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July 10, 2020 2:00 am
How can Jennifer Greenberg, a trained opera singer, still sing and find joy despite growing up with a father who was physically and sexually abusive? Or a mom who enabled the abuse? Or a pastor who didn't offer protection and help, but only reinforced her worst fears? Listen as hosts Dave and Ann Wilson, with Bob Lepine, uncover the source of Jennifer's defiant belief in a God who never leaves nor forsakes you, but One who knows our suffering first-hand.
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When you grow up experiencing abuse as a child physical abuse you're not aware later as you get married, of how those memories those experiences those traumas come with you in the marriage that was Jennifer Michelle Greenberg's experience. When I got married to Jason to send me I was living with a godly man and a patient man. He was interested in my honey and he wanted to know how I felt about things he wanted to know my opinion said he had an early marriage, and I had to really grow through and unravel a lot of these preconceived notions acclimated to being acclimated godly relationship. This is family life today.
Our hosts are David and Wilson Bob Lapine you can find us on my family life today.com here today about a God who can bring redemption and healing and hope out of the tragedy and trauma of childhood abuse was welcome to family life today.
Thanks for joining us. We were talking about a subject this week that I know is difficult for a lot of listeners, as were hearing descriptions about child abuse.
I just want to warn our listeners about this and that this is hard for you.
You may want to not listen today but I think sometimes we forget the level of evil that exists in our world because were not confronted with the daily, we see hints of it, you can turn on the news and say something that's going on. You go that's just that's wrong.
How could somebody do that. There's probably more happening behind closed doors in homes than most of us realize in some of our listeners know firsthand about people that they've experienced. That's the subject were visiting this week and it's a subject that that II think we have to acknowledge because as we've said, when you bring evil to light. That's where it can be redeemed and one of my favorite verses.
I keep coming back to Isaiah 61 where God says, I bring beauty from ashes order going your smashers today and find the beauty that's there again when evil is out in the world are out in the city and it's not in your home. It's one thing you can sort a separator detach or sort of standoff, but when it's under your roof and you have to look at it every day and be a victim of it.
It's another deal. Jennifer Michelle Greenberg is joining us this week on family life today. Jennifer welcome. Thank you so much. Jennifer is a wife and a mom lives in Houston Texas.
She is an opera singer and that you got a CD that is coming out right idea, yes. Is it opera or is it pop songs or what printscreen yes yes so there's a difference, but it's more than the lines. I mean it's obvious in a Christian it's more along the lines maybe like Tori Amos or Sarah McLachlan K, vintage tears setting. I played the piano and and write my own songs to the non-yes yes there's kind of a little enough you like a down maybe two days, vintage quality tenant and the fact that you can still sing and find joy is pretty remarkable because as you shared with us already this week, you grow up in a home where there was physical violence and abuse where your dad was mean and violent. Your mom was somewhat complicit in this, and that she was an enabler of your dad and said what I can tell people about this, in order to keep up appearances good younger sisters who undoubtedly experienced the same things you experience it is stunning having a child witness something that traumatic is is child abuse.
Can you isolate what you think was the worst beating the worst abuse you ever experienced Roman goodness that incident, I shared previously when my dad beat me in the living room and left hand. She praises all over me. That was I think the most violent and one must traumatic moments of my childhood that was the moment when I really started thinking that he was gonna kill me. I started having recurring nightmares, but he would also do things like he planted pornography on my desktop where I did homework so I would you know settle down to write a book report anywhere something innocent and I would open up my desktop and I like to see something awful in a couple times I would catch him no standing in the door, watching the finest staff and he had this look on his face and I knew even see maybe subconsciously I think I was in a lot of denial that he was the one doing this at the time, but the more it occurred, the more I realized that he was responsible for this.
It's almost like a mine game. It was terrible and it was the story distract me to do is about your neighbors dog yes coming into high will be without the country in Austin is seven offenses and people generally kept her daughter open on our neighbor boy was about my age.
I will be at the time I was probably about 1112 next 13 he had a stock that was just really prolific at escaping. And so this dog would wander into our yard and an ER docs dog food and I remember one time my dad came home from work in that leap. Neighbor's dog is in our backyard again. He said should I shoot it and I'll it's like you gotta be kidding right and I said yes sir, dad. Go ahead, see the neighbors dog that's a fabulous idea and he got his way.
Look on his face and he's went over into his bedroom and I knew that something was wrong and so I followed them in there and by the time I got in there. He'd already gotten out his 357 Magnum. Annie open the sliding glass door in her bedroom and he aimed and he shot the neighbors dog and the bullet hit the dog's side and just blew its legs out from underneath it and the stock is twisted in the air slammed against the ground and screamed like nothing I've ever heard and ran on three legs back to his home, and I remember my mom running into the room and saying, did you shoot the neighbor's dog and just screaming in my little sisters were crying and then 10, 15 minutes later the neighbor comes pounding on our door and just attacked my dad and they had this fistfight in our living room and I said I'm gonna call the police and they broke it up and I think later, my parents agreed to pay for the vet bills and we brought in a casserole for dinner, but it never got reported in the book.
