“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on your life.” Zig Ziglar
Here is a picture of me and my husband on our 30th anniversary in 2017. The following is my written personal testimony, which was edited and published in “Stories of Roaring Faith” Volume 2. I thought it might be fun to see us as you read my story. NOTE: Because of the length of this story, it will appear in two posts.
The Power of Words-Part One
I have loved words since I was a young girl. I enjoy learning and using new words. When I was a child, we got copies of Reader’s Digest from one of my mother’s friends. My favorite game from that magazine was matching a list of words with definitions. My answers weren’t always correct, but I learned a lot and loved playing the game.
Whether we know it or not, words affect all of us. We treasure words of encouragement, and we often repeat favorite words or phrases from a movie.
When my kiddos were growing up, they would frequently say things that would either send me into fits of laughter or have me asking myself if my behavior needed to change.
When my son was five he quizzed me about marriage. I remembered someone saying that boys want to marry someone like their mother. So I asked him, “What kind of girl do you want to marry? Someone like me?”
“No,” he quickly said. “You’re too bossy.”
Some of the most precious words I ever heard was from my mother when she was in the hospital, near the end of her life. I asked her if we were “square.” You see, my childhood was difficult and as a teenager and young adult, I was rebellious. I needed to know if we were okay, if there was anything I needed to address. She patted her bed and invited me to come lie down with her. We talked for a long time. After our discussion, I knew we were square. Those were sweet words of comfort that day, giving my heart peace at her funeral.
My husband doesn’t always speak a lot of words, but when he does, I listen carefully. He is gifted with wisdom, his words are good, and he often delivers them with hysterical humor. On our 10th anniversary he wrote me the sweetest note that I cherish to this day.
As I said my daily prayers today,
I started with the normal things,
Lord, thank you for this day.
But then I remembered today was a special day.
The anniversary of my life beginning again with
the most wonderful woman in the world.
Thank you, Lord, for my life and the wife
that you have blessed me with.
Without her, the things in life that you
give me would have little meaning.
I love you with every breath I take.
I felt loved and treasured from these words.
This year, my husband and I will celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary. He shared some loving words to me in humor. We were discussing family health issues and what we might face as we age. He simply hugged me and said, “Well, bag, nag or sag, I still love ya Babe!” Those words were much different from what he spoke on our tenth anniversary, but I felt just as treasured and loved.
We all have words we need to share, as well as words we sometimes need to change in our lives, don’t we? This is especially true when we say things in anger or frustration. Those words might be devastating to anyone, but certainly to a child.
When I was a child, some words confused me and hardened my heart. Up until I was about seven years old, my family members were victims of domestic abuse at the hand of my father. He was an abusive alcoholic—a man who, when intoxicated, was filled with unquenchable rage. My Mother took the brunt of his abuse and threw herself in front of him when he attempted to go after one of her children. Unfortunately, this only enraged him further, and he beat her until she was no longer able to fight—or she was unconscious. His words were powerful and painful, since most of his words were spoken with his fists. She was married to him for eleven years and had five children before we escaped, but not before I heard a lot of words that did emotional damage to my little heart.
Our escape was on a hot and confusing summer day. Confusing because my mother was doing something out-of-character. She was encouraging my father to drink as much as he wanted. He should have been at work, but he went to his favorite bar at lunch, got drunk, and came home, where he abused my Mother terribly. He demanded a meal, so she made him some food and kept serving him whiskey.
Because drinking brought his rage attacks, my older sister and I were terrified. Eventually, he passed out, face down on the sofa, and my mother moved into action—as fast as her battered body would allow. She loaded all of us into the station wagon, with instructions to be quiet and lock the doors if our father came out. After going back into the house, she brought out haphazardly packed bags and suitcases that she tossed in the back of the car. Taking one final risk, she took his wallet from his back pocket and removed all the money he had, then walked out, never to return.
We lived in Louisiana, but Mother made the long trek to Oklahoma to her mother’s home, stopping only long enough for bathroom breaks. When we arrived at my grandmother’s home, one might expect she would have been happy to receive her daughter and grandchildren in such dire circumstances. That was far from the case. Her home was tiny with two bedrooms and one bathroom. With another adult and five children ranging from two months to eight years old, she was overwhelmed. Although we had a place to stay, we knew we were not welcome. The years of training to be silent and invisible while we lived with our father certainly came in handy while living with our grandmother.
The greater problem was that my maternal grandmother was not only hardhearted, she was a “party girl.” While we lived with her, freedom to have her drinking partners over was put on the back burner. We were frequently reminded that no one would be happier than she would be when we left. My Mother was aware of her indiscretions, which was the primary reason she stayed with my father for so long. She knew she would be trading one set of problems for another.
(Part Two will be posted tomorrow)