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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: Three Little Words
By Sherry Castelluccio


Hug me now. It’s over. I love you. I heard the words so often as a child that I grew to despise them. Every time my mother told me she loved me, it was preceded by a black eye, a bloody lip, or a sore scalp from where she pulled my hair. One particular incident has tattooed itself into my subconscious. It’s never far from reach, reminding me of its presence whenever I feel the need to say those three little words. I watch from behind the background of time and remind myself that I have healed and no longer need its hateful clutches of resentment.

We were driving down a darkened road. The car swerved left and right as she tried to stay in one lane. Her left hand was on the steering wheel, her right hand on the back of my head. Smash! Smash! Smash! Her bleary eyes promised death threats as my head connected with the dashboard.

“You’ll w-w-isshh you’d n-nev-never (hick) messsed with meee! How d-d-dare y-you try and telll meee how to l-live! Little brat! Take that!” (hick!)

I don’t remember how we got home, but I do remember the darkness and the pain. In the morning after she’d slept away the stupor of the previous night, she would remind me that she’s allowed to make mistakes. “Pencils have erasers. If you love me, you’ll let this go.”

Hug me now. It’s over. I love you.

I hated it when she said those words but my young mind understood they were necessary. All she knew was anger. I had to endure, for without me, she wouldn’t have anyone. My brother was too small and needed to be protected. Her family just gave her money. I learned that love meant pain. When a person said they loved me, what they really meant was that they either wanted something from me or had already taken it with force. I was a rag doll, easily used for the pleasure of others, easily discarded for my lack of worth.

When I finally moved out on my own, everything I had ever been taught was suddenly challenged. I started going to church and made some new friends. It was with these people that my whole perception of love was shattered in the most amazing way. I was fascinated by how gently they spoke and how giving they were. How strange it was that they never yelled or raised their fists in anger! Whenever anyone had a need, somebody filled it. So odd was it that they never asked for anything in return!

Slowly, my fears started to fade until I was no longer alarmed when a voice suddenly rose in excitement. When they hugged me, the feelings were so wonderfully foreign that I craved them like a hunger- stricken beggar. The most unusual part about it all was when they told me they loved me. I had heard the words uttered a thousand times in my life but never in this manner. How could someone love me without hurting me?

I waited for the other shoe to drop but it never did. These people never raised a hand to me, never yelled at me, never made me feel like I was worthless. My new friends were very gracious in allowing me to “practice” loving them as I had been learning. Many times I got it wrong, leaving a trail of broken hearts in my wake. Gradually, I allowed the Truth to light its way around my heart. It softly explored every cave and cavern, every dusty, moldy crevice of my cold and dilapidated soul.

I saw His love in every act of kindness and in every promise of forgiveness. He was there, scarred hands stretched out and welcoming. I ran into them and never looked back. In all the years since, I have continued to immerse myself in the true essence of God. I know I don’t deserve his mercy and grace, but I accept it freely because I know what it cost him.

The scars from my past have taught me a valuable lesson. If it were not for my mother’s words, the message of the cross would have fallen on deaf ears. Love is the purest form of sacrifice. My mother told me over and over again how much she loved me. Jesus showed me.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16a)

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This article has been read 774 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 02/28/08
Well-written and filled with emotion. This is a touching story.
Beth LaBuff 02/29/08
Oh wow! This is so heart-breaking. It sounds like a true story. I can‘t even imagine all that you have been through. Your ending (which was a beginning for you) is very powerful. You’ve contrasted the actions of your mother with those from your church very well. I like this, “Love is the purest form of sacrifice.” Your entry is very good and your verse reminds us that Jesus is the ultimate example of “actions speaking louder than words”.
Jeanie Pinkston03/03/08
You caught my interest with the first three sentences. If you didn't personally exoerience this, your work is certainly believable. If you did...bless your heart! Thankfully, though, there IS a wonderful ending.
Jacquelyn Horne03/03/08
What a sad account. I'm glad the mc finally found a place of peace and love.
Joshua Janoski03/05/08
This story touched my heart. Whether it really happened to you or not, you made it totally believable. I have a feeling that you will be moving up to Masters soon enough. Thank you for sharing. :)
Joshua Janoski03/05/08
Haha. Crazy me. You said it was a true story on the forums, and I totally overlooked that.

