As a young teenager I was no master theologian. I had no response to my father when he used the Bible to justify his treatment of his children. I had no understanding of the amazing love God has for all of us and the very high standard God had for parents toward their children.
Of course, the best option, by far, was to completely avoid my father around the house. Though I developed quite a talent of hiding and moving about unseen, it was not always possible to remain unseen. So, knowing that avoiding him was not always possible, I found it necessary to carefully prepare my thoughts and emotions, and my words, so that I was braced for each encounter, in an attempt to minimize my risk and my pain.
The years of fear and terror, on top of this latest brutal beating by my father, caused in me an all controlling fear and terror. It left me feeling violated and outraged, though I could not express these feelings. It plunged me into utter despair! It was life changing for me. It had become the last straw! Its effect was an all-consuming, gut wrenching despair and terror that changed my entire life and my whole approach to living. I abandoned all other endeavors for the cause of survival. And for the most part I was successful.
I did not attach to others in my family. I did not get involved with them emotionally, in any way. I figured a way to become invisible to my father by meeting my father’s expectations effectively, and I actually partnered with him in the abuse of my brothers and sisters. I became his alter ego. I was so effective at this endeavor that my father only found cause to beat me one more time following the implementation of my new strategies. My father accepted my new actions as genuine, probably assuming his disciplinary measures were effective, at least for his second oldest son. So when I left my family at age 19 ½, he was stunned.
I heard later that my father had told my siblings that of all the children, the last one he expected to see leave was me. He honestly had no idea what impact that beating would ultimately have on me. He crossed a line of brutality that night that I was unable to recover from, and during the next six years I was to witness many, even more brutal beatings and even worse abuse, thrust upon several of my siblings by my father! And like most abusers, my father completely justified his own actions and walked away from his abuse over and over again without concern for the moral wrong he was perpetrating.
If my dad initially had any kind of conscience about his actions toward his family, he quickly got past any guilt and shame for what he was doing. So, he could truly look at my leaving at 19 ½ years of age with disbelief instead of understanding my actions as being the evidence of the last shreds of self-respect in a young man who had been beaten and traumatized all throughout childhood.
Though I left my family, the pain and injustice and outrage that should have surfaced in a healthy kind of way remained buried deep inside me. Eventually I was able to get professional help. Only by working on identifying and overcoming the terror I felt from my father was I able to eventually connect with the rage I had toward my father that I had buried deep in my heart.
Children of abuse will often say things like “Sometimes someone hurts you so bad you stop hurting at all.” In my case, when I was eventually able to connect with and vent the rage I had in my heart, with the help of professional counselors, my heart was able to begin healing. I had to learn, perhaps for the first time in my life, to connect, to trust, to feel, to be authentic.
Funny thing . . . when I was no longer controlled by fear and rage and guilt and shame and confusion, I found I did not need to be a master theologian to cope with my father’s abuse. I realized clearly that what my father had done was wrong. It is wrong to beat children and to terrorize children as my father had done! And I know the heart of the Lord and I know the Lord’s instructions to parents in other parts of the Bible.
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Colossians 3:21
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. Mark 9:42
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:10
By working hard and long to restore my heart, I was ready to be a father when our first adopted daughter joined our family. And it was a day of amazing joy that has never ended. Then we were all delighted and filled with great joy, again, when our second adopted daughter joined our family. Well our first daughter wasn’t sure at first, but it didn’t take her but a few hours to fall in love with her new baby sister.
I know there are so many children who have been mistreated by their parents. Thankfully there are many children who were not. But I know there is a lot of brokenness and confusion today, in the hearts of adults. And my heart mourns for those who still suffer in silence.
If your father or mother abused you so you have, perhaps, lost your way a bit, I want you to know my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry for your suffering!
I hope you are able to eventually realize it was not your fault, and that you have been able to experience healing and restoration, and have found peace.
If not, I would like to help. I hope you get in touch with me!