When you fall in a hole

[September 14, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

My pastor told this story in Sunday School the other day.

This guy falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.

A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you. Can you help me?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole, and keeps going.

Next a priest comes along and the guy yells, “Father, I’m down in this hole. Can you help me?” The priest says a prayer and keeps going.

Then a friend walks by, “Hey, friend, it’s me can you help me?” And the friend jumps in the hole. The guy asks, “Are you an idiot? Now we’re both down here!” The friend replies, “But I’ve been in this hole before and I know how to get out.”

The pastor told this story and he related how he had been through a horrible trial. Later, his friend went through a similar trial and because God brought the pastor through, he knew how to relate to his friend and help him.

I was thinking about some other responses people give when they pass someone who is stuck in a hole. Perhaps when we let others know about the hole of abuse we are / were trapped in, we’re told:

Didn’t you read the warning signs? I read the signs and I would never fall into a hole like that.

Why were you walking in Hole Land? When you’re walking with Christ, you won’t get stuck in a hole.

Here are some great books about how to decorate holes.

Use a cookbook to improve your cooking quality while in the hole.

Have you spoken life over your hole? You should call things that are not as though they are. By calling this a hole, you’re dooming yourself to life in a hole.

Get comfortable. God says He hates it when people escape holes He created.

Why did you bring kids into the hole?

We are the hole repair committee. We have examined this hole and we find that it is repaired and inhabitable. Now get back in there.

Pray for your hole to change.

Your hole is in a great neighborhood. There are good schools nearby.

This isn’t a hole. By calling it a hole, you are diminishing the hardships of true hole dwellers in distant lands where the holes are spiky and gross.

This hole is for your sanctification.

If you escape this hole, you’ll only fall into another hole and it’ll be even worse.

Your kids will become drug dealers and prostitutes if you escape your hole.

The people who hand you platitudes and condemnation are not qualified to help you out of the hole. Listening to those types only brought me confusion. My pastor didn’t do that. He didn’t lecture me about hole avoidance techniques or give me books to improve my hole. He told me that God would help me escape and he and the church would help me and my children. I am so grateful to have had Christian support during this time.

This blog is here to equip you to get out of the hole and to equip the church to help you. We write because we want to tell you about God’s faithfulness in and out of the hole. We write to relate what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown. We’ve been in this hole before. We know the Way out.

[September 14, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to September 14, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 14, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 14, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 14, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

26 thoughts on “When you fall in a hole”

  1. Perfect allegory! It’s interesting though… I have had some “friends” who have given me those messages, but mostly I’ve been the one who has talked to myself that way! I, too, have been very blessed that our pastor and his wife have been so supportive of my children and I.

    [moderator note: I have changed your user name to protect your identity]

    1. I agree with Heather, Ellie. This was a wonderful post. I am going to keep that story handy. You are blessed to have the pastor and church you have. My pastor told me, we’ve just got to get him saved. THE HOLE GOT DEEPER at that point, but I climbed out and there is no way I’m going back in. Yesterday the elder that teaches the Bible study I am in right now said “God hates divorce” and I thought, oh here we go, but I was wrong. He added, but there is no excuse for abuse, it is not the way God intended marriage to be and divorce is created by sin. Hallelujia!! I felt so good after that class.

  2. Yes, Ellie – I’ve been prayed for, handed the books, and now- “This hole is for your sanctification.”
    For years, I’ve been wrestling with my own thoughts, “If you escape this hole, you’ll only fall into another hole and it’ll be even worse.” I’ve always maintained I trust the Lord for the future but struggle with trusting my own discernment.
    Ellie, it’s great that you had a supportive Christian community. When I attempted to confide with others, I was scolded for speaking badly of the abuser(s) or that if it was that bad, well, then, move out. It was said in a tone that conveyed they just didn’t want to hear about it or offer any help. It was definitely “my problem”. This caused me to withdraw and not trust other professing Christians.

  3. I’m so glad you have good supportive people at your church to help you and your children. That really is wonderful and its nice hearing about the kind people who are still out there. Thank you for listing the “other” responses as well. Many are all too familiar. I’ve also been told that I shouldn’t talk about my marriage problems because they are between husband and wife. I wasnt gossiping, i was asking for help and giving reasons why.

  4. Can somebody climb into the hole I’m in? It’s filled with injustice from a corrupt Family Court judge and ongoing legal and financial abuse from a wicked sociopathic ex. I have prayed every day for four years for God to get me out of this. I’m still in this hole, and some days I wish somebody would just throw dirt over top and be done with it.

    1. I am so sorry! Any words would just seem like empty platitudes. Sometimes it gets sooooo dark for sooooo long. May you be given support, compassion, tangible assistance, and the peace that passes all understanding. Praying that The Lord lift the darkness soon.

    2. Yes, hugs and I know words can be so empty. Praying for you. I was encouraged by Exodus yesterday, in preparation for Passover, That God freed the Israelites at the appointed time. 430 years I think. To me, it was encouraging to know that God sees the end.

