A City on the Hill
In 2007 when the Lord showed me that we were about to embark on a journey that would take me beyond my capacity for understanding, He said, trust and believe.
I dreamed I and others were looking toward a mountain—a city of lights on the top of the Hill. I saw men and women walking around with smiles; they were happy. I was pointing out that was our destination. All that was required to do was to trust Him. Day’s Journey became my survival guide while living in a destructive marriage and how the Lord walked me out of the darkness in small steps of faith because, if I am being honest, I had very little confidence that God was very much active in our lives here on earth. I believed Jesus sat on His throne and watched us, humans, destroy one another. However, I was completely wrong because of His daily guidance through His Holy Word, and at the time, He used Sarah Young’s book, Jesus Calling, and the countless authors whose books I read, which gave me the strength and courage to walk into the life He promised from the beginning. Everything I learned as a child was against the teachings of Jesus, yet legalism and an ongoing spiritual war raged within me; false beliefs twisted God’s word, but I couldn’t prove it until I learned about Spiritual Abuse. The Bible says the flesh and Spirit war against one another; submission to one or the other is the result. Like my mother and the women before her, I succumbed to the legalistic view. For them, they had no choice in the matter. Women, children, the minority, and the marginalized had no means of justice except to submit to the authority placed above them for countless reasons. It doesn’t matter what religion or beliefs you have; there has to be a choice; Jesus says choose life, and the only way to this life promised by God is through Jesus Christ. Parents are to model godliness to their children. However, like many others, I did not have parents to model Christ-likeness, nor did I model His likeness to my children; without a relationship with Jesus Christ, how could we be like Him?
I could not fully trust someone I did not know, see or hear, but the promise He made to all His children in Jeremiah 29:11-13 was the lamp beneath my feet. I get it, it’s hard to believe in someone you cannot see. Now when I read the Word of God, I believe what He says, not because of some great miracle, it was every small miracle I witnessed in the mundane such as folding laundry, cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, taking care of my children, cleaning houses, and sitting quietly in between. I see His beauty while driving to and from work, in the grocery store, on the street corners. God is with all and in all.
Leaving Everything Behind
Although it began years before my exit, the Lord was with me; although I did not fully understand what He was showing me, I chose to trust Him anyway. Like countless other women, leaving wasn’t possible, as so many say it is easy to do. It took years of preparation to learn about myself; I didn’t know who I was. I doubted my reality, I lacked self-esteem, and trusting in Jesus to care for me was questionable. When I finally left my beautiful prison, I was terrified, and my identity changed in a blink of an eye. I went from having a beautiful home to homelessness. I went from house to house feeling like a failure to my children and grandchildren. I felt ashamed, burdensome, and suicidal. I felt like a rape victim violated and discarded like trash. I felt like the adulterous woman placed in the town square for all to stone to death with their harsh words spoken to me and behind my back. I felt like a leaper among family members who mocked me and stood afar from me. I felt betrayed by God. I felt forsaken, alone and abandoned by God. The Bible says when things are good, you have many friends, but when things are bad, there is only one who sticks closer than a brother: He was with me. I had no idea God was preparing me for this Journey long before I knew about it. I went from a victim to survivor and warrior, but not by my strength; strength and courage were given to me by my Lord and Savior over time. I now believe God places people on our path to provide us with the tools we need to survive and help guide us through life’s Journey; we live in a fallen world, and God Himself teaches and guides us from the beginning to the end.
"Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation. For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end." Psalm 48:12-14
My anger toward my mother and ancestors kept me in a victim mindset. I expected them to stand up against those who oppressed them; how easily we forget those who went before us did not have the resources, we have today, which women did not have until recently. However, I finally realized they had no one to support them in their time of need, especially with children. They were survivors, the last of the Mohegans, but a new tribe is rising even more vital today; they are the Lord’s Army. Awareness is critical, and finding the right people and resources can save lives and experience God’s steadfast love for humankind and His Everlasting Presence with us as we journey heavenward; God is with us.
Warriors of God
Therefore, I want to reframe my thoughts from anger to gratitude toward the women who were God’s Imperfect Warriors.
If you think women who suffered abuse are stupid, let me tell you that the Lord draws near to the broken hearted; He is a God who hears. A broken woman has great strength during hard times, they are the ones who will stand closer than a brother. You can count on them for support, help, and encouragement; they will stand up and fight for you! These women are the most robust and courageous women you will ever know. The weak ones sit around gossiping and judging you; don’t be fooled by the foolish woman.
A Letter to My Ancestors and the Women of God in My Life
I want to thank all the women in my life who endured and persevered before me. Not because of your weakness in leaving your abusive relationship; I now understand that it was impossible to find help in a world where women were discredited, dehumanized, and treated like objects. But, you were not weak; you were a survivor. Keeping your children together and surviving is a great strength, not a weakness; it’s courageous. Yes, you made many mistakes along the way; we all make mistakes. But, you used the tools passed down from your grandmother, and like her, you lived in survival mode. You did the best you could with the tools you had. You were not allowed to speak up against the injustices; I saw your tears behind the smiles and heard your cries in the night to God; you taught me how to laminate before God’s Throne of Grace, and grace is what you received for your Day’s Journey. Yes, I was angry at you for allowing yourself such cruelty, but now I see and understand.
Now I understand that you weren’t teaching me how to allow myself the same treatment; you were teaching me how to survive in a cruel world. You taught me how to make ends meet with the little I had for my children. You taught me how to recognize land mines and walk around them. You taught me how to work hard with my hands, study hard for my children to see, and follow the path of knowledge and understanding so they can become change agents because you did not want the generations after you to suffer as you did.
Finally, you taught me how to cry out to the God who hears and trusts Him when I can’t see. You made an oath to God; Elizabeth, a Warrior’s name. Elizabeth was the new name God promised years ago (Isaiah 62) given to me by my first love. He came at the right time and gave me a new name; now I know why. You kept your vows to God by teaching me how to use the tools provided to you, and you passed them down to me. You are a royal diadem in the Hand of God, and He gave you strength, courage, wisdom, understanding, love, and integrity. You are a Warrior, and I am proud to come from a generation of Godly women who taught me how to fight and survive in enemy territory. I will rejoice with you on the City on the Hill, where you all gathered around our Savior and King. Thank you.