God’s Love In My Childhood Even When I Didn’t Realize It

Rainbowpromise

“God, please help me. Why do the bad memories crowd out the good memories so easily? Please help me to remember good childhood memories. Were You there, God? With Your love? Even though I didn’t feel You? Please help me to see Your hand in my childhood.”

Do you ever have days when the bad memories seem to take over your mind? Why do negative events sometimes bury the positive events in our lives? Apparently, studies have shown that negative events connected with emotions of sadness and fear stick more in our brain’s memory bank than the happy events. Bad memories also affect our thoughts and actions deeper than happy ones do.

I’ve been trying to dig deeper to reach the good childhood memories that seem so distant compared to the bad ones. Was God there? He had to be. Or I wouldn’t be here today. I knew there was a God then, but I only knew Him as a harsh Judge waiting and almost delighting in punishing me.

But yes, if I really think about it, He must have been there as a God of love. He was there in the nature all around me. The nature I loved and often found solace in.

God was there in the attentiveness and touch of my mother’s hand when I was sick. In her never returning to a doctor that old me to “Shut up!” when I was crying from an earache. Living with a depressed mom wasn’t always easy, and I often wondered what was wrong with me when I couldn’t make her happy. When I’d see her cry and felt deserted when she had to go away because of her depression. But I realize now it’s amazing how my mom still pulled through for us at times when she was present physically and emotionally. And that had to be God who helped her. It was He who helped her break the cycle of how her mother treated her. It was He who gave her a nurturing spirit to encourage me in projects that interested me: keeping an aquarium, raising hamsters, making a frog habitat out of an old canning canister, building terrariums, etc.

God was there to enable my dad to make a living for us. Though money was tight, we never went hungry, and he still managed to send money to my grandma every month. He was there when my dad answered my pleas to go looking for a lost dog. He was there when my dad let me go with my mom to pick out a puppy. Even though my dad’s verbal and sexual abuse was horrible and devastating, I can now see him as a man who inside was a hurting child himself. I know that doesn’t excuse the things he said or did, but I’m grateful that in later years he was sorry and God showed him His love and mercy. I do believe he is now with Jesus as is my mom.

When an abuser is sorry, it helps towards healing. It makes it a bit easier to forgive. Though it’s still an up-and-down, life-time process of healing. My sister and brother were abused by a minister when they were little, and I was when I was in my youth by a different one. But we have never heard an apology from the abusers or church leaders. Not even an acknowledgement that we were indeed abused. That makes it so much harder. But I won’t go there now as I’m trying to focus on good memories…

Me-1yrBack to childhood memories that showed evidence that a loving God truly was there even though I didn’t know it. I have two sisters and four brothers and I love them all so much. It’s a God-thing that with all the turmoil of what our family went through, we still get together, care about each other, and are on good terms with each other. As I search my memory bank, I do remember good times with siblings. We didn’t have a TV, so we were creative with our time. Arm and leg wrestling matches. Sit-up competitions. Singing along with records. Board games like Monopoly and Clue. Ping-pong. Carom. Swimming. Eenie Inie Over and other outside games. Mud pies. Catching fireflies in a jar and watching them glow in my parents’ closet. Birthday cakes and birthday presents. Snowball fights and snowmen. Snow forts and tunnels in huge snowdrifts along the grove. Sledding. Listening to Twins’ baseball games on the radio, fishing in the creek, and milking cows with one of my brothers. Learning experiences with nature. Horse and pony rides. I loved observing and working with all the animals on our farm. Dogs, especially, were my best friends. It had to be a loving God who put both my siblings and animals in my life.

Me-with-JenniferSo as I intentionally seek for and focus on good memories, I do see a loving God was still at work. Abuse made me feel the church’s perspective of a harsh God was true. I must have done something wrong. That’s why bad things happen to us. But God is helping me to see that though He is in control of all things, He still gives us a choice. The choice for anyone to do evil towards us is not in God’s character.

God hurts right along with us. His character of love sent His Son to take upon Himself all our sins and the sins done against us. He loves us that much.

Perhaps you can’t think of even one good memory in your childhood. There was a time when my heart was so full of pain that I couldn’t either. And perhaps your life was so awful that there really aren’t any good memories and it’s a wonder you survived. And there is the good memory. You survived, and it was God who pulled you through, even when you didn’t feel it.

