I thought I would be taking a much-needed break from writing today. Those who have been following my postings know I’ve been grieving the loss of two close friends. Kathie was like a second mother to me. She died of heart failure. Will was one of my closest friends, a most valued mentor and my Christian journalism professor. He too died of heart failure and other illnesses.
It was in my time of quiet reflection, that my Lord called upon me to share with all of you from my heart. This is a message for all of those caught in prisons of abuse.
I am being called today to speak to all of you. I was abused by my manic depressant schizophrenic father. There was a time I hated his guts. I had made a vow at age 11 that I would find a way to kill him. I would deliberately get him so mad at me, he would want to attack me. I would then plunge a knife into his chest and give it a quick upper thrust to kill him.
When I came home from school and called out, “Mom, where are you?”, a soft hurting voice called out to me , “I’m down here.” With my heart thumping, I made my way down the basement stairs. As I reached the bottom my Mom’s voice could be heard with its plaintive cry of agonizing pain, “I’m in the storage room, Kevin.”
I opened the door to the darkness and turned on the flashlight. Mom was crouched in the corner. As her eyes met mine I saw the terror in them and yet also the relief that she had been freed from her prison of torture. Blood was dripping down her legs. There were large bruise marks beneath her eyes. Her tears caused a seething anger to go coursing through my veins.
This was the final straw. My Dad would not get another chance to beat Mom. I would kill him.
I thank my Lord that He didn’t allow me the opportunity to kill my father. In a short time after that horrific day, my mom, brother and me escaped to freedom. The prayer I had made to God at age five to be rescued had been answered.
I took back the vow of murder I had made. I even forgave my father for the abuse I experienced, but not until my stepfather and others told me my life would be miserable living with unforgiveness. I was in my mid thirities before I forgave my father. I carried unforgiveness in my heart over 35 years.
Unforgiveness is a cancer to the soul. It will kill you as surely as the bite of a cobra. I wore my unforgiveness as a badge of honor. I had earned this pain. No one was going to deny me my right to suffer. Like Michael W. Smith said when speaking to the abused, I needed to let go of my hate and let healing and love come in.
Perhaps, you still haven’t forgiven your abuser. I do understand. I lived in a private hell of over 11 years of abuse. It’s tough to forgive your abuser.
Even if you are not in the place to forgive those who have abused you, I hope and pray you can forgive yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong. Forget the stupid garbage that some have told you that in some way you are responsible for what happened to you. You aren’t. Your abuser is. It wasn’t a sin for you to leave as those who know nothing of your own private hell would have you believe. You had no other choice. You did the right thing. All of the crap you’ve been told that you are somehow to blame is stupid nonsense from those who either have no understanding of your abuse or don’t care enough to learn.
If I was pastoring a church I would never tell any abused person that they committed a sin by leaving. Those in ministry who have said this to you have dangerous theology. They need to either change the way they think or for the good of all abused people, they need to have no involvelemt in any ministry work with hurting souls. None of them has a right to judge you regardless of what scriptures they twist in context and meaning to support their position.
Leaving a marriage because of abuse does grieve God’s heart. It is the death of a marriage. When the abuse is uncontrolled and the abuser refuses counseling no alternative is left but to leave. God loves you. He wants you free of any form of abuse. Believe me, He will have His own word with anyone who said you were committing a sin to leave. Neither you or I has a sign on our forehead that says, “I’m a punching bag. Abuse me at will.”
There are times in my humanity that I as my sister Judy’s brother, would like to beat her husband to a pulp. I have thought too many times to count if I could just deck him, I’d feel a hell of a lot better. But then who would win? Darkness would. Her husband could have me charged for assault. It would also lower me because my faith in as difficult as it is calls me to pray for my brother-in-law. God asks us to do some really tough things, doesn’t He?
Tears came welling up within me as I listened to Michael W. Smith’s story and his playing of Healing Rain. It’s a powerful testimony. When he spoke about how his mother was abandoned at age eight by his own grandmother, that really reached me. That must have been so terrifying and hurtful for Michael’s mom.
Then, as he spoke of changing the parable of the prodigal son to that of the extravagant father, I cried. Oh, how I was thankful to have my Father’s love as wide as the sea of Galilee through the hellish time of my abuse!
Why was I not rescued from my abuse as a boy of five? It was so I could understand those who have been abused. I could never know the full depth of your pain. What I do know is that if I could give you a gift, it would be that you are fully healed from your abuse. I haven’t fully healed from it myself, but after over 48 years of gunnysacking the pain, I finally realized I needed to heal from my own inner pain of rejection, ridicule and poisonous bitterness that was ruining my life, and causing me to be untrusting. I have been receiving counseling. There’s no shame in admitting you need help, because as Bill Withers wrote in his song, “We all need somebody to lean on.”
In the modern translation of The Merchant of Venice the character Portia says, “No one shows mercy because he has to. It just happens, the way gentle rain drops on the ground. Mercy is a double blessing. It blesses the one who gives it and the one who receives it.”
Let the healing rain of God’s mercy that falleth as the gentle rain from Heaven pour down on you, so that you too will be doubly blessed.