When Called To A Difficult Purpose

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And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Over the last few weeks (aka since school started), I’ve been ill. We didn’t make it through the first week of school without one of the kids catching something and sharing it with the rest of us.

Four weeks later, I’m still sick but with something else. When your immunity is down, it’s easy to get sick. I’ve had one or two decent days and one really good day in four weeks. This past Wednesday, I felt normal. Yet, as I went to bed that night, I knew my good day was over. After a night of very  little sleep, I went back to the doctor.

Why am I telling you this? Because people don’t get what grandparenting (being a grandparent raising grandchildren) does to us. I wrote about this  last week and heard from several grandparents in the same boat. They thanked me for saying what I did.

I’m guessing some readers, found my bluntness a bit uncomfortable. That’s ok. I’m not attacking or blaming people. I’m trying to create an understanding for the 2.5 million grandparents in my shoes. We are a growing population.

We do what we do for love. We trust in God to help us, but it’s terrifying to look at our retirement and realize we planned to support two adults, not to raise more children.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:17-18

That is what He’s asked us to do, to proclaim Him to another generation of children. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why He chose us to do it in this way, but He did. But herein lies the problem: my sickness.

As my illness continues, I’ve become weak and exhausted. At a time when income becomes most important, the circumstances make it hard to maintain that income. I would love to retire and focus completely on my writing and the grandchildren (not just the two who live with us), but I’m not retirement age, and I’ll probably have to work longer than I originally planned in order to make sure we survive.

And we’re the lucky ones. Most grandparents who are raising grandchildren, live below the poverty line.

We do have the Bible verses like those in this post to encourage us, and for those of us whose faith already sustained us through many trials, our faith brings  comfort. But we’re human and struggling. In the moment it’s hard to remember to turn to God. That’s probably why my last post came across strong to some people. I’m not apologizing for that. It’s important to help people understand the struggles other people experience. You can’t do that by sugar-coating the truth.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

This is the main purpose of this blog: helping people understand the struggles of others as well as revealing how my struggles built my faith in God.

Will you take a moment today to stop and pray for the grandparents and grandchildren in this situation? It’s not easy, and we need your support.

Are you a grandparent raising grandchildren? What’s your biggest struggle? I want to hear from you! If you’re a grandchild who was raised by a grandparent, I’d love to hear from you, too.

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Domestic Violence: Blessings In the Nightmare

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© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

Not every day is a nightmare while living with domestic violence.

Probably not what you expected to read in this post, but there are good times.  Times of value and joy and happiness.

Not every day brings a new form of terror to the abused spouse.  Yes, she walks on egg shells waiting for the next eruption, but in between those times, there can be peace.

I’m not saying the good times make the bad times forgivable. No one should live in fear of their spouse, but some of the blessings in my life came from my marriage to an abusive spouse.

I have two beautiful daughters from this marriage. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I would love to trade who I chose for their father, however.  Not possible, so end of story.

And…

In the midst of my messed up life, I found my faith.

Did you get that?

I found my faith in Christ during an abusive marriage.

I grew up in a church-going family, but no one taught me God’s plan of salvation.  I knew the story of Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection, but I didn’t understand the significance.  I saw the resurrection as Jesus’ proof that He was the son of God. No one explained it to me. No one told me what it meant when Christ hung on the cross as the perfect sacrifice.  No one explained to me about God’s inability to look on Jesus as he bore our sins. I didn’t know that Jesus bore my punishment and everyone else’s while His father turned away.

I didn’t know.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

My ex-husband’s family belonged to a non-denominational church.  They followed New Testament Christianity.  I didn’t know what that meant at first, but what they taught me made sense. After I almost died, I realized I needed to do something about my salvation. I chose to follow Christ, but I’ll be the first to tell you, I didn’t fully understand what that meant. What I did know was I was unsure about my eternity and chose to accept Christ based on fear.  Not the best way to do it, but it’s how I first stepped out on faith.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Several years later, when I did understand what it meant to follow Christ, I recommitted my life to him and was baptized again.  Some say it wasn’t necessary for me to do that, but my lifestyle and decisions changed after that second commitment. I didn’t change the first time.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.Romans 6:4

Even in the darkest days, He provides blessings to each of us.  God can take any situation, even domestic violence, and find a way to work good through it: two beautiful children and a faith which gives me hope and eternal life.

When you meet someone who lives in the nightmare of domestic violence, remember some days bring blessings.  This makes it harder for them to leave.  They should leave, no one deserves a life of abuse and fear.  If this is you, if you are the person caught in the nightmare of domestic violence, please leave.  God can take the horrors, it you let Him, and open your heart to His love.

What will you do?

When The Physical Abuse Starts

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I couldn’t believe it.  He shoved me while I tried to comfort our crying baby.  His anger, only witnessed once towards his father, now boiled over at me.  Why?  The baby bumped her head on the floor when I laid her down on her blanket.  As I tried to comfort her, he went ballistic.

The moment it happened, I scooped her up and headed for the rocker in her room, trying to calm her cries.  She wasn’t hurt, just startled. At least at first.  I’m sure her crying lasted much longer because he kept shoving me and yelling at me.  How do you comfort a baby when you’re under attack yourself?  She was my first priority.  I reached the rocker and started rocking her, hoping he would leave us alone.  He didn’t.  He proceeded to kick me in the legs.

Somewhere, in the recesses of my mind, I was in shock.  Why would he act this way?  He was angry that the baby was hurt, yet his actions could cause her greater injury than a simple bump on the head.  Unbelievable.  And he was hitting me.  I couldn’t believe it.  The man who once told me any man who would hit a woman was a coward had just become that coward.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. I John 3:18

Did he love me?  He said he did, but as this marriage continued, he rarely showed it.  I wish I could tell you I left, but he had managed to alienate me from my family by then. Where was I to go?

There were many more occurrences.  One time he came after me with a butcher knife.  I screamed, “Don’t kill me.”

For some reason, he never hit me that time.  He only threatened me with the knife.  His outburst was long over when the police showed up a couple of hours later.  A neighbor heard my cry and reported it.  If he’d wanted to kill me, I’d have been long gone by then.  Since I hadn’t been hit that time, there were no bruises, no blood.  I was too frightened to tell them what had happened.  If it took them two hours to come to my aid, how were they going to protect me from him?

Years later, I learned that my decision to not say anything was grounded in some hard truths.  Most women, at the time. who reported domestic violence couldn’t escape.  Their abuser often tracked them down, and the situation became even more dire.  Many states have Order of Protection laws now, but back then, the only protection an abuse victim could get was a restraining order.  Do you know what happens if someone violates a restraining order?  A court date is set, usually months later, to “discipline” the violator.  Not much protection, is it?  With the Order of Protection, the abuser can be arrested and detained.  This option didn’t exist, yet.  Another option that didn’t exist at the time was the polices’ ability to arrest the abuser on charges of Criminal Domestic Violence.  This avoids forcing the victim to press charges.  Many abusers manage to get their “loved ones” to drop the charges out of fear, so many never served time for their crimes.  I’m glad this is available today. I wish it had been back then.

My darkest days began with this first occurrence.  If a man gets away with it once, he does it again, and again, and again.  Over time the violence becomes worse, more dangerous.  For me, it was the most frightening experience ever, and I had just fought through a disease that came close to killing me.  I didn’t grow up in this kind of environment.  Unlike many abused women, this family dynamic was foreign to me.

I was well out of my element.

What advice would you have given me back then?