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Don’t Shut Up, Your Voice Matters

11 Feb

Well Friends, I have been dumbfounded. I haven’t been sure what to write about lately because there is just so much sad news, I can hardly bear to write about it. When you grow up with oppression and live in fear of a belt and are refused an education, your hope turns to the government and church—people who try to make laws to protect you.  But when your church and government rise toward authoritarianism it can really bring on your CPTSD. These days we all need to keep a paper bag nearby to breathe into or puke into–depending on the news du jour.

It’s even sadder to realize our own social media feeds probably contributed to the election of the lowest life form to ever enter the White House. The more intelligent people who voted for him are now beginning to realize he is not keeping his promise to drain the swamp, but selling it off to vipers through the highest bidders.

So what can we do when women are bullied and belittled as sex toys and not allowed to speak of the truth of racism in congress? We will persist and make our voices heard.

What can we do when other-abled people are made fun of and bullied by the powers that be? We can educate and stand up against bullying–and I’m not talking about protecting one spoiled millionaire’s child, I am talking about the brown kids, the fat kids and the gay kids down the block and most women reporters.

What can we do when a mother is separated from her children by an invisible wall that ultimately threatens their very existence? We can educate and offer empathy to those who are worried this will happen to their own families.

What can we say when the government keeps lying and putting out alternative facts which are basically lies? We can pull out the videos of these lies and educate the public.

What can we do when racists and people who do not support the separation of church and state are able to buy their own seats in the cabinet of our land? We can pray and educate and write and call our congress men and women.

It’s hard to speak up and let our voices be heard when our Christian brothers and sisters disagree. I don’t have all the answers, but I recently came across a paper outlining the history of the Seventh day Adventist denomination in Nazi Germany. It was the most incriminating article I have ever read about the church I was born into and raised in. You can read it here. We cannot ignore our history, because history often repeats itself and there are many today who deny the holocaust ever happened. So here are a few  voices to remind us of history.

“I remember: it happened yesterday or eternities ago. A young Jewish boy discovered the kingdom of night. I remember his bewilderment, I remember his anguish. It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.

“I remember: he asked his father: ‘Can this be true?’ This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?

“And now the boy is turning to me: ‘Tell me,’ he asks. ‘What have you done with my future? What have you done with your life?’

“And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.

“And then I explained to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must–at that moment–become the center of the universe.” -Elie Wiesel

Don't Shut Up, Cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/219719647/dont-shut-up-print-survivor-girl-print?ref=shop_home_active_47

Prints Available Here

“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.

“Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

These words come from a Protestant pastor who spend the last seven years of the Nazi rule in a concentration camp:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–
And there was no one left to speak for me.”

-Martin Niemöller

What can we do when other Christians insist we should be quiet? We can point out how the religious right is not very spiritual and not very right. It’s not enough to have a flag on your profile and post KJV Bible quotes at random. These things do NOT make a Christian. This war we are fighting comes from the kingdom of darkness—

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is NOT a war where we should post inflammatory memes or spew hate toward those who think differently than we do. Save your breath for breathing and breathe out love. Only love can heal the world.

Love does not boast,
Love is not proud.

Love does not dishonor others,
Love is not self-seeking,
Love is not easily angered,
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil,
Love rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects,
Love always trusts,
Love always hopes,
Love always perseveres.
-1 Corinthians 13

By this all people will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.
-Jesus

Love speaks the truth—whether your friends understand or your pastor agrees or your teacher cares. Just ask Viktor Frankl, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Niemöller, Maya Angelou, and Jesus. If we have learned anything from the past, it’s that we all need each other and all of our stories matter.

maya-storm-quote

Go Women, Go Sisters! March, March, March!

21 Jan

No matter what happens
We won’t take a lie
But when others go low,
We will go high.

Go women, go sisters,
March, march, march
Go women, go sisters
Rise, rise, rise.

Rise Ezer Kenegdos
Rise women of strength
Rise women of color
Walk every length.

Go women, go sisters,
March, march, march
Go women, go sisters
Rise, rise rise.

ezer-kenegdo-rising-1000

Why Spanking is Bad for YOU

1 Jul

This post was inspired by the way a neighbor treated his little girl this week. 

