Tag Archive | church

How to Tell

My mom was careful to hurt me in ways that did not show.  During those years we attended church three times a week.  We sat on our pew with clean clothes, neatly combed hair, and Sunday morning smiles.  Mom was an enthusiastic Sunday school teacher.  She was eccentric, but accepted.I was surprised when one day she made a mistake.  She hurt me in a way that was as plain as the nose on my face.  One day, in a fit of rage, she pinned me down and rubbed all the skin off my nose and cheeks.  The wound was large and the wound was obvious.  They could Tell.The long looks I took in the mirror removed any lingering doubt.  Someone would notice.  Someone would ask.  That knowledge filled me with an indescribably twisted mixture of hope and terror.We went to church as usual and of course we pretended my wound wasn’t there.  And like the emperor’s new clothes, when we pretended, everyone else did too.  Everyone pretended except for my youth minister.  I’ll call him John.John pestered me about my nose.  He ignored all my brush-offs and dodged all my lies.  He told me it didn’t look like I fell.  He told me bumping into a door couldn’t possibly do that.  He told me he wanted to know.  He wanted the truth.  He begged me to tell him.So for the first time in my life, I Told.  I Told everything.  John inhaled with a short, swift breath.  Then he was quiet for a long time.  A look of curiosity flashed across his face, then confusion, and finally he smiled.”Good”, he said.  “You probably deserved it!” When John walked away that day I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  I Believed him.  More than two decades passed before I ever Told again.