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Healing love in Oxford shoes

a little act of kindness makes a difference

I want to thank my facebook friend, Airy Kary, for inspiring this piece. Airy Kary, I pray for God’s richest blessings in your life for your gift of healing love.

We often overlook those small acts of kindness. We think they make little difference in the lives of others. I want to encourage you that they do. I reflect from an experience in my own life to illustrate what I mean.

I am five. I cannot tie the laces on my shoes no matter how hard I try. My father in his manic state from schizophrenia tells me I am clumsy. He looks at me with disgust as he says, “Why are you so clumsy and stupid that you can’t tie your own shoes?” The words are like knives into my heart. I do not think I am dumb, but why does my father think so? I do not understand why he thinks I am such an imbecile. How could a five year-old be expected to understand that my father is sick in his mind?

Those stinging judgemental words of my father come back to my memory. My mother sees my tears. She feels them deep in her soul.

She scolds my father for telling me I am awkward and dumb. In doing so she risks being beaten. I am so afraid this will yet be another in several beatings my mother will experience. To my surprise she is not beaten that day. There is a fiery anger that comes deep from within her like a bear protecting her cubs. I feel she knows in her heart that the emotional damage of those mean things my father said will continue for many years. I revisit the pain from that awful day because it is the call of my Father. Within my story is my hope for you who have been abused or are being abused to progress further in your healing.

My mother holds me close to her. The tears will not stop. Those many times my father tells me I am a failure and always will be echo in my mind. My father says I must be punished for being such a bad boy. He says more times than I can remember or want to, “The hand or the book.” Those are my choices of the ways in which I will be punished. Many of those times my father says,  “Stop crying! Come on, Kevin! Take your punishment like a man!”

I think that perhaps I am the idiot my father says I am.

I remember with comfort to my spirit my mother’s love that day. She tells me I am such a smart boy. I am not the lies my father seeks for me to believe.

The parasite of hate for my father grows inside of me. How could he say such cruel things? Where is that loving father going who wakes me up at 3:00 a.m to take me smelt fishing? Where is that gentle soul going who carries me piggy back with him wherever he goes telling people, “This is my son, Kevin!”, as ice-cream from my ice-cream cone drips down my face on to his shirt. He says to everyone he meets how much he loves me.Then, without warning he says such painful things to me, things no child should ever hear, things no human-being should ever hear.

My mother tells me we are going out for a while. I am so exhausted from crying. My desire to get away from those hate-filled words of my father are stronger than my fatigue.

I have a wonderful lunch! Although I do not remember what I have to eat, I know from how comforted I feel reflecting on that meal, it must have been a delicious one.  It is such a healing gift. Then, my mother surprises me.

She takes me to Pucket’s shoe store. She says to him, “Please get me shoes for Kevin without laces.” He selects Oxford shoes. It is like Christmas has come early. I see those black leather shoes glisten as the light shines on them. I cry tears of joy putting them on. What a fantastic relief it is that I will not have to struggle with having to tie my shoes!

When we return home my father sees the shoes. He is livid. He says that my mother is being too easy on me. I must learn to tie my own shoes or I will never be a man. Part of what he says is manic behaviour but not all of it. There are many times I can recall when on medication for his schizophrenia my father encouraged unhealthy competition with my brother. He tells me with his words, withholding his love and judging me to be weak and a mama’s boy that I must be like my brother. If I do not act like him I will never be a man.

Throughout my life I will struggle with that demon of thinking I can never do enough to please my father. I determine that I will work harder to the point of ruining my health to prove that I am not the weak, lazy, stupid and incompetent fool my father says I am. I am healing from that kind of destructive thinking as God has put so many healers of the heart into my life, who tell me that I am not the lies my father in the darkness of those soul-penetrating words sought for me to accept as truth.

I stand on God’s truth declared by the Psalmist, David, that  we all are fearfully and wonderfully made. ( Psalm 139:14).  I reflect on that call to my heart in Psalm 40, verse eight. “I delight to do Your will, O my God. And Your law is in my heart.” It is the call of obedience to God’s will under extraordinary circumstances. David recognizes that in surrendering to stand as God’s man of truth against King Saul he is risking his life. Yet, with the heart of a hero counting the cost for loyalty to his Lord, he professes total dedication to Him.That is the call that should come to each and every heart. We will reach out to the hurting delighting in doing the will of our Father under the most trying calling we are given.

I think what a horrible weight my father put on my brother to be a man when he is only nine years old.

My mother tells my father that in time I will learn. He needs to be patient.

I do learn to tie my shoes. My mother teaches me how to do it with me without any pressure to get it right. None of us know 34 years later I will be diagnosed by Dr. Goldenberg , a gerontologist then at Scarborough Grace Hospital in the eastern part of the city of Toronto, with oliviopontocerebellar ataxia, a rare progressive neuro degenerative disorder that affects my fine motor control, mobility and ability to understand what others are saying. My mastocytosis, another auto immune condition, will be diagnosed in August this year. In some cases like mine mastocytosis causes neurological damage.

My mother going out and getting those shoes seems like such a small act of her love. It really is a large one because I know in doing so she risks being severely beaten. It is the gift that my wounded soul needs to start healing from yet another crippling blow to my spirit and self-confidence from my father.

If you are being abused call the police and have your abuser charged with assault. Get yourself and your children to a shelter or the home of someone you know and will trust to be there for you through this painful time in your life.

There is never any excuse that condones abuse. No one EVER deserves to be abused. There is a sickness in the mind of your abuser. Your abuser needs help. Your abuser has been taught unhealthy ways to resolve conflict.

Your whole family will need counseling to begin that long and painful journey to healing from the abuse. If you keep on this road of inner healing as I have take comfort that one day like me in those caring arms of Christ the Great Physician and His people, you will have a life filled with healing love and an unswerving calling. The wounded soul can become the victorious overcomer. You can heal from your abuse if you stop relying on your own efforts to do do.

Never think that your small acts of kindness are without their own healing power. That coffee and some of your time may be all a person needs to feel loved. Stand with those who are hurting through life’s raging storms. To you it seems such a small thing. To a hurting soul your drive by coffees, that caring hand extended in love and that hug can make all the difference in the world. You say through these gifts of your love I care. I will be with you through this hardship. I will not abandon you.

The next time someone tells you that their small act of kindness towards you does not make a difference, tell them about my Oxford shoes.

That person will never doubt again that small acts of kindness do not make a difference.