Hey Struggling Parent,

It doesn’t matter what they did or didn’t do, this is about you. For whatever reason, your blood pressure is up, your blood is boiling and you want the release of making your child feel pain so they will do exactly as you tell them in the future. But hold on a minute, lay your weapon down and consider the long term impact of what you are about to do. This violence you are about to commit will not only affect your child, but it will affect you too.

Maybe no one ever told you, but spanking is not good for your health. Hitting your child in anger–whether with your hand, a wooden spoon or a belt is going to affect you both for the rest of your life. Take a moment to breathe and count the cost.

When you punish in anger, you release an inflammatory cascade in your child and in your own body. Science has shown how anger brings out dangerous hormones that could make you sick. When you hurt your child in this rage, you are hurting yourself as well.

Your child is connected to you through a bond of trust, but what you are about to do will break that trust. Do you really believe you can afford to lose their faith in you just because you want to feel the release of your anger?

If your child is not adopted, your child carries your genes. When you beat your child, you are in a way beating a part of yourself. Do you feel you deserve this?

Have you ever been bullied by someone bigger than you? What are your feelings toward that bully today?  Do you want your child to have those same feelings toward you for the rest of their life? Your child will never forget the way you made them feel.

Have you thought about the impact your violence will have on this impressionistic soul? Do you realize if you pursue this course both of you will be change forever? Once you do this, the person God created your child to be will be forever altered and your relationship will never be what it could’ve been.

Let me repeat this just so you understand, the child you hit will be forever changed and you will never know who they might have become if you had chosen to discipline them in love instead of violence. The world and your family will suffer the loss of some of your child’s potential because you had a need to punish them instead of disciple them.

Yes, that’s the truth–discipline is to make a disciple out of someone. If you use violence to do this, you will make your child twice the child of hell that you are now. Do you want to disciple your child to bully and harm others? Statistics show children who are hit, will hit others and the cycle will continue to the third and fourth generations. Have you thought about how insane it is to hit your child for hitting others? Children grow up to do what you do–not what you say.

And the ultimate price for you might be the loss of relationship with your adult child. Because when your child reaches middle age and wakes up to all their pain and addictions and traces the root of their lifetime of fear and never feeling good enough to the way you made them feel, you will find yourself shut out.

Precious Child, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/21360855-you-are-precious-affirmations-from-abba?c=317908-affirmations-from-abba

Prints and Accessories Here

If in your anger and passion you think you can just take the easy way out and slap them around until they jump when you say jump, think again. You will simply be teaching your child to be afraid of you. And ultimately afraid of God. Do you want to ruin the precious faith of your own child? Can you really risk losing them in this life and for all eternity?

In the future, you might wonder why your child can’t get over it or why they won’t forget. You might feel they are blaming you for all their problems or playing the victim. Let’s get this straight. A child you choose to hit, who is smaller than you IS a victim. They might choose to overcome this evil done to them and become a survivor. They may even thrive, but once you’ve made them a victim of your violence, that damaged little child might live on inside of them for the rest of their life.

Perhaps you too were once a victim. Do you really want to continue this pattern? If your child is young, it’s not too late. Right now, you can take them by the hand and teach them a better way in love.

You have all the power because right now you are much bigger than them. You have all the power and you can stop it now before this violence damages both of you.

Just. Lay. Your. Weapon. Down.

And hug your child with unconditional love.

Thank you.

PS If it is already too late and your child has been damaged and grown up and has now shut you out, there is one way that might open the door to a relationship again. It involves humility, honesty and empathy. If you can offer these three things to your adult child and treat them with the respect you wish for yourself, you might be able to reconcile. It won’t be easy, but it could be healing for both of you.

On the other hand, if you only care about being right, then you are a selfish narc and don’t deserve a relationship with your child.

How Do We Love?

14 Jun

How do we love?
Do we love with picket signs and judgment?
Or with silence and shunning for the people
who look, speak, think, live and believe differently than us?

How do we love?
Do we protect ourselves with weapons made of metal
or use hate-filled words of steel
to threaten those who see things differently?

How can we love?
When we wore colors for Paris and Umpqua,
yet shudder to wear a rainbow for a fallen child of God?

Did we love Umpqua
because we have all gone to class?
Did we love Paris
because it was the city of light?