Whatever bad that child within us went through and whatever bad we are going through now, God was and is still here. With His love. In every breath we take, even when we don’t want to breathe anymore. It may not feel like it, and it may be a long journey towards believing it deep down in our hearts, but He patiently waits for us to open our wounds to His healing love and grace. Yes, it’s hard, and we can feel so helpless at times to let go of the bad memories and grasp the good ones. But ever so gently He is pulling us forward one step at a time into the light of His faithful love that never abandons us.

“Whoever does not love does not know God,
because God is love.”
1 John 4:8

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
I will build you up again,
and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.
Again you will take up your timbrels
and go out to dance with the joyful.”
Jeremiah 31:3-4

“O LORD my God, You have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.”
Psalm 40:5 NLT

A Child's Trust“God Will Take Care of You”

by David Phelps

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Barbie – Weekend Whispers

Lyli – 3-D Lessons for Life

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36 thoughts on “God’s Love In My Childhood Even When I Didn’t Realize It

  1. Hi Trudy! Your words are so powerful today. (Sit-up competitions??? I WISH I could do that!)
    Challenging yourself to find God in moments that seem so hopeless is really a wonderful exercise. It’s one I need to do too. You have been through so much in your life, and yet you keep striving for God in it all. What an example to me!

    Your childhood had such lovely times too, as you listed here. Leaning on those times are a great way to bring yourself ‘up’. I know that I am so blessed too, but for some reason the negative things always seem to be bigger in my mind. It was good to learn that it’s a common occurrence.
    Now, on with finding God in it all.
    Thank you for your sensitive and honest post.
    Ceil

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    1. Hi Ceil! I doubt I can win any sit-up competitions today, but it was fun as a kid. 🙂 Sometimes it’s so hard to think of the good memories when those bad ones come in like a tsunami, isn’t it? You are an example to me, too, friend, with your positive posts and ability to see a spiritual lesson in the everyday events. Yes, on with finding God in it all. It’s a struggle, but we can encourage one another to do it, right? Praying God will help us both to see His hand of love in our lives, even in those bad times! Hugs!

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  2. To be grateful in all things is not easy in our flesh, especially when hurt deeply. I am glad you see HIm in all things, looking up in love. Your story too, is helping others I am sure. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn, for your encouragement that my story is helping others. I really hope so. It’s why I feel I have to write it – to glorify God and give hope to hurting souls. No, being grateful is not easy. We surely need God to give us courage, don’t we? May He bless you and keep you in His tender loving care! Hugs!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. God is truly amazing, isn’t He? He answered my prayer at the beginning of this post and helped me remember and see His hand of love was still with me. I’m so glad you felt encouraged by it. It’s not easy, is it? But God… I just love those two words, don’t you? May God give you strength for each day and light for the way! Hugs!

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  3. Trudy, I’m guessing this wasn’t an easy post to write, but I love how you are choosing to focus on light instead of darkness here. It takes courage to find the good in the middle of the bad (and especially the very bad), and I agree with the other commenters that you are setting a wonderful example by doing this. May God bless you abundantly as you focus on his love and goodness. (Oh, and I just have to add that I also have six siblings–three brothers and three sisters–and we didn’t have a television when I was growing up, either!)

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    1. Thank you, Lois, for your prayers and your encouragement to further focus on God’s love and goodness. May we together encourage one another! It’s hard sometimes when troubles blot out His light, but may He give us faith to reach out for His hand to lead us! That’s cool that you also have six siblings and didn’t have TV. In a way, I think the lack of TV helped me to pursue more creative activities. It seemed between work on the farm and play, also reading, we never had a dull moment. Blessings and hugs to you!

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  4. It’s amazing how God is with us, showing his love in little ways even in the midst of horrible situations. Thank you for your encouragement to look for the good and to focus on God’s blessings- and to be intentional about it.

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    1. Yes, it’s so amazing how God still shows His love. I’m amazed that His love always remains faithful, strong, and true even when we can’t always see it. No, it’s certainly not always easy to see it or to have the courage to get past the bad and be intentional to find His love in it all. But God is good and He longs to heal us more deeply, doesn’t He? May we be filled with His powerful grace that we may see His love in every situation of life. Hugs!

