I sat in a conference session in November. The nurse was giving an overview of parenting classes that she teaches. She covered fetal alcohol syndrome. And she started a section on shaken infant syndrome. My gut contracted. I wanted to retch. I wanted to leave. I wanted to leave so I could retch. But I sat calmly and listened to her presentation. She explained that when the infant or small child is shaken, his brain actually turns to a kind of jelly.
I know that jelly-brain feeling.
I was shaken as a small child. More than once, but I can't say how many times. I know that the struggle to function, to survive, was so strong and afterward I would strive to focus, to respond to my environment.
I know that if I was threatened to "stop or I'll shake you until your head rattles", my response was immediately docile based on painful experience.
I don't know how many times that my siblings and I had our "heads knocked together", a bizarre form of punishment that involved grabbing two children by the hair on their heads and slamming their heads together. But I know that when my child and her cousin were threatened with the same treatment, they were defended. By me.
I know what it feels like to be tween-aged and have one's hair snatched and one's head slammed against the wall.
I know what a lot of different kinds of physical, mental, and emotional abuse feel like. I know despair.
But I also know hope. And I know what healing feels like. And I know the terror that the broken shards of my shattered inner person will cut and harm the people I love; however, I also that those shards need not damage anyone--not even me. They can be made into a beautiful mosaic, catching and refracting light to everyone around me.
I can't pretend I'm not broken. But I am confident that brokenness has been transformed into beauty.
Touched by this Poem that was read on Sunday before communion - Before I take the body of my Lord Before I share his life in bread and wine I recognize the sorry things within These I lay down The words of hope I often ...
5 months ago