He said when you asked your dad why he done that you told me to. Yes, he blames me.
Oh my goodness, the anger, the you know the kids.I mean what in the world why the intimidating impact of that Drano is terrifying as a child you watch your dad dog and you wondered you know what that gun does my dad would threaten to shoot me. This is the other thing you have to understand this was a demonstration, my dad would tell me stories like for example he would say, everyone.
Another time he came home from work or get right, had dinner, and he said hey did you hear that that story on the news today was like no, dad, what we talk about and he does all this that sky came home from work and he caught his wife and its children packing to leave so he shot them all dead and then he killed himself and he looked me straight in the eye and he just said you better never try to leave me and so as a kid I knew that I knew at that gun to do because I'd seen him shoot the dog, and you might add.
I guess I just wasn't a very creative person, but he recycled stories like that and so when I was about 21. He told me that same story again for I know how many times it had been at that point I was just done and I really felt like you I was looking at this with them. The eyes and adult house like oh no you are not going to kill my entire family at this time, Jason I were engaged and he didn't want me to get married so he told me that story he rehashed that stupid story again and I was just done. And so the next day while he was at work, I snuck into his bedroom. I took his gun out of the gun case wrapped in a towel and I snuck downstairs past my mom and I hid it in a box of craft supplies in my bedroom and her.
He came home that night and everything was normal, and then he went his bedroom and he came back out and he just glared at me like he knew she knew he absolutely knew which is alarming to me because what that means is he got the safe down so the case where you want to call it. So yeah, he noticed that his gun was gone and he didn't say anything to me just stared at me and so I stared back at him until he walked away.
I mean talk about walking on egg shells. It was like that for my entire life and so actually when I ended up getting married to Jason you know he's this quiet calm, sweet guy who likes to help out with chores and play guitar any he's a Person. I mean he's just like he is the exact opposite of my dad will take us back. Did you ever report your dad did you ever say anything to anyone at church or was that scary know I did. I tried to report a couple times when I was a really young kid. This is actually just a memory that I I recently, dad back up even since writing my book. I was talking to a family friend who I knew was a doctor and I was about.
I'm guessing here about four years old and I told him isn't it weird how people make babies the same way dogs do, and at the time. The reason I said that was because I felt like I had this knowledge that I wasn't supposed to have. I knew things I wasn't supposed to know and so this was my way of conveying to him that I had information I should not have.
And I was hoping that he'd say will what you mean Jennifer, you who told you this, you know, what did you see but instead he said you be quiet you don't ever talk about that again and so I learned from a very young age that if you know something sexual if you know something you're not supposed to know you're not supposed to tell anybody about it is that really became ingrained in my life. A very young age.
Fast-forward about a decade. I'm guessing I try to talk to my pastor and I made some excuse that I was interested in dating boys and I wanted to meet him for lunch and so this kind of was an excuse I told my parents to come and get around their little paranoia meet reporting and so we met for lunch and I told him my dad through an iron at my head the other day I had just finished ironing his shirts and he was mad that I left the ironing board out and he just threw the iron at my head and I.just in time and it hit the wall behind me and it dented the wall and he got really quiet and he said well we should really pray for your dad's anger issues and I'm just in my head thinking well that wasn't the reaction I was expecting me. I was expecting him to not take me back home to call the police house you are.
Yes. Tell me more. Let's go while we sent you rescued to so I can stay at an elders house.
I like I already picked up my head which elder I wanted to stay at state with when he took me away from my home and instead he dropped me back off at my house. It was unbelievable. What did that say to you that young teenager that what I'd experienced was normal and that no one would believe me. So that just it reaffirmed every worst fear that I had. It was in your college years, you decided I'm not to live in fear anymore. I will confront my parents. That's a bold, courageous choice to make.
There had to be some trepidation when even making the choice. There was a lot I knew that it would probably be what tore apart their marriage. I knew that it was gonna be really difficult for my younger siblings and one of them is over a decade younger than me.
Yes, she's still quite young at the time and I didn't know what would happen to her, but I found out that my dad was exposing some of my other sisters to very nasty pornography and I'm not just talking about you know like Playboy type stuff and things like violence, disturbing stuff I realized that after I left after I got married and moved out he was gonna pick a new victim that I wasn't to be the main victim anymore that his focus was to shift and I decided I wasn't gonna let that happen. I wrote them a letter and I told him getting a week you don't talk to a pastor get counseling go to therapy tell mom the truth if you don't face up to what you've done.
