Friday, October 30, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 53 - It's Important and Needed, 2}

My last blog post was the Part 1 to this.  I wrote this there:

I hope that you, too, will be encouraged by what you read below.  I pray that eyes are opened to the reality of what you read here and the fact that the things I speak out about are real issues that need reform.  And that honesty and vulnerability are good, healing things.

Sometimes we get bogged down by the naysayers.  Sometimes it seems like their voices are loudest.  Today, and in the next post or two, the encouragers and people without voices are getting their turn...

These are some of the reasons I continue to share our story...

--"I think your blog is important. I see many that don't really talk about anything, but yours has meat. It's easy to put yourself in both of your shoes. I'm not even married but I read the posts and can feel what you are saying and then I see his point of view and imagine how lost he must have felt too, and how he was blinded. I appreciate your posts."

--"I'm here too: gleaning mulling praying. I always wanna learn from somebody else if I can. And I like honesty. I wanna grow closer to God & who he wants me to be. Hoping some of that happens here. Keep going deep, to the root. I think it takes so much humility to do it; strip away our pride & arrogance so we can be real. Stop covering up. Anyways, praying for you & yours."

--"Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your personal life as you know there will be some close to you or your family who chastise or ridicule this openness on a public forum. I can honestly say I enjoy reading your blog!"

--"Your blog is a learning tool to me.  I learn from you each time i read your words... You are doing a godly job here, Michawn. Your honesty is amazing."

--"Thank u for sharing this post and all your posts... Such rawness you don't see with people anymore... Keep it up sister, your genuine heart is beautiful and bringing healing to so many!"

--"You are doing an autopsy here... It's necessary, it's effective. You are teaching here, its a lesson.  I am learning and passing it along. Você tem tratato muitas doenças em relacionamentos através da sua história, mais uma vez, te digo... Amiga, continua!"

Someone shared this with me and said that they thought of me when they read it:

--"Your story isn't just bringing healing to your marriage it's bring light and healing to so much more and those who have been there or are there."

--"The major problem I had (one big cause of our divorce) was not being able to express myself, neither being able to forgive him. That alone prevents our hearts from being healed. So I'm glad that you found your own way to express yourself and heal, no matter what other people might think. Keep at it! Striving for God's will in your marriage."

--"I can't say enough how proud I am of u standing for truth and your family!"

--"As others have stated, I too am encouraged by your story. I admittedly thought at first, 'wow-this is quite the way to make Joel pay for his wrongdoings...' but then I set my judgement aside and actually read most of the posts. I have learned so much about myself and my own marriage, theology and interpersonal relations. There is value in this. I have a friend who I believe desperately needs to read your series...her husband is just plain cruel, all in the name of Jesus who apparently says 'wives must be submissive to their husbands' which frankly has been misconstrued greatly by insecure men, IMO. Anyway, I'm grateful for your willingness to teach because I and many others are willing to learn."

--"Wanted to say that when you are the recipient of covert {HIDDEN} attacks on your personhood and/or marriage it takes *much* time to sort and understand the confusing hidden secret damage. When you are left out of the loop for *YEARS* it takes time to unravel that hidden mess. I am speaking from my own experience. Give yourself time to write and sort out these hidden covert attacks. To forgive w/o understanding what you are forgiving or what was done is not true forgiveness it is *DENIAL*."

--"A very loving Lord is standing by you both. Be encouraged. You have expressed yourself well and have set a new standard that I firmly believe you will live up to. Thank Jesus for His mercy and grace in all situations. This will be an incredible testimony to your marriage, to your children, and all who watch you grow. Keep your head up and your heart strong. You guys will do this. Praying for you."

--" I love u both and I believe sharing your story will help others. It's so brave. I'm saddened by the back lash and ugly words. Especially coming from people who say they are believers. That's not loving!"

--"Praying for your family. Just remember we love y'all so much and want Heavenly Father to restore and heal and be glorified in this situation. I know how hard it is and know have a lot of us who are going to war in prayer on your family's behalf."

--"You're going to publish this, right?  I think there are people out there that need this! It hasn't been an easy comfortable read and it's weird to see someone put it ALL out there. I've known you and Joel forever and from the outside, I'm sure everyone thought your marriage was great (serving in a ministry and doing the will of God as a family and raising beautiful children). But as I've thought about it, life and circumstances stink often and being a Christian doesn't make us or our marriages perfect. People HIDE way too much and choose to attempt to deal with issues alone. We need safeguards and to know that people can get through s#$# (oops) 'stuff' in their marriages. It's not always fluff and love and it gets messy! Some people need to see that that mess can be trenched through and there's grace, forgiveness, and HEALING on the other side...THROUGH the storms."

--"Michawn, I just want to say that I always appreciate your honesty. Many years ago T.D. Jakes preached a sermon called 'Naked and Not Ashamed.' We cannot help others if we pretend to be something we're not. The world needs more honesty! Thank you!"

--"I appreciate your honesty, Michawn. Always. You are nothing if not real, and I value that above all else in my friends."

--"This sounds all too familiar to me. You are not alone. God is close to the broken hearted."

--"You most definitely are NOT alone. The situation I am familiar with sounds so much like what you have described. He had us all snowed. The rocks and rough spots and abysses didn't show. Of course, that's all the people that know him superficially see and they all think he is such a nice guy. And, unfortunately, he is a nice guy when it serves his purpose. I will pray for you. I know that abuse is not always physical and the old saying about words never hurting you is just hooey."

--"To sensor our story is to be dishonest. Authenticity is so rare. If only people really understood how healing and freeing authenticity can be for the soul. Don't let anyone censor YOUR story. Holding secrets and asking children especially to hold our secrets is so damaging. I am proud of you for refusing to be a secret keeper and not putting that burden on others you love. You are right, there are many in your shoes and many who have been harmed by poor church counseling that will and are gaining knowledge, courage, healing, and empowerment because you had the courage to speak your truth."

--"So many people just want to pretend...and to acknowledge someone else's trials may make them notice their own. I kept a journal because for me writing heals and I found it was easier to put on paper than to say out loud. Do what helps you and your family heal. Anyone can choose to not read your blogs."

--Michawn, our stories and trials are our testimonies to help others. Don't get discouraged just trust The Lord."

--After I seperated from my ex not too long into our very toxic marriage, I called to speak with a counselor at my church. I don't remember his name at all or even how I got off the phone with him. Mind you he never asked me any questions. He simply told me over and over how much God hates divorce and how I needed to try to work things out. As if these things were not already at the forefront of my mind! The guy I had been married to wasn't even willing to admit his many affairs to me, he was a pathological liar, I caught him many times looking at porn, and he was very mentally and emotionally abusive. He would threaten suicide often as a means of manipulation and also threatened to hit me once with a glass vase. Yet this Christian lead counselor led me to feel even more shamed and never once showed compassion. Like I said, I have no recollection of getting off the phone with him. I remember shaking and crying and anger. I unfortunately did struggle with my relationship with God after this. I turned to all the wrong things and away from Him. Fortunately we have a God who doesn't let us go."

