It was a typical weekend during my childhood. I was probably about 12 years old since my sister was a baby in my arms. We either did pretty much nothing on the weekends or the adults partied and played poker and us kids were left to do whatever we would like just as long as we stayed out of the way. This particular weekend was more fun because we got to go to someone else’s house. I always liked that! Having all the cousins together was one of my most favorite things.
What was also typical was that there would be some kind of argument or physical fight that would break out amongst the adults. I used to be a heavy drinker so I know and understand how you can get to this place. Sometimes it was just funny watching them, sometimes it was scary and, this time, it was the scariest of all.
All of us kids (me being the oldest) were inside and upstairs. A verbal fight broke out with the adults so I peeked out the window and these are the words I heard…(maybe not verbatim but what I can remember)
“I’m gonna go get my gun and, when I come back, first I’m going to shoot all the kids while you watch and then I’m gonna shoot all of you!”
I remember “him” getting in the vehicle and leaving.
I’m thinking “is he gonna really come back? Maybe he will just calm down as he’s driving and go home and pass out. What do I do IF he comes back?”
Everyone is still outside. I don’t remember anyone coming and checking on us and giving us a plan of action if he came back. I remember being so fearful and trying to continue to play with the kids and act like everything was normal. Which, to be honest, it kinda was but this was just normal on crack.
Then I heard “him” come back and I heard yelling. I don’t remember getting all the kids in the upstairs closet but I did somehow and I’m holding a baby and I have toddlers around me and my younger cousins.
He yells his plan of action again.
I AM TERRIFIED.
I look around me in the dark closet and at the baby in my arms and I have this hopelessness wash over me. This is all I can do. Sit here, not breathing, fearing for everyone’s lives. I started having vivid images in my mind of “him” killing each of us. Would it hurt? Would it be bloody? Would any of us survive? Will anyone save us?
I felt so responsible and, yet, so helpless and alone. The weight of that was crushing.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:11-12)
And then I heard a gunshot! Screams and a lot of feet scuffling in the driveway.
I have never been so scared in my life…well…up to that point at least.
I found out later that “he” had shot one of my uncles in the leg/knee.
I remember being told they got the gun away from “him.”
And I remember nothing else…at all.
The strange thing is that these kinds of fights could happen in our family and, by the next weekend, we could all get back together and everyone acted like THAT NEVER HAPPENED.
It was all very confusing. But if the adults are okay, then I guess I’m okay. But I felt so vulnerable and scared when they started drinking. Oh, the things my little girl eyes have seen.
ALL of that was triggered in me last night as I sat in the coffee shop updating my phone and computer. I suppose someone might call that PTSD?
I shared a post over the summer on Facebook…
Last week I had someone text many angry words to me, ending with “Go to hell” with a name attached to it that is not my real name. I sat in the passenger seat for many moments trying so hard to keep a steady rhythm to my breathing. I have been in a “wilderness season” for many months and it has been so hard to keep my head above water and many days where I don’t even want to. As I read that text, it felt like all the blood and strength left in my body was draining out of my feet. I felt so weak, I couldn’t even cry. I just sat there…speechless. No words on my tongue to defend myself and none to retaliate. God sees. God knows. I told God “I got nothing!” I think I made Him laugh and maybe say something like “what am I? chopped liver??” I know He’s not mad at me. But sometimes I can get so blindsided by my troubles that I forget that He’s right there with me. Has that ever happened to you? I am much quicker to run to Him than I used to be and I look forward to the day where that is an immediate default response. I have so much growing to do. I will keep running to God. I will not give up. Sometimes my very own snot and tears will slide me into His presence. He’s my Father. I know this wilderness season is for my good because God is good and He loves me and He delights in me. I’m learning as I go and I struggle deeply but I am not too much for God. I found this quote today by Amy Carmichael and it blessed me. May it bless you too. “Bare heights of loneliness…a wilderness whose burning winds sweep over glowing sands, what are they to HIM? Even there He can refresh us, even there He can renew us.” Here’s a pic that Taylor took of me yesterday. It’s a picture of my outsides…not my insides…I hurt. I am human. I am flawed. And Jesus loves me this I know. I loves you sweet peeps!
So I’m sitting in the coffee shop sipping my coffee, waiting for my updates, and all of a sudden I hear yelling AND I recognize the voice. The place is packed and she’s yelling, on her phone AND at people who are asking her to quiet down. It’s the person who told me to “Go to hell.” Her back is to me but I’m in the corner by the door so she will see me when she turns around. All of a sudden, I am acutely aware that I am having that same fear I had in that dark closet with all those children. I froze. I stopped breathing. I’m thinking if she can yell at people she doesn’t know, what will she do to me?
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
That was my prayer.
And when she left…it was as if I was invisible…or maybe she did see me…I don’t know BUT…here is what I do know.
#1 JESUS was with me…just like He was that night in the dark closet. I didn’t know that as a young child but I wish I did. That statement is an encouragement to parents to make sure your babies know how much Jesus loves them and is always with them. Also, if you are reading this, do YOU know how much Jesus loves you? If you don’t, I’d love to tell you about Him.
#2 She is broken…just like me. She needs to know that Jesus loves her so much…just like me. Do you know someone broken…just like you? If you can’t get close to them, pray for them wholeheartedly. I want to see God move in her life. I want the same for me and you. Do you pray for your enemies? Jesus said to so it must be for our good and for His glory. It’s hard to be mad at someone and pray good for them at the same time.
#3 Jesus is in the business of cleaning out our insides and transforming our hearts. My childhood is full of those kinds of things that has left me riddled with anxiety and trust issues. I had never cried over that night in that closet, holding a baby, and feeling all that responsibility as a 12-year-old. I didn’t realize how grieved I was until I had that feeling again and I LET IT OUT to JESUS. I cried the whole way home for myself, my family, broken people, children, addicts, people with anxiety and depression, death…I can’t remember everything. I want to love all people the way Jesus does. I can’t do it without Him. I pray that He would open my eyes so I can see like Him. It’s hard. I’m not there. But I won’t give up and I pray you won’t either.
I could have run last night I suppose, but then that would let fear win. Fear is not from God and I belong to Him. So I sat and prayed and it was messy and I was scared and things got even uglier coming home BUT I feel lighter this morning because I got some stuff out last night. I wasn’t perfect at it but it’s out. That burden is off of me now and God’s got it. Do you have stuff you are carrying around that you need to give to Jesus? I would love to hear your story.
Today, I want to thank God for His gift of forgiveness because I have done so much wrong in my life AND I want to truly forgive those that wronged me when I was a child and the one who told me to “go to hell.” I want to love and the only way I know how to do that is to pray and forgive.
Who knows…maybe I’ll get to tell her about Jesus.