I started to write this post last night - I have completely erased my original post because I know I'm suppose to write this one. This morning when I woke up, the Lord placed a memory in my heart/mind, one that I try not to think about all that often. It is a major part of my story, but it is indeed one of the many painful, if not the most painful part of my life (as some of you know...there are many parts to my life that are extremely painful this is just a small part of one - all which have been made new by the Cross!) As I lay there seeing all of this happen as if it were yesterday, literally tears streaming down my face I thought "Lord, why must I think of this today?" As painful as it was to see those images before my eyes so early this morning, I'm grateful. I have never written this part in detail, I have shared it publicly, but even now as I sit at the keyboard, to write it is almost painful. Please, bear with me, there is a point that I'm trusting the Lord wants to get to for whomever would read this post. Here is this part of my story: (forgive the length...background is necessary)
To be caught in the vicious cycle of abuse perplexes the minds of many. Why would you go from one abusive relationship to another? It makes no sense. She was married to an alcoholic. I never met him, I wasn't born yet. She gave birth to their two daughters. I'm not sure what life was like, but I can only imagine. They divorced and she tried to make it on her own, just her and her girls. Several years later she met another man. Oddly enough he was a decent man. I'm sure he had his flaws (don't we all). These two never marry, but they have a baby together. She named her little girl Lisa.
My Dad was a good man, but he did not stay with my Mom very long. He walked away from the turmoil that was going on in that house. He wasn't cut out for 2 wild teenage girls and a crazy household. Oh he loved me...no doubt. (I've written about that in my Apple of His Eye series). I remember the day he left. I was only 5 years old. (Don't think children do not remember when things like this happen. We carry that around with us.) My mother sat on the edge of the bed, weeping. I searched for tissues to wipe her tears. I remember kissing her face, I can almost taste the salt from her tears right now.
She tried to make it on her own, she just couldn't. She let another man into her life. One I think she may have had relationship with before she met my Dad. His influence in our lives would literally send my family into hiding. I'm sure my mother struggled to make ends meet and she was very sickly. She worked in a factory and did the best she could. I'm confident that she thought she needed him to survive, to feed her family, so she endured the next several years.
My first memory of this man's violent alcoholic rage was when he held the arm of one of my sisters and poured boiling hot water all over her arm. Fear is where I lived from that point on.
He was extremely violent. My mother endured her very own hell, but when it came to her children, I know she felt the need to protect as best she could. We tried to escape his wrath. To the best of my memory, we left in the middle of the night life refugees. With the clothes on our backs we walked out of our house (my mother and my one sister...the other was married at this time). We took shelter for our tired feet on the steps of an old catholic church. Soon we found ourselves an abandoned barber shop where we made our home for several days. We basically squatted until my Mom was able to find a way to fly the three of us to California - the farthest she could possibly run away.
California added a whole new dimension of terror for me personally. That is for another time. My poor mother struggled in California. We lived in the projects of Los Angeles. There for 2 weeks as a six year old girl I lived absolutely alone while my mother was in the hospital because of a heart attack. My sister gave birth to a beautiful little girl in California. The one and only good thing that came from this particular experience. We left within a year. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The secrets I had to hold onto would torture me until the day I met my Jesus, He rescued me and healed my wounds.
Actually, it was that particular summer...after we returned from California that I met Jesus at a Christian Camp. Another story for another time.
I spent the summer after 2nd grade with my Dad, met Jesus, and even went to Sunday school, but before I could get comfortable my Mom, sister and niece and I were on our way to Arizona. I'm sure it was to run from that man again. In Arizona, my mother's health was so bad. There were long periods of time I just lived with my sister, in roach infested apartments. Until one day, on my way home from school in the 3rd grade, I saw the man. He had found us. I remember feeling frozen sick on the inside while the Arizona temperatures were 113 degrees. Why? How? It didn't matter. My mother and I moved into a trailer with him.
He was a violent alcoholic. For no reason at all, he would drink in excess and night after night find some excuse to beat my mother to unconsciousness. There were routinely, many nights I would lie in my bed, shaking, not able to sleep. He was out and my mother would lie next to me, rubbing my back, trying the best she could to help me sleep. Then I would hear the door and I would want to vomit. He would stumble in, and come in my room, reach for my mother's long black hair and literally drag her out by her hair. Then he would come pick me up and throw me on the couch and proceed to tell me all of my sins. Everything that I did that was wrong that day, and explain it was because of these things that my mother would be punished. Things like I had left the door open and a fly flew into the house, or I had licked my ice cream cone the wrong way. The blood. I remember the blood splattered all over the tan carpet. My mother's face disfigured. I held my ears and rocked back and forth. At first she would scream and fight, but after many, many nights of this same violence, I think a part of her had died inside. She would take the beatings as I sat and held my ears and eyes closed. Until the wrath was complete for the night, I would wash her up and place her arm over me and hide my body under hers on the carpet. Morning after morning I was forced to mix his drinks at his bar. I became a very good bar tender at the age of 8/9. If I messed this up, my mother would suffer dearly. This went on until my mother sent me away for the summer, back to my other sister for a time of respite. For me? For her? Perhaps for both of us.
I didn't realize it then, but that woman took beatings and shed blood that, in the mind of a very sick man, was really meant for me. I know that no one really deserved these beatings, me or my mother. The offenses were not real offenses, they were just the warped thoughts of a raging alcoholic. But I imagine that my understanding of what Christ did on the cross of Calvary was very easy for me to accept because of my mother's example of pure love to me. Willingly she took such great abuse to save her daughter. He never laid a hand on me except to throw me on the couch, but instead my fragile mother carried scar after scar for me.
The difference between my mother's abuse and my Jesus' death, was that it really was my sin that He carried on the cross. We are all born in sin. You may be a good person, you may be a victim, but the fact remains that we were born in a fallen world and a Holy God cannot look upon sin. That is why God gave His Son as a sacrifice, to take our place once and for all! We are unable to come to the Father in Heaven but by the shed blood of His one and only Son Jesus. Jesus endured the cross for me. He saved me. For eternity.
If you have stumbled upon this blog I need you to know this truth, this good news.
No amount of human goodness could ever be as good as God. God is perfect righteousness. Because of this, Habakkuk 1:13 tells us God cannot have fellowship with anyone who does not have perfect righteousness. In order to be accepted by God, we must be as good as God is. Before God, we all stand naked, helpless, and hopeless in ourselves. No amount of good living or good works will get us to heaven or give us eternal life. What then is the solution? God is not only perfect holiness (whose holy character we can never attain to on our own or by our works of righteousness) but He is also perfect love and full of grace and mercy. Because of His love and grace, He has not left us without hope and a solution. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.