Free At Last
Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2018 Oct 31
It was a toxic relationship from the beginning.
My voice, my opinions, were always silenced, were always wrong.
There was only one way to do anything. Any other attempts were wrong, even if they resulted in the same outcome.
My value, my contributions, were never recognized.
I often received the silent treatment.
There was no way to win. I would try to help, only to be shut down. Then, I was blamed for things not getting done.
I found myself drying up, becoming a shell of a person.
I lashed out because of the extreme hurt and abuse I was suffering. Those I love most were on the receiving end of my pain and frustration.
I began to become someone I didn’t know, I didn’t like. Instead of oozing love for God, negativity seeped from my pores. I had people tell me that the spark—once such an obvious sign I had been with my Jesus—was dimming, disappearing.
I couldn’t take it any longer. I began to plan my escape. I began to look for ways to get out.
But it wasn’t a quick process. It took time. It took planning. It was a very strategic move on my part, one that was months in the making.
I prayed. I worried. I consulted those I love. I began to plan to do things that under normal circumstances I would have NEVER even considered.
I was in survival mode. I was in protection mode, trying to figure out how to protect those who depend upon me. My entire mode of operation was making it to freedom.
In the end, all my best laid plans came to nothing…and my God fought the battle for me! He showed up, set me free! He ripped me from my captivity and placed my feet on solid ground. He did way more than I ever could have asked, hoped, or imagined (Ephesians 3:20).
Have you been there? Have you been in that place where emotional abuse was so rampant you began to wonder if you were crazy, if you really were the problem? Have you reached your breaking point, that place where you begin to plan your escape? Or have you reached your place of freedom yet, that elusive land where the abuse ends and your task is now to start all over?
Maybe it’s a marriage to an emotionally and mentally abusive spouse. Maybe it’s a friendship that has become toxic. Maybe it’s a work environment. Maybe it’s even a church, a place where they heap abuse upon you because of your failed marriage or other belief outside the accepted Christian values.
It happens to most everyone at some point in our lives. We experience those toxic people, toxic situations. We must learn to set boundaries, to protect ourselves from the damage. We must learn to find the freedom Christ came to provide.
Honestly, escaping is only half the battle—depending upon the situation and the depth of the damage done. Toxic marriages can scar us for life. Toxic childhoods can leave us so wounded we struggle to get through life. No matter what the toxic relationship, it impacts us.
If you are trapped in a toxic relationship, here’s a few things I want you to know:
He will fight for you. Exodus 14:14 has been on repeat in my mind for months: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. And, multiple times in multiple ways, I’ve seen God fight my battles. I can’t even go into detail to explain how God has stepped in, shown up, fought for me. But He has. Repeatedly. Seeing my tears. Hearing my prayers. Fighting the battle for me as I do my best to be still, to wait for Him (not always doing a good job, by the way).
Please remember you are worth fighting for. God sees your pain. He hears your pleas. He loves you so much He sent His only son to die for you. He sees you as worthy of His love and His attention. He hasn’t forgotten you. He’s not neglecting you. He’s preparing. He’s setting all things in order so He can swoop in and rescue you. He’s getting ready for battle in ways you cannot even see.
You are God’s child. Toxic, abusive relationships can leave you damaged, deeply wounded, believing your abusers lies about your value. Don’t let your abuser’s words color the way you see yourself! Instead, let God’s truth penetrate your mind and show you the truth about who you are.
You are God’s masterpiece, chosen for great works He ordained long ago (Ephesians 2:10).
You are His treasured possession (Exodus 19:5).
You are chosen by God to be His priest, His very own possession. He has called you out of the darkness into His light (1 Peter 2:9).
You are His child, precious and greatly loved. Don’t ever let your abuser put labels on you that are not true. Let God’s tape play through your mind every single moment of every day.
He is with you. It’s often beyond terrifying to step out of your comfort zone into the unknown, even when the comfort zone is abusive. Not knowing the future. Not knowing how your needs will be met. Not knowing what challenges lie ahead. Not knowing is the biggest hurdle.
But you must remember you are never alone. God knew this was coming, and He has already prepared a way. He’s making plans to put you back together and have you on your feet for good (1 Peter 5:10). He is doing a new work in you and through you (Isaiah 43:18-19). He’s got plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
God is good, even in the midst of the most painful circumstances. He is working for your good and His glory, even when life seems hopeless. He is walking with you, even in the wilderness.
Toxic relationships are everywhere, but God never intended for those relationships to destroy you. He wants to set you free. He wants you to experience life in all its fullness, life the way He designed it to be lived. Look to Him to be your Savior!
Hugs and many prayers as you walk forward into the freedom He designed for you!