It was the summer between my 8th grade and freshmen year in high school. My family; parents and siblings, had just arrived at a hotel outside of Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. We were joining another family whose children were just offset each of us by a year or so. All preteens and teens (I remember the oldest bringing her boyfriend) what could be more fun than a couple of days in a giant amusement park with family friends. There may have been a few more people – it was not a detail that would stick with me.
The trip should have been a lot of fun; a trip to remember in the midst of a pivotal summer.
And, I do remember it still today – for all of the wrong reasons.
Most of my friends and family already had their suits on and were gathered around the hotel pool, splashing and having fun. I reluctantly grabbed my suit, plenty aware of the missing thigh gap and all the other defaults.
Walking out of the hotel and into the pool area I heard my father’s voice bellow across the water. Without niceties, discretion or any semblance of parental concern he advised me (and everyone listening) to return to the hotel room as my form in a bathing suit was less than desirable. (His language was far more colorful than my own.)
It wasn’t the first time he had spoken to me in this way. However, it was the first time I recall him doing so in the presence of others, and in the presence of my peers. I was humiliated and overrun with feelings of rejection and inadequacy. I felt less than and unloveable; certain there was something especially abhorrent about me.
While I always struggled with my weight as a child, that one day of humiliation at the hands of my father and a dreaded bathing suit marked the establishment of several significant battlegrounds. I have since struggled significantly with shame, self-worth and an ability to see and care for myself the way Jesus does. These struggles are hedged in by a constant battle to associate my personal worth and ability to be loved, with the number on a scale and the voice of my father ringing in my ears.
Betrayal at the hands of a parent is a special kind of hell and cruelty all wrapped into one. Our parents are supposed to love and care for us the most – more than all the others combined. When the parent, especially a father, betrays a child, those actions can have lifelong consequences. Betrayal can take us off the main road, through a detour and possibly into a ditch.
The betrayal of my father resulted in significant relationship struggles with people of the opposite sex. For a long time, I cared little for controlling my tongue, saw most men as a threat and struggled with commitment issues. I was always ready for battle and vowed never to be in the same position I was with my father.
There is a betrayer that lurks inside all of us.
I walked away from my faith. In my young mind there was no room or value for women in God’s kingdom; transferring the fears and emotions tied to my earthly father to my Heavenly Father. I could not understand how my Heavenly Father allowed all that I had experienced. I could not make sense of a loving Father that allowed such abuse and in my mind stood silently by. And so, I walked away.
Our Jesus knows a little bit about betrayal.
He knows about rejection, fear, and pain. He knows about a Father that would ask and allow for the unthinkable to happen. Jesus not only knows about it; He lives it and shows us how to live in the face of betrayal.
Jesus teaches us in the midst of His journey to the grave how to live in the face of betrayal.
In due time, I stepped back into my childhood church and that very day was introduced to a man who would go on to be my surrogate father and officiate over my wedding. This man would connect the dots from my heart to God’s and remind me that my ransom was paid in blood so greatly was I loved. I would come to understand that my value wasn’t tied to a scale and more importantly that there was a place for me in the Kingdom.
Jesus served the bread and the cup and then gave his life for the betrayer.
Married to my own personal Weatherman, I feel uniquely equipped to face the storms of life. I am the proud mother of two beautiful girls and stepmother to three more. And, although I once never aspired to motherhood, I am grateful every day for the gift of it in my life.
After completing law school I became a public servant and the entirety of my professional career has been committed to public service. The Weatherman and I are active in our church and recently served on the Launch Team for the 2|42 Community Church Lansing Campus.
I am passionate about encouraging and empowering moms by sharing with them the lessons God is teaching me in the midst of my own motherhood journey. I want to share how a focus and reliance on both scripture and prayer has helped me to lean on His promises and renewed my strength time and time.