We then gave you an overall view of some of the things that went wrong and a picture of the timeline of events and happenings over the past 3 years...that was all in Parts 2 - 16.
After I caught you up to speed with the order of events and with the overall view of what went wrong between Joel and me, I started going back and filling in the blank spaces. Putting together some of the missing parts that I myself mostly only found out about 'after the fact.' That started in Part 17...and continues here.
I had found the emails to Joel from the girl who had reached out to me...the girl who in the same breath she was being kind to me, was badmouthing me to Joel. I had found those emails before Joel moved out. As I said in my last post, I didn't do anything about it at the time...didn't even mention it to Joel. It was a lost cause by that point...and it wouldn't have done any good then (timing is everything). I had also found that email he had sent to that Brazilian company (run by friends of ours by the way...so therefore, more slander of me to friends of mine) with which he was entertaining thoughts about taking a job (completely unbeknownst to me)...I wrote about it also in the last post.
But, while I knew he was talking to others those whole 2 1/2 years (January 2012 - the end of August 2014), I never saw or really heard clearly what was being said.
So, when we got back together in September 2014, it was a huge eye-opener to see and hear about the activities of that time frame, those 2 1/2 years. To see and hear about what was said and thought about me. The beliefs about me that had been planted and grown...all in an incredibly ignorant garden. I say ignorant because not one of those people had actually spoken to me. They just listened to Joel, who was acting out of fear and confusion and grasping at straws the whole time (since he had stopped just being on my team and listening to me). And by listening to Joel alone, wrong conclusions were formulated and grown and grown over those 2 1/2 years. 2 1/2 years is a long time for things to grow...very unhealthy roots and plants can take over what was once a viable plot of soil. That viable plot of soil had once grown good things...nice relationships, a healthy team, etc. But once the ignorance and wrongdoing of the garden, the reality of the garden, is exposed, all that was once living withers and dies. There is a way to weed out and dig up the bad that has formed in the garden and restore the possibility of growing again what was once good. But after 2 1/2 years of really bad growth, it takes a lot of work. It takes an overhaul. Oftentimes, people are not willing to actually do that work.
We'll talk more about that in blog posts to come. Lots to say about that.
But, after we came back together, it was time to tackle the reality of all of those things that had been done and said for those 2 1/2 years. It was time to hear about and see the correspondence that had taken place. Some people might rather stick their heads in the sand. That might feel better at the time. But sand suffocates. So, in September 2014, I braced myself, said some prayers, and tried to guard my heart as much as possible.
It was super hard to see the reality of what had gone down those 2 1/2 years. What had been said between Joel and others. What had been done. The beliefs that had been formulated, cultivated, and grown about me.
I'll write about just one of the people Joel corresponded with here in this post today (and the next 2-3 posts to come). I want to say that these posts are not about this person. It's not about him. These posts are about the words he said and the mindset that he represents. The beliefs that these words reveal...beliefs that are all too common. Attitudes that are all too common...and detrimental. So, as you read these words, don't focus on the person...focus on the beliefs/mindsets/attitudes that need to be changed in our society at large, and more specifically in Jesus' people.
As we've talked about, Joel wasn't liking what I was saying, beginning in January 2012. He didn't believe me, he didn't agree with what I had to say. So he started listening to what others were saying instead....one person in particular, a family member who has always been pretty influential in Joel's life.
I'm going to share with you now some of the things this person said. As said before, while I knew that Joel was talking to these people, I had no idea what was being said. They certainly weren't reaching out to me. When I found out about all of this communication, things began to make a little more sense...things like why Joel had acted so like a bully. Why he had totally disregarded me...why he had become so completely inconsiderate and just, to be frank, displayed a form of abuse.
Again, I didn't see this correspondence until after Joel had moved back in with us in September 2014. But, these things were written at the end of January 2014 (just a few days before the correspondence I spoke about in Part 17 and Part 18). I had literally birthed our deceased baby just 3 days before these things were written. Joel wrote to these people first saying that I was being, and I quote, "difficult" and "making a fuss," wanting him to postpone his trip to Brazil (I wrote about that here; see why the pregnancy/miscarriage situation was just the last straw for me and I was just out emotionally after that?). And this person responded. This was his counsel to Joel as I lay there bleeding and unsure if I'd need surgery or not, reeling from yet another big loss and life change:
It is well understood among men and women who understand the principles of God’s Word, that the foremost reason God places the man as head of his home is to be a spiritual covering and bring spiritual protection to his wife and children. It is also understood that when a woman does not submit to her husband she opens the door to be deceived by Satan, who is out to kill, steal and destroy marriages and families.Spoken with such authority, such knowingness. This person of such knowledge having never ever spoken to me about any of this...never ever reaching out to me to get my side of the story. He spoke all of these things without knowing me at all. He would likely say that it was just a biblical principle that was applicable no matter who you are. Except, that is false...and making assumptions about someone based on gender alone is oh so very dangerous. "This is what is happening to Michawn"...this man said in such a convincing, all-knowing way...this man who lives thousands of miles away and had not even talked to me or been around me at all (he's spent a few days with me in the span of several years).
