“Reconciliation” With an Abuser is the Twilight Zone

We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:12)

There are two brief times every 24 hours when darkness and light attempt to co-exist. Dawn and twilight. (Hey, pretty good book title: The Dawn of Twilight. No idea what that means, but it’s good, right?). Anyway, at dawn and at twilight, light and darkness mix it up. Just for a bit. The sun rises, the night recedes. The sun sets and night comes. One shows up, the other must go.

Day and night. We even use that phrase to describe two things that are radically different: “Man, those two are as different as day and night.” The Bible uses these images, light and darkness, to underscore the complete incompatibility of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world (headed up by Satan). Kingdom of Light. Kingdom of Darkness. Righteousness. Unrighteousness. You can’t mix the two. In their very essence, light and darkness are as different as. . .well. . .night and day.

Twilight and dawn are nature’s announcement to us that light and darkness cannot be reconciled. When the one comes, the other must go. Light is light — it is some-thing. Darkness is. . .is. . .darkness is no-thing. It is the absence of light, not a thing in itself. Light and darkness cannot co-exist. And so it is with the kingdom of our Lord and the kingdom of darkness.

Which brings us round to our main point. You cannot reconcile darkness and light. Jesus did NOT (notice this now very carefully), Jesus did NOT reconcile evil and goodness, righteousness and unrighteousness, at the cross. The cross is not God saying to all of us, “Come on you guys, look how much I love you all. Can’t we all just shake hands and co-exist?” This apparently, as bizarre as that sounds, is what many people apparently believe who profess to teach us what the Bible says.  No. At the cross, THIS is what happened:

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:8-9)

At the cross Jesus destroyed the works of the devil. He did not effect some divine reconciliation plan wherein the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light could reconcile into some eternal twilight zone. No. The light comes, the darkness must go.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

You cannot reconcile darkness and light. Darkness must become light. That is one of the most incredible truths of the gospel:

for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
(Ephesians 5:8)

Which brings us to our application of all this to abusers and abuse victims. Ready? You can never reconcile with an abuser. You can never effect reconciliation with an abuser. Give it countless hours and even years of effort, of counseling, of trying this and trying that. . .the thing cannot be done. Because he is darkness. You may as well try to get Cain and Abel to be best bud’s. Not gonna work. Cain murdered his brother simply because Abel was righteous and Cain was not. Darkness hates light, and that hatred is intensified when an abuse victim is a Christian. The light of Christ is particularly repugnant to the darkness of the abuser.

What, therefore, do these facts say about the efforts of churches and pastors and counselors to “save the marriage”?


UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

28 thoughts on ““Reconciliation” With an Abuser is the Twilight Zone”

  1. Well, I tried to reconcile with my ex-husband because I truly believed he wanted us to work out. I believe what he really wanted was to get one last hurt in before turning the divorce around onto me. Of course, he had to make a grand exit by saying I was the one who abused him! In my situation, no, reconciliation would not have worked, not because it wasn’t my desire for it to work out, but because ex denies anything happened, whether in a very few short months he has repented (by repented), I mean, has truly sought the Lord with his whole heart and repented, I have no idea but it is my prayer that some day he will. one week into my divorce and its been tough but I’m doing much better then I thought i would, with the Lords help, encouragement and promises that I stand on!
    Thank you for this analogy, Pastor Jeff!

