The Very, Very End of the Abuse Series: Remembering Becky

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Here are links to this entire series:
Part 1: My story of abuse (Introduction)
Part 2: Seven things you need to know about abusers
Part 3: Dealing with victims of abuse
Part 4: It started with a crossword puzzle
Part 5: Getting help for an abuse victim
Part 6: Taking the next step
Part 7: My church’s initial response to abuse
Part 8: Your marriage counselor may destroy your marriage
Part 9: Cutting off communication
Part 10: How to choose sides in an abusive situation
Part 11: The strangeness of a spring break
Part 12: Filings for divorce and early rumblings at church
Part 13: What are those deacons good for anyway?
Part 14: The “repentance” game
Part 15: Isolation
Part 16: When the church goes off the rails
Part 17: When the church goes off the rails even further
Part 18: Final church problems
Part 19: How to neutralize an abuser
Part 20: The saga concludes
Part 21: Updates
Part 22: The very end

Over the past year and a half, I have written almost two dozen posts on an abuse situation that Marla and I worked on in 2015-2016. I have come back to it a few times since then and in my last post, thought that I had it wrapped up for good. In fact, I told you that it would be my last post on that situation.

I was wrong. I have to give you one more update. I owe it to you because so many of you invested in that story and I owe it to the victim whom I am going to identify by name for the first time: Becky.

I went to bed in Europe a week ago and woke up to a series of frantic texts from her father and her neighbor. When we finally got someone on the phone, we heard the news that Becky and two of her children had died the night before in a car accident. Her third child was also in the car, but survived and should be fine.

To close out this series for good, I want to fill in a few last gaps in the story for you. I am going to talk about Becky because to be honest, I am incapable at the moment of talking about the children. I have no idea how to process that or what to say to my daughter who I will see again in a few days, who lost one of her good friends in that crash.

I would not say that I have a lot of true friends. That is partly because of my personality and partly because of our culture. Most of us probably have no more than a few people that we can feel truly safe with. If you are a man, you are lucky if you have even one. I would say that outside of Marla, I have 2-3 of those people. Becky was at the top of that list. Becky was not a project for me; she was not a person that needed to be helped. Rather, she was an extremely close friend from whom I received as much as I gave.

Becky was an intellectual, and rare in that she could handle conflicting ideas without feeling threatened. She heard an awful lot of the radical ideas that go on in my head that I would never dare to write here, and never rejected them outright. She simply did not judge regardless of how far off the plantation I was. She just asked questions and reasoned with me. It was not often but sometimes she even agreed with me.

She was one of the very few of my friends that was not afraid to tell me when I was off the mark in my music. She was sometimes ruthless about that, in fact. She also helped me by editing my more controversial blog posts here, usually for tone, and her usual advice was to tell me to soften it up. She was the queen of nuance. Over the past three years, her influence has been felt by many of you even if you don’t know it.

Obviously, ours was a cross-gender relationship which brings its own challenges. Marla knew that I needed a friend like Becky and was supportive. However, many people would be surprised to know just how intertwined the three of our lives were over that period. We talked constantly, especially after her separation from her abusive husband; although in order to keep pressure from him off of her and the kids, we did not advertise it.

We watched Becky grow over three years from a place where she was almost completely controlled by a weak, abusive man, into a strong, successful woman with a bright future. She was getting an advanced degree and was only a year away from becoming a nurse practitioner. She was financially independent and a devoted mother.

While I had monitored every bit of correspondence from her ex-husband for three years to help her learn to climb out of that hole, I was about to stop. She had gotten to the point where she was managing him just fine with no help from me. And in spite of the fact that she was treated horribly by our former church, she was remarkably free from bitterness, possessing far more faith than me, and involved in a new church.

If you go to her blog, you see a bird outside a cage in the logo. She liked symbols and the bird represented her escaping. Sometimes, you see her using butterflies on the blog for the same reason. She escaped a lot of things over the past few years and she helped me escape things, too. By the way, she did not write a ton on the blog because she simply did not have time. She was getting her degree, working pretty much full time, and raising three kids at the same time. However, she wrote on the blog to help people (including many of you) who are in abusive situations. Some of you need to escape, too.

The tragedy of course is that while she escaped, she never truly had the chance to enjoy it (at least in this life). She was a year away from graduating and probably moving back to Michigan to be near her family where we always knew she belonged. That was the plan we were working on. However, even though she was in transition, that is not to say she was unhappy. She was definitely happy. But she had not arrived at where she was trying to go yet.

To close this out, I want to leave you with two thoughts that I heard Becky say often.

