Tag Archives: the Cross

Younger Me Gets Wiser, Part 2

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Welcome to the promised continuation of Younger Me Gets Wiser, Part 1.

As I said at the end of Part 1, I want to talk to Catherine Belinda about the lying we were forced to do throughout our childhood because of Harry’s threats.

Everyone knows it’s a sin to lie. The Ninth Commandment is about lying,

You must not lie. ~ Exodus 20:16, TLB (The Living Bible).

The New King James Version puts it this way,

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. ~ Exodus 20:16, NKJV.

So when Harry started telling us we had to lie about what he was doing to us or he’d kill us, he put us between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. And he showed us he meant what he said by playing Russian roulette with one of his revolvers between our legs. At age two there was no way we could have known that the gun had blanks instead of real bullets in it, so we lied because we were terrified of that gun and we were horrified at Harry and his threats, so we became compulsive liars as a result. But we hated having to do it, and we hated Harry for forcing us into it.

I know God hates lying. He always, ALWAYS tells the truth,

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

So in our minds, when we told lies, that meant God hated us. So Harry must have been telling the truth when he said that. It certainly made sense at the time.

But I have to tell you, Catherine Belinda, God does not hate you. He doesn’t hate you for lying, or for anything else for that matter. God doesn’t blame you for lying. He blames Harry, because Harry forced you to do it. You didn’t have a choice, and God knows that.

And the cool thing is, God, in His great mercy, engineered a situation when we were in the fifth grade, after Harry and my mother had separated, that made it so we were able to stop lying. And this situation is a perfect example of Romans 8:28,

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28, NLT.

What happened was this. I was walking home from school one day, and I was carrying a heavy load of books, because I had a lot of homework to do. As I was walking, I heard footsteps behind me, and then suddenly, someone grabbed me from behind, and as he gripped my arm, he hissed, “Ah, I’ve got you!” in a weird, creepy voice.

I gasped and jerked away, and as I pulled away, I half-turned so I could see what the person looked like and what they were wearing. It was an older man with light brown hair, and tan clothes, and he was wearing a vest. Then I ran away, and as I was escaping, I heard him laugh with this maniacal laugh.

With his sinister laugh ringing in my ears, I ran from him as fast as I could, given all the books I was carrying.

My mother had given me strict instructions on the route I was to take on my way to and from school but it was boring, so I hated using it. However, on the day the guy grabbed me, I wasn’t thinking about anything other than finding the fastest route to get away from him. That turned out to be the direction my mother didn’t want me go.

When I looked back I could see he wasn’t following me, so I slowed down and heaved a sigh of relief. By that time I had reached an intersection where there were stores and businesses on all four corners, and up and down both sides of the street. As I was standing there trying to figure out what I should do next, a friend from school approached me. Her name was Amy* (name changed to protect her privacy), and she asked me what I was doing. So I told her what had happened ~ that someone tried to kidnap me as I was about to walk home from school.

At first she didn’t believe me ~ I was making a pretty shocking claim after all ~ but as I continued to tell her what happened, and I described what the guy looked like, she began to accept my story. Then she suggested I go home with her so I could tell her mother what had happened. Looking back, I don’t remember why it was important to do this, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So we went to Amy’s house. The problem with doing this is that getting there required going through an alley that my mother had specifically and expressly forbad me from using because she said it was dangerous. But I didn’t know any other way to get there, so we went through the forbidden alley, and nothing happened, so I decided my mother must have been wrong.

Then we arrived at Amy’s house, and I told her mother about the guy grabbing me, and she asked me if I had told the police about it. I hadn’t thought about doing that, so I told her, no, I hadn’t. Then I asked her what time it was, and she told me it was about five o’clock. That scared me because all of a sudden I realized I would be two hours late getting home, which meant my mother would be really mad at me. So I left and headed for home as fast as I could go.

When I arrived home it was about 5:15, and as expected my mother was steaming mad.

“Where have you been? Why are you so late,” she berated me, because there was absolutely no reason on earth why I should be getting home so late.

“Mom, a guy tried to kidnap me on the way home from school,” I told her.

“Are you kidding me? That’s the biggest lie you’ve come up with yet,” she scoffed at me.

“Mom, it’s not a lie! It really happened! I was leaving school and this guy grabbed me! I was able to pull away from him, but it really did happen. He tried to kidnap me,” I tried to convince her, but it felt like a losing battle, given the amount of lying I’d done over the years. But Harry was gone now, so the need for me to continue lying was no longer there. The problem was, I couldn’t seem to stop.

“Then I should call the police so they can try and catch him. What if he does this to someone else,” she said.

“Call the police? I hadn’t thought of that. You’re right. He should be arrested so he doesn’t hurt anyone else. Plus, I want him to be caught for what he did to me. It was really scary!” I answered.

“All right, I’ll call them. In the meantime, I want to know what happened,” she replied.

Relieved that maybe she was finally beginning to believe me, I began telling her what had happened. I told her about the guy grabbing me by the arm, and what he said to me, and how scared I was, and what he looked like. And I told her about his weird laugh as I escaped from his grasp and ran down the street. Then I told her about running into Amy, but I didn’t tell her about going through the alley or going to her house. I knew that would make her really mad.