--"Why is it so hard to believe that one person can just be an asshole for a while? I'm speaking in general, and not to any particular situation. It might take two to tango, but only one partner needs to miss a step for the whole thing to fall apart."

--"Michawn, I haven't experienced gaslighting in my own marriage (thankfully), but did witness it happening with the adults in my life when I was a kid. I didn't have a name for it, but I knew it was wrong and unfair. Looking back I can see that it really messed up my worldview. Since that is the perspective I can relate from, your kids have been in all my prayers for your family. Having all of this 'in the light' and discussed openly will help them immeasurably!!! I just can't even say how much I wish I had been able to put words to what I was seeing and talk about it. You are a great mom! Praying for you all!"

--"I honestly believe the reason cycles tend to repeat in families is because everything is 'secret.' Nobody talks about it, which in turn means nobody learns anything. Children learn how to expect to be treated by watching those close to them...I wish more parents realized that. Through your actions, you are teaching your kids to speak up and to stand up for themselves when they are mistreated and that will serve them well in life. I am so sorry you have had to walk this road, but you are doing it well!"

--"You are walking in uncharted territory. A place so many have needed to be written out and described to help them thru their battles but they had no one just like u. What you are writing could seriously be a book to be an eye opener for everyone and the 'church' world. It bothers me to my core how people (counsellors, church leaders, etc) try to just point fingers and 'label' a person. A shift needs to happen and I believe you are bringing it . Stay strong and hold your head up. You are doing so much good in the face of opposition. You are exposing truth to dark situations hidden within the 'covenant' of marriage and even the church. How are you holding up thru all of this? Will u be able to find a time of rest so you can recharge in the midst of this battle? Praying for u and all the desires of your heart come true."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 52 - It's Important and Needed, 1}

What I'm doing here is important.  Speaking your truth is important.  When I say 'speaking your truth' I'm not talking about 'the truth according to you' like 'well, I believe 2 + 2 = 5.'  No, I'm talking about telling your story.  Your true story, the matter how non-rosy it might be.  I'm talking about speaking the truth about what has happened.

It's important.  Because more than likely, others will be helped in the process.  And, maybe even (concerning the root issues at play here anyway), society at large will be changed.

I said that my next post would be just a compilation of what others have come to me and said about the importance of what I'm doing here and how much it is needed.  There has been so much pushback and so many, truly, outright attacks.  But, the following just completely silences the naysayers for me.

By the way, I planned for this to only be one blog post.  But...even though I'm not including everything, there was still too much for just one post.  LOVE!!

I honestly didn't know that there was this entire subculture that needed a voice like this.  So, I didn't know that I would be led into this fight...this leftover suffragette-type fight.  But, here I am.  And the following gives you clues as to why.

It's not just that type of fight being fought here.  The fight to get truth out there that people are supposed to know already...that people, the church esp., should know...that's a huge part of it.  Things like forgiveness, bearing each other's burdens, empathy, restoration, repentance, kindness, etc.

But, the overall problem we have, I've learned this past year in even greater depth, that spills over into everything (all of the things listed above) is the problem of women not being heard.  And that's not only a problem for women...that's a problem for men, that's a problem for marriages, that's a problem for the Kingdom, that's a problem for society at large.  It is huge.

Women are silenced.  They are not believed.  They are thought to be irrational or too emotional.  They are thought to be less than.  'Equal in worth'...but less than.  ;)

These women are not given a voice. And that's why my speaking out resonates so much with so many people.

I hope that you, too, will be encouraged by what you read below.  I pray that eyes are opened to the reality of what you read here and the fact that the things I speak out about are real issues that need reform.  And that honesty and vulnerability are good, healing things.

Now, I'm only including personal correspondence here that I myself have received.  And even though this is only Part 1, all of the correspondence I've received won't be included in the total (all Parts) of what I share here...that would be too long.  Plus, I'm not including all of the many stories of others I've read throughout this past year who have walked similar circumstances as me.  That (even just providing links to their stories) would be just impossible to include.  But, these are just some of the words I've received personally this past year.

So, on this day that commemorates the 1st anniversary of beginning to speak out, here is Part 1 of some of the encouragement I've received and some of the reasons...some of the stories that represent so many people who are struggling in these issues...that I've been given in the past year to keep up this fight.

Sometimes we get bogged down by the naysayers.  Sometimes it seems like their voices are loudest.  Today, and in the next post or two, the encouragers and people without voices are getting their turn...

--"friend, this is going to help so many people.... thank u for sharing"

--"your honesty is to be admired."

--"I feel privileged to read your heart on paper. Thank you for being so transparent and sharing one of your most difficult trials. I believe God is being glorified by it."

--"I commend you for sharing & being vulnerable. Confession brings freedom& I'm sure this will be a testimony for others."

--"I always admire your vulnerability."

--"So refreshing and encouraged by your honesty....a powerful thing. I have no doubt The Lord is already using your story to reach out to others. And it's such a great example to open yourselves up like that at the risk of criticism, etc....which is where true community happens. Praising God with you."

--"Thank you for being so transparent. Believing God will use this in many many lives!"

--"Thank you! Your testimony will help so many!"

--"By you sharing and being transparent you will help others!"

--"This is such an inspiration to me. You are one courageous girl!"

--"Your openness and honesty with this whole experience is refreshing. I have no doubt that God is already using it to encourage someone else who is going through some of the same things..."

--"I'm so glad that you share some of the things that you and your family go through. Others may be experiencing something similar or the same thing. We never know when someone else may receive a blessing from it."

--"Love your honest and transparent heart."

--"There will always be those who want or feel free to add their 'helpful' advice. They don't walk in your shoes.  Don't throw your pearls to swine. Lesson I've learned!"

--"I've been following your posts...your perspective has had me doing a lot of thinking & a little questioning. I relate to what you've been through...but this post was one I couldn't not comment on! You are SO right in everything you've said. It is much needed confirmation that I'm not crazy or alone in thinking these very thoughts. How can we claim to love each other yet not bear one another's burdens!? Love does that...we as Christians need to walk in more love moving forward. Just simply saying 'I see you. I'm standing in prayer & hope with you.' That's not too hard, but it's devastating when nobody cares to say or live it. Thanks for your posts. They are healing & comforting & I look forward to the next one."

--"This def strikes a chord with me, even though it is coming up on a few years since my husband died.  I asked so many friends for help, church friends, nursing friends, friends in general.  Oh Lord, I felt so alone but when my 'friends' didn't come along side of me I was so disappointed."

--"Our stories are worthy of being told. All of it. To edit our story conveys shame and also makes our spouse and children our secret keepers which in turn sends a message to them that can lead to feelings of shame. Vulnerability leads to stength and healing."

--"Proud of you both. Too often we act like everything is just fine, especially in the church and Christian circles. Sweeping stuff under the rug and living in a constant state of dysfunction and untruth. Personally, I think God wants so much more for us and created us to "carry one another's burdens". Yet, how do we do that if we don't talk about them?  Sure y'all have chosen to go global. And I for one am praying for God to use your story and vulnerability to bring healing and wholeness to your marriage and to countless others who read it, and who recognize they need to seek help and let go of shame."