Do we see Pulse as different
because we imagine we are right?
And believe angels left these at the door?
So we feel less need to mourn
figuring they got what they were looking for?

How can we love?
When most of our lives we have been building walls
between us and those we think unclean?
Where do we start on the bridge between? 

Where is our love?
Love that has failed over and over and over again?
When will we learn to admit we are sinners too?

How does He love?
The one whose blood was shed for all?
The one who mourns and sits with the hurting?
The one whose name we bear
while we try to put a distance
between ourselves and other sinners?
Are we not separating ourselves from him in the process?

Love Birds, CherilynClough.com,http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/20754218-love-never-fails

Prints and Accessories Available Here:
http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/20754218-love-never-fails

To Spank or Not to Spank?

29 Apr

One of the biggest reasons I struggle with my parents is because they still feel they have the right to tell me what to do–what kind of music to listen to, how to vote, how to spend my money and how to worship God. For the first twenty years of my life, their will was imposed on me through what they called “The Persuader”—my father’s belt. I received my first spanking when I was one week old and my last on the day I left home at nearly twenty.

No one thought of my parents as mean. They didn’t look like evil parents, but they believed breaking my will was needed for my salvation. No one who knew us realized I was belted because I was isolated from society by not going to school and having visitors to our home was a rare occasion.

I would love to say the spankings I received were because I lied or stole or hit someone, but no, my list of crimes included everything from listening to John Denver and Amy Grant, to wearing tinted chapstick, to rocking back and forth to music. Sometimes I was belted for not moving fast enough when we were moving. And oh yeah, my worst belting occurred when I was seven for whispering to my sister in church.

Don't Shut Up, CherilynClough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/13999494-dont-shut-up?c=540504-survivor-girls

Prints and Accessories Available Here

My mother told me her father spanked her only two or three times and he very gently spoke to her about what he was about to do and why. She told me several times in my childhood that she hated when Daddy punished me out of anger, but that was the situation most of the times I was belted.

Despite all of this, I didn’t grow up bitter or hateful toward my parents—I hated myself. I was bad. I was the loser who didn’t live up to their expectations. I spent the first twenty five years of my adulthood, buying groceries and paying power bills and doing whatever I could to help them. The truth was I loved my parents then and I still love them today, but I don’t agree with their methods and I refuse to let them tell me how to live my life any more. If they want to have a relationship with me, they will have to accept me as I am because I am through trying to play a game I could never win.

One day when I was forty-five, I was still telling a lie they taught me—that I was home schooled. It wasn’t a conscious lie, it came so naturally to say it, I said without thinking and then I screamed. I told someone I had been home schooled because this is what I had been taught to say. As a teenager, I had to say it or I would be belted. As an adult I had to say to protect their reputation and stay in good rapport with them.

That day I went home and screamed at myself in the mirror. I realized I had been trying to please them for over 45 years and a lot of was because I was taught to submit to their will. Even my issues with God came from these beltings. If the biggest person can bully others to do what they want, then why would I trust God who has all power in the universe?

The last time I saw my parents, I tried to explain how much these beltings have affected my life. My words fell on deaf ears because they believe they are right and I am wrong and they back it up with scripture because according to Christian tradition, the Bible says we should spank children. I know I’m not the only one who has childhood post traumatic shock because of beltings. People write me every week to tell me their stories and most of them include being beaten into submission in the name of God. One reader says she ended up in a fetal position on the floor with family members yelling at her. All of this was done in the name of religion and love.

Recently a landmark study about spanking has shown spankings are not as effective as people once thought. This study covered fifty years and 160,000 people. The term spanking in the article was not referring to beatings, but a swat on the butt.

This study has incited arguments all over social media with lots of people who didn’t even bother to read the study saying, “I was spanked and I turned out just fine.” The truth is if they said this without reading the study, they didn’t turn out fine. They are mere sheep following the crowd because the spankings they had in their formative years, taught them not to question and think for themselves.

One guy said he was spanked and he turned out just fine. I didn’t say anything because I’ve known him for years. I have seen him punish his little children in an anger fit and yell that they deserve a spanking. I also know his temper and anger are part of the reason his wife left him. He thinks he turned out all right, but why is he still trying to control his adult son? It’s a sad thing to see the damage done to this father son relationship because this man feels he still needs to wield power over his children.