God has made the woman different than man. What makes them tick are the emotions and feelings. For a woman there is nothing wrong with this, it is a wonderful part of her being wife and mother. But it is an area where if she is out from under spiritual protection the enemy will bring deception. Bringing havoc to her emotions. This is what is happening to Michawn.
He went on to say:
It is very apparent that Michawn has been deceived by the enemy. She has been deceived in regard to you, and all you have done for her and your family. Of course none of us are perfect Dads or husbands. But you have served Michawn and your family in love, by giving and giving and giving some more. You have bent over backwards to serve. You have been an example of a husband and father.And of course he would say that. It was only Joel's account that he had heard after all. He went on to say that I was an 'accuser of the brethren' and falsely accusing Joel of things because I was living in deception. And I was living in deception since I was not being protected. And I was not being protected because of my lack of submission. He told Joel:
There are some stands you need to take for your spiritual well being and that of the children. You need to get into a Spirit filled church urgently. Make your position known and if Michawn does not go, you and the children go. Insist that the children go. As Michawn will try to get them to stay with her and sway them against your position. You need to take a strong stand in this. Explaining to the older children what the true issues are.There it is...I was considered to be unable to reason with (no wonder Joel disregarded me and thought me unreasonable...that was his counsel from his respected mentor...that was the mindset and viewpoint he grew up with). I was declared to be darkness...lost in deception...lost to the enemy...only God could change me, yet I was not allowing Him to. I was worthy of 'being let go.'
Solomon says there is a time for peace and a time for war. You are in a time for war. Our warfare in not against flesh and blood, not against Michawn but against the enemy that has deceived her. Joel we stand with you in this war. What the enemy has done to some in Michawn's family he wants to do with your marriage. Michawn has given in to that, and even spoken of leaving. You must take the opposite stand and declare you will not leave, you will not close your heart.
If Michawn separates herself from you emotionally or in any other way because of your stand on the principles of God’s Word, the Bible says to let her go. Light and darkness will not have any fellowship. Trying to reason with her will not resolve issues that arise.
A change in location will not change Michawn. Only God can change her, that’s what we are believing for. But she has to open to Him for help, and she has not gotten to that place yet.
Let me take just one small paragraph to remind you really quickly here of reality...the very simple, plain, clear reality. I had been completely wounded on the battle field of life during our last year in Brazil...and I was not able to get off the battle field when we got back to the states for some recovery/healing time because we were thrown into the tornado of not having housing here and then the work of acquiring housing (a very full, exhausting, stress-filled 4 1/2 months). And then I wasn't allowed time off the battle field to rest and recover...and the only thing/person that wasn't allowing it at that point was my husband (my very 'giving and giving and giving' husband...the one who, according to this person, was 'bending over backwards to serve'). Just a little recap for you as to what had really happened. That's what makes it all so very crazy because, in reality, it would have been a very simple fix. I had a need. A very reasonable need. A need that wouldn't have taken very long to meet. That need wasn't met. It was refused me. And the injuries continued...but now it was my own husband injuring me, over and over. Dragging me to the front lines continuously instead of rescuing me from the battle, instead of helping me to get away from the battle so that I could be healed and get some rest...so that I could recover and then again be ready for battle.
Is that really that hard to understand? Is it?
This went on for 2 1/2 years before the truth was made known to Joel. Yet, during that time he was getting counsel like this...counsel that he needed to be loyal to his family of origin/extended family no matter what that meant for me, counsel that I was deceived, that I was basically in cahoots with the enemy of our souls, that I had given way to darkness, and much more. Read on.
