I didn’t have the words…


I didn’t have the words…

…all I felt was incredible anger towards my (now) ex-Father-In-Law.

That was my emotional state when I last encountered my xFIL.

I did not have the words to articulate why I was so angry with him. My spirit screamed within me that this man was evil and had wronged me gravely. But I was unable–in that moment–to capture what my spirit was telling me.

Revisiting those emotions and that past, I can now see and articulate what I could not then.

I was furious because:

  1. This “man” had attacked my character.
  2. This “man” had fed and supported his daughter’s contempt of me.
  3. This “man” had blasphemed God’s Name by using it–i.e. religious language–to attack me.
  4. This “man” had cursed my calling as a pastor.
  5. This “man” had directly attacked the marriage he had professed to support on my wedding day (e.g. He sent an email to me and his daughter entitled “Divorce” and then professed ignorance when I called him out for such sinful behavior).
  6. This “man” had invaded the privacy and sanctity of my marriage bed commenting on my sex life with his daughter.
  7. This “man” had betrayed my trust using my honest sharing to attack me with his daughter “watching.”
  8. This “man” had attempted to manipulate and control me.
  9. This “man” had arrogantly attempted to “correct” his seminary-educated son-in-law’s theology.

At the time, I could not have made this list. All I had was strong anger towards this “man.” Now, I am able to see my anger for what it was then:

God had given me this strong feeling to indicated that my boundaries had been grossly violated by this individual.*

Our feelings are such incredible gifts from our good God. While sometimes they are disordered affected by our sin nature, they are sometimes our best allies telling us very important information if we choose to listen to them.

I encourage you to listen to your emotions.

What are they telling you?



* I will note that I no longer have such a strong reaction regarding my xFIL. My anger served its purpose of warning me concerning the danger and boundary violations at the time. He now is God’s problem.

8 thoughts on “I didn’t have the words…”

  1. Hi DM. I still have a lot of anger toward my mother-in-law for many of the same reasons you had for your father-in-law. She has enabled my stbx’s sin so much that even my children have called her out on it. I’ve noticed that my anger will die down for a while and I think I am on my way to forgiving her and then I will suddenly be full blown angry at her again. I would love to conquer this anger but is taking time. I don’t see much anger in your posts and know you are much further along on this journey than I am. What helped you conquer the anger?

  2. Dear DM, I find your ability to relate your feelings and emotions to be a way of connecting with others going through similar situations. In fact, hearing how you have processed and grown through acknowledgment of the feelings gives me hope that one day I might also come to acceptance, understanding and peace also. Thank you for allowing the time and giving patience that must be required to continually deal with the past experiences such that others may learn and be comforted. Spiritwoman

  3. DM

    I have been meaning to comment for weeks now and thank you. Reading your posts has helped restore my spiritual life and even prompt me to my knee’s once again. I shut the door on God many years ago along with organized religion. Recently thrown to my knees because of the tragic death of a friends daughter and also continuing to witness first hand so many people in pain and anguish regarding emotional and sexual betrayal. And another dear friend recently said “Ya, and while you are down there praying for others,pary for yourself too!” 🙂

    DM Your clear voice and measured outrage are a blessing for me. And your words validate my life experiences.

    Anyway, my body reacted to this first response by Stephanie and it’s a familiar gut reaction. It reminds me of when I read ‘most’ public discourse about adultery and especially social commentators like Glenn Greenwald, Dan Savage or Esther Perel.

    My gut response sent me running to look up an stunning quote from Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

    “Nobody wants to remember trauma. In that regard society is no different from the victims themselves. We all want to live in a world that is safe, manageable, and predictable, and victims remind us that this is not always the case. In order to understand trauma, we have to overcome our natural reluctance to confront that reality and cultivate the courage to listen to the testimonies of survivors.” p 194 (The body keeps the score)

    And another from Elvin Semrad. “The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies that we tell ourselves. ” p27

    And from Sam Harris powerful little book “Lying,”

    “Once one commits to telling the truth, one begins to notice how unusual it is to meet someone who shares this commitment. Honest people are a refuge: you know they mean what they say; you know they will not say one thing to your face and another behind your back. Honest is a gift we can give to others.” p8

    For you and Mrs. DM and family I am most grateful as rock and refuge.

    With great respect and love

    1. misspellings: “Pray for yourself too,” and “Honesty is a gift we can give to others.”

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