Let's Lay it on the Table

I have something to say.

My husband moved out almost 6 weeks ago. I asked him to leave. I made that decision based on 8 1/2 years of neglect, emotional and spiritual abuse and his ongoing addictions. I made that choice because I was drowning in darkness. I had been struggling to surface the chasm of his selfishness for a very long time. I've seen changes in him. I've seen him struggle to be free. I've seen him weep and turn back to Jesus over and over again. I've heard all of his well spoken apologies. I've dug in my heels and accepted the truth of our circumstances. I've prayed for him and leaned on my community of sisters. I've confronted him, I've confessed my own failings. I've done everything remotely possible to "make it work". It hasn't worked.

Nor was it ever going to. You know why? Because I was enabling his sin. I was allowing him to pile up darkness on me and my children. It doesn't matter how good of a dad he was - he was teaching my son to be a man without self control, one who serves himself first and then apologizes later. He was teaching him to blame others for his own shit. I was teaching my daughters that it was acceptable - and normal - to be with an abusive man; one who doesn't respect or honor you. We were teaching our children to live our sorrow. And that is not acceptable. Ever.

I've also made the decision to move forward into a divorce if I haven't seen specific movement from him within a certain time period. This was the most difficult decision I have ever made. I have been constantly throwing myself before Jesus, holding myself in the light of my community and searching for the HEALTHY way.

I haven't said anything publicly because I wasn't ready to hear the opinions of those outside of my tight inner circle telling me how wrong they think I am. I've been a mess. I am grieving, struggling to provide for my children, processing years of abuse and shame and, honestly, just not ready to battle bullshit.

I guess there's really no escaping that though. Plenty of people have already weighed in on where they think I am. I've received emails and text messages overflowing with flat out spiritual abuse. So, I'm coming out with the full truth of what is happening in my life right now because I want the rest of the world to know:

Yes. I have prayed about this. Constantly. I have done nothing, said nothing, without being rooted in truth first.

Yes. I know what the Bible says about divorce. Do you? Because my husband was unfaithful to me. He was abusive and manipulative. The Bible is very clear with what you do with someone who refuses to come into the light. You hand them over. You let them go into their sin and their shame. People are going to do what is in their heart to do. Let them. I'm not Joe's mommy. I'm not going to try to force him into doing the righteous thing. That's up to him. I'm released. We were married before God, not by signing a legal form, but by making covenant with each other and with God. Joe broke that covenant early on in our marriage. Suggesting that a woman, who has been abandoned and thrown away, keep HER end of the covenant is not biblical. If you have a different perspective on divorce, you are free to have that perspective. Please do not try to force it on me. I'm not a child who needs to be corrected or re-directed. It is condescending to assume that I have not searched out every corner of possibility in this situation.

Yes. Joe can be a good man. He has been a good man. He is, even right now, in hot pursuit of Jesus. I want that for him. I appreciate that he has been influential and generous to so many of you. I am well aware of his good qualities, or I would not have stayed with him for so long. I want him to be that man all of the time. The problem is that he was raised by an extremely abusive, selfish, addicted man. He was taught a distorted version of manhood. He has to overcome that. It hasn't done him any favors for me to stay with him and enable his behavior. I want freedom for Joe. Freedom may not come any other way.

I'm not looking for opinions on the direction of my life. If you are grieved, please pray for us. If you are sad, please pray for us. If you are angry, please pray for us. Mostly, please respect that this is infinitely more painful than anything we have ever encountered. There is a holy, burning shifting taking place inside of all of us right now. Please know that I do not need to be corrected. I don't need to be confronted. It is especially hurtful that so many have felt the need to correct me, but no one has corrected Joe. Blaming the victim will only perpetuate the abuse. I'm not taking part in that.

I am, however, so blessed to have girlfriends who are surrounding me, supporting me, encouraging me, bolstering me and walking through this with me. I am blessed to have family who won't let us go hungry or let our utilities be turned off. I am blessed to have a powerfully compassionate Life Partners leader who is holding Joe to the truth and who is encouraging me at all the right times. Jesus is in this.

I'm going to ask for respect. No one knows the depth of what has taken place within our marriage. Please don't assume that there is something that "must be said". It's been said. And heard.

I need space. Space to care for my children. Space to get quiet with Jesus. Space to work. Space to find relief from the constant heaviness. If you have encouragement to offer, I will gladly receive it.

Thank you, friends.

Stephanie