This is the little boy who grew up to be the man I married.
After 12 years of marriage and 16 years of knowing him, there is still lots about this man that I don’t know.
Just this week, I found out about the time he when he was 13 years old and got a gun held to his head by a grown man.
How could I not know this piece of information about the father of my children?
We all have parts of our lives that make up who we are and color how we react to those we are in relationship with. There are also pockets of our experience that rarely see the day of light but play a huge part in our interaction with people
Rewind back to 1981. Long Beach, California: where my husband was born and bred.
He was a junior high school student who happened upon an exchange between a new girl at school and a male student. The male student came up from behind and hit her in the back of the head. Her reaction to this unprovoked attacked was to cover her head and cower. My husband saw this and punched the much larger student and a scuffle ensued. Later, the student tracked him down with two friends and pummeled him in the back of a classroom—all while a teacher was in the class. He says he came to her rescue because he saw that she needed help. He even offered to walk her home to ensure her further safety. He says he wasn’t doing it to win her affection, but simply to help a new student as he had been the new student many times over. As he walked her home, they got egged by angry white boys yelling out "nigger lover."
Grateful for his help, the girl (who was white) invited him over for dinner as a kind gesture. He reluctantly accepted. When he arrived for dinner, he could see that the girl’s parents had no idea he was black. Dinner skipped along nicely, until it was over. That’s when the father asked the girl to help her mother clean up in the kitchen.
That’s when my husband says he felt steel on his temple. With a gun pressed to my husband’s head, the dad leaned in close and said, “Don’t come around my daughter ever again.” The father then told my husband to get up and leave the house. When he got back to school, the girl didn’t exist to him anymore—even when her friends came up to him and said he was wrong for “dissing” her after she extended an invitation to her home. My husband never spoke of what happened and the girl moved away shortly after that.
I could hardly believe that a grown man would do something like this to a child. My husband was 13 years old. Just a boy. Did the father know what deep scars he’d etched onto the soul of my husband and how that would play out in his life? Was he just trying to scare him off from his daughter or all white women? Did he even care that more than three decades later, this is something the little boy inside would still carry in pain?
"The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18
That man’s words and actions still pierce like a sword.
Just a day before he told me about this incident, a family member called and shared with me how she’d been told that we’d verbally scarred another family member when we were children. I was not only shocked to hear that we’d both hurt another family member—but it was so deep that they are still wary when in our company—even after all these years. Sometimes we scar others willfully and sometimes unintentionally.
We are all broken people living in a broken world. We’ve all inflicted hurt and been hurt. It’s part of living. Some scars we carry bring back a laugh—like the time I was seven years old and my cousin threw a rock through a tree hitting me square in the forehead. There was blood all over my face and he lied and said a group of kids had done it. We laugh about it now and I still have a small scar on my hairline from where the rock knicked me."I think scars are like battle wounds - beautiful, in a way. They show what you've been through and how strong you are for coming out of it." - Demi Lovato
We scar and are scarred. We hold guns to other's heads and hearts with our words and actions. Yet we still survive. Thank God for the built in resilience that rises to the surface.
I’m sure they’ll be a host of other things I’ll discover about my husband as the years roll on. He'll reveal more scars and bruises that I never knew existed. In the meantime, I'll celebrate the fact that he's come through to the other side. That I've come through and that eventually some of these scars will become strengths.
"So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation." I Peter 5:10