After separating from my abuser, the Book of Proverbs became my foundation of truth; something concrete I could fight the lies of my abuser with.
Seven years after I separated from my abuser, I had a nervous breakdown. The kind of nervous breakdown that brought me to my knees realizing that the way I was processing my abuse wasn’t working very well.
I started counseling again (after a 4-year break) and almost immediately the counselor voiced concern that I was still communicating with my abuser. We talked about the anxious feelings I had when his name showed up on my phone, how the obscenities blasted my way if I didn’t answer the phone by the second ring, and how aggravated I was that at any moment, on any day, he could disrupt my world.
Boundaries: Reducing Anxiety from Abusive Relationship
My counselor’s response was so nonchalant: she told me to just ignore the calls; get a new phone number; block him. I looked at her in shock. In what world did she think I could do this? I had never said no to my abuser in over 20 years! The thought of establishing boundaries with him, even seven years out, seemed overwhelming and confusing. My counselor suggested I read When to Say Yes, How to Say No, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
This book, which provides a precise explanation on boundaries and how to establish them, delivered revolutionary truth to me
“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options. Boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out.”
And the Book of Proverbs provided me with the strength to realize that God wants me to establish these boundaries and He wants me to lean on Him for guidance and support.
Mind you, I am by no means advocating doing anything unsafe here; we all have to make our own decisions on when we are able to put up boundaries with our abusers and those in our worlds that trigger us.
Yet, even though I was unable to control my abuser’s actions, setting boundaries was for me about establishing self-control over my actions, and most importantly, my reactions towards others’ words and actions.
Below are some key verses on why boundaries are important highlighted in my Bible:
Clearly, I realize that saying I am going to establish boundaries and actually establishing boundaries are two totally separate things; but empowering these verses destroyed the lies from my abuser telling me there is no way I can ignore him. Over time, I was able to embrace God’s words saying it was okay for me to distance myself from my abuser.
In the previous weeks in this series, we've been building up our ability to hear God's plan in our life, but sometimes it means tuning out of other people's plans for us.
In my case, this revolved around removing the voice of my abuser from the equation, but that's not the only possible source of conflict. Whether it's an overbearing friend who means well but is just too bossy, a parent who can't separate what they want for you from your own desires, or any other similar scenario, the people in our life often cross important boundaries if we're not carefully setting them.
While my abuser's intentions were sinister, often the intention of these external parties is good. And setting boundaries can come in many forms, whether it's saying no to an occasional commitment or something as bold and forthright as removing someone's access to your life.
Setting boundaries and determining what level of control you need over your life can be daunting, which is where God comes in. The foundation of all of these lessons from Proverbs is that God has a plan for your life, and where there are gaps in our understanding, we must lean on His word.
This week, as personal commitments and demands pop up in your life, reflect on whether or not those commitments are in line with God's will for you first, and whether they are good, healthy, and wise for you to take on. Do they align with your own desires?
Here's a short prayer for this week's focus. I invite you to say it every morning and know that you’re saying it along with a group of people who earnestly want to grow closer to God.
Father God, thank you for the blessing you have poured over my life, and thank you for constantly revealing your wisdom to me as I face decisions this week. Lord, please show me how to get closer to You and Your plan for my life as I consider new commitments and possibilities. You have blessed me with the ability to make my own choices and decisions, and to honor that gift, I promise to carefully exercise my free will over the circumstances in my life. Any circumstance that is too great for me to take on, I will lay at Your feet, for You are with me. In Jesus' name, Amen.
This week, I'll be praying for God to lend you His wisdom so that we can take on new challenges and fulfill his plan for our lives.
Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.