It is what it is.

If Becky could talk to me today, she would implore me to just move on from her death. There is no point in whining and complaining she would say. Just make the most of what you have and accept it. What you want does not matter. Even what you need does not matter. What matters is what is. It is what it is.

Sometimes the best thing to tell someone going through a tough time is nothing more than “it sucks.”

Becky got annoyed when people dropped their lite Christian cliche on her, or tried to give her reasons for why God allowed her to go through what she went through. That is one of the big reasons she hated Facebook. She just wanted people to come along with her and acknowledge the pain without trying to fix it or explain it.

She was a devoted Christian. We believe as Christians that things happen for a reason rather than randomly but there is not a one of us that knows why Becky and her two children died last week. If you talk to me about it, I hope you won’t speculate. Just tell me it sucks (in your own words).

Because it does…

RIP

Note: Could I ask a favor? As a rule, my readers don’t comment a lot on this blog but send me emails instead. Could I ask you to comment below rather than email this time? (If you are reading this in email, click here to go to the actual blog post.) Her family will be reading this and they would like to read what you say. If you have been helped by her story or her blog as so many of you have indicated to me in the past, let them know. If you are still in an abusive situation and it is not safe to identify yourself, feel free to use another name. You and your real identity are always safe here.

 

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37 thoughts on “The Very, Very End of the Abuse Series: Remembering Becky

  1. Hannah says:

    I rarely post, but I followed through Becky’s story. I am sorry to hear about what happened but also rejoice in knowing that she is in a far better place than all of us – no more night, no more pain

    I did not know her, but based on the stories she was a strong woman, had a strong support system, and had faith in an omnipotent God

    I pray for comfort for her friends and family during this time

  2. Tiffany Jefferson says:

    Thank you for sharing the heart breaking news about Becky along with her testimony. I have just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. My only parallel to Becky is that I was also hitting a new stride in my life, I had many new opportunities to look forward to which are dust and ashes now. She is right, it is what it is. It sucks. Accept what happens. It hurts like heck, but we have to move on. People who go through this don’t need pollyanna attitudes or tired cliches. They don’t need people worrying about “why.” Just come up and give them a hug and tell them it sucks. It sucks leaving so many people behind, but I hope they figure out how to remember me and listen to Becky’s advice.

  3. Sherry says:

    Becky’s story has been extra helpful to me for reasons I won’t go into here. Thanks Greg for sharing and I am sorry for your loss.

  4. Emilie says:

    Your story has inspired me as a woman to stand up for what is right for me and my children. I came to read of you as a church musician interested in Greg Howlett’s beautiful piano arrangements. But his writing of your story touched my heart. Rest in peace.

  5. Alice Corbett says:

    I am so, so sorry. Praying for God to ease the pain of the huge empty place for Becky’s and her children’s family and friends. May He wrap His great arms of love and protection around her child especially. The influence she had on you will forever be part of you. I believe Becky is now more than ever cheering you on, to keep the faith and keep making music until you are together again before His throne.

  6. Becky says:

    I’m so sorry for the grief you are experiencing. Becky’s story was one of courage in the midst of conflict, and has helped many people. She is now with Jesus! Well done, Becky. Praying for her family who must find a new normal.

  7. carrie says:

    You’re right. “It sucks.” I once believed god gave a crap. But it seems he would rather allow some of us to suffer abusive marriages, and get out just to endure more abuse from the ex or, in Becky’s case, kill us. I have followed Becky’s story because it is so close to my own. Maybe this will be a good thing because she and 2 of her kids, at least, are 100% free from her abusive ex.

        • Derek G. says:

          Carrie, My wife and I struggled with this very same question. Why would God allow this type of evil to happen to those who love Him? We have prayed for many years (almost 15 now) for children and God has not seen fit to give us any. We fostered (to adopt) a baby girl a few years back. Literally took her home from the hospital after she was born. Long story short, our illustrious government welfare system needed to maintain quotas and statistics and she was ripped from our home the day after her first birthday and placed in a 60-something year old, un-godly man’s home. WHY?!? This didn’t make a lick of sense. We were Christians and she would have been raised in a loving home and in a Christian church, but now, what? I don’t understand it. The heartache caused to my wife and I has lasted to this day, but we take comfort in knowing that God has a plan. If I understood it all, I wouldn’t have to trust God. I’m forced to trust that there is a greater plan. Maybe God has a special plan for Baby A. and she has something to learn that only this situation can provide. I trust and know God will use this situation to mold her for His plan (as well as us). We did our best to provide her with a good start. We pray for her and hope she will seek after God and one day trust Him to be her Savior and with the rest of her life’s way.
          Only God knows!

