In the last few days I’ve read two crushing stories written by wounded women raised by men who professed faith in Jesus Christ. One of the women was a dear teenage friend and the other the daughter of an acquaintance. Separated by a generation and unknown to each other, the women tell similar stories whose common theme is “my father controlled the family in every single area of life.”
These women share a common vocabulary – abuse, manipulation, domination, guilt, shame, fear, threats, beating, prison, favor, freedom, independence and love. They write of a hidden child and a lost little girl. They describe cover up, their masks, their confusion, and their diminishing connection to reality.
These fathers – the men God used to bring these women to life inside the womb, the men commissioned by God to raise their daughters in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the men to whom God entrusted these former little girls – these fathers consumed these girls on their own lusts well into their early adult lives. All while claiming the name of Jesus.
- They used loud language to control
- They used sarcastic language to control.
- They used mean language to control.
- They used demeaning language to control.
- They used bully tactics against male suitors to control.
- They used the church and God’s Word to control.
- They used brute strength to control.
- They used intimidation toward their wives to control.
- They used money to control.
Of course little girls are not the only victims; boys and teenage sons are too. They usually don’t write stories sharing their pain. Instead, they bury the pain deep in their souls, often turning to any remedy to dull the agony caused by dad. Sometimes, these boys become men who do the very thing to their wives and children that they vowed they would never do.
Control should never be confused or misnamed as leadership. It is an illusion and a lie to defend controlling behavior as something that protectively polices or something that positions others for success. God has called men to lead in their families and relationships, and God condemns every expression of force that serves to buttress a man’s position (1 Peter 5:3).
Men, there is one Lord, and you aren’t him.
The difference between control and leadership could not be clearer. For example, leadership supplies security and positions another for success. Where leadership is about the protection and advancement of others, control is about the protection and advancement of self. Leadership gives away power; control amasses power. Leadership loosens the grip while control tightens it. Leadership fills the room with fresh air; control sucks the oxygen out of the room. Leadership delivers relief; control burdens with shame.
God detests the actions of the men whose stories have now been told by their daughters. I cried for my friend when I read her story and pray for the healing of her soul. The telling of these stories causes me to wonder how many more women are out there like them. Further, I want to help.
If you are a woman who has a husband who is on the edge of destruction, would you contact my wife or me? We want to help you. If you are young woman whose dad has abused you, beat you, manipulated you, or assaulted you, we want to help you. If your siblings are next in line and you are concerned for their wellbeing, we want to help you. What is happening in your home is not normal; it is not ok. Our Lord is on your side. He loves you. Help is available to you. Healing grace can be yours.
If you are a father who has fostered the first chapters of the story your daughter will write, get help now. It is not too late to find forgiveness and God’s grace. Your pride will tell you to hide and cover up. Your pride will tell you you’re not as bad as your daughter or son makes you out to be. Your pride will justify your behaviors, even convincing you that you have the Bible’s authority, God’s authority. You do not. Your pride will destroy everything, and your pride may carry your soul straight to hell. Help is available to you. God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. Our Lord loves you, and he is the only one who can save you and your family before all is lost. Would you reach out to me and allow me to point you to Jesus?
I never again want to read one of these stories. More specifically, I never want to read one of these stories written by a little girl I once knew. May God protect the potential victim, and may God thwart the sinful control of the abuser.
Weeping with those who weep.
As always I welcome your feedback and any ideas you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.