Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My story: Fight for me.

Deuteronomy 30:19
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, hold fast to Him, for He is your life.

I was eleven years old when my parents divorced.

I thought they were deeply in love.
Maybe, they were.

Who knows when things went wrong.

The fun family moments we once had, began to become far and few between.
The laughter that once filled our house, was replaced with more crying, and more tears.

They seemed to fight each time they were together.

Like gasoline and a match,
they were an explosive combination.

My dad worked away most of the time, and mom stayed home in and out of her depression.

I remember the screams and arguments that seemed to linger through the night even after they were finished arguing.

I remember my mom waking us up in the middle of the night, to pile us in the car in our pajamas, to go down to the local bar in town.
She would send one of us inside to "retrieve" him.
I went in a time or two, to find him sitting way too close to another woman.
Maybe she didn't want to see what she had already pictured in her mind.

A crazy loud argument would then begin in the parking lot of the bar.
Harsh words spoken.
Sometimes in his guilty fury he would throw a beer bottle to the ground, and the echoing sound of the glass shattering would resonate into the car.
The back seat warmed by our tearful bodies, holding our hands over our ears so not to hear the hatred in their voices.

The weeks that followed their separation, were like a blurry slow moving dream.
Our lives were shattered, and the pieces lay beneath our feet.
The sound of the crackling glass was all around us.

We were tossed to and fro for a while, then eventually we settled into a new unfamiliar home with our Mom.

The older siblings had left home by this time, doing their best to find some sense of the craziness.

The fights between my parents continued to go on for months, if not years.
Mom cried even more than before.
She mourned the loss of her marriage day in and day out.
Her depression deepened.
Her anger grew.

We didn't get to see my father often.

In my mother's mind,
 it became a choice of "who do you love more?"
"your father?"
"or me?"

With those questions, she would begin to pour out guilt upon us like acid rain.
It would begin to eat away at our lives, little by little.

We would go months, sometimes even years, without seeing our father.

He said,
he stayed away because he knew it was harder on us to see him.
 It was because of the guilt that he knew she laid on us after we saw him.
He did it to protect us from her.

She said,
that he didn't love us.
 That his new life was more important and better without us.
She did it to protect us from him.

For a daughter, in need of her father, in need of a mother, in need of something stable...neither really mattered.

The "he saids",  and "she saids" were more about protecting their own images, instead of protecting us.

I needed protection from them.

I needed someone to step up and fight for me.
Someone. Anyone.

That's all.

Just fight for me.

While dad went on with his life, we were left alone with our mother,
to become whatever it was that she needed or wanted.

I'll never forget the day I went into her room to bring her a cup of hot coffee.
It was her birthday and I wanted to surprise her and make her happy.
The need to please her would burn straight through my heart at times.

I walked in with the cup of coffee and handed it to her.
Her face was somber and blank.

She began to cry and yell for me to get out of her room,
"Get out!  It hurts too much to look at you! You look just like your father and it just breaks my heart, just like he broke it!  Are you trying to ruin my birthday?!"

Throwing the hot cup of coffee across the room, she continued to yell and scream, as I ran to my room, shut the door and cried for what seemed like hours.

I was crushed by the thought of my life bringing hers so much pain.

My mind raced with questions.
"What am I doing wrong?"
"Why isn't she happy?"
"Why am I here?"

I sat on my bed holding my knees to my chest, rocking back and forth, trying not to cry too loud so not to upset her even more...

and His voice would pierce through with a calming wave.

"I'm here.  You're not alone."

It was the first time I would hear my Father's voice.

The need to know Him would stir a hunger in my soul.

You dance over me while I am unaware
You sing all around but I never hear the sound
Lord I'm amazed by You
And how You love me.
~~Amazed song lyrics by Lincoln Brewster.

We moved around quite a bit.

My mother would "hear from the Lord" and in an instant we would pack up our house and move somewhere new.
Sometimes into a new apartment or house.
Sometimes in with people we barely knew.
Sometimes with anybody that would take us.

We never stayed very long.
It seemed as though as soon as we would get attached to new people, we would pack up and head somewhere else.

I remember one time,
we moved just because someone spoke up for us, telling her that she was abusing us, using us like her "own personal slaves".
The very next day,
we were gathering boxes to move again.

The next place we moved to, she wasn't as quick to make friends.

I attended three different schools during my four years of highschool.
It was quite exhausting at times.
Packing up.
Starting over.
Making new friends, just to lose them like all the rest.

But, we listened and followed her.
Our obedience knew no limits.
We would follow her to the end of the world if she brought us there, and she knew we would.

She had a way of controlling us that seemed almost devilish.
Almost obsessive.

However strong her need to be worshipped, our need to survive her was stronger.


She held her Bible in hand as she spoke her rules to us, telling us it was "what God wanted us to do to honor her", and we knew nothing better than to listen and believe that what she said was for our good.

She spoke eloquently and with wisdom when she quoted the Bible.
There was no reason not to believe her.
She was all we knew.
She...was the gospel.
With every breath, her words binded us to her.

I know now, that listening to her was much more for our safety, than our good.

But more importantly,
I knew that God was there with me, looking out for me...and I was not alone.

Song of Solomon 2:4
He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.

Those few words He spoke to me in one of my loneliest moments, would carry me through some dark days.
Because with time, things would only get worse and much darker.

I just did what was needed, to get through each day, no matter what it took.
I knew I had to continue to be strong, to maybe one day, be strong enough to leave.
The only emotion I showed was happiness.
It had become my shield of strength.
A happy face.
That should keep her happy.
Sadly, it didn't.

As we somewhat settled, during our highschool years, I began to make some solid friendships with some young Christians at our school.

We didn't attend church much.
Mom was our church.
Our teacher.
Our pastor.
Our mentor.
Our everything.
She liked it that way.
Maybe it made her feel worth something.
 Worth more than she felt from deep within her brokenness.


On occassion, my mom would let me attend some of their youth groups and Bible studies.
It was there that I truly began to learn about God and how much He loved me.
It was there that I found out that the Gospel was to set me free, not keep me bound.
It was there, that I would find out how disfunctional and unsafe my home was.
It was there that I felt a little normal.
It was there, that I began to doubt that my mother had our best interest at heart.
It was there, that I found my voice.

The youth pastor approached me one night and asked if I would like to sing in the youth choir.
I knew my mom would not approve, but I said yes, hoping that it would be an escape of some sort.

He handed me a cassette tape and a sheet of paper with lyrics on it.

It was worship music.

Precious Lord,
Take my hand.
Lead me on.
Help me stand.
I am tired.
I am weak.
I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night.
Lead me on,
to Your Light.
take my hand, precious Lord,
and lead me home.

I would never see that youth pastor again, after my mom would find out that I accepted his invitation to join the choir.

I had that tape and those lyrics.

I began listening to the tape over and over.
I began to sing the words of the songs every available moment I had.
Music had always been a big part of my life, a way that I could escape the chaos around me.
These songs were different.
They spoke directly to me.
The words of the songs would begin to pour over my life like sweet molasses, sticking with me and oozing over my tattered heart.

It was through those words that I felt His love pour into my life.

It was through those words that I would hear Him speak.
He was calling me to a new place.
A safe place.
It was through those words that I would take His hand.
It was through those words that I would find out that He would fight for me.

I knew then, that running into His arms was my only hope of survival.

Hosea 2:14
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.

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