--"Transparency is one the greatest characteristics a human being can have. I, for one, draw inspiration and hope from your posts in regard to my own marraige. That's a good thing. So you're doing the right thing by sharing, even if it's only for me."

--"No MOPS o tema deste ano é "Coragem para ser você". Entendo perfeitamente quando você expõe sua vida para tentar ajudar outras pessoas. Mas este tipo de coragem não é muito comum, menos ainda pelo tamanho da exposição (em um mundo onde ser discreto às vezes se confunde com usar máscaras para não admitir fragilidades) isso pode causar desconforto. Agradeço a Deus pela coragem de vocês, pela vida de vocês e pelo casamento e família que vocês constituíram. Que a restauração prossiga dando muitos frutos. Testemunho dá frutos e sei que é isso que vocês estão fazendo. Um abração e um beijo no coração!"

--"Michawn, it has already been said by others, but I just want to agree with them. How many things have I hidden from my brothers and sisters in Christ because of the shame that is handed out when we speak up of our vulnerabilities! If we can't open up to our church family then something is wrong with the church. I love your posts. (And I hate soap operas!) They give us so much to think about. I make my husband read them too."

--"Michawn: I appreicate you and Joel for sharing your journey. Sadly, in the church, especially the American church, we are okay with showing up to church wearing our 'Sunday-go-to-meeting' attire, which most often includes thick masks that don't allow the realness to show through, the questions, the doubts, the difficulties. Then, folks are shocked and surprised when doubts or questions are expressed; a couple divorces; a child walks a path of uncharted territory, etc. Where is the level of authenticity and realness? Perhaps sharing your story via blog posts is uncommon, but that's okay. Most people aren't comfortable with the level of authenticity that y'all are expressing. Sadly, this type of authenticity is not often seen in churches today, or amongst Christians. People come to church, sit face-forward, listen to the sermon, but have no clue what the person right next to them is enduring or experiencing. This has got to change. Clarity about authenticity and transparency needs to happen, so that wholeness and healing can take place. As a pastor (and a Christ-follower), I am authentic with my congregation, but transparent with only a few trusted folks. No doubt, you will get pushback for authentically sharing y'alls journey. But keep on keeping on as God directs you. I already know of others who've been encouraged from reading your blog postings. It may be weird or uncomfortable to some, but that's okay. If it promotes healing and restoration, so be it. Personally, I don't think God calls us to a life of comfort."

--"I appreciate your honesty as well. I know it isn't easy or fun, but it truly does help to see that 'church' people deal with struggles too. We usually feel compelled to hide the imperfection in ourselves and our relationships."

--"Michawn, I'm glad you are sharing your story. I honestly believe you both should just put the blog in a book! It would help many other married couples who go though the same motions and similar situations. I will be praying for your family. Thanks for sharing your struggles because we know they are real in every couple's life regardless of what others actually know. Your testimony will be used for greater good to help others!"

--"Oh how I wish we could sit down & share face to face! I don't even know where to start or how to be concise with all that is going on in this head & heart of mine!  2 things I must say:  (1) Your 2nd disclaimer about the Love is...scripture - thank you for affirming that! You spoke truth & it was so refreshing to hear someone else say what I've been trying to say for so many years. I can't tell you how much ridicule I've waded through because I just couldn't sugar-coat grotesque wrongs or forget & move on. Love covers a multitude of sin - yes, but some roots just get bigger & more invasive when you cover them up! There is nothing healthy about that! (2) Your posts, because of their raw honesty & specifics, have stirred up thoughts, responses & honestly some sneaky judgements in me that as I've taken these to God in prayer He has used them to begin to answer some big questions that I have had for years. I can't imagine the ridicule you have received (no actually I very well can imagine & it hurts my heart). People will read your posts for many different reasons & therefore will have different responses. For those of us that have walked in similar shoes, have faced the same type of 'counselors' & have always desired nothing more than to get to the root of the issue so that you can all just get healthy & live again! We understand why you're laying your soul bare. I feel like fresh air is rushing in to give me hope each time I process your post. For the first time in 13 years I feel like I'm listening to somebody who understands & isn't afraid to dust off the sugar coating & get to the real root of the problem. Thank you for reminding me that I am not crazy. I am not difficult. I am not unforgiving. I am not alone. Praying for you tonight."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Post 51 - Mama Bear}

Someone tried to silence me this weekend (not my husband, by the way; in fact, he quickly said 'no, you need to keep doing that...helping others helps you heal,'...just fyi).  Someone tried to silence me. Oh my gosh...Mama Bear woke up.

Why?  Because I know that I know that I know that what I'm doing here is important.  Not everyone likes it.  Not everyone approves.  But...of course that doesn't even matter, does it?  I find it appalling that those people think they even have a right to such strong opinions about my life and what I'm doing in response to all that I've been through anyway.  It's laughable and blood-boiling all at the same time.

The people who are helped by the kinds of things I post are the exact ones that are marginalized and silenced by the exact kinds of people who don't find my voice about it appropriate.  The ones who don't approve of me speaking out are the same ones who keep the ones I'm helping silenced.Basically, they are bullies.

Read that last paragraph again.  Let it sink in.

The people who don't find my speaking out on these things appropriate are people who don't need the kind of help that what I talk about offers.  If they don't need that kind of help, if they've never been through things like this...they are fortunate.  Congrats to them.  Applause all around.  But, to criticize someone who has been through these things...they are not afforded that prerogative.  So...they need to stop.

If there are those who have been through these things but don't approve of the way in which I share things...shoulder shrug.  I probably don't approve of some of the things they do either (right?...let's all use logic here)...but, I don't go on the prowl at the ready to criticize what they do in response to how people mistreat them.

I will not be silenced.

There is help in what I'm doing here.

What was meant for harm is being used for good.

For some time now I've known that a near future post would include some of the commentary I've gotten from other people expressing to me why this is so important.  Proving to me how very common these things are...and how very common it is that women stay silent about it all.  And how if they have any inkling or urge to give a voice to it, they are quickly guilted into silence.

I welcome the chance to be a voice for women who can't speak out.  I'm grateful that that purpose in all of this has been revealed...and I will definitely run with it.

To those who still believe it to be inappropriate...if people don't want their continued darkness exposed, they shouldn't continually participate in darkness.  I will live in the light.  If you are standing near me or participating in my life and mistreating me in any way in will be continually disappointed if you are wanting to keep that in the dark.  Because I will not allow it any longer.

A flip of a switch expels all darkness.  And that's what I'm doing in my life.  Expelling ALL darkness that has surrounded me and been utilized to mistreat me in any way.  

And in so doing, exposing the fact that these things are so very common...and these types of darkness are all too often justified and protected.  So many share my story.  So many live these things out day in and day out.  And so many have never had a voice...and have never heard another voice encouraging them in the fight.

I will continue to do just that.

So...I wanted to include a couple of posts here...if for nothing else, as a reminder to myself, of some of the reasons I do this...some of the reasons I continue to share my story and all of the many things that I learn along the way.

Hopefully, though, it will help remind some of you, who 'don't approve,' as to the purpose of all of this, too.  You are the ones who need to be silenced in your disapproval.  So, let this serve as your gag order.

