When I was almost twelve (backtracking a little bit), I never knew what to expect when I got home from school. Our home was not a happy place, but one filled too often with violence and darkness. On this particular day, I was confronted with scenes that would haunt me for the rest of my life: fist against face, glass shattering, furniture being thrown, screaming, pleading, a lot of blood.
I ran away. I could not stand being there one more minute, could not be present, yet do nothing to help. I ran out of our house blinded by tears, overwhelmed with guilt for leaving, with fear consuming me, believing, at that moment, that I would one day burn in hell. For what? For being me. For leaving my mother to fend for herself. Betrayal. I was not quite twelve and was a coward.
I walked a long ways from our house, part ways into the desert. It was the middle of summer and extremely hot. I began to tire from the heat, began to feel sicker, and more afraid, thinking about what was going on in our house. It was the first time in my young life that I wanted out of it, the first of many times, I'd feel that I didn't belong here, that it was because I didn't, that trouble would always find me.
I don't know how far I walked, but remember starting to get dizzy and lightheaded from the heat. I saw a huge boulder. I sat down beside it, drew my knees up, rested my head upon my arms and cried- cried like I'd never cried before. As many years ago as that was, I can still remember what happened next, as if it were five minutes ago. I'd cried so hard, and walked in the heat so long that my head hurt. But the pain in my heart was worse. "Nobody cares about me. " I said aloud, feeling lost and lonely -completely alone. "Not one person cares."
I heard the words clearly, but not the way you and I hear one another. It's hard to explain, but that's the way it was. I looked around. Nobody was there. And then I looked UP. As soon as I did, I just knew that God heard me cry, and
as bad a child as I believed myself to be, God made his love known to me. I like to say that He hugged me, because all of a sudden I felt quieted, at peace, almost untroubled, if such a thing were possible under those circumstances. I stood up, wiped my tears, brushed my jeans off and told myself that I needed to go home because my mother would need me.