Monday, April 20, 2009

The Strength of Gentleness

"There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness." Han Suyin

Growing up in a strict religious Jewish home, I learned very young, God was harsh, demanding and to be feared. We were taught if we didn't submit and obey His commands we would be punished and punished severly.

In our house, there were tons of rules to follow, - rules for everything.
Entering our house or any room in the home, we had to kiss the mazuza, a
small case that contained scriptures from the Torah attached to the doorposts. Rules dictated when we could answer the phone or doorbell, or what days we could or couldn't drive the car . Tons of rules centred around food. We had two sets of dishes and cutlery; one for dairy and one for meat products. At Passover, we had to hide those dishes and had two more sets because those plates had to be strictly free from having any leavened bread touch them. Everything we ate had to be 'kosher,' blessed by a Rabbi. Specific foods were considered 'unclean,' like pork and shell fish. These were forbidden.

God to me was mean, demanding, punishing. My father held high positions in the synagogue. He was greatly respected and given honors, but at home, he yelled and cursed and beat my sister and I so badly. We were nothing more than scapegoats for his frustrations. I was terrified of him and he represented God to me. Once I failed a french test. He beat me so badly, smashing my head over and over against the wall until I passed out. He told me later, it hurt him more than it hurt me. I never understood that. Many times he told me I was to obey and respect him, no matter what he did. That was God's will.

The rapist was well respected in his religion, but like my father, he terrorized the vulnerable and weak. He forced me to sit cross legged and unmoving for hours in a cold dark room listening to tapes of him. Then he raped me. He told me he owned me. He said God gave me to him because of his religious devotion.

I'm not sure how God convinced me of His gentleness. Everything I lived taught me He was cruel. But from the moment He freed me from the drugs, I felt the presence of His gentle Spirit.

I fought with Him, screamed at Him, dared Him to kill me...
But He waited, waited until I calmed down, waited until I could hear His gentle whisper. Then He drew me close and showed me what I had been taught was deception. Lies. Deceit.

I discovered God is nothing like I had been told. He is not a series of strict rules nor is He cruel and hard to please. The gentleness of His love frees me, heals me on the inside.


Epiphany said...

I just can't read your blog and not tell you I'm reading.

I don't have words. Again.

Please, keep sharing.

Rick said...

Wow...What a childhood...I grew up in a similar environment, except without the rape. My father was a Pentecostal preacher, and Very, Very strict and punishing. I got beatings for minor things, and I'm still coming to terms with the fact that God is a loving God. My father eventually became alcoholic and took his own life. He was a good man, and I believe he always had the best of intentions, at heart, but he had problems.
Thank You for writing and sharing, and your blog is one I'm going to read all the time.

sarah said...

Epiphani, your support totally encourages me. Thank you so much. It's taken me a long time to tell, but now, I need to tell what happened. If it helps just one person.... Blessings, Sarah

And Rick, I've been reading your blog and I encourage you, keep sharing. I am following your blog too. Sarah

Terri Tiffany said...

keep writing! I didn't realize you were Jewish.

sarah said...

Terri, you're awesome. thanks so much for you encouragment. Sarah

JulieG said...

Dear Sarah- Reading your trials reminds me again how thankful for the gospel we can be! In Him there is no law, there is no fear of punishment, no terror of the dark night. There is peace, and love, and sweet, sweet grace.
Blessings my friend across the miles.

Jane said...

Thank you for sharing, I'd an insecure childhood too, but not as unfortunate as yours. Thank God He found us!