

This was written awhile back but the emotions ran too high at the time to post. I’ve edited out the multiple exclamation marks and such but if it seems a bit raw, my apologies. Furthermore, it’s not meant as a theological exposition–just a moment of epiphany after a very long day.

A Debbie Downer Update and an Apology to Julia

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*Note: I found this written and discarded on my computer. It’s not a stellar bit of writing which may explain things, however, I owe someone who commented here an apology. She wrote in good faith, I said I would reply, then turned into a tiny lump of denial.

Candy Crush marathons—

Pinterest until way past bedtime—

Avoiding email, text and voice mail. Since November.

 I hate, hate, hate to post this. Much rather wait until there’s something upbeat and lovely but then again, I don’t usually pull a nutty of this magnitude, so here you go.

Don’t know if you noticed but I haven’t posted much. Couldn’t quite figure out the reason. I’ve wanted to post. I’ve tried to post.

This is hard to write and harder to post for a bunch of reasons. Like most survivors, I do not like sympathy. Sympathy brings on feelings and I’m not so good with those. This is probably a bit nutz but there you have it.

Unfortunately, I promised honesty.

After leaving three years ago, I was so happy to get away from the beast, so relieved to have the constant barrage of crazy-making, the roller coaster of verbal/emotional and spiritual abuse finally end, that I had no idea whatsoever that I was still having a difficult time. Fact is, in some ways, the last three years have been *more* difficult, something I did not suspect.

Not to say it’s not worth every single drop of blood I’ve spilled over this (metaphorically speaking), it dadgum is. But–

  • Leaving after thirty years was hard.
  • Finding a job after 30 years off the job market was hard and, in fact, took most of three years of constant attention.
  • Finding housing we can afford is hard. Finding a way to help a teen launch from high school to Real World is expensive. And hard.
  • Watching my son decompress mentally, emotionally and every other way imaginable, cycling through emotions he never had the freedom to express before, day after day after day after day is more than hard. It’s heartbreaking.
  • Talking to a counselor who insisted on telling me the truth was hard.
  • Supporting the kids when all I want to do is sit on the floor and lick my wounds is hard. Repenting to my children for my part in the pain they received as children is hard.
  • Fighting depression is hard.
  • Reclaiming my identity is near to impossible. I just do not know who I am anymore.
  • Losing my place, my position, my home is hard.
  • Learning to live as a single, divorced, unclaimed and unloved woman is so very hard.
  • Learning to replace that identity with the one my Savior freely gives is essential, but so not easy. Just learning what that might be takes incredible effort. Seeing myself as a courageous woman, as a survivor, as brave, as loved and valued and cherished is a task I’ll be working through for however many decades I’ve got left.
  • Finding out that the man you loved is an enemy and—God forbid—always was an enemy is devastating. Living through that realization day by day just sucks. Remembering all the crap you discounted, ignored and explained away because ‘he couldn’t possibly mean that!’ is nauseating.
  • Having the estranged call our friends, weeping and crying, asking for prayer and watching him manipulate their emotions in exactly the same way he manipulated mine for decades is hard.
  • Admitting that you ever loved the bastard is way harder than it sounds.
  • Watching the man you prayed for, nurtured, supported and upheld while he lived like the devil lie and buy his way into a position of church leadership only three months after we left was hard. Finding out he’s now the associate pastor when he has never shown even one sign of genuine repentance is laughable. Hearing that he and his church now consider him a modern day Job— righteous man, without sin, afflicted for no reason whatsoever—is way hard.

Right up until one year before leaving I was emotionally numb. Now, I’m awake and aware. Things hurt, I feel them. I’m getting bucketloads of memories, boatloads of deferred pain and way too much drama—memories, regrets, and brand new hurts now that the walls have dropped and the kids are telling their stories.

Was it worth leaving?

Oh, honey! Let me tell you. . . every second, of every minute of every day, I thank the Almighty who delivered us from evil. This job of getting well may be hard but the alternative is unthinkable.

Sexual Abuse in Marriage–and Who’s Fault is That?

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For years, I showed all the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse. Pull up the list, check them off twice. Over time, I came to believe I must have been abused as a child and just couldn’t remember. It never, ever occurred to me that a man could sexually abuse his wife.  In fact, I would’ve said it wasn’t possible. After all– two adults, man and woman, way beyond the age of consent.

