Still here — emerging from a slough of despond
Last year I promised to revise my book Not Under Bondage and publish the revised version in paperback, e-book and audio-book formats. I have made substantial progress but am still some way from publishing the revised version. I apologise for the delay. I got sidetracked and slowed down by Covid (didn’t we all?) and I put too much time last year into sharing Covid-related content on my personal social media accounts.
Another reason the book revision has gone slower than I expected is that I realised I needed to revise the chapter on Malachi. That led to me writing an academic article Malachi 2:16, ancient versions and English translations, and how they apply to domestic abuse. I have had feedback from a few academics about that article; their feedback was helpful but they were not persuaded by my argument that Coverdale’s translation is consistent with the Hebrew text of Malachi 2:16. I will take their feedback into account when I revise the chapter of Malachi for my book.
For several weeks I have been despondent and almost burnt out. I am getting better slowly. I’ve just returned from a short holiday visiting some relatives who live in the country. My brain went to mush while I was there, but at least I stopped feeling so guilty for not doing much in the way of reading or writing for weeks.
My mind is slowly picking up the pieces of the jobs I left hanging in the last several weeks. I am trying not to resume doing all the things I was doing before. I’m trying to only do the things I like doing and the things that will add to my blogs and the revised version of my book.
I have grieved a lot about how other Christian advocates disrespect me and ignore me. I can’t promise that grief is over and done with, but I’m wanting to not dwell in it anymore. I hope I am right in sensing that God has humbled and chastised me as needed and is helping me put the grief aside and get back to writing. It was probably inevitable that I would get the cold shoulder from advocates because of my incisive critiques of some well known advocates.
In my slough of despond, I almost decided to never write again. But when asking myself “What will I do with the rest of my life if I never write anything else?” I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer. I enjoy gardening, but I don’t think I could fill out the rest of my days by devoting myself only to gardening. And the truth is, once I get into a solid writing task, I enjoy writing. So I am going to continue writing, but I will write for me.
When I say I will write for me, I don’t mean I will just publicly diarise my own petty life and my angst. My writing will still set forth my understanding of God’s word and his precepts and how those things are mistaught to the detriment of abuse victims. Therefore, I believe that what I write for myself will still be the kind of thing that will set people free of their abusers. But if it does set people free of abuse, I want to view that as an incidental spin off, not my primary goal. I have to make my primary goal looking after myself, or I will fall into another slough of despond.
From years of observation, I know that my writing effects very little to no change in church leadership and church attitudes. I also believe it effects very little eternally-lasting-change in victims of abuse. Many victims find my writing too academic, too deep, too theological. Many church leaders find my writing unimpressive, not sufficiently academic, and they perceive it as personally insulting because it firmly and doggedly confronts their long-held beliefs. I make little impact anywhere. Too bad. God made me the way I am and I can’t help it. He made me with an incisive logical mind and strong emotions with high empathy. I can’t change myself to better fit the audiences. When I persistently try to change my writing to fit those audiences I want to give up and die. I wept writing that last sentence. The victims that want to feed on memes and milk and have their feelings boosted without doing much work — they don’t like my writing. Most church leaders don’t know about or don’t like my writing enough to endorse it publicly. I am easily wounded by both of those audiences and I don’t recover quickly.
I know for a fact that some people have gained benefit from my writing because it helped them get free of their abusers, but then they’ve gone back into the world to follow their own lusts. I’m not writing for them: they grieve me.
Other people benefit from my work but never publicly recommend my work to others or share links to my work. I am discouraged by my readers & followers who are not at risk of abuse but who are simply lazy or play it safe, who sit on the fence, who don’t stick their head above the parapet to expose falsehood, who don’t point Christians leaders and advocates to my work, who don’t show any public appreciation for my work.
“Pay it forward” has long been one of my principles for living … I’ve done it for everyone else for so long, it’s about time I “paid it forward” to myself for a change. So I will write in my way, for me. If my voice reverberates to nothing down empty corridors, so be it. That’s the way you made me, God.
