I don’t know how to untangle the threads of my childhood. There are good elements and bad elements. Everyone has that. Obviously, there is good and bad in peoples’ lives, and they don’t just discard all of the good because they have had bad stuff. People pour positive and negative experiences into our lives constantly. No relationship is void of negative interactions. We are only human.
For some reason, however, I am having a terribly difficult time not throwing the baby out with the bathwater of my childhood. The bathwater being the terrible, torturous, satanic and sexual traumas that I so hazily remember. Maybe the difficulty lies in the fact that there is such a cloudy haze that has settled on the memories. They all seem to bleed into one another, so there is no distinct line between the good stuff and the bad stuff. The other thing that is so difficult to reconcile with is that the memories seem so incredibly contradictory. Okay. So satanic stuff, blood running down the walls, and groups of demons and darkness alongside of Bible stories and hymns? How does that happen? Is it even possible? Yes, anything is possible, but could I please meet someone who has experienced something similar? Does such a person even exist? Like parents who praise Jesus by day and Satan by night? Really? I find this scenario highly unlikely, in any case, including my own.
So here’s the deal: How do I come to a place of re-inventing or re-integrating my relationship with God into my current healthier, not traumatic life? How do I help my children learn about Jesus and scripture without dragging myself through the memories that seem to be hitchhiking on the backs of the Bible verses and Christian hymns? I don’t want to relive the trauma, but I wonder if that is what I have to do in order to move forward with my faith and my ability to facilitate my children in their faith. And can I just accept that some level of Christian teaching and also Satanic ritual abuse co-existed in the same household? This is a really tough pill to swallow. Like seriously, a pill the size of a dinosaur.
I don’t want to hate the Bible. I don’t want to question the validity of every passage and feel lightning bolts of anger shoot through my body when I read the Psalms. I don’t want to be swept into flashback when I stand in church and sing a beautiful hymn of the faith. I don’t want to feel the terror of thinking that I may be turning into my mother when I talk to my children about Jesus. Lots of mothers talk to their children about Jesus and don’t turn around and abuse them at night. Just because my mother did that does not mean that Christianity is a trap. I feel like these statements are so obvious that the act of writing them down is absurd. But they are far from intuitive for me. I want my children to know Jesus. I want them to experience the beauty of liturgy and celebrate the joy of knowing their Maker and Savior. They deserve to know Him and love Him for who He is and to be unencumbered by my wrestling-match with Him. That’s my deal.
I pulled out The Jesus Storybook Bible today and began to read it out loud to my children. That book is new to me, so it holds no baggage. It presents the Bible stories in words that do not carry haunting images or messages with them. My children are still too young to fully grasp the stories, but I would like to begin to absorb the simplicity of the truth that they carry and let my children witness the process. They will grow into it too. So we are starting there. Same message, but different words. Hopefully, the ghosts of my childhood will not hitchhike on the backs of these stories. Maybe I can read them with fresh eyes. Maybe I can approach God as an unadulterated and pure child, no longer jaded and cynical. And maybe it will also take wading (or swimming) through the muck of the abuse and working to untangle the knots of my past. Oh, God, lead me to the path of healing so that I can nurture and love my sweet babies in wholeness and abundance in You.