Both of my parents harmed me in ways too numerous to count, and the effects of those forms of abuse linger still in my health and my emotional life. Forgiving them has been a difficult, slow, and very, very complex process. If I did not have my faith in Christ, it would have been impossible for me to let go of any of it, but I have made great progress.
However, I hit a snag in the past couple of months, and I got stuck on some issues. I simply could not understand how or why, if I have such an apparently bright destiny, I was born to those two individuals who had mistreated me so thoroughly, even to the point where my life was in danger.
That's what I couldn't get past -- some of the abuse seemed to be consciously motivated by a desire to end my life. The consequences of that maltreatment left me sick forever after, and I now struggle with fibromyalgia, crushing fatigue, senseless pain, and great obstacles to accomplishing even the simplest things.
While I was in worship service last Sunday, I brought this question to the Lord for probably the millionth time. This time, I got an answer, in the form of a vision: with my eyes closed, I saw chubby little baby Moses inside his little boat-basket. He was kicking his legs, flailing his arms, and crying. It was dark in there, and the air was very hot and close, and I'm sure the pitch that his mother waterproofed the basket with smelled foul. But he was wrapped in his blankie, and he was physically unharmed. He was safe while the basket floated and spun and bumped into whatever was in the water.
And the Spirit of the Lord spoke to my heart: "I knew beforehand where you were going and what family you were going to. See? I made you an ark to keep you safe."
I wept so hard that people must've heard me all over the sanctuary. I doubled over with both grief and relief. But I learned something amazing at that moment. I may never know WHY God planted me in my family, at least while I'm still on this earth. But I don't think I'm meant to know that anyway. The message I received was this: stop looking at the Nile and all the bumps and jostling. Look at the ark. Look only at the ark. It's not comfortable in there, but it got you through the rough currents.
Noah himself, in the great ark, was not comfortable. It smelled bad, the jostling and the creaking of the wood must have been horrendous. But he was safe, and every person who went with him was safe, and he was entrusted with making a new beginning when the ark part of his journey was over. I think he had to go through a similar process, to find gratitude in his safety and the safety of his family. And I think he had to constantly remind his wife and kids of this fact.
So I'm going to be reminding people from now on. Don't look at the river you're crossing, don't look at the flood, or the earthquake, or whatever crisis you're in. Look at the ark. Look at your provision and your shield and your protector. It's not easy, and it's not pleasant, and you're not guaranteed a scar-free existence, but it's a way to cope, and a way to be ever more free from the bondage of the past.
Keep looking at the ark.
Sylvia Maltzman has been writing poetry, short stories, articles and skits since she was 16. Trained as an educator, Sylvia has a fervent desire to bring the Scriptures to life for everyone.