“And that’s what happened, Mom,” I stopped, hoping that finally she would believe me.

Then a policeman arrived to take a report of my story. I described what had happened to me, starting with where I was when the guy grabbed me ~ across the street from my school, and what he looked like ~ light brown hair combed straight back with no part, and what he was wearing ~ tan clothes and a sweater vest with buttons down the front.

Then I told him about running into my friend Amy, only I left out the part about going through the alley, and going to her house, because I was afraid of my mother’s rage if she knew I had done those things. It didn’t occur to me that if I had just told the truth about everything it might have made my story about being grabbed more believable, but I was too frightened of my mother’s anger to be able to think about anything else.

Then the policeman REALLY scared me when he said he was going to Amy’s house to see if her story matched mine. Since I knew it wouldn’t because she would tell him that I had gone home with her, I knew I was in real trouble now. It was bad enough to be caught in one of my lies by people in my family, but to be caught by a policeman? The thought of that absolutely horrified me. Even thinking about it filled me with shame and self-hatred. It didn’t matter that the whole reason I lied in the first place was because Harry had forced me into it. To be caught in a lie by a policeman was so unspeakably awful that I couldn’t describe how bad it made me feel, plus I couldn’t tell him why I lied, because that would expose Harry ~ and those threats still loomed large in my mind, even though he was gone.

So the policeman left for Amy’s house, and returned about half an hour later. He talked to my mother for about fifteen minutes, while I sat curled up in a ball in a chair, waiting for the axe to fall.

Surprisingly, my mother wasn’t boiling over in anger. Maybe that would come after the policeman left. Instead of yelling at me she sat down next to me and waited for the policeman to talk to me.

“Amy’s story of what happened was different than yours. You knew it would be, didn’t you,” he asked me.

“Yes, sir,” I mumbled. “I’m sorry I lied,” I added softly.

“Why did you do it?” he asked gently.

“Because I was afraid Mom would be mad at me if she knew I’d gone through the alley, and gone to Amy’s house,” I responded.

“So did someone really try to kidnap you?” the officer asked.

“Yes!” I told him emphatically, “and he really looked the way I said he did, too! Everything about that part of my story is the truth!”

“Okay, then.” he said. “I hope you’ve learned a valuable lesson from this. Can you tell me what that lesson might be?”

“That lying is a bad thing to do,” I replied, “and I promise I’ll never tell another one!” I asserted vehemently.

“That’s great,” he responded. “I hope you’ll be able to keep that promise.” Then he said goodbye to my mother and left.

I was feeling a certain amount of dread, because I was afraid that my mother had been nice because he was there. Maybe he had been a mediating influence, and now that he was gone, the axe would fall, and she’d let loose on me with her rage because I’d lied and made her look bad in front of a police officer.

But none of that happened. She was unaccountably nice to me, and she didn’t get angry at me at all. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall, but it never did. I wanted to ask her why, but I figured I should probably keep my mouth shut and just accept it rather than pressing my luck. Even so, I walked on eggshells the whole rest of the evening, just in case.

After I went to bed, I made a vow to God that I would never tell another lie. I slept very poorly that night, and I ended up in my mother’s bed, because I had nightmares all night long. I kept having this dream that someone was coming to get me, and I could hear chains clanking down the hall, dragged by kidnappers coming to chain me up. It was terrifying! In reality it was the dog’s collar clinking on the floor as she moved around in her sleep, but in my magnified imagination I didn’t know that. All I could think of was that kidnappers were coming to get me with their chains, and they were going to chain me up and torture me because I’d lied to a policeman.

As I look back on my childhood, and on this incident in particular, I can see God’s hand working quite clearly. At the time, if someone had suggested that God engineered that kidnapping attempt, I would have been shocked. I would have decided that God must be a mean ogre who does bad things to kids like me. But my thought process would have been the thinking of a child based on the fact that I couldn’t see the whole picture as God can. God can see the end from the beginning, as it says in the Book of Isaiah,

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’ ~ Isaiah 46:9-10, NKJV.

I especially like the way the New Living Translation puts it,

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. ~ Isaiah 46:9-10, NLT.

What that says is that God could see the end result if I continued to lie (I would continue down that negative path, and could end up in some very dire circumstances if I didn’t stop). But He could also see the end result if He arranged a situation that would help me to stop lying, because He knew that I hated doing it, but that I couldn’t stop on my own. As I said above, it’s a perfect example of Romans 8:28,

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28, NLT.

So, Catherine Belinda, even though it felt really scary and bad when that guy tried to kidnap you on the street, it was actually a good thing that God allowed to happen. God was protecting you and wouldn’t have allowed the guy to do anything more than what he did, because the purpose of it was to get you to stop lying, and grabbing you was scary enough. God wouldn’t have allowed anything worse. The important part was when you lied to the policeman. God knew the shock and embarrassment of that would be enough to traumatize you into stopping. I wish you didn’t have to go through that, because I know how hard it was for you, but it worked, didn’t it? We haven’t lied since then, have we.

