Survivors of domestic abuse often feel that God doesn’t love them much. You can know in your head that Jesus loves all believing Christians, but that’s not the same as knowing it emotionally, in your heart and your belly. A survivor recently expressed this to me in an email. She’s given me permission to use her words here:
My husband is the head, whether he is a good head or a bad head, he is still the head, and because of that, he is always leading us. This is where he has led us. I have felt for years, that I was losing ground in the Lord, because I felt like I was just beginning to distrust Him in particular, areas of finance. My husband has always blamed me for the credit card debt and I have always taken the blame. I have taken my husband’s anger toward me, and made it God’s anger toward me. Can you give me any encouragement in this area? I always feel that God is angry with me and doesn’t like me very much. I can say that I know that is not “true”, in essence, that He has saved me and the righteousness of Christ is over me, and that God is not pleased with me, because of me, but because of Christ, but oh to live there. To live in that and not be thinking all the time how displeased God must be with me.
Here is how I replied to this dear lady. I’m posting it here because it may help others.
I think in what you wrote above you have probably articulated one of the habitual “cascades of thought” that you’ve been experiencing for some years. One thought leads to another, and the negatives lead to more negatives, and you feel overwhelmed and swamped by them.
If you look at what you wrote, you’ve expressed some solid truths there: “my husband is the head, whether he is a good head or a bad head, he is still the head, and because of that, he is always leading us. This is where he has led us.” Yes. Whatever someone believes theoretically about the doctrine of male leadership, I personally believe it is part of woman’s created (“default”) nature to look to and instinctually resonate with her husband’s modelling and direction. If he is upright, she finds it easier to be upright herself. If he is sly and sinful, she lives in the shade: no matter how much her heart desires righteousness and integrity, she finds herself cowered, crushed or veiled by her husband’s sinful heart and direction. And if he maliciously and cunningly shifts the blame onto her (e.g. the credit card) she takes on the guilt instinctively, because she wants to be righteous and pleasing to God, and feels dreadfully sinful if she thinks she isn’t. The abuser knows and uses this to his great advantage. He instinctively knows the vulnerable heart of his wife, and finds the most tender parts of her character which he can wound and bind up with false guilt, with the mere curl of an eyebrow or the subtle twist of his lips.
I think that you have possibly or probably taken on a lot of false guilt, from your husband’s manipulation and your church’s admonishing and blaming responses to your disclosures of your husband’s abuse. I think that as you gradually dispel, throw off, speak off, refute, shed, and kick away this false guilt, you will feel the true love of God, the love which vindicates the innocent, the love which verifies the truth, the love which does not break a bruised reed, the love which moves as mysteriously as the wind moves through the trees, gently healing and succouring and restoring the soul.
[April 2, 2023: Editors’ notes:
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7 thoughts on “I don’t feel that God loves me much”
I can only speak from experience and certainly don’t have this all worked out. I felt very much the same way for a long, long time. It took time and getting completely away from my abuser to start to see how my thoughts and perceptions about God were twisted by my relationship with first my earthly father and then my abusive husband.
Because — I thought God required me to please my husband. I’d accepted the horrible teaching of “submission” and the roles of men and women taught by our church. Because I could never please my husband, I thought I was failing God. And I was pretty sure God hated me because I had prayed for a Godly husband before getting married and believed the Lord had sent this man in answer to that prayer. I thought God had punished me by giving me a husband who made my life a living hell because there was something wrong with me.
None of that was true. I did pray for Christian husband but God did not send this one along — this one showed up when I was most lonely and vulnerable and pushed his way in. I was so damaged already, I could not discern a good man from an abuser and I had no one to help. In fact, everyone in my life thought he was marvelous — so I ignored all those bells and whistles going off in my head and heart and trusted what others said. Looking back, I can see he snowballed those around me for precisely that reason.
I see God’s hand now. I see His love and the loving care now. In the fact that I and my children are still alive. In the fact that I did get out and we have peace. In the very gentle way the Father is leading me now, healing my heart and restoring my soul.
To this honest lady who wrote — you are to be commended for your spiritual insight and openness on this subject. How can we be healed if we don’t tell our Father exactly what we think and feel? I encourage you to go to Him and present your case. Allow Him to restore you to His heart.
And please, go easy on yourself. We didn’t get in this condition overnight and we won’t heal overnight either. 🙂
Thank you, Ida Mae! I love hearing each new bit of your story!
I need to believe this today.
More memories to re-integrate.
Blindsided. I’m beginning to wonder if my life is a B-roll movie, if I’m inventing stories. If so, I need a better scriptwriter.
Now I understand why I was such an easy target for my siblings.
I was my “dad’s” target first, from babyhood until four years old. Explains some of the changes in family dynamics I never understood.
I thought I had one good memory of comfort left.
And still I am unable to cry.
I am praying for you….and I have full confidence that God is restraining the tears until you can bear to shed them.
Thank you, Barb.
Having a really tough time getting a grip on this one and finding it hard to believe. Beginning to think my family of origin harboured a closet full of generational curses. Like lifting up a rock and seeing a mass of writhing grubs.
Nothing quite like being led to rip off scabs on a public forum to face reality.
I suppose this batch of memories added to distorting my image of God.
Adding on to my own comment….
I do not envy my “dad”, he faces an unenviable end.
In time, my “dad” will come face-to-face with my Father.
In encouraging response to Finding Answers, who wrote:
….And in the presence of Papa God, The Most High and Holy One, he (“dad”) will fall at His feet and know his [“dad’s”] wickedness and feel every wicked, destructive thing he has done to you and to others. In the presence of a Holy God, he will bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of All. This will not be for salvation, but as recognition. He [“dad”] will see your hurt and pain, the agony of it in the most truest form ever. He [“dad”] will see the trail of destruction he created. He [“dad”] will also see the complete fully dressed in white perfect person your Papa God is and with His care and love has brought you through to be. He [“dad”] will know forever more that he was truly evil.
For Papa God will open the books and reveal all. Nothing will be hidden away any longer. There will never be any more secrets. He [“dad”] will be righteously judged. Papa God will then bring His full wrath upon him [“dad”] and pronounce His sentence of condemnation as Supreme Judge, Ruler over All, and your Papa [God].
This “family court” will give you the full truth that at the moment only God knows and complete justice and your complete freedom. You will dwell complete and completely in the house of the Lord forever. 🙂
Be encouraged, Finding Answers, today Papa God, as with His servant David, says this has already started, but be assured one day this will come to complete fruition. May God continue to colour your world today. May you truly rest in His arms of love. He truly is a wonderful Papa (Abba) Father. 😀