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Behind the walls of respectability
as seen on Spirituality.com Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel, The author of this article asked the Sentinel to withhold her name because her father is still prominent in his community. She says, "I kept the accounts of our abuse even from my husband. I didn't want him to become antagonistic toward my father. . . . He has been set free from an unjust sentence . . . I hope this statement will help us all to pray for those families trapped in abusive relationships."

I was living in a different country when my sister called me, sobbing. She didn't know what to do. My father had just beaten my mother so severely that she was nearly unconscious. She was covered in bruises and had open wounds. My sister needed to get our mother to the emergency room of a hospital, but she was scared that the police would be called and that my father would be arrested.

I asked God to show me how to pray.

I had recently begun reading Science and Health and I had seen many amazing transformations in my life. Without hesitation, I asked her to give me a little while to pray. I asked God to show me how to pray.

A passage came to me from Science and Health, an interpretation of the first chapter of the book of Genesis. It quotes Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them." Then it says, "To emphasize this momentous thought, it is repeated that God made man in His own image, to reflect the divine Spirit. It follows that man is a generic term. Masculine, feminine, and neuter genders are human concepts. In one of the ancient languages the word for man is used also as the synonym of mind" (p. 516).

These ideas inspired me and gave me peace. From that moment, I started on a spiritual journey that went on for eighteen months.

I started thinking about the motherhood qualities God had given my father.

My mother recovered from her injuries that night very quickly and did not need to be taken to the hospital, so my father was saved yet again. As children, we had tried to tell one or two close friends about his behavior, but they never believed us. My father was well-known for his charitable work in our community. His abuse became our terrible family secret.

When I obtained a copy of Science and Health, I just loved the way the author describes God as Father-Mother. My father seemed to be so heavy on the masculine qualities. Now I was learning that God was also Mother, and that we -- as His "image" -- each have both male and female qualities.

I started thinking about the motherhood qualities God had given my father. To think that my father could be capable of reflecting the gentle motherhood of God seemed absolutely impossible. But I was going to keep praying and find out. I was desperate for my mother's freedom and release. I felt I owed it to her for all that she had protected us from.

She already expressed those fatherhood qualities.

And soon something unexpected happened with all the men I came in contact with. For example, my husband. A more gentle and loving man I never met in my life -- that is why I married him. He had always been so loving. But now he become even more gentle and kind. Maybe it was my perception that changed, but it truly seemed to me that everywhere I went, the macho image I'd been seeing of men changed, and they became truly gentle. I began to see how this could apply even to my father.

One day I was talking to my sister, and she told me that my parents had not had a fight for months. In fact, my father was treating my mother with a lot of tenderness. We were overjoyed.

That is not the end of the story. The same time I prayed to identify my father's motherhood qualities, I decided to see the fatherhood qualities in my mother. As I started to pray, I suddenly understood that she already expressed those fatherhood qualities. She had never been a victim. The love with which she had defended my sister and me was strong. So strong that I knew it showed the fatherhood of God. She had never failed in protecting us. We had been shielded by her strength as young ones when we could not defend ourselves. Her love had given us the confidence to be strong adults where nothing could frighten us.

Seeing my mother suddenly as the victor, rather than the victim, had such a startling effect on me that for the first time I saw how God's love for His creation is total. Behind what screams as weakness could well be a strong and bold heart standing for what is good and true.

I know how much your prayers will help.

This new view of my mother freed me from thinking of her as an oppressed woman. I found to my joy that she was becoming confident in her own ability, making decisions and taking actions of her own accord. Today, eight years later, my parents are living in harmony with each other and have active and rewarding lives.

Sometimes the problem is so messy and complicated that you just want to ignore it. Well, please don't! Each time you hear or read about a case in the newspapers, please pray. I know from my own experience how much your prayers will help.

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