  2. Thank you, Jeff!!! For twenty years I was so distraught watching my beautiful daughter suffer at the hands of a self proclaimed “righteous man”. No one understood my angst as I stood by helplessly watching my daughter and grandchildren being abused – my one grandson pleading with me to not make him go home but to let him stay with me saying as a 9 year old boy “please gramma this is the only place I have any peace!” It tore me up.
    Oh I thought about calling authorities – but had worked as an RN , knew the outcome of a phone call to authorities. He was such a liar and manipulator that I knew he would come out smelling like a rose and that I would have no access to my grandchildren.
    Physical abuse could not be proved. My daughter and I would meet together and pray and pray. My other children could not understand why I was so distraught. They would say, “Mom let them live their lives.” I brought my daughter secretly several times to the local domestic violence center for education, classes, etc. he actually had her computer monitored and would print out her instant message conversations she had with me or anyone, print them up and throw them at her. I was begging her to get help. He knew everything we said.
    I read your book “a cry for justice” and he did most of the things you listed in the book. And some of those scriptures that you used would come to me in prayer. But I would wonder if I was being judgmental. I would buy things or pay medical deductibles so that he would “allow” my daughter to bring the children to the doctors. I would buy the medications. Evil – dark We would pray for his salvation. But now she is away from him for the last two years and what a Father He has been to my daughter and her children. They are all in counseling and our prayers were not in vain because the Hand of God is on them and he brought deliverance from that very dark world they lived in. Light and darkness don’t mix and I realize that when we see someone doing those terrible things we don’t have to say ” judge not that you be not judged ” and scratch our heads as to why this so called Christian man Ia “struggling”, but rather to proclaim a moratorium on this evil and stand with everything that is in us Against the works of darkness. The hard part is when the abused choose to stay – sometimes they r in so much bondage. Could you address that at some point?!! She proclaimed love for him right to the end and even now. Could you address this at some point? Why women put up with it and how we can help them? How does this darkness affect them so that they actually think it is light.????
    I had decided she would never leave and was at the point of saying I have to accept this and let go be I couldn’t take the angst of watching anymore but she finally left. I’m so thankful. This is a darkness can be felt – it stinks and it touches so many lives. Like you said – Christians encouraged her to stay. Sigh. Forgive us Lord and wake us up.

    1. The church is xo blind! My daughters have turned on me when I left their anusive Dad. He’s such a liar!

  3. “The Dawn of Twilight” would make a good book title! The Twilight Zone is such a good term with regard to our relationship with abusers. Your comments, so simply put but yet so powerful. I never liked darkness. I just want to go to sleep when darkness falls to look forward for a better tomorrow. Light gives me hope and energy. It must have something to do with the expression “living in the light?” That’s where I would like to be.

  4. I fled my home with my four young children after over 11 years in an abusive marriage. All I heard from people at church was “I’m praying for reconciliation.” I hated hearing it. I would think, why would you pray for me and my kids to be back with the very person who has tormented and abused us. It seemed so cruel that they were saying that to me. I had just escaped, and now everyone was saying we’re praying you go back. Hurts very very bad.

    1. Wow that is so powerful. Makes me realize how much our “traditions of men” have usurped the gospel in our local churches. How cruel. Thank you for sharing.

  5. This is what drove me crazy. They tried to reconcile light with darkness. In the end they called light darkness and darkness light because light was unwilling to reconcile with darkness and was therefore “unforgiving.” They condemned the light and had hope for the darkness.

    Rule #1: Darkness is not your friend.

    Rule #2: See Rule #1.

  6. My abuser has been making a lot of changes in the past year since we have been separated. I am keeping a close watch on the “list” of behaviors that show he HAS or has NOT changed. (No, I did not share it with him, he’s on his own so hopefully these are coming from his heart.) Mine has never traipsed into the depravity of some of the stories I have read over the past 2 years but has a control and entitlement mentality that I put up with becuase Isn’t that “what a good, Christian woman” does? No, a good Christian woman speaks truth and puts space between a toxic person and herself and her children. I did not do this for decades becasue I jsut didint understand what I was dealing with. I am just now beginning to soften my heart a bit to even contemplate that he may actually “get it” but I ask for your prayers. The false guilt, the confusion, all of that is gone and I am trying to be WISE but if he is truly repentent and his false ideas about men’s and women’s roles change, then he is no longer “dark” but choosing to be “light” and at that point, I can consider reconciling. My heart goes out to those whose spouses will not see the light. That is not her problem. That is HIS. She needs to be SAFE. That simple truth is what finally gave me the courage to separate. I never would have even gotten this far in my understanding or brave enough to separate without this website. THank you seems so inadequate.

    1. How long has it been that your husband has been making changes? I am wondering about all of this too for myself. How do you know the changes are real and are based on changed BELIEFS not just ‘giving in’ and saying what I want to hear…..

  7. In all my biblical and psychologican education I was never told the truth; that some people love the dark even when they’ve been shown the light and the benefits of living in the light. I was told that everyone was the same–wanted love and that all were able to love in return. How dangerous this lie was to my life and the lives of those of us with a conscience.

    My husband always knew all the “low” places in every town we lived. I thought this was odd and figured he was trying to keep the family safe so we would stay away from there. How wrong I was. He LOVED the dirty places and would drive by them frequently, talking about how nasty they were and how some guy he worked with had told him about it. I now know that he himself frequented these places. He loved knowing I was home with the kids, clean and naive to the decadence he was participating in. It was a way to degrade me and Jesus who lives inside me. He HATES everyone and all good but he has learned to use these things to his advantage . Sadly, with all the wrong teaching we’ve all had, we make it easy for these brutal people to continue in their evil.

