Monday, October 7, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: True Love


Love isn’t supposed to hurt

A devotional by Jessica Brodie

It started off innocently enough, like a sweet dream, but then it became a horrible reality that she couldn’t escape.

He caught her eye, said all the right things, and soon they were dating. Then came the jealousy—she was paying “too much attention” to her friends or her studies, she shouldn’t wear that because it “sent the wrong message,” it was her “fault” that man smiled at her, she shouldn’t tell her parents what he said because it would “make him look bad.”

Eventually, he snuck his way into controlling every aspect of her life. Her life centered on him. Angry words soon escalated. He’d punch a wall, break a glass. The first time he hit her, he bought her roses, swore it’d never happen again.

The last time he hit her, she wound up in intensive care.

Despite what singers on the radio might want us to believe, real love—true love—isn’t supposed to hurt. But we know all too well that it can hurt. It can even kill.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is not just physical violence—black eyes and bruises. Sometimes the scars are invisible: threats, manipulation, yelling, humiliation. Sometimes it’s stalking someone online or following them wherever they go, or making them do things they don’t want to do.

And it happens all around us. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in four women and nearly one in 10 men have experienced physical, sexual, or stalking-related domestic violence during their lifetime, and more than 43 million women and 38 million men experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. These are not just headlines. This is happening every day to women—and men—all around us. People we know. People we see in our neighborhoods or in social settings.

With the vast amount of bad news we hear almost daily, it’s tempting to tune it out, rationalize it away, think it only happens to “someone else” or even turn off the news altogether. But as followers of Christ, as children of God, we cannot afford to harden or shield our hearts from tragedy. We must hear with open ears, see with eyes wide open, and do what we can to stand up and help whenever and wherever possible.

Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report reveals that, nationwide, 92% of women killed by men were murdered by someone they knew and that the most common weapon used was a gun. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 62% were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Nearly 11 times as many females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers.

This is not acceptable, and the Bible calls us to do something about this.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV) says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Jesus, in Matthew 25:40, says, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

If you suspect someone you know is a victim, talk to her. Ask how you can help. Call the authorities. See what your church can do to get involved or whether domestic violence shelters in your area could use donations or support.

Love isn’t supposed to hurt.

As the apostle Paul writes about love, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

That is love. Jesus is love.

It’s time to do what we can to help spread awareness about what real love is and stop the violence.


*NOTE: Here is a short list of resources for victims of domestic violence ...

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or visit them online at https://www.thehotline.org/

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (https://ncadv.org/) offers resources for victims and survivors of domestic violence here (https://ncadv.org/resources).


~*~
Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.



She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team.

Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com/shiningthelight.

18 comments:

  1. A timely tackling of a serious and deadly subject. Thank you for these reminders, Jessica, for the call to action, and for the list of resources. Hopefully, your words will bring change, perhaps even saving a life.

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    1. Thanks, Melinda. It breaks my heart to know how many people are going through this. Often, they are our friends and neighbors.

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  2. For all of those reading today's devotional who may be or have been victims of abuse in any form, I send this prayer: that you feel the arms of OUR Lord holding you in his pure LOVE. HIS love never changes. It is pure, it is good, it is hope. Now and forever more. Amen.

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  3. Thank you for reminding us to speak up when we see something wrong. Domestic violence happens in all towns. Don't be silent. Spread awareness. Help is available.

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  4. "Love is not supposed to hurt." I have found that some women minimize what is happening at home and don't seek help soon enough. Leslie Vernick has written a book called, "The Emotionally Destructive Marriage" that will help women see the truth of their situation and teaches them to build the strength to make changes. Thanks for this post Jessica. It is a bigger problem than we know.

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    1. It is such a problem, and often it starts in small but illuminating ways. Thank you, Beth!

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    1. Thanks, Ava! So much we can all do together to help.

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  6. Very important message Sister, very informal and I like the way you brought this serious problem to light as well as the hotline number. God Bless

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  7. Thank you, Jessica. Domestic violence affects so many people, it's highly probable we know people who have walked this path or continue to today. This sadly hits home today. My husband is a pastor and we just received a message from a family in our church that a woman who is a friend was found in her yard, abused and beaten. She was fighting for her life, but she died a few hours ago. Her husband is the top suspect.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear this, Karen. I will be praying for all her friends and family who are grieving her loss!

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  8. So many sad accounts today. Such an important message. We can make a difference. Thanks and God bless!

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  9. I have helped three women in my life escape from abusive marriages. It's heartbreaking to watch the emotional roller coaster this experiences has taken them through. The outcome of each woman is different. The best thing I have been able to do for them is lead them to Jesus, who loves them and won't hurt them and then secondly, listen, pray and encourage them. Good message that needs to be heeded!

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  10. I'm so glad you wrote this, I think more women need to start sharing and supporting each other. I was lucky, I never went through much physical violence, but I went through years of emotional and verbal abuse. Thanks.

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