My dear friend Melody has a story that’s full of more abuse and trauma than most of ours, but also one of a redeemed heart that bears witness to an unfailing and ever loving God.
She let me into her story 4 years ago, and for 4 years these images and words have been stored on my computer. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to put them together, but I am happy that I can now share it with a desire it that it gives others hope. God has not forgotten us, not even in our darkest darks and our lowest lows.
When Melody was four years old she had a dream that God came to her, the glowing white God of contemporary Christianity, he came to comfort her on the eve of her sister’s surgery. In the dream God told her: “Don’t be afraid and don’t worry, surely I am with you for all of time. And I will always be with your sister. Don’t be afraid and don’t worry.”
His pursuit of her was real and constant, woven throughout both her good days and her bad days.
I feel privileged to share with you the story she told me on a rainy November day.
I remember her telling me “Wake up, wake up Melody, today is my wedding day. I’m going to get married today.” I felt like someone just dropped a concrete block on my stomach and I just cried and begged her not to do it.
It was in 1982, so I think I was 6.
My stepdad was a rageaholic, he would beat us and touch us where he wasn’t supposed to. He was always preying on us. He would tuck us in at night and say “this is normal”. My mom was always defending him and saying he can do that if he wants to.
I think for a long time I never even questioned it.
My sister went to high school, and he really beat her bad. She got twice as much as I did. It’s partly her personality because I’m a fighter and she would just sit there and take it. She got really busted up one day and went to school and the teacher told because he had to.
They did this whole investigation, they were taking pictures of stuff and it looked really bad but you couldn’t see it on the polaroids. They said I could go home because I didn’t have any signs of abuse, but she couldn’t. So I was there by myself so I was catching all the hell. You know I was a fighter and I thought I could take him.
I always had that feeling in my stomach that this can’t be right. Once they took my sister, I knew, I knew it was wrong and I was just daring them all the time. And I would say things like I wont just leave like she did, I’ll have your ass thrown in jail, you’ll lose everything. Fuck with me again, I dare you.
When I was 13 she said I know where your dad is and you can go see him if you want. Every memory I had of him was terrible because my family hated him and nobody ever said anything good about him. I never agreed or disagreed with them because I didn’t know, I always wanted to wait and find out.
He has this tattoo on his chest, this flower, and it has my sister and I’s name on it.
And he said, “You’re always close to my heart and you’re always near me. And I know I fucked up and I can’t ever make that up to you and I know your family says terrible things about me and it’s true, but I did love your mom and married her and I loved her. And you two were conceived in love. It’s the only thing I ever did right in my whole life.”
I was so thankful to hear that.
He said, “We were going to name you after me because we just knew you were a boy.”
When he heard the doctors say I was a girl, he said he heard this song, “In my heart there rings a Melody” which is this old Christian hymn.
He said, “I heard it like I was sitting in church, I could hear that song. I knew your name was Melody, I knew to name you Melody.”
He started talking to us about when we were babies, and I leeched onto every word he said because I had never heard this stuff before. He said I was so sensitive and if they just made a funny face I cried.
I’m still like that.
It comforts me that if Jesus came here and he was in a stable, it’s OK that this is where I was. I wasn’t forgotten about, discarded. My value as a person doesn’t equate to what I feel like my hand was dealt.
It took me a long time to get to this place where I felt peace about that. That’s a lot of work to get to a place where I can embrace that and not be ashamed.
An important part of Melody’s story that isn’t included above is that her father was incarcerated for 23 years of her life on a conviction of rape. Praise Jesus, I know personally that Melody has had to do a lot of hard work to be at peace with this and He has been faithful to her in her walk.