I was an “only child” from the time my brother left home in 1963 and I graduated from high school in 1971. During those years, I witnessed the two people I loved and utterly depended on literally fall apart. My mom and dad came to the brink of divorce (or worse) over and over again during those 8 years. Usually their fighting was either about money or my dad’s addiction to alcohol.
I remember countless suppers where my dad was drunk and my mom was so exasperated that she burned the meal up. Of course that set my dad off and they would yell and scream the whole meal. Time and again my mom would storm off to her room in tears and my dad would storm down to the basement to drown his sorrows in more alcohol.
Neither of my parents ever thought of what their ongoing war was doing to me. All they knew was that I was growing more and more introspective and less and less social. By the time I was 16 I had the social skills of a 10 year old. I had few friends and spent much of my time in my safe house (my bedroom) where I cried, ate and wished I could be someone else’s kid.
Of course I was not the only child to endure such a childhood—not by a long shot. But, in my case the problems my parents were facing drove me to the dark brink of insanity more than once. With no one to talk to, no friends to hang out with and no relation with God; I was truly alone and a mess. I, like countless others like me, spent the most important years of my life living in a prison called my home.
Many times I would call out to the God I did not know asking Him to help my dad. Many times I would pray things would get better, but in my heart I knew they wouldn’t because I did not believe in the God I was praying to.
Because I was so introverted I never got into drugs etc. In fact, I was a pretty good student and made the honor roll a couple of times. Any recognition from any source made me feel good and thus I would seek out ways to get it. Deep in my heart I just wanted to be loved and appreciated.
When God reached in and touched my life in August of 1969, one of the first things I did was ask for forgiveness for all the times I had thought bad thoughts about my parents. I spent hours crying my eyes out as God washed away all of my bitterness and pain. I vividly recall spending hours writing down all the things I was thankful for and at the top of the list were my parents.
In spite of everything, I truly did love my mom and dad and once I was saved, that love poured forth like a fountain. Looking back, one of the most incredible things God did for me on that mountain in New Mexico in 1969 was to not only forgive me, but show me that I could do the same for my parents.
Forgiveness is the greatest yet most difficult thing any of us must do in this life. But, if we are willing to accept God’s forgiveness in our lives then we can in turn forgive those who have hurt and abused us while making our lives miserable. God’s love as manifested in and through forgiveness is indeed the greatest testimony we have to the power, grace and mercy of our God.