This morning,  a new comment came in over on the post, Sex in an Abusive Marriage, Part 1. Not surprising, that series gets plenty of traffic. The nice lady who left a comment used the one key word that set the wheels to grinding. Below is a portion of her comment and my response:

Comment

“Oh my word! I’m reading my life, at least part of it. To know I’m not the only one is immense! This needs to be discussed in the church.”

Response

I’ve got a few thoughts on the subject–Abuse occurs when there’s an imbalance of power. For instance, an adult cannot have sex with an underage child because the child cannot really say no. The adult holds all the authority and power. Professor and student. Preacher and church member. Boss and employee. The one in the subservient position feels coerced. Its why we have laws on the books and the reason people are fired even when the victim is an adult.

In marriage, people say you cannot be sexually abused. Why? Because you have two adults who can both say no, right?

Wrong.

The *church* is saying that the wife cannot refuse and invoking the authority of scripture and using God’s name to back them up. The church is causing the imbalance of power by teaching a false doctrine of submission. The church creates an atmosphere where sexual abuse can occur and thrive where none should exist in the first place. All that to say, I doubt they’ll be discussing this in churches anytime soon. Instead, they simply deny the reality that women are being sexually abused by their husbands.

The Floor is Open

Goes without saying that this does not apply to every church on the planet. It does, however, apply to many if not most conservative, fundamentalist, and  patriarchal variations thereof. Many of us here swallowed these teachings and  doctrines whole and suffered accordingly.

So let’s discuss.

The Formerly Abused Woman’s Guide to Keeping Other Women From Marrying Badly

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Since this divorce business, I’ve learned to hate stuff. Once upon a time, I was way too nice to hate anything which might  account for thirty years of taking crap. Nowadays I hate abuse, I hate seeing people mistreated, I hate lies, I hate deception, I hate all sorts of things that never once rustled my previous jimmies.

So in the spirit of new leaves turned over and such, one of the things I hate with a righteous passion are those stupid, sappy posts that start with “10 Ways to Love Your Spouse” or “25 Ways to Divorce-Proof your Marriage” or “A Bagillion and One Ways to be the Godliest Wife on the Planet .”

Really people?

So you don’t love your spouse?  Not a clue that divorce-proofing is impossible because nobody can force anyone to honor the marriage covenant? No idea that being a Godly wife means loving God first, then letting  hubby enjoy some of that yummy fruit that grows all natural-like? Honest to goodness, how hard is this?

So since I’m annoyed, here’s another list, just for grins.

Five Ways to Avoid Spending Decades Trying To Figure Out What Hit You

1. Marry a normal person. You do not need to hang out in a tower somewhere waiting for Prince Awesome or Mr. Darcy or Mr. Godly Christian Man that meets all two hundred and fifty-seven of the ideal traits scribbled out in your diary at age fourteen. Just take my word on this one—scrap the list, marry a Normal.

Normals are relatively reasonable folks willing to give and take. They do stupid stuff stupidly at inconvenient times. You may want to bop them on occasion which is generally a bad idea. But you can work with Normal

2. Make sure the Normal you pick loves God, loves you, and likes your family. Oh, and make sure you like them enough to have sex with them a lot because I’ve heard that stuff is fun and you’ll want to have fun if you bother getting married.

3.  If you do not know the difference between a Normal and a Terminal Taker, you don’t need to get married in the first place. And the corollary: If you’re already married without knowing the difference, you probably married an abuser. Because people are dumb like that.

4. Make sure the Normal you marry likes women. While this should go without saying, it doesn’t so someone should and that will be me and the hundreds of others who married outside the bounds of normalcy. Pinups, porn stars and fantasy-type creatures with female naughty bits are not women. They are images of imaginary women without freckles, flaws and cellulite and do not count.

And the flip-side: You cannot be the only woman they like. “You’re different” or “you’re nothing like the others” means you’ll be just exactly like the others as soon as the lipgloss wears off.

5. If you realize you are dating an Abusiver/ Taker, DO NOT MARRY THEM. Even if you’re a good little girl and they’ve seen you nekkid,  back away, button your blouse and don’t marry them.  If you’re afraid to make them angry, please Dear-God-in-Heaven-Above, do not marry them! Get out, get help and don’t pull a Lot’s wife. Don’t be  afraid you might damage their fragile self-esteem, or hurt their view of all woman-kind, or dent their delicate little psyche. Believe me, their self-esteem is mighty fine, they already dislike women (and as soon as they figure out you are one, they’ll dislike you most) and their psyche is already dented.