I'm gonna tell you have a week you are hold 2020 oh yeah, well I got married when I was 21 and I was. I know I was engaged when it happened to respond completely ignored it. He threw away the letter and he never did anything he pretended that he'd never seen it even though I watched him open it and I watched him read it. He just didn't talk to me for about a week so I told my mom and everything began to implode. Did she not know what she not aware she was in a lot of heavy denial. She was a victim as well. In addition to, you know, seeing a lot of things like the time she saw him leave handshake bruises up and my body and not to help you know so it's it's very hard for me to reconcile in my head what all was going on in her head but yeah so that that's been a really hard thing for me to deal with, especially having kids of my own nose. I know that my husband's a wonderful guy but if I had a husband who laid hands on my kids, my goodness, he'd be on the street so fast. You decided not only to bring this to light with your mom and in your family, but at some point you made the decision to tell the story publicly LASC I told our pastor. I started speaking to various women's shelters I got involved with rain, which is the rape and incest National network so I got started talking to them and telling my story and I put on a few fundraisers and little fundraisers for local women's shelters and I share my story is so strong. I don't know you know I mean it's really God really is. Also, because I grew up in in that environment.
I don't think I realized how strong I was being has recently talking to a group of pastors at a church conference in Oklahoma and I made the example of like you know it's like when you're in a hot tub. You can get used to hot the water is and it doesn't feel that hot to you then you go jump in a swimming pool and it feels like it's freezing you know because you're not acclimated to it yet. But then if you going to acclimate to that pool. If you get out of that cold pool and try to go back in the hot tub it's can feel really hot again and abuses, the same way you get acclimated to abuse it feels normal to you.
Not much surprises you when you're acclimated to violence and perversion, and you really think this is normal and so a weird thing happened to me when I got married to Jason because suddenly I was living with a godly man and a patient man. He was interested in my hobbies and he he wanted to know how I felt about things he he wanted to know my opinion. He even asked me like he needed to go buy a new microwave and he asked my opinion on just like you know this is so strange, and there's one time when he was doing the dishes and the only time I ever see my dad do the dishes was when he was furious at my mom and he was telling you an awful wife.
She was and how useless she was. And so he was actually washing the dishes but is also breaking a lot of them and and throwing things and the result of violence and I saw Jason washing the dishes I have failed as a wife.
This is awful. He's gonna leave me or just grabbing by the arm and crying and say no no I can do this. It's gonna be okay and him just look at me like what so.
Yet in her early marriage, and you know I had to really grow through and unravel a lot of these preconceived notions and in line to be loved, learned acclimate to be acclimate to a godly relationship and today you are not in communication with your mom or your dad now or your siblings. Most of them now is that because you told the story. There is a different story with each person. Okay, yeah, and you happen over the course of many years. Now I see my dad. I cut him off like 12 years ago. You know some fresh drama was unleashed when I got a publishing deal. But you know there's still some of them still have limited contact with my dad in relationships with him and with my mom and so it's very painful for a lot of my siblings and mean they still love my parents, you know, some of them and telling the truth about abuse. It's like pulling a thread in a cloth you everything comes unraveled and you gotta, reinvent who you are and you gotta rebuild your relationships. A lot of those relationships. They used to be's structured they were built in abusive in abusive environment and around abusive behavior, and so once you take out that abuse once you pull the rug out from under that relationship. It's like will. Who are we, you know, we use to me and when my sisters were used to be sick as thieves and we would stand up for each other and we defend each other, but that was the basis of our relationship. We were constantly protecting each other and so now that we don't have to protect each other and were actually bumping heads about how to deal with our trauma.
It's like how we do this, how did you forget that also. II really chalk up to God. So you have you forgiven one of the things that I've learned both through Scripture and also just through experiences. There's really two different kinds cheaper varieties of forgiveness.
There is boundary forgiveness where we let go of our anger, but we still hold that person accountable where I can let them babysit her kids. Maybe we we may still file that police report to protect ourselves from that person. We have boundaries we have boundaries but were not living in that state of constant pain. You know we've we've grown through. We processed our anger and then there's also wreck conciliatory forgiveness and that's whereby God's grace. He has worked in a person's heart. They've shown the fruits of repentance and I'm not just talking about.
They said their sorry because a lot of users will say they're sorry and then go right back to what they been doing so, we need to see the fruits of the spirit in that person's life. We need to see them want to make amends you a truly repentant person. A truly repentant abuser will say you know what I was so evil to you. I totally understand why you don't want to see me more. I totally understand why see me again would cause you to have flashbacks or would make you stressed and I don't want to make you stressed.
I want you to grow in grace.
