All of us "grown up" children live with any number of ghosts from our pasts which still rear their ugly heads and haunt us from time to time. I can still recall unkind (even rude) comments made by adults in my life, which made me very self conscience about my voice. These comments lead to feelings of inferiority which had an impact on my life for years to come. One afternoon when I was a young teenager I was singing around the house and my mother said to me: "I feel embarrassed for you when you try to sing." Needless to say my confidence level plummeted and any attempts at singing were tucked away and filed in my mind under taboo until I was a young pastor’s wife. Years later encouragement by my husband to try again resulted in another episode of belittlement. I agreed to sing a special at the church we were pastoring with my husband, who was talented and had a good voice. After the service one of the ladies from the congregation cornered me. I realize now, she meant no harm, but trust me harm was done. She smiled and said to me: "I heard you try to sing that song before and you messed it up then too." At that point, she was the only one of us that was smiling. I was mortified. Later one of the men from the church added his own thoughts on the subject: "You are a good preacher, Sister, but you sure can’t sing!" That did it! Any notions that I might be able to carry a tune, even in a bucket, were squelched. These experiences of rejection and face to face encounters with humiliation, may not seem like much to those who have endured more difficult ones but to me, at that time and place in my life, they were significant and painful. I would carry them with me for the rest of my life. In fact, they would play a prominent role shaping who I thought I was and who I thought others thought I was. Gradually, little by little these memories would mix with other memories and become key ingredients in the recipe for rejection that relentlessly dogged me day after day. The question of whether or not I could sing gave way to the question of whether or not I was valuable.
“The wounded spirit is borne by many, yet it often can’t be seen. It can be a burden heavy enough to bend and warp the course of our lives, but it’s buried deeply, hidden in a secret place, and we’ve been afraid to talk about it.”
Frank Peretti hit the nail on the head when he said: “A wounded Spirit has no regard for time or age. Wounded kids grow up to be wounded adults….” I think it is safe to say that everyone some time or some place in their lives has been wounded. Hurting people hurt people and the cycle continues.
Something that everyone who has even been wounded at the hands (or mouth) of another needs to understand: the abuse is not your fault. It is not your fault! Being wounded was not your fault. You didn’t ask to be wounded, you didn’t deserve to be wounded and there is nothing so horribly wrong with you that forced others to treat you that way. One of the horrendous effects of being abused is the abused believes it is his/her fault! I remember many times my grandfather who sexually abused me telling me: “You like this, you want me to do this.” Consequently, I grew up believing the unspeakable things he was doing to me were not only my fault, they were my choice. At first I was ashamed of him but as the abuse continued the object of shame shifted and I became ashamed of myself. These feelings are so deeply ingrained and intertwined in the thought process they often can’t be separated from reality. Imagine a grandfather telling a small child that the abuse she endures is her fault. No wonder the effects of it impacted my life in so many ways for so many years.