Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mr. Hyde sits in that pew

This is the most heartbreaking blog I'll probably ever write. In fact, who knows if I'll even ever have the courage to publish it? Its a post I don't really want to write, and am terrified to even address, but I feel it needs to be addressed. Because I know far too many women who suffer so much pain at the hands of their husbands. And the church - the one place they should have solace - usually has no idea.

Mr. Hyde sits in that pew. He's the man sitting two rows behind you. He's the man who sits two rows in front of you. He's the man who sits two chairs over from you. He very well be the man you're married to. Or, he just may be you.

He is the man that is successful. He is the man revered and respected by his community. He is the man who provides financially for his family. He is the man who walks his kids to Sunday school. He is the man who smiles, shakes your hand, and makes small talk. He is the man who is always dependable and kind toward everyone. He's the man who waves goodbye and tells you, "God Bless" in the parking lot. He's the kind of man the single women would like to marry someday. Yes, he is a good man.

His wife is the woman who smiles as if nothing is ever wrong. His wife is the bubbly, kind one. His wife is the one who bends over backward to please anybody and everybody. His wife is well known in her community as the quintessential "supermom."

But then the doors close and its just them, and everything changes....

His wife is the one who stays up sometimes once everyone goes to bed and cries, wishing things were better. And wishing somehow she was better, because maybe then he'd love and respect her more.

His wife is the one who makes excuses and justifications to herself for his impulsive, abusive behavior toward her and her children. Deep inside she knows its wrong, but she convinces herself this is only going to happen once. No...twice. No...three times. No...

His wife is the one who endures his repeated verbal lashings and insults. She convinces herself she deserves this treatment for being such a sorry excuse for a mother and wife.

His wife is the one addicted to antidepressants and/or anti-anxiety medications, convinced she is crazy and unstable. And she feels so much shame for it.

His wife is the one who is regularly maritally raped to satisfy his urges. She convinces herself that the shame she feels for having her personal, bodily boundaries violated is a small price to pay to make her husband happy.

His wife is the one starving for attention and approval from the one person who's opinion matters most to her, and is left each day feeling more and more empty. She convinces herself that there must be something wrong with her that's making him so avoidant.

His wife is the one who feels like a child, and never an equal. She convinces herself that this is what being a submissive wife is about.

His wife is the one who is insanely jealous of the women she knows who are in good, healthy, loving marriages with men who love and respect them every second of every day.

But she puts on a smile and acts like nothing is wrong. She goes on with her life. She lets people believe the person she knows, is the person everyone else perceives him to be. She bites her tongue and never says a bad word about him. She never tells anyone of the tears, shame, guilt, self-doubt, loneliness, fear, or inner turmoil she feels.

And the church never sees that anything is wrong. She can't let them. She won't let them.

Nobody believes that that man could possibly be Mr. Hyde. They don't believe he is capable of hurting his own wife to such a degree. They don't accept that these things could possibly go on in the homes of such wonderful, God-fearing people.

They believe emotional abuse is just phsychiatric babble that sensationalist non- and rebellious Christian women use to justify their own shortcomings. They believe these women are being overly sensitive. If there are no physical signs of abuse, then a woman will be just fine. If they can't see it, it doesn't exist.

The church indirectly teaches that women should endure these things because they're bound to their husband through the covenant of marriage, and that no matter how bad it gets, a woman should never have doubts about her marriage or her husband.

So the woman only sheds more tears and feels even more shame, guilt, self-doubt, loneliness, fear, and internal turmoil. So she smiles and remains quietly in agony.

I speak of all this because I see it. I see the shame, guilt, self-doubt, loneliness, fear, and inner turmoil on so many Christian women's faces. Under those smiles, I see so much fatigue. And I occasionally see their tears.

I hear it. Multiple women have confided in me that these things go on behind their closed doors. I hear stories that make me so sad and angry.

I feel the heartbreak of it. I feel their shame, guilt, self-doubt, loneliness, fear, and internal turmoil. Their emotions run so deep that once the guard comes down, it all pours out like water through a broken dam.

So look around you next time you're at church. That smiling woman you're shaking hands with may be living with Mr. Hyde. That man who seems like such a great guy may, in fact, be Mr. Hyde. You yourself may be married to Mr. Hyde. You yourself may be Mr. Hyde.

Church, please, believe these women! Love these women! Be a friend to these women! Help these women! Don't just tell them to go home, pray, and be more submissive. That solves nothing, except to make them feel even more alone and helpless.

So, I speak to all the women out there. I speak to all the men out there. And I speak to all the churches out there. Something has got to change.

Women, speak up!

Men, get it together!

Churches, believe these women when they tell you their home is not a home, but a battlefield, and help them heal!

Please, I beg all my readers out there, consider these words, on behalf of all the women out there living in this situation, and vow to do something about it.

Be a woman who isn't afraid to speak up.

Be a better man.

Be a more aware and caring church.

So I ask, what do YOU vow to do? What can YOU do to help the women married to Mr. Hyde? What can YOU do to help break this cycle?

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