One of these days, I may post my list of  20+ Tips for a Happy Marriage Full of Joy and Stuff just for fun.  I mean really– how hard is it to tell everyone how to be happily married when you’re–oh, I don’t know–happy?  Some of us thought we were getting married and wound up in a war. We earned our stripes the hard way, dadgumit.

Anyone gets to lecture the troops, it ought to be a veteran.

Two Week Follow-up

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My two week hiatus is over. I’m feeling rested and slightly petrified.

After finally calming the crap down around Day Six, I spent lots of time napping, dancing around the living room to “I Will Survive” and “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart” and drinking fizzy fruit sodas. My blood sugar raged but the Inner Emo felt better for the exercise, thanks much.

Then the emails started. The beast tightened the financial screws which makes job-hunting higher priority than before. I’m no longer looking for work in my field and have cast the nets further adrift so to speak. Trying to find work after so long out of the loop is tough. Trying to find something that pays a living wage is worse.

Hate to be so cryptic but keeping identifying details to a minimum while updating is difficult on a good day.

All this sounds pretty rotten and–well, it is. But during the last two weeks, I felt my Father’s joy and His assurance of provision. He assured me that those who trust in Him will not be put to shame. He assured me that He keeps watch over His children and He will repay their enemies. And He assured me that He knew beforehand and made provision accordingly.

Like a Light in a Storm

Three months ago, I had a strange dream. I wrote it down, including all the odd details. At the time, the dream made me feel  better even though it made no sense and knowing it was from the Lord, I tucked it aside with other journal gems, then went on about my business, promptly forgetting the whole thing. It went something like this:

I’m in a store doing ordinary things which I wrote down. These things were quite specific and not the least bit scary and yet I am terrified anyway. I wake, screaming at the top of my tiny lungs for the Lord to come comfort me right-this-minute.

Only I wasn’t actually awake. I’m a little girl, maybe six to eight or so. I’m in a big double bed. The covers are horribly rumpled as I’ve obviously been fighting in my sleep, my head down by the foot of the bed. Beautiful soft light streams in through the window and I am squealing like crazy, crawling up on the pillows and calling for Jesus to come get me.

It’s the middle of the night. I may be awake, but I am little and I am scared.

All of this, I perceive in a bare minute. The colors, the lighting, the perception– much more than a dream. And in the split-second it takes to start squealing, I see my Lord, all warm and drowsy and stumbling over to calm down this wailing child of His heart.

Which wakes me up out of the dream-within-a-dream. I am no longer scared. I realize I’m home, I’m safe, my Lord isn’t the tiniest bit worried and I  have woken Him up for no reason as there is actually nothing wrong– no danger, no imminent threat, no looming destruction. The ordinary items that terrified me are not a threat. I tell the Lord that it’s okay, He can go back to sleep, I’m fine.

I get some loving up anyway.

And then I actually did wake up.

How the Story Plays Out

For several days before the email of financial doom, I felt a need to go back and reread my journals. I remembered things, reread encouragement and replayed some of the sweet moments from time spent in His presence. Pretty nice stuff. I reread answers to prayer given before I knew to ask. Holy moments tucked in between panicky moments of desperation. I got a snapshot of the way the Lord has upheld and sustained me during this transition. Yeah, things stink sometimes. But, there is beauty in His sweet care.

The evening of the email’s arrival started off pretty nice. One of the kidlets had the nerve to get older than allowed for a youngster of my tender years so out we went for a little birthday sushi and a generous helping of family gossip. Afterwards,  dear child invites Mom to their favorite thrift store (some things definitely run in families). Nice surprise and lovely end to a wonderful visit.  We  drive over, park too far away after so much raw fish and part ways near the door as I’m more of a home goods kinda shopper and kidlet loves the clothing section.

Round the corner and there, hidden in the back tastefully arranged with a grouping of tacky ’80’s mauve and blue geese sits a vision from heaven– the most awesome little table to grace a thrift store in ages. A 1930’s, drop leaf office typing table, complete with wheels that raise and lower, a foot operated devise that actually works to lock the table down. The top needs refinishing but all the marvelous, industrial metal goodness is perfect.

