Childhood

Well, after such a bang-up beginning, you'd think my childhood would be wondrous, full of joy and peace and I'd probably be walking on water by the time I was 5 or 6. But life doesn't work that way on this sin-cursed earth. And I could whine about it and say "Life isn't fair" like a lot of people do, and use a dysfunctional childhood as an excuse for living for the flesh and hating God. But as a wise woman once said to Reverend Ilene Gibson - "Life IS fair. Everybody gets their heart broken".

The good news is that Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted! He was anointed by God to heal broken hearts and to correct dysfunctional childhoods. If your childhood was less than perfect, look to Jesus to bind up the wounds.

I don't remember much of what happened to me before I was 18. To read what I do remember, which is NOT pleasant, check out HOUSES. My father was an alcoholic and we lived in poor conditions compared to a lot of people, although we never went hungry, without food or shelter. My mom had to work to support us because my father's income was erratic. He was a beer-oholic, and a binge drinker. He reminded me of this poem,

There once was a girl
With a tiny little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead,
When she was good,
She was very, very good.
When she was bad,
She was horrid.

When he was sober, he was kind and compassionate, loving, intelligent, fun to be with. When he was drunk, he cursed and fussed, threw things around, and made a complete chaos of everything around him. This was very confusing for a child. I've learned in later years, that children of alcoholics tend to blame themselves for their parent's problem, and grow up to be obsessive/compulsive and perfectionists. Control is an issue, because as a child, I had no control. I had to take whatever came my way and deal with it.

ALCOHOL IS A FALSE FRIEND

If you are reading this, especially if you are already a Christian, and think you can control alcohol, let me tell you something. Alcoholic beverages are deceptive. You think you are escaping problems. You think you are relaxing. You think you are socializing. And one day, you'll realize that a yellow-eyed snake is coiled around your soul, and it has robbed you of all that you love.

So my memories of childhood are mercifully blurred, and I have salvaged my soul somehow with God's help. My mom will show me pictures of a seemingly happy child at play, but I feel disconnected from the plump little one with the big grin. In later years, my father and I reconciled, but that's another chapter. I will say that God was protecting me. It could have been a whole lot worse. I am alive and well on planet earth. My mom and grand parents were committed Christians and softened a lot of the emotional blows I received.

But two problems were to haunt me in later years. One was a poor self-image and fear of rejection, which caused me to make a lot of poor decisions. Another was a habit of escaping problems through mythology, fantasy and science fiction.

I was the original "space cadet" before man ever walked on the moon. To escape the world of fear and beer that I had to deal with as a child, I lived mostly in an imaginary world. When I was a young girl, my dream was to be a mermaid. I drew pictures of mermaids with fish tails and hair gracefully draping over bare bosoms, and dreamed of the freedom that came with swimming in the vast ocean. I loved the water and swam like a fish. I've always loved the mighty sea, but now it holds a different meaning for me - a testimony of the might and power of Creator God, rather than a place to cavort freely with mermen!

I used to love to read all kinds of mythology, and imagined a different world than the one I was living in. Now I would fear to be at the mercy of such capricious and fickle gods and goddesses, but then it seemed like a happy dream world.

It was a worse shock for me to find out that mermaids aren't real than to find out the truth about Ole Saint Nick! Talk about your trauma! Not only did I lose my faith in mythology, but I had to find a new career goal.

Then I "graduated" to reading about science fiction and fantasy. It was a more "scientific" escape, especially to someone with a logical bent. I spent many hours on other planets, and when I had to "come down to earth" I quickly finished whatever duties I had to do, so I could return to a better place.

I guess that's one reason that I don't remember a lot about my childhood, I really wasn't "there" much. I suppose it's healthier to escape by reading than other ways. But it's sad that I've lost a lot of my life because of the effects on my father and my life due to alcoholic abuse.

Mom did take me to church regularly, and although it seemed I was in a dream world there, too, it's amazing the scriptures that I effortlessly recall and the Bible knowledge I retain. So even in the worse of homes, regular Church attendance can have a positive effect. I remember feeling safe there from the abuse, but ironically longing for my father to be seated beside me, worshipping God with me.

Some of you might erroneously make the connection between my early worlds of fantasy and my adult decision to live for Christ. When I was young, I didn't see the illogic of living in fantasy and mythology (which was in effect idolatry - worshipping other gods) and being a Christian. And while my early fantasies were an escape FROM reality, my life in Christ is a direct confrontation WITH reality, where I am victorious in a way greater than any fantasy mankind has ever known.

My maternal grandparents, B. L. and Ethel Radford, did a lot of traveling when I was young. Sometimes they would take me with them on trips in the US, but not for foreign travel. They visited about every continent, I think, except South America. Of course in those days, China and Russia were both closed to tourists. They saw many wonderful places, and most importantly, they always brought us back souvenirs. That was a big task, because there were 18 of us grandchildren, plus 12 adults to buy for! But they always brought everyone something back, to share their adventures with us.

When they were heading out to the Holy Lands, grandma asked what souvenir I wanted her to bring me. I asked for a vial of water from the River Jordan. So she took a little plastic bottle with her, dipped it in the muddy Jordan, and brought it back to me.

They say your childhood ends when you are twelve. This is when I was baptized in water as evidence of the salvation of my soul. Brother Clarence Blanchard first poured the water from the River Jordan over my head and then dipped me completely under in the baptismal font at the Pentecostal Holiness Church, which then was at 15th and Hanover Ave. in Roanoke, VA. So I was both sprinkled and dipped at my baptism, which pretty much covers all the bases, I think. I confess I expected to feel a lot different, but at the time, I just remember feeling cold and wet, soaking wet, like I had just been saved from drowning. Now I am reminded of the scripture "buried with Him in baptism". This is the first real thing I recall without help of photographs or my mother prompting me. I had passed from death into life.
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