God’s Timing…..Part 2
I was amazed at how, first I became angry and then cried over what I had considered dealt with and buried. For the fist time that I can ever recall, I was angry and sad. There was someone who saw it from the outside and remembered as I did but with more detail. Someone else besides me remembered……….
I felt free for the first time. I felt more at peace than I ever had. That is unfamiliar territory for me. I stayed with my mom but the story changes track. My life had two railroads running and neither were going in the same direction. When I went to live with my mother, I exchanged one form of abuse for another….but that is a different story. Even though they were simultaneously being done, they were separate issues in my mind. Fortunately I was only having to deal with one kind at a time. The verbal abuse and physical abuse of my father and stepmother and the molestation from my grandfather. That was only taking place when they had us on weekends and vacations. In my mind it was out of sight, out of mind. I couldn’t handle it all together.
While living with my grandparents and mother there were no more beatings, no more cowering and no more being afraid to be a child. I was still somewhat withdrawn and hesitant around people but it was still better than before.
I don’t want to confuse the two stories so I am just going to tell you what happened with my father and stepmother at this point.
I would write to my father and the letters were either returned or thrown away I later found out. After several years of writing I finally gave up. I put all of that behind and tried to survive in the new surroundings.
It wasn’t until I was 18 and a freshman in Bible College that I had to take that part of my life out and examine it again. I had to pull out the ugliness and look at my life with my father and stepmother. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are numb to people like that. If you feel just the tiniest ounce of anger, bitterness or hatred…. you’re not as numb as you think and you can’t run from it.
Those three emotions will follow you around like shadows in the night. No matter how much light you try to put yourself in…the shadows are always there. Because they are hiding in your soul.
Those three emotions are like seeds that once they are planted are difficult to extract. It’s like trying to rid your yard of dandelions. You must always be on guard for the little puff balls floating through the air. If just one lands you have a fight on your hands. Those three emotions are very much like the root of the dandelion.
They weren’t just growing in me they were festering. I wrote in an earlier post about my experience with those three. I was in my freshman year of college and it was after a chapel service that I finally realized that any of the anger, hatred and bitterness I felt towards my family was causing them no injury. It was eating me up alive…..slowly. I went back to my dorm room that day and gave it all over to God. I felt peace for the first time.
God knows what we are going through. He has walked the same path we have. That was the purpose of His Son setting aside His heavenly mantle and becoming man. He had taken on the form of man yet was still God. At any point during His earthly ministry He could have called down the angels and yet He didn’t. He had a purpose and it was to bring salvation to a lost, unworthy world. How could He say He understood unless He walked the walk we walk every day. He experienced the same temptations we face today. He truly understands our sorrow. He knows that we, at times may not have the strength or the ability to forgive those who have wronged us. That is why we must ask Him to put the love and forgiveness in our hearts for us. There is a song I have sung that I love and it was hearing that song at college that opened my eyes to how I could forgive. “Help me see this world Dear Lord. As though I were looking through your eyes.”
When we can see the people who have wronged us through the eyes of a Saviour who loved them enough to die for them….forgiveness will come. When we can earnestly ask God to open our eyes to His view and put the love He feels for them in our hearts….It is possible to forgive. It is even possible to love the unlovely, the abuser, the alcoholic and the molester.
I asked God to help me love them the way He does. To forgive them and to earnestly pray for them. I did. I prayed for them and even let them know that I forgave them for what they did to me. I prayed that they would one day meet the Master.
One day I got a letter in the mail. I was shocked and a little frightened at first because I couldn’t figure out how in the world my stepmother could have possibly found out where I was. I was in college and had no contact with any of my family. Not even my mother. I had this letter and still do buried somewhere in my basement.
She had written to tell me that she had accepted the Lord. She had talked at length with her pastor over what she had done and how she had treated us kids. She confessed to me and asked me if one day I could possibly find it in my heart to forgive her. She wasn’t expecting an answer but if I ever felt like talking to her, or if I needed to talk to her to put my own closure on things she would be there.