    3. Posting this comment for an anonymous reader:
      Psalm 37,
      I am praying and I do get what you are talking about. I had another situation just recently and had to deal with ‘authorities’ for something and ran into a legal advocate and she said ‘get on with your life’. Duh! That is exactly why I had to go into that horrific building and get sent in circles, all because of ex’s evil actions. And yet another judge has caused another delay, which will affect decisions I needed to make now, so I don’t know how to decide anymore. And this has been going on for years.

  5. ” It’s shameful that you put yourself in that hole. We don’t want anything to do with you”
    – I’ve heard that one a lot

  6. I love this, Ellie. I also think there are those who know they have been in the hole, find their way out, and then ignore those who are in the hole now. It would be easy to just live a happy life moving forward and never lift a finger to help another person again. I have seen those. And it grieves me. And I know that is why ACFJ is here — because those behind the scenes do not have the callousness to ignore cries for help. And I know that is why Give Her Wings exists . . . we want to throw a rope, climb in, get our hands dirty — whatever it takes. Thanks for being a hole-jumper. xoxo

    1. MeganC – Thank you for such caring words. Yes, for those who have made it out of the hole, if at all possible, help others … “… we want to throw a rope, climb in, get our hands dirty — whatever it takes.” I have truly sensed the caring hearts of “those behind the scenes”. I want out of this hole so I can help others.

    2. I’d be ready for Give Her Wings to make its way to Mid Michigan at anytime. I’ve spoke about this with my pastor with no response. There is a great need here. I would be willing to help in anyway I am able.

      1. Thank you, Brenda. I am sure that that is possible. (Maybe not through the pastor, though!) xo

      2. Megan, No the pastor is not the way to go, but I think it is best to have the support of someone in the church. I could not do something like this on my own.

  7. Loved this! I prayed for my hole to change for 15+ years, and it only got deeper and more vicious. Thankfully when I finally got the guts to tell someone, one person pointed me to this blog, and another strongly encouraged me to make a safety plan for getting out of the hole if it got any worse (which was reinforced by reading about safety plans in Bancroft’s book). Then I literally felt the hand of God reach in and pull me out.

    1. Praise God for His mercy. It seemed an eternity for you, didn’t it? That God operates outside of space and time can be very discouraging. And yet…. He still works to make ALL things work out for His childrens’ good. For me, it took decades to see. And then, once we see we feel as though we cannot go on another day.

      The two words in Scripture that mean so much to me…”but God…”

      Oh that we would trust Him no matter how long!

    2. Isaiah40-31 > “Then I literally felt the hand of God reach in and pull me out.” Thank you and other contributors to this post for the testimony of God’s faithfulness.
      “But those who wait on the Lord
      Shall renew their strength;
      They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
      They shall run and not be weary,
      They shall walk and not faint.”
      Isaiah 40:31

  8. Oh, this post had me laughing! My poor mom was told all of these things! So true….

    Ellie, I’m so glad you had a pastor who cared. Wish more were like him.

    I gotta say, that the “this is for your sanctification” one always irks me whenever I hear it in a sermon. Why? Because it implies you must be more sinful than everyone else in order to warrant God sending more suffering to “sanctify” you. It’s absolutely not true! People who use that line are a hair’s breadth away from turning into Job’s three friends with their accusations. Why not just convert to Roman Catholicism and be done with it? Then we can all flaggelate our sins away until the marriage improves.

    I also can’t stand the “pray for him to change” line. I prayed for my father since I was a little kid. I cried out to God in desperation. Nothing changed. He still hasn’t changed a bit. (In fact I’d say he’s even crazier in his old age.) It doesn’t all hinge on the victims prayer lives. The abuser has to want to change and repent. And that doesn’t have a hope of happening unless these pastors doling out this bad advice themselves repent and confront these abusers for their sin.

    1. Amen and Amen, Megan. I have prayed for things to change in other people’s lives just as Sarah prayed for a son. If they don’t want it, they are NOT going to change. But I can have a closer walk with my Savior and that is what I am going to do. I can only change me with the help of the Spirit. Completely agree about Job’s 3 friends. I started going to a Women’s Missions night where we really get to know one another in our church. I was told by an older woman that I should not go because it is too dangerous to be out at night in our city. I believe it is more dangerous not to do what I feel the Lord wants me to do or where He wants me to go. Our sanctification comes in doing His will, not in keeping a woman in a hole and not helping her out.

  9. What do you do when he doesn’t think he’s abusive.? He denies he abuses me verbally, or emotionally . His abuse is covert…. Withholding , silent treatment, etc etc etc. …. He blames everything on me… Only God can open his eyes and heart…. 35 yrs… And I am out of the hole almost 9 months…. God is leading and taking care of me..

    1. Freedom – don’t worry about trying to change his mind. Keep focusing on getting well and wise yourself. He knows he is an abuser. But abusers are never wrong!

  10. Brenda R commented:

    I believe it is more dangerous not to do what I feel the Lord wants me to do or where He wants me to go. Our sanctification comes in doing His will, not in keeping a woman in a hole and not helping her out.

    In my head, I word this as aligning my will for my life with His. Not as a cop-out from making decisions or taking responsibility. He knows my heart better than I. And in following His will, I am less likely to fall into another one of those holes.

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