There are two groups of people who will argue for spankings–narcissistic parents and religious parents and heaven forbid they meet up in Religious Narcia. The first narcissistic group of parents have to be right. They used physical violence over their children to bully and control them. Narcs feel justified in hitting their kids into submission because the world revolves around them and they feel they shouldn’t be bothered to take time to patiently discipline their children.

The second group are religious people who were spanked and taught to spank and feel it is God’s requirement to spank their child. Despite the fact it’s a misunderstood quote, despite the fact that Jesus never modeled spanking children, many of us have been spanked in God’s name. Even angry and abusive parents have justified beating their children supposedly for their children’s salvation. So what is this misquoted verse?

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children
is careful to discipline them.
-Proverbs 12:24

This verse definitely supports discipline but there is a marked difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline teaches and corrects, while punishment gets even for a behavior. If all the parents who used spanking to discipline thought about it, they might realize there are much better ways to train and get a point across than hitting their child. But it’s easier to hit them than reason with them. Being a parent is hard work and many feel they don’t have time to reason to they hit their children into submission.

The most important thing to note about this bible verse is to realize what a rod actually is–it’s not a switch it a belt. It’s a shepherd’s rod. To fully understand the meaning if this verse we need to consider how a shepherd guides his sheep. He leads and prods them and rescues them with the rod, but he doesn’t hit them with it. If he started hitting every wayward sheep, he would have chaos. Sheep are followers and not very smart. They need rescuing and guidance, but beatings won’t help with either of those goals.

This rod is NOT used for spanking.

What is used for? To guide, to prod, to rescue and lead. The fact that so many parents defend spanking with this verse and ignore the non-violent words and lifestyle of Jesus, reveals their Christianity is not about Christ, but human tradition. Using power over small children to hurt them because they don’t do what the parent wants is not only cruel, but it’s unchristian–as in unChrist-like.

There is another well quoted verse which mentions the rod from the 23rd Psalm:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Apparently this comforting rod of the great shepherd is not to beat us when we are in fear of death. It’s very obvious this rod is not used for spanking. There is no comfort in a beating or a spanking.

Probably one of the worst arguments for spanking is the one that we can reason with older kids, but the youngest and most fragile in our families should be spanked. This argument takes the stance that babies who can’t talk or reason need spankings to communicate to them. Intelligent parents must surely contemplate what they communicating to their helpless baby by hitting them. They are saying, “I am the boss. Your needs are to be put on hold for my comfort. You are to conform to my request for quiet or whatever the spanking has provoked.

Someone shared a story with me from Astrid Lingren who wrote Pippi Longstocking. It was about a pastor’s wife who felt her little boy needed a switching. She told him to go out and pick a switch for her to use. He was gone a long time, then he came back crying with a rock. He said he couldn’t find any good switches, but she could throw this rock at him.

I cried when I read that story because it doesn’t matter if you hit with a stick or a rock, it hurts and it hurts deep inside the child’s psyche. Please don’t say that hitting is okay as long as you don’t beat them, you never know what is happening to their heart. And it only takes anger to go from a gentle spanking to a horrible beating. It does damage to children to realize their parent who they trust and adore intends to hurt them. That is the part of many of us that is broken. As the child grows up and leaves home, it will come out in all forms of violence against self through addictions.

Jesus is very fond of young children. He says to let them come to him–not so he can hit them, but so he can bless them. Jesus also has very strong words for anyone who harms a little child.

While he was dying on the cross, Jesus spoke of his abusers and said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” but he has much harsher words for those who harm children. Jesus said it would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their neck.

This millstone is not retributive justice as some might mistakenly think–this is Jesus describing the terrible condition and lack of conscience it takes to harm a child. Jesus is basically saying if you stoop this low, there is very little hope for your salvation–not because God wants to kill you, but because the act of harming others changes you and it could make you contemplate suicide and/or lose your salvation.

We can’t take these words of Jesus lightly. They’ve been used against all kinds of evil, but perhaps our Christian tradition of justifying hitting God’s most vulnerable and precious children has seared the consciences of many to imagine they are doing the work of God–when in fact they are doing the work of the enemy and harming their children.