I waited some time then called her. We talked for awhile and I told her that I had forgiven her years ago and had been praying for her salvation. It was such a blessing to know that she had finally come to accept Christ. She had saved my children’s bible that my mother had sent to me when I was 9. She had been through three house fires and lost everything she owned but my bible and some cards that had been sent to me. That and some pictures of us when we were kids were all that she had saved. She said she had to….one day she hoped to be able to give it back to me. I now have that Bible. It has a few smudge spots that show it has been through the mill but I have it. I have spoken to her maybe 4-5 times over the past 14 years. I even sent her pictures of my children. She was so excited. God worked it out all according to His goodness and mercy.
I had not seen or spoken to my father from 1976-1992. There was a brief run in when I was 16-17 years old. I had been placed in a foster home at this point. Both myself and my 6 year old sister. Things got kinda a hairy in the foster home so I ran away. I had some help because I made it from Virginia back up to Ohio and stayed with my Uncle (mother’s brother). I had been there for a month and had tried to find my friend but was told her family had moved away. They were still there even then. Another lie. My brother had showed up at my uncles along with my stepmother. They went home and told my dad I was back. My brother also told my dad that I had run away from the foster home that he (due to his malicious behavior) had helped put me in. My dad called the police and reported me as a runaway.
I had walked up to the store for my uncle and on the way back saw all of these police cars. I was scared when I realized they were at my uncles. They were looking for me. I was arrested and was given my first ride in a police cruiser to the new juvenile jail which was on the same property as the prison outside Cleveland. I spent a lovely visit there. I experienced my first strip search among other things. Isolation was interesting. They forgot I was there and forgot to feed me the first 36 hours. My uncle showed up and was fit to be tied when he found out they hadn’t fed me. They kept trying to get my father to talk to me or at least come and see me since he was the reason I got that particular paid visit to the juvie hotel. Virginia had to make arrangements for a social worker to fly to Ohio to pick me up and fly back to Virginia. Needless to say I wasn’t in their good graces when I got back to Virginia.
When we did arrive back to Virginia….the judge was very nice which was unusual for him. We knew him quite well. He expunged my record. He also thought it was hilarious when I told him I walked to Ohio. It was a white lie…but there was some truth there. They wanted to know who carried me across state line. It is a felony offense to carry a minor out of state and even more so when said minor is a ward of said state. I nonchalantly told him that no one drove me across any state lines. I walked across each state line. Which I did…..Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania ,West Virginia and Ohio. I think that is the only time I ever saw that judge laugh. I was awarded to another family who became my legal guardians. The judge tried to push them into keeping me in foster care but they wanted nothing to do with the state. He is a pastor and they didn’t want the state interfering with how they raised me.
It was from there I went on to bible college and then my mother showed back up in the form of a car accident, which was how I ended up in Northern Virginia, which was where I met my husband.
My father finally tracked me down. We hadn’t spoken in nearly 16 years. He called to tell me he had cancer and was dying. He asked me to come home so he could talk to me. Wow…I was in shock. I always held out hope that one day we would reunite but not under those circumstances.
I did go and see my dad. I saw him a few times before he passed away. I tried to take the opportunity to talk with him about salvation and forgiveness. My father was brought up that any man who believed there was a god was a fool. He was a very intellectual man. Avid reader amongst other things. He was also an amateur scientist and used us kids as guinea pigs for his experiments. We didn’t have memories of dad doing the normal game type of things like other kids….It was the experiments he would do on us. When I say my family is weird….they really were weird.
For the first time in my life, my father told me he loved me. For the first time I could ever remember I was hugged. I never remembered being hugged or even touched by him unless it was during one of his experiments. I felt good about this until one particular evening. I had gone to visit and at this point he was staying with his sister. It was my father, brother, half sister and myself sitting in her dining room talking . At this point he and my stepmother had been divorced for several years. My sister turned to me and said how sorry she always felt for me. I had no one. She had her mom (stepmother) and the boys had dad and I never had anyone. She brought up the way her mother used to beat me. My brother piped in that he remembered the beatings I got and how horrible they were.
