Where Was God?

Life wasn’t great, but it wasn’t a nightmare anymore. My mom
was still abusive, but the beatings never hurt like the ones from the previous
man. She was chasing happiness and I honestly don’t know if she ever found it.
I think she didn’t know how to deal with her life during this time so she took
her frustrations out on us. It was our fault after all. We had been born and stolen
her freedom. She often told us that she should have just had an abortion or
given us up for adoption, that we didn’t appreciate all that she did for us. She
constantly needed a break from us and would ship us off on the weekends to my
grandparents’ or uncle’s house and that is where we could truly feel happy. The
best part of my week was getting off the school bus on a Friday to see one of
them parked at our house. We knew that during the weekends that we would have
plenty to eat and might even get the chance to do something exciting like go
see a movie or go to the park and play. During those weekends, I felt like we
were allowed to be kids.

A few months into her singleness, my mom started dating
again. On weekends when she couldn’t ship us off, we had to go on her “dates”
with her. Most of those “dates” were just sexual encounters. The 3 of us would
be locked in a room and my mom and whatever guy she was with at the time would
do their business. Sometimes we slept at the new guy’s house and other times we
left shortly after. One of those encounters turned into a relationship and that
begins the worst chapter of my life.

One weekend my grandparents could only keep us over a Friday
night and had to bring us home on a Saturday afternoon. When we arrived home,
there was an old pickup truck in the driveway. My granddad asked us who the
truck belonged to, but none of us knew. Inside the house sat the most evil
human that I have ever known, I just didn’t know it at the time. After my
grandparents left, my mom put us all in the bed of the truck and her new man
drove us over to his house. It was a rundown single-wide mobile home. The roof
was caving in and the windows in the kitchen and one of the bedrooms were
broken. I felt uncomfortable immediately. The 3 of us kids were sent to the
very back bedroom where this man’s daughter lived. She was cruel and obviously
didn’t want 3 other kids sharing her already tiny room.  I can’t really blame her though. That night
we basically moved in. Over the next few weeks, I did anything I could do not
to be in his house. I honestly felt like I was living in a nightmare. We had
glass bottles thrown at us, we were hit just for breathing. The new guy was
sadistic. I honestly think he enjoyed inflicting pain on us. His daughter was
just as bad. She would make up stories about how one of us had broken a rule or
did something mean to her so she could see her dad beat us.

None of us had ever told our grandparents about the beatings
that we received from the first man because we were scared of what might
happen, but my grandparents knew something was going on with this guy because
my youngest brother would scream and cry when it was time for us to leave their
house and go back to my mom. They started to see the cuts and bruises on our
bodies when we would shower and they asked questions. I often wonder why they
never called DFCS during this time, but they didn’t. My grandpa did confront my
mother about it, but I wished that he didn’t. After that confrontation, my
mother took us back to our home and showed us why we had to stay with that man.
We had been evicted. All of our stuff was laying out in the street and the
neighborhood kids were carrying our toys home with them. We didn’t have a lot
of stuff, but what we did have was gone. We were homeless and his house was the
only place we had to stay. We gathered up the few items that hadn’t been stolen
and went back to the mobile home where he was waiting to punish us. He yelled
at us for talking to my grandparents and told us that he would show us how bad
things could really be, if we didn’t learn to shut our mouths. We were made to
sleep outside that night because we were ungrateful for the things that he gave
us. We lived in constant fear and were kept from going to my grandparents’
house.

About 3 or 4 months into their relationship, we came home
from school and the house was being packed up. There were boxes everywhere and
the pickup truck was loaded up. We were moving. We went from a 2 bedroom in a
trailer park to a 3 bedroom trailer in the middle of nowhere. At least we had a
little bit of space now. His daughter was given her own room and the 3 of us
were given a room to share. It was a tight space, but we didn’t have to stay
with his daughter anymore. I was in the 3rd grade during this
transition. When most kids changing schools are worried about making friends
and fitting in, I was worried about hiding burses. I was silent in the classroom,
so much so that my new teacher thought I needed to be tested for special needs
classes. I got in trouble for that. We got in trouble for everything and this
time we had no escape to my grandparents’ house. They lived a few towns over
now, we didn’t have a home phone, and I found out later that my mom refused to
tell them where we were living.