    John 3:19, “And this is the test by which men are judged–the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than they loved the Light, because their deeds were wicked.” Their souls DELIGHT in their abominations (Isaiah 66:3).

    Acceptance of evil. Can we accept this? That some people choose evil and hate good and that God allows them, like us, to make this choice? It took decades for me to understand this truth because I was raised to keep trying to save everyone and to never give up. God’s word has shown me the truth as well as what he’s done I my life. Jude 1:4, 2 Pet 2:12, Romans 1:31 and others. Once I finally accepted my husband and others like him for what they were and stopped trying to help them, everything chaged. (Remember, they are antichrist-like so they must be against others.) It took the wind out of their sails. I know that they can never love others, that they desire dark secret things and that they would choose this over anything else. They love noteriery, negative or positive, endless debating that keeps people confused and unable to see truth, and attention . And I also know myself now too. Darkness destroys me. Secrets and trying to maintain a facade (which is all these people have) depletes me and separates me from God. I am nothing like them as God tells us in his word, 2 Cor. 6:14, “what fellowship has light with darkness?” The answer? There is no fellowship, only anamosity. Thank you for this topic Jeff, another blessing for us to encourage us in our healing.

  8. I think it’s also interesting that this concept of Light and Darkness being held apart began from the very start. Genesis 1:3-4: “Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.”

    Notice that God saw the light and called it good! He had no such pronouncement for the darkness.

  9. Jeff I am so torn.. on the one hand you so aptly describe my state right now.. I am caught in the twilight zone.. but I struggle with the kinds of issues Debby has brought up.. wisdom to discern true repentance.. I have read the checklist for repentance and that is helpful and talked with my counselor but how do you reconcile ACFJs stance on the side bar under Can abusers change? ie

    to say that abusers cannot change removes responsibility for sin. They can change, but the vast majority choose not to, which is what the experts state. When God punishes them, their punishment is just. Abusers have options for treatment and are accountable.

    how do you reconcile that with:

    You can never reconcile with an abuser. You can never effect reconciliation with an abuser. Give it countless hours and even years of effort, of counseling, of trying this and trying that. . .the thing cannot be done. Because he is darkness.

    where do we make room for God to be God and bring someone out of darkness into his light..eg apostle Paul’s conversion ?

    1. Saved by Grace- I think if you read our list of non-negotiables here at ACFJ your questions will be largely answered. Abusers don’t change because they don’t want to repent. The Apostle Paul while Saul sincerely desired to serve God, but he did so “ignorantly in unbelief” as he told Timothy. When Christ revealed Himself to Paul, he repented. Abusers who use Christianity as a facade are more like Esau of Hebrews 6. They have heard the gospel repeatedly and despised it. Waiting for an abuser to miraculously “get saved” is a recipe for a long, long wait and much further suffering. May the Lord direct you and give you wisdom.

  10. Saved by Grace, I can empathize with you. My abuser “repented” and even led a ministry for 5 years before he ran back to Egypt and broke my heart for the 50 millionth time. I was told what to do rather than believed for what I felt. YOU are the GOD-GIVEN helpmeet with that sixth sense of how your husband is truly behaving and of how his heart is operating. ONE flesh is one flesh. you are one body. If he is sinning YOU will feel it. Believe that. My hopes for my marriage had me running to and believing everyone EXCEPT myself – because I knew and because I didn’t want to believe and face what DEEP DOWN I already knew. I felt as if “facing reality” meant I was not trusting God; not having faith; not being forgiving, not leaving room for God. But not facing reality delayed the inevitable. God need me to trust HIM more than husband and to let husband go. Let the unbeliever depart even if it meant helping him out the door a little. He appreciated me giving him an out. I was the scapegoat now and he was set free.
    God knows the truth.
    He knows your heart.
    If you alone sat down with God and had a frank discussion about it, would God believe you? If so, then who cares what anyone else thinks.

