Meet Lee Ann Burkhart

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I hope this will help someone who feels trapped in an abusive relationship and sees no way out, whether the abuse is physical or, as in my case, mental and emotional.

My ex-husband and I married in 2001, after just a few months of spending time together and barely getting to know one another. We both soon regretted that we had rushed into the marriage, and after only two months of marriage, I called my pastor and told him I wanted out. Pastor John sat down with both of us and counseled us in a very patient and gentle way, teaching us how we could live together more easily and peacefully. He told us at the end of that first meeting, “All anybody wants for you both, is for you to be happy.”

Because of the encouragement and help we received that day, our marriage did improve and things got better for a while. The Lord blessed us with a beautiful, healthy son, a nice home close to my ex-husband’s job, and a loving and caring extended family. However, instead of enjoying the rich blessings that Jesus had given us, my ex-husband became increasingly cynical and sarcastic towards me, and he habitually criticized both his relatives and mine, as well as our friends. I didn’t know until after we were separated that he was also complaining to his best friend about me, even telling him on several occasions that he wanted a divorce. Many times, when things got too heavy, I would go over to Pastor John’s and tell him I didn’t know if I could continue in the marriage, and he would always encourage me to “hang in there” and be the best wife I could be. Pastor John really believed that with time, my ex-husband would change. By the summer of 2005, my best efforts to make the marriage work were failing, I have to say this was the worse summer of my life. Normally, I look forward to my July birthday, but I remember telling the Lord that summer that I didn’t care if I lived to see my next birthday.

Sadly, things deteriorated between us to the point that we were living separately under the same roof. My ex-husband was very miserable and he was becoming more and more irrational and unstable in his behavior, at times calling himself “demon possessed” and “insane”. One minute he would be so full of anger and sarcasm as he criticized me or someone close to us, and then he would turn right around and say how sorry he was, excusing his bad behavior by saying he couldn’t think right because he had demons haunting him. His criticism and ridicule of others got so bad that Pastor John finally had to ask him not to come back to his home. While I wished many times that he would leave, I never asked him to because I was trusting God to take care of the situation.

In April of 2007, my husband left me and the children. The overwhelming feeling that my daughter and I felt when he left was great relief. Soon after leaving, he begged me to let him come back, saying he only left because one of our friends told him he should and that he had been temporarily insane. As much as I dreaded the hurt and loneliness of going through a divorce, I knew there was no way I ever wanted to put myself and my children in that situation again. Jesus had rescued me from a very bad situation, and I was thankful. Although my ex-husband tried to convince me it would be sin for us to divorce, I remember what I read in Pastor John’s book on Marriage and Divorce where Paul pointed out that married believers could separate (1Cor. 7:11), so I didn’t have to take on that guilt.

It is now the summer of 2009, and my July birthday is just around the corner! I am looking forward to another year and another opportunity to enjoy living and loving the life that Jesus has given me. I am thankful to live in a home now where there is peace, and to be surrounded by reasonable, loving people.

Thank you.


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