It was exactly a year ago this Wednesday (October 28th...incidentally, the same day we got engaged 15 years ago) that I posted my very first blog post about our marriage difficulties. The post you are now reading makes 51 posts total (and counting) on the subject.  Included in all of those posts are some details about what happened, to give weight to what I say.  And, so many, many things I've learned along the way...about theology, interpersonal relationships, church culture, gender issues, counseling, kindness, empathy, grief, strength.

This isn't the 5th 'child' I'd hoped for.  But just like anyone else that has been given a ministry or platform, I will take care of it and protect it...that's why Mama Bear wakes up when someone starts to threaten it.  The platform comes because I now have experience here.  I didn't ask for it.  LAWD, I didn't ask for it.  But, it's what I've been given.  I will use it for good.  Right here.  Right now.  In the thick of it.  I will use it for good.

This is going to be a 2-part post.  The next post will be that post including commentary proving that this is a needed the lives of many.  But today, I will copy and paste a reply I gave...all the way back in April (that really crappy April, yes).  It might help to give some insight as to why I speak about these things in the way I speak about them.  Here, someone had initiated a conversation with me and asked (very graciously...although I never heard back from this person afterward) a few questions and expressed a few thoughts to me. This was part of my reply (I excluded all of the personal chit chat between he and I that didn't pertain to this subject), using some of his quotations to answer along the way.  Further background...this was right after this happened.  I mentioned that incident briefly here too (funny to read the intro. in that post, haha), after this revelation (so yes, I was still under the false impression that Joel and I were a united front).  So this is specifically in regards to that incident.  But, it applies to basically everything in our story and why I talk about these things and what material I choose to use to tell my story.
"I guess I assumed the idea was to share your story and leave others out of it as much as possible.” - that was/is the goal.  sometimes that is not possible.  i had managed to do it, though, pretty well (and believe me…there is LOTS i’m not sharing and lots of protecting that went on, even with what i did share).  and had managed to do it very anonymously.  because, comparatively speaking, the vast majority of people don’t know the people you know and are talking about.  people have lots of ‘family members.’ did you see how most people didn’t even know what side of the family i was talking about?  why?  because i have family members too.  lol.  and because, mainly…they just didn’t care.  as people have said over and over again…it didn’t matter to them.    
"I guess the part that was very disheartening was sharing personal pieces from other people's emails. Just seems a bit hurtful regardless of the situation.” - there have been many people who write things from experience…and it would be great if you could learn things from them…but, they are so vague that you don’t know what they are actually talking about.  to say, for instance, ‘we had some very discouraging correspondence from these certain people…one person was messaging me being all nice, but then that same person was going to joel and saying bad things about me.’ of course, you get the gist of the situation.  but, there’s no real meat there…no real credibility or validity.  you walk away thinking, ‘i mean…how bad could it be?  she’s probably just exaggerating.’ the only way to cure that is to actually give the facts.  to actually show what happened.  to actually even use the very words spoken/written, straight from the horse's mouth (which is powerful even when you do that anonymously, without using names).  case in point, the 4-5 people (close to me) to whom i revealed privately who it was (some of them, only after yesterday and these family members' comments on Facebook)…it made it *way worse* for them that it was joel’s brother and SIL.  they were shocked.  they had just assumed that they were some other family members…not someone that close to joel/me…that closely related.  it gives it more weight to know who it was…but, that part i had kept hidden.  i won’t keep hidden the actual facts though…otherwise nobody truly learns from it.  if the facts weren’t given, and instead there was just a really vague account…the depths to which people could learn from it would not be reached.  is it ‘hurtful’?  it’s the truth.  sometimes the truth does hurt.  
"don't you believe we have to cover our family not expose them?” - that is a valid question.  i have an answer.  when someone has wronged someone over the course of a few *years* (because truly…how hard would it have been to get my side of the story?  did they just not see me as truly part of the family?  they’ve all counseled people before…getting both sides of the story is just basic counseling 101, is it not?), when there comes a time for confrontation, grace and mercy must be available to them.  grace and mercy was available to them.  in response, the offending party has options too.  will there be true repentance?  or just a pat ‘i’m sorry…now let’s move on.’  because a pat ‘i’m sorry…now let’s move on,’ is not true repentance.  and without true repentance, there will never be reconciliation.  when there is true repentance, the two parties can discuss what happened, ask questions, get answers, express anger even.  all of these things were refused in my case.  they literally said that they were sorry, but that they didn’t want to discuss it further.  that is not repentance.  not even close to repentance.  so, in that case, there can be forgiveness or a 'letting go.'  but, reconciliation is not an option.  
when there is great wrongdoing, the person wronged *can* be silent, yes.  but, when they see that the wrongdoing is a very common problem actually…and that common mindsets and theology are surrounding those wrongdoings…and a common way of looking at others and treating others that is very unhealthy surrounds those wrongdoings…annndd when it is seen that wow, these things are actually common reasons for the downfall of marriages in general...when all of that is seen, it must be addressed.  certain personality types might not feel that way.  but, there are some who know that they must speak out.  there are certain people who cannot just silently sit and see those injustices continue.  there are certain people who will not rest until awareness and discussion of those issues are accomplished.  and, in the end, hopefully answers about them even.  
i am one of those people.  these wrongs must be exposed, not covered.  my story includes those wrongs.  so my story will be told.  
if there had been true repentance and reconciliation, then my story would look somewhat different.  there would be less wrongs to talk about, and more examples of how to do things right. there would be more light and less darkness.  but, the wrongdoings that i’ve already talked about in my blog would still be a part of the story.  it would just have a better ending.  
it doesn’t have that better ending.  but, we know that we did all we could to bring about that better ending.  then we had to move on and start the process of healing US.  nobody can make others make the right choices.  but, we can’t just halt our journey or stay silent on something that needs to be talked about because others make wrong choices.  
so, we move forward.  exposing not family, but wrongdoing.  because it’s important.  and it makes all the really stinky crap of the past few years have a purpose.  and that brings healing.
Is family exposed in the process of exposing wrongdoing?  Sometimes.  But...

Here's the big picture, folks...

If everyone would just stop habitually protecting and covering up everyone else's wrongdoings, those habitual wrongdoings would be less likely to occur!!

Can people really not see that?

Why do we allow these things to continue to happen?!?  And why, when someone has the courage to come out and talk about these things, do we blame the person talking about it and criticize that person that is just being honest and bringing things out into the light (when trying to resolve it in private didn't work) and say they are the ones who are in the wrong?!?

Also, what about the wrongdoers themselves just being honest and open...just saying, 'This is what I did.  I'm going to stop walking in that way.  And I'm going to share my mistakes and sins and even huge failures...I want to make the world a better place.'

We have to be willing to talk about these things!!  We have to be willing to be honest about ourselves!!  So, if you have done wrong and someone says, 'Hey, you did this,' we have to be willing to own up to that.

If you've done the right thing and have owned up to your failures/sins, if you are making those things right with who you have offended, and if you are mature...then you welcome the chance for your example to be used so that others can be helped.

If you don't want to be used as an example of wrongdoing and what it can do to yourself and others...then stop the wrongdoing.

