Sunday, December 22, 2013

Word of Faith and Physical Abuse

I am realizing that as my children get older and older that a lot of my struggles with my 'word of faith' upbringing are becoming bigger and bigger.  What do I mean by bigger and bigger?  In the past, I worked to push a lot of this away.  I didn't want to deal with any of it.  When I was younger that was easy to do with my rebellious lifestyle.  In fact, I do believe my teenaged rebellion was my way of coping.  As my children get older, though, I remember all too vividly my youth and all I went through.

Going back, I have many memories of TBN-type shows on the television.  Those shows were so much a part of my mother's life that she would even call into them.  One night, I had a major nosebleed.  It bled heavily with major clots all night long.  Rather than take me in, my mother called the TBN telephone lines where they prayed for me.  Meanwhile, I bled and bled and bled for hours after that call.  Finally my mother talked to somebody (don't remember who but thinking it was my grandmother) who told her to put ice on the back of my neck, hold my head up and pinch my nose (or something similar).  After many hours of bleeding, it stopped.  Of course, TBN got the glory but it reminds me a bit of an old Jewish(?) proverb I've heard:  If you fall out of your boat, pray but meanwhile start swimming.

So, while TBN was on in the background of my youth, my mother was disciplining me.  At least this is what I thought was happening.  It was about fifth or sixth grade when I remember the Principal calling me into her office at school.  She wanted to let me know that what I shared would stay there but was I being abused?  I was shocked.  Abuse?  No, my mother had shared stories of abused children.  They were the ones with cigarette burns all over their bodies and broken limbs.  I wasn't abused.  I remember telling my mom that the Principal has asked if there was abuse.  My life changed.  No longer was she hitting me with any object within reach.  Well, occasionally she would but not as much.  But, I hadn't considered it abuse before.  She called them spankings.  She found others way to keep me miserable.  One of her favorites was to put hot sauce on the inside of my lip.  I am so sensitive to spicy foods, still am that this was torture.  The pain would go on and on.  She still would wait until the last minute to cancel any plans I had with friends.  That happened a lot and I'd always try to completely avoid her whenever I was looking forward to something.  She would give me thousands of sentences to do that would keep me in my room for days.

I attended a catholic school so the bruises down my legs and arms were always readily visible.  Her favorite objects to hit us with were a brush or wooden spoon.  Sometimes it was on the rear end but often it was not.    Had my Principal phrased the question differently, I could have answered yes.  Had she asked if my mother hit me, I would have said yes but, in my mind, I did not equate hitting with abuse.

While the choices I made to rebel were mine, I do wonder how different things might have been if I'd had a mother who was not an abuser and who was not a part of the 'word of faith' religion.  Were other families from our church abusing?  I don't know.  I really don't but I can tell you that teenage rebellion was rampant!  I was always hearing stories about so and so's daughter running away or another girl pregnant or some son with a drinking or drug problem.  For that reason, I do think this is a pretty major problem.  True, it happens in non-word of faith homes but, percentage wise, I think rebellion happens at a much greater than average  rate within this religion.

"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."  ~ Ephesians 6:4

As a result, I don't spank my children.  My son is now a teenager and a very good kid. He's starting to look at colleges and has a plan for his future.  He's involved in church and in the community.  My tween age daughter and I have such a good relationship.  I definitely did not have that as a girl and I love how she feels she can share her inner most thoughts with me.  I hope that continues.  They aren't perfect and I certainly am not but my husband and I are very involved in their lives.  I really believe that being in a true Bible believing church is critical.  I also believe that as parents we are to model the love God has for us, His children.  Yes, that does involve discipline but, in our family, that doesn't involve spanking or hitting.   I've learned that words matter i.e. I Love You but your actions truly speak volumes about the condition of one's heart.
"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."  ~ Matthew 16:20

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