Saturday, January 3, 2015

Family Secrets

Before I go any further in my story I would love to just stop and talk about family secrets. We all have them. Some may be more detrimental then others. Some are serious problems. I well remember Mrs. Frankum. She lived up the street from us while I was in middle school. Her husband was an elder in the church I attended. They drove me to church every week. When her husband suddenly died of a heart attack I became her companion. I would ride with her to the store. I had never been to a "tag" sale and she taught me about shopping for bargains. I had fun with Mrs. Frankum. Her driving scared me and she seemed terribly old to me but we became close over time.

So close that I dared share with her one day that what was going on behind closed doors at my home was terrible. The word gay was never used back in the 60's and 70's. I don't think I knew the word homosexual but I sure knew what it meant. So, I told her the truth. Immediately she rose up indignant and told me to NEVER speak of my wonderful father that way. She was shaking and I was scared. I felt so very alone. Those words she spoke told me that family secrets stay family secrets. Locked in a vault never to be opened again.

While our children were little I didn't say a word. I grieved that I didn't have grandparents to offer my children. I allowed them to think the fire took both my parents. It was easy, it was convenient. It also helped me to hide my shame. I was fearful what my children would think. As a child I was fearful I would have to grow up and be a lesbian since my dad was a homosexual. I wrestled with the shame for many, many years. I am thankful my husband encouraged me to tell the truth to my children. When they were older I  knew my dad could not influence them or abuse them like I was. They were safe. Safety was always my number one concern.

The problem with family secrets is, eventually it all comes out. It many not be right away, but eventually the truth comes out. What I have learned is the truth will set you free! Family secrets make the family dysfunctional. Especially family secrets where abuse is involved. Abuse in any form tears a family apart. The victim is made responsible for the abuse. How twisted is that? Power is exploited. When there is abuse there is no voice for the victim. The relationship becomes unhealthy.

On the outside our family looked wonderful. Picture a handsome man trying to raise 4 children on his own. He was charming, he was dashing, he was entertaining. Until, the door closed. Gone was the charm, the dash and the fun. Welcome to a house of terrors. Where children are belittled, where heads get smashed against the wall, over and over again. Where the very gift God gave married couples is distorted and turned into evil. A place where you are never good enough. You have zero value. All of this wrapped in a cloak of secrecy and shame.

 God doesn't want us to be filled with shame. It robs us of an intimate relationship with our Savior that he desperately wants with his children. The truth allows the light to shine on evil. Like an abandoned building filled with dirty, slimy rats, when the light is turned on they all scatter. What Satan meant for evil, God turned it to good. God did not cause all the abuse my siblings and I suffered at our dad's hands. In fact, it is the absence of God that makes evil.

Remember Mrs. Frankum? Some how years later she found me and wrote me a lovely letter. She wanted to rekindle the relationship we had once had. By this point I was married and had several children. I felt very strong that I needed to set the record straight. So, I wrote a very long letter, detailing the physical, sexual and emotional abuse. I promised her I had told her the truth all those years ago. I told her I had long ago forgiven her for not helping me. I understood as I got older that her generation NEVER spoke of such things. Shortly after I wrote the letter to her I got a tear stained letter back. The relationship had been restored. She shared with me that in her generation you never spoke of such things. She had no clue how to help so she pretended it didn't happen. We wrote back and forth for several years before the Lord took her home.

The theme of my story is Beauty From Ashes. Picture our home burnt to the ground. A Mama lost her life, sooner than she should have. Her children would never know the love of the mother. There was not much to salvage after the fire ripped through our home. There was however an abundance of ashes. I will never forget the smell and sight of ashes.

My life has been restored from those ashes. Satan came to seek and destroy.  The fire, the loss of my mother, living in the orphanage, the abuse at the hands of an evil man all helped shape who I am. I would not trade my life for anyone else's. God shaped me through that fire. I will not let my past define who I am. I will use the terrible things, the hard things, the anger and the shame all of it to the glory of God. It has made me more compassionate, stronger and loving. Family secrets destroy, truth brings freedom.

Lots of tough things today. Are you filled with shame? Are you holding a family secret even now? You don't have to allow it to define who you are. I found freedom at the foot of the cross. My prayer is that you do too.

Till next time
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

1 comment:

  1. Beauty from ashes, yes. It is YOU. Only God can bring such beauty as you have, even from good "soil"; but you are His miracle, incredible beauty from ashes. I love Him so much for all that He has done in and through you!