1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
Love provides a reverential fear, a deep respect for the object of our love. Love should not create a dread or terror in the object of our love. Love should cast out dread and terror.
Some time ago I was in a relationship of fear. Honestly, and sadly, my children remember it more than I do. God’s love cast that fear from me, and although I know it was there, He wiped my memories of it so that I can love with His perfect love. My kids will do the “remember when” and in all honesty, I don’t.
God did an amazing work in my life and in that of my husband. God helped me set clear boundaries. Even though I filed for a divorce when the hands that loved me physically hurt me; God was there to bring about the change and that divorce never happened. When he hit me, that was different from throwing things, and threatening, that was the line I wasn’t willing to have crossed. When he wouldn’t leave, I filed for a divorce which would cause him to have to leave. We set up separate households, we told the kids. And then, God.
My husband was not a bad guy. I loved him. The anger that was eating him up inside wasn’t towards me, I was just the safe place he felt he could express it. This man, who I loved but now feared, reached out to the one place I held on to in safety. Church. I knew that it was an attempt at manipulation, and I went in with honesty. He went to my pastor and pleaded his case. When I was called in I remember sitting there listening, begrudgingly. He asked what do you hope to get out of being here. My answer was somewhere along the lines of “On with my life, I don’t want to be here.”
Week after week we went, then the pastor started coming to the house and my husband would come. We dated. He pursued me like he did before we married. And then, somewhere along the way, God.
I was clear with my husband that would never happen again. I know we are not supposed to write those kind of scripts in our marriage. I haven’t heard God tell me I have to un-write that one. But still, God. God did a work in me. He did a work in my husband. My love for my husband is not perfect. His love for me is not perfect. But God’s love is perfect. We have been perfected in His love.
I don’t believe that abuse is okay. I believe that people must protect themselves and especially the children in a home where there is abuse. Although I did, I would never advise anyone to stay. I can’t know what really goes on behind closed doors so I will always err on the side safety, because I know God can still bring reconciliation.
I also will not argue with someone who has decided to stay. If someone has made an intentional decision to love in spite of it and stay, then I will talk with them about safety and having a plan in case. I can’t make someone leave, even if I think they should. I will err on being prepared, but I know that God can bring change.
But what I can tell either person – the one that leaves or stays; and what I can tell the abuser, the recipient, or the observer without doubt is that God must be the center. Our fear must be for God, the reverential type. God must be the one that you turn too. God must be the one that brings peace to your decision. God must be the one to bring about the change, it can not be manipulated. For some change may be immediate and permanent, for others it is a process, but God can still bring reconciliation and God can still change people. His love will cast out all fear.