    1. I would love to hear more about your story. I am in the middle of watching and waiting and praying….

      1. Clarity, sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I hope you are frequenting this site a lot. You are exactly where I was a year ago. After 28 years of emotional abuse and numerous counseling, pleading, confusion, pain, numerous 1-7 day “walk-outs” to try and get his attention that my hurts were REAL (which he easily countered with his tactics from the list), ignorant church friends, etc. I have separated for almost a year now. It was hell at first as he tried to use all his highest level anger, coercion etc, but I stuck to my guns and refused to reconcile. Since then, my husband has made some significant changes over the past few months, but not before he did almost every false step on the “How to tell if your abuser is really changing list” (listed on this website) I was able to clearly see his manipulative attempts to “get me back” and did not fall for them. Its almost like you have to become a stone, so good are they at the manipulative tactics that have worked for them for so long. (and since I am NOT a stone but a real live human, it is not healthy to live with a person who you have to BE a stone with) I am attaching a list of the actions I have taken that have helped me over this past year:
        1) I separated myself from the abuse, which HAD to come first to give me space and time to heal and learn) I gave NO timeline or ending date! Any time h asked (which is a clear sign he has NOT changed) I would say, “I have no idea how long. I dont have a date in mind. I need to heal. You need to get help. I have no idea how long that may take.”

        2) I educated myself (of which hurtbylove.com and ACFJ were a HUGE help!) I just could not read enough. I was on a mission, so tired of being confused and tossed in the sea of “other people’s opinions” when they had no clue what it was like or what to do about it.

        3) I posted on my walls and read many times a day, scripture that told me how GOD sees me and every time I had any doubts, I would ask myself “I love MY daughter, would I ever condone or expect or encourage her to accept these behaviors from HER husband?” so I could remember how GOD feels about me (abuse targets often believe they are not as worthy as others but that is a LIE)

        4) I adopted the idea “I’m not going to do ANYTHING I don’t FEEL like doing (at this point I truly did not care if my husband left me. I wasn’t looking for him to leave or stick with the marriage. I wasn’t looking to him at all, for anything. And just as important, I wasnt looking for ANYONE ELSE TO AGREE WITH ME! I knew God would use this time to heal ME (not necessarily my marriage as most church people think is the ULTIMATE goal. I realized that if I get healed (which I have control of) and my h gets healed (which is completely OUTSIDE of MY control so I stopped trying to do that by “speaking reason” to him), wouldnt that be the best and ONLY way for our marriage to be healed?) and that’s what I needed, time to heal which in my opinion can only happen if you REMOVE yourself from the abuse.

        5) I adopted the idea that “He has abused me for 28 years. I owe it to MYSELF the time to heal”

        6) I adopted the idea that “I owe you NOTHING. You have stolen or broken my love, my caring, my gentleness, my youth, my heart, my children’s hearts, my health, my individuality.. I owe you NOTHING because you already got it all. I am now getting it BACK and you WILL give me all the time I need because you have no choice. If you don’t like it, then leave.”

        7) I stopped trying to “save my marriage” and totally concentrated on my own healing. I literally consider myself NOT MARRIED, as it had all been such a twisted version of God’s definition. I wore my ring and wasn’t “looking” for anyone, (although I’m not saying a person CANT get divorced and do that, but for me, I knew I needed to heal and the last thing I needed was another person with his OWN issues, complicating things, so I was in no hurry to do that), I just did not give him any of the privileges of marriage. He was not able to “give advice” “tell me what to do” “give his opinion” “ask any questions that did not directly relate to something he was responsible for, and of course, no “chatting, sharing, complaining about tough things were at work, intimacy” none of that. If he didn’t like it, he could leave.

        8) I stopped doing what everyone else said I should “just” do (See list at hurtbylove.com, things like “pray him through it,” “love him unconditionally,” etc as if a lack of those things were CAUSING him to abuse me, which is a LIE) as I had followed that advice for 28 years, without any progress.

        9) I stopped attending church where everyone knew me and right now, I really just go to another for the worship and the message, not to be ministered to by people. I save my “I need to share my pain and experience and get advice and prayer” with Cindy Burrell at hurtbylove.com (I also recommend her phone consult. One hour with her is worth 20 years of ignorant counselors who don’t have any clue about abuse), josephjpote.com and ACFJ and a couple of other websites that have been a lifeline.

        10) I stopped telling my h what he could do to “get help.” I just tell him that he is responsible for his own healing as I am responsible for mine. I figured it out by searching and doing the necessary steps. He is a grown man. He can do the same.

