Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)
TITLE: My Childhood
By Fran Cantwell
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Childhood is personal for each individual. Some have had great childhoods. Other's not so great. It's been said that you are a product of your environment. While that statement is true, you can also overcome your negative environment
The term “dysfunctional family”, refers to a family that is not the normal structure of what a family is supposed to be. Some are slightly dysfunctional, while others, like mine, are extremely dysfunctional.
For many years, I was afraid to admit that I was abused. I thought that if anyone knew about my childhood, they would judge me. To make it even harder, I was a caretaker for children. I asked myself if I would want an adult who had been abused as a child, to take care of my children? The answer was “NO!” So I kept it secret.
God so graciously leads us to the right place at the right time. I was lead to a ladies retreat. The auditorium was filled. I went there to learn from others. No one at my church knew anything about my childhood. I never discussed it. But as I was soon to learn, God sees the bigger picture. He is all knowing. He knew exactly who was in the audience.
The first day of the retreat was wonderful. Women sang and many shared and prayed for others. I was really glad that I went. On the second day, a lady went to the podium to speak. She began by asking, who in the audience had the best childhood there could ever be. To my amazement only a few women raised their hands. She continued with verses from the bible that encouraged us. Then she said something very strange. That she knew that at least one-half of the audience had experienced a terrible childhood. I was completely shocked! I really thought that my family and I were the only ones. The next thing I knew, a lady, I'll call Mary, that I barely knew, came up and asked me to share. I couldn't believe it. How could I speak to all those women, and share something that I had kept hidden for all those years! I told her that I just couldn't. I had never spoken in public. I was terrified! She took my hand and told me that she would be right by my side.
As I stood up, I felt as though my legs were not attached to my body. My heart was pounding. I began to sweat. My head was spinning, but Mary continued to hold my arm. As we approached the stage, I stopped dead in my tracks. My feet felt frozen to the floor. I saw, and knew, everyone in the front row. I just couldn't go up those stairs. I couldn't expose this secret that I had kept bottled up inside of me.
Mary felt my apprehenshion and began to pray aloud. She asked God to give me the strength and courage to tell my story. She continued to pray, andI felt at peace. God took away the fear, and replace it with a calm spirit that was so wonderful. Mary felt my body ease, and lead me up the stairs to the podium.
Mary stood there, just as she said she would. As I began to speak, I felt my legs shake, and my voice tremble. I told about terrible abuse the seven children in my family had suffered at the hands of my mother. I continued to share how there were no good memories. The only few happy times were with my grandfather. I began to cry and couldn't go on. Then a lady I knew stood up and told me that I could go on. That I could do this. I did go on, and told my devestating story. I also told them that they could rewrite their childhood. Something I learned from a Children's Author.
I don't remember much of that speech. But it had a great impact on me, and those who spoke with me later. They asked how they could overcome what I had. I told them that all things are possible with God. And that God had protected me. I was still alive to tell my story. I encouraged them to overcome their past, and hopefully gave them the courage to rewrite their childhood. God brings us through to the other side if we will just be open enough to let Him.
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