Relating to God as Father (When You’ve Been Abused)

Readers,

This is a painful topic. I suppose I should insert a trigger warning for any abuse survivors. I won’t go into too much detail about the abuse that I suffered, but I will mention it in slight detail. This piece may bring back painful memories for you. I’m right there with you, friend. We’re in this together.

 

Alright, well here’s a bit of my story. I was born into a tumultuous family. My father had undiagnosed bipolar disorder and his own long history of abuse in all its sick forms. Many people hurt my dad when he was a child. Typically this is what happens. Someone is abused and they, in turn, abuse their own children, often unknowingly.

I was abused. I was emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and financially abused. Common occurrences in my home were these:

  1. I would come home from school and find at least two family members engaged in a screaming match.
  2. Dad would become so angry that he would punch holes in walls and break things in the home. One time he threw my dog against the wall. I will never forget that. 
  3. When I asked for money, it was given with much reluctance and often I felt indebted to my father. I had to perform in a certain way to pay him back. This is something I struggle with to this day.
  4. Often, my parents would threaten to divorce at least once a week. One time I became so fed up with the arguing, because I was studying, and I said, “Just divorce already or don’t because I’m studying!” I was 9 years old.
  5. Sometimes Dad would leave for days on end, after a big fight with my mom. If he didn’t leave, he gave her the silent treatment for a few days. As my brother and I grew older, he exhibited this behavior toward us as well. 
  6. I’ve been called a bitch, evil, a burden, etc. Cutting words.

Readers, this abuse is something that the Lord is slowly lifting off of my heart every day. With each morning, I feel that God is calling the abuse out of me, calling to my mind the painful memories so we can work through them together. Every time I see my therapist, I receive so much healing and validation. I love therapy. I highly recommend it!

Now, this piece is about relating to God as Father when you’ve been abused, especially by a man. I never realized that I had an incorrect and incomplete view of God as Father until recently. My Christian walk up until age 23, my current age, has been about legalism. I always wanted to “do the right thing” and “be a good Christian.” I wanted to please God. I wanted Him to be proud of me. I want my Dad to be proud to be my Dad. I didn’t want God to punish me. 

I never experienced that light freedom that comes from loving Christ and being loved by Him until recently. Actually, you know, picturing Christ in my mind when I thought of God was easier than thinking of the Father. This could be because the Father seems a bit removed from us in the sense that He does not have a body. He is Spirit. But, Christ has a body, so it’s easier to relate to Him. That’s so genius of God to send Christ. 🙂

But, this is how my walk has been. This has been how I related to God. I can’t quite pinpoint what really happened to change it, but one night I was reading Romans 4 and the realization of God’s holy grace rushed over me! The Holy Spirit came upon me in a powerful way and I wept for hours, finally realizing that God loves me because He is love and because He made me, not because I’m “good.”

For those of you who struggle with viewing God as Father, listen to me. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I don’t have this all figured out yet and I won’t until I join the Lord in heaven, but it gets easier. My recommendation is to:

  1. Deal with the memories when they come up (as long as is healthy for you)
  2. Seek therapy (whether that’s formal counseling or some type of counseling from church)
  3. Pray to your Father
  4. Read the sections of the Bible where the Father is mentioned as loving, patient, kind, and understanding
  5. Wait on the Lord. He will heal you.

 

Friend, what happened to you was not something unknown to God. He knew it would happen. He didn’t want it to! But, we have free will. However, what Satan meant for evil in your life, God will turn it around for your good! You will be a blessing to yourself and to others. God will bring you to a place where you can speak to others about your past and your healing. Many will come to the Lord through your testimony. Many will find healing. I firmly believe this. Rest in God. Let HIS strength be Yours. He loves you because He’s your Abba. ❤

 

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

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Nabeel Qureshi

Nabeel,
I knew you were going to a place where everything would be made right.
Your body would be restored.
Life would be renewed.

A place where pain no longer ruled
And sickness was a forgotten foe.
Where humans didn’t kill each other
Over religious beliefs or skin color.

Yet you didn’t want to go.
Not many of us do desire to leave
Although what’s awaiting some of us
Is divine glory beyond comprehension.

But, the cancer ate away at your body.
The doctors removed your stomach;
Left you bare.

I wonder if you remembered what food tasted like,
What it was like to drink something cool and refreshing.
Or had you become accustomed to the tubes
That kept you with us, although you were suffering?

Nabeel,
In this world, you left the old life for the new.
The only promise you had to cling to
Was the promise of God’s ever-presence.

We are not ensured health in this life
Nor wealth, although we try
To keep a firm grip on both.

Nabeel,
You showed me what it meant to be a Christian.
To suffer, to be sick, and to love Jesus regardless.
You’re in the Lord’s arms and that brings comfort.
But we’ll miss you and the work you did for the people you loved.

Nabeel,
You are enjoying everything new.
New body.
New mind.
New home.
We just wish you didn’t have to go.

