Them

The switch stung my bare legs, leaving streaks of ugly raised red.

I was marked.

Slash. Slash. Slash.

My cries brought smug satisfaction to the onlookers…these with arms folded, looking for blood.

Her name was Michelle and we were church friends, the kind you only see on Sunday, the kind whose parents compete for spiritual standing.

While the big-people-competitors stood around puffing up after church, we played hide and seek. She pushed me into the pampas grass, cutting scratchy stuff, and I got stuck in an ant bed and it burned like fire and I flamed too and I found her laughing, mocking… and I bit.

There were no questions asked. The teeth marks and pointed finger and cries for justice were all the big people needed to fold their arms and make their judgment.

I had streaked the spiritual standing of my big people. I stood condemned.

I wonder if that lone tree in the church yard was there for that sole purpose.

Training communicates right and wrong. It says, “I love you enough to go the distance, to teach you, to labor long with you, to help you and ground you.”

But a public lashing communicates, “You’ve humiliated me. This is what you are worth. This is your value. My reputation is of more worth than your entire being.”

The folded arms said, “You are a sinner deserving of death and don’t you EVER forget it.”

The message was heard loud and clear, streaking my heart with ugly raised red. I caved under its force.

Two sisters followed me but for some reason they seemed never to get the breaking I got. Maybe they were good. Yes, that was it…they were good and I was bad. Worthless.

When my little brother came along I was nine. I could hardly bear standing by while he was broken. At two, he was still demonstrating his freedom, loved to climb out of bed each night. Somehow he had been cursed like me.

As a parent of four now, I see how frustrating, exhausting, annoying it is, especially with many little ones. But did it warrant a breaking?

Does anything?

One night, to teach him a lesson, Dad took his belt and started in. I don’t know what made me do it, but I counted.

Slash. One…

Slash. Two…

Slash. Three…

I pulled covers up and closed eyes and resolutely kept count.

Slash. Sixteen…

Slash. Twenty…

My heart pounded as I cowered and wondered and felt every one of those lashes across my soul.

Slash. Twenty five…

“He won’t get 40,” I thought. “Even Jesus only got 39, remember? The forty minus the one.”

It was a wild hope, a life-line for my drowning soul.

Slash. He surpassed Jesus. Again. And again. And again.

56 when the belt finally stopped.

The cries weren’t stopped so quickly and something happened inside of me. Something un-conscious and un-willed. Something out of necessitiy, to keep me alive.

From then on, when the belt came out, I would cry and run to Dad and plead, “Spank me instead! Please! He is too little. Please give it to me instead, Please Daddy!”

Years later dad told me I saved little brother countless beatings.

But in my mind it was never enough.

Never enough.

The tears leak out and I wonder how I went from being soft, being willing, being broken, to being blind to my big-person callousness?

How did I lose such truth, the eyesight to see 56 as 56? Cutting words as Deadly Instrument they are? Anger as Weapon? Pressure as Damager?

I should know better. I did then. What happened?

I know what happened. Somewhere along the way, the heritage was passed on to me…the folded arms, the rejection, the rigidity, the condemnation, the un-forgiveness.

Somewhere along the way I followed footprints. Somewhere I knew that If I couldn’t have love, then I simply wouldn’t need it…

{Part II soon…}

“Knowing that you were redeemed from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” I Peter 1:18-19

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4 Comments on “Them”

  1. […] I have experienced rejection. Abuse. Neglect. I have believed I could never be […]

  2. […] reality, what he did had damaged, and what they did had distorted, and the choices I made had clouded until my perception of God was    utterly.   messed.    […]

  3. […] truth is that all I’ve ever known is Egypt’s whip, the driving slash of expectation without mercy. It’s the way I was parented: the […]

  4. […] is in such stark contrast to the punitive version of God I was raised with. Yet for all His right and reason, He desired not to act in a way that our […]


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