If you are in an abusive marriage perhaps the hardest decision you face is whether to let go or continue to hang on. How do you know if it’s time to let go? How much longer should you hang on hoping for true change?
Today at Leslie Vernick’s blog a reader asks this very question — Do I let go or hang on?
Her blog post got me thinking how Christians have this faulty view that the choices we make somehow affect God’s capability of working in our lives. If someone leaves their marriage it is often seen as a lack of faith in God’s ability to restore the marriage. But get this — God doesn’t need anyone to help Him get things done. God can and will work miracles in spite of us! What a revelation!
No matter the choice you make, God can still do a mighty work in and through your marriage. Sometimes though, He will tear down a crumbling structure in order to begin again from the ground up building it stronger and more beautiful. And that doesn’t necessarily mean rebuilding the marriage, it might just mean rebuilding the life of the victim of abuse.
Now I’m not saying to just make a flippant decision regarding your marriage. I’m not saying that if someone is unhappy to just leave and not worry about it. No, I’m saying that too often a victim of abuse hangs on because they’ve been led to believe that by staying in a toxic, abusive environment God will somehow have a better chance of working a miracle or changing the heart of the abuser. Yet what abuse victims need to hear is that no matter how hard you try to hang on by a mere thread to an already dead marriage it will not change the abuser. God changes people’s hearts, but He never forces anyone to be in His will.
People often wonder why victims don’t just leave an abusive marriage. It can be summed up in one word — FEAR! I know that was true for me. For 20 years I stayed with an abusive man who manipulated and controlled my life all because I was afraid to leave.
Fear can hold a person captive. It could be fear of failing God or failing others like a church family who sees separation and divorce as some unforgivable sin. It can be fear for our safety or that of our children, financial fear, fear of being alone or fear of the unknown. There are so many fears which can hold a victim of abuse hostage.
The thing to remember is fear does not come from God but fear is often how an abuser keeps their victim from leaving.
My advice to anyone living with abuse is to define what your fear is, and it may be many. Write your fears down and then release them to God. Tell Him what holds you hostage and ask Him to guide you out of that prison of fear and abuse. Then take that bold step out in faith to walk away from abuse holding firmly to the truth that God will bring forth beauty from the ashes which could mean He rebuilds your marriage or He releases you of it completely.
There is true freedom in Christ and there is a beautiful life on the other side of abuse.
May we all have faith big enough to trust that God can and will do a miraculous work in our lives no matter what choices we make. Pray, give thanks in all circumstances, and let go to let God do the hard work of building something beautiful in your life.