As I walked in and shut the door, I knew I was in trouble. Mama had been sleeping when I left, and the look on her face told me what was coming. She sent me to the bedroom and told me to get on the bed. I cleared it (of clothes and trash…there were never sheets) while she yelled for me to “Hurry up and get undressed! You are going to learn not to make me worry!” I took my clothes off and climbed up on the bed, trembling as I knew what was next. She screamed she didn’t know where I had been and I had caused her to worry that I had been hurt or taken….followed by, “If anyone ever did take you they wouldn’t keep you for long! You are good for nothing! Do you hear me? Good for N-O-T-H-I-N-G!” she screeched. The little girl I was didn’t know to ask why someone so concerned about my safety would beat me with such reckless abandon. My tiny bare body begins to shake as her screams make their way into the room. In the future I would learn to be more careful. I did my best to leave and return home undetected; ideally when she was sleeping. Today I would pay for my miscalculation.
With each blow of the belt on bare flesh, I gasp from the pain. The sound of the box fan in the window creates an eerie harmony with the screams coming from the one who loathes my existence. I cry quietly, my small body willing itself still. I try with all my might not to move and accept the beating; any reaction to defend myself fuels her rage. She grabs my long hair and jerks my head back to the point I fight consciousness….finally the room goes black. The unconscious moments provide a temporary escape, but when I awaken the blows begin again. She continues the assault until she is spent and unable to continue. She stops suddenly with a deep sigh, almost as if she’s defeated. I do not make eye contact, sobs convulsing my entire body. She leaves the room and eventually I hear deep breathing coming from the next bedroom. I quietly get dressed and make my way out to the back yard…still the deep, quiet sobs shake my seven-year old frame. In our backyard, I lay down in the grass, as I often do and look up at the sky, wiping away the tears with the back of my hand only to find I’m bleeding, not realizing my eardrum has been ruptured from the blows. I wipe away the blood, longing for kisses to take away the hurt.
The fear subsides, sobs fade and my breathing steadies. My tears begin to dry on my soft cheeks. I pray for forgiveness for being such a sinful child….her screams echoing in my heart, “You are a child of the devil, you don’t ever mind me and you will rot in hell for it Rebekah!”
The name Rebekah literally means Tied Up but more specific (and more friendly) is Secured. As a little girl I hated my name. The only one who ever used my given name was my mother. Hearing it invoked unspeakable fear. I wanted so badly for my mother to love me, but she could not give what she had never been given. My grandmother was even more abusive to my mother than she was to me, but it would be years before I would know that. I hardly knew my grandfather growing up…only that we always received a check from him at Christmas and a visit in the summer. He was always kind and I felt safe when I was with him. I had three older siblings (five, six and seven years older than me) and one five years younger. The abuse I suffered at the hands of my mother went virtually undetected by neighbors, teachers and the church we attended. My older siblings were out of the house one by one in my early childhood. I adored them. For many years I believed there was a tiny angel who looked after me and it would be years later that I would find out it was my older sister Lilly, who was the tender age of six when I was born. I find it ironic that my name means “tied up” or “secured”. God has given me such security in Him, such peace and forgiveness…I have security in who I am in Christ Jesus. I remember as a little girl hearing someone read Psalm 27:10 to me;
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the LORD will take care of me.
I believe the Word for what it said. As crazy as my home life was, mama always had us in church. I was taught the Word of God was living and breathing and would protect me… I was terrified of my mother and often I would go to sleep at night with a Bible on my chest for fear that she would kill me in my sleep.
However, Ephesians 6:1-3 says;
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”[a]
I believed with everything that was in me, if I didn’t start “minding” my mother…I would die. I had no idea that this violence was not spurred on through the disobedience of a little girl, yet from generations of abuse (on my grandmother’s side of the family).
One last scripture that stuck with me through all of this, Hebrews 13:5;
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”[a]
He never left me during these times of unspeakable violence at the hands of my mother. He gave me strength and as I forgave Mama later in my life, He began to write His story about me…. I felt His presence every moment of every day. I have a hard story to read, but I was not robbed of my childhood due to the courage I received from knowing I was/am His baby girl! I invite you to join me on this journey. I pray it will help to bring you to a closer relationship to the Lover of YOUR soul and that as you cry with me, that you will also join me at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to heal the deepest and most private places of your heart.