Casting Out Fear
About the Guest
Trial lawyer Wendy Blight worked for three firms before she had children. The biggest trial she ever faced, however, had nothing to do with court. Today author Wendy Blight talks candidly about the rape that threatened to keep her a prisoner of fear. Find out how she conquered her fears, and how you can, too, by meditating on the Word of God.
Trial lawyer Wendy Blight worked for three firms before she had children. The biggest trial she ever faced, however, had nothing to do with court.
Casting Out Fear
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 19th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey and I'm Bob Lepine. Wendy Blight shares with us today about the hope and the healing that came for the scars on her soul.
Bob: Welcome to FamilyLife Today Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. This is hard stuff we’re going to be hearing about today. But we want to begin our program as we’ve been doing all through the month of January by pointing our listeners back to God’s word, and encouraging them to take some time as a family, whether it’s just the two of you as a couple or the whole family, and spend time reading God’s word.
We’ve been looking at a particular passage each day that could be a great passage for you to talk about, again as a couple or as a family. These are passages taken from the devotional book you and Barbara wrote, Dennis, called Moments With You.
Dennis: That’s right, and all of the devotionals are taken from the scripture, and today’s reading is Jeremiah 32:40. This is God’ speaking, He says, “I will put the fear of Me in their hearts, so that they will not turn away from Me.”
Some of us kind of wrinkle our forehead and think, “God wants us to fear Him, so that we don’t turn away from him?” That’s exactly right. He wants us to have a reverential awe of who He is, and a respect for who He is, so that we don’t allow our hearts to set up an idol factory and worship something, or someone else.
What I’d encourage you to do as a couple is, sometime today, just take a few moments and talk about how you have feared God in the past, and how the fear of God has kept you from evil. How fearing him, has resulted in you not turning away from Him and being disobedient. I think that’s a healthy discussion for a couple to have. You may want to talk about how you didn’t do this, and how you didn’t fear God, and what it cost you.
In this devotional, I share how I didn’t do something I was supposed to do. I ended up lying about it, and then God convicted me about it, several months later, I might add, and how I finally had to come clean with a friend and ask for his forgiveness. But if I had been practicing the presence of God, and a reverential awe of him, I wouldn’t have done this. It would have kept me from evil.
Bob: Well, if you’re interested in seeing these daily devotionals, we actually send them out as e-mails. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to subscribe to the Moments With You daily e-mail. Or you can get a copy of the book, and the information about how to receive a copy of the book is available online as well, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, the story that we are unfolding this week, is a difficult story for us to dive into here, and it may be the kind of story that parents are going to want to decide that they don’t want their children to be listening to, because, it involves an assault that took place on a young woman. What’s it been two decades now?
Bob: Yes, two decades ago, a rape that took place when Wendy Blight had just graduated from college. She came back to her apartment on a Saturday afternoon and found a man with a mask and a hunting knife in her apartment. He proceeded to assault her, and to rape her, then leave her there on her own.
Dennis: I just want you to know, Wendy I appreciate you, your courage to be able to tell your story, and to really take a topic that I think must be discussed publicly. Because the Christian community really holds—I believe—the keys to women who have been raped finding wholeness and healing, and well-being spiritually to make sense out of this. So, thank you for joining us again on FamilyLife Today.
Wendy: Thank you it’s my pleasure.
Dennis: Wendy and her husband Monty live in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they have two children, and we are talking about a subject that is a delicate one. I’ll just add my voice to Bob’s in saying, I’m not sure this is a broadcast for any children.
But Wendy, you’ve written in your book, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner that after the rape occurred, you rushed to your fiancé’s apartment. Obviously he had to be stunned to see you there, and talking in sentences that were fragments. Terribly frightened, calling the police, tell me what his response was in the days following the rape, toward you as a woman.
