In a way I am in no condition to write this review because I am so overwhelmed, having just read Shari Risoff’s bravely-written account. I had no plans to read the book in one sitting, but I simply could not put it down. Reading this painfully honest and ultimately redemptive story was like sitting with a close friend and hearing this harrowing ordeal first hand. My heart absolutely broke for Shari and her son as they endured all they did. And how heartening to read how they came to find release. This is a must-read for those in the midst of abusive relationships, and for all in dire need of rescue, hope, and grace.
In our world of too many shades of gray, making a commitment to spend your entire life with one person in marriage is a bold move. Why? Because I think all human beings want to be “known” without fear of rejection. At the same time we all fear exposure of our true self. Let’s face it, we don’t’ see many successful marriages for good role models. But my Grandpa used to say, “There are no perfect marriages, but there are successful ones.”
So what makes a marriage successful?
After 27 years of being married (to each other), we feel very blessed to still be joyful and satisfied with each other. Building a strong marriage requires basic elements that create a strong foundation to weather the inevitable disappointments and changes that life brings: infertility, unemployment, unfulfilled dreams, illness, and aging.
We would be guilty of “taking credit” from God without acknowledging up front that we have had a successful marriage because we have always tried to put God above ourselves. He is our authority and we’ve sought to follow and know Him in a personal relationship (individually and as a couple). From our experience, marriage seems to be God’s lab to test the theories we say we believe about Him. A few examples of this include:
A willingness to care more for each other than ourselves: On a practical level, we ask ourselves questions on a daily basis to help clarify our motives. (I.e. “Would this action/decision I’m about to make help my spouse feel respected, supported, and cared for? Or is this decision mostly about me?)
Negotiating is more powerful than winning: We’ve learned to individually focus on what we’ve contributed to a problem/argument, instead of focusing on what the other did wrong – or trying to change them. (I.e. Am I building my spouse up or am I tearing them down?)
Study your mate and learn how to please him/her: What activities do they enjoy? What kinds of foods do they like? Where do they feel most comfortable? What makes them succeed and feel safe?
Learn wisdom from others’ experiences: There are many resources that have helped us to build a spiritual foundation and purpose in our marriage. Understanding male/female differences, as well as seeking counsel from others solve many of our problems. These three authors have (including my parents amazing marriage as a role model) helped us tremendously.
Elisabeth Elliott – “Let me be a woman”; “Keep a Quiet Heart”
Dennis Prager’s – Male/Female hour podcast
Tim Keller’s book – “The Meaning of Marriage”
So if you’re looking for a perfect marriage – give it up. Try working toward a successful one instead!
People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind. ~ Eckhart Tolle
So, a friend of my sister’s has learned this week that he has the same type of pancreatic tumor that Steve Jobs did, and it’s terminal.
Wouldn’t it be better to actually know that you have only a couple of years to live? I imagined being in his situation and immediately began to think of things I would definitely do – bucket-list type things – and other things I would definitely stop doing! Or at least do less of!
Does it take a death sentence to make us change thinking and behavior?
NOW is all there ever is.
NOW is rapidly becoming my primary ‘one word’ for this new year.
Oh sure, I did my goals list. I chose my 3 words. I wrote the ‘story’ behind my goals. I did the drill. Push. (Myself). Connect. (with others). Grow. (myself, and my business).
But to succeed, I will need to focus on those words and goals within the framework of my one word. Now.
I will push myself now. Today. It is the end of my workday now and I have done just that. Pushed through a difficult project today.
I will connect every day with some people. I have done so today, both personal and business contacts. Many of them.
I will grow. Every day. Today has presented two new problems for which I need to find system solutions.
Once again here is my favorite quote from Chris Brogan, the originator of the ‘3 Word Exercise’ …
“Everything you will do in this year will come from what you do every day. Your year is made up of days.”
Being okay with change is one thing. Finding your new normal in that change is yet another. I am still getting used to the new normal that happened with the last big changes in my life, and here comes another one.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
I will. I have to or I don’t survive. Sometimes it feels like we’re holding on for dear life with the pace of change in this world. So the question is, what I am I holding onto? I choose to hold on to the Almighty God and His promises to take care of me and love me. Period. That’s really all that matters. The rest of the stuff in life still happens, but when my focus is on Him and what He is doing with my life, I don’t have to stress or worry about things.
“Be still and know that I am God”, He reminds me again. And again.
He is God and I am not. I remind myself of that often, especially when my troubleshooting, problem-solving brain can’t get it solved. I am so thankful that He loves me and knows what is ahead. He knows, He’s got it, and I will be still and seek Him.
Kate Motaungis the amazing host of the Five-Minute Friday community.
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Where does time go? Not only in a month, or week, but each day?
Each day I have something to do. Some things that must be done whether I want to or not; other things that I really want to do. And always I am hopeful that I am doing something meaningful, that what I’m working on is going to matter in someone’s life; that what I’ve written will help someone.
I ask myself every day: “What am I going to do today that will matter in five years?”
It helps me focus on today. So where does the time go?
As I read a Facebook post today by the Bethany House Abuse Shelter, I realized again that for some women the days and weeks and months, even years all remain the same. Until they don’t. Until they get free. Or until the abusive man they are with takes their life.
On one hand when I read stories like that, I feel so blessed that the Lord helped me to escape and to share my story of release from an abusive marriage. Yet, on the other hand, I feel sad that I couldn’t give a book to each one of those women and help them to make a personal decision to get away.
But that’s the point. I can’t ‘make’ a woman who is enduring abuse do anything to get free. No one else can. She has to make the decision and then take action on her decision. All I can do is share and pray. And pray some more.
Whenever I wonder why I am in this season to write and share and more importantly, to pray, something like this comes along to remind me and help me focus with new strength.
Will you pray with me? Not only for women who are victims of domestic violence, but for renewed focus and strength in whatever season you are in and whatever you are doing that will matter for eternity.
Their article is written about the one video depicting one example of what a battered girlfriend or wife can go through with an abusive husband… in this case it is in the news because that particular husband is a well-known NFL player.
Most battered women are not fortunate enough to be around a video camera when it happens, nor are they married to someone famous enough to make the news.
Sometimes domestic violence looks less like a knock-out punch and more like standing terrified in a corner while furniture is being thrown around the room.
And like the woman in the video, we almost always think it is our fault.
I always did.
Did you see yourself in that video? Or someone you know?
In my story, Released, I show another picture of what domestic violence can also look like… not where you’re ‘knocked out cold’ and dragged out of an elevator. But where your soul has been knocked out little by little with every bruise and tear.
And by the grace of God, I got help, and got free. Ultimately I found hope and my honesty again.
If you are trapped in domestic violence, please read my book… maybe you will see a picture that you recognize in your own life and realize that you too can get free.
Now HOW you tell the truth is key to communication. Your tone of voice, or tone in your writing tells more about how your heart feels than your words do. So tell the truth in love and you might be heard. If you spew the truth out in angry judgmental words, it will not be heard. Only the anger and emotion will be heard.
Children especially, hear the emotion and not the words. Begin with the emotion of love.
When my son was small and had disobeyed, especially deliberate disobedience used to make me crazy. When I was angry, I would say “Go to your room and I’ll come talk to you once I get over my anger.” Once I had calmed myself down I could rationally address the behavior. I wish I could say I did this 100% of the time, but I was not a perfect parent. No one is perfect.
Do you tell the truth?
How do you do it so that love is the only emotion someone hears?
Kate Motaung is the amazing host of the Five-Minute Friday community.