Since returning home, Beth’s journey experienced many highs and lows. Helping her sister remove her mask and seek healing will always be special. Beth realised that assisting others didn’t require much. When she decided to heal, it changed her and is changing the people around her.
Having boundaries helped, it kept the relationships healthy and kept her safe. With safe limits, she was able to practice vulnerability and compassion, which helped others to face their truths.
Beth also reflected on her spiritual growth. Before university, her relationship with God was nonexistent. She knew of Him but did not know Him.
She didn’t know anyone who had a close personal relationship with God. If they did, it was a secret. No one she knew talked about Him the way she had come to experience Him.
She found Him in desperation and has come to know and feel that ‘He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.’ Proverbs 18:24. Her healing would not be complete without Him.
There were no magical formulae, and everyone has access to Him.
He was all she had when she had no one. He found her when she was lost and alone.
Beth knew that had it not been for what He did on that rainy November night she would not have made it.
She is ever grateful because she knows He didn’t do it because she deserved it but because He loves her just like he loves everyone else.
That’s why sometimes she feels a little like Jonah when these thoughts come.
She could relate to his anger when God forgave Nineveh a sinful nation.
They repented, and God forgave them. Jonah knew that God would, and that is why he resisted going to tell them about the prophecy.
That was how Beth was feeling about her father. These were mixed feelings.
Different to what she experienced with her mother. But still strong. How do you love your abusive father?
He wreaked havoc in her mother’s life. He seemed changed now, but what of the past? Has she got any right to hold it against him?
Maybe not, but he still has a lot to explain.
Beth knows that Matthew 3:8 says that we all have to ‘produce fruits worthy of repentance.’ Was he sorry, or it was convenient to have everyone forget the past?
Well, this was a part of her healing, and the conversation was necessary.
Father the hero
He was on a pedestal most of her life until like a fog clearing on a winters evening she first begun to hear her mother’s cries.
At first, they were in the distance and gradually came to her awareness as one waking up from a dream.
Beth struggled at nights. She hated him at nights as she listened to the soft sound of her mother’s tears, knowing he was the cause of them.
She was confused during the days. How could dad be kind to her and mean to mom?
She thought perhaps mom was weak. Why didn’t she leave?
Janice’s mother left her dad because he hit her mom.
But Beth heard the stories about their family at church and wasn’t sure she wanted her family to be talked about as well.
At ten, you don’t understand much, adults feel that they are hiding or shielding you from the impact of what is happening, but you learn more than they let themselves acknowledge.
On many occasions, she tried to be closer to mom, but trapped in her dysfunctional cycle mother couldn’t let her in.
Beth realised that it was a time of learning. She was supposed to study how to enter and live in dysfunctional relationships, how to shut down and not access emotions. She was learning how to pretend like nothing ever happened and present a perfect picture of the world.
She learnt a lot but leaving for university saved her.
It protected her from having to hear the cries while she struggles her tears.
It saved her from learning how to be her mother.
Though she didn’t complete her studies, leaving allowed her to see her family from outside the circle, what she saw sent her on drugs for years. But grace saved her.
Now that she was back and learning how to be in her family but not embrace its values. She was determined to define what was important to her and embrace an identity defined by God.
Dad was a stalwart at church; nearly everyone looked up to him. He preaches and is often busy helping to organise programs that seem to benefit the church and community.
However, he was different when he was at home.
He often swung between a bully and withdrawn and uncommunicative.
Beth wanted him to know that his behaviour had a considerable part to play in her years trapped on drugs.
After months of planning; there was no easy way to tackle the subject of abuse with the abuser. The time was never right, and the words tumbled over themselves.
She feared the worse and wasn’t disappointed, but she wasn’t afraid. She used the Bible to show him the impact of his behaviour and that change was necessary.
He tried to hide in anger, but she anticipated that move.
Finally, what seemed like hours, he relented? Beth saw the powerful hold shame had on his willingness to concede. Nevertheless, she didn’t leave him any room to manoeuvre his way out. Beth hadn’t come for admissions of guilt. She came to help with acceptance and armed with solutions.
Beth shared what God did for her and encouraged him to accept the support on offer. Accountability was necessary. A promise wasn’t good enough.
She wasn’t prepared to take no for an answer.