        11) I came to clearly understand the difference between forgiveness (which does take time, you have to go through the pain and anger and really FEEL it, after being told for years that somehow ANGER is wrong, most abuse targets stuff it, but it has to be felt to be gotten rid of and wow, it hurt a LOT. Sometimes I felt like my insides were literally being torn out in my grief and anger, but it was worth it. A peace will take its place eventually) and reconciliation. You are under NO obligation to reconcile to be considered a “forgiving person.” Anyone who tells you that is incorrect. They are 2 different things totally.

        If your husband is serious, none of these actions on your part will deter him. He should be concentrating SOLELY on getting help for why he even has these awful behaviors. Don’t settle for anything less (than his complete and radical change of heart) and don’t look or wait for anything more (than what he is now). You owe him NOTHING. If you have ANY doubts that he is displaying complete, sincere, heart-changed repentance, then he has not. There will be NO doubt when it is real. If your h is truly heart-changed, he will understand the severe damage he has done and will be willing to continue doing whatever he can, without pressuring you in any way, to communicate his deep remorse. Again, you are under no obligation to wait for that to happen or to respond in any way to his attempts! Each of us has to look at our own individual spouse and situation and make our own decision about what to do. I think God has given us a heart of discernment in this area but we too often listen to what others TELL us (needing their approval) and disregard what our own hearts are clearly showing us.

        There IS hope, which I always took to mean, “my marriage would be renewed.” NOW I know there is hope because WHATEVER happens, God loves me and wants the best for me and that best is NOT abuse, but love. My HOPE is that “all things work together for good” and only God, not ignorant people who know nothing of the pain and agony of abuse, can tell me what the “good” is for my future.

  11. What a powerful message, it is truly liberating to understand that we do not have to be reconciled to those practicing evil towards us, The sin of abuse is minimized in our current religious culture and anyone calling it evil is considered the sinner for being “judgmental”. God forbid we call a behavior, evil, wicked, bad, depraved naming it exactly what it is because its politically incorrect to do so.
    In fact, Jesus exhorted his followers to not cast pearls before pigs. One such pearl might be the precious good will and desire to be at peace with all men. Jesus did not shy away from using the words pigs and dogs describing those unworthy of the pearls.

    Matthew 7:6 Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.’

    I got free of domestic violence but I never learned that those family members that continued for decades to heap on emotional abuse did not deserve my good will and attempts at reconciliation. That “Christian” effort to be at peace with everyone and make everything good by personal and continuous sacrifice was only fodder for further exploitation. I’m getting stronger with what I read here. Last month after 5 decades of emotional abuse from a family member I said “enough” and cut them off. The realization that they will only cause me havoc and pain until the day I died was a moment of clarity and I am grateful.

    1. Me too, Prodigal Daughter. After 52 years of verbal/emotional abuse, my father is no longer welcome in my home. After 2 years of him asking and me refusing, he finally accepted it. Now he calls and we have nice chats about 4-5 times a year. He is nicer to my sisters, too. I have made it abundantly clear that I will not see him ever again, there can be no face-to-face reconciliation. It took my entire life to accomplish this, and my marriage to an abusive man is likely the result of my lifelong abuse.

      I love Matthew 7:6! I quote it to myself and my daughter periodically because it has helped me so much. Abusive people are toxic, and toxic people are, well, poison. Nobody needs to drink poison!

  12. I’ve been afraid that I wouldn’t recognize when my husband had turned to the Lord and gave up his abusive ways. I was afraid I’d be so resentful and bitter than I’d miss that opportunity to have the life I wished for. So I have prayed to the Lord to let me see it if and when it happens. And I prayed that I could let go of any hurt and accept the new him.

    So far I don’t have anything to worry about.

    Today a little while ago he told me we had to drive back 6 hours to retrieve something we’d left behind yesterday that he’d bought. I suggested a store near us might have it. And he said no, they didn’t. And he said we had to go right now because he wanted to be back before he had to leave for work. He said I could do most of the driving since he needed to sleep before going to work. Well, I got online and discovered a store 30 minutes away (in the next town over) had it in stock. I told him so and he wasn’t happy. He was mad and accused me of not wanting to help him. Oh, and I got accused of being childish and lazy. (details disguised)

    What kind of man would want his wife to spend all that time driving when he could hop in the car and go get it himself in a short period of time?

    The funny thing is today was Father’s Day and normally it’s a bit of a stressful day because he puts on an act of “no one really cares about him”. The “poor me” act I call it. But he really seemed to enjoy the cake and presents today and even laughed at the funny card the kids gave him.

    So silly me I’m thinking he’s capable of being normal and maybe I could live with him forever.