 

 

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. – John 11:25

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. – Philippians 1:21

My Thorn

My dreams often times run wild and free. My dreams…what are they? From where do they come? Is it just me in there? Or does my Father sculpt them? Perhaps it’s both blended together. God’s influence and my talents working as one. That’s the ideal, but is it true for me?

My worst enemy will always be me. Pulling against Him as He extracts the rotten growth. Those roots run deep. They’ve woven themselves around my heart and traveled between the curves in my brain. I pray and wait for Him to set me free.

But perhaps this is just my particular thorn. Everyone’s got one, I’m sure of that. When I grasp the rose that is God’s heart, my thorn cuts deeper in my palm, but I squeeze tighter. Regardless of the pain I let the blood trickle down. It’s not mine. It’s His. It cleans me as I hold on. My thorn forms the crown He wore.

I was blessed by my Lord with a big heart. It burdens me as I live, move, and have my being. This heart of mine, it isn’t mine anymore. I gave that ownership to another, to the Only. A heart for His purposes must not be filthy; it must be purified. But, it must always be broken.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

Dear America: My Father is White (And That’s Okay)

This weekend has been jam packed with hospital visits and emergency surgeries, but I finally have a few moments to sit and breathe.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m “biracial.” My mother is Afro-Puerto Rican and my father is German-American. In other words, my mother is brown and my dad is white. Their union created me, ethnically ambiguous me, and I enjoy looking so distinct. Although my mixed heritage has been difficult to embrace at times, mostly because of others’ reactions to me, I love who God made me to be. I’m blessed to not be stuck in one culture and one mindset. Because I’m mixed, I can easily move between many cultures and believe that this will help me win souls for Christ. 

While being different is fabulous, there are aspects of the mixed life that are annoying and, at times, disturbing: some people think I’m my father’s wife. Yes, some people see me, a brown-skinned, curly-haired 23-year old woman out with a white 57-year old man and assume that any relationship between us must be of a sexual and romantic nature. Are you vomiting yet?

Growing up, I instinctually knew that society would perceive us in this way and when I became a teenager, I would make it a point to call my father “dad” or refer to “mom” whenever we were out in public. My fear of being mislabeled was profound. As a little girl, no one thought that anything inappropriate was happening between my father and I; we were just father and daughter. But, as I grew older, I knew that doubts would arise.

I could see it in people’s eyes when my dad and I shopped for groceries. I could feel their judgement on my back when I would hug my dad in public.

“Who is this little brown girl?”

“Is she some mail order bride?”

“That’s disgusting.” 

This fear subsided for some time because I lived in New York, and people were liberal. It was not inconceivable for a white man to have a brown child in New York. However, moving to Georgia has shown me a different side of America. Here, I go out with my father with the constant fear that someone will assume that our relationship is not familial. The other day, we went to Walmart (I hate them, but my dad’s a sucker for a bargain), and at the checkout line, we engaged in our typical witty banter, much to the amusement of the beautiful and sweet African-American cashier. When my dad left the checkout line to wash his hands (he got chicken blood on them -__-), the cashier asked me my age.

“I’m 23.”

“Oh, wow! I was going to say 17!” she laughed.

“Yeah, that’s just because I have my glasses on.” I replied, smiling.

. . .

“Are y’all close?”, she asked.

I was taken aback. In what way was she asking this question? I hope she knows he’s my dad.

“Yeah, we are…he’s a good dad.” I answered. Good job, Gabby. Clarify the relationship.

“Really? Aw, thats great. It’s hard to find good dads these days.” she said, with a little sadness in her tone.

Amen, sister.

When my dad came back, the cashier remarked to him that I said he was a good father and he in turn commended me as a daughter.

We left the store and I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman who saw my father and I together and immediately knew what our relationship was. That is rare.

 

This feeling didn’t last long. The next day, my father was rushed to the ER with what he thought were heart attack symptoms (turns out it was a panic attack), and the EMT who arrived at our house referred to me as my father’s wife. My dad immediately corrected him and he apologized.

Blunders like that happen often, but I asked myself why does this happen so often to us? It’s clear that my dad is almost 60 and I’ve been mistaken for a teenager countless times. Does anyone seriously think we’re married? If so, why?

I believe there’s only one reason that some people don’t understand our relationship: my skin color. If I were completely white, no one would doubt that this almost 60-year old white man and white 23-year old girl were father and daughter. In fact, if the genders were switched, I highly doubt that anyone would assume an older white woman would be in a relationship with a young brown man. They would see him as her son, wouldn’t they? No one would question it. But, because I have brown skin and I’m a woman, suddenly the relationship is not clear. This should not be so.

We live in an era where people freely marry people of other cultures and have babies with them. These babies grow into young adults and then adults who must deal with society’s perception of them and their parents for their entire lives. It is so damaging to a mixed person to be perceived as so incredibly “other” that we must not be related. We must be some young bride. Some sugar baby. Isn’t that the picture they have in their heads?

I wish this would stop. A girl shouldn’t fear going in public with her father simply because she’s of a certain age and different skin tone than he is. So, yes my dad is white. He’s my dad and will always be my papa bear. I’ll hug him in public and let them think what they will. He’s my dad and that’s all that matters.