This world is not whole. This reality was poignantly paraded in front of me in my broken childhood home — and maybe yours too.
Parents burden little children’s shoulders with responsibilities far beyond their capacity to bear healthily. We are celebrated for being “wise beyond our years,” but we know the secret: it’s because we never really got to be kids.
Some young boys are taught by older men that women are objects to be used for pleasure; some young girls are taught by older women that men are scum to be spat upon. Family members abuse and manipulate children physically, verbally, or emotionally. The very persons supposed to protect us instead ignore and harm us. Trust is fundamentally fractured and we scramble to cope. Alone.
Parents fight violently. Fathers and mothers abandon one another. Parents die. Children are blamed for circumstances that are never their fault. We become a sponge for shame and disgust, absorbing every last insult and punch.
There exists no mode but survival.
Nothing Is Hidden from God
Heartbreaking realities exist for the daughters that remain. But God is intimately familiar with each moment of our pasts — both our own sins and the way others have sinned against us. Nothing is hidden from his sight — not our restless longings or our terrors in the dead of night.
Because of our background, we often feel like “damaged goods.” We don’t act according to the standard script. We didn’t have “the right” upbringing or didn’t attend “the right” youth group or didn’t have a chance to develop “the correct” skill set or manners.
Bible verses that are meant to strengthen us leave us feeling insecure: “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4). What if you don’t have two (or any) parents? Satan whispers that excellence means the right family, the right status, the right background.
Sister, when Satan lies in your ears, remind him of Ruth.
If a woman’s identity and worth were based on her family and background, Boaz would have never considered a woman from a pagan culture, especially a completely destitute one at that. And he would have missed a jewel. Instead, he looked at her faithfulness, her servant-heartedness toward her mother-in-law (whom she technically had no obligation to), and her persistent work ethic. She was excellent in godliness.
In an act that is steeped in the foreshadowing flavors of Jesus, Boaz saw a poor girl who had likely worshiped many idols during her youth in a pagan country and who could offer him little as his bride but her devotion to the Lord.
Instead of disgust, we see grace and pursuit. We see him clothing her and redeeming her in honor as he takes her to be his bride. We see Christ do the same thing with a church who could not find or build or work or good-deed her way to him, so he came after her and clothed her.
My sister, do not deny your trauma. It’s okay to admit hurt. But it’s not okay to wallow in our wounds when we have been healed by our Savior’s.
Do not deny the tears you shed quietly at night so that no one else will hear. Do not deny your frustration that you don’t remember what it’s like to be safe or to be assured of love and protection. But deny the belief that the burdens you bear overpower your Savior’s words, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
You Are Not Less
God’s love is not like human love, sister (Romans 8:38–39). He sees our wounds more clearly than we do. And he wants to draw the poison of distrust and shame and fear out of our wounds, which often hurts — sometimes a lot.
The only thing we have to fear is the Lord who can destroy both the body and the soul (Matthew 10:28), not the perceptions of people (even fellow believers) or of our own hearts. If “the fear of the Lord” truly is the beginning of our wisdom and beauty (Proverbs 9:10; 31:30), and if God is faithful, then those of us emerging from broken homes that fear, love, and seek the Lord will be carried by his Spirit wherever our parents fell short.
Christian households don’t make good Christians; our good God makes dead people alive. No one, broken home or not, is born again without him.
Sister, don’t for a minute think you are less in Christ because of your background. We are all new creations, no matter our past (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are seen. You are loved. You are prized. One day, all the things that have caused your tears will seem as light and momentary afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17). One day, you will be whole — like him and with him.