He went on to tell Joel that he thought that he needed to take a specific job that had been offered to Joel here in the states. Because Joel had hardened his heart so much and we were just living separate lives emotionally and every other way as much as possible by this point (again, the end of January 2014), Joel hadn't even discussed this with me. Yet here this man was, advising Joel about what he should do with our lives...telling him what he should do, these actions affecting me and my kids and our future incredibly. He went on to say:
Love is accepting people the way they are. But at the same time may the Lord give you discernment of the manipulating and control that has been on her and her family, and how to cast that off, and not accept it, and at the same time affirm your love for Michawn and your acceptance of her as a person as your wife.That section is almost just too much for me to take. Soooo much there that I could elaborate on. But, blatantly just telling him to make decisions without his wife?...unbelievable. Basically treating me like a child?...unbelievable. Like I said, soooo much more I could say, but I think you can probably imagine and come up with many things that are wrong about this yourselves.
It is possible to do the two things together – affirm your love and acceptance of her, but not accept any control and manipulation from her that would keep you from standing firm on principle. You may have to be very clear with Michawn telling her that you are committed to love her, but you will not be controlled by her to the detriment of what you know God wants you to do. You are not one with Michawn, but you are still responsible for the spiritual welfare of your family. I feel in this situation it warrants you making decisions without her, in that which you know is God’s will. But telling her first what you decided. God does not want Michawn or the situation to control you. You keep your spirit free by Praising and Worshipping, and crying out to God.
Of course, he tied up his email with a tidy little bow (as Christians are always sure to do) so as to dress it up as holy, spiritual, and loving:
We love Michawn and our prayer for her is:There was also a P.S. It was sure to re-iterate the point that I was continuing to be controlling and manipulating (and unable to reason) by my not wanting him to leave to travel to another country for 3 weeks at this time of recovery from the miscarriage and many things up in the air. He proceeded to explain to Joel what was normal in miscarriage...and that what I was experiencing was normal, so no worries. Yes, I had just had an almost-2nd trimester miscarriage 3 days before, but everything was happening in a normal way physically...and there was nothing to be concerned about, he said. I mean, I am a registered nurse, I am a childbirth educator (which includes further study of adverse things that happen like miscarriage...plus the postpartum phase), I had given birth to 4 living children, I had had 2 miscarriages already before this. But, of course...I was 'all caught up in emotions and the enemy's deception and my sin and lack of submission leading to being controlling and manipulative'...and that's why I didn't want Joel to go to Brazil a few days after my almost-2nd trimester miscarriage when the possibility of surgery was still looming.
Lord have mercy upon her,
Protect her, Keep her
Deliver and bring healing to her.
Joel we love you. Our heart hurts for you. We feel your pain. The Lord sees also and he comforts you. Let him take you in his arms and love on you.
And this was just one of many correspondences with this man, the man Joel was looking to for guidance. They mostly spoke on the phone, but there were a few emails that I found.
I will share some of the other things he had to say, some of the other counsel Joel was getting from him, next.
I say all of these things not just to say 'see? see what happened to me?'...although of course it is so freeing and healing to really explain to you all why the struggle has been so great over the past few years. Why the way I live life has changed in many ways...why I haven't been able to live the way I believe is best, and because of that, my health has suffered greatly (you can look at me and see the results of that)...why our lives in many ways have been on hold and even regressed. It's been a fight and a huge struggle. For 3 years I was silent about it...which made it harder for me. So yes, it feels good to own what happened to me. To give words to it. To not be silent any more.
But, in the grander scheme of things, this part of our story, as so many other parts, give a clear picture of specific things that are wrong. Just. plain. wrong. And since I'm motivated in this life not by feelings, or what makes me 'happy,' or what 'the trend' is...but what motivates me is always centered more on 'right vs. wrong'...I guess that's one of the reasons God allowed this all to happen to me. Because He knew I wouldn't stand for it. He knew that if I saw an area that needed reform, I wouldn't be quiet about it until that reform, at least in the hearts and minds of some of my circle of friends, had started. Until there was at least an awareness of it.
What happened to me was WRONG. In so many ways and on so many levels. We'll talk about all of those ways and levels here.
But, unfortunately, I am not the only one that has experienced, or is experiencing, these things. This wrong counsel Joel received is not an isolated event. This is the norm...in many circles. This is the primary view of women, men, and of relationships in the evangelical church and Christendom. This way of dealing with conflict between a husband and wife...and not getting the whole story (only listening to one side)...again, I'm not an isolated case.
Jesus never meant it to be this way. He doesn't want this.
This person that was giving this counsel? He is a pastor. He is a marriage counselor.
The wrong has to stop. And that's the #1 reason I type here.
Literally as I was typing this post, a dear friend tagged me in a post on Facebook. She said she thought of me when she saw it. It's a quote by Rick Warren. It says, "Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts."
Let it be so.