I was asked recently to pray for a woman that has been in an abusive marriage for over 25 years. Her husband is abusive in many ways, including habitual infidelity. She’s tried to leave the marriage several times, but each time he has begged for forgiveness and made promises to change his behavior. She has taken him back and continued to suffer through his abuse and cheating. His years of affairs have produced more than one child outside of their marriage. The child support for those kids has diminished college funds and financial support for the children they have together. Now that she’s in her fifties, and after all the lies and everything she’s been through, she says she’s finally going to leave him and give herself a fresh start.
When we think of the word ‘fresh’, we automatically think about newness or something that is different. The mere mention of the word inspires good feelings. We get excited about the possibility of leaving the ‘old, worn out, and no longer useful’ behind us. The harsh reality that stares all of us in the face is that newness doesn’t get it’s beginning from the external, it is birthed internally first. Real and lasting change begins in our hearts and minds. This is an astounding truth that most people ignore.
There are many reasons that a person will remain in an abusive relationship. If children are involved, the abuser may contribute part or all their financial support, making it more challenging to leave the marriage or relationship. Also, both pride and fear can be deterrents to leaving as well. When the abuser has some degree of affluence or prominence in the community, pride can become a stronghold. Fear of abusive retribution and retaliation, as well as the fear of a withdrawal of support, is also very much part of the reason why many people remain in abusive relationships. But these are not the root cause of why a person stays, they are what’s on the surface.
The truth is that God has empowered every individual of sound mind to achieve and accomplish whatever they truly want to do. When we’re relentless or passionate about something, most of us find a way to get what we want done. So, there has to be something deep-seated in someone’s mind and heart to make them feel as though they are unable to be set free. This isn’t a judgment. I was bound by four walls of self-doubt, self-condemnation, and insecurity for many years, so I know the entrapment of a mindset of powerlessness very well. I personally believe it is its own hell, a prison that ensnares countless numbers of individuals who believe there’s no hope.
In 1Timothy 6:12(NLT), God tells us through the Apostle Paul, “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.” God’s Word is true. It is the Source of any truth that exists in the earth. A thing may be factual, but facts change all the time. Truth is eternal, and it is this fight, the fight to stand on our truth in Christ, that is the greatest fight of all.
Instead of fighting to stand ground on the truth of our strength, ability, and liberty that Christ gave his life to make available to us, we fight for the thing that enslaves us. We fight our strength, ability, and liberty when we don’t believe in them. Jesus Christ tells us in John 8:32 that only the truth will set us free. And the truth is that we will have to give up the mindset of powerlessness for a mindset of hope.
Hope is the first step to a fresh start, but it will require something that only the Lord Jesus Christ can provide in order to back it up. We need the power of the Spirit of God, and we must invite Him to do a work on the inside of us. Without this, we slip back into old ways of thinking and behaving and continue to allow ourselves to suffer. We must acknowledge that we are indeed in a fight, and we will need more than the armor human understanding and skill can provide. We need the whole armor of God, and He freely offers it. He tells us in Ephesians 6:11 to put it on, and therein lies a true fresh start. ■
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
“A Fresh Start”, written for Overcomingdomesticviolenceorg.wordpress.com. Copyright ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!our Lord!