I’ve never put pen to paper about my childhood but reading Jim Daly’s book “Finding Home: An Imperfect Path to Faith and Family” made me pause and think about my parents and my own tough road. Instead of being embarrassed by my parents, I should celebrate the strength I gained during adverse times which made me fight to have the wonderful life I live now with my husband (who is also my best friend) and 4 beloved children. Crazy as it sounds, without my dysfunctional parents, I might very well be a feminist focused on my career instead of my family.
So, a bit of my story and what I learned from Daly’s book. My mom and dad have each been divorced three times. They divorced one another and then couldn’t stop doing it. They must have been reading from the same playbook because after each one’s third divorce, they just stopped getting married and lived with their significant others. My little thirteen-year-old heart and mind couldn’t handle another divorce so I left my Mom to live with my Dad while she was going through her second divorce. My father was on his third marriage at the time which ended two years later. Gosh, it sounds like a tennis game.
Before my senior year, I thought it would be best to just cut the ties with my parents and go live with my grandmother which would be the third school in 4 years but whose counting. Anyway, after I left my mom and dad behind, I just focused on school and not much else. Senior year in high school, I wedded myself to the dream of getting my PhD as I thought that with a PhD in hand, I’d never have to depend on anyone else like my mother did. However, I was the furthest thing from a women’s libber as I desperately longed for a large stable family…the family I’d never had.
Reading Jim Daly’s book was like meeting a friend who understood your pain. As a child like myself who endured abandonment and mistreatment by the adults in his life, reading about his woundedness was like reading about how my own heart was broken by those who were supposed to protect me. He understood what it was like to be disappointed by all the adults in your life but somehow find a way to put one foot in front of the other and believe that another day of hard work will get you one step closer to a more peaceful existence. If you can just be productive one more day, you’ll be one step further away from the emotional trauma endured throughout your childhood. And where does that hope come from….God….even if I didn’t quite know it at the time.
I grew up in a white middle class family environment that was pure dysfunction unlike Mr. Daly who actually spent some time in the ghetto where guns went off and beatings occurred. His book was a reminder just how lucky I was that my scars were just emotional and not physical. Things could have been so much worse….I know that and am extremely grateful.
If you suffered a difficult childhood because of divorce or parent abandonment, Daly’s book is such a gift to read. I cried as I read about the horrors that he faced as a child, tears that were both sympathetic and empathetic. But, I was cheering him on as he found God and was able to heal himself so that he could move past that hurt and prosper. Now, he is Focus on the Family‘s President. Well done.
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