I feel the need to remind you here that no, I'm not perfect, nor do I think that I am (that always gets brought up).  But, I am quick to see when I'm wrong and have used my wrongdoings constantly to help others along the way.  Because that's practical and useful and it gives the crap of our lives and our sin purpose.  Keeping things in the dark or trying to hold onto sin in your life, or hide it even after you've confessed it, does nobody any good, esp. yourself.  As open and honest as I'm being about others' mistreatment of me in hopes to help in the bigger picture here...that's how open and honest I am with others about my failures and shortcomings.  If you don't believe me, I started this blog in 2006...there is plenty of 'Michawn failure material' in the 818 blog posts on this blog.  You can see for yourself.  ;)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 50 - My 'July Season'}

Today I'm going back.  I'm going back to July.

July was not pleasant.  It was the absolute opposite of pleasant.  It was supposed to be one of the best times...but it turned into the hardest time of my entire life.  

I'm going back to that unpleasant, hardest-time-of-my-life time today for a brief visit.  Why?  Because there are some important things that need to be documented from that time.  Some very bad things.  And some good.  

All of it, though, we can learn from.  So, that's why I go back.

But, just be warned.  Sometimes when I go back and document how it was then, I get falsely accused of being bitter.  

Listen...these are the things that happened.  I will document what happened.  Not out of any ill will or any bad feelings that I have about what happened.  What happened suuuuuuucks.  No doubt.  But...what do you do?  You can't control what others do.

But you can learn from it.

And that's what we're doing here.

Remember...things now are better than they were in July.  Much much better.  The counselor turned things around.  The counselor finally held Joel accountable for these types of things he was doing.  Praise God someone finally came through for our marriage.  

But, before that, this is what was happening.  

Don't miss some of the wonderful nuggets of advice and encouragement and truth down below.  Some of it is hard to read, but those nuggets of TRUTH are worth it.

Also remember these two things:
1.  I am not the one who did this.  I am not the one who 'made this public'...that person who made that first comment below is the one who 'outed' himself.  I did not do that.  But I will always give an answer to what happens in my life...esp. what happens 'in public.'  I will not be silent or sit back and let someone (anyone) speak untruths about me.  And, I will be the one to discuss it further and learn from this behavior...and help others to do the same.  Because that is the mature and wise thing to do.  So I do that here.
2.  Although this includes very specific examples and there are specific people in these examples, it is not about them.  The issues that arise here are far-reaching...and that is what it's about.  The huge bigger picture is what we must focus on.  So please focus on the bigger societal and theological and interpersonal issues that clearly come out of these examples as you read below.

We must talk about what happened (however unpleasant) before we get to the lesson learned part.  

So, here we go...

July 3rd is when I found out about Joel's extensive lies and betrayal that I thought had been stopped in the Fall of 2014, I found out...continued.  I wrote about it on Facebook.  Then later I shared what I had put on Facebook that day here on the blog.

The biggest response I got from people is that they were just brokenhearted for me.  Just completely heartbroken.  They encouraged me to continue to do the right things, to listen to His voice.  Some suggested that I start looking into other options (divorce, divorce care ministries, etc.)...of course these were very logical and loving responses too.  But mostly people just expressed how sorry they were for me.  The comments died down on the 5th.  But, then two days later, I got another comment.

July 7th:
Michawn, you are so wrong. You are wrong about the way you feel about your husband. You are wrong about not allowing him or the kids to go and visit his family. You are wrong about not going with your husband to visit his family. What is so wrong with him talking to his family. I don't blame him, I would still love to talk to my parents. His is still alive. Let them and your whole family have a relationship. You have the best husband a woman could ever ask for and it's like you are throwing him away. Just look at all the stuff he has done for you. He wouldn't have did all he did if it wasn't for you. He did it to make you happy. And he gets this treatment in return? The devil has come to dwell in your heart and you chased God away and let the devil take his place. You need to get it right and you need to get it right before it is too late. I could tell for a long time that Joel is not a happy camper. And I knew why. You are hampering God's will for y'all by refusing to leave Saline and go back to the missionary field. There was a time I heard you say from the pulpit that you had just fallen in love with God. Well, when you got a house in Saline, you fell in love with Saline, and evidently out of love with God (you no longer go to church) and I hope and pray not out of love with Joel. You need God, you need Joel, and those precious kids need you and Joel to be one - a happy one. And that's the way I feel. Don't come to me saying I don't know the whole story. I don't want to know the whole story - I just want to know that Joel and yourself are happily in love and that it is a God centered love. I love you all. I do not want to see Joel trashed from our family.
This was, unfortunately, my you will see in my reply.  A little father had gotten on Facebook only to be able to keep updated with us in Brazil and see pictures and videos of the kids, etc.  He had used a different name than his own...Sam.  And he had never ever made his presence 'likes,' no comments, etc.  Until the comment above.

My reply:
well, i guess this is just the cherry on top here, Sam. what a fabulous way for my *own father* to make his way out of the shadows and make his Facebook debut.  
how many times have you talked about this to me in person? oh, that's right...*none.* zero.  
i have always known that i had a very sexist father. fine. just the way it was. but, i never really imagined that my own father, when i was in dire need of protection like i have been the past few years, would turn his back on me and support and defend the perpetrator. the way you favor joel (and all men) has always been evident, but this just makes it abundantly clear, doesn't it? 
you don't want to know the whole story? that is up to you. you don't even know 1/100ths of the story i'm guessing...because i'm sure you haven't even read the blog or any of my side of things. but without the whole story you have no idea what you are talking about, even when you think you do.  
another reason why i no longer go to church? because they are *full* of 'Christian' men (and even some women, sadly) like you.  
thank you for your support, daddy. thank you for protecting your little girl.  
sadly, i knew the truth in my heart...the truth of what you thought of me and this situation. i could tell how you felt by your coldness towards me and how you always asked for and wanted Joel around. joel and i have even talked about it...i knew.  
now everyone else knows too. what a sad situation. what a sad response to your daughter in need. 
Again...we can all learn from let's focus on the lessons here below...

I honestly was shocked.  You can probably pick up on that a little in my reply.  This man had never once talked to me, in person or in any other way, about my life the past few years.  Why?  Because he didn't care.  He didn't care to know.  That is not speculation...he clearly says that in his comment.  He had made up his mind about what was going on and he didn't want to hear anything else.  Lol.  Incredibly immature and closed-minded.  But, I knew him.  I've known him my whole life.  I've seen the way he handles things.  I knew this was how he was.

That part was very sad to me...that he wouldn't want to hear from his own daughter what was going on in her life.  That he preferred 'perfect in his mind' Joel over me.  Joel was a male after all.  But, that was nothing new.  Sad.  But...none of that was surprising to me.  Again...I'd known him my whole life.  So...not surprising.

This though?...that he would take it to Facebook when he has never taken anything to Facebook before?  When he had never talked to me at all, ever about any of this?  Yes, it was surprising.

I wasn't shocked or upset because he was saying things that I don't agree with.  I was upset because he was saying things that are just complete lies.  Disagree with me all the live long day.  But don't you dare lie about me.

