Freedom starts within
I was living in a free county, yet barley surviving, in chains. My home was my prison, my husband was the prison guard and warden. Controlling every aspect of my life, slowly willowing away my identity and personhood.
On the outside, I was free. No one knew of the verbal, spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse that was happening behind closed doors, although some suspected…. They didn’t know that I was living in constant fear and anxiety. They could not see me being used as a prostitute instead of a wife. No one knew the depth of my emotional stress as I tried tirelessly to navigate the constant mood shifts, the anger outbursts, the drunken tirades. Protecting the children as best as I could by being their buffer. I was good at hiding. I was good about keeping that invisible tape in place, the tape that my prison guard had placed, over my mouth.
And I protected him, my guard. I believed his lies and manipulations. To my core, I believed him. I was not worth loving. I was crazy and demanding and ungrateful for this beautiful prison that he provided for me.
I tried being a good Christian wife who was submissive and meek. For over 15 years I tried. I did as I was told and I remembered my place in the world. Not good enough, that was my place. I prayed for years for a change. For some sign of conviction on his part for his drinking and violent outbursts. I tried to change, to be whoever he needed me to be. Still….not good enough. My bottom line.
Then the scales tipped. It was a slow change, almost unnoticeable to myself, let alone my prison guard. The power he held over me was fear. The kind of fear that leaves you immobile and unable to think or even breathe. Finally, beautifully, my fear turned and shifted, until one day the fear of staying in this prison was greater than my fear of leaving it. My heart beat rapidly and my voice shook as I declared that I was done living in his prison. That I will do whatever it takes to be free. The mocking turned to accusations, turned to begging. He loves me, so he says. No. For the first time I see that he is not capable of loving me or anyone else. There is no room for love when you are only able to focus on getting your own needs met. Love is patient, kind, generous, it protects and trusts and rejoices in truth it is not self seeking or arrogant or proud, it does not delight in evil, it does not destroy and devour. The life I was living was not love. The marriage I had was not godly or loving or even kind. I would have settled for kind.
No there was only darkness. And I was in danger of losing any bit of light I had left if I stayed. My children were at risk of being devoured by this darkness, of continuing this generational wickedness.
My freedom started in that moment. And while He continues to try and steal my freedom, I stand my ground.
This freedom is not without it’s costs. I earned my freedom with excruciating pain, exhaustion, tears, therapy, legal battles, empty bank accounts and a kind of loneliness that makes your body ache. I have had to pick up my children’s broken hearts and hurting souls, while barely able to carry my own. It took courage and strength. A strength beyond myself. Jesus carried me. He was my rock, my fortress, my sustainer. It took people holding me up when I was falling. And prayer. Praying without ceasing, reading God’s words as if I couldn’t breathe with out them, because I couldn’t.
Freedom for my soul was not free. It cost my savior his life and it is costing me mine. But my reward is full, it is Him. And HE is enough.