This side of heaven, life will always hold a mix of joy and pain. Some will be the result of our own doing, and some beyond the realm of our control. I’m not sure which is the harder to bear.
“Be on your guard against false prophets (i.e. deceivers); they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are really like wild wolves. You will know them by what they do (not what they say) … A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a poor tree cannot bear good fruit. … So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do.” ~Matthew 716-20 GNB (edited)
“False Prophets” come in many shapes, sizes, and disguises. Some are lovers or spouses. Some parents, some teachers. Some are classmates or colleagues. Regardless the packaging, all False Prophets all have one thing in common … they are bullies and masters of deception. They speak one thing with such power and authority (and often eloquence) that most people overlook the fact that they are actually doing the complete opposite. Their actions don’t line up with their words!
Who have been the False Prophet’s in your life?
By 1985, some of the sparkle and shine had started to wear off our marriage. Arguing had escalated to fighting, often just to the cusp of violence. “T” never hit me – he never needed to take it that far, for the threat (sometimes blatant, but usually just a subtle reminder of what he was capable of) was enough to get me back in line.
There were happy days. I was not quite 21 years old when my step kids (ages 13 and 10) came up from South America. What did I know about parenting at 21 years old? Nothing … poor kids! But they still love me, so I guess I wasn’t all that terrible a step mom (lol). And “T” and I had two beautiful children together, both girls, born 1984 and 1986. In so many ways, these two little miracles were a lifeline for me. God used them both so profoundly to literally save my life! But I’ll write more about that in the next post ❤
As I said last week, shortly after birth of my firstborn “T” went back to South America to visit family. Upon returning he began to suggest, with increasing intensity, that we needed a Nanny. Suggesting escalated to badgering, and eventually to the constant droning that just wears a body down. Before I gave birth to our second daughter, I had agreed to his bringing a second cousin up from South America to live with us as Nanny under a few conditions. It was early 1987 when “She” moved into our home. “She” was 18 years old, “T” was 40, I was 26, the step kids 17, 15 and 9 (age approx.), my precious daughters 2.5 and 3 months old.
“She” spoke no English and so like it was when my step kids arrived, “T” was the primary interpreter while she learned the language. Immediately “T” began framing up the unfinished room on the first floor, and with her assistance they knocked it out in no time flat. By the time I went back to work full time, “She” was in her own room.
At first, “She” was helpful to have around, helping with laundry and cooking and of course the kids. All the children seemed to like her, and she was very helpful to “T”. If he had a project to do, “She” was always right there to help him do it. They were practically inseparable, but of course that made sense – she was grateful to be here in the USA and they were cousins. Why wouldn’t they spend time together?!?
“She” was young and fit, with the body of an 18-year old who had never born children. I was in my mid-20’s, had given birth to two children, and was about 20 lbs overweight. “T” began harping about my weight again, about my post-pregnancy body shape and flabby stomach. An exercise regimen ensued, but that just added more fuel to the fire because as much as I wanted to please him (mostly so he would get off my back), I also resented that he couldn’t just love me the way I was. Why did his affection for me have to be irrevocably linked to my body weight and shape?
I remember one Saturday morning, with all of us sitting around the kitchen table for breakfast, I had dared to put one (1) spoon of sugar into my cup of (very strongly brewed Colombian) coffee. “T” came unglued! He utterly and completely shamed me for choosing a spoonful of sugar for my coffee instead of choosing to have a few wedges of a cut-up orange that was on the table. They aren’t even the same thing (you can’t put an orange in your coffee!), and the coffee tasted like mud! After some screaming and yelling, I eventually left the table furious and in tears. To berate me like that in front my kids! To make such a fricking big deal over a stupid spoonful of sugar! And to do it in front of “She” (who just sat there with a soft smirk on her face). There was no pleasing him!
And as the months rolled by, I began to get increasingly agitated by “She’s” presence. Something had changed/shifted in the home, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The Family Room was downstairs, and that was where our TV was. More and more often, it would be time for bed and instead of coming to bed with me, “She” and “T” would stay up late (I mean really late) to finish watching a Spanish-speaking show that they just had to see the end of … or they would need to talk privately about something in her room important, with the door closed of course. This was happening a more and more often. Naturally I complained about it, but “T” would just explain to me that “She” was lonely, missing her family in South America, and that he was just being a good cousin trying to make her feel at home here. All very reasonable answers, but regardless something didn’t seem right about it.