          • Saraz says:

            Derek G.- That is so sad to hear about the baby you once protected being taken away. I fear for what might happen to that child. “Child Protection Services” (CPS aka foster care) often works to keep foster parents from forming loving bonds with the children. It is a very corrupt system. Very. I know this from having been a child in the system. They do not have the child’s best interests at heart. Many agencies make money off foster children in various ways, and all too often the children “go missing”. The foster care system is not a safe place for any child. Most the children are not orphans either. They force good foster parents to agree to their terms even when it goes against their Biblical beliefs. It is not a system that I can support in any way knowing what I have seen on the inside and know about it. If you want to know more here is a link: healthimpactnews (dot) com/2018/state-funded-foster-care-and-the-church-part-of-the-problem-not-part-of-the-solution/ (note I do not endorse this website completely, use Biblical discernment in everything)

  8. Anne says:

    I was so sorry to read today about the death of Becky and two of her children. I had printed all 20 of your posts about her journey. Reading your experiences and incites has helped me to minister to a friend of mine who is going through a similar situation.
    God bless and comfort all of the family and friends of this special woman.

  9. Teresa Phillips says:

    I am sorry for you , your family, and Becky’s remaining child. You went through a lot to help her. I know that this is a shock and all of you are very hurt. God bless you for your efforts and may the loving hand of the Father be upon you and your family . You did your best to help a friend who needed it. It sounds like you were successful. Let God help you now . May the Heavenly Father guide you through this time.

  10. SB says:

    My Dad was in the process of getting out of an abusive marriage with my mother and life was starting to become normal for him when he was killed in a motorcycle accident. I had a really hard time understanding why God allowed it to happen and was praying for peace when He gave me this verse: Isaiah 57:1 “The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.”

  11. Heather says:

    Greg, I’m so so sorry to hear of your loss. It sounds like Becky was a truly wonderful person and friend and that you, Marla, and her were all mutually blessed by your friendship.
    I have followed a lot of this series and commented once to encourage you that out of the spiritual, emotional and physical abuse I suffered as a child from my legalistic (cult) church, I had found a church that truly took abuse in all forms seriously.
    I completely agree with you that the christianese cliches of “everything happens for a reason”, “Praying for you”, “God is allowing this because…” sometimes just don’t cut it.
    Sometimes there isn’t an answer. I don’t know why God chose to take Becky home just when she has a chance to fully live. I don’t know why He allowed repentant members from my cult church to come to my current church and happily immerse themselves there whilst I suffered from the memories when I saw them. I don’t know why He allows health scares and tough situations and the continued pain from mental scars for me and other abused people whilst the abusers seemingly roll on with their lives.
    I don’t know. I do know, though, that it is ok to say that it sucks. It’s ok to tell God that it sucks. Sure, my reaction might not be “right” but I know God wants me to be honest with Him, rather than trying to fake it. My boyfriend has encouraged me to tell God exactly how I feel even when it means telling Him that I don’t understand what He’s doing and that it seems all wrong.
    Sometimes God gives answers and sometimes He doesn’t. However He always gives me His unconditional love and grace.
    The pain must be unimaginable for you and your wife, Greg. It sucks. I just want you to know that even if you never get an answer until eternity, God loves you so so much, in a way that we cant really comprehend. He loves Becky too – delights in her, loves her, cherishes her.
    During this time of hurt and grief, I pray that you can find some comfort and healing.
    Becky has left a legacy behind that has touched the lives of similarly abused victims and may well have helped others out of like situations. Well done, good and faithful servant!
    God bless

  12. Norma Dickson says:

    I am stunned reading how Becky’s story has ended or maybe just begun. I read your posts on how she showed so much courage and growth in escaping marital abuse and spiritual abuse from a church. God’s ways and plans are so much different than ours. Speaking for myself and I think some others. We would have liked to see her story end happily with her thriving on earth. God’s plan is so much more glorious than we could begin to imagine. Becky and her children are in the arms of God with no more pain or struggle. That is praiseworthy. I pray that those left behind would also feel the arms of God comforting them. May God’s name be lifted up and glorified through this situation.

