Hope for a Young Child’s Future – part 1

When people hear my story, they ask how I made it to this point in my life. Circumstances dictate that I should be living on the streets doing who knows what. Many think I am strong. But I say it is not me. I am as weak as the next person. As I was learning to adapt and survive in an environment of neglect, and physical and sexual abuse, God was working in the lives and circumstances around me (John 5:17). He was my ultimate father, protector and provider.

Even though my mother and father were alcoholics, God still provided my father with enough sense to know that he needed to buy food and pay the rent so we didn’t end up on the streets. Yes, for years I was terrified because we had to share a bathroom with the strangers next door and because rats would run across the room when you turned on the lights, but as a child growing up in a poor inner-city neighborhood, you just accept that as normal.

Even though my mother was schizophrenic, she knew enough to leave her chair in the corner of the living room once in a while to cook balanced meals for me, my sister, and brother. Granted, they never threw us a birthday party and my hand-me-down clothes were out of style, but my parents made sure we were fed, clothed, warm, and physically safe — to a point.

I have forgiven my parents for their neglect because I know that they were sick and, considering the circumstances, I am thankful that none of the physical abuse came from their hands. It is alarming to know, however, what awful things children can do to one another. Although the abuses were not my fault, I was a target because I did not have adults in my life to tell me that I could say no to inappropriate behavior or that someone would be there to protect me from the boy across the street with the hammer.

As you can imagine, because of their addiction and my mother’s mental illness, I never knew the warmth and smells that most people experience from the embrace of a parent’s hug and never knew the security and joy that comes from the tender sound of a parent saying “I love you.”

So, back to the question, how did I make it to this point in my life? Experts will tell you that a child cannot survive without love. Well, He who is love (1 John 4:16) was drawing me to Himself (Romans 8:30) and showed me love through teachers, people in the church, and the one time I can remember being comforted in my grandmother’s arms.

As Paul goes on to say in the rest of Romans, chapter 8, nothing can separate me from the love of God. This was the hope I would need to rely on through my childhood and teenage years. That is where I will begin next time.

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