[Years after my divorce my mom told me that on a visit soon after “She’s” arrival and when I was out of the room, “T” kissed “She” on the lips right in front of her and then gave her an “I dare you” kind of smile. “Why didn’t you tell me?”, I asked. “Because I knew you wouldn’t have believed me”, mom said.]
I think it might have been 1989, just before my oldest daughter started 1st grade, that we moved to a 4BR house in a better school district. My two precious daughters shared the bedroom closest to ours. My step daughter shared a bedroom with “She” (as they were just a few years apart in age), and my two step sons shared the 4th bedroom. The house was configured in an L-shape, and there was a 4-season room build just off the kitchen that encompassed the master bedroom window, so that if you looked out the master bedroom window you were looking into the 4-season room. This became our new Family Room. There were many nights that I went to bed alone, leaving “T” and “She” huddled together in the Family Room under a shared blanked on the sofa (back facing the bedroom window) while I waited in our bedroom, eventually falling asleep alone.
Remember that concession “T” harassed out of me? The one that I agreed to only on the condition that “I would NEVER know about it, that it would be far away so that there would be no risk my kids/family ever knowing about it, and that he would give me the ILLUSION of a happy marriage.”?
I was now Office Manager/Exec Assistant at a small marketing office and had developed a personal friendship with one of my employees who happened to be a single mom. She often came over on the weekends she didn’t have her kids, and after a late night of card games and a few beers, it wasn’t uncommon for her to spend the night in my daughter’s room. Then she stopped spending the night.
[Many years later my friend told me “T” tried to sneak into bed with her one night. Once refused, he routinely stalked her down the hall whenever she went to use the bathroom. She felt very uncomfortable at our house, and she stopped coming over.]
And what about my condition for having a Nanny, in which “I” was to be the “Woman of the house”? Well, clearly “T” and “She” had a different idea. Subtly but surely, my role was being challenged. She was a threat, that much was evident, but I couldn’t quite figure out why. She was his cousin, almost 22 years younger than him. Why would she want to ruin things for us? It just didn’t make sense. There were a lot of things that didn’t make sense! Like what was happening to my laundry?
Some of my favorite pieces of clothing were mysteriously disappearing. By instinct, I knew that “She” had them and I demanded that she produce them … but of course “She” denied everything and pleaded bullying to “T”. Realizing I was getting nowhere fast, I snuck into “She’s” room (the one she shared with my step daughter) and found my clothes folded tucked neatly between the space of her bed and the wall! Gotcha! I was not crazy! Vindication at last! I tromped down the hall, waiving the newly discovered clothing, certain that now “T” would see that I was being harassed and mistreated by the Nanny who was supposed to be following my rules of conduct.
Nope! Didn’t see that coming! They both lit into me like nobody’s business! How DARE I accuse her of such a thing! How DARE I sneak into HER bedroom! “She” had a right to privacy!! I was NEVER to go into “She’s” bedroom again, under ANY circumstances whatsoever! If I did, I’d be SORRY!
“But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers overflowed, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!”. ~Matthew 7:26-27 GNB
Which is probably why I didn’t do the logical thing when I woke one night to “T’s” sneaking out of bed, stealthily opening our bedroom door, and tip toeing down the hall. I followed suit, pausing our bedroom door until I heard another door open/close. Any sane person would have marched down the hall and opened the door to find out what he was doing in “She’s” bedroom at 2 am (with his daughter in the same room!!). But I’d already knew what hell I’d pay if I did that! Next, I thought about going outside and peeking in through the outside window … but oh Lord – if they caught me?!?!? I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, I sat at the end of the hall way with my back against the closet door that bridged the master bedroom and that of my two daughters, and I waited. “I’ve got him this time”, I said to myself. “He’ll be the one catching hell when I catch him red handed exiting “She’s” room!” But he didn’t exit after 10 minutes, or 30 minutes, and eventually I just wearied … knowing that even if he did reenter the hallway and find me sitting there waiting for him, somehow, it would still end up being my fault for “spying” on him. By this time, I’d given him so much control over me that I just didn’t have the strength for this type of confrontation and what it would evoke.