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  5. Thank you for teaching us today to look for God in our childhoods but also to continue to seek Him even when we aren’t sure He is there. You showed us bravery and perseverance in seeking God and looking for the positive even through the negative challenges you were facing.

    I am amazed at God’s word and hearing God loves us with an everlasting love is such a sweet truth to carry with us everyday. Beautiful words, Trudy!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Mary. I’m glad you are amazed at God’s Word, faithfulness, and everlasting love. Sometimes it’s hard to see how amazing He is in the midst of troubles, but I’m so glad His love never fails even when we can’t see it. May we carry the truth of His faithful, everlasting love with us each day! Hugs!

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  6. Trudy,
    I love hearing about these stories of your life through the years (ahhh — now I see why you like frogs!) and those photos — I just LOVE seeing them! Growing up on a farm sounds difficult and idyllic at the same time! But what I love most about this post is that you’re looking for the good — for God, really — in every thread of your life — and when you seek him, you will find him there — what a comfort that is! And what an encourager you are to share all those memories with us — thank you for letting us peek into your life, friend!! xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Valerie. I’m so grateful you are encouraged by it. I think life would have been harder if we hadn’t grown up on a farm. I loved it. Yes, I do love frogs and I’m fascinated by other creatures that some would say “Eeewww!” or run screaming. I have even caught and held garter snakes. 🙂 So if I show any photos of creatures that scare you, I hope I won’t scare you off! I’ve been hesitating to show any more frogs… 🙂 I remember now how proud I was of that stuffed dog in one of the pics. I named her Jennifer. Some of my grandkids played with her for years until we had to downsize and gave her and many other stuffed animals away for someone else to enjoy. And here’s a secret. Even though I’ll be 60 in two days, I still love stuffed animals. 🙂 Thank you, dear friend, for always encouraging me to share some of those good memories. May God give you ever more peace with His will and way and lead you with His ever-present love! Hugs!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your story. Thank you for reminding us that God is good, all the time, even when there are tough times and difficult memories. You show us such a great spirit within you with your openness. Blessings to you!

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    1. It’s not always so easy to remember that God is good all the time. It’s quite a journey to get there, but yes, God is still good even when we don’t “feel” it. Thank you for your kind words, Judy. May God bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you! Hugs!

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  8. Trudy, my heart aches in sympathy and empathy for all you went through as a child. But oh how beautiful it is to see how you are desiring to look for and acknowledge the good in your childhood and beyond! I also felt this about my abuser: ” I can now see him as a man who inside was a hurting child himself” even though he never came to a point of confessing or being accountable for his actions. It’s so true that hurting people tend to hurt others, mostly unwittingly, I am sure.
    These words really spoke to me today. Yesterday (and many days beforehand) I was lost in a fog of negativity and could barely see the way ahead without fear intruding. But God made sure I read this encouraging and inspiring post (among others) that ministered like a soothing salve to my hurting heart and made the pain less acute.
    You’ve also given me a fresh perspective on why it’s just so hard to lose the bad memories and negative outlook. But as we deliberately choose to look for the good, aim to see and sense God at work in our lives past and present, and allow His word to slowly renew our minds, we will find that transformed thinking become more natural to us and those dark clouds will lift again. You’re a marvel, my friend. And God loves you so very much! Blessings and hugs. Xx ❤

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    1. I’m so sorry you have been lost in fog and fear, Joy. I’m grateful you found encouragement and inspiration here and in other posts. It’s such a blessing to read posts that minister to us “like a soothing salve.” God often speaks to me as well through you and others. I think it helps us to see the abuser as a hurting child himself, but I still have a difficult time thinking that towards the pastor who abused me as he was so calculating and there was so much spiritual abuse, too. It’s hard yet to sort it all out yet, but one step at a time, right? God will surely heal us deeper in time, my friend. Thank you for linking arms with me on this journey. God loves you so very much, too! 🙂 May Jesus fill us with His healing love and grace and help us to move forward! Hugs!

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  9. …Forgetting the past and fixing our eyes on what lies ahead…. I see evidence that you are running your race well dear Trudy in spite of all the setbacks from your youth. God is with you. Thank you for desiring to share with us how important it is for us to dwell in the “son”shine. ♥ Choosing to see the good with you my friend.