The table is mine. I know it. I love it. It loves me back. We are meant to be united in decorating bliss. There’s a great big freshly painted wall back home with an empty slot in need of just such a wonder. I drag my treasure to the cashier, knocking various grandmother-types out of the way as I go. This baby needs to get bought and paid for pronto before some big city high brow sees what I’ve found and tries to wrestle it from my grimy clutches. After all that raw fish, I’m in no shape for a tussle.

Fourteen dollars and twenty minutes later, the table sits near the front door with a lovely sold sign attached. I threaten the cashier with immanent doom if she lets my baby out of her sight for one minute and head back to the book section. I have vowed to quit bringing home anything bigger than a matchbox but a quick perusal yields an armload of HUGE hardbacks meant to melt the  heart of any bibliophile. Someone cleaned off the coffee table. Whatever– they are  mine. I remark to the cashier that I have no place for these boat anchors and quickly calculate the probability of getting both the rolling table/cart and the huge box of books to the car.

At this point, I park myself near the door on a second-hand sofa and look smug. Occasionally the thought crosses my mind that I can’t possibly lift the book box and the cart but decide that God Will Provide and thus, turning religious, move on to more pressing matters like watching other shoppers gawk over my table until they see the sold sign. More smugness ensues.

Trust me, there is a point in here somewhere.

Eventually, my daughter and I get everything loaded with the help of a nice gay man who does, in fact, make a play for my table although my heart is hard to his cries for mercy as he assures me that he, and only he, can properly appreciate it’s wonderfulness. I snicker and head homeward, arrange table in place of honor, grab the laptop for a quick check and bam– the beast strikes again.

Don’t know if anyone else can relate, but the world stopped turning.

I am petrified. Bills loom. The little bit of personal credit in my own name is liable to be ruined. Important things must be paid or put off indefinitely. My kids will do without and there’s not much cuts closer to the bone.  I’ve tried to find work already. I see no answer, no solution, no promise.

Of course, this is not all technically true. I’m not exactly on the street. I haven’t tried Walmart yet and I hear they hire just about anyone. That doesn’t help however. Spiraling commences. I’m not thinking anymore and a big hot wad of Ugly wants to take me under. I see myself living in a box under the bridge, selling plasma and eating radioactive carp from the bayou.

After plenty of this, I head on to bed, get still and hear my Savior.

He reminds me of His promises. He quotes from my journals. The stories just read only nights before replay through my fear-soaked brain.

I can hear and I know– there’s a decision to make. I can chose to trust the One Who brought me this far already or I can head on into this shit-filled pit the beast so kindly dug and stay there for only the Good Lord knows how long.

This time, the good guys win.

Spiritual wrestling makes me hungry. There’s crackers and cheese in the kitchen and as I’m no longer headed for life as a bag lady, I head to the fridge instead for a midnight snack. I may be better but sleep is out of the question so I open up the journal I’ve been reading for days now and scroll down to the next entry on March 10th.

And there’s the dream. I’m munching crackers and reading all this incredible detail from the first section of the dream which I’d forgotten as it made no sense whatsoever. After all, it wasn’t scary and yet I was terrified. The part which I kindly left out earlier to make the story much juicier. . .

. . . the part where I’m in a store. And I’m terrified. And I find a rolling table that might be a cart and I’m trying to get it out of the store. Except that I have a huge box of heavy books. And I can’t figure out why I’d buy these great big books.  I know I can’t carry both the books and the table and everyone wants my table and it makes no sense whatsoever to be frightened of rolling tables and books but I am and . . .

I am Fine.

At that moment, crackers falling out of my open mouth, I know, beyond a doubt that my Father knows everything. I’ve heard this all my life but the reality of experiencing trumps the head knowledge of hearing any day.

Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is watching. He knows. He gives me a dream three months in advance and makes sure I find it again on the day I need to hear from Him so desperately. He knew where I would be, what I’d be doing, how I’d be feeling and that I would squawk like a trembling baby bird in a rumpled nest.

He gave me some loving up ahead of time.

Now isn’t that something?

I’d like to say that everything is all better now but circumstances have not change quite yet. I know they will. Not how or where or when– just that they will. I may panic again tomorrow.  I wish I could say I’m strong enough to remember this little miracle when the crap hits the fan again– which it will– but I am not.

What I can tell you is this.

If I squeal, my Savior will come and pat me until I’m better. And for now, that is plenty good enough.

Day 2: Happy Place is Loud

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Woke early this morning to joyous quiet which lasted all of twenty-eight minutes before jack hammers started up outside my bedroom window.

