Naked & Unashamed – A Return to Garden of Eden Living

Naked and Unashamed

By: Susan Deborah Schiller

I have decided to get naked.

I removed all the outerwear that my culture told me would cover my shame. I don't even know where the shame began, except it appeared when I was very little. It made me painfully shy. I knew in my heart I was "damaged goods" and that no decent man would ever want to marry me. I really don't have a clear idea of why I thought that. My family and friends will tell you I was a "good girl" – even a "goody-two-shoes".

In my own world, from a young age, I was creating my reality and setting myself up to become the woman my counselors described as "the most abused woman" they had yet encountered.

I grew up and got married to a Christian man. We were bound by marriage for nearly 20-years and God gave us three amazing children. There was rarely a day when I was not put down, slandered, accused, verbally tormented, and then blamed for everything, all behind closed doors.

Our church taught me to be silent, and that by submitting to my husband's abuse I was being "spiritually mature" and God would reward me. Is abuse the same as "long-suffering" – the same as supporting someone who has cancer or is aging? Abuse is its whole separate category, and that's what church leaders don't quite yet understand.

I fell deeper and deeper into hell as the chains of religion tightened.

My husband's repeated message to me was that I was stupid, worthless, and would never amount to anything. I didn't realize it at the time, but he was projecting on to me what he felt about himself.

Prior to marriage I had traveled on my own to South America, living as an exchange student in a foreign country. I learned to speak Spanish. I flew airplanes from the time I was five years old until age 16 when I got my student pilot's license. I wrote my first book complete with chapters and illustrations at age 11. My dad taught me that I could do anything I put my heart into. After he died I helped my mom, as the oldest of four children. I cooked meals, did the laundry, chauffeured the other kids, and kept the house clean. By nature, I am a caregiver and sacrificing my own needs for the sake of my family is the reason I live.

Twenty years of marriage to an abuser left me a shell of my former self, as I sacrificed to become what my husband wanted me to be. Although I internalized the stress, always trying to change myself to make him happy, it was never enough.

He used to tell me on many occasions, "Sue, you haven't done anything wrong. There's just something inside me that wants to hurt you."

Although at crisis points he seemed to sincerely want to change, year after year rolled by with the abuse only intensifying. I remained silent for most of those years, working on myself… spending hours in my prayer closet (literally, my closet)… memorizing Scripture and praying in my diaries.

I attended conferences, read books, and applied the lessons. Through it all, I remained publicly silent, submitting myself to the church's teaching.

There came a time when I realized that my silence was sin. My passion for God displaced my need to conform to the patriarchal religious system demanding my subjugation. 

When I did finally speak up, hardly anyone wanted to listen. They had no grid for understanding so they pretended I didn't exist. Their silent shunning intensified the abuse.

As I listened to God, penning prayers in my diaries, I realized Papa God was mapping a way out for me, a journey to freedom and a life of joy. I was writing to freedom!

It turned out this was the best thing for my husband, as well. In listening to one of his sermons online, he refers to our divorce as being his "wake up" call and how it changed his whole life. The one thing he didn't mention was how much he hurt his family. 

In my upcoming book, "On the Way Home," I allow you to peek into my diaries and to walk with a woman who my marriage counselors called "the most abused woman" they had met in more than a dozen years of counseling.

It's raw.

   It's messy.

      I wish it weren't my story…

I wish I had created a different story. But it is what it is, and embracing reality is the first step to healing. And then the magic begins... when we decide it's not how we want the story to end and we create a new world.

We create our world, with our beliefs, our thoughts, and our actions one day at a time.

Like most women leaving an abusive marriage, a new predator was ready and waiting for me. Many of the women in my support group have had second marriages that were just as abusive, or worse, than their first marriages. Most of them, like me, have suffered 30 or more years of marital and/or spiritual abuse.

Next hardest to living with an abusive spouse is leaving the abusive relationship. It's like volunteering to be crucified and it usually leads to deep psychological scars, with some professionals call post-traumatic stress disorder.

It's during our darkest days (and years) that we discover the nearly bottomless pit of despair within our souls. It's a gift, for it leads us into the deepest reservoir of love in our Papa God's heart.

All of us experience these dark pits to some degree – it's part of the human condition. We try our hardest to fill these holes with whatever we can find to soothe the ache: work, success, achievements, relationships, sex, food, entertainment, spiritual success, etc. If you are exposed to Christianity, you may have been told that "accepting Christ and being born again" will fill that hole and make your life meaningful and whole. That's not necessarily true.

As a woman who has been a pastor, a full-time deliverance minister, and a prayer coordinator in charge of 9 Midwestern states for a large international ministry, I have listened as pastor and church leaders have bared their hearts, and most of them are deep in sin territory, hurting badly.

The man you see in the pulpit is frequently not real. Unless they have plunged the depths of their own brokenness, it's most likely they are living a cover life in public.