If you are still reading this, you must surely understand by now that the rod is not used for hitting. That God does not ask us to spank children. That Jesus wants us to discipline and teach children to live non-violent lives, but that won’t happen unless it starts at home. We now have a very large, long term study which shows the long term effects of hitting children is not a viable option. It doesn’t work. It only damages them far into their adult lives. We now have no more excuses for ignorance and continued spanking of children.

One thing most ACoNs know for sure is what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood, but according to Jesus, what happens on earth never stays on earth. Jesus says the angels of all little children look into the Father’s face in heaven–which means that all of heaven is watching and fully aware of those who choose to hurt children. If the Father sees a sparrow fall, then how much more does he see a child spanked?

Jesus also said whatever we do to the least of these, we’ve done to him.

Love and Logic has great ideas on non-violent parenting

Here is information about that Spanking Study

Peace Through the Storms

20 Nov

This world is full of storms–emotional storms, health storms, financial storms, political storms and violent storms. For most people on this earth, life is a constant struggle to survive. I’ve heard someone say faith is like a boat to help us ride out the storms, but when terrible things happen, sometimes it feels like our faith has been capsized. What does it take to hang on when life is tossing us to and fro?

As I’ve been reading stories of refugees this week, my heart questions Jesus, why are you letting this happen? Of course I know Jesus has nothing to do with their suffering, but I want God to stop it already. There’s too much death and terror in this world and it seems to get worse every day. The only explanation I’ve been able to find for such evil is that we were born into a great war between God and his enemy. Because of that war and the logistics of it, all choices must be played out so that no one will ever have to run from a bomb again.

Peace be Still, CherilynClough.com, LittleRedSurvivor.com

Prints Available Here

I marvel at the compassionate doctors who are helping refugees this week. My heart has been thrilled again and again to see the beauty of their selfless love. The stories of young children who have been bombed out of their homes and lost parents and been shot at only to get on a dingy and ride out huge waves in terror. Their trauma is so bad that some scream for an hour after strangers pick them up on the shore. When they finally calm down and get fed and held and have their wounds cleaned, it is the most Christ-like thing I can imagine.

We are all refugees in this war zone, but for the moment, some of us are safer than others. I’m sad to see so many Christians who are so ruled by fear they want to shut all the doors and leave these children outside the gate for the wolves to devour them–wolves that at times have been funded by our own nation.

God’s kingdom is not one of self-preservation, but of self-sacrificing love. When politicians justify their choices to turn away innocent people and call their ideas Christian, it truly bears false witness to God’s name because Jesus loves all the little children–Jewish, Muslim, Pagan and Christian. Jesus has asked us to welcome children in his name.

So how do we survive in a world with constant shootings and bombings and attacks? How can we be helpers when they are not yet on our shores? How will we know where to be safe tomorrow? These are hard questions and we can only rely on God’s Spirit to lead us. There is really no safe place on earth except living with God’s Spirit as our guide. We have no safe course but to live by the Spirit. But Jesus longs to gather us all under his wings. He wants to protect all of us from a greater evil than this temporary death.

It is not death we should fear, but lack of love that is our greatest danger. We either get filled with God’s Spirit of Love, or other spirits–spirits of fear and hate and violence will terrorize our souls. I believe these horrible events are the result of God’s Spirit being withdrawn from the earth. The Spirit dwells in our minds and when humans and angels shut God’s love out, they are filled with fear and hate. In contrast, God’s Spirit always brings freedom and love.

Living in the Spirit of Jesus might seem like an abstract concept, but it really means to be in relationship with Jesus and live in harmony with his law of other-centered love. When we treat others as we would like to be treated, we live in the Spirit of Jesus. When we risk our lives to bring kindness to a hurting world, we are living in the Spirit of Jesus. When the power of love overcomes our need for power and we stoop to serve others, we are living out the Spirit of Jesus. To stand up for the marginalized and mistreated, is to live in the Spirit of Jesus. To risk our lives to help others, is truly living in the Spirit of Jesus.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus is when he was sleeping in the bottom of the boat, while all his fisherman friends were scared for their lives in a terrible storm. Jesus had no fear because he trusted the Father in heaven, and so he slept in peace despite the violent storm that was throwing the boat around. When someone finally woke him up Jesus calmly stepped up to the surface and held out his hand saying, “Peace be still.”

