There are more words written to me from precious people with similar stories. But, I'm going to cut it off here with Part 4. I think you get the picture. (Click here to find Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)
Going through all of this the past few years has really, really changed me in many ways...changed us...changed our marriage...changed our beliefs...changed soooo much. As I told someone recently, there is just a whole other layer to me that simply wasn't even there before. In going through this extremely difficult time, many many things have been revealed. And so many issues that need great reform have risen to the surface.
And I think you can tell that instead of keeping these issues, that affect so many, in the darkness, we need to just take them out into the light. We need to talk about them. We need to learn about them. We need to face them full on and change has to be made so that health can be attained...in our families, in our marriages, in the church, and in our world.
It's important. And it's needed.
Here are more stories of people whose lives show that.
--"Tears... I don't even REALLY know you but am so continually amazed at your level of authenticity with people. It's beautiful and encourages me to uncover the dark areas of my life that I've chosen to remain hidden and allow healing to take place. Thank you! Thank you so much."
--"Michawn. I read your post and am praying for you and your family. My wife and I struggled too and I can tell you our marriage is better than ever. I didn't know if it would be possible to feel love again but you can. It is a healing process but it can happen. God brings dead things to life. He is the only one. He may have wanted the old way to die before he could create something new out of the ashes. My wife and I have plenty of room here if you and or your family want to get away."
--"I miss you so much! Been reading your blogs and wow....I'm so proud of the way you are sharing this with everyone. I HATE that you went thru and are going thru all this but man, what a beautiful testament to the power of Christ. I am praying for you guys."
--"Hey Michawn! Just wanted to say that I am reading your posts and I think you are very brave! Too many times people want to sweep unpleasant things under the rug rather than admit failure or issues they have gone thru. Thank you for your candor and sincerity without great bitterness towards Joel. I am reading a book called With by Skye Jethani (very good by the way) and something he wrote brought Joel to mind. 'Missionalism starts slowly and gains a foothold in the leader's attitude. Before long the mission controls almost everything: time, relationships, health, spiritual depth, ethics and convictions. In advanced stages, missionalism means doing whatever it takes to solve the problem. In its worst iteration, the end always justifies the means. The family goes; health is sacrificed; integrity is jeopardized; God-connection is limited.' This was an original quote from Gordon MacDonald from a leadership journal article. Some churches and people push this agenda and feel they are in the right because what they are doing is for God. Not good for anyone. Anyway, just thought this might be encouraging or interesting or something. Heal up and I'll be praying for a complete restoring of your marriage and partnership!"
--"I so appreciate your reflections. We are all so frail, pitiful and needful of our Lord. Keep working towards transformation, sancification. You are coming out stronger, stripped of the fleshy pretence us humans wear, and ready to be used by God. Press on!"
--"My heart hurts for what 'godly' people have done to you. You are standing your ground and it's wonderful, I just wish you didn't have to. I appreciate your openess. It means that someone else going through something similar (even remotely so) will know that things can turn around. I applaud you doing it publicly because that's what is right for you. My love and tears are with you now. I can't wait to see what the Lord does in all of this."
--"I have been through the fire and I made it through. I did not have much support from the Christians I knew and have lost friends and family when I stood up against abuse. I understand the hurt that you feel because I lived it. My heart is breaking over your posts, but I also admire you so much. I'm praying. Hang on to Jesus; He is nothing like most 'Christians.'"
--"I appreciate your transparency, your honesty, your humility in sharing all of this. There is something very very wrong with the Body these days...the tendency to hide our hurts and struggles so we can put on a facade of perfection. It's very damaging. It's important what you're doing. It's encouraging. And though so much of it is heartbreaking to read, it gives us the power to pray specifically for you guys."
--"Even in the midst of this Horror (strong word but true) that you have lived through you have shined your light so bright illuminating the path for so many and leading them to the true love of Jesus that never fails no matter our circumstances! Keep on being you, my Godly friend, I believe God has anointed you for such a time as this and that there are many in the white field that will be harvested through your testimony! Praising God for His unspeakable gifts! Love you BIG!"
