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A Struggling Home & A Present God

Author: Anonymus

(Stigma Series 5 of 6)

I wish my parents were in conflict only some of the time, but, in my case, my parents were in

conflict all the time. When others around us were excited about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and

Easter, my siblings and I would dread them. We would be on our knees praying that maybe just

this one occasion would pass without a fight or an argument. At times we would worry about

leaving our parents at home alone because we thought, “Who would stop them from fighting

or screaming at one another, or even hitting one another?” (which thankfully never got that

far). At a young age, we became parents to our parents and needed to always keep an eye on

them to make sure that we were involved in most of their conversations so that it wouldn’t lead

to a fight. You can imagine just how exhausting that can be for a child who wanted nothing

more than a peaceful home. 

I remember the first time it got out of hand, my siblings and I were in grammar school, and we

felt so helpless. Being that young, we couldn’t avail much with getting them to stop screaming

at one another. All we could do was run to our room in our tiny apartment, hold each other’s

hands, get on our knees and cry through our prayers together. Looking up, we saw a picture of

Pope Kyrillos, made eye contact with him, and just started repeating, “please help us.” The

more we focused on the saints surrounding us, the more the screaming was just a faint noise

that we had to endure until it ended.

Looking in hindsight and what we now know, we could see clearly that God was shaping us to

become the people we are today. During those years, whenever a holiday came around, we

knew that any fights or problems would be more significant than the year before. The anxiety

and fear we felt took away the ability to enjoy the holidays as our friends did. During these

times we lived, smiled, laughed, joked, and loved those around us abundantly. We had

empathy towards those that had grown up with similar situations because we knew they

suffered in silence like us. 

Now, as a mental health therapist, I can’t help but see how much this could have allowed us to

be broken and live a life of anger. We would have every right to feel those feelings, but we

chose resilience, we chose love, we chose forgiveness, we chose hope. We heard the voice of

God speaking to us through the church and through our priest, which was a constant reminder

that He was with us. The church was our loving mother, and God was our perfect father. 

Simply put, our upbringing was hard; at times, devastating, exhausting, fearful, anxious, and full

of constant worry. The more complicated lens would show you all the good that came from

these struggles. While it was hard, my siblings and I always knew we had each other’s backs.

We knew that whatever fight came next would not defeat the bond we had. We were stronger

together. After every battle, we became more resilient and felt like the three youth in the fiery furnace.

After all these years, I can now say that with every fight that took place in our home, we

learned something. We learned compassion, mercy, understanding, and most of all, we learned

to let it go. As we grow, it is evident that people have such a hard time letting go. Luckily our

hardships taught us to let go and allow God to work. Sitting here and writing about what it was

like is not easy, but I wish our community was more open to talking about homes where conflict

is a norm. Our story took place a decade ago when the stigma painted silence as strength. It is

quite sad to see that not much has changed from a decade ago. In every home where conflict is

present, suffering is still happening in silence. 

Despite the hardships, my siblings and I always knew we were worthy and not less than anyone

else. Having a father of confession that was always so near to us, who would answer our phone

calls no matter what time we called, even if it was 3 AM, was one of the greatest blessings.

Knowing that he always prayed for us, checked in on us, and gave us strength through his

prayers kept us going through the difficult times. His love for us was beyond measure, and we

knew it was a direct source of strength from God. 

It has always been God’s unfailing love that got us through all the fights we witnessed,

accusations we endured, and blame we faced for their struggle as broken parents. There is no

way we could have overcome the darkest nights without Christ holding us. There was no way

we could have overcome the yelling, screaming, cursing, and much more without God. It would

have been impossible to get through it without God’s unfailing grace. I know this answer may

not appeal to many, or some might think it’s cliche, but it is the only honest answer.

I know some of you may be going through it right now. I know that it’s unbearable. I know it’s

mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting. But cling to His words, cling to the

truth; God is good, God heals, God gives strength, and God gives peace. Trust His plan. It will all

be worth it. You will gain wisdom from these experiences that others won’t go through. You will

learn exactly what you don’t want and you won’t put up with in your personal life, marriage,

and career.

I can’t begin to explain how God has blessed the lives of my siblings and me. We not only

became resilient but became successful in our careers and had thriving friendships. We were

blessed to find wonderful spouses who didn’t care for the stigma surrounding our broken home

(our parents eventually separated). By the grace of God, we have healthy marriages and

beautifully loved children. I share this to give you hope that there is a light at the end of the

tunnel and to give God glory because none of this would have been possible without His love

and mercy.  

Please don’t hold on to the anger you have towards your parents. Nothing helped my siblings

and me move forward more than praying for our parents, praying for them to heal and find

peace. Prayer is your weapon throughout this struggle and will give you peace and strength to

get up every day and face the uncomfortable you can’t escape. Even when they don’t give it,

have mercy and compassion on them, so much so, as Christ has done with us. We are called to

do the same for others, and especially our parents.

To our amazing community: 

You don’t have to understand, you don’t need details, and you don’t need to ask questions. If

someone is sharing their experience with you, it’s because they need someone to listen to

them. The greatest gift you can give them is to pray for them and brighten their day with acts of

kindness. They are dealing with so much throughout their day that anything loving you do for

them will lift them up and remind them of God’s love.

Please don’t share with others what someone shared with you in confidence; it’s not a

community story to be shared. Don’t assume that they will always be broken like their parents

or look down upon them. Some of the greatest saints come from broken homes; keep that in

mind. Don’t judge; they judge themselves enough. Not everyone who dresses nicely and is in

church on time has it all together. If Abouna or servants give some youth extra attention, it

does not mean they favor them; they just know what you don’t know. They know that these

kids need love, support, and courage to keep them going more than you because you most

likely get it from your parents.

As my siblings and I share a glimpse of one of the many struggles we faced growing up, we pray

this has brought enough awareness to our community to start breaking the stigma. We hope

this supports those struggling and reminds them that God is always present.

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