  13. Liberty B says:

    Hi Greg,
    I’m very sorry for your loss. I can hardly believe it. I just read her recent post about God’s Providence. I can’t imagine the loss that you all must feel– but oh, the gain she has in Heaven!
    Becky’s site is a valuable resource that I’ve referred people to, and will continue to do so. Her words and wisdom are such a help. I read every post as she wrote them…. I feel like I came to know her some… I think she was a person that I would have liked to be friends with.
    I emailed her a private question once, and she replied thoughtfully, graciously, honestly.
    Like the other commenter said– while my tears fall, I just can’t imagine how you all feel. I will keep you and her loved ones in my prayers, just as I prayed for her.
    You’re right, it’s awful. Nothing changes that. I don’t think it was an accident that her last post was about God’s Providence. May we turn to Him and His love during these/ our hard times. That’s what Becky would want, right?

  14. Jackie says:

    I have followed this story with interest and with empathy. Praying for her family and all involved. Yes, life from a human standpoint often stinks.

  15. Elaine DeVries says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, and for the pain and sadness overall. I have admired Becky’s courage and you and Marla’s courage as well in sharing her story and walking through life together. I, too, believe that often the local church wounds the wounded and uses cliches that hurt rather than heal. I have shared Becky’s story with others and they have benefitted. Her story will continue……

  16. Renee says:

    Thank you for telling Becky’s story. The first post about her sounded so similar to my own story, and it was the first of many things God brought into my life to open my eyes. I will miss getting her blog posts. I am sorry for your loss. It certainly does suck!

  17. J. Stowers says:

    Greg, I am sorry for your loss. Your series on abuse was so enlightening to my wife and I and there is such value in you doing that series. I know that Becky was behind that as well and we are grateful.

  18. Allen Weber says:

    When sin entered this planet, it would have destroyed our parents then and there if God hadn’t taken protective measures. But He did. He put us in quarantine from the rest of the Universe until we could learn that He is trustworthy and be able to freely choose to live according to His design for us. It is the only way.

    In many ways, to protect us from His consuming glory, we are very much on our own on this little blue marble, and abusers seem to “get away with it,” while hate, disease, and rebellion run rampant. Becky was one of those who escaped those things in more ways than one. While we now grieve, we can honestly say that she “ran the race” and “finished the fight,” and God will soon reunite us all. I’m looking forward to getting to know you, Greg, your family, and Becky, and being friends for eternity. While things suck now more often than not, we will someday be able to say, “It was worth is all.” In the meantime, I pray that your heart and the hearts of her family stay sensitive to the amazing, healing love of our God that lessens pain over time, and in the end, brings us all together again in an eternal circle of love. This time, forever! With love from a brother, Allen.

  19. Sonya says:

    Greg, Marla and family, my heart hurts with you and for you. It was in our connection to you that gave us the privilege to meet and get to know Becky. Thank you.
    Her strength and grace will not be forgotten. Going to the Tapas restaurant together, enjoying the delicious food and then roaming the international market together trying new foods, (cheeses and anji white tea) will be among a favorite memory. Or chatting around her table about philosophy and difficult social elements while listening to music and the sounds of laughter and life. Becky and I shared an excitement over learning new things and I will always be thankful to have been encouraged by such a soul..

    I have just a little left of the white tea that we bought together last year. I can’t bring myself to drink it.
    She’s gone too soon.

  20. Rachel says:

    I am so, so sorry for your loss! I can’t begin to imagine the pain that you are experiencing. Like you said, there are no words to help make things any easier, but I will be praying that the Lord give you His comfort and a special sense of His presence in the days ahead.
    I so appreciated the courage that it took for you, your wife, and Becky to stand in the face of church leadership who wanted to use the Bible as a weapon to increase their own influence and power. Becky was so blessed and God was honored by your advocacy even though it cost you and your family dearly. Thank you for being willing to pull this topic out from behind closed doors. The series on the blog has generated some good discussions with several Christian friends about how the churches often mishandle these situations and the general abuse of power seen so much in church leadership. I can only hope that the Lord will use this greater awareness to help all of us recognize and appropriately confront these problems if we are faced with them.

  21. Bethany says:

    Wow! Definitely not one we expected or hoped for. So sorry for your loss!

    Thank you for writing about her story. Though different in many ways, I have some spiritual abuse in my background and am always so happy to hear of others who have, as I have been, set free! Free from the bondage and free from the cage.

    Never would I wish her story on anyone, but knowing that we live in a broken world and that these stories do and will exist, I am so very thankful that she used her testimony of God’s grace to encourage those that are experiencing the same horrible experience.

