A Story of Choice

When I was a student at USU, I took a Social Sciences class. It was one of those
auditorium classes where you and 300 of your closest classmates sat in a lecture
theater and listened to the professor. It was very easy to remain anonymous. But
during our unit on the social impact of abuse, one young man raised his hand,
stood up and told his story to the class.

He had an abusive father and was angry about the unfairness of the situation. He
spent most of his teenage years working out and getting strong enough so that one
day, he would be bigger than his father. So his father wouldn’t be strong enough
to beat him up anymore. So he could one day teach his father a lesson.

He told us about the day he realized he was finally stronger than his father. He had done some little thing that had made his father angry, and his father grabbed him to beat him. But he
instead grabbed his father and pushed him against the wall. He remembered the
look on his father’s face - of surprise and of fear - and it struck him that this was
what he must have looked like all the times his father had beaten him.

In that moment, he realized that he had a choice. He realized he could give in to
his intense feeling of anger and could beat his father in retribution for all the
times that he had been beaten; and his Father would be afraid and never be able to
touch him again.

Or he could walk away.

He knew that because abuse is a cycle, he had a much greater chance of being abusive to his future son. So he looked at his Father and said, “Dad, I forgive you. But you will not touch me again.”

His father broke down weeping, and said, ‘Son, I am so sorry. You are so much stronger than I ever was.”

With tears in his eyes, my fellow student told us that his father never touched him
again. That they have managed to salvage a relationship. That he had a beautiful
wife and two small sons, and that he has never laid a hand on any of them. He
broke the cycle of abuse in his life because in one moment, he made the decision
to be different. He decided to change the course his life was taking. He told
us that we all have the power to decide who we will be.


~j. said...

Wow. thanks for sharing that story.

Grandpa Rusty said...

That's a wonderful story. So often I've heard people say, when faced with having to make a change, "that's just the way I am, I can't change." But what they really mean is, "it is just too hard and I'm afraid to try." What a terrific example this young man was. If we want the change enough, anything is possible. And if it is a change for the good, if we are still failing after all we can do, then God will step in and carry us the rest of the way, if we but ask.