When I started writing this blog it was intended as a update on our son Daniel, an emotional release for me and as gratitude to those standing in the trenches praying for us. All this week, I have had that restless stirring within my soul with God’s whispers: “Tell your story.” Even though I stand before everyone as a truly delivered woman, I am always reluctant to share my redeeming testimony. As much as I’ve forgiven and moved on, bringing up my past always makes me face the garbage once again. For some reason, for someone, God wants me to share my story and how HE has miraculously delivered me from baggage that could circle the world twice in stuffed suitcases.
Family abuse isn’t always obvious to the outside world. No blatant neglect, no huge bruises or welts, but instead a child’s mind constantly exposed to negative, berating statements. A child living in constant fear of not knowing what will await her when she gets home from school. Perhaps, a plate of warm cookies and a glass of milk will be set out on the table. Or, in contrast, a verbal lashing or a physical beating because she forgot to put her breakfast cereal bowl in the sink before leaving for school. My childhood does have a few decent memories, but the rest is clouded with condemning words, dark moods and out of control anger displayed by my mom. Both of my parents passed away in their early 50’s and it pains me that most of their lives were filled with such pain and bitterness.
Call me very naive, but growing up in these conditions, I had no idea I was in a very dysfunctional family. I truly thought it was normal and that all children were treated like me. Constant beratement had me throughly convinced I was a “bad child” and deserved everyhing that was bestowed upon me. I become an over achiever, doing anything and everything possible to gain just a glean of praise or just one word of approval. That praise and approval never came, instead even more resentment and pure hatred of me was poured out like milk in an overturned glass.
Alcohol also played a role in ways others in my family compensated. My grandfather and uncle were both alcoholics and my dad drank occasionally just to escape the constant conflict, bickering and screaming. Some have told me over the years that my mom was probably bi-polar, since there never was a medium ground with her. It was always in extremes and we never knew what would trigger her rages. I don’t know, but I still remember being on my knees as a child begging God to protect me and that I would NEVER treat my own children this way. Bi-polar, dark moods, destroying rages, depression or just plain mean as a snake,,,,call it what you want, but it clutched this red headed girl in constant fear and intimidation.
My healing process began over thirty years ago when I was in college. Living in the dorm at James Madison University exposed me to young women who actually willingly called their moms on a daily basis, went shopping with them and enjoyed being in their presence, I, on the other hand, dreaded when the phone rang and even hesitated to open mail from her because I knew she was going to tear me to shreds, My first positive move to healing was to develop a tough skin and learn to brush off her hateful comments. Even though I wanted to weep every single time, I taught myself to NOT cry in front of her because my tears only fueled her fire for more abusive behavior.
Living with other Christian women in the dorm kept me in the Word and on my toes, These girls were relentless in their pursuit of Christ and I was starving for His Holy touch. Against my family’s wishes, I diligently pursued a bachelor’s degree and began teaching special education. When you’re constantly told that you will never achieve anything and that my faith was fake, walking away with a degree and a job was HUGE for me!
I”m not even going to go into the hellish nightmare of trying to live on my own and get married. Let’s just leave it at the fact, I was kicked out on the streets with no one to stay with and no where to go. Through it all, I continued to pray, to cling to His promises and to pour out my heart to Him. And, He heard every single prayer,,,reached down and rescued me from the slimy pit of abuse, of hatred, of alcohol and of intimidating fear.
Eventually, I acknowleged that I was not the problem and sought out Christian counseling. It did help, but my complete healing and deliverance were still light years away. By the age of thirty five, both my parents passed away and I had three young children under the age of six. I was overwhelmed with life, battling grief, balancing work and taking care of three children who desperately needed their mommy. Depression crept up on me like a thief in the night and I battled until I just couldn’t battle anymore. I literally passed out at work from pure exhaustion and was put to bed for complete bed rest. In that bed, with blankets, pillows and a box of tissues for my streaming tears, God began His healing from the inside out. Using my Bible, markers and spiral 3×5 cards I wrote His precious words to me. I began writing scriptures in every room of the house and His promises surrounded me to uplift, to encourage and to remind me how much He loved me.
The final part of healing and deliverance when I told my sweet husband I needed to go my parents’ gravesites. I was on bedrest with high blood pressure while I was pregnant with Daniel, and my doctors would not allow me to travel to the gravesite. As painful as it was, I had to face my demons, and have complete closure in my life. The trip to the cemetary was filled with the girls’ chatter and eating snacks in the car. Once we got to the cemetary, Clif dropped me off at the gravesites and told me he’d be back within 30 minutes. He took the the children for a “ride” and I fell to my knees weeping at my loss. It began as a whisper so soft I wasn’t even sure it was me speaking audibly,,,but then my words became louder and louder up to a roaring scream in that deserted graveyard. ” I forgive you, I forgive you, I FORGIVE YOU! The chains, the shackles, the burdens, the hurt of so many years came pouring forth like a fountain spouting out of control. I cried until I was physically sick.
After the tears and the retching, I rose to my feet and lifted my hands in pure adoration to God, His peace filled me and confirmed that He had indeed DELIVERED me from a wretched past. No, I’m not mother of the year, but our children will never cower in fear over us, will never hear screaming berating statements and will never feel they’re not good enough. Every single day I tell them how much I love them and how much I absolutely adore them.
To those reading this, DON’T believe the lies you’ve been told again and again. You are worthy, you are redeemed, you are HIS child and no one can take that inheritance away from you. You are NOT damaged goods, you are BEAUTIFUL, righteous and holy in His sight. He LOVES you and He always will. I have been divinely delivered and I am eternally grateful!