We used to sit around the oval kitchen table in a certain order – “T” on one end, and I on the other. And then “She” started sitting in my spot, while I sat next to my daughters to help them with their meals. Of course, I loved helping my daughters with their meals, but I really resented the way that “She” seemed to own the other end of the table. If seemed as though I was visiting an alternate reality where “She” was “T’s” wife and I was the Nanny.
Once both my girls were in school, “T” and “She” decided that she should run a neighborhood daycare business out of our home. The family room was restaged, and “She” soon took in 3-4 other children in addition to our two little girls. And naturally, “She” became friends with their parents, as did “T”.
[When we went to court, “T” subpoenaed them to testify about what a terrible wife/mother I was – at least based on all the stories they’d heard about me from “She” over the years.]
Apparently running a daycare business is exhausting, because “She” then started needing to get out a little in the evenings. And who do you think she went out with? You guessed it! Here I am working 40-50 hours a week, so that I can pay a wage to our live-in Nanny who also is making a tidy income running a business out of my home, and if that isn’t enough … I’m babysitting the kids while “T” and “She” go out to the movies or other play dates.
- I want her gone! He wants her to stay!
- I say she’s taking my place! He say’s I’m just imagining things! Making something out of nothing!
- I say there is something going on between the two of them! He say’s the revelation of my Dad’s behavior (the family secret) has colored my vision, and that I’m seeing things that aren’t there! He loves me and only me!
- I’m going to leave if you don’t get rid of her! He says if I ever try to leave him, he’ll whisk my two daughters off to South America and I’ll never see them again! (the nail in my coffin!)
They decided to take up Salsa Dancing. They go out at least once a week. I tuck the kids into bed at night, and watch my husband get dressed to go out on the town with the Nanny. The world has gone crazy! I’m going crazy! Feels like ping-pong balls are bouncing around in my head!! He says this, but my eyes see that! Or at least I think they do. He says I’m imagining things …. maybe he’s right, I have no proof. He says he loves me and only me. No! Surely this can’t be right! They are “too friendly” all cuddled up on the sofa together in the evenings! That’s not how cousins behave! It doesn’t make sense! We argue more and more, but nothing changes.
“T” decided to build a dance studio for the two of them in our garage. He framed up an approx. 8-10 space that could only be entered from the side door to the garage and proclaimed that this was where he and “She” would practice dancing for an upcoming competition. They were not to be disturbed. Period. To this day, I do not know what was in that small looked room – for even though there was a gap between the top of the wall and the garage ceiling, I was too afraid to climb up and look inside for fear what would happen to me if I was found out.
I was living in crazy-ville, and our fighting increased. During one particularly hot argument he turned to me and yelled “What do you want!?!” The words that escaped my mouth were a shock to my own ears … “I want to see a Marriage Counselor!”, I shouted back.
I am pretty sure God sent a very frustrated angel with a cow-prod to me that day, who somehow managed to jab those words out of my mouth, getting into the atmosphere before my brain had time to process what was taking place! It’s funny to me now, because the moment I heard those words, I’m pretty sure I clasped my hands over my mouth! (What? Oh dear God, who said that?!?!? No the heck I do NOT want to see a marriage counselor! Thankfully, he’ll NEVER agree to that!)
“Fine!”, he said.
In the NKJV, Matthew 7:27 reads “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” I wept when I read that during my morning devotions the day after I’d drafted this week’s post. Yes – the rains descended on my life, and I stayed in the house that I’d built. I needed that house! Then the floods came, but I stayed. Then the winds blew fierce and boisterous and pounding incessantly so as to cause great damage, but still I stayed. And finally, my flimsy little house (the “happy life” I needed so desperately and compromised everything to create) collapsed! “And great was its fall.”
Are you listening to the voice of a False Prophet (FP)?
May the Lord Jesus Christ give you discernment to comprehend truth from the lie, to recognize the disconnect between what your FP says and what they do.
Are you building your house (your life) on sand?
May the Lord help you to be truthful with yourself (and others), so that He can then help you bring about change.
Little did I know it, but in that miraculous cow-prodding moment, God flipped the game! It didn’t happen overnight, and I still had a long way to go to being strong enough to confront “T” and take my life back. But it was a game changing moment, and within the next few weeks I would meet the man who would help me deal with not only the insanity of my current life, but help me deal with my past.
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