He would know these were lies if he asked.  But...he doesn't want to know.

Funny how people think of dads.  The ones with good, very supportive, very protecting dads anyway. Therefore, when this dad was just 'voicing his concerns' as some people saw it, those same people then started to say such things as 'If this is what your own dad is seeing and saying, then maybe we need to look deeper.  He's only trying to speak truth into your life after all since he, of course, loves you and only wants to protect you.'

Except that sentiment about this person is not true.  He didn't even want to know anything about my life.  That's not love.

Has he 'loved' me and provided for me in many, many ways in the past?  Yes.  For those things I will always be grateful.

But, when the rubber meets the road, true character shows.  The 'rubber' didn't 'meet the road' in my life until a little over 3 ½ years ago.  His true character has really come out.

Just like Joel's did.

Before this, I was basically just an easy wife and daughter.  I mean, if you are, in most ways, meeting all the expectations of others, then there's no rubber to meet the road.  But, when you start to have needs or thoughts that don't align with what those 'others' expect or deem acceptable, you see their true character come out.

Will those people still show you love even when you are not doing what they (selfishly) want you to do?  Will they still take care of you and protect you?  Will they meet your needs?

We saw the answer in Joel (thankfully he is being reformed)...and we saw the answer with this man.  

For those of you who know this man personally (or even those who don't), again I am not trying to run anybody down here.  I'm not being vengeful at all.  If you think such things, then your heart is wrong.

As always with this blog, I am pointing out truth. I am pointing out the bigger picture.  It is important to focus on what we can learn from things like this.

I won't protect darkness.  Wrong theology, sexism, not seeking truth ("I don't want to know your story")...this is all darkness.  I am also done protecting 'perceptions of others.'  And I will continue to speak out against these things.  No matter who it is that does them.

Because we can all learn from it.  Praise God there is a redeeming part to all of this.  There is a much bigger picture here.  There are so many, many people in the world being harmed by these very things...wrong theology, sexism (gender inequality), people formulating their own stories of what is happening instead of actually asking the people involved (and believing them).  We have to speak out.

I will continue to use personal examples of these things that I've experienced, I will continue to use my story...because it shows that I know what I'm talking about.  I've been there.  It's happened to me.  Horrible things have happened here...and by the people who were supposed to love me most.

24 hours before this comment was made by this man (on the 6th), I spent a few hours with him, laughing and having a good time.  He said nothing to me about any of usual.

He posted this comment on Facebook...and I was expected to just sweep it under the rug.  I was expected to go out to dinner with this man and act as if nothing ever happened 24 hours after he said these things about me on Facebook.

It was seen as wrong of me that I didn't just sweep it under the rug.  The people who tried to sweep this under the rug and expected me to do the same...they are just as wrong as this man.

And I will do that no longer.  I've always hated it, but sweeping things under the rug is something that I will no longer do.  I think that's pretty clear here.  It's so unhealthy and damaging.  I even wrote about that very thing (plus true forgiveness and repentance, and walking away from people) extensively here in this blog post.

If this man ever changes and chooses to try to make amends, then we'll see if that is possible.  But, knowing this man well, I don't expect that to ever happen.

I haven't seen or heard from him since he made that comment.

If the people who sweep these things under the rug and expect me to do the same ever change and choose to try to make amends, then we'll see if that is possible.  But, I'm not sure that will happen either (they want to just, as usual, move on and pretend nothing ever happened).  Talking it all out and making amends did happen with one of those people...and I'm very thankful for that.  But, the I've always believed (and the counselor reiterated...and the Bible itself teaches), sometimes it is best and healthy to move away from certain people.  No grudges, no bitterness...but to distance oneself is the healthy thing to do.

People who sweep things under the rug instead of talking about things honestly and openly...I will walk away from and take my children with me.  The end.

After the comment my father posted, the conversation picked back up and continued over the next few days (July 7th-9th).  But first, let me share with you what someone else had written in response to something else I had shared, on July 5th:
Something that I hope encourages you is something that encouraged me when I was going through a difficult time. Someone pointed out to me that Scripture says "blessed are the peacemakers".... and how a whole LOT of people interpret that verse in a very wrong way... there is a HUGE difference between being a peaceMAKEr and peaceKEEPer... people tend to want to interpret that verse to mean peacekeeper... don't make waves, let things go, be "good"... just keep the peace... when in reality, a peaceMAKEr (what Scripture actually says) sometimes has to make waves, shake things up, and confront reality in order to really MAKE peace. So, be encouraged that there are those of us out here who aren't looking down on you for being willing to confront the reality that is going on in your life. It is an encouragement and inspiration that you are willing to allow us to walk through this with you and learn from your experiences. I will continue to pray for wisdom and clarity for you in this journey.
Many of you have heard that before, as I had.  But, man oh man...what it meant to hear it again at this specific time!  It was huge.  And so very, very full of truth.