We were beaten if the vacuum lines were strait, if our
clothes weren’t color coordinated in our closets, if we slept too late, if we
looked at him “the wrong way”, if his daughter didn’t like something that we
did. We were beaten harder if we cried. He was smarter than the first guy
though. He knew where to hit us so that our clothes covered the majority of the
bruises and cuts.  During the summer we
were woken up at sunrise and put outside. Often times we did a lot of manual labor
i.e. cutting down trees, dragging logs, digging holes for a burn pits. If we
didn’t work fast enough, we were beaten. If we didn’t drag the logs the “right
way” we were beaten. Some summer days we didn’t have to work but we weren’t allowed
to go inside. We used the bathroom outside because he didn’t want to see us. If
we needed water, we had the water hose. We weren’t allowed to eat until we came
in for dinner. Some nights, when we came in for dinner he would intentionally
ruin the food we were supposed to eat so we would go to bed hungry.

We weren’t always allowed the opportunity to take baths
either. We were pretty dirty kids. I know that I smelled, but there was nothing
I could do about it. I was infested with lice, my clothes were dirty, my entire
body was dirty. If we were allowed to bathe, we weren’t given any soap because
we didn’t work for the soap. Again, I was shocked that my teacher or other
educator didn’t call DFCS just based on my appearance. I hadn’t seen my
grandparents since we moved and I needed to be rescued. I knew my grandparents
number by heart and one day I actually got the nerve to contact them from the
phone in the school’s clinic. I told my teacher that I was sick and I needed to
go home. She was thrilled I’m sure because she often made comments about how
bad I smelled in her classroom. When I got to the clinic the lady told me that
my mother’s number wasn’t working and so I gave her my grandparents’ number. I’m
not sure how they were able to, but they checked all 3 of us kids out of
school. We showed them how to get to our house and we picked up a few items and
my grandparents took us back home with them that night. We were given baths,
treated for lice, and we able to just rest. I don’t know if my mom didn’t
realize we didn’t come home that day or what, but she never showed up at my grandparents’
house.

The next day, my grandparents drove us to our house. My mom was furious that they were there. In her opinion, they had no right to know what was going on in her house. We were sent to our room and my grandparents had a conversation with my mom. I don’t know what they talked was about, but my grandparents came in our room to tell us good-bye. I was horrified. How could they just leave us there? Why weren’t we going with them? We were all sure that we were going to be punished that night but we didn’t know how bad it would really be.

Apparently, my mom and this man had planned a bonfire for them and some of their friends this night. Drunks + Fire + Anger Issues = Hell. He was so furious when my mom told him what had happened. The three of us kids were sleeping in our bed when he stormed in the room and yanked us all out of our beds. He threw us on the floor like we were nothing. He was belligerent. He started breaking our things. My sister had these books that she cherished more than anything. He picked them up and started ripping pages from them. When my sister started crying, he said the ever so famous line “I’ll give you something to cry about” and he did. I was next. I had this one teddy bear that was almost my security. I confided all my feelings in that bear. He ripped the head off. Then he said, “why don’t you go tell your grandpa about that!” He spit on me and left the room. We slid our bed in front of the door to try and prevent him from coming in again. None of us slept that night. We all set up in bed right next to each other scared to make a single sound, scared what would happened if we closed our eyes.

Life was harder than ever for the next few weeks. We didn’t
dare say a word. We walked with our eyes down all the time. Then several days
later, completely out of the blue, we were picked up at school by our
grandparents again. They told us that we were going on a trip, but wouldn’t
tell us where. When we got to their house, they kept making phone calls to
someone I didn’t know and a few hours later 2 strange women walked through the
door – they were my aunts from my actual father’s side of the family. I had no
memory of meeting them in person, but I had seen their faces in pictures
before. No one had ever told me who they were until this day. My grandparents
thought it would be best if we would go and stay with them for a week while
things calm down. My aunts were happy to make the drive from the next state
over to pick us up. The 3 of us got in the car without question. We were all
very confused about what was happening, but we trusted my grandparents.

We all 3 fell asleep in the car and woke up in a strange
home, in someone else’s bed. There was a man in the room that looked oddly
familiar, but I didn’t know him. As you have probably guessed by now, it was my
father. That is the first memory I have of him. He lifted me up out of the bed
and carried me into my aunt’s living room.  He wouldn’t stop hugging me and telling me
that he loved me. I didn’t know how to respond. Looking back, I acted like an
abused dog. Every time he got close to me my entire body clenched up waiting
for the impact of his hand, foot, or object that might come my way. He never
hit me though, just showed me love. The week we were with him, we were spoiled
rotten. I kept thinking how much my life was going to change now that I had my
dad in my life. He was going to protect me now. I didn’t want to leave him.
Yes, he was poor just like we were, but he didn’t hit me and I believed him when
he said that he loved me. I believed him when he said my mother had kept him
from me and that he was never going to let that happen again. I was a stupid
kid.