It is the Spirit of Jesus that calms all of our storms and carries us through them. The Spirit allows brave people to work in danger and sleep in peace—and it’s not just for those on the front lines, it’s for everyone who calls on God for help.

Let’s intercede for our nations and our world. Let’s pray with Jesus, “Peace be still.” And then, let’s live out that prayer with one person at a time.

If you are struggling with questions about why God allows terrible things to happen, here is a link to free audio downloads for Servant God, a book I helped to edit and write. The download is currently free.

Free Audio Download for Servant God Book 

Note: For my ACoN friends, I will have a new narcissism blog up at the beginning of the week, for now I wanted to talk about the trauma going on in the world. All of this misery comes from the ultimate abuser who is God’s enemy. I wish peace for all.

Speak The Truth–Even When Your Voice Shakes

23 Jan

I can still feel the tightness in my throat. It felt like my heart was in my throat choking out my words. Trembling because I knew if I spoke my truth, the “Persuader” would come out and my legs would pay the price. It seemed too much to ask to go to school. To have friends. To know my relatives. To not move again. To not be hit because someone was in a bad mood. Narcissism has many moods and one of them is violence.

Domestic violence does not always look like a man hitting a woman. Sometimes it just looks like discipline on the end of a belt or stick, but physical scars might fade, but the the scars on the heart linger. This is why I often say, “What happens in childhood never stays in childhood.”

I received my first spanking when I was one week old. My parents didn’t beat me at the time, but they felt they needed to control me. I was lying alone in my crib and crying for attention and they decided to hit me so I wouldn’t get spoiled.

Speak the Truth Even When Your Voice Shakes Meme

Speak the Truth Even When Your Voice Shakes Meme

As I grew into what they called “the terrible twos,” I was spanked until I could no longer cry. While I don’t remember these early events my parents told these stories to me to reinforce the fact that they were in control. As I grew, I was an eyewitness to them belting the terrible twos out of my three siblings.

Each time we moved there were two things that went into my parents’ bedroom—my mother’s hope chest and the belt on the back of their bedroom door that they affectionately called, “The Persuader.”

My entire childhood was ruled by the Persuader. I did everything I could to please people and be a good girl to avoid an encounter with the Persuader and my father’s temper. This meant not complaining about moving every six months or asking about going to school. This resulted in four kids not having an education. The last year of education for my youngest two siblings was first grade in an accredited school and third grade if you count a loopy, religious child labor curriculum in a non accredited church school.

Throughout my childhood and teen years the Persuader never left my mind. It influenced every decision I made. Decades after I left home, I still felt unsafe to mention what happened to anyone. Even with my own friends and husband in my own home, the Persuader had almost convinced to remain silent.

In my forties, I began to blog about the painful secrets and tried to make sense of my life. I wrote about a pivotal beating I received for whispering in church. A belting that left my legs covered with bruises and caused me to distrust God and hate church for most of my life. Even though I used a pseudonym, my family members thought it was out of line. I tried to explain how I needed to share my story and help others and I have to say my relationship with them has never been the same.

This is where narcissism comes into play. Even if people are not full blown narcs, to lack empathy and to ignore their children’s pain—first in childhood and second in adulthood, fundamentally breaks the relationship. Jesus said two cannot walk together unless they are agreed. When a parents ignores their child’s pain at any age it only deepens the wounds.

The last time I saw my parents, they quizzed me on my theology for three hours. I came in love, hoping to patch things up. I wished we were equals and they would recognize we all make mistakes, but most importantly, we all have a right to our feelings and memories. When I mentioned the lack of schooling and the beltings–how we could never talk about it even as adults and how their choices forced on me, affected way too many days of my adult life. I was told “If you had not jerked around so much, Daddy wouldn’t have had to hit you with both sides of the belt.”

They’ve accused me of not forgiving, but it’s not true; I forgave them over and over. Forgiveness is not the missing ingredient, empathy is the missing ingredient and until they can respect my right to use my voice and tell my story, we will continue to have a gulf between us. It’s not the way I want it, but I can no longer ignore who I am to be who they want me to be. I can no longer allow the fear of the Persuader to choke out my voice.