- Posted in: blog news
- Tagged: Barbara Roberts, Not Under Bondage (book), recovery, suffering
Hi, Barbara. I love your writing. I love your book. It bolstered my conviction to get out of an abusive relationship. I am a much better person because of your writing. I’m still trying to get divorced. When I get done my goal is to work in the domestic abuse community in my town. Helping other victims see the light. And not have rose colored glasses on like I did. For years. And I have children that I am raising to make sure they are not abusers or do not accept abuse. I’ve always admired how vocal you are. I know you’re not walking an easy road. My hat’s off to you.
You, Barbara, your courageous personality and excellent teachings are a good part of my ability to stand tall, today. You have helped me clear paths through confusion so that I can continue to move forward in my daily life. I live in a bouquet of women who all carry an aroma of you, as I share and encourage them. Continue being who you are and living out of your God given passions. So many of us are threads woven of the same tapestry.
In my view, you’re wrong about the impact you have. I’m on the other side of the world and God let me find you through your work. The video you made on The Levite and his Concubine made a powerful impact on my life. The work you have done on Malachi is very important and confirmed what I knew in my soul. You are right. I am an abuse victim and it was God who rescued me. No one else. My husband is too expert a groomer for others to believe what he did to me in private.
Thanks to you I am also currently reading How He Wins. A very powerful book that I’m finding very hard, as its accuracy triggers so much trauma, but it’s important and very helpful for my future.
I look forward to your emails and I thank God for you….God is on your side. He’s making you deliver messages that the world doesn’t want to hear yet.
I wish I could hug you and chat with you in person and maybe one day I will. Until then, you’re in my prayers and you’re a very important guide. Rest and restore your spirit. You’re very important and you’re right about what you’re saying.
[Link to video added by Eds.]
Hi, Auriel, thanks for your kind comment and welcome to the blog since this is your first comment. 🙂
Please do not grow weary in well-doing! If it were not for this website back in 2015, we wouldn’t have realized our daughter was being abused by her ‘dark triad’ husband. We just thought he was a ‘difficult’ person. Because I found you so early in her marriage / abuse journey, we were able to identify her now-ex’s behavior, and encourage her. Boy, did we get an education. I even felt compelled to track down women I’d counseled in the past and beg their forgiveness for my naivety and my harmful counsel — I was so blind, & had no idea that such evil abusive people existed. I have gobbled up your posts, read yours & Jeff’s books, and pointed many others to your site over the past 5.5 years. Keep up the good work, and may the LORD lead you faithfully as you diligently seek Him daily.
For your safety and protection, I have changed the screen name you submitted with your comment to Grateful, as that is the screen name you have used most recently.
I think you are very wrong thinking that your writing and your efforts have not positively affected many of us who have been victims of abusive spouses. Those of us coming out of abuse are crushed and are unable to do much more than keep ourselves alive and possibly minor children. For me it has been 20 years and yet I still struggle with the effects of the abuse. I have complex PTSD and having been a stay at home mom as many of the victims have been, it’s a struggle financially to keep myself going.
Let me state it again. You have been a great resource, encourager and educator. Please do not expect that set-free victims can rise up right away and eat all of the meat that you have to offer in your writings. I believe that most of us just need to hear the correct interpretations of certain Bible verses to give us the permission we need spiritually to leave our abusers. YOU HAVE DONE THAT.
I’m sorry that you have not seen more positive feedback on your writing but please listen to this set-free person in [exact location redacted] USA who says that you are contributing greatly to those who need small bits of information just to be convinced that they are not going against God by leaving.
Continue please to take the time for self-care. That includes writing for you because you love it so much. And yes, gardening. That is one of my passions and it helps me to minister to myself while I’m digging in the dirt. I’m very glad that you took some time off and went to the country.
[For safety and protection, the location was redacted. Editors.]
Beloved sister in Christ, you have made great offerings to the world, and unfortunately you may not be realizing their full impact. I am sorry for the pain in your struggle. I have prayed for you. I believe there are many like me, who have benefitted from your work and your work with Jeff, who are very slowly working their way out from a lifetime of oppression. Because of triggers and real dangers, along with chronic willful unbelief of the world we are immersed in, it is hard to be verbal in a public way. Perhaps we are overdue in taking a chance, trusting God for protection and guidance. Part of me has an urge to get on a plane, travel to the other side of the globe, sit down with you and just be together, kind of how Job’s friends were at first. Maybe there would be conversation, hugs, laughs and tears, but mostly love and care in your presence. Picture all of us coming to be with you, thousands of us expressing our gratitude. We are there in spirit, as we are one body, and one Spirit (Eph 4:4).
