Ancient History 101 Meets Healing
As I get older and read the life stories of others, I realize that I did not grow up in an abnormally abusive home. The way Mom & Dad F raised me was quite much in keeping with the homes they would have seen – and better than the homes they themselves grew up in.
Part of my problem was that I was an extremely gullible child. My Dad liked to take advantage of this and tell me stuff I’d believe – then laugh at me for believing it. (This isn’t an uncommon thing, either, sad to say.) He remembered when I was tiny he told me that peanuts were squirrel droppings, so for a long time after I wouldn’t eat peanuts. I have no memory of this.
So when he criticised me so severely I took it all in as honest truth. In spite of it all, though, I did come to realize Dad really loved me. He showed it in his own way, which was to buy me stuff I wanted for Christmas or my birthday. He couldn’t afford to “lavish” gifts on me, but did what he could. And when he was in a good humor I did get lots of hugs and loving words.
Mom knew the truth, maybe that’s why she never contradicted him with regard to his verbal abuse. She never said, “Dad has his own troubles – you’re not really so bad.” Maybe she thought I really WAS that bad and deserved to be scolded. Maybe she thought – or wanted to believe – I would know Dad didn’t really mean it; what he said couldn’t be doing me that much harm. I do remember her saying once that “Dad’s bark is worse than his bite.”
Or maybe she was in survival mode during those years, working as hard as she could to bring home the bacon and trying to handle all the verbal abuse she got, dismayed about the rift between Dad and Verne. I don’t remember ever seeing Dad even put his arm around her for a good hug. No display of affection, many hard words.
I think Dad loved me like a daughter, but for Mom I was always her niece. She was kind and loving by nature and the only Mom I had, but the mother-daughter bond wasn’t really there. We never worked together at home until I was thirteen; I was left to shift for myself most of my growing up years.
Visiting her about fifteen years ago I wanted to talk about Dad’s anger and abuse, but didn’t get very far. “He spoiled you,” she told me. After that I didn’t see much need to go on. For whatever reason, she never knew what effect it did have on me. But her remark left me with the feeling I’m just a whiner, my bad memories are grossly exaggerated, the abuse was imagined.
Then I remember that I was married for ten years before I quit having nightmares about my Dad and his explosive anger. For a few years after that I only had nightmares if I talked about him much during the day. Thankfully the nightmares finally did quit. I was married for closer to 20 years before I stopped cringing after I said anything to my husband that I knew might make him mad, fearing he’d hit me, even though he never has.
Looking back now, it seems this is someone else’s life story I’m telling you, a book I read and finished some years back. I’m not telling everyone these things so you’ll say, “Oh, poor you!” or impress you with how much I’ve suffered. I’m writing this to say “God is ABLE.”
Wonderful news: God is not only the Master Healer, but He has His Master’s in Psychology, too! We don’t need to spend big bucks on high-priced therapy sessions; God knows what makes us tick and why we tick “funny” sometimes. Why we explode on certain issues. Why we cy in pain or rage when some memories are triggered.
At times shrinks and therapists are helpful, but they can only act on what you tell them. If I’d tell a psychiatrist that my parent abused me, he’d likely say, “Well, that’s why you have these issues.” (Anger, fear, etc.) He’d tell me what I can do to get over and around some of my feelings, what situations to avoid. But he can’t work miracles.
Our Heavenly Father can. God can take us farther and deeper than any shrink, sometimes back before we even have a clear memory of the abuse or incident. He can show us the root cause of some of our strange emotions and how they’ve manifested themselves through our lives. We may learn that a single incident has affected our thinking or behaviour for years. But He doesn’t leave us to deal with the fallout from now on. He heals us. He fixes that odd tick.
He’s done that for me. I no longer shudder with the same terrifying fear like I used to when out in the dark at night. (I want to write about that healing someday. It WAS a miracle!) I can go to a funeral and view a dead body without the intense feeling of disgust I once had, because God took me back to an incident that happened when I was four and fixed the odd tick that started then through a childish misconception.
Abuse in any form is damaging. We never want to justify it. We can never say, “It’s not so bad if I scream at the kids. God can fix it someday.” This is a serious matter with Him. Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19 (No kidding. He does. I’ve seen it.)
Jesus said that if anyone offend one of these little ones (causes a child to stumble), it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck and he’d be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2)
But we live in a sinful world and Life has a lot of hard knocks. Parents can’t possibly protect their children from every misunderstanding or know every time their child picks up an odd tick. We can’t expect to escape some abuses as we go along – and maybe we are imperfect enough that we bring some on ourselves as we get older. The great news is that our God is ABLE.
I knew a lady who would have liked to have a family, but she didn’t for fear she’d repeat the same abuse with her family that she’d suffered at home. I know of two men who were afraid to get married in case their own marriages would fail like their parents’ did – that they’d walk out someday the same way their dad had. We may hesitate to commit to a relationship because we know we’re broken – we won’t have enough love to give–but God’s plan would be to heal us through receiving another’s love.
It’s like climbing a mountain: with each step we take we are distancing ourselves from the world we once knew. But now and then we look down and fear we may go tumbling right back to the bottom again. We’d end up right back where we were. Learned behaviour and all that.
We forget that when we have given ourselves to God in a total surrender, He wraps us in His care. He’s up above us and has a firm hold on the safety line wrapped around us; He won’t let us fall. We may blow a fuse now and then and slip back, we may stumble over some rocks, we may have to pick ourselves up and say “I’m sorry; I overreacted,” to our loved ones. But He will be there to keep us from disaster. (II Chronicles 16:9)
(Unless we ourselves deliberately and constantly, with the knife of secret sin, saw away at that line. Slice through all the warnings the Holy Spirit gives us. That’s the only time we’re apt to have a major free-fall.)
Of ourselves, we may be poorly prepared to face life’s challenges, but GOD is ABLE.