Wendy: All three of them, my fiancé and his two roommates took very good care of me, because I would not ever be alone. So they just made sure there was never a time that I was by myself. My job gave me that first few days off so I wouldn’t have to start right away, because I was supposed to start work that Monday. He just cradled me at night. I couldn’t sleep. I cried to myself all the time. Whenever I took a shower--Monty had to sit in the bathroom with me. I could not be by myself.
Bob: If I was your fiancé, at this point in time, I think I would have wanted to get my roommates together, become the local police force and go looking. Did you have any hint in your mind? Did you think you knew who your perpetrator was?
Wendy: Well, what’s interesting about that is, I didn’t feel like I knew at all who it was at the time. He had blue eyes, that I would never forget, and I knew about his height and his gait, how he walked. And so one day, when I was leaving my apartment to go to work in my car, I was going through the parking lot and I saw a man walking from the back. And my whole body went stiff. I immediately went back into Monty’s apartment; “I think I just saw the man who raped me.” He said, “What? What? Who? Who?” He ran out there, and the guy was gone.
But we called the police department, we described him, it ended up he lived a few doors down from my fiancé’s apartment at the time. The police brought him in, they questioned him, he passed the questioning, but it ended up, as I did more research on him with my fiancé, he had been arrested as a peeping tom several times. He had broken into a girl’s apartment and watched her sleep. But these police officers said, “We’re sorry, people who are peeping toms, don’t progress to the crime rape like that.” And it infuriated my fiancé. So they never really pursued it.
Dennis: All of these circumstances ultimately drove you to a spiritual journey and a search for who God was, that ultimately resulted in your own personal conversion to Christ, and a commitment to Christ.
Dennis: Share how that occurred.
Wendy: I met with the president of Baylor, and I sat in his office, and he was such a gentle and kind man. His name was Dr. Herbert Reynolds. He started asking me about my relationship with Christ. Being a good Baylor student, I just said, yes I have a relationship with Christ. But he planted in my heart, something that I didn’t really know or understand about. He began to talk about life verses, and he shared a life verse in his life, he shared Romans 8:38-39. That nothing separates us from the love of God.
So I began to open God’s word, and read it a little bit at a time. At the time that I would read it, it didn’t always mean anything to me, it would be a comfort, but then it would go away, and my fears would come back over me, because, I lived in what I call a “prison of fear.” So I would read and be comforted, but then I would slip back into the pain and the fear and the unforgiveness, bitterness, and all those things. But then I would get another God appointment in my life.
One of my most favorite stories, the one that seems to speak to so many people, is when I went and met with the minister at our church in Dallas. I had never been alone with a man in a room until this meeting. So I went in the office, I shared my whole story with him. I had never really told anybody, let alone a man. When I was finished, he said “Have you ever read the story of the man on the mat in scripture?” I said, “No.” He said, “Would you open to the book of John?” I had brought my Bible but I had no clue where the book of John was. But he graciously helped me find it.
As we read the story together, we finally got to the part where Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to get well?” The man answered with these excuses about, “Well, nobody helps me to the water…” He looked at me and said, “Wendy, I want to ask you a question. Do you want to get well?” I looked at him and said, “Of course I want to get well!”
He said—now granted I had never met this man before—he said, “I don’t think you want to get well. I think you’ve become comfortable in your place of pity. Everyone feels sorry for you, and you have never taken a step towards God to get better.” And, he was so right.
I was on this mat, and when I left his office that day, it was the first time in my life I knew God’s word was living and active, and speaking to me personally. That was the beginning of an amazing journey through God’s word. Up till then, I read it, but now I began to hunger for it, and read it to hear what God had to say to me.
Bob: This was how many years after the assault?
Wendy: Five years maybe?
Bob: So there had been five years of you battling depression.
Dennis: Being in the prison she talked about.
Bob: Angry… I want to pull back for a minute. You were engaged to be married when this happened, how long after this happened, did you have the wedding?
Wendy: It happened on June seventh, and we married on May ninth the next year.
Bob: Was there any hesitation on your part to go ahead with marriage?
Wendy: Yes. I didn’t think I would make a good wife.