I am sorry for your grief in loss, but I think there is benefit. You are now known to me as someone who is willing to consider subjects outside the norm, in the name of aiding the distressed ones among physical and spiritual widows and orphans. I have helps to offer you if you are interested. I am older and have many years of wide and varied experience in the church and the World, and I sense commonality with some of your struggle.
Barbara, oh, I hear your discouragement….but you won’t know this side of Heaven the lives you have saved and the people you have helped. My heart goes out to you…. I wrote a book, and published it, on why I tolerated emotional abuse for so long….”My Path from Doormat to Dignity.” It has only sold 20 copies in 2 years, but if I only helped one person, it was worth it. 🙂
I don’t want to sound like a cliche….but isn’t it the Enemy that tells us our acts of love are worthless???
Welcome to the blog, Jane. 🙂 Yeah, the enemy tells us that our acts of love are worthless.
Thanks, Barbara! I would love to send you a free copy of my book, Doormat to Dignity….if you would like. Just let me know.
Hi, Jane, I’ve emailed you.
Dear Barbara, I came across the Biderman’s chart of coercion and how the same torture tactics are being used against the populations of the world right now. And are likely one reason why you and many of us are ‘cast down’. Please don’t give up studying and writing for our Beautiful Saviour who is coming back soon, it is then that you will see the abundant fruit that you have borne.
Just a thought, maybe you and the blog readers can brainstorm as to how to stand in this trial and endure until His return? I think surviving day-to-day is tremendously hard right now so anything productive and fruit bearing for the kingdom is a bonus.
Much love and blessings.
PS I don’t mind if you don’t publish my comment and don’t want to traumatise people with it or trigger C-PTSD.
[Note from Barb: I removed the link in this comment; I wish to examine the link more closely before deciding to share it here.]
Hi, Rachel, thanks very much for your comment. I appreciate the things you said and I’ll be digging into the link you gave but have chosen not to share the link with readers here, until I have examined the link and that website more closely.
Since this is your first comment at this site, welcome to the blog! 🙂 You may like to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for guarding your safety while commenting at the blog. After reading that page, should you wish to change your screen name from Rachel to something else, just email my assistant email@example.com
Your promise to revise “Not Under Bondage” doesn’t need to have a time frame attached to it, you will keep your promise as you are led and as you are able. What if everything you have learned and are learning is to make your revision better and more complete? Interruptions can be incredibly useful, helpful, and important. It gives the subconscious time to sort things out, it gives the conscious mind time to relax, it gives the body time to recover.
The plague has been terrible for many people, why not for you as well? It is good that you share COVID information on others of your sites, how else will people know?
As you do the Lord’s work, the evil one will use everything at his disposal, every avenue, every person and every idea to sidetrack you from your mission.
I read recently that Dietrich Bonhoeffer said to walk away from a troublemaker after the second warning. This is less than the American baseball’s “three strikes and you’re out” rule, but it is good, sound, Biblical advice found in Titus 3:10-11. We must not waste our time arguing with evil, no matter where we find it, including our own false beliefs in our own minds.
Evil sounds like a harsh term to apply to someone who simply disagrees, but if their disagreement discourages you from your mission, if it sidetracks you from your mission, then there really is no other term that applies. Please do not let other people’s indifference, criticism, or disagreement with you sidetrack your mission. What God has put before you to do, is for you to do, and nobody has a right to tell you otherwise; nobody has a right to try to convince you otherwise.
I am no Bible scholar, but I believe that the only thing satan can really do right now is lie. He uses other people; he uses false Christians, he uses legalistic, controlling Christians, he uses well-meaning but gullible Christians, and he uses ourselves. He is the best liar there ever was and he still is. His lies convince people of all sorts of false beliefs about others, about reality, certainly about God, and about themselves. His best lies are the ones we invent in our own minds, the ones we hear from others and internalize and believe as truth. Some of those lies tell us that we can’t, we are not good enough, we are not smart enough, we are not well-spoken enough, we don’t have the strength or the ability, we are worthless and we are simply not enough. Other lies tell us that we are too smart and nobody will understand, we speak over everyone’s heads and they won’t hear us, our writing is too erudite, we are too confrontational, nobody cares about what we have to say, nobody is terribly concerned with truth these days, nobody agrees, and it is all pointless anyway.