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    1. Thank you, Heather. I don’t think I can ever “forget” the past, because it plays such a big part in how I am today. But as Jesus heals me ever more deeply, I am learning to let it go so that it won’t weigh down my life and to see how God has used it to make me more compassionate and empathetic towards other hurting souls. I’m becoming gradually more aware that past pain has a purpose. But yes, it is so important, as you say, “to dwell in the ‘son’ shine.” I love the “Sonshine!” May God help us to believe in our hearts that His love and goodness never fail even when we can’t always “feel” it! Hugs!

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  10. “He is pulling us forward one step at a time into the light of His faithful love that never abandons us.” So thankful to be taking one step at a time together! Wow, Trudy – such a powerful post! Thank you as always for sharing your heart, being vulnerable and encouraging us all to focus on His light and His truth! Big hugs to you and the precious little girl inside of you with eyes full of wonder! (love the pics!)

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. I’m delighted that you are encouraged. I am thankful, too, to be on this journey of healing together. I really miss your heartfelt posts. It’s hard to be vulnerable though, isn’t it? Praying God will fill you with the power of His love and give you courage to move forward as you hold His hand! Thank you for the hugs to me and also the little girl inside me. 🙂 Hugs back to you and that little girl inside of you!

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  11. Trudi, This was good- thank you for reminding me to find the good, and to focus on the good. God has and will be faithful -loved hearing your happy memories and seeing the pictures though i am sad for your pain too. Thank you for sharing your healing process – and all the work God is doing in your life and heart. It is encouraging and brings me hope!

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    1. Thank you, Susie. I am so blessed that this brings you hope! It’s not always easy to focus on the good, is it? But yes, as you say, “God has and will be faithful.” I can’t imagine life without Him, can you? I love how your poems start out with troubles or distress but end up with God gently pulling you in to lean on Him. Keep writing and sharing your artwork! May God fill you with His sufficiency, love, and peace! Hugs!

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  12. Trudy – I thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate your blog title “Freed to Fly” and am thankful that you are experiencing healing. I pray God will continue His good work and will – “I will build you up again…..you will be rebuilt!” (Jer 31:3). Blessings!

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  13. You are so inspiring, my friend. Thank you for reminding me of the good in my own childhood. I was raised by a mom with severe depression as well. Unfortunately, I’m now raising my children with some of the same struggles. It is so much easier to remember the bad times. I completely agree with the studies you refer to. I need to make more of a conscious decision to remember the good times of my childhood. I know they are there but just get overrun with the negative. I’m so blessed to read your much needed words today, Trudy. XO!

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    1. Thank you, Candace. I’m so glad you are inspired to search for the good times. Yes, it’s sooo hard to find those good memories in our memory banks when the bad ones are so bossy and persistent. 😦 I’m so sorry your childhood was so difficult and you struggle with depression, too. Depression is not easy. I know a good memory of your childhood, friend. You were created beautiful in God’s image to fulfill a special purpose in this life, and I’m blessed to know you. May Jesus fill you with His love and day by day fill your present life with precious memories of His grace and favor! Hugs!

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  14. Trudy,

    Thank you for sharing these good memories with us and for modeling your faith and trust in God despite the horrible things you experienced. I hope you know your words are a sign of God’s grace. And I’m glad God blessed you with access to nature’s beauty, dogs and siblings you’re close with…and a mom, when she could, was loving. ((hugs)) Thank you for being a blessing to me and so many 🙂

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Dolly. It really touches my heart to think my “words are a sign of God’s grace.” It’s all about grace, isn’t it? His grace is sufficient for us whether or not we feel it. You are a blessing to me, too, Dolly. May God continue to guide your path one step at a time in His way! Hugs!

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  15. Hello, friend 🙂 I’m so thankful that God is showing you His goodness & mercy even during traumatic times in your life. And so grateful that you are able to see these truths. God has truly worked a miracle in your life and you are an inspiration and encouragement to all of us! Blessings, my friend!

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    1. Thank you, June. Yes, he truly has worked a miracle in my life, many of them. I long to have eyes to see them more often and more clearly. May God fill you with His love and peace through the trying circumstances you are going through! Hugs!

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