A More Excellent Way
Another weekly fight broke out when Dad came home too early. This time Susie and Dad were yelling at each other. I imagine Susie was 18 or 19. Susie said something that Dad couldn’t let go. Susie said “If I had a knife I’d kill you”. “Oh no,” I thought. “There’s going to be blood this time!” Fear ripped through my chest. I got out of bed and threw on my pants, I didn’t notice that they were inside out. I didn’t take time to put on a shirt or shoes.
As I entered the kitchen, Dad jumped up and went to the knife drawer and grabbed our biggest butcher knife. He handed it to Susie and she took it. She pointed it at Dad as though to suggest she was indeed going to use it. Dad grabbed the knife by the blade and began beating Susie over the head with it. I couldn’t tell whether he was stabbing her with the knife or just beating her.
I was paralyzed with fear. I stood next to my dad and cried and pleaded with him to stop. Mom grabbed a frying pan and was beating dad over the back. While my dad could have been actually killing Susie, I could not lift a finger against him even to protect my sister. I was afraid that my mom was going to hit my dad over the head and kill him. I kept saying to my mom “not the head, not the head”.
While I was crying and begging my Dad to please stop, he looked over at me and mocked my crying. He imitated me. I then turned to leave the kitchen when I saw Roger coming out of the bedroom with a big ash tray in his hand, and I knew someone was going to die tonight. I didn’t know what to do so I ran out of the house and jumped into Dad`s truck and found the keys in the ignition. I started it up and raced over to the police station. I was 14 or 15 and didn’t have a driver’s license. I ran into the police station and told the cops that my dad was killing my sister with a butcher knife. I couldn’t believe how nonchalant they reacted. They followed me over to the house. I really believed someone was dead at my house. Fear and horror drained my soul.
We entered the house and to my surprise nobody was dead. Dad must have stopped as soon as Roger came at him with the ash tray. Susie was still cussing at Dad as she was tending her wounds from the butt of the knife that dad was beating her with. Dad was sitting in the chair at the table. The cops hauled Dad to the drunk tank and we didn’t see him again till the next day.
Authors note: Susie suffered from a mild case of Petty Mall epilepsy seizures. In her later years it developed into Grand Mall epilepsy. I guess when Susie was born in the early 50s they didn’t know much about epilepsy like they do today. I think they thought this kind of brain disorder meant the person was mentally handicapped. I only ascertained this because of something my dad said while in one of his drunken tirades. The argument turned to Susie as a baby. Dad said something to mom regarding the fact that they all knew that even as a baby, Susie wasn’t all there. I remember Dad pointing to his head and saying that Susie was dingy the day she was born. Mom didn’t defend Susie or try to deny it she just started swearing at Dad for bringing it up. I looked over at Susie as she reacted to this assault. I couldn’t believe that my dad would stoop this low even if it was true, which it wasn’t. The things that parents heap upon children, is damnable. I was traumatized for Susie, I hoped it wasn’t true and hoped that she didn’t believe it either.
For the first 16 years of life, fear was my constant companion, fear of death, fear of darkness, fear of sickness, fear of being left alone ,fear of rejection, fear of abuse, fear of big people, fear of big dogs, and the fear failure.
The fear of failure and rejection ended up at the head of the list. When we are young we have nothing to compare our fear to except fear itself. Everyday there seems to appear events that validate our fear. How many have experienced the fear and humiliation of being the last one picked in a P.E. class. What a great message is sent to the kids picked last. This may not happen today like it did when I was young, but at the time I could not feel for them because of my own suffering.
We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear. Martin Luther King
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain
Success is not final, failure not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill
It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare. Mark Twain
Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without it you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage. Maya Angelou
My strength is the strength of ten because my life is pure. Tennyson
If ye are prepared ye shall not fear. God
Fear diminishes the soul, love replenishes the soul and allows courage to conquer the ego of the soul. James Kroshus
From the book Anatomy of a Food Addiction we read: “ A child who is kept at a distance who receives no warmth or assurance, is a child in constant fear of abandonment: If they don’t want me, what keeps them with me? Such a child becomes accustomed to fear. Abuse or coldness or meanness becomes familiar. Being treated kindly becomes unfamiliar. However bad it is, the familiar draws us. The familiar is comfortable even if it`s uncomfortable. It seems to fit us. We have learned skills to deal with abuse. We don’t have skills to deal with kindness.