  22. Janel Torres says:

    I happened to stumble onto this blog from a random post on my FB newsfeed. I had already heard about the tragic accident so when I connected the stories, I was compelled to read the entire blog in one sitting. Shock and horror come to mind and that awful feeling of having been where she’d been just a few years prior. I’m what I call a highly functioning recovering victim–17 yrs worth and only 8 yrs removed. Most days are good, some days are just not, and there’s really no way to explain that or the reasons why to anyone who’s not ever walked in similar shoes. So now I’m angry at so many things and praying for little Jake and Becky’s family. Taking that kind of journey with someone is no small feat! I know God uses all things for His good, but her loss in this world is a tragedy. I have nothing but tremendous respect and admiration for the role that Greg and Marla played and Becky’s confidence in them and strength. My deepest condolences.

  23. Derek G. says:

    I followed this “series” from the very beginning, having been a survivor myself and identifying with the story. It is a very sad “ending” but we know this is not really the End but rather the furthering of God’s will. There are many things in life we don’t understand either for the present or for all of this life, but we can trust that God is in control and His way is perfect.
    Thank you, Greg, for your boldness in sharing this story and for being there for Becky when she needed someone. Too many Christians would rather keep the peace or stay in friendship with certain folks than to forsake personal safety or security and risk what is necessary to reach out and help someone in need.

  24. Nigel Tompsett says:

    What a terrible shock to read this awfully sad news…. having followed this story through both Greg’s and Becky’s blogs, I almost felt as though I knew her from the personal nature of all that had been shared, and my heart often ached for her regarding the situation she was in, but so overjoyed for the way in which she was enabled to move on, and start again with her life.

    What a tragedy for her family, who must be reeling at the moment as they try and process what has happened.

    My heart aches so much for them, and of course for the child who has survived this horrible accident.

    I am at a loss to know what to say, but can only pray for peace and comfort for these dear people who are suffering so much at this time.

  25. Britt Carson says:

    To Greg and Becky’s family,
    I am in shock right now. I just learned about Becky and her children’s deaths and I feel like I have lost a friend. I am in tears. I experienced a situation very similar to Becky’s. I’ve followed your blog, Greg, and also her blog and site. As a Christian musician and a mom of three kids myself, I felt a special kinship with Becky. I also have made the bird outside a cage my own personal symbol. My marriage, divorce and 2-year custody battle (which ended in 50/50 custody despite the facts) were messy and painful, and I struggle with resentment and bitterness that God allowed my life and my children’s lives to end up split and unsettled like this. Hearing about Becky’s death is waking me up to the fact that I need to repent and ask God to forgive me for wasting countless hours feeling sorry for myself and I need to shift my heart to gratefulness for every blessing every minute of every day. I was always so inspired by Becky’s strength and fortitude. I thought of her often in my moments of feeling “not enough” for my kids. She seemed to have a unique ability to accept life’s challenging situations and thrive regardless of how she was treated. I miss her and I never even met her. Thank you and your wife, Greg, for having the courage to stand up alongside a friend and risk your own reputations, relationships, and livelihoods in order to do what was right and good. You and Becky’s family helped her feel loved, and possibly even more important: HEARD. So many of us go through these situations and even our closest family and friends wonder why we can’t just buck up and move on. Or they question our sanity because there are no external bruises. They respond to our pain with confusion and dismissal. Your blog, Greg, over the past few years, has reminded me regularly that there ARE good people in this world who will stand up for a friend. Who understand the crazy-making nuances of a story like ours. Thank you for helping tell Becky’s story. I will never forget her. I am so, so sorry for your loss. Holding you all and Becky’s third baby in prayer. -Britt

  26. Saraz says:

    I just read Greg’s post, and I just read Becky’s last post. Sigh. It’s so sad for Becky’s third child and how this will affect him/her. My heart breaks for this child and for those who loved her and loved her children who were taken so young. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8) can be a solace for those left behind but it doesn’t make one miss them any the less. One thing that came to mind for me is that Becky’s story will have much more impact on people just because of how tragic her life had been and how it ended. Her story may be spread further and minister to more souls out there who are in similar situations to what she came out of. This may also mean that her former abusers and former church members might get a serious wake up call that the Lord could use to open their eyes to the truth that they might repent. Sometimes God, who is outside of time, choses situations to happen (yes, out of His providence – noting Beck’s article) in order to bring great blessings (like salvation) to others. I know this in my own life that often situations we once saw as a great tragedy can be turned into great blessings when we turn to God for our comfort and strength. What a blessing it would be if this situation would be used to bring salvation to those Becky cared enough to pray for their souls. It is my prayer that the Lord would use this situation to especially bless her child that survived. May the Lord protect him/her and may s/he grow to mightily love the Lord and be a light to those around him/her. This little light of mine…

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