What a powerful testimony you have. I really appreciate you sharing how the love of God completely changed your life.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/05/08
This is a wonderful story in so many ways--fitting the topic, having a perfect message, and showing what real love is. From such a background, God has turned your life around and made you a real sweetheart. I hope this one places.
Jan Ackerson 03/05/08
Beautiful writing--you're a very talented writer!
LauraLee Shaw03/05/08
Your piece brought me to tears. You wrote this way too well. Hopefully, the Lord will continue to take your past pain and turn it into hope and help for someone else. Three little words: HE LOVES YOU!
Julie Arduini03/05/08
I have three words too---
lump in throat! This is incredible writing and given that it's a true story, I bet difficult to write. Thank you for doing so, this was amazing writing and powerful in message.
Loren T. Lowery03/05/08
A remakable, heartbreaking story, so well told. The evidence of hurt in this child's life is summed up in this one phrase "I waited for the other shoe to drop but it never did."

That she learned not to listen for it again tesitfies to God's grace. That she sought Him in the first place is testimony that He loves and calls us no matter where we might be.
Sara Harricharan 03/05/08
Wow. You captured this perfectly. It is sad that it is a true story, but it is also hopeful that even though you endure pain, there is real love and acceptance. It must have taken a lot to share this. you did well. Great writing. ^_^
Lyn Churchyard03/05/08
Extremely well written story. It is just so sad that it is based in reality. You have done a masterful job here. Well done!
Catrina Bradley 03/05/08
God surely blessed your pen and helped you to write this excruciating testimony. Your writing flows beautifully. Well done, my friend.
Joanney Uthe03/06/08
Love can be so hard to accept when we've been hurt by the ones who are suppose to love us. You do an excellent example of contrasting human love with Christ's love.
Mariane Holbrook 03/06/08
I'm not only bowled over by your writing skills but by the experience you lived through. Finally able to accept real love, you became not just a survivor, but an overcomer, a victor! Praise God for you and your wonderful testimony. You're our newest member of the Southern thread and we already love you-- sincerely love you. Just for you.

God bless you.
Edy T Johnson 03/07/08
I found you, Sherry!

The terrible thought in reading your story is that this is reality for far too many children. Oh, that all could find, as you did, the everlasting arms of the One Who loves us best of all.

You write so well. God's peace be with you, friend.
Debbie Wistrom03/09/08
Thanks for taking the risk to share this. So glad you found true love. Keep writing, this is very well done.
Tim Pickl03/10/08
Thank you for sharing your heart. Your testimony is touching souls out there now...those who yearn to know the love of God. This also reminds me of 9 words to live by:
"I am sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me..."
Sharon McClean03/13/08
Oh Sherry this article is written so well and such an inspiration to others who might find themselves in a similar spot. Yes indeed, the action of love speaks much louder than words, as you portrayed here so beautifully. Love you, Sharon
Peggy Yengling03/13/08
Dear Sherry, You not only wrote an incredible piece, but by allowing yourself to become vulnerable and sharing so deeply, you will help and encourage others in profound ways. You have a gift for touching hearts... keep sharing, keep writing, keep believing. God Bless You! Love, Peggy
Joyce Poet03/15/08
I understand this story too well... I lived it... like you. And I read it with an old familiar need to scream out... and keep screaming... until I can't scream anymore. I thought I'd finally found it... finally!... in my children... until that love broke me too. And when it did, it was the wind that broke a bruised reed. Jesus said He never would do that though. And He hasn't. He knew those words wouldn't work... not with me. So He didn't use them. He used "I adore you" instead. And then He proved it to me. Not only did He prove it on Calvary, but He proves it to me over and over again through friends... friends like you. I will be 42 yrs old tomorrow and I have a new love standing in the balance. I can't be sure what will change tomorrow besides just my age. But what I can be sure of is this... God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And it is out of His perfect plan for me that my path is laid. I trust Him. Great work, Sis. Thank you for giving us such a tender glimpse into your life. And I don't see that blue up there in the corner either. But you are so #1 in my book and you may never know how many lives you touch. I am definitely one of those lives. I love you! ~Treava (Sorry, I didn't mean to write you a "novel" reply.)