Category: Child Abuse

Belonging To Jesus

In November 2012, my friend, Dawn Eden, author of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds With The Help Of the Saints advised me that the blogger at Falling By Faith had used a portion of a post I originally wrote on my blog, Heirs In Hope. After nearly two years, I’ve finally commented. As Splendid’s Charge so accurately points out, “language is an annoying necessity”: sometimes I must wait for the right words.

Falling By Faith quotes My Peace I Give You:

“Drusilla, a Catholic orphan who was subjected to brutal abuse by her foster father and siblings, felt as a child that she had been ‘thrown to the wolves.’ ‘I had to pretend to be a wolf so as to keep myself from being torn to pieces,’ she writes…. ‘I no longer live with the wolves. I am a cat again and happy to be one. But I have not forgotten my time in a wolf’s skin. At times I still feel shame, feel I deserve to be abused…. But in Jesus’ wounds I remember that the flames burned but never owned me. I belong to Christ and I never want to belong to anyone else.'”

My comment:

I’ve waited nearly two years to comment on your post though Dawn shared it with me back in Nov. 2012. When I say I belong to Christ and never want to belong to anyone else, I’m not saying I don’t want anything else. Rather, I’m saying, my identity, who and what I am, is rooted in Him. Drifting with the wind may seem attractive, but it’s not a great reality. Sometimes I do feel like a member of His SWAT team, willing to go where Christ sends me and do as He asks, but I need all the solid, tangible things that everyone else does.

One doesn’t lose the physical aspect of being human by loving God. At least I haven’t. And I need more than the minimum. Right now, I live in Houston. It’s an uncomfortable place. There is no texture in the landscape. It’s a hodgepodge of mostly mediocre buildings, few human-scaled neighbourhoods, and vast distances that contain very little to delight the senses. I long for NYC, for Paris, for London, for San Francisco. I long for mountains, for hills, for lakes, and for blocks that are short enough so that I feel I’m making progress rather than walking a treadmill surrounded by nothing worth seeing. (Pedestrians are also in short supply.) I hunger for beauty. Houston feels barren. Someday, I hope to leave though I have no idea where I’ll go.

And still, I am His. If Houston is where He wants me to be, and that seems to be the case for now, Houston is where I’ll live. I make my surroundings as beautiful as possible. And I am most attracted to people who are also reaching for heaven and with joy, beauty, thought, and some style.

There have been times when I’ve wanted to want only Jesus. Always, I found myself wanting other things as well. Finally, I realized, that’s the way it is for the dust God made in His image and likeness. In Matt 6:31, Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and all the other things we worry about will be added. Wanting the things God has made us to have isn’t the problem. Loving them more than (or instead of) Him is.

He loves for each of us; fills up our deficiencies. And one day, you may wake up and discover Jesus’s love has mysteriously become yours and you belong to Him, totally. It doesn’t mean you will never belong with anyone else. It just means you know you will be no one without Him.

Five Minute Friday: Lost

Beloved,

I forget to thank You for many things but this morning, something arose and I must stop, and thank You, and probably continue thanking You off and on for some time. I called the pharmacy to refill my prescriptions, worried about the cost, (Could I afford them?) only to be put on hold for a long time while they checked. After a few minutes, someone asked if I had been helped. To my great surprise, I said, “I believe I have been. Thank you.” My voice remained calm, even toned, normal. No defensiveness. No anger because the wait was so long (but really because I was worried).

You first showed me when my thyroid was removed that I could be in great pain, dealing with an unresponsive doctor, and remain calm. It’s taken several years, but that seems to be happening more and more. I’ve lost the automatic “flinch” I learned when the man used to shout at me and hit me and beat me because I was hurting or upset or sick. Please, don’t let me find it again. I don’t want it. Let it remain lost forever. Thank You.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished words to each other and our readers. Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt on her blog and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Five Minute Friday: Release

Beloved,

You’ve changed me. Really, really changed me.

You know things are tight right now. I’m beginning to feel desperate. I’ve felt that way in the past. Last night, I was tempted to hurt myself. An old memory of hitting myself with a hard, leather belt, the way the man used to hit me, came into my mind. I’ve done it in the past. I’ve been tempted and cried to You for help only to find myself hurting myself in rage and desperation. But last night, I cried out to You for help. I said, “No! I don’t want this. I don’t need it anymore.” I prayed and the temptation left.

How long was I in bondage to obsessive actions? To replaying what was done to me because that’s what I deserved? Because there was no hope for anything more? How often did I tell myself, “Hang on. God have more in store for you?” Last night, I didn’t need to convince myself. All I needed was to cry out to You, to pray, to reject self-destructiveness. You have set me free. You have released me.

