The belt came through the last loop with a loud whip-like crack. First, it pounded the sidewalk like a warning. Then as angry words were hurled against me, the belt came across the back of my legs.
I tried to out run my Dad’s thundering wrath, but my nine-year-old legs just weren’t fast enough. The chase continued down the street, the belt pelting my back, my arms, my legs. I had been to the playground and lost track of time. He came in a rage and chased me down the long concrete sidewalk.
Cars drove by; people watched from their front porches; they heard my cries for help, but no one intervened. I was publicly beaten, publicly humiliated, publicly rejected, publicly abused physically and verbally and not one person cared to stop the violence against me. Not even when the belt wrapped around my ankle causing me to fall. They heard my cry, but no one cared. Even as he grabbed me by the arm to pull me back up to my feet, ripping the sleeve of my blouse, no one came to save me from the ravages of an out of control man.
I felt afraid, ashamed, defiled, naked, vulnerable, abandoned. I felt like a failure and a sinful person because no one cared enough to come to my rescue, to save me. I must have deserved his wrath.
I’m thankful that several years ago the Lord saw fit to have me follow a trail of breadcrumb morsels that lead me to Ann Voskamp and her journey with brokenness. Ann put lyrics to what my wounded heart and soul have been humming. I’m honored to be on the launch team for her newest book, “The Broken Way – A Daring Path Into the Abundant Life.”
Remember my flashback? Ann begins Chapter 1 with a flashback of her own. One part of her flashback in particular resonated with me. She winced in pain and shame while sitting in church. A hurtful comment and congregational laughter lead her to want to stand up in church and say: “When the church isn’t for the suffering and broken, then the church isn’t for Christ.”
In sharing about that experience Ann said something that pierced my soul---I mean I burst into tears and wept. She stated so beautifully exactly what I always look for in my relationships; to feel safe, free from shame and shielded by grace and gracious people. Lord knows I've been broken by toxic words from broken people in need of His grace. I would venture to say we all have."Shame is a bully but grace is a shield. You are safe here."
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18