I know, because I was a full-time inner healing and deliverance minister specializing in listening to the confessions of Christian leaders. Nearly half of our Christian pastors report being addicted to porn, for example. Christians have a slightly higher divorce rate. Christian homes are just as broken as non-Christian homes. That's the reality we all live in.

This is a cross-denominational disease affecting one hundred percent of us. We can't point our fingers at the Catholic priests molesting children or at the TV evangelists divorcing their wives and marrying the nanny. No, there's a beast in our own souls… no matter how "good" we are! And it's a dragon only we can slay.

Getting naked before God and man slays the dragon.

I needed salvation from sin more than anyone else. The dragons of pride, self-righteousness, fear, self-loathing, control, and so much more had to be wrestled and defeated. Sanctification is hardest for those of us who have been "goody-two-shoes."

Feeling uncomfortable in our skin is a symptom of feeling separated from God (Love).

Being comfortable in our own skin is a sign of holiness, being FULL of God.

The whole entire system is cloaked in darkness when our leaders and people live cover lives. We have all struggled with shame, my dear reader… and some of us have beaten it. We can live in peace and joy in a world where fear does not plague us.

It's a process, a journey… one that I call, "On the Way Home".

My goal is to take as many hurting women as I can on a journey deep into the Father's heart, a place where widows are transformed into brides and orphans receive a family and a home. 

My Full Story     What I Believe    Contact Me

With all my love,

Sue

Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.  

Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.

Copyright © 2010 to 2016 Team Family Online, All rights reserved.   For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller

Tagged as: Blessing the Next GenerationDiary of a Battered Preacher's WifeGetting Your Life BackSusan SchillerVoice of the Bride

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance February 10, 2015 at 3:04 am

Hi Susan…I could not get through this page without choking up in tears…my marriage is a smouldering ember because of my abuse toward the Wife God gave me 20 years ago…All because I did not surrender all the issues of my abusive past to God. I suffer alone in silence now…God has since transformed my heart into something beautiful which no-one can take from me. I keep my distance, as I need to deeply respect her time to find healing in every way that God wants to bring it to her… I help with dishes, play with our  little son, speak little…and pray alone. Please pray for us. Thank You.

Reply

Susan Schiller February 10, 2015 at 7:19 am

Hi Lance,

I am glad you have awakened. It sounds like it took a crisis, which is usually the case, because 20 years is a very long time. This time alone in silence has been a positive influence in your life, from what I read in your words. Silence and solitude are healers and menders of torn souls and most people despise their appearance for it’s so lonely and uncomfortable. 

Your wife may require a longer time to heal than you may realize. She’s experienced trauma and pain on top of each other for a long time. She will know deep insider her spirit if your awakening is real. There will be times when she is reliving the pain and tension of the past due to a small trigger. You will want to keep acknowleging the pain you gave her and keep asking her for forgiveness, over and over. 

It may seem like she is bitter or unforgiving, but in reality she is coping with the past layer-by-layer. If you’re willing to love her back to life, she may or may not respond. It depends on how much damage. With God all things are possible.

I hope you will read Kimberly and Josh Dimick’s stories at:

Josh: http://heartscribes.org/walking-wise-love-story/

Kimberly: http://heartscribes.org/walking-wise-love-story-1/

You may even want to contact the Dimick’s, if you wish – they are truly wise when it comes to pathological relationships. You may already have good counsel. I hope so.

I will pray for you, as God leads. Father, let the fire of your love burn ever deeper in Lance’s heart. Let all that is not of you be exposed and burned in the fire of your love. Help him to gaze into your eyes and find healing, hope, and help. Help him to see his wife through the eyes of love. Please have mercy and show kindness to this family. Give them double for all their troubles and restore them. Fill their hearts with light, with joy, with truth, and give them strength and courage to go the distance and to begin helping others, too. 

Let your healing rain come, Holy Spirit, and bring relief after the fire. Soak them in the fear of the Lord and give them wisdom and discernment. Thank you dear God for giving this family all that they need! Amen.

Lance, please do come back and share how it’s going from time to time, and if you feel like sharing more of your story, you are welcome!

Reply

chris October 19, 2014 at 1:29 am

Hi, everyone, Peace

Hope you are all knowing that you are all heroes and heroines.   The very best is truly on the way.  Thanks for every good thought.   Question from me, to you, please ….  We're these people in our past, haters of us when we met?  Also, one more, seems , as I am recovering, the more people that I remember that were this wiring that I remember.  What is that about?  Prayer, and peace.

Reply

Susan Schiller October 19, 2014 at 9:45 am

Hello Chris,

The more we learn about what happened, the better we can prevent it from happening again… all the way around. To answer your question, I have an archive of articles that will hopefully help you in your recovery. Did they hate us right from the beginning? In my case, yes… it was hate disguised as love. At one point he told me, “I don’t just hate you; I hate all women.” 