Yes indeedy. Jack hammers. I went outside in pj’s for visual verification purposes.

Jack hammering lasted until 2:32 at which time Loud Blowing Noises Made With Unknown Tool Thingies began. LBN’s lasted until five minutes ago.

Much hand waving and lip reading combined with trots back and forth to the front door yielded the following information:

  • A major gas line in the neighborhood is leaking
  • This is not a problem and there is no need to panic
  • Oops
  • The leak is bigger than we thought initially and many more holes must be jack hammered into the concrete right-this-minute
  • No problem, no need for concern
  • Just for funsies we’re turning off your gas. Not because there is a problem or anything.
  • The other guys were suppose to fix this yesterday.
  • We are calling in bigger trucks and more equipment so this might take a teensie bit longer than first mentioned
  • Everything is under control
  • The gas company now needs to inspect the premises. Just for grins as there isn’t any real problem
  • Have you been burning that candle all day? No reason for asking as there is no danger to you or any other citizen within a three block radius
  • Really

On another note,  the tiny bathroom is currently full of plumber. Nothing inside said bathroom works. Not the sink, nor the potty, nor the awesome tub which is my nightly quiet place. The sound of Great Progress goes forth and we are hopeful for a successful outcome.

Mr. Plumber is very nice and keeps telling me how the Lord has blessed him, including a recent successful back surgery which has given him his livelihood back. I like Mr. Plumber very much.

In Summary

No painting, no music, no napping. Only jackhammers, job site foreman on the porch and plumbers who love Jesus. Not a bad day overall.

Did I mention we only have one bathroom?

There is no need to panic.

 

 

 

Death of an Abuser

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Tonight I’m going to the funeral of an abusive man. No, his wife did not kill him although how she restrained herself all these years is a mystery.

In fact, this wife was just about as mean to others as her husband was to her. She served him slavishly, catering to his temper, his drinking, his demands for total control over her and their nine children. As far as I could see, he contributed nothing. She turned her anger outward, lashing out at anyone offering friendship. She circled the wagons, developed a them-against-us attitude toward outsiders and twisted realities to fit her viewpoint, carrying those twisted tales to others and causing all sorts of mayhem.

I doubt she ever knew why.

Once years ago, long before I realized my own mess of a life, this woman called crying. She said her husband had laid out his current demands for a cleaner house, children who obeyed instantly at his command (apparently their ‘rebellion’  was her fault because she did not ‘follow through’ when he wasn’t around) and greater progress with the children’s academic work as she was clearly lazy and his offspring, all being geniuses, should be above grade level in every subject.

Listening to my friend, I knew her husband had her cornered. I told her he was being unreasonable. I said she needed help. Perhaps they could hire someone to come in once a week to scrub the floors and bathrooms? She said her husband contended that if she managed her time more wisely, she could get everything done the way he wanted. He believed the children should be cooking and cleaning but had zero tolerance for a learning curve, immaturity or ‘sloppy work’, spanking them if the cleaning didn’t pass his inspection. Even the toddlers were required to perform to adult standards or else.

I pointed out her workload which included a newborn waking her up randomly all night ( her husband couldn’t be bothered as he had to work the next day), three toddlers in various stages of potty training and five others taught entirely by her ranging from those learning to read to one preparing for the SAT, a huge home that in olden days would have required an entire staff to keep clean and an almost grown son who wasn’t allowed to help as this was ‘woman’s work.’

When she insisted they could not afford to hire a maid, I pointed out her husband could sell his private airplane and the monthly fee for hanger rental alone could pay for someone to come in weekly. She said I didn’t understand and I never heard from her again.

She’s right. I didn’t and I still don’t.

We haven’t spoken in years and I doubt she wants to see me. Knowing then what I know now, I would have approached things different, speaking to the root of the poison tree rather than the rotted branches.  More than likely, our friendship would have ended regardless. But telling her to hire a maid when her husband had the entire family under lock and key makes about as much sense as insisting she sprout wings and fly.

She never thought of herself as abused. I tell myself  many things can change in seven years and I pray truth broke through at some point. Call me cynical, but I doubt it.

My guess? She will now canonize the creep. In death, he will become the Godly Man of her Dreams he never was in her nightmarish life.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope for her sake and the sake of her children she found the truth. Otherwise, I suspect the entire bunch will repeat the pattern for generations to come.

Dear Lord above, please let me be wrong.