I want you to heal some misstep in your life. I truly repentant abuser will be willing to sacrifice you know their quote reputation" W willing to step down from the pulpit.
They'll be willing to acknowledge that you know what yes I'm untrustworthy. I've been untrustworthy and I don't deserve these people stressed so until you see that fruit of repentance in each sky, be very wary you're talking about the difference between forgiveness and trust and there's a separation between the well absolutely we can decide not to punish someone for how they have wounded us of always said the folks you know we talk about burying the hatchet and we double what was perhaps the first was burying the hatchet means I will give up the right to punish you for what you've done to me. That's one level, the rebuilding trust and saying we can have a relationship totally different. That is a totally different that can happen over time as if there is repentance of the fruit of her friends, and you see that, but you can still forgive someone and pray for reconciliation, but need to see some things happen before reconciliation can explode absolutely and you it if someone is not repentant. God forgives them so now you're setting a new legacy. Yes, your mom, Jason's of the good three daughters you look at them thinking back to warn you with that little girl what you see what you think my real father is God that biological guy.
He was a stranger.
You know what it's like the words of Jesus when when Marianne and his brothers came to try to dissuade him from preaching and dissuade him from sharing the truth, the gospel, he said, who is my mother and who are my brothers and them pointing to those around them. These people these people who love my father in heaven are my mother and my brothers and my sisters and that's really true for me to know the people who love God.
The people who repent of their sins who grow in grace, who love our father in heaven. This is my family. Jennifer, would you mind praying for listeners that might be struggling in a situation where they can't forgive are there in a situation where their stock and they don't know what to do absolutely. Lord you are our mighty counselor. You are our Savior, my Redeemer Lord you are recovery and you know what, Jesus Christ. You are the ultimate survivor you suffered betrayal.
He suffered false accusations, beatings, you were nailed to a cross. You know what it's like to be hated to be abused to be abandoned and betrayed. Lord, you know every person is listening right now you know everything that's ever happened to them. You know every tear they've ever cried. And Lord, we we don't just have a God who died for our sins and rose from the dead. We have a God who can relate with us on a personal level who can look into our situation are suffering, our pain, and when we say, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me, Lord, you know what that's like, so long I would just ask that you bless everyone who's listening with the comfort of knowing that you understand that you know our deepest fears are darkest experiences are most fierce anger and pain. Lord, because you have felt these things to you know everything and you are sovereign and you are just and good. Now just ask that you bless everyone with peace that you bless me with peace and that Lord as Joseph said in Genesis 5020 these abusers. They intended to harm us but you can and you will use all things together for good for your glory and for the saving of many lives. Lord, I would ask that you need us together, Lord Unitas together in our mother's womb. You can knit together our broken hearts. I would ask that you heal us that she would enable us to use our stories to glorify you to help others to be the wonderful parents, friends and children of God that he designed us to be more. I think you for your faithfulness and your justice. Amen Jennifer. We thank you for your story and for your willingness to pelican like you. We pray that God will use the exposure of this to bring hope and healing to those who have experienced this in the past.
For those who are still wrestling with this think you will be brave enough to go get help is to disclose what needs to be exposed to light into darkness.
Jennifer's book is called, not forsaken the story of life after abuse of faith brought one woman victim to survivor you can order the book from us online with family life today.com or call one 800 FL today to get a copy.
Again, our website is family life today.com you can order Jennifer's book online or you can call us to get a copy of the book not forsaken.
Her number is one 803 586-329-1800 F as in family L as in life and in the word today listing to Jennifer's story this week.
It's been hard to hear about David Robinson personal family life is is here with us. I think maybe things like this are more common than we realize the situations like this can be more common, and it's also a message of hope for every one of us no matter the situations that we are walking through if God met Jennifer in such evil in such darkness refuse help her experience so intimately that he is always with her.
I will never forsake her that he is her father. If that is true in the most difficult circumstances we can imagine. What about you and your circumstances. Your situation may not be as shocking, but it doesn't diminish that you were experiencing it and feeling deeply.
Perhaps you feel isolated and alone.
And it like no one can really understand God's commitment to you is exactly the same as always with you. You never will forsake you. He weeps with you as a righteous anger of the unrighteousness you've experienced. And he loves you deeply that is so important. It's a great reminder David, thank you for that. And with that we can wrap things up for this week. Thanks for joining us. Hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to be together with your local church this weekend for worship and I hope you can join us back on Monday. Especially if you are in the dating years or if you know somebody who is have them to in Shelby Abbott joins us to talk about how to navigate those years successfully. Hope you can be here for that conversation. Think our engineer today. Keep Lynch along with our entire broadcast on behalf of our hosts Dave and animals about pain. See back next time for another family life, family life today is a production family life of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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