I haven’t always enjoyed reliving the painful moments of my life, but what I do know is that speaking them out loud helps. Realizing God not only sees all the days of my life, but allows me to speak of all the days of my life has brought profound healing to me.

In June, a program was launched through HopeLine called “Because Voices Have Power,” a national campaign designed to increase awareness of domestic violence and provide a platform for the public to send messages of hope to victims and survivors. For each message of hope shared, Verizon has committed to donating $3 to local and national domestic violence prevention organizations across the country.

They have already collected over 10 million phones nationwide, while donating over $18 million dollars to domestic violence organizations. A great explanation of the program can be found here: http://www.verizonwireless.com/aboutus/hopeline/index.html

Today, I add my voice to the Voices of Hope because our voices do have power. Please feel free to share this blog and retweet or make your own tweets with the hashtag #voiceshavepower

And no matter where you are or what has been done to you, you CAN speak the truth–even when your voice shakes.

What Happens in Childhood, Never Stays in Childhood

18 Jun

Becoming brave is a lifelong process. When a child is beaten until they have bruises, it’s hard to be brave. When you’re a teenager and your parents ignore your social and emotional needs, it leaves bruises on your heart. Even as adults, we often suffer from the pain of our past because unless we have processed what happened, the past continues to affect our future. The other day I heard someone say we don’t need to remember our childhood, but the truth is what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood.

My friend Darcy was beaten and belittled as a child. By the time Darcy grew up, she had very little self-esteem. Her first boyfriend turned out to be a womanizer and a drunk. One night he grabbed her hair and beat her face into the floorboard until both of her eyes were so swollen she could barely see out of them.

Even after this happened, Darcy saw no reason to report him or to leave him. Like the frog that had adjusted to cool water until it began to boil, she had begun to accept physical and verbal abuse at an early age and she was unable to recognize her situation for what it was.

Little-Red-Brave-WM

In Christian circles we often hear a saying “forgive and forget.” People who use this term are quick to point out how Jesus told us to forgive seventy times seven. This is true, but Jesus never told us to go back and ask for more abuse. What these people also forget is Jesus never told us to forget. If we really want to know what God’s word is on forgetting, then we need to go all the way back to creation.

The Bible says by the Word of the Lord were the heavens made and this includes in all creation—even the human body. A major part of the human body is the brain. When God’s Word spoke at creation, He gave us a brain to remember the past. This shows us that remembering is absolutely God ordained.

Forgiving brings healing, but so does remembering. As a matter of fact, we actually we need to remember before we can forgive in the first place. This doesn’t mean we should hold grudges, keep petty lists or sulk over the past, but remembering the past is a key to finding redemption for our suffering.

Consider someone who has amnesia and wakes up every day to burn their hand on the stove again because they can’t remember they burned their hand yesterday. This would not be a very healthy situation. This is why God gave us a brain–it is not His plan for us to allow ourselves to be abused over and over again.

Darcy accepted abuse she didn’t deserve. The abuse we experience in childhood can affect what we put up with in our relationships in adulthood, so it’s very important for us to learn from these lessons. To be brave as an adult might include remembering our childhood so we can build a healthier future. You might think it doesn’t matter, but what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood.

Peace On Earth Every Day

11 Jun

Another shooting at another school. Yawn. So sad the evening news, but did you even notice? Well someone did because their child did not come home. Our hearts break to see this turn of events in our society. Since Sandy Hook there have been 74 school shootings across the nation.

People keep saying “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” This is actually a very lame phrase. It reminds me of the phrase abusers use when they don’t want to own their abuse, so they blame it on the victims. In this case we all need to take responsibility to do all we can to stop the violence. And sadly, some of the victims are the shooters.

When young boys see adults on Face Book and in their homes celebrating a new weapon, it looks exciting to them. They play video games where they shoot and who doesn’t want to live out their fantasies in real life? The problem with adolescent violence is the young brain is not developed and maybe doesn’t even realize what they are doing when they decide to get even with someone and then kill themselves. If they were more mature, they might find another way.

 

 I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace. -Helen Keller

I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace. -Helen Keller

 

The reason adults showing their weapons on Facebook is in such bad taste is because of a biblical principle–by beholding we become changed. The young boy who stares at gun pictures of cool adults he admires or respects will dream of being like you and when he imagines you with a semi-automatic weapon, he wants one too.

