Battered Praise

11 November 2018

Kneel on a worn leather cushion, ease into a creaky wooden pew, and stand on tired but restless legs. For what? Even with all of my praise, all God did was throw me onto the corner ropes of the ring and deliver a sharp jab with the left, then the right, right again, and finally a roundhouse kick that should’ve stopped all of the pain but never did. God didn’t deliver the real blows, he let a swaggering drunk do his work for him, also known as my stepfather. From the time I was four, I carried around fresh pink, swollen welts and indigo-violet bruises blooming quickly beneath my delicate skin.

While other little girls’ neat hair was pinned back to reveal a bright, shiny face and toothy grin, my jagged homemade haircut hung to hide the new fleshy welt on my cheek. I firmly believed God had let this happen. I never questioned the reality of God, but I questioned his righteousness. I existed to God as a punching bag. I blamed the ever-so-righteous God for all of my problems. I blamed him for the hot tears that streamed from my cerulean blue eyes, for the crippling nightmares that plagued my nights, and for the screams of my brothers that rang through the hollow halls of that broken house. God never seemed to hear my desperate prayers each night or my withered cries of pain as Warren repeatedly smacked my tiny body with a wooden spoon, or an aluminum baseball bat, or even the time he broke a glass plate over my head. The loud sound of breaking glass must have drowned my pleas. I was all alone in my suffering. It took eight long years to finally be rid of the brutal man who beat my body, crushed my hopes and dreams, and demolished my self esteem. That’s 2,920 days of endless tears, 70,080 hours of countless bruises, 4,204,800 minutes of praying for salvation, and 252,288,000 seconds of pure hatred toward God and toward myself. Then one day it ended. Warren had thrown a swing at my mother and hit her square in the jaw. The police showed up for the hundredth time, but this time I left in my dad’s car with my three brothers, my mom left in an ambulance, and Warren left in handcuffs.

Since that day six years ago I have lived with my wonderful father and stepmother. They strive to give me every opportunity to help me create the life I have chosen. I’m growing to appreciate the person I am. My stare pierces the girl looking back at me from the mirror, and I still see a broken, terrified child cowering behind two miniscule hands. I see something else in that same reflection, I see a strong, independent woman who loves friends, family and life passionately throughout every moment of the day. A woman running toward a shining future. Now there are times where I see every flaw in myself, but who doesn’t? I’m human. I’m allowed to have imperfections. I’ve grown to trust God and to believe he is an ever-loving God. He wasn’t torturing me, he was building me into the original, gorgeous, tenacious woman I am today.

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