I knelt at the back of the closet under a pile of dirty clothes, palms grinding into my ears. “Stop…. stop… stop… just stop…. make them stop”, I whimpered. Mom and dad were screaming at each other again. It was about money. It was usually about money. We needed some, but never seemed to have enough. Wait… No, that’s not right. Paying bills was the catalyst but their fight was about me. “You always take his side.” It was that way a lot. Dad versus his only son. Mom accused of betraying his trust. As though we were trying to take the best of him away, slip the noose round his neck, arrest his heart. First the screams, then the belt, or the rolled up magazine, or whatever was nearby, a threatening stare, a slammed door, hours tick away, mom in the kitchen, me in my bedroom. Then he’d re-appear, pick at left-overs, and pass out in the recliner. Wake up. Repeat. Suffer it.
It wasn’t always like that but the fights came often enough, the violence, the physical pain, trauma, the constant volatility cuts deep, especially into a child’s Play-doh mind. When a parent does violence to his child the hurt is for a moment, but it leaves angry scars. The kind that ache. The kind that wake me up at 7am because my four year old son walks into the bedroom and says, “Good morning, Dad! What’s up?”
What’s up? I’m trying to wake up, but it’s not working.
I’ve got pictures in my head and I need to get them out.
What kind of pictures?
The kind that make me crazy, so I need to get them out.
How do you do that?
I write. I write the pictures into words, and that gets them out of my brain.
They’re in your brain!?
I have Play-doh in my brain!
That’s all it takes to tear the scars open again. They remind me I’m someone else now, but still the same person I used to be. It’s times like these that I learn to live again. It’s times like these I learn to love again. I am bled, I am healed, I write the pictures into words and leave them behind. The pictures bleed out in words, pour out in waves of emotion, singing, pounding on the desk, tapping at the keyboard, inhale then exhale, loved and in love. It’s times like these that even old scars are gifts from my heavenly Father’s gracious hands. I am exposed. I am weak. I am vulnerable. His strength is made complete in weakness. I know whose I am. When I was conceived, He made me. When I whimpered, He heard me. When I was undone, when I didn’t want anymore, twenty-four years was long enough — big pain, go away — He picked me up, breathed the breath of new life into blackened lungs. He gave me faith. He gave me hope. He led me out of the darkness of addiction and self-destruction, out of hopelessness, out of slow suicide, to the font, to the altar, to His Word: “I don’t want your blood, I want to give you my blood. I don’t want your life, I want to give you my Life. Give me all your rage and hate, hate me… I’m not a bigger, divine version of your Dad. I will never scream at you, beat you, leave you, or treat you as enemy. Let me tell you about what My Son did for me… and FOR YOU.”
For almost twenty years I’ve poured out my fear, my rage, my anxiety, my hopelessness, self-hatred, doubt, insecurities, accusations, everything I can throw at Him. He takes it, and still, still His only response is, “Take and drink, this is my blood, shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of sins…” He’s even given me His words, His own blood placed into my hands, to give me as gift to others, to say to my son “FOR YOU,” to pour into my son’s mouth His blood. Wake up. Repeat. All gift.