Naghmeh battled tirelessly to get her husband, who had been arrested for his Christian faith, released from an Iranian prison. But in the three and a half years he was away, God spoke to her about the abuse she had suffered at his hands.
“Wow. You are so well spoken and you look so good on camera!” What? Did they mean me? I could not believe they were talking about me. I had just finished a live interview with one of the most watched programs in America. Hannity of Fox News sent camera crews to my home in Boise, Idaho to interview me about my husband, an American pastor who was imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith.
As I looked into the camera and responded to Hannity through my earpiece, I could hear voices in my headed telling me how useless I was. I was timid in front of the camera remembering that specific voice that had called me ugly and worthless. I was embarrassed to be in front of the camera. What were people thinking? What if I didn’t say the right thing? It was a live interview after all and I only had one opportunity to rally support from the American people and people from all over the world to help get my husband out of the Iranian prison.
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The praises after the interview came as a surprise. One of the camera crew even called me beautiful. Tears started rolling down my face. The road to my freedom and healing had begun. I just didn’t know it yet.
I was timid in front of the camera remembering that specific voice that had called me ugly and worthless.
When my husband was arrested and put in prison in 2012, I was mad at God. I thought that God was cruel and that he had made life even more difficult for me. After all, even if my marriage was hard, my kids still needed their father. How was I ever going to get my husband out of the one of the most notoriously dangerous prisons in the world?
I knocked at every door. I did not leave a stone unturned. Over the course of three and a half years I met with leaders of different countries. I spoke at the German parliament, the Dutch parliament, the United Nations, twice at the European Parliament, three times in front of United States congress and human rights committees and even met with President Obama and Donald Trump. The story of my husband’s imprisonment reached more than five hundred million people across the world.
As I was striving to set my husband free, God was setting me free an abusive marriage. I did not even know it was abuse. After all my husband had only beat me twice and it was probably my fault for talking back. He had called me names and would often questions my decisions until I no longer trusted my own thoughts but relied on him instead. He often commented how unattractive I was and how he was turned off by my dark hair and skin. But was that abuse?
He had called me names and would often questions my decisions until I no longer trusted my own thoughts but relied on him instead.
It took three and a half of separation from my abuser and drawing close to Jesus in order to discover my worth in Christ. To know that I was his beloved daughter and that I belonged to him. It was through scripture that I learned how our words have the power of life and death in them. I learned about emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse and I learned that it was not honoring to God to submit to abuse. I learned that Jesus came to save a person and not an institution. That a person wasting away was far more important for Jesus to rescue than an institution (marriage) falling apart. I still weep at the thought of his great love for me and for his children.
My husband had gotten an eight-year sentence but he was released after three and a half years. When he got out I drew boundaries and asked him to get help on his abuse. Instead he filed for divorce and moved in with the woman that he had been cheating with me on with throughout our marriage. I was shattered.
I learned about emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse and I learned that it was not honoring to God to submit to abuse.
Seven years has passed since the divorce. Looking back I am still amazed at God’s rescue of me. What I had seen as the worst time of my life (my husband’s imprisonment and him divorcing me after I got him out) was God’s amazing rescue. As I strove to set my husband free, God was setting his wounded, lost, bound up daughter free and he was allowing for it to play out on a global stage because there were other daughters that needed rescuing.