Life is funny, isn’t it? For months now I’ve been praying for the world, the people in the world, and especially for the children, lost, abused, broken, and alone. I have asked God to shine the light on the ugliness so the good people on earth can truly see what hides in the dark crevices that is so easily overlooked. And as God moves in mysterious ways, he answered my prayer by saying, “You first”.
I am used to God answering my prayers in this manner, all the way back to the days of my cynical teens and twenties when I knew I had seen it all, and could no longer be surprised by the darkness or the actions of people. Even then, God would first show me the things I didn’t want to see, but needed to understand, and now with my faith stronger, He pulled back the veil in my own life. Ugly things hide in the dark, secret, destructive, things happen behind closed doors, and as I’ve prayed for the light to shine, He’d been giving me hints, but I was blind, or was simply too afraid to look.
My health has not been great this year, and as I try to live naturally I’ve cut out some things, added others, but that pain in my gut just wouldn’t go away. I was beginning to think it was the beginning of the end for me, and after my life it really wasn’t that bad of a thought, we all crave that sense of home, don’t we? But recently when I decided to cut someone out of my life, the pain stopped instantly, just stopped. It didn’t ease up and slowly get better; it just stopped when I told this person not to call me any more. Amazing.
I had noticed that the pain would ease up on the weekends, when I was not obligated to talk to this person, but the weekdays I was drained and in pain, and spending a scary amount of time in the bathroom, and often rushing to the bathroom the moment the call ended. Day after day I was getting sicker, and it simply didn’t occur to me that one simple, non-food, change could improve my health.
There are certain statements I’ve heard describe and define me since I was a little girl, I heard them so often that they became my own inner voice. The statements to me were often relayed with violence, with hair pulling and hits to the head, and after years I no longer fought against the words or questioned them. My mind just repeated them back to me as fact, constantly, and most especially when bad things happened, or when I was struggling to improve any aspect of my life.
The words told me I didn’t deserve a good life, that I was a terrible person, a person without conscience or soul. An ugly, selfish person, with no real worth, certainly no moral worth, and completely undeserving of any goodness in life. I was mean, ugly, awful, and nothing I could do or achieve could change this person’s words, still being repeated, or their voice inside my head that echoed their dark image of me. I was a dirty, crazy, whore, and no decent man would ever want a thing to do with me. I was dumb, slow, fat, ugly, without compassion or empathy, had no sense of humor, no one liked me, and I was impossible to love.
And for a very long time I believed those words, I lived those words.
Despite all the information and all the interactions with other people that showed me I was none of those things, I still, deep down, believed. I was told if I did something nice for another, that I had ulterior motives, and I learned to question my actions and myself at every turn. Why did I help that old person with their groceries? I’m such an awful person, I must be trying to get something out of it. Why didn’t I help that old person with their groceries? I’m such an awful, selfish, person…
I was trapped in a brutal war with myself and with my thoughts that surely didn’t come from God, but a far darker place where little girls are abused, shamed, and broken.
I’ve spent a long time being broken; I’ve spent too many years under the thumb of horrid definitions that were never true. I’ve spent too many years supporting lies that our family abuse only came from one source. And lately I’ve spent time pondering exactly what the word honor means.
In the Greek language honor means value or worth, in a literal sense. Honor was a culturally constructed evaluation of a person’s actions, which determined a person’s worth, as in their price, or value to the community. In Hebrew the word honor means to give weight to. And in English the word is defined as honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions.
I believe that I have met the obligation of that very important commandment, and I know that God doesn’t want me to hate His creation – me. I will now be honest, because these lies, secrets, and ugly dark words have no place in a God focused life. I asked God to shine the light into the dark places, and as often happens, God has answered my prayers a little bit differently than how I expected.
I also know that by going against the old, ingrained, rules and airing the family secrets, a different commandment from a darker place, I may lose a lot more than an abuser, and ugly words, but I’m going to trust God on this one. I’m going to trust that God will replace the darkness with light. I’m going to trust that God didn’t make a mistake with me, and I certainly know that He has saved this life of mine more times than I can count.
If God sees value in my existence, then my biggest sin has been in not believing Him. My prayers have changed a bit in recent weeks, and now I am asking for forgiveness for hating myself (His creation) for so many years.
There is a different set of commandments in abusive families, and I’m flipping the table on those evil, destructive, rules, and I will be turning my back on anyone who tries to enforce those rules on me. Here are the rules that no longer fit into my life:
1) Image, and what other people think, is the most important thing
2) Do not air the dirty laundry
3) Everything you say and do will be held against you
4) Your suffering is meaningless
5) You must serve the king or queen
6) Hypocrisy and gossip is the family language
7) Direct communication is off limits, all information is disseminated by the king/queen
8) It is always someone else’s fault
9) You have no right to boundaries, feelings, choice, or individuality
10) Do not think of leaving or you will be dragged through the mud and slandered
And I will close with a few bits of wisdom; insults are still insults even if you laugh when saying them. Gossip and slander are very destructive sins, even when spoken under the guise of concern. If you didn’t see it or experience it yourself, you really have no idea what the truth is, and to speak of and share secondhand and third hand “truths” makes you either deceived or a liar or both.
Prayers going out to all who grew up like I did, please know you are not alone, and that there is hope and goodness in the world for you.