No wonder women marry men like their mothers or fathers, no wonder we are drawn over and over again into relationships that replicate our childhood experience. It hurts but its familiar and we know how to behave. “
God gives his children commandments and counsel from a spiritual perspective. Forgiveness is a powerful process that lightens our burdens and fills our soul with light and relief. Even if the directive from God requires us to do something that involves work, the end result is spiritual. Even His temporal commandments have a spiritual intent. Jesus said, “He that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. Doctrine and Covenants 64:8-10
I`ve often wondered how it is that someone could offend or sin against me, and if I hold a grudge and am unforgiving, I am the one with the greater sin. Again, all things are spiritual to God. I have been accused of being rather bombastic. My type of personality has a tendency to rub people the wrong way. I’m sure these personality traits were developed over years of insecurity. Time and time again I would have people come to me after years of holding a grudge and apologize. In three situations, individuals held grudges and ill feelings towards me for between 10 and 20 years. I had no idea until each one of them sought me out and apologized. I would never have known of their feelings had they not approached me.
Being hard hearted against someone for any reason allows the rust to continue eating away at your character. Holding a grudge and being easily offended never sends our hurt into remission. It becomes a cancer that eventually consumes not only ourselves, but also our relationships. It amazes me when I see this hardness divide families even among the believers. If we work for an employer who treats us with contempt, we keep our mouths shut and let most of his grumblings pass through us, but in the family we fly to pieces at the least provocation.
Again Jesus said “I will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” Why did Jesus say it is required? It is only required if we desire to live with him. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “judge not lest ye be judged, for with the same judgment that ye judge ye shall be judged”. Judgment day is going to be a great and terrible day. It appears that Jesus is telling us to leave judgment to Him. If we want forgiveness from Him, we must be merciful to his children. When we are unforgiving and holding grudges we may be playing the role of redeemer. Jesus said “for behold I God have suffered these things for all that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself even God the greatest of all to tremble because of pain, and to suffer both body and spirit and would that I might not drink of the bitter cup and shrink. Nevertheless glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” Doctrine and Covenants chapter 19
The Apostle Paul spoke of a more excellent way. Without knowledge of our elder Brother, who could choose the more excellent way? We have His example of forgiveness. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. I am sure that my dad had little knowledge of the long- term affect his addictions would have on his children. Yes, Dad took a big bite out of our shiny red apple. Yes, our hearts shriveled up in our own suffering. Yes, love and kindness were difficult roads for us to travel. Yes, bitterness and pain may have been the dusty road of past generations, but finally, we have been lead to His highway, His pathway, His more excellent way. At the end of the road stands an excellent apple tree.
When we are unforgiving, are we judging and condemning a person that Jesus has already suffered, bled and died for? I think He may take it personally when we judge, condemn and are critical of those that he has already forgiven. We may not play His role as judge. Aren't our burdens heavy enough without carrying the burdens of others?
Jesus asks us “to love Him, with all of our heart, might, mind and strength”. What kind of heart do we have to love Jesus with, if our heart has been crushed by abuse, hardened by the misery , our might destroyed by fear, our mind injured by the sins of the fathers, our love evaporating on the deserted desert floor of destitution , and our strength robbed in our youth?
In the middle of this desert I see an oasis, I see Jesus standing among the trees. He`s standing under the shade of the most beautiful apple tree. His hand is beckoning me. My heart fills with joy as I see Him smile. He`s holding the most exquisite, perfect apple ever imaginable. As I reach Him, He reaches for me. He seems to take with one of his hands something from inside of me. I look down and I see an old dehydrated brown and ugly apple core, Jesus asks me if we can trade apples. Gladly I hand over the dried and discolored apple core. With his right hand Jesus places into both of my hands the most delightful perfect piece of fruit ever conceived by the heart and mind of man. I hastily consume the apple as my heart and soul are consumed in Him and I feel whole for the first time in my life. Jesus truly is, A More Excellent Way!