--"Both yesterday & today you stated word for word some things I have been shouting for years, but no one ever seemed to hear me. Seeing those words in print have rocked me to my core. I know I'm being vague, partly out of my hatred for typing on my phone & mostly because for so long nobody has understood or valued what I had to say, they've been more interested in assuming the worst & putting me in my place so over the years, I now realize, I just stopped speaking...now I never know what to say & what to keep to myself! I dont say that to have a pity party, its just the truth. But...back to why I messaged you! I had to thank you for your posts. I had to thank you for having the courage to remain confident in who you know you are. I had to thank you for putting yourself out there & taking the abuse you've taken so that people like me can know we aren't alone. Thank you for continuing to share your journey...this new counselor is a breath of fresh hope for me & I look forward to hearing more of what you learned, how he dealt with yall & especially how he dealt with Joel. I will continue to pray for true repentance to come, so that true healing can take place & that God would restore all that was stolen from you."
--"I love and admire your transparency. I know you've helped so many by being so brutally honest. And I am one of them. Thank you!"
--"I hate that you have had to experience this, but it has truly helped me."
--"I believe most people have marriage problems and never take the bold step to really be a catalyst for change within their marriage... What you endured, wow. Thank you for your transparent words. My husband and I have had our ups and downs in marriage. It really means a lot to me you sharing your story. Thank you."
--"Your truth is liberating and people will have HOPE for once in their lives ... I believe more people are going thru stuff and your story makes their stories real and hopefully people will be catalysts for change like U did. Your words are encouraging and bring HOPE!"
--"I just really appreciate your honesty and letting everything come out! Hope u turn this into a book!!!"
--"Nobody wants to talk about the ugly side of marriage ever and that is crazy to me! I'm grateful for your posts!!! Keep it up!!!"
--"The best soldiers in the Lords army are wounded and have healed and know how to help others heal too. You will be a general. 4 star. :)"
--"I have been praying for you and your family. I get your beautiful Christmas cards and of course I see perfect pictures on FB and read your posts. Your life just looked like perfect bliss. To be honest, I've just needed time to process because I was so shocked. Your family seemed so perfect from the outside, and my marriage and family is so broken from the inside. We struggle so much. I didn't think you and I would ever be able to relate. You just seemed like a perfect person with perfect people in your life. Thank you for sharing your hurt, and letting me in. I don't have any advice, I know what it is like to hurt and be betrayed over and over...I am so very sorry. Please know I feel an ache in my soul for you, you are not forgotten, you are loved, follow your heart and stay close to Jesus. I've learned that true Christ followers are far and few between...and that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against Satan and his demons. So I continue to pray for you and your precious family...and cover you with the blood of Jesus. May peace, courage, comfort, strength and love be with you today."
--"I have to tell you that I'm really fascinated by your story. I read every update/blog. I'm praying for you guys. You are a brave woman to put it out there for all to see and all to respond to! I just couldn't stand to not tell you that I'm reading it and (dare I say it???) enjoying reading it. I suppose *enjoying* isn't the best word, but I can't think of a different one right now. :) I can't imagine how wiped out you were after so many hard years of instability. Well, I can imagine it a little, but not to the extent you lived it. I've been praying for you since you first sent a newletter saying your family needed healing. Now I see in better detail what I've been praying for!"
--"I have been praying for your family & for God to heal your broken heart. I keep up with your blog post & you & your kids have been through so much & so many people have turned their back on you. We are supposed to stand together for our family & friends in Christ & help in any way we can. If there is anything I can do for your family I'm here to listen or offer a shoulder. Love you & your family my sister in Christ. God Bless!"
--"I have been on a deep journey with the Lord. Everything you have shared about egalitarianism, man/woman church stuff......yes. Yes. Yes. I read, feed on, and listen to whatever I can get my hands on. I am being healed. Little by little, step by step, day by day. And I am so thankful for my church. So many of us women are walking into this freedom thing together. I am so blessed to have a church body that is getting it. I am so thankful. And I am so thankful to have a husband that listens to me and lets me be me. I so want you to have that. So many times I have wanted to message you, but it was either too deep in my heart to get it out, or I had some other distraction pop up. And there is so much going on in this season of my life that I just sometimes break down and cry when I read about your journey. I just wanted you to know that I have been praying for you both for as long as you have been writing. I am believing that the revelation will come for Joel. And I am praying that deep healing will come to you and the kids. I don't know if any of this rambling makes any sense.... ;o) HOpe it does. Just wanted to encourage you. Bless you and hugs. Keep standing!"
--"I always find such insight and wisdom in your blogs, what a powerhouse you are, full of such experience and amazing knowledge. You make me smile. Love ya."
--"I have read every single blog post that you've written since you started writing about issues in your marriage. I admire you for your honesty no matter the consequences."
--"Hi Michawn, I've been following your blog and have found you and Joel's journey so interesting. And I think it is really brave of both of you to put it out there. These are important conversations for married couples, the church and society to have. So important."