Always Hopeful: The Beginning

In March 2014 Always Hopeful was born.

It started out as a blog. I hoped that telling my story would help others to escape and rebuild their lives free of abuse.

In truth, it probably helped me more than it helped others. I was still raw, so early into my recovery: It had only been a year since I had left and much less time since I’d realised I would never go back. Writing was cathartic, it helped me make sense of the thoughts running amok in my head. In fact, it still does.

So much has happened since that first blog post, most excitingly the launch of the Always Hopeful Recovery Programme which helps other Christian women who have experienced abuse to work out their own faith. I hope this new blog and the community over on the Facebook page can become a place of exploration, faith and love as we seek to work out how we, as a church, can be a safe, abuse free place for everyone.

Let’s take a look back on some of those early blog posts, starting with the first:

Monday 17th March 2014.

Always Hopeful
“I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11)

As I tugged on my battered doc martins and tied my purple laces I was filled with hope and excitement. Today I’d pile boxes of my old life into my Dad’s car and head off to Uni to start a new one. I had plans, big plans, get a degree and then become an actress. I believed I could do anything and my future looked rosy.

And then I fell in love.

As my new husband carried me over the threshold into the house we had just bought I felt so grown up- I had a home, a new job (not acting) and a gorgeous new husband. I was filled with hope and excitement once again about the family I’d raise; I had even designed the nursery for the spare room.

I had many hopes over the next thirteen and a half years I was married:
I hoped he’d be in a good mood
I hoped he’d keep a job.
I hoped the next job/house move/hobby/friendship would finally make him happy and contented
I hoped he’d get the psychiatric help he needed so he would stop having ‘anger issues’
I hoped he’d get justice for the many injustices he’d suffered that had made him this way.
I hoped the responsibility of children would change him
I hoped the children wouldn’t be damaged by how he treated them
I hoped the children wouldn’t see how he treated me as an example of how they should treat me, or their wives when they grow up.
I hoped, most of all, that God would fix him.

Then one day I gave up hope and I left him. I felt utterly hopeless, I couldn’t imagine a future without him in it and I no longer felt I could do anything, or had any dreams or ambitions for myself because I’d given them up long ago to pursue someone else’s dreams.

But over time I have learned to be hopeful again. But now my hope is not in my own ability to achieve my goals and ambitions. It’s not in a fallible human being to treat me how I deserve to be treated, or to take care of me. My hope now is in Christ.

My mis-placed hope in myself or in my husband led me only to disappointment but I know Christ will never disappoint me. That I can have a future without my husband in it, I can have a future not dependent on any man or even on my own abilities but on Christ. I’m God’s daughter, he loves me, he wants me to grow and flourish and I’m learning to stand in that hope.

I’d like to invite you to come with me on my journey as I share with you my thoughts on how God is helping me deal with the hurts and pain caused by years of living with an abusive husband, how he’s helping me to raise three boys without a father to be respectful wonderful young men, how he’s teaching me to handle the mistaken pre conceptions of others about abusive relationships, how I’m learning to find a new place in his Church and handle those in my Christian family who “don’t get it” with grace and understanding, and how I’m growing to be what God wants me to be, not what a man wants me to be.

Whether you’re a survivor of abuse, still being abused, supporting someone, or just a curious individual wanting to better understand this issue that affects 25% of all women- yes women in your church too- I hope my blog will help you, and me too to get to grips with abuse and how as Christians we deal with it.

I’ll end with this wonderful hymn by Stuart Townend which reminds me about God’s unfailing love, his ability to triumph over all and most importantly where we should all place our hope:
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand