22 February 2010

Ladies, Your Freedom is All in Your Mind

from Catholic Online

One of the women Tiger Woods had an affair with has retained an attorney.  I watched this attorney on TV last night explaining profusely why this poor woman was so victimized by Tiger, how much damage he did to her life and her career, and why Tiger must own up to his wrongful treatment of her and offer a very humble apology.  Only then can talk of monetary damages proceed.

It was the victim routine again.  “The Victim” should be a Broadway production by now.  Everyone is a victim nowadays, but I find it especially irksome when women play the victim-card for themselves or each other, as the liberal feminist attorney did for her client.  It's always the big, bad man being mean to the poor little woman.  And then she cries, “How could you treat me this way?”  I'll tell you how – you let him.

Ladies, I'm going to do you one better than your liberal feminists sisters will do and tell you that freedom isn't free.  It costs something and requires conscious effort to protect.  And the responsibility is yours.  Stop blaming men for treating you badly and kick up some dust on your way out.

Here's the thing:  the empowerment you seek, the freedom you crave – it's all in your mind – literally.  It's in the decisions you make, the choices you purposely choose and the exercise of your will.  It is forfeited in the careless choices you make and the bad decisions you won't turn from.  It is lost in the mistakes you refuse to learn from and correct.  It is restored when you decide to stop playing the victim and become the woman of integrity God made you to be.

It's all up to you.  It always has been.  Are there men who treat women terribly?  Absolutely, and I'm not releasing those men from their guilt.  But why is it that here in Land of the Free there are so many women – bright, educated, accomplished women – who allow it?  They would rather cry victim, suffer terribly and unnecessarily at the hands of a complete jerk than use their heads, make a truly empowered decision and walk away.  Somehow it's better to seek revenge in a courtroom after the fact than to use the power of their minds and stay out of trouble in the first place.

It really is all in your mind and your will.  It isn't easy, but so what?  Isn't your life, your freedom, your prosperity, your health, your body, your heart worth some hard choices?  Who's calling the shots anyway?  You are.

I learned that lesson the hard way.  Before I met my husband, I dated a man who was very charming and extravagant.  Gary was quite successful at his job and had a fancy car and loved to dine at restaurants all the time.  He brought me flowers unexpectedly, and would shower me with love notes and surprises.  He was very romantic and I found it all quite irresistible.  He was also a very troubled man, having grown up in a profoundly abusive home.  Under the surface, he seethed with rage, and when it bubbled up, it was frightening.  He would become verbally abusive, demeaning, cruel, and he would lose all control of his temper.  He did not physically strike me, but he would delight in beating me emotionally.

Those scary scenes were always followed by great remorse and affection, and thus our relationship went on like this for nearly two years.  He shared with me the horrific stories of the abuse he endured as a child, and my heart broke with compassion and love for this wounded man.  We'd pray together for healing, and even went together to seek counseling for his rage.  I thought that because I loved him, I could and should help him get well.  I saw all his good qualities – there were many – and thought how unfair it was that this man was basically ruined by his cruel parents.

Someone needed to stand by him, and it was going to be me.  Yet, my own heart was never comfortable with the thought of spending my life with him, and fear gnawed at me constantly.  In my soul, I knew the relationship was wrong for me, but I was in love with him and I didn't want to abandon him.

The blow-ups of rage became more frequent, our fights became more intense, and I was disintegrating into a victim mindset.  I thought I'd be heartbroken for life without him, yet my soul was telling me I'd be a battered woman for life if I didn't end the relationship now.

I've heard God's voice with unmistakable clarity only a few times in my life, and one night on the floor in my apartment, sobbing, He asked me quite simply, “Is this what you want?”  I whipped my head around to see who had come into my room because the voice was audible in my ears.  I heard God's voice.  Again, I heard Him:  “Do you really want to give your heart to a man who will hurt you?”  Suddenly, my tears dried, my mind cleared and I heard myself say out loud, “No.”

Then came His answer to me.  “Then make your choice.”

It was my choice and God would let me make it and He would let me have whatever I chose, be it good or bad.  I was not a victim, I was a willing participant and it was high time I made a better decision for my life.  The responsibility was mine and I had no one to blame but me.  As much as I thought I loved Gary, I could not change him or fix him or heal him.  I could only stay and surrender my freedom to a man who would continue to hurt me.  Gary stopped beating me with his anger the instant I stopped letting him.

I released him to the Lord, moved away and cleansed my mind and heart with God's truth.  Less than a year later, I met my wonderful husband and with great joy I gave my heart to a loving man who will never hurt me or our children, and God is as happy as I am that I made such an excellent choice.  My life could have been very, very different.  I shudder now to think of it.  I thank God every day for His grace that saved me.

Ladies, the choices are ours to make.  The Lord longs for us to protect our hearts and our freedom by using the good sense He gave us to make good decisions.  I believe He weeps when we choose badly and then refuse to take responsibility for our choices.  The power we need to live full, happy and free lives rests in the decisions we make.  This woman who believes Tiger Woods has wronged and damaged her must start by looking in the mirror.  There she will find the person who is responsible for her unhappiness, and the person who can change her life starting right now.

God's abundant grace is there, waiting to be poured out on those who will choose well.  Decide carefully, choose well, and you will live well.  “Preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.  Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”  Proverbs 3:21-24


CZ said...

What an EXCELLENT commentary. SO very true and something so many of us need to hear! :)

Dirtdartwife said...

I could have written this very post. The only difference was my relationship had physical violence involved as well but I know that pain of wondering if I'd ever be able to live without him and believing I could help the guy because I loved him. It's so very hard but praise God... I found the strength to stand up, just like you said, and kick some dust up on my way out!

Great posting!!!

NC Sue said...

I couldn't agree with you more. The very LAST thing we need is to crumple under the weight of fear and self-imposed "victimhood" or martyrdom.

Excellent post!

Anne said...

Former boyfriends and what might have been seems to be the theme of the week in the blogosphere. Betty Duffy has a few similar posts recently and my last post was also about a former boyfriend.

I guess we should all be thanking God that He alone knows what is best for us and if we let Him lead the way, we will never go wrong. He has us right where He wants us, all we have to do is listen!

Great post, thank you so much for sharing this heartfelt story. I know it's not easy to look to a painful past, but I'm sure you've done a world of good with this one!

Seraphic Spouse said...

Well said!

His Love Extended--Julie Gorman said...

I love your transparency! God bless you.

His Love Extended:
Julie Gorman

Anonymous said...

I too could have written this story- having decided twenty years ago to be a martyr in marriage to a "problem drinker" aka "alcoholic. Codependency is a very difficult role to release, and I pray for strength to cut the ties that bind. With God's grace, I can find that strength.


TxSizeHull said...

I'm reading this almost a year after it's writing. It's a timeless message, so well written and articulated. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it was the message I needed to 'hear' today. I'm so glad it's still available 'out there' in cyber space, thank you again.


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