These are all lies, designed to oppress, suppress, wound, persuade, and discourage. We know where lies come from; the one who speaks only that language, the originator of all of them. He was a liar from the beginning, says Jesus. We follow the One True Living God and His Son, Jesus. Those lies and all others have no place in our minds, in our hearts, and in our lives. To paraphrase a line from the Wizard of Oz, ‘pay no attention to that fraud behind the curtain (of lies!).’
And guilt, by the way, is often just another lie that we tend to buy into. What are you guilty of? Being human? Being less than perfect? Being tired? Being discouraged? Jesus alone was human and perfect, and He still got tired and was discouraged. Take heart, we who follow Him are not guilty before God.
You are allowed to grieve, for as long as you need. I think many of us here understand deep grief, Jesus certainly does. I do not know if I will ever be done with grieving, I certainly try and it is less intrusive than it used to be, but it is not gone.
You are also allowed, in fact commanded, to call out evil when you see it. I know that you know more about this than I probably ever will, but sometimes it’s good to have someone agree.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
Just because not everyone can tell the truth clearly, just because many if not most cannot do this online, in a book or on a blog or forum does not mean you shouldn’t. Just because some Christians believe that everyone should get along and “make nice” no matter what they believe does not mean they are right. Just because some or even many disagree with you does not mean that you are wrong, either.
You are absolutely allowed to do what you like! I highly recommend it, nowhere in Scripture is it written that we are not to do this. I used to advise my students to do the same thing when I told them to study something in college that they liked and were good at, because they would likely be doing it for a long time, and not every day would be a good day.
Play to your strengths, you are an excellent writer with an incisive mind, you are a truth teller that can be depended upon to do exactly that – tell the truth you see in Scripture. If more people played to their own strengths and did what they liked for a living or for their mission, there would very likely be a lot more joy in this dark world.
I heard a good sermon a few weeks ago, and I think the point may apply here. Follow God, do what He leads you to do, do it as He would have you do it, and don’t concern yourself with the consequences. When we do what He wants us to do, in the way He would have us do it, all of the consequences are His.
If you do not see much change in church leadership or attitudes, that’s God’s problem, not yours.
Here’s a little story by way of illustration:
When I was 12 and 13 I used to share Bible verses with a boy in my science class. I thought he was my friend, and I wanted him to hear something in God’s Word. Twenty years later the girl he married, a co-worker of mine, told me that he considered me his friend because I shared those Bible verses! I had no idea he heard me, let alone remembered. I just thought I was an annoying girl in science class.
You have no idea what will come of any of your ideas, teachings, and writing in twenty years. It’s not your problem, it’s God’s thread in His plan, in His tapestry of the salvation of all humanity. You have an important part to play that no other can play, and you may never see the final results, but God sees them and He knows what He is doing.
I do not believe that your writing has little effect on abuse victims. Granted, I have a different perspective than yours, but there it is. Your writing is neither too academic, too deep, nor too theological. It requires me to read carefully, and more than once, with my Bible and my computer nearby. It makes me think, it makes me pray for more guidance and for more clear-seeing, and it makes me spend entire weeks trying to learn more. How is that ever a bad thing?
God did indeed make you the way you are. As you continue to follow Him and to do what He has set before you, you become better at being who you are. You should NEVER change yourself just to fit the audience!
You be who you are!
You be who God has called you to be!
There is only one you, and if you won’t do it, if you won’t be you, who will?
That is not your problem, it is theirs!
And it is a huge problem. I know far, far too many infantile Christians that can’t even get out of their own way, let alone help anyone else. I am glad that they are true Christians, but they are useless adults with the emotional, mental, and spiritual maturity of a toddler. I am tired of dealing with them, and I have pulled away because it is a colossal waste of my time. Until and unless they are willing to grow up, God cannot use them for much beyond teaching pre-school Sunday school. (Please don’t misunderstand, teaching pre-school is a fine thing if that is a person’s calling, however it is not a fine thing if that is all a person is fit for because they flat out refuse to mature.)
