The Dread…

The last few days I’ve been feeling that I needed to write this post.  Then last night our small group had its weekly Zoom study.  It’s such a beautiful time of connecting with others. At the end of small group yesterday evening a friend brought this very subject up and when I heard her mention it, I knew it indeed had been the Lord prompting me and now He was again.

So here goes…

As this unprecedented situation has been unfolding around the world there are so many more people at home – some because of job loss, others because of the need to work from home or some have had their hours cut.  And what does all this mean?  It means that stress is even higher than normal, tensions are rising and it’s painful to say, but the incidents of domestic violence are escalating.

Oh dear friends….for those who grew up or lived in a home with domestic violence, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  That feeling of dread which begins with, “Oh no, he’s home!” when you see his car in the driveway.  Or the knotted stomach that starts actually the day before as you hear that for one reason or another he’s going to be home all day.  And yes, you know exactly how it feels when others say that “weekends are their favorite” because you can’t relate at all…weekends hold nothing but terror for you.  You know all too well the very real panic that sets in when you hear, “He’s been laid off” or, “he’s lost his job” or now, “he’s working from home.”  I get it.  My dad was laid off when I was 11.  The dread was extreme.

And there is zero doubt in my mind that there are people who are reading this that are living in situations of Domestic Violence and this scary season of CoVid19 lockdown has become your personal nightmare.

A few months back I shared a very personal story about a girl I called “Bree”…and you can read it here.

Friends, I plead with you to check in on people you suspect are victims or who the Lord whispers to you to “pay attention”.

Not all that long ago, the Lord allowed a young mom to cross my path.  I had never met her before a sweet situation arose giving me an opportunity to speak with her up close.   The little she said I knew.  And because I “knew” I began to gently probe…and although she didn’t get specific and open up totally, I knew.

So on our second time meeting I told her take out her cell phone and put in my cell phone number and our home address.  I told her this, “If you feel unsafe at all – at any time – please just come – day or night.  You don’t have to call to see if it’s okay.  You don’t need to check with me first or text to see how we are doing in hopes of me inviting you over.  You just come!  At any time you feel unsafe, grab your kids and come. If it’s the middle of the night, just grab your kids and leave….when you are stopped at a light, just call me and tell me you are on your way. I will be waiting at the door.”

Definitely NOT any bedroom in our home, but a stock photo, picked because it looks so cozy. I love dormers! Photo by Vera Berard. 

In our home we have three bedrooms upstairs as well as one (very small) hall bathroom.  The girls are in a bunk in one room, the four boys in bunks sharing another and we intentionally left a room open.  Why do we not use that extra room?  Well we have a few thoughts…

Personally and for starters we like when our kids learn to share and live together and they seem to like it too.  I can hear their voices at night talking as I fall asleep.  We can almost pull off the “Good night JohnBoy” closing scene from the Waltons.  And truthfully, it’s comical to listen to them upstairs at night all laughing and talking as they wait for that hall bathroom.

Having an empty room also affords us the opportunity to open that room for people like the young woman mentioned above.   That unoccupied room (which is no bigger than the others) has a full bed, bunks with a trundle, a crib and a cradle and a hope chest.  Trust me, it takes the word “bedroom” to a whole new level as it is literally all “bed” with little “room”.   Having a variety of beds makes it so easy to say to her, “Come at any time day or night, the sheets are clean and you and your kids can be safely tucked in to one room which has: a full bed, bunks with a trundle, a crib as well as a cradle.

Of course that room is also wonderful for any of our big treasures and their families coming home too.

So maybe friends you will be the very safe haven to a mom like the one I just mentioned.   Perhaps you can make an extra place (in a family room, den, or spare room) for a mom and her kids escaping a life of domestic violence.  Look for moms and the signs of domestic violence.  Then tell her simply, “If you ever need a place to stay, day or night, our home is open.”  It might even be that your words will give her the courage to run and not become a statistic.  I have to believe that if someone had said to my mom, “You can run to our home…just grab Linny and Neil and come. We have a room for you.” that she would have had the courage to run.  But it was all so overwhelming (understandably) to my mom.  Where could she go with two kids?  What would happen?  Who was safe to tell?

I plead with you to be that safe person.  Ask the Lord to give you insight and to see what He sees.  Ask Him to give you the opportunity to be the person who helps in a desperate situation.

And of course, if Bree’s story sounds familiar because you are living in it….run, please, please, please – don’t become a statistic and just keep pretending that it will all get better. It won’t. And that’s just the dreadful truth.  Run!

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