Wendy: Because, I couldn’t even function in my own life, and I thought, “How could I ever be a wife?”
Dennis: Monty must have been a safe man.
Dennis: He must have created such a security for you to walk toward him in marriage. What did he do that created that?
Wendy: First of all, he came from an incredible home. He was a godly man. Although that was not something that was a big part of our relationship early on, because, it lacked in me. I think that’s what kept him. He was so faithful to me, and so good to me, when I didn’t do anything to deserve it.
Bob: Did he ever think about postponing, calling off, ending the engagement?
Wendy: If he did, he never told me. We weren’t even married yet, but I remember him saying when he asked me to marry him, “If you say yes to me, I want you to remember something. The word ‘divorce’ will never be spoken by either one of us. Unless you can agree with that, we can’t get married.” And that’s how we started our marriage.
Dennis: You know, what Monty is illustrating here is a powerful principle that’s found in
1 John chapter 4. “Perfect love casts out all fear.”
Dennis: If anybody had a right to be fearful, it would be you. And, yet he stepped forward to love you with a love that created enough safety for you to give yourself to him. That really is a remarkable love. But that’s the assignment. Listen to me, that’s the assignment for every man who is listening here. “Perfect love casts out all fear.”
We’re not just talking about victims of rape; there are women who have been abused physically, sexually, emotionally, women who have made mistakes in their own past. They need to be loved. Your wife needs love.
Bob: Well, and ultimately Monty was demonstrating God’s love in doing this. It took that perfect love to ultimately cast the fear out of you.
Wendy: I always say, in the book I wrote, he modeled God’s love for me before my very eyes that I didn’t ever know before.
Dennis: You weren’t a Christian at that point.
Bob: This is a delicate question to ask, but given the assault that had taken place, you are walking into marriage where relations are a part of life for a husband and wife. A good gift from God to be celebrated and enjoyed. How did you approach that? What kind of feelings were going on in your heart? Was this an issue for you guys in your marriage?
Wendy: Yes, it was an issue for many, many years. It didn’t happen for many, many, years. I think he probably knew that when he said “I will still marry you.” Because, that act itself was so associated with so much evil that I had no desire for a while.
Dennis: So you abstained?
Dennis: For a husband to make that statement of love to his wife, self-denial really is at the core of how you express love. God does call men to deny themselves, to love their wives, and he really did that for you didn’t he?
Dennis: That spoke volumes to you.
Wendy: At the time I didn’t really understand it. But now, when I look back I’m amazed at who I’m married to.
Bob: From the point in your life where a pastor who doesn’t know you says, “I think you like being a victim,” and God kind of gets your attention, to the point where you really start to do business and unpack what’s happened here. Did that happen immediately, or did it happen slowly, gradually over time.
Wendy: It happened slowly and gradually. It was when I got in a Bible study with a teacher who had a passion and a love for God’s word. It was right after I moved to Charlotte; within a few months a friend invited me to join a Bible study. It was my first Bible study ever to study God’s word.
It was being in that Bible study with her, where she talked about strongholds. The stronghold of fear, and she used that word, and when she spoke the word “fear” the hair on my body, everything in me just—I just stiffened. I just listened so intently to what she said, and I remember picking my son up from the child care, going home, putting him down for his nap, and I sat at my dining room table and I looked up every verse on fear.
That was another turning point, because I realized that fear was not from God. And, the 2 Timothy verse that says “God does not give a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind,” became my verse. It wasn’t overnight. It was a very long journey. Eventually what I learned was I had to quit praying, “God fix me. God help me.” God was wanting me to participate in my healing. And, I needed to begin to take God’s word, and meditate on it, and understand it, and pray it for myself. I wrote it on cards, and put these fear verses around my house. I just began to really eat and drink of it.
As I began to do that, God’s word became a part of me and that whole—everything about fear, I just realized it was all from the evil one. It wasn’t from God. “Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.” I just knew that I could win this. I could be victorious in Christ over the devil who had me in this prison of fear for 13 years.