Also not your problem, although I can certainly see where you might feel that it is, because it is hurtful.
My dear sister, your voice never echoes down empty corridors, it just seems that way to you but it’s not real. We are here, we are just invisible, many on purpose.
Just so you know, I am still with my abuser. Mine is a strange and tragic story – aren’t they all? I would not still be alive if I had not found you in 2014-15. I learned what I was dealing with because of your crying out for justice blog. Until then, I didn’t even understand what abuse was; I had never heard that word. Like other victims of narcissistic abuse, I really thought it was me, my fault, my problem. I had such massive health issues I didn’t think I would live, and I still think I would have died then – all from the effects of abuse. But I am still here in 2021, and healing as best I can.
I have come a long way, some things have healed, some may never heal fully, and I have become a lot wiser thanks to you in particular and your blog in general. My one life may not mean much, but there are consequences that I am now aware of that I will share with you.
Because I lived, my only daughter also lived. For a while she didn’t want to, but we needed each other and supported each other, and if I had died who knows what would have happened to her. Because she is also a genuine Christian, and because she is also a writer (fantasy stories), and because she is on many writing sites, she has access to other people. A woman on one of the many sites reached out to her asking about two things; abuse and Christianity. That woman became a believer this week. Because the first information I read was your writing, your blog, and your book, I was told the truth and recognized it. Your writing gave me hope and started me on my road to recovery, and I lived. Because I lived, my daughter lived. Because she was not abused all her life like I was (my dad) but has an understanding of abuse from me, she was able to reach back when asked. Because she is a Christian, someone else is now a Christian too.
You just never know what the effects or consequences will be. Keep writing, keep truth-telling, keep going in whatever way seems best to you! Only you can be you, so do it well.
Love in Him.
PS ~ sorry this is so long!
Dear Hope, your comment brought me to tears (good tears – tears of joy that the woman has come to salvation).
Please forgive me for taking a little while to publish your comment. I wanted to read it carefully and follow up all the Scripture references you gave before I published it.
You have ministered to me. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to write; I didn’t think your comment was too long.
For your book, I for one would caution against a panoramic survey of the grammatical arguments of the “scholars” and “experts” — especially those who rely on rabbinical sources — in trying to arrive at a proof of, or correct understanding of, a passage. Most of these scholars do not know the Lord. The rabbis assuredly do not — they reject the Lord. None of them have been called to give God’s word to the people. Look for those who are called.
We lay readers of the Bible are like a judge in court, or a juror, who must choose among witnesses who offer conflicting opinions of matters that we ourselves are not experts upon. What does a judge in court do? He chooses the most reliable witness based on character and other signs. He then accepts the evidence of that witness over the others and gets on with his work. I’ve written about that in a blog post here: Witness X: Choosing a Trustworthy Bible [Internet Archive link].
Grammatical “proofs” can never be conclusive, and are subject to manipulation, error, and deceptive arguments. As Martin Luther said, grammar is of course very important, but, at the same time, he would leave the scholars and grammarians to their ambiguities and quarrels. Grammar was not the motivating factor in changes that were made to the Scriptures in the Geneva Bible, but ideology. And you can be sure that the misogyny of the Geneva Bible contributed to their changes to Malachi.
Thank you, Ruth. I appreciate your thoughts, especially this part of what you said:
Ruth Magnusson Davis,
You commented (22ND JANUARY 2021 – 3:17 PM):
I am a high-functioning Asperger individual who thinks in pictures, and, as such, I learn by mimicking.
I experienced extreme abuse that started the day I was born. (Omitting details for my safety and protection.)
I was baptised (and saved) in the hospital at six months old. (Omitting details for my safety and protection.)
I experience Complex-PTSD. (Omitting details for my safety and protection.)
As a result of all ^That, I am a composite of many different individuals. (Omitting details for my safety and protection.)
And all ^THAT has resulted in a lifetime of ongoing abuse. (Omitting details for my safety and protection.)
For me, the subjects of grammar, language(s), spoken-word-accents, etc., etc., etc., (ad nauseum) have some unique complexities.
For one example, my verbal speech (and my verbal speech patterns) can change very quickly.
For another example, my written speech (and my written speech patterns) can change very quickly.
