Pure Faith


Sometimes in life its hard to decipher where one story ends and another begins. When I started this blog, I just wanted to make people laugh. There are some funny things that happen in the zoo I call home. But then I feel like you can’t really appreciate the laughter if you don’t realize we fight to find it. We struggle, we dig in, and we go chasing the silver linings before the clouds block our view.

I’m sure every person has a list of the events that altered the course they would take in this world- I’m no different. There were things that changed me, and in an effort not to tell someone else’s stories, I have kept those things to myself. There are pieces of my story that are really hard to hear, understand, or even believe. But I know my story as well as you know yours and the one thing I have learned on this journey is that without the darkness, I would have never seen the light.

The Silver Linings

My darkest day happened when I was about six years old. My mom was gone at work, and the person she was married to (not my dad, and not my step-dad, this person of the past) was watching my sisters and me. We were supposed to be playing outside; he always made us stay outside, but I had terrible allergies. I hated being outside. I snuck in my room to read books. I was a lover of words from the get-go.

It was the allergies that gave me away. I sneezed, and then he knew I was inside. I heard him stomp around. I tried to sneak outside. It didn’t work. He called me over to him, where he was loading and unloading a hand gun. I don’t remember much about the gun except for that it was black, and cold. He put a bullet in it and spun it around. He held it up to my head and pulled the trigger. I thought I was going to throw up. When the click came, my stomach dropped and he died laughing. He had a sadistic sense of humor. He told me how easy it would be for him to kill my mother. He told me it was my fault she was gone at work, that she had to work her fingers to the bone to feed us. He told me I would have to make up for that and do “her job”. I’m sure you can guess where this story is headed… we’ll skip the brutal details. It wasn’t the first time he crossed the line, but it was the first time he took it all the way to the level of rape. The one thing still bothers me thirty years later is that he spit on me. I just can’t get past that part.

I never could directly tell my mother what happened. I tried many times to tell people who would tell her, but I always recanted in the end because if she confronted him, he would have killed her. In fact, his brutality wasn’t for me exclusively. But like I said, that’s someone else’s story, and so I will be careful with it. My point of sharing my memories is that my faith was born from this day. What I went through made me want to die. Sometimes I prayed to die. Sometimes I tried to die. Fortunately for me, death by Sudafed is uncommon and I survived, but for a little girl in elementary school to be thinking about ways to get to heaven, well, let’s just say I’m lucky I didn’t know what kind of pills to grab.

At the time I was in therapy because of my parents divorce. There’s some more subject matter for my list of things to blog about- therapy! The good, the bad, and the full-of-crap sessions of my life! But I remember this one afternoon, my mother picked me up from school early to take me to my appointment. All through the session I heard the therapist talking, but I wasn’t listening. I was thinking, if I could get to heaven, I’d be safe. We left, and I was sitting in the passenger side of my mother’s pieced together sedan (her grandfather built it for her out of different cars he pieced together). I looked out the window, and there in the sky was this red seat exactly like you would see on a Ferris Wheel and it was just hanging out of the cloud. The brightest light was all around. There were 2 pairs of feet. On the left, the feet were pristine, brilliant, almost illuminated. I knew immediately it was God. Next to him were these brown dirty feet with dried blood and scars, thorns and stickers protruding from his tainted skin. I knew it was his Son.

“You’re going to grow up and help the kids just like you!” The voice was clear. I watched the feet until another cloud moved along and blocked them from my view. I started planning my future right then. I was going to be the best big sister ever, and help take care of my little sisters. I was going to try hard in school, get good grades so I could go to college. Maybe I would be a lawyer who speaks up for the little kids. Maybe I would be a politician and make the laws that protected them. Maybe I would be a counselor and listen to them cry out their tears. Maybe I would be a teacher and push them to carve a path. Through my life those goals have been lost, found, grown, changed, and redirected. But now I wonder, was I maybe meant to be Aunt Tiff, and Mom, to all these kiddos who need a mother like me?

I’m still not sure, but I know that it was that moment that opened my heart and surrounded me with God’s love, and got me through the darkest places. A year or so later, I was at my great grandfather’s funeral, and I saw the keys to heaven.  They were right there in the casket, even though no one else could see them. You may not believe this, but I had seen them before, at my Aunt Bonnie’s funeral when I was just a  toddler. They were the most beautiful gold you can imagine. So smooth, with a soft glow to them I can barely describe and you know what else? There was a whistle on that key ring. A big round ring, with old fashioned keys, and a whistle! Believe me, don’t believe me, it doesn’t really matter, I know my story, as well as you know your own. I saw the keys to Heaven, and I knew everything had a purpose, and everyone had a time. When I go to funerals, I still look for the keys. I can’t see them anymore, but I have a feeling they’re still there. Children are just blessed with a vision that comes from pure faith; they see things the jaded eyes of adulthood can no longer see.

My son called this the “Jesus Cloud” when he was 3 years old.

My youngest son has those eyes. He is perhaps my biggest challenge. He has differences that aren’t always easy to manage. He has struggles that don’t always make sense. Along with being my most temperamental child, he is also extremely intelligent, very loving, creative, and sensitive. He has raw emotions that suck me into his world. And he has that pure faith that no one can teach a child.  I need to do a better job of nurturing him spiritually. He has always had this gift for understanding God in the most beautiful ways.  And he prays every night like he is talking to an old friend. He prays better than I do. When he was about 5 we went camping with my husband’s family. (Add that trip to the blog later list!) We were sitting at this picnic table, when he started to draw Jesus. He immediately burst into tears, but kept on drawing.

His beautiful rendition of Jesus, complete with the cross where he was crucified and the rock that blocked the tomb. 