We may never fully under the evil that has darkened our lives but we can recover and become better than before, and that’s my focus. I send you love and light, in your own recovery. Thank you for sharing 🙂

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Sarah April 21, 2013 at 7:29 am

Sue, 

Thank you for sharing your story: it's powerful. As I read your words, I can see/feel just a glimpse of the pain you endured in your marriage and after.  You KNOW your voice, even though your voice has to tell stories of pain and abuse. 

I think this is a great takeaway of this post: My goal is to take as many hurting women as I can on a journey deep into the Father's heart, a place where widows are transformed into brides and orphans receive a family and a home. 

Because you're having the strength to share your story, you will help rescue other women  from abuse and shame.  Keep sharing, keep writing, keep on. 

Reply

Susan Schiller June 4, 2014 at 4:12 am

Thank you, dear Sarah, thank you!

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Yetunde April 19, 2013 at 2:05 am

It is time for the abused woman to speak out. So many Christian women are abused and because of "culture" they grin and bear it,. That is so wrong.

Thank you so much Susan for bearing out all you share. I am sure and I do hope that others will learnf orm youand speak up and out because this is therapeutic.

Sending tons of hugs your way. 

Thanks for BEING YOU.

God bless you

Reply

Susan McKenzie April 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Lovin’ those hugs, Yetunde, and hugging right back – God bless YOU!!!

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Cyn Rogalski April 18, 2013 at 10:55 am

My heart broke as I read your post. I will be praying for you! I know the enemy is not happy with your victory– I will be lifting you, by name, to the Father’s throne. Praying for the days ahead-God has BIG plans for you.

Reply

Susan McKenzie April 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Cyn, how can I give you a hug… ((( Cyn ))) … sometimes words on a page, or a computer screen, are just not enough. I am well. All is well. But there are days – every day, really – when I just want to live a quiet, secluded life. But I cannot – not with so many wives suffering behind closed doors in silence. If I can be there to listen to their hearts, even just one, I know that’s where our Papa God wants to be. He needs us to have listening hearts. We are His hands extended.

Cyn, I sense you carry the same burden. You lift so many warriors up in prayer. You are a special forces  warrior yourself, I sense. And I THANK YOU for being here! Thank you… and sending another big hug!

Reply

Susan Bachelder April 18, 2013 at 2:29 am

I have just entered the unashamed phase and am empowered in it! As often happens, the timing of reading your article is interesting (for lack of a better word in my thoughts right now).

I spent 16 years with my high school sweetheart, love of my life, father of my children in an abussive relationship. Verbally abussive, so I would tell myself to toughen up, suck it up, … I would scramble to please him, make everything perfect. When the verbal aggressiveness was affecting the children.. I scrambled more. Nothing was ever good enough. Until I was exhausted! I left with nothing but my children under my arms. 

My next relationship, once I was on my feet was so different 🙂 He was kind and gentle. He was patient. Then we were in a car accident. With a neck injury that weakened me and left me in constant at times debilitating pain although not paralyzed … this partner began to get angry when he was drunk. Then he raped me. Twice. 

When I asked him to leave, he refused so I blocked out the memory of it.It took me 2 years to gather the courage to insist that he move out of my home. Now he is asking for 1/2 of my home. 

It took me a year to start to heal, accept, stop blaming myself and start my journey to heal my soul and share my story to help others. Right here, right now is the first time I am typing the rape portion of my story. Why here on your blog, I am not sure. I follow my instinct. I connected with your story and am ready to tell my story to help others. I am not a victom, I seek not for sympathy nor empathy only to protect others. My suffering is a lesson learned. 

Susan, I thank you for having the courage to share your story!

I admire you! Even though I just stumbled onto your blog, you have impacted me tremendously. I was ready, yet still hesitating… your story gave me the extra courage I was searching for just at the right moment. God works in mysterious ways. May you be blessed immensely! 

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Susan McKenzie April 18, 2013 at 8:11 am

Dear Susan,

I’m so glad you trusted your instincts and shared a huge part of your heart here!

This is a page I have not exposed publicly to anyone, except that it’s quietly sitting here in the blog post line… so it’s interesting you should find it. I almost deleted it because it’s intensely personal, but mainly, because I don’t want to offend anyone by my transparency.

I like what you say, “I am not a victom, I seek not for sympathy nor empathy only to protect others. My suffering is a lesson learned.”

“Exactly!” I respond…. Remaining in a victim mode, focusing on the negativity just feeds that victim mentality and we end up attracting more abuse into our lives. Enough is enough, right?

Susan, you are someone who is much farther along the path than many others. I invite you to share more of your story here, as a guest blogger. Email me or connect with me on Facebook, if you wish… Your story will, indeed, help to EMPOWER others!!!

THANK YOU so much for commenting here, especially on this post, today, Susan – THANKS!   ((((( Hugs ))))

Reply

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