© 2010 Jeanne E. Webster
“Jesus loves me, this I know…”
Curled up in bed she found no escape from Mommy’s piercing cries. Softly she tiptoed to the windowsill and looked longingly out into the heavens, as if searching for an old friend. She knew her home was out there and a heavenly, loving Papa awaited her return. Since learning “Jesus Loves Me” at Vacation Bible School one summer, she drew much comfort and hope. Peering impatiently into the dark, star filled expanse, she pleaded with her “Papa.” “I don’t like it here anymore, Papa. Please send an angel to take me back home.”
Only five years old, she knew fear… fear of her stepfather. He’s hurting Mommy now, and she’s afraid she’ll soon be the next victim of his drunken rage. Trembling with dread and hatred, she heard him bellowing for her. The routine was humiliating. He forced her to remove her clothes and stand before him naked, then proceeded to beat her with his army belt. Glaring into his eyes with intense rage, she was most afraid of crying, not the pain he inflicted. He must not know he has hurt her; she must remain strong. “Please, Papa. I’m so afraid. I want to come home.”
“For the Bible tells me so…”
Stumbling through school with average grades and many sick days, she grew slowly into an angry, stubborn, withdrawn girl. Teachers commented on her report card, “She will not act like a young lady. She’s always fighting with the boys.” Home life was chaotic. Constantly on guard when her depraved stepfather was present, she kept mainly to her bedroom or stayed outside until nightfall. His lack of morals was evident as he prowled the house, naked except for a newspaper shielding his privates. “Thank you, Papa, for making me strong and protecting me. I wish Mommy would be robust enough to leave this nasty person. I asked her one day why she puts up with the abuse and she said, ‘Because I love him.’ Watch over me, Lord, and I still want to come home but I don’t know how to make that happen.”
“Little ones to Him belong…”
Many years passed and the girl was a happily married mother of four. Life was good for the first few years, but overshadowing this semblance of normalcy was the Viet Nam war. “Papa, watch over my husband and protect him from harm and send him home to us soon. The kids really miss their daddy. Thank you.”
“They are weak but He is strong…”
Daddy returned from war a stranger, dishing out physical and mental abuse on a daily basis to the young wife. Physical battles occurred with resulting scratches and bruises. Before long Mommy had become the villain, according to Daddy. He encouraged the kids to hit her, declaring her an unfit mommy. The Sears & Roebuck catalog was searched routinely for a new mommy.
Divorce ensued after Mommy got on a greyhound bus headed for nowhere, left her whole world behind and called it quits to the abuse. Due to the fierceness and severity of the divorce dynamics, the young mother had only one viable option regarding her children. She had to leave them in the care of their father. There were no safe houses, no support for abused families in those days, and she had no family support or a job. Her husband promised to shoot her if she applied for a divorce, removing the children out-of-state would result in a kidnapping charge, and both options were not in the best interest of the kids. A dead mom and a lifer-in-prison dad were not good alternatives.
So she walked. And inside…died…for a long while. “Please take care of my children, Papa, and protect them from harm. I know You are stronger than anything life can throw at them, and they are good kids. They are my life. I give them back into Your hands. I know I will see them again someday; that’s all that matters. I love you, Papa!”
Epilogue: Long ago Anna B. Warner penned the song, “Jesus Loves Me.” A young woman took those words to heart and believed them and staked her life on them. Why? The Bible told her so! The Word of God is far mightier than abuse, fear, threats and even death itself.