Rachel Taliaferro

I met my crush at a prayer meeting before school. His beautiful, deep baritone voice soared during praise and worship. He seemed too good to be true—a man who liked to sing, loved to draw, and was a Christian. On top of that, he was cute and romantic, asking me out with an intricately painted note dropped into my lunch bag. Once, he even serenaded me on stage in front of the entire school. The only problem: My boyfriend was verbally abusive.

I overlooked the subtle, constant criticism. I was perfect for him except that he didn’t like the way I dressed, laughed, wore my hair, sang, or chewed potato chips (seriously!) Whenever I felt hurt by something he said or did, I reminded myself that “love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV) and I suppressed thoughts of breaking up. After all, I didn’t want to lose my boyfriend before the prom.

sad girl2 iStock_000057800618_LargeEveryone in school thought we were the perfect couple. But he didn’t like my friends, so I joined his circle. He didn’t like my church, so I attended his church. He made fun of my family, so I started hanging out with his family. My family and friends felt hurt and abandoned. Shame and depression swallowed up my identity.

When we broke up, I was devastated to lose my high school sweetheart. Yet, as I went off to college, I realized that God was offering me a chance to rediscover myself and to seek God’s plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). I realized that I deserved much more than a one-sided, critical love. I wanted a love that would build me up and not tear me down.



Here are five signs that you are experiencing verbal abuse:

  • You feel down after the other person has done or said something.
  • You feel anxious or ashamed when in his or her presence.
  • You feel the need to seek his or her approval.
  • You are attacked when you confront that person with an issue.
  • You make choices based on his or her feelings and desires.

Do you notice any of these feelings or behaviors in your relationships?

devozine Teen Discussion TS 200274216-001Evaluate your relationships using 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 as a guide. Think about your friends as well as your boyfriend or girlfriend. Are they easily angered or self-seeking? Do they show love to you with word and deed? Do they honor the unique creation that God has made in you?

Turning the other cheek means forgiving and loving; it doesn’t mean being a doormat or a punching bag. Jesus called out unloving behavior, and he hung out with people who were sincere. You can love the people in your life without being “in love” with an abusive guy or girl or being best friends with someone who puts you down all the time. Talk to God and ask for guidance in your relationships. And don’t be afraid to get advice from people you trust: your parents, friends, pastor, teachers, or counselors.

Rachel Taliaferro is a writer, graphic designer, and southern belle living in the big city—New York, New York.

—from devozine (March/April 2016). Copyright © 2016 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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