My father sat there and said that yes, he knew all those years that she was beating me. He talked about how cruel she had been and how she had tried to hide it but he always knew. My chin dropped and all I could do was squeak out in this tiny voice asking again…He knew? All those years and the way he blamed me and he knew? He said yes….He knew how cruel (his words) she was and how abusive but at least she took care of us…………………………………
At least she took care of us……………..I was stunned. I was supposed to stay a few more days and couldn’t. I couldn’t handle staying even if he was dying after that comment. I left the next morning and cried all the way back to Virginia. I never saw him again until he went into a comma. My husband and I (not married yet) drove up to Akron General to see him I didn’t even recognize this man. He had wasted away to nothing. His face was actually burned from where they were trying to do radiation to shrink the tumor on his brain stem. He was being kept alive on machines at this point. I felt nothing standing in that hospital room. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t even bring up any anger towards this man. I didn’t even know why I was there.
About 3 months in a coma and he finally passed away. I almost didn’t go to the funeral but I was encouraged to go by my future husband. He said I needed the closure. I went to the funeral and was treated like an outcast. No one would even talk to me accept one little boy. I sat way over on the side of the room. This little boy asked me who I was and I told him I was Mr. M’s daughter. I had to explain that because apparently he knew my dad. He left me and found his father. He brought his father over to me because I looked sad. When his dad found out who I was he told me that he had a message from my father. He was told to only tell me because the other’s wouldn’t care. That man was a minister who had befriended my dad. He had been visiting him and they would sit and have conversations over the scriptures….always from an academic standpoint with my father. He was amazed at the knowledge that such an unbeliever could have when most Christians don’t even spend that much time in their bible or memorizing verses.
He led my father to the Lord. He told me that he knew in his heart that it was earnest. He said he has seen very few men weep the way my dad did when he bowed his head and prayed the sinner’s prayer. He was to tell me that my dad was again sorry and that he loved me and that he would see me one day.
I cannot tell you that the events in my life were necessary for those two people to finally come to know the Lord but I will say that it was worth it. There will be rejoicing one day in heaven. For me it was a matter of coming to the place I needed to be in order to learn about forgiveness. Only God knows that if I had not yielded my life to Him that I may not have been able to forgive. When God moves us around or removes us, we do not see the greater plan. God protected me and gave me opportunities I wouldn’t have had had I not been sent to Virginia.
I always wanted to go to a christian school and prayed for that for as long as I could remember. You know the family that became my legal guardians? They enrolled me in christian school my senior year. I was a part of the very first graduating class the school had….we were the Class of ’82….all three of us! As bad as things had gotten while living with my mother I was in a good church and was able to grow and learn more about my faith and Jesus Christ. I can look back on my life and say it was all worth it. I am the mother that I am today because of it. More importantly….God took all that ugliness and used it for good. Through my journey other women have been helped. Because I was in the place I needed to be to hear the message I needed to hear to ask for the forgiveness and love I needed to have in order to pray for two of the people I needed to pray for. I am not saying that is why I went through what I did. I don’t believe that was God’s plan but since we have free will and those who chose to abuse chose through free will I know that God protected me in many ways.
Why was I so angry….because those who had seen, heard and went through what I went through were now denying it. I was angry at all the lies and the wasted lives. I cried. When I finally cried for that poor little girl who always felt she was so alone and no one cared found out some one cared enough to try and find her…..She had worth. She was vindicated and validated as someone who deserved to be loved.
For the first time in my life, I feel free. I feel as if a heavy weight over this part of my life has been lifted and is no longer sitting on my soul. I have peace over that part of my life dealing with my father and stepmother.
There are a couple of verses that I have always found comfort in even when the time was dark…there is always light when our eyes are focused on where they need to be……..
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 2Corinthians 4:17
The refining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. Proverbs 17:3
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. Proverbs 15:13
If you can’t find the forgiveness in yourself….there is another who has enough to forgive the world (John 3:16-17) and would be more than willing to give it to you. He is just waiting for you to ask. I don’t want anything in my life that could be a spiritual hindrance to myself or another. God has taken me on an interesting journey. He has all ways provided a refuge for me whether it was another house down the street, next door or the biggest and grandest magnolia tree you’ve ever seen……….but that is another story.