Oh, my Lord, I’m free. I’m free.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer and write for 5 minutes and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished words to each other and our readers. Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt on her blog and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Five Minute Fridays: Hands

In my life, hands have been terrifying and grand. Mr. E’s hands made hot cocoa for me when I was five and four twelve year old boys beat me up. The school nurse’s hands took my temperature, placed cool cloths on my head, held the paper as I pasted my kite in her girl’s club. But the man’s hands hit me. The dull thud of his hand against my cheek still surprises me. In films. on TV, slaps are a loud smacking sound. The woman’s hands hit me, cleaned my ears with sharp bobby pins, held me when I tried to get away. The hands of the other children hurt me, touched me in places they ought not have gone. But always, God’s hand has comforted me and held me up when I knew I would fall. Hands always respond to the intent of the heart.

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Five Minute Friday is an ever-growing group of bloggers who write for five minutes flat each Friday on the same prompt that Lisa Jo Baker posts each Thursday evening. It’s five minutes to see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing. Those without a blog can post their five minute piece as a comment on Lisa Jo Baker’s blog. For more details, visit Five Minute Friday.

Warning: America is dangerous for kids

By Bevil Bramwell, OMI   (That Catholic Thing; Sunday, 18 May 2014)
“Michael Petit, president of Every Child Matters, writes that: ‘Over the past ten years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.’

“I went back to that article on the BBC website after reading another the other day entitled: ‘Who are the fifty-five bodies buried at the Dozier School?’ It describes a real horror: ‘Within the past year, anthropologists working for the University of South Florida (USF) have exhumed the remains of fifty-five children on the grounds of the now-shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.’ The rest of the story is a disturbing account of physical abuse at the reform school, which operated from 1900-2011. (In addition, such facts have to be laid out alongside the truly horrific statistics of abortions in the United States.)

“American culture is appallingly hostile to children. Not only does our obsession with power and violence lead to this hostility, but our Enlightenment sense of the mere utility of kids promotes the killing of unborn children because they are inconvenient. The statistics on violence and kids in Catholic situations are probably comparable to those in the rest of society because our institutions show similar incidences for all the other social deviations.

“The deeper problem for Catholics – and all those who have a sane view of such things – lies in the irreplaceable value of children in society. Vatican II taught that: ‘By their very nature, the institution of matrimony itself and conjugal love are ordained for the procreation and education of children, and find in them their ultimate crown.’ Wipe out the children, or abuse them in some other way, and marriage itself becomes a kind of horrible farce, an evil caricature of true union and true love. Our own sin and societal evil will always lead us to underestimate just how much damage is done.

“The Council went on to speak about the treasure of the union of the married couple: ‘As a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union and the good of the children impose total fidelity on the spouses and argue for an unbreakable oneness between them.’ The good of the children is part of the spiritual and material cement that holds the couple to increased efforts in lovingly relating to each other and their kids, with deep respect as persons imaging the personal God.

“More profoundly still: ‘As living members of the family, children contribute in their own way to making their parents holy. For they will respond to the kindness of their parents with sentiments of gratitude, with love and trust. They will stand by them as children should when hardships overtake their parents and old age brings its loneliness.” (Vatican II) The wonderful interrelationships of parents and kids create a network of grace and truth.

“These are not sectarian values, but are founded within the natural law and elevated by God’s grace. At no point are the parents held as more valuable than their children. What the Council did was to safeguard the interrelationships constituting the family instead of giving overriding priority to the rights of individuals – and thus the priority of adults – and distorting what a family actually is. The Council’s teaching that children assist their parents in becoming holy takes us into the most transcendent dimension of the phenomenon of human family. This may in fact provide the key to the strange connection in the United States between children and violence.

“If the human family is created to bring people to holiness, then of course we will oppose that reality in proportion to our sinfulness. We will also conceal it in proportion to our sinfulness. Notice that the information cited above about the Dozier School came from foreign and not domestic news services. The larger issue is that the spirit of this world does not want our holiness. This is where the Church faces a challenge.

“Putting aside the clergy and laity who are anti-family, the rest of the Church should be engaged in building families at every opportunity. The abuse scandals have seriously disrupted the Church’s work with children. No surprise there. If children are a source of holiness then of course the Evil One will attack the Church through children.

“By making them more expensive to operate, society is squeezing out Catholic schools that usually teach values that are an affront to a corrupt society. Congregations of religious are getting out of caring for children because they are seeking more ‘relevant’ ministries. The choice of what is relevant comes from a sinful society that has no business deciding such things. But that truth has not yet risen to consciousness on any great scale here.

“Family is one thing that Catholicism should be going all out to develop and sustain. Maybe it would lead to a rebirth of the Church and the culture. But for now, ‘the problem of violence against children [is]. . .much more acute in the U.S. than anywhere else in the industrialized world.’ (Michael Petit)”

Fr. Bevil Bramwell, OMI PhD is the former Undergraduate Dean at Catholic Distance University. His books are Laity: Beautiful, Good and TrueThe World of the Sacraments, and, most recently, Catholics Read the Scriptures: Commentary on Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini.
© 2014 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.org
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