Dennis: Wow. You’ve painted Monty to be such a saint here. Such a noble man, a noble warrior on behalf of his wife, denying himself, entering into your pain and your fear, he promised you when he married you, “divorce” would never be uttered. In those 13 years, while you remained locked up in that prison of fear, anger and bitterness, was there ever a heated moment?
Wendy: Yes. But that word was never spoken. There was never a threat or “I’m tired of this.” Nothing, he never ever let me believe that he would leave me or abandon me. We had good times—please don’t think I lived in this terrible depression for 13 years. But our life was controlled by my fear.
Dennis: Your life was defined by that fear.
Bob: Had you been to see counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, anybody who tried to help walk you through this and unpack it?
Wendy: Yes. I saw Christian counselors, non-Christian counselors. I tried prescription medication, because I suffered from panic attacks all the time, but I know that my story is to direct women to God’s word, because none of that helped me. It wasn’t until I dug into his word, that my healing came. And it came like a flowing river.
Dennis: Wendy you have been really gracious and I just appreciate you being open to share your story. I think it’s a great love story. Every marriage should be that, even in its imperfection. And I appreciate you sharing that you had your moments, when there were dark moments that occurred between you and Monty. But, that your commitment and your covenant kept you in there, hanging in there with each other, loving one another, so that your tendency to be afraid never had a moment to wonder with Monty threatening to leave, or saying the “D” word.
I think it’s such a compelling illustration Bob. I just want to say to the listeners, if you use the “D” word, “divorce,” let this story so move you as a couple, and the call to love one another for lifetime through covenant keeping love, let that become your mandate to never ever let that word pass your lips for the rest of your lives.
Bob: Well, in the same way that perfect love does cast out fear, when you entertain or inject the idea of breaking up a covenant relationship that infuses fear into a relationship. That’s why as we talk to couples at our Weekend to Remember® Marriage Conferences, we encourage them, you do need to speak the truth in love, but you need to know, both of you need to know, that you’re committed. That you’re not giving up on the marriage. Even if you have to take drastic measures, even if there needs to be a separation period, even if you need to get other people to intervene and help out, you don’t threaten the foundation of your marital covenant.
I mentioned the Weekend to Remember®, we are kicking off our Weekend to Remember® Marriage Conference season here in a couple of weeks. If our listeners are interested in getting more information about how to attend one of these upcoming conferences, they can go online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. You’ll also find on our website information about Wendy’s book. It’s called Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner, it tells her story, and tells about God’s grace in the midst of her trial.
Again you can find out more about the book online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order from us online if you’d like or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY. And when you call we can make arrangements to get Wendy’s book sent to you.
You know, we are grateful here at FamilyLife for those of you who help support this ministry. Some of you do that from time to time as you’re able. You send in a donation or you go online and make a donation. Others of you are legacy partners, and you make a monthly contribution to the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate you guys as well. Without listener support FamilyLife Today would not be able to be aired on this station or on our network of stations all across the country. So, in a very real sense, you are partners in helping make this daily radio program possible in your community, and in other parts of the country as well.
This month if you’re able to make a donation of any amount, to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we’d love to send you a two-CD series that features a conversation that Dennis and I had a number of years ago with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. He’s the author of the book Love and Respect. We spent a couple of hours talking with him about the themes from that book and helping couples understand how love and respect are worked out in a marriage relationship.
You can request those two CDs when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month with a donation of any amount. If you’re donating online at FamilyLifeToday.com, type the word “RESPECT” in the key code box you’ll find on the online donation form. If you call to make your donation, 1-800-FLTODAY, just ask for the Love and Respect CDs when you make that donation and again, thanks for partnering with us in the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We really do appreciate you.
Tomorrow Wendy Blight is going to be back, we’re going to continue to talk about God’s grace in the midst of the valley of the shadow that she walked through. I hope you can be back with us for that. I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of Familylife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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