For yet another example, my body language is almost always — in any number of ways, for any number of reasons — (being) misinterpreted.
You would not believe (or maybe you would?) just how often I am misunderstood.
It takes me FAR too long to write what I THINK will be the “simplest” comment.
I plan on returning (as soon as possible, whenever THAT may be) to reading your very excellent blog post Witness X: Choosing a Trustworthy Bible.
Hours ago (literally), I had started reading ^That blog post (Witness X: Choosing a Trustworthy Bible), but kept getting interrupted in my reading….and WordPress keeps changing how it works (or does not work, as the case may be)….and things (pretty much) always take far longer than I expect….VERY!!!!! big sigh….
In my comment of 22ND JANUARY 2021 – 6:37 PM, I commented:
(Strikethrough done by me.)
I have FINALLY finished reading Ruth Magnusson Davis’ blog post Witness X: Choosing a Trustworthy Bible.
If (general) you read through my comment of 22ND JANUARY 2021 – 6:37 PM, (general) you might wonder how I could ever possibly choose a trustworthy Bible to be my Witness X.
The answer is that the Holy Spirit has chosen my Witness X Bible for me.
I currently own Ruth Magnusson Davis’ The October Testament, also known as the New Matthew Bible.
I am (im)patiently waiting for Ruth Magnusson Davis’ translation of the Old Testament to be completed, as I intend to purchase it in paperback.
(For me, some Bibles just need to be physically held in my hands to be read, rather than read on a Kindle).
Ruth Magnusson Davis has written somewhere (maybe her FB pages?) that she thinks it will take ten years for her to publish the Old Testament of the New Matthew Bible.
Hi, Barb and Happy New Year. Amazing that you wrote this post because the Lord has recently been poking me to send you a message. You and Jeff were the reason I discovered the truth about abuse. I will always be incredibly grateful to everyone connected with ACFJ!!! I believe the breakup was a demonic attack because of the impact you were having. I have learned much about abuse and my abusers and feel like a different person now. It is a hard journey but we are not alone. God bless you as you uncover His plan for the future. And thanks again!!!!
Barb, although I’m not as active as I once was at ACFJ, I still receive emails and read new posts. I found ACFJ soon after I left my abusive marriage. I was highly persecuted by my ex for leaving. I was a confused mess. He had me convinced I was going to hell. But, God led me to ACFJ and a few other resources to get my mind right, so to speak. I purchased your book and read it cover to cover. I can’t say I understood it completely at the time, but it gave me much hope that my life could go on and that I might even be able to remarry one day without guilt. My ex-husband repeatedly told me I would be an adulteress in my future, and even still says that to my children, even though I have not remarried. He, himself, has remarried. But, of course, that label only applies to me, not him.
All this to say, you have absolutely made an impact in the world. Please don’t doubt that. I am occasionally inspired to write and I have a Facebook blog that I use for that. There are about 100 people who have liked my page, so I don’t have a huge following. Many times when I write, I will only receive a few likes or comments. So, I understand the feeling of not making the impact you would hope to make. I will continue to write whenever I am inspired anyway just for me because I enjoy it and because I want to share with others whatever the Lord is teaching me. I will leave it up to Him who He leads to my musings. If that number is 1, 10, or 100, it doesn’t matter because it’s not on me to self-promote. The Lord will draw the butterflies to the flower, I suppose.
But, as for you, yes, you are making an impact. I have been divorced over 6 years and your blogging was completely life-saving and instrumental at the point of my initial exit and maybe even into the following 2 to 3 years after. Don’t doubt what you are doing. Keep going!
I’m glad to hear you have forward motion, and that you have found some clarity.
Dear Barbara, thank you for sharing your journey, the ups and downs, the griefs and sorrows. You have encouraged me, your persistence is amazing, in the midst of the turmoils, coming from both internal and external sources. God bless….
Hi, Sojourn, I’m glad you’ve found out how to comment at this blog. I changed your screen name to Sojourn as your comment was submitted under a different screen name, and I know you prefer to use the name Sojourn at this blog. 🙂
Hi, Barbara. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been having a difficult time. Would some feedback be helpful?
“Hope isn’t found in our situations changing….it is found in our situations changing US.”
[Paragraph break added to make the quoted phrase standout. Editors.]