Written by Cliff – Angels by Grace Pub. – May 1997
“Oh Cliff, I think we’re going to have a girl. What should we call her? I really like the name Beverly Ann.”
These words captured the excitement of the expected birth as Loraine and Cliff looked forward to their second child. Six years after a Dennis the Menace boy it would be a joy to have a quiet and compliant little girl.
Their second child was born, not a girl, and so I was hastily named Beverly Clifford, after a British newscaster and my father.
The “sweet and gentle” son soon discovered that little girls are liked and desired more than boys. By the time I reached the age of three I asked my mother, “If I was a girl would you love me any more?”
In spite of a caring family with no big problems, roots of doubt, fear, and confusion were growing in me. Rejection and “not belonging” became nagging realities; unspoken, unclear and mixed up. It was not safe to be natural. It was always better to be “sweet and gentle” like mommy expected. Whatever I did naturally was perceived “bad” common to nasty, noisy boys.
I know that the psychologists and developmental experts do acknowledge frequent complications when “the wrong sex” child is born. Rejection and abuse are common inward and outward patterns that happen to such children.
If other common circumstances of life touch the family, more wounds and scars are added to the child involved. In my case my parents went through a financial crisis in a partnership business. After several months of snowballing problems my family, who had been considered well off, left town with $2.87 from the bankrupted business.
Suddenly the responsible and caring people were desperate to find work and thankful for a small rented house that had only cold water and no indoor plumbing. Eighteen months later we were on the move again.
This time it was across the country from West to East and into a small town of new hope and a small rented apartment. But, everyone in the town was separate and apart even though publically courteous, behind the scenes they were mean, belittling, and held mocking attitudes towards the “newcomers that didn’t belong.” More rejection and abuse were felt when such things as, “Who do they think they are moving here and taking good jobs we need?” were whispered.
My thirteen year old brother became a dare-to-do anything rebel and clown. His good mind, quick tongue, and fast fists earned him respect but for years there was no belonging. “Who cares, I’m having fun” was his attitude. Everything was a calculated risk, as far as he was concerned.
On the other end of the pendulum was me. As the younger son I learned to use my mind and skills to please, to listen, to help, and to comply. I also learned that deep feelings and dreams had to be hidden, even denied. It was safe only to have “sweet desires and good dreams.”
Being small of build and not aggressive meant staying on guard, don’t trust, don’t get cornered, and run hard. I also learned to talk fast and to learn to say what others wanted to hear.
It is true that all persons are not equally sensitive to emotional, artistic, and inward realities. Just as others are skilled in logic, practicality, and physical results. But it is a rare person who can’t communicate something. Even without words, actions say volumes.
When the life experience has been filled with confrontation, rejection, and abuse, responses, I have learned, can be very different. This is true whether the abuses are outwardly clear – physical, sexual, neglect – or inwardly scarred and hidden, like I was. All can live lives of quiet desperation and with silent screams. Some act out the wounds by attacks, fears, and visible addictions.
The point is that all of life for all persons eventually demonstrates the human problems of fallen and sin-cursed mankind. Our fallen condition cannot be ignored or denied, without tragic results. Certain processes are still in operation whether the river of life is above ground and visible, or deeply hidden in the underground aquifers and torrents.
We each have a central-in-the-core need for a Savior who identifies totally with us. Who still provides a transforming process that leads to release and fulfillment. Out of the pain and wounds in life we can each come to see the fact of our need, our hurt, our anger, and even our unfulfilling desires for revenge.
As I too came to see my life was unmanageable and that I was powerless to change what really mattered in my core being, I discovered over and over in new situations that the Lord’s love was always available to forgive my sin and restore each area of futile reaction.
Gradually I learned the process of turning my life over to Him in each situation, in each emotion, and in each reaction. The 12 step approach became much more to me than an addict’s need as I discovered something of the meaning of the gospel song, “Stepping in The Light,” in the steps of the Master.
As a survivor, life is now the daily challenge of being healed by confession, forgiveness, and new release. I am learning the value of my 12 steps toward wholeness and true fulfillment.
With my clear new identity “in Christ” I am now learning to cherish the hurts that have led me to my new long-term relationship in Him.
Blessings to you.