My parents sent my older sisters and me to an IFB church on the bus route every Sunday morning from the time I was two years old. When I was 8, my dad finally went to church and accepted Christ as his Saviour. We were excited! My mom took a little longer, but she also accepted Christ. At that time, my dad sat us all down, family meeting style, and told us that our family was going to show that we were saved. My life was about to change, and I didn’t even know how much.
Church fully engulfed our lives at that point. We went to Sunday school, Sunday main service, Teen church, Sunday night main service, Wednesday night service, Thursday door-to-door soul winning, and Saturday bus route. That led to Sunday bus route before Sunday school. We also attended every function…revivals, potluck dinners, church-wide picnics, mission trips, teen bonfires and canoe trips at the youth pastor’s house, and teen conferences in Hammond, IN where we ALL wanted to go to Hyles Anderson College. For the last two summers of high school, I even worked at Mt. Salem Revival Grounds…and couldn’t stay out of trouble. That’s another story.
After 6th grade, my dad said it was time for us to go to Christian school at our church. We did that until our pastor was arrested for multiple reasons right before my 10th grade year. Also another very long story. So we went to another Christian high school with an attached International Christian college, where the guys that came there for school relentlessly pursued the high school girls, trying to find wives. This was encouraged. I then attended Crown College of the Bible in TN. I’ll come back to this later in my story.
Through all of this religious immersion, my idea of God was a mighty, angry man in the sky who was up there with a big club, waiting for me to do something wrong so He could wallop me! I could never please Him, but I’d better keep trying! And the Holy Spirit? He was Jiminy Cricket. He told us what we were doing wrong, like the angel on our shoulder. That was His ONLY job.
I call this testimony “Daddy Issues” not because my own dad made a mess of me. He was and still is an amazing father, protector, and friend now that I’m older. When women are labeled with daddy issues, it’s because those issues affect who they choose to date and marry and how successful they are at either one or both of those.
The idea ingrained in me from the time I was 2 years old into adulthood that God was scary, to be feared, never pleased with me, always disappointed in my actions, and a perfect father who couldn’t even look on me as such a wretch impacted how I sought a man to marry, how quickly I attached to men who showed me interest, and my standards for a husband.
After attaching emotionally and sexually to a teenage boy (the most rebellious one) at my school through high school, I was ready to go to college and find my husband. I felt like an impostor. I wasn’t “Pastor’s wife” material, and I knew it. I wasn’t good enough.
One day in chapel, Pastor Sexton stood behind the pulpit and spoke to the ladies. He said that Crown College had the the most godly young men from all over the country, and if we couldn’t find our husband here, we were not right with God. I was terrified! What would people think if I didn’t get married in college with all these godly men? I turned up the Christian flirting advice from Jack Schaap and JoJo Moffitt and focused on finding a husband.
When I met my first husband, I didn’t even know what to look for. Were there red flags? YES! Glaring red flags! He was controlling and had a quick temper about things that were absolute nonsense, but he was a “godly” man and chose me. I married at the age of 19 after my Sophomore year of college. Three months after we got married, he started physically abusing me. It was small at first: wrist twisting and shoving, and it slowly escalated. But I couldn’t tell anyone or leave because I’d look unsubmissive and like I was speaking badly against my husband. That wasn’t reverencing him like the Bible said. Over the next 4 years, he continued to be abusive, which grew to verbal and psychological abuse. He threatened to kill me on multiple occasions, but I still couldn’t tell anyone. We were on deputation to be missionaries in Central America!
Finally, after he tried to shoot me in the temple with a bebe gun pistol at point blank range (Thank you, God, for locking that gun!), I called my sister, and she and my brother in law moved me and my daughter (2 years old at the time) to their house. I was done. I was numb. But I was safe, and my daughter would grow up with her mother.
After weeks of verbal abuse through phone calls, he asked me to go to our pastor for a counseling session. I agreed. I sat on the pastor’s couch in his office while he asked my husband to explain what he’d been doing to me. He was honest and gave great detail. I sat there stone-faced. The pastor looked at me and said, “I haven’t seen you shed one tear this whole time.” I explained that I was out of tears, out of emotion, out of pleading. He said to me, “I understand that you don’t feel safe, but you have to go home. You can’t stay gone. It’s not biblical.”
I left the office that day and left all of church, religion, and all of the “rules” I’d been taught. I lived completely apart from God for the next nearly 10 years. I couldn’t please God and be alive to see my daughter grow up, so I chose my daughter. I still believed all of the biblical doctrine, but I knew I couldn’t live it and didn’t know God well enough to know how to lean into Him in this season.
During my time away from God, I met my second husband. My standards were SO low. I wanted someone I felt safe around. Someone who wouldn’t beat me. I had complex PTSD from years of abuse, and it was untreated. The man I chose was strong and decisive, so I knew he could protect me. He was also a narcissist. Again, I did not know how to see red flags. I made sure he was saved, but that was as far as the spiritual standard went.
This marriage made my daddy issues worse because narcissists are never pleased with their partners. I never could do anything right. He was always looking for another woman to emotionally connect with. After years in this marriage, he decided he wanted a divorce. I panicked. That could NOT happen to me again! I began praying and standing for marriage restoration while he’d abandoned me and our 3 children to live in another state with his parents.
During the 3.5 years that he was gone but not divorcing me, God woke me up. At this time when I was at my lowest, on my face in my War Room, crying out for God to save my marriage and my family, He stepped in and said (not audibly), “Let me introduce myself to you.” He began the painful and confusing process of tearing away all of my IFB rules and fears, all of the misconceptions about who He was. I would read the Bible and see things I’d never seen in years of memorizing verses every week, attending Bible college, and hearing multiple messages each week my whole life.
I was learning to hear His voice. I was learning to hear the Holy Spirit’s leading. The Bible was alive for me like it never had been my whole life. I’d never in my life experienced God on this level! To know Him…my real Father, my loving Protector and Provider. My Creator. Abba. I am crying just writing this because my whole life changed during this trial that could have pushed me further into rebellion. He brought me home. And no one else’s opinion of what I should be doing or why my husband left meant a plug nickel. I was gaining my freedom in Christ.
I found out my husband slept with another woman at the end of year three in my stand. I told him I’d forgive him because God wanted us to stay married. He chose to file for divorce. God didn’t do what I though He would do. He didn’t restore my marriage. I was thrown, but I kept praying. God revealed to me when I was ready to hear it that this was for me. Standing for my marriage wasn’t for my marriage at all! Standing was my time of vulnerability and openness where God could finally get me to listen and learn about who He was. It was all for me…to leave the 99 in search of the one. I was the one.
As I look toward stepping back into the dating world and opening my heart again, I am looking through very different eyes. I don’t have daddy issues anymore. My Father created me to be special, set apart, to be princess to a Heavenly inheritance. I’m not worried about being good enough. I’m more than good enough: I’m chosen. I now have a clear standard for what love is and will not accept less. I’m not in a hurry because God is in control and will allow me to meet my mate when HE feels I’m ready and when my mate is ready.
The danger of how God is presented to young people in IFB circles is causing women to fast track towards marriage in order to appear “ready” in God’s eyes and to the church. To fulfill their “mission” as a virtuous woman by securing a godly husband as quickly as possible. It is causing women to choose incorrectly and to not question a man’s actions if he claims to be godly. This movement is giving young ladies daddy issues. If a young lady feels she can never please God but MUST strive like clawing her way up a hill, impossible to climb, she will carry those ideals, most of the time unknowingly, into her search for a mate. This may even cause her to accept ungodly behavior in order to be submissive and respectful.
We must change this.