He cried and he drew, he cried and he drew and finally I asked him, “Tucker, why are you crying, you’re picture is beautiful?” And he said “No child could ever draw a picture as beautiful as Jesus really was, but I wanted to do my very best…”

I’ll never forget that. I am the kind of person who can respect the beliefs of others, no matter what they are. I would never try to push my God above yours or discount the things you do or don’t believe in, but sometimes, faith isn’t learned in Sunday school. It just comes, from somewhere deeper…  I got mine from a Ferris Wheel car full of feet. Where did you get yours?

Ever hear the saying “There is beauty in the breaking”? His heart was breaking, and yet it was completely beautiful.


28 responses »

  1. This post alone will help someone. I tell folks all the time there is a difference between faith and religion. Faith is what gets us not only thru the terrible times but knowing we are never alone. It’s sad that we lose that gift to “see” like your son and your ferris wheel.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I hope you were really wanting to hear the answer when you asked the question. I don’t have a dark story to tell, but I do have faith, and plenty of it. Where did it come from? Technically, the Bible tells us faith is a gift from God. More practically, though, my mother prayed for me and always took me to Sunday school, and we were very involved in our little church. My grandmother worked in the nursery for many years, and my mom was the church secretary, and when I finally came along (when my mom was 42), everyone was so happy for my mom, and all the ladies in the church sort of adopted me, and spent time with me. I had many unrelated grandmothers and aunts at church. I was taught the Bible, and I started studying it more and more, and now I am married and my husband and I have 300 college age kids we have adopted. We are unable to have our own children, but we are very involved with the youth group at our church, and we’re more than happy to be an aunt and uncle to over 300 mostly Asian kids.

    • That is awesome! I love being an Aunt! And I am adopting 4 of my children… Every kid needs that extra “aunt and uncle” who show up and show some love. Especially the ones like me, who do have a dark story to tell. Thanks for sharing. My question was definitely not rhetorical. I love to hear what other people think.

  3. Yay you for surviving, and for telling your tale – you are TOTALLY helping people by speaking up! And you have such a great sense of humour, that stayed intact too. My dad sexually abused me for much of my childhood: I eventually told my mom. She said I was lying. Yup. Awesome. But there were no guns & no spitting. So that’s a plus.

    It’s taken me years to find any kind of faith – I found your story so so moving xx

    • Thank you so much for reading! I think what makes moms sometimes deny what’s going on is a deep sense of “how could I not see that?” I once wrote a poem about it in which I said “Did you know that your hell was my hell and it’s still haunting me, Mama, I still see him in my dreams.” The only peace I have is that the man is long gone. I’m really sorry your abuser was your father, that makes it much harder to deal with, I think…

  4. There are tears streaming down my face as I read this post. Ever since I became an adult I have been the church crier. Lol.

    I love God but right now I am struggling with Faith… I an speak it but constant fear & anxiety seem to betray me… Maybe your story was part of my path to be washed of that & filled with faith.

    You’re a beautiful woman, Tiff. Thank you.

    • I’m a church crier to, but I think the struggles we share with faith aren’t that we don’t believe. I believe, I can tell you believe. What we share is a difficulty is letting go of control. It’s so hard to close your eyes and trust that someone else will take care of us, even when that someone else is God. But we’ll get there… I happen to think you’re a pretty special lady too, so THANK YOU for reading! 🙂

  5. Wow, your blog and in particular this post is inspirational as to how one turns adversity into an opportunity to rise above such words-can’t-describe-my-rage-and-pain for what you went through experience. You have inspired me to let go of my own childhood experiences when I was young, and to really focus on the better that will come.

    Thank you so much.


    • For a long time I have written poems, stories, etc that had to do with my story, but I have just recently become brave enough to put it out there for the world to read. I can say it caused some uncomfortable moments in my family, but it was well worth it because for me, those events needed to be acknowledged. Now moving on is much easier! Never let the road you already traveled hold you back from the road you want to go down tomorrow! I have been reading your blog too… 🙂

      • Wowee! Love this comment! Man, WP lost like 300+ comments and I’m only catching up now. Thank you soooo much for reminding me the road less travelled is the one set before us too 😀


  6. Tiffany, thank you for responding on my blog today — it meant so much. And now, I’ve had a chance to read your post, and I see that we all have to find the courage to get these stories out. It is what heals us, and hopefully others. Thanks again!

  7. Pingback: All She Wants to Do is Dance! « Life With Blondie

  8. You spoke this excellently, Julie. And saying ‘it was their story’ & you would be careful with it. That is beautiful of you.
    What an ogre of a man, ogre. Did your mother at least know he kept you all outside? That’s just horrible. It’s not just “outside” when you have allergies – it’s more like a punishment. This really, really is harrowing. Especially the bit with the gun. I’m amazed, Julie. This is enormous, what you have lived. I hope to God that little girl has healed.

    • I try not to guess at what she did or didn’t see, I know this, she was young, and had three little girls, and worked 2 and 3 jobs to keep us fed. He showed up as some kind of savior, manipulating his way in, and one he had her, he turned. Getting us out of there almost cost her life. But that is her story, and she is much more private than I am, so that is as much as I should take the liberty of telling. I think the little girl is forever on a journey of healing… but I know this, my struggles made me the best mom I could be, so I wouldn’t go back and change them now. Thanks for reading! ~Tiffany

      • Thank you for telling me that, Tiffany. I appreciate knowing that bit more. Bless your mum I also had a man appear as a saviour, my story you will see, tell. So I get that completely.

  9. Many things have happened since I read this post the first time. The comment today from another reader made me re-read your post. The fact that you took the path you did, is a miracle all on its own. I hope things are going well for you today. Take care.

  10. Pingback: Any Mother Knows… « Life With Blondie

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