Add to that a moment of despair or depression or inability to get along with other kids. All some kids need are a few triggers to grab whatever is available to make their point–a point many might have made in a different manner if guns were not available in their home and held up as objects of worship in our country. You can say what you want, but 11,000 Americans are still killed every year in firearm homicides.

If you are a Christian, please consider the life, words and example of Jesus. One thing that I have noticed is those who want to stand up for their rights are not interested in peace. They simply want to argue their rights. I am not asking you to give up your rights, I am asking you to be responsible in the way you represent those rights to young people.

And in the Spirit of Jesus, let’s pray for peace on earth. Jesus taught us to pray for His will to be done on Earth as it is in heaven. We might not be able to protect everyone, but we can pray for our schools, our cities and our nation.

Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.

 

Map of School Shootings Nationwide

Little Red

30 Apr

Little Red. We’ve all heard about her, but we didn’t recognize how much we had in common with her. Little Red is the symbol of all who were abused in the home and church in the name of love. Nothing is more sinister than believing we are loved and safe only to be ravaged by wolves in the fold.

Wolves-2

Skipping along the path of life, Little Red’s heart is full of love. She is longing for Eden as she reaches out to take the flowers of life God has provided for her, she also knows the joy of giving. She is carrying a basket with homemade bread and jam for her grandma.

She naively doesn’t recognize her grandmother’s wolf-like behavior at first because she automatically assumes all parents and grandparents are safe. This is the experience of many who have been abused by narcissistic parents and false church leaders. Something feels wrong, but in their innocence they can’t figure it out until they have already been abused.

Let’s face it, Little Red thought Grandma’s house was a safe place and so did we. It was shocking to find ourselves taunted and lied to by the people who were supposed to love and protect us. The most sinister abuse is cloaked with the word love–such false love has often confused us because we failed to see the hate coming. Nothing is more damaging to the psyche than abuse in the name of God.

There are many endings to the story of Little Red throughout history and across cultures. Some say she was rescued by a hunter or woodsman. Some say she and her grandmother were both eaten by the wolf, but survived after his stomach was cut open.

My favorite version is among the most ancient. It says Little Red did not depend on anyone else to rescue her. She out smarted the wolf by saying she had to go to the bathroom and he let her go to the outhouse with a string tied to her finger. Out of his sight, she wisely untied it from her finger and placed the string on the outhouse door and ran for her life.

I believe this is the healthiest version of the story because it represents what we have to do when we are under the power of abusive people. There is no violence or retaliation toward the wolf in Red’s escape. She simply knows he is unsafe.

This is similar to how we must treat our abusers. To wish them ill is to harm ourselves. Our abusers are like rabid dogs infected with a virus of survival of the fittest. No matter how much we love them, we cannot fix them. No matter how much you love your dog, if he gets rabies you will mourn him, but it’s no longer safe to play with him.

People are not the wolves, but the wolves come to us in many forms. Their names are Abandonment, Loss, Inferiority, Rejection, Criticism and Shame. The people who call out the wolves in us were once innocent children who were deceived and bitten by the wolves themselves. Once infected by the selfish virus of survival of the fittest, they now continue to pass on the virus and harm others.

I admire Little Red because she doesn’t wait to be rescued. Red realizes she alone can take herself to a safe place. I believe that safe place is with the Maker of the flowers. I believe the Creator gave us brains to remember the pain so we won’t go back to get burned and bitten over and over again.

Our abusers have lied. They tried to say it never happened. Sometimes they say we made things up–that’s code for they don’t want anyone else to know so they wish to discredit us. When people lie, there is no light in them. Two cannot walk together unless they agree. This is where we, like Little Red, can rescue ourselves by using our minds to run away to a safer place. For many that safer place is with Jesus.

Jesus knows everything that has happened to you. He promises to set all captives free. Jesus says the truth will set you free. He not only calls Himself the Truth, but He embraces all truth and He is always on the side of truth. He even sends His Spirit of Truth to comfort us.

This website is to encourage, comfort and support survivors. Like Little Red, we can only protect ourselves by leaving an unhealthy situation. In order to enjoy the flowers God gives to us, we need to stop letting the wolves destroy our lives.