After our time there ended, we were loaded back up in the car and driven back to my grandparents’ house. We came back with a lot more than we went with. My aunts, uncles, and dad had gotten us new clothes and toys that we were so excited about. My mom came and picked us up from my grandparents’ house that day and didn’t say a word to us the entire ride home. When we got back and started to unpack the new things that were given to us by my dad’s family, his daughter ran to him accusing my sister and me of stealing her clothes and toys. He came in and took everything that was given to us and gave it to his daughter. Our new toys, our new clothes were now being flaunted in front of us by his daughter. My mom knew it wasn’t true, but she went along with it. She couldn’t believe that her daughters were such thieves. As punishment for stealing, we received a tough beating and sent to bed without food that night. That night, I kept thinking that I was going to call my dad and he was going to come get me and save me from this nightmare. He was going to make everything better. For weeks I called him whenever I could get near a phone and he gave me empty promises of how he was going to come and get us. Each week I waited for nothing. He never came and eventually stopped answering my calls. That was the first and last time that I would meet my dad until I reached my junior year of high school.

Not too long after I realized that my dad wasn’t going to come save me, my mom ran away from home. She left her 3 kids with a monster. That made him even angrier and the abuse even worse. It was our fault for running my mother off and he wasn’t going to be responsible for taking care of us. He actually called my grandparents to come and get us. They came, packed up our stuff and took us home to live with them. They didn’t have a lot of space and the 3 of us still had to share a room, but we were safe.

My mother showed up days later apologizing to us. She told
my grandparents that she wanted to take us to the park and talk to us and they
let her. She didn’t take us to the park, she took us back to him. He promised
us that he would be kinder to us if we would stay with him. We were too scared
to say no and so we agreed. A week later everything escalated again, but this
time my grandparents must have known something was going to happen because they
showed up at just the right time. Maybe that was a God moment in all of this. He
had started in on us, swing his fists and yelling when my grandpa (who was a
very large man) ran through the front door and tackled him to the ground. He
pinned him down and I will never forget the look on my grandpa’s face. He was a
very kind man and I had never seen him get angry with anyone before. I had
never heard him raise his voice before. My grandpa told that man if he ever saw
him near us again that he would kill him. We threw as much stuff as we could in
the car that night and my mom even came. We left, we were done with him. I
would never see that man again. I do often wonder about what happened to him
and his daughter. I wonder if they are still alive or if he died from his alcohol
and drug problem. I wonder if some other poor child was a victim of his abuse. I
wonder if he has ever changed. I believe people can change. Somedays I want him
to have changed because I want his soul to be saved and other days I don’t
think he deserves it. The issue is that none of us deserve it. There are days
that I wish I would run into him on the street so I could sucker punch him and
other days I forgive him. He is the part of my story that still haunts me and
he was only in my life for about a year and a half.

This is the part where I should have some God moment to
share with you, but I don’t. I do not see God in this part of my story. I didn’t
pray to God during this part of my life. I didn’t pretend he was protecting me
during this part of my life. I honestly forgot who or what God was. My mind was
constantly consumed by fear that there was no room for God or anything else for
that matter. I do not think God is the reason I faced this pain though. I think
evil is. I think there are parts of our own life that we have a hard time
seeing God because we do not want to believe that God would allow such evil
things to happen. We want to believe that God would strike down someone for
doing such awful things to anyone, but especially children. He didn’t.  

While I don’t see God in this situation, God has recently
taught me a lesson from this part of my life. He is there during hard times,
but you have to reach out to him. When our minds are so focused on our own pain
and our own situation, we forget to reach out to God for help. We become so
consumed by our own circumstances that we can’t or don’t want to see God. I don’t
know if my situation would have been different if I would have looked to God. I
don’t know if the beatings would have stopped or if my mom would have left him sooner.
I do know that I would have had something to cling to. I know that I wouldn’t
have put my hope in my teachers to save me, my dad to rescue me, or been
disappointment when my grandparents followed the law and took me back to my
mother. I don’t know if anything in the situation would have changed except my
hope and comfort would have been in God.

I know I mention hope a lot in these posts, but hope in God is
one of the most powerful things that we can cling to. Some people think that a life
in Christ is an easy one, they don’t understand that life doesn’t necessarily
become easier, we aren’t always healed from diseases, we don’t automatically
wealthy, or have all of our relationships restored. All of our prayers are not
answered the way that we wish they would be. What changes is that now we trust
and know that God will not leave us in those difficult circumstances. That one
day our bodies will be healed and we will receive the ultimate reward in Heaven
with God. We understand that while we are still here we are to make the most of
our opportunities to share the love of Christ with those around us. The pain
you feel from a current situation or a past memory does not have to be the
period your story. Your story can be so much more if you would just put your
hope in Jesus Christ.

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