    You know sometimes I think the Lord allows these moments to occur so I won’t be fooled. The Lord knows I have good intentions and desire to follow him.

  13. I happened to be on FB yesterday and saw a post from a “prodigal son” young preacher that I follow. Boy, is he right on when it comes to how women should be treated and NOT treated by men. I just emailed Barbara and asked her to add one of his quotes to the new INSIGHTS tab, it is the one that quite literally saved my life and thrust me out of the fog of my h who is a Covert Narcissist.
    Anyway, the main message he had posted was about being careful not to go back to an abuser. I felt compelled to give the reader’s digest version of having gone back after a five year separation. I was told that a lot of things had changed after intense, frequent counseling by my N h, and after a few months in, realizing I had been lied to, once again. I went on to say that I did not have an alternate plan, which I should have had and that one should in that situation. True colors always come out, but God is always faithful and has your back – footprints in the sand……….He carried me through!
    At last count there had been 168 women who liked and or commented on it. I was shocked and saddened by the number of responses! So many hurting women could relate, some just said Amen! Others said they were needing to hear that right now as they were in that position, trying to make a good decision, unfortunately, as we all know, still in the fog of abuse. Some had already gotten out and were encouraging the others. My heart broke and is still breaking, what has happened to the men of this world, and worse, men who call themselves Christ followers? We need this post and information to go viral! Expose these evil men in sheep’s clothing and begin to save women & children from their clutches.
    One woman said, “You cannot FIX abuse; you can only take it or LEAVE IT!” Now, that deserves an AMEN!

  14. This applies not only to marriages but “friendships” and abusive situations at work. I recently quit a job because because the abuse and stress were beyond endurance. This backs up that I was right (because the thoughts creep in that it wasn’t that bad, you were imagining it, you could have fixed it – and that’s not true!).
    So thank you.

    1. Yes it does apply in other settings and relationships. Some workplaces are just plain evil. And some if not many “churches” are pure darkness. Over the years as a pastor I have had to separate from wicked people parading as eminent Christians many times.

    2. You are so right. I had to let go of 2 friends a few years back that I thought were friends, but who, as it turned out, were abusive. I did not have that term in my vocabulary, but I knew that the inner turmoil and chaos caused by these verbally abusive “Christian” friends was somehow wrong. I termed them “toxic.” One was a pastor’s daughter and a pastor’s wife! Abuse masquerades and parades itself wherever it can find a foothold, it seems.

      For comparison, I use my best friends who all believe me about my abusive non-husband. That’s 4 for me, and I feel truly blessed by them. What a difference between a good relationship and an abusive one, I owe them a debt of gratitude I cannot repay. They show me what a true friend really is, and what love from another person really is, and they even give it voice. It is nothing like an abusive “friend” or relationship.
      I prayed for a friend that would believe me, I got 4. God is good.

  15. To the point of this post, that’s what astonished me last week when the pastor and members of the congregation (the very few who acknowledged my presence) said I was welcome to return to church anytime – where my now ex-husband is. (Our child was attending an evening summer camp there all week, so I took her most of the week.)

    I had to wonder, “Can light fellowship with dark?” Could I sit and worship alongside my evil ex-? No, I could not.

    One person asked if I was attending anywhere else. I said that a few individuals from another church has been gracious enough to contact me after our husband deserted us, seeing if I needed anything, and that I was moved by that. (The person who asked had never called.) He just smiled and said, “Well, you’re always welcome here too.”

    The pastor also talked briefly with me. When I told our pastor that people I don’t even know on-line had offered me assistance after my ex- abandoned us physically and financially (hoping the obvious would hit him – that no one from my former local church did the same), he just smiled and said, “Praise the Lord!” The pastor and I had more words, but suffice to say, we parted with great differences. Not in hostility, but no love lost either. (In fact, I told the pastor that I had emailed him months ago with a lie that my ex-husband told that involved the pastor, to which the pastor never responded. Instead of acknowledging the fact of the lie, the pastor diverted our conversation to say, “Oh, I don’t spend much time on email. If you had called me, that would be different.”)

    I’m growing less and less disappointed with such reactions, but really wish the church – if that’s what they are – would wise up. Blind fools, I think. In fact, my pastor and I were speaking as I was at my car, and my child was sitting in the front passenger seat, overhearing a bit. When I got in the driver’s seat, my child observed (about the pastor), “He’s a lot like dad, isn’t he?”

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