I’m giving you a heads up that this next story is not only a difficult one to share but it may be difficult to read. It is one that I’ve not shared with many people. It happened when I was 15.
Let me share a bit of background first. We lived on a farm that was close to town, so we would often walk to and from school. My friends would often walk uptown after school and hang out at the local café. I so badly wanted to go with them, sit and have a coke and just hang, but I was never allowed too. Being farm kids we were always expected to go straight home after school, since there were always farm chores to do.
One day while walking home from school I took a different route than I usually did, and walked with some friends uptown, but then headed for home when they got to the café. As I was walking, another girlfriend who was driving around with her boyfriend in his car, stopped on the side of the street to chat with me. They offered to give me a lift home, I agreed, thinking it was no big deal. And so they drove me home, dropped me off and left promptly.
No one else was home at the time so I went into the kitchen to fix myself a snack before I headed outside to begin my chores. It wasn’t long before my uncle came driving into the yard and parked his truck in his usual spot. I could see him walking towards the house and thought perhaps he was going to grab a bite too, before he went out to resume his work.
But when he walked into the house I could see in his face a storm brewing, and I knew what that meant. Someone was in trouble. Was it me? I couldn’t think of what I had done. So I assumed it was someone else that caused his anger to flare again. Perhaps someone in town had said or done something to upset him.
He began questioning me as to whose vehicle had been in the yard. He had this uncanny ability to pick out tire tracks in our gravel driveway that were new or strange, tire tracks that didn’t belong to our vehicles, or to vehicles he knew.
Too late I realized my mistake. With fear and quivering I explained that my girl friend, and her boyfriend, gave me a ride home after school, dropped me off and left right away.
To this day I don’t know what set him off and frankly I have given up trying to figure it out. I don’t think he really needed much of an excuse to blow up and fly into a rage.
Yet once again he went ballistic before my eyes, but this time something different happened. He began to undo his leather belt and I knew what was coming….he took off his belt and in a rage he began to beat me with it.
I remember cowering in a corner on the floor trying to protect my face from the lashes of the belt. I don’t know how long this went on but as a young teenager it felt like forever. Lash after lash the belt striking my back and legs. With each blow, words of venom spewed from his mouth directed at my young heart. With each crushing strike, not only was my body was wracked in pain, but my self-esteem and my heart took a beating too.
Humiliation and shame descended upon me as each blow of the belt and each utterance of degrading words met its mark.
When his rage was finally spent, I picked myself up and slowly made my way up the stairs to my bedroom. I had no time to cry, as I was expected to get outside to the barn and do my chores. I quickly, and gingerly, changed into my work clothes, and with my head down, trying to get my tears under control I headed out to the barn. With each step my bruised body was beginning to feel the throbbing pain as welts and bruises began to appear.
I don’t know if my aunt ever knew what happened to me that day. I never told her and I never told anyone, not even my friends. I could wear clothes that hid the bruises and welts. And I could cover up the stiffness and soreness that I walked with, by simply saying I fell off a horse. No one would ever know.
I didn’t tell anyone because I truthfully didn’t think anyone would care….and if they did what could they do about it. Besides, I knew that if I told anyone, I could expect another beating and the next one could be worse.
What does a 15 year old do with this kind of thing? All measure of self-esteem was gone, shame hung on me like a tattered and torn cape. The wounds were not only the physical marks left on my back and legs, but the internal wounding went much deeper. They seared the core of who I was. With each blow of the belt I felt my soul deaden. With each breath, darkness seemed to come in, suffocate me and replace life. When I climbed the stairs that day to my bedroom, any passion I had for life left me. It was the final straw that broke the camels back so to speak.
Years of abuse and rage left my wounded and bloodied soul in a deadened state. Darkness came in full force, and I felt myself falling into the deep well of depression. Only this time I didn’t care. It felt safer there, comforting even. Life was too painful, living was too painful. Feeling was terrifying; I shut down all sense of hope and passion.
The wounds on my body would eventually heal, but it would take years for the internal wounding to heal. It would take a supernatural encounter with the Living God to heal and soothe the heart of a girl who grew up to became a walking, wounded woman. It would take the power of my Heavenly Father to replace the deadness of my soul with the life giving breath of His love.
I will share how the Lord did that in part two.