Again, the conversation continued...some bad, some good.  This was one of my comments:
first of all, to those who have 'liked' my father's comment of complete rubbish, it is nice to know your true colors and what you believe about me.  
there are many people (*most* people) who really don't like it when someone rocks the boat. if something *seems* good, if someone *seems* good, then everyone should just let those perceptions rule...even if that person and that situation is very, very destructive and very, very *not* good. even if that person is destroying someone they supposedly love. 
again, charm is deceptive. many of you have believed that joel is something that he is not. and you loved that i was quiet about it...even though it destroyed me.  
you wish that i would go back to being quiet...and being destroyed. you'd rather the destruction of me vs. the honesty about what has happened/is happening.  
it speaks loudly to the prevalence of the mentality to support the matter what. doesn't matter what proof you have of what he's done...he becomes the victim once the *actual* victim finally starts speaking out about what he's done. and the 'whistleblower' always becomes the bad one. 
if you are in that category, where you would rather me be destroyed (and our marriage be destroyed) instead of honest, you are not are peaceKEEPERS. you would rather someone be destroyed in the name of 'submission' or 'being a good little wife' or 'not rocking the boat' or God forbid, someone's perceptions being tampered with (i can assure you, joel is not what he seems).  
if you are in that category, you are not my friend at all.  
i wouldn't have had to 'come out' in the first place had people really cared and done the right things 'in the quiet places.' that very much did *not* happen...and i gave it *years.* 
why didn't it happen? because the male in the situation was always supported and the focus of blame was turned toward me...when i had/have done *nothing* wrong.  
i will never stop telling the truth...about *whatever* subject. but, i most certainly will not continue to allow the destruction of my life just because being honest about it makes you uncomfortable and 'outs' people. i am a peaceMAKER. 
And this:
the whole story is super long and detailed and involved. but, if you haven't read at least the part that is 'out there' so far (the blog starting back in october...and these posts), then that is the place to start. if you have read those things and you *still* have these questions, then i will answer them. but, these questions have all been answered before.  
as far as 'going public,' it's been public since october. and i explain all the reasons for that (the initial reasons and then more motivations that came up as i continued to share) in the blog. in april, *his* family started going on the attack here on Facebook and outing themselves, so it wasn't me who went public with the details and who was doing everything. the blog continued and then i began a break from blogging in may...thought it was going to be a wonderful summer of healing finally...thought we were back to doing really well. i let everyone know that...everyone was so relieved and happy for us and hopeful.  
and then i found out last friday that he had been lying to me the whole time. extensive cover-ups of things he had done...all premeditated and calculated and hidden actions. looking me in the face and lying constantly for 7 full months.  
scary. sociopath-like. no remorse as he did it.  
yet, somehow i'm always the one who gets the blame.  
for instance, this thread here. these comments. some of which i just deleted as they came because i'm not going to listen to blame anymore.  
but somehow him lying to me for 7 months turned into me being at fault because if i'd 'done the right thing,' he wouldn't have to lie.  
um, ok. not talking to his family *was* the right thing...and was possibly only going to be temporary (that's no longer a possibility). and was for a *very* good reason. lots of good wise, healthy reasons, actually.  
and guess what? even if it just happened to have not been the right thing (which it was), *lying* is *wrong.*  
but,'s my fault. it's my fault he lied.  
you say that you know what it's like when people falsely accuse and make him out to be 'the good one'...i think every woman knows what that's like. i cannot tell you the number of women who have contacted me personally to say that they have been in the same boat, they are in the same boat, or their close family member has experienced that...and what a rough road it was. some have said that they too had been duped by a charmer...and greatly regretted blaming the victim in it all. not to mention just all the information online...horror stories of women who just simply were not believed...and it cost them so much. it cost them friendships, relationships with their children and other family members, status, etc.  
they're just supposed to stay quiet? they're just supposed to shrink into their little corner and not speak out about what has happened/is happening? 
this isn't only about me. i speak out because this is me, yes, but in the grander scheme of things, to women *all* over the world. and nobody does a thing about it.  
'just let God take care of it,' people say. well, God did take care of it. His plan of things was supposed to take care of it. when He gave us the Body of Christ, that was the main way all of these things were supposed to be taken care of. He *was* taking care of His people...or so He thought. it was established long ago that joel wasn't going to figure this out on his own. that's when the Body of Christ is supposed to step in. with the *right* theology. they didn't. when the Body of Christ does nothing (or does completely destructive things like follow bad theology or only believe the man), then Christ's people are damaged and destroyed.  
'church people' do way more damage than good. *real* people...real *God* people...*not* pharisees...those are the people you need on your side. they are few and far almost extinct actually. ragamuffins are the best...they're just not common. 
so, it's not even just about me anymore. every time i post i have women from all walks of life and from all different places geographically who say to me, 'yes! i cannot tell you how much i relate to this. thank you so much for posting. why doesn't anyone do anything? why is he praised and called a saint when we are the victims here?'  
it's an indictment on the church...a major one. 'well, you don't even go to church, so you can't be helped at church.' the 'christians' who say things like that don't get it. no, it's not about *going to* church, it's about *being* the church. nobody has *been* the church in regards to mine and joel's marriage.  
and that's why i speak out. there's a much bigger picture here. of a corruption and an evil that is not like Christ at all. and i will speak of it until my dying day...or until it's fixed and no longer a problem in the world! wouldn't that be nice? 
The conversation and that thread ended with a dear sweet friend of mine, who has been through a very similar situation (there are so many of us, sweet dear's time to speak out), leaving this simple comment:
Psalm 18:18
I looked it up immediately.
"They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support." 
"They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me." 
She knew.  This sweet friend knew, from personal experience, the exact verse that applied and that I needed to hear.

I was being attacked constantly, and in my time of distress no less (and had been, for years)...but the Lord knew...and he supported me.

The Lord is my constant.  Praise Him for that.  All of the people that I thought would be a constant in my life...that has not been the case.  But the Lord?  This verse speaks truth and of course is the only reason I've been able to make it through this.

Praise God we found a human (after much searching), a human that could/would actually speak up to Joel and put a stop to all of this that has been happening for 3 ½ years...and it is slowly but surely coming to a stop.

Thank God it is no longer July in my life.

If you are in a 'July season' though...because I know many of you who read this blog still are...

Take comfort in this verse...Psalm 18:18 is for you.

Take comfort in the fact that sometimes you have to make some waves in order to make some peace.

Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.  There are many, many of us.  And we stand with you.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 49 - Effects, Goodness, Brokenness/Repentance, and Intentions}

How are we doing?  How is it going now?

Good questions.  I wonder myself.  Because here's the deal...

It wouldn't be prudent to trust.  So, when things seem to be going O.K., what is really going on?

I thought things were going to be fine after last Labor Day.  "Trust me," I was told.  By January, I knew that it wasn't looking good (I didn't say this in that blog post, but much of the opposition was again from Joel at that point).  By April (link to Part 1...Part 2 and "The Rest of April" follow), I knew that it was bad again...and I didn't even know the half of it at that point.

But, May 1st, I again thought it was fine again...we had spent a whole week intensively going over things and had reached understanding.  There had been a new and different level of revelation.  Again, I had no clue what was really going on.  But, at that point, I thought we were on the road to recovery and was told, again, "Trust me."

I waited for the other shoe to drop at that point.  From the beginning of May until mid-June...I just waited to see what would happen.  For a month and a half, no other shoe dropped.  So, I began my life again.  I started down a road to recovery (I'll write more specifically about this soon...recovery of more than just our marriage is involved) that I had tried to start down over and over and over again...this time I had wisely waited to see if it was going to be a possibility.  After waiting that long, it looked to be possible, but...

Two weeks later the bomb dropped, that other shoe fell hard, and we were right back where we started...but even further back.  Amazing the devastation at that time...not just between Joel and me, but also with others who chose to weigh in or chose to 'silently support' (again, silent support = betrayal).  It was the end. are we doing?  It's wise to just watch and wait.  But, in terms of an update...


Well...things have been going 'well' since our week-long+ intensive counseling session in Dallas August 10th - 20th (link to first blog post about counseling...three more follow that one).  There have been some bumps in the road.  But, it seems things have really and truly turned around this time.

Having said that, given the past we've had and the untrustworthiness of a certain person, who really knows?  I promise you "Trust me" doesn't work at all anymore.  So...we (you and I) wait.  We see.  We look for the other shoe to drop.  We hope that it won't.  But, we just don't know if it will or not.  Because it's not up to me and you.

And as we go along...things continue to reveal themselves in even greater light.  Recently, I had to have a 'come-to-Jesus' talk with Joel.

The truth is that, although his belief system and actions caused all of this damage, he is very minimally affected by it in everyday life.  Sure, we're not living the life we dreamed of and thought God had called us to...not by any stretch of the imagination.  But, in his personal life and in his interactions with others...nothing has changed.  He is the same in health, in what he does from day to day, in the way others treat him, etc.  In his daily life...not a lot has changed.  There is no hard work of recovery required of Joel in this season.  We go places and interact with people...Joel appears to be the same, unaffected person that he always has been (because, he wrongly is unaffected).

Everything has changed for me.  Everything.  My health, the way I feel, the way I look, the interactions I have with people, my relationships, our (the kids' and my) day-to-day lives and's all very, very, very different.  Major, major damage was done (in all aspects)...and it's not something that I can just choose not to think about...because I have to choose to think about it in order to recover.  A recovery that is going to take a ton of hard work from me...and lots of time and energy.  Like I've said before, the extensive damage was done by someone else...the mess was made by someone else...but I'm the one who has to clean up the mess.

