It was the Spring of 1989 and somehow I knew that everything was changing. This was before the abuse started and tender moments weren’t tactics of emotional manipulation. The last time I remember feeling completely safe with my mom we were sitting on the balcony of our apartment building watching the rain. I remember hearing the water and stillness surrounding us and being aware that there was something else. I asked my mom where rain came from and she said that it came from God. She said that the rain was God’s tears watering the earth. I remember looking up at the sky and wondering why God was crying.
I spent that Summer with my grandma, and as a result, I spent a lot of time in church. Although I was only 7, I looked forward to going to church because it was the place I got to hear about God. Ever since that time in the rain, a burgeoning curiosity developed within and I wanted to know about the God whose tears watered the earth and simultaneously assured me of my security.
God became my superhero…big enough to create the world yet small enough to inhabit it. A God who loved me so much that Jesus was sent to this earth to teach the Good News and show us how to live well. The Good News and the many Bible stories learned that Summer became the messages that helped me survive the subsequent years of child abuse and gave me hope that I would one day meet God.
After returning home to start school that Fall, everything had changed. Mom was pregnant and I had a stepfather. A difficult pregnancy and an abusive relationship made my mother become more and more volatile. I feared that if I had shared the details of my home life, my mother might have gotten in trouble, or worse, I might have been separated from my sisters. But life and the signs of abuse finally caught up with us and I went to live with my grandmother when I was 9.
My refuge was God…and the idea that I was not what happened to me. I was more. I was separate from my circumstances. I believed the stories of Divine triumph I read in the Bible: David defeating Goliath, the enslaved Israelites crossing over a parted sea to flee the Egyptians, the story of Joseph going from the pit to the palace, the wall of Jericho falling down, and Daniel’s safety in the lion’s den. These stories gave me hope and showed me that perseverance was how God became more evident.
I became determined to find God. I read from the book of Psalms and prayed the prayers and songs that David wrote. I read through Lamentations and the Books of the Prophets–asking God to become real to me too. I pictured myself on Mount Sinai and in the city of Bethlehem. I saw myself sitting in the upper room and met Saul after he was blinded on the road to Damascus. I knew that there was more than my pain because I remembered the rain and God’s tears seemed soothing when I shed my own. The courage I had to push through my pain, and the memories, came from the hope I found in the notion of God.
It was my journey through the tears that I discovered that God was already near…