But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Timothy 3:1-9
Joanna was caught in a trap with Hugh, the man she named “Silver-Tongue”. He was a ferocious wolf who wormed his way into her home disguised as a handsome, charming man.
Naive and trusting, Joanna fell for him, without realising the nastiness that lurked just under the charm. Her desire was for a man who would put her first in his life. This did not seem to be an evil desire, but without wisdom it would prove to be her downfall.
A violent man entices his neighbour, and leads him in a way that is not good. Proverbs 16:29.
As time went on, she knew something was wrong. In the outside world, Silver-Tongue ate with his family, visited her at night, and slept at his parent’s house. He’d created a triangle for himself that she hated being part of. She couldn’t figure out when and how she had even agreed to it.
She tried counseling, but was no match for Silver-Tongue, who could bend and twist things out of shape. He could alter a word, a sentence, or an entire phrase, so that the original meaning was lost or changed in his favour. He would throw words back at her to challenge her. He altered agreements, conversations, and events, to make her appear wrong, or stupid, or crazy. “I never said that” was a favourite statement of his. She would end up in tears. Forced to defend herself, nothing got resolved.
The counselor did not see the contempt on his face, the curl of his lip, or the sneering look. She saw a caring, understanding, reasonable man who cared deeply for an angry, tearful woman who wasn’t making any sense.
Joanna could see she wasn’t being listened to. In a final appeal, she angrily drew the triangle she had been manipulated into on the whiteboard. “Is this reasonable, sane or normal? What woman would put up with this? I need to know!” She gave up on being heard after the counselor dismissed her, telling her to “swap seats with him.”
Joanna could not understand it. When she had first seen the counselor alone, the woman had been on her side! She had been shown a circle that showed domestic violence, and given some sound advice. Relieved at being heard at last, she believed there would be a way out. Her relief had been short lived. After meeting Silver-Tongue alone, the counselor’s attitude towards her changed in his favour. What on earth had he said?
Joanna gave up, after telling Silver-Tongue to go away. After waiting for a few days, Silver-Tongue manipulated her into trying a different counselor, with promises he would change. She did not know the counselor he found was from a mental health agency. Silver-Tongue used the grief from her father’s illness and death to convince the first counselor she was mentally ill.
The counselor believed him and without her knowledge or consent, conspired with Silver-Tongue to recommend the mental health agency behind her back. The counselor sided with the abuser, becoming her judge, never seeing how they had been lied to, conned, manipulated and tricked. Silver-Tongue was pleased. He had won.
Silver-tongue earned his name from the phrase “Silver-Tongued Devil”. His silvery words were wrapped in deceit and broken promises.
“Fervent lips with a wicked heart are like earthenware covered with silver dross.” Proverbs 26:23
Silver-Tongue was an excellent player of the blame game. He tried very hard to get Joanna to accept that she was the source of the problems, and for a while he succeeded, because she had not been heard or believed by the first counselor. It made her doubt herself. Perhaps she was wrong.
Should she have put herself in his place? What if he was right and he really was God’s gift to her? Not realising how she had been knifed in the back and abused by both Silver-tongue and their former counselor, she carried on in a futile quest to try and win back his approval. She tried to change. To begin with she moved from the two storied house to a cottage in a much quieter area. Perhaps life would get better there.
Joanna dubbed the new counselor “the Riddler” as he spoke in riddles. When she told the Riddler she wasn’t being heard, he encouraged her to “tell a story, and then explain.”
In the telling of her first story about a dragon, a Prince, and a King, she had suddenly found herself in another world. She had come into it after writing about going through a dragon’s cave. Looking around her, she could not see very far. It was foggy, the land shrouded in mist.
Remembering that the King had told her to put up road signs and guideposts, and take note of the highway, she decided to continue with the story. It would be useful for recording the signs and guideposts, and she could use it as a map to follow the road.
This is her story.
Seek ye first; The Kingdom of God, and His righteousness… Matthew 6:33