Because of that truth that it basically doesn't affect him in the day-to-day, and because of the fact that I'm not a grudge-holder so it doesn't affect him in the day-to-day in our relationship (as long as things are going well)...that 'come-to-Jesus' talk was necessary.

Because he just forgets.  He forgets the magnitude of it all.  He forgets what he has done...and what has happened.  He forgets the damage he's done and how that affects me and the kids and how we have to deal with that every single moment of every single day.  He's not faced with it from day-to-day.

And, as it came out in that little talk...

He still thinks he is 'good.'  He still thinks of himself as a 'good person.'  And, because nobody treats him any differently and others still treat him like he is still a 'good person,' he forgets (because a people-pleaser, the way others see him and treat him is his primary focus and motivator in how he thinks about himself and his life).

Because it doesn't affect him in day-to-day life and because he thinks of himself as still 'good' (and others of the world who he naturally, in his bent toward being a 'moving towards people' person, wants to please don't call him anything else or treat him like he is anything less than 'good' and still the same person that he always was), he doesn't walk in repentance and brokenness.  It's not the lens he sees through as he walks along.

It's interesting to see the different mindsets and beliefs at play here.  When you are working with a people-pleasing mindset, someone who has done that their whole lives, and it's never been questioned in his start to see just how deep it goes.


In order to truly be repentant about something you have done, you have to reach a point of brokenness.  You realize what you have done, you see what you have done for what it really is, you understand and grasp that it was terribly terribly wrong, and because of that you feel horrible about it and you feel great remorse, walk in that until you have made it right.  And you never lose sight of the fact that you are, forevermore, capable of such a thing.  You are broken by what you have done.  You are broken about the fact that you could even do such a thing.  You are filled with regret and sadness over what you have done.

True sadness and regret...that is the lens you see through after you have been broken over something you did.  

Instead, sometimes what happens is that people know that they did wrong, or they have been told that they did wrong at least, and they try to remember that in their minds and try to get their actions to follow what they are trying to remember in their minds...but it doesn't really work.  It's head knowledge.  It's not 'real' to them.

If what you have done doesn't really affect you in daily life practically,  remembering what you have done is more challenging.  That's not an excuse...because someone who has caused so much damage should be affected in their daily lives no matter what others are saying about them or how they are being treated by others.  They should be able to see the damage they've done to others...and in others.  But, people-pleasers are more focused on what others think of them (not their wives...because their wives will always be there; but the others in their lives).

Why does Joel never talk about this himself?  Well, because he wants to still be treated as that 'good' person that everyone loves and respects and admires.  He doesn't want this to affect him in daily life.  He wants to keep it all 'private' and in the dark and hidden…not because it should be (because it shouldn’t), but to keep people’s perceptions of him a certain way.  This all being in the light is messing up his people-pleasing.  So, in his own personal life and in his interactions with people, he keeps this on the down-low.  Therefore, it doesn't affect him.  When he does, rarely, speak about it, he majorly downplays.

The fact that it doesn't affect him in his daily life is coupled with that deep belief he has that 'everyone is good.'  With people who have this belief, even if the brokenness ever was there, it is fleeting.  It is but for a moment.  Literally.  Because...everyone is good.  He is good.  Which leads into something else...

One of the other wrong beliefs that has come out from all of this has been a belief about intentions.  Ahhh, intentions.

"Oh, well it's the thought that counts."

That's an example of intentions...and it is often true that it is the thought that counts.  That works when you are giving an acquaintance a little gift of chocolate on Valentine's Day, yet they are allergic to chocolate.  See?  That's an example of "it's the thought that counts."

But, with a repeated harmful is not the thought that counts.  Not at all.

One of the things we've pinpointed about Joel's belief system was his belief that if, in his heart of hearts he didn't intend to cause damage, he was 'off the hook.'  He felt free of any wrongdoing.  Because, after all, it wasn't his intention to cause harm.

A great example of this is the timeline of our lives and everything that has happened in the past few years that I typed up for our counselors.  Even though we walked through every single thing on that timeline and he agreed that all of what was listed were true facts, he always back-peddled and told the counselors that it wasn't accurate.  Why?  Because it didn't list his intentions.  Because his intentions meant more to him than what actually happened, he didn't feel it was accurate.

No matter what actually happened, his intentions ruled.  Therefore, if what happened was completely opposite of his intentions, it wasn't his fault...because his intentions were to not cause harm.

Of course, that doesn't really actually fly since I was telling him point blank that what he was doing was causing harm and yet he still did it...because he wasn't listening to and believing me.  But, even in the light of me telling him clearly that what he was doing was causing harm, his intentions were what ruled for him.  He was completely blind to me and the kids and what was actually going on and the damage he was causing.

And...because of his intentions, because that is what he has judged himself by...he is still, in his mind and heart, a 'good person.'

But, people of the world...that is a very false and very dangerous belief system.  No matter your intentions, if you caused major damage to someone for years, and you lied and betrayed and cheated and manipulated and destroyed for years on, you are not a good person.

Let that sink in.

No, you are not a good person.  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now...can you be again?  Yes.  But, you aren't now!!  And you haven't been for a very, very long time!!

And being a 'good person' again will require true brokenness and repentance...and walking in that constantly until the damage is healed.  And walking in that constantly, always, in regards to this period of life.  And, never turning back to that sort of thinking and behavior...because that is what true repentance is.

If you are actually broken and truly will affect your life constantly.  You won't have to be reminded that you destroyed your marriage and family's life.  Ha, geez.  It will be the lens through which you look.  It just will.  It will pepper your conversations, it will enter your every thought, it will order your steps.  It will consume you...not in a bad way, but in a way that convicts, and gives you great desire to never return to that, and gives you focus in doing what it takes to repair the damage you've done, and gives you a desire to learn and help others to never have to go through something like this.

I'm quite sure that my husband isn't the only one who has had these wrong beliefs about goodness, intentions, brokenness, and repentance...about just 'moving ahead' with personal wrongdoing not even affecting your life.  Some of you might be able to relate.  For some of you, this might shed some light on what might possibly be going on in your yourselves or others you are linked to.

But, this just shows how deep and how numerous these issues are...the 'cancer' in our marriage is Stage 4 and malignant and very spread throughout.  We are constantly realizing just what we are dealing with.  We're in the process of 'exploratory surgery'...and as we continue to look around in our marriage, we continue to see the things, the different 'cancers' (issues, wrong beliefs), 'on the inside' that have caused all of this damage to our marriage and our lives (mine and the kids' especially...more specifics later).

I've discussed some of those things we've found so far here today.  Hopefully it will help some of you in your own lives.  Hopefully it will open eyes to deep issues that aren't necessarily usually talked about. are we doing?  We're in surgery.  We are being operated on.  We're still listed as 'critical.'  At any moment, 'the other shoe could drop.'  At any moment, we could flatline.

So, just continue the prayers.  Thank you.