That’s the thing about the sovereignty of God, Catherine Belinda. He can see everything that will happen to us over our entire life, while we can only see what’s going on for a day or two. We don’t have the same perspective that God does. Because He can see what will occur over our entire life span from the beginning, He knows what needs to happen at certain points that, to us, might seem really negative because we can’t see the whole picture, even though they’re actually necessary for our life to follow the positive path that God has ordained for it.

And for some people like you and me, Catherine Belinda, because of the abuse we endured when we were little, God had to make some fairly significant course corrections so that we would end up where He wanted us to be. That meant He had to perform a number of miracles to protect us and help us stay alive when we were little, and then once we had grown up, He had perform more miracles so we could be healed from the multiplicity caused by the abuse, and become integrated into one. And the healing process is still ongoing, thank God.

I love you, Catherine Belinda! You were who we all were before we became multiple. You are a survivor! Without you none of the rest of us would ever have existed, and none of us would have survived, because Harry or my mother would have succeeded in killing us. Without you there would be no one to integrate with. I’m so grateful to you, Catherine Belinda, and I’m grateful to God for you! You are brave and courageous and beautiful and wonderful!

Most of all, I’m grateful to God for everything He’s done in me and for me. I can never thank Him enough for all that He’s done in my life ~ for the cross and the resurrection first and foremost, because that saved my soul, and then for protecting and watching over me throughout my childhood, and then for so richly supplying my needs now. And what I’ve said here only barely covers everything He’s done, and is doing for me!

God is SOOO GOOD!!!

Flawed and Fallible

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Yup, that’s me. I am a flawed, fallible, and sinful person. That’s why I’m so incredibly grateful for the Cross and what Christ did there for me. Christ’s death on the Cross, and His subsequent resurrection mean everything to me, because without them I would have succeeded in one of my many suicide attempts, and then I would have ended up in Hell. So there isn’t enough gratitude throughout the whole universe for me to express how grateful I am to Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit.

That said, I still mess up on an extremely regular basis.The difference is, because I have Christ in my life, I can ask Him to forgive me according to 1 John 1:9.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9, NKJV.

The reason I bring this up is because I recently became acutely aware of just how flawed and fallible I truly am, and it’s probably at least partly a result of the abuse from my childhood. If you’ll remember, I’ve said before that the pain inflicted on me when I was little is my parents’ responsibility, but I bear the burden for what happens now as a result. I’m an adult now, so I can’t blame my childhood if I decide to go out and rob a bank or burn down a house (which, by the way, are things I would never do, just so you know). This post isn’t about that. It’s about how I function in relationships.

Relationships are very difficult for me, something that’s fairly common for people who are survivors of child abuse, and especially for people who’ve experienced childhood sexual abuse. The only time I was safe when I was little was when I was alone, so I learned fairly quickly that being an introvert was the best way to keep myself safe and abuse-free. Of course being an introvert didn’t protect me from Harry and his horrors, but nothing could safeguard me from that. God made things easier, however, because He gave me the ability to become multiple, and that saved my life many times over. So even though I couldn’t keep myself free from being abused, at least I could stay alive.

Recently I got into a difficult interaction with a dear friend. She’s probably the best friend I have in the world, and I love her dearly. I will do anything for her if it’s within my power, even to the point of dying for her if need be. She’s been with me through thick and thin, and she knows everything about me.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” ~ John 15:13, NKJV.

I’ll call her Sylvia for purposes of anonymity and privacy.

Sylvia’s mother died on February 25th of last year, so this whole year has been really hard for her. Most of the time I’ve been fairly good about being available when she needs me, but the last month or so I blew it big time, because I fell into my usual little hermity way of doing things, and in the process I’m ashamed to say I forgot about calling her for a couple of weeks. (I didn’t forget about her; I thought about her all the time, but somehow calling her became separated in my mind from thinking about her, as strange as that seems.) But I just plain forgot about everyone else for a couple of weeks, and poor Sylvia got the worst of it because she was the neediest, legitimately so. It ended up being more like a month because once I realized I’d neglected her for two weeks, it took me another two weeks to get up the courage to reestablish contact. I knew she’d be mad at me ~ justifiably so ~ and I’d have to apologize, which I didn’t mind doing. I was wrong, after all!

I wrote a post back on June 18, 2019, entitled I Would Make a Great Hermit in which I related why I like being alone so much, and why it’s so easy for me to do my hermity thing, so to speak.

So I had a lot of apologizing to do, and Sylvia and I had to figure out how I could change the way I do things so the last month of me neglecting her wouldn’t happen again. We set up a time when I went to see her and we sat down and talked it all out. And we decided that I would text her every couple of days just to say hi, and maybe I would include a funny cat photo with my text (I have a LOT of funny cat pics. I find them on Facebook ALL the time in this Facebook group I’m part of, Episcopal Cats With Problems.) Below is a classic example.

So I think I’ll leave it at that. Every time I look at the above photograph I start giggling helplessly. I think there are nine cats in that box, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how they all crammed themselves in there. One of the things I’m most grateful to God for, aside from the Cross, is a sense of humor, which I know I got from Him, because I know He has one too. I’m sure He laughs every time He sees photos like this just like we do.