My Musings

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Childhood Memories:
A Night With The Monsters

As I have been reading through Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I have been overwhelmingly amazed at the immense horrors that she faced as a child growing up in the Middle East. Yet she doesn't dwell on the issues seeking pity. She uses them as an accellerant to propel the truth about Islam and the culture she was forced to be brought up in. Her response to her childhood and background is inspiring and although my childhood experiences don't quite compare to what this woman had to live through, I have decided to share some of them in an effort to do exactly what Ali has done. Promote the truth. The truth that I wish to promote with my childhood stories is a simple yet too often rejected one: God is good regardless of our troubled backgrounds or emotional scars.

When I was a child, I experienced some pretty crazy times while I lived with my father. He did a few things while raising me that normal people would consider less than orthodox.

One night around midnight, he staggered into my room reeking of alcohol and declared that he wanted to go for a ride. When my father said that he wanted to go for a ride, I knew exactly what he meant. He was ready to go cruising through the gravel country roads that stretch out for miles outside of our little town of Amboy, IL. When I say cruising, of course, I mean going about 90 mph, laughing like a drunken hyena, and blaring The Jimi Hendrix Band through his stereo system.

I remember nights that we had raced down the gravel roads so fast that that I was sure he was going to lose control. One night, he took me down a long straight patch of road that climbed up to the top of a hill. A patch of straight road was all he needed to max-out his little Chevy S-15 Pick-up truck. As we were approaching the peak of the hill, my dad was trying to push the speedometer up over 100. Then suddenly, he slammed on the brakes and we began to slide up and over the hill. The truck began twisting sideways and the tires through gravel into the air. Then as we hit the very peak of the hill, I saw what I thought was the end of my life. Just a short distance ahead the road turned a very sharp ninety degrees. If our truck decided to go straight, we were going to be embedded in the sides of some tall oak trees. The entire truck frame lurched toward the side as it slammed to a halt just a few feet from the edge of the point-of-no-return.

I always imagined us overturned in the ditch miles from the nearest house not to be found until we had been there for hours. He never seemed to want to 'go for a ride' when he was sober. Somehow God smiled on me because He never let that happen. After many rides like this, however, I had become conditioned to his drunken tours through the countryside. Sometimes I viewed them as a nuisance or a waste of time and other times I enjoyed the thrill.

This was the type of ride that my dad had in mind that night and I knew that it would only make matters worse if I begged or whined about not wanting to go so I just gave in and went along. The night started out with the usual speeding and using the emergency brake to do 'donuts.' For some reason that night my dad decided to terrorize me in another way. That certainly wasn't unusual. He was always looking for ways to do just that.

Just outside of Amboy, the little town we lived in, there was a large cemetery that had probably been around for the past 150 years. The alcohol must have impaired my dad's ability to read the signs stating that the cemetery closes at dusk. It probably stopped him from even seeing the signs. The night was dark as he drove far back into the cemetery. Finally, he came to a stop and turned off the lights. I was scared out of my mind.

"Get out." His words were slurred.

"No, dad."

"Get out!" He shouted throwing in a few curses and threats. I had no choice. I either had to do what he said or he was going to make me do what he said. I slid the seatbelt off and slowly pushed the door open. At that age, I was scared to death of monsters so I looked all around me as I put my feet on the ground.

As soon as I stepped out, he shouted at me as the vehicle jerked away from me, the door slamming shut from the momentum. "I'll see you in the morning if they don't get you!" I could see his tail lights as he sped down the road towards the gate.

Tears were streaming down my face as I stood there. My father had forced me to watch horror movies with him. He said that it would make me a man and that it would put hair on my chest. The only thing it did for me was give me nightmares. And now, as I stood in the pitch black night in the middle of a graveyard I was completely terrified that monsters or zombies were going to get me. I was too afraid to sit down or even to run. I turned to my left, and then to my right. I turned around. I was constantly looking to see if anyone of anything was coming for me. It probably sounds silly but I was a little kid and I didn't know any better.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, I saw his lights reappear in the distance. It had probably been about fifteen minutes. Tears were still streaming down my face when I crawled back into the truck.

I had to grow up in a bizarre environment. Yet I can still say that God is good and his mercy is more than any of us deserve. No matter what you experience, God's love is extended to you!

For a while when I became a teenager, I resented the fact that a loving God would allow me to have to grow up with such a crazy father and with no mother. In fact, at one point as a teenager, I boldly proclaimed that I didn't want anything to do with God. Yet somehow God spoke to my heart and caused me to realize that those experiences were what shaped me into who I am. The traumas that I faced only served to make me stronger. They became stepping stones that provided me with a greater ability to help others in similar situations. I can relate to people and situations in a totally unique way that nobody else can understand. I now stand thankful for every trial that I experienced as a child.

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11 Comments:

  • What a tough life growing up but thank God he had a plan for you life and no matter what your dad was doing God had his angels protecting you. One question did you dad ever get saved.

    Bro Tim

    By Blogger Bro Tim, At 10:54 AM  

  • Wow, Bro. Nicholas, how hard it was for you to be a child growing up! I saw the Lord's hand upon you throughout your testimony of this time!!! Praise His Holy Name!

    By OpenID maranatha777, At 11:53 AM  

  • Bro. Tim,

    My father prayed a prayer several years after I was adopted out from living with him. (That's a whole other story that I will tell soon) He has never stepped foot in church, though and I am forced to question whether he ever made a genuine repentance and acceptance of Christ.

    In other words, I don't know.

    Thank you and God bless you.

    By Blogger Nicholas Z. Cardot, At 12:36 PM  

  • Maranatha,

    As I look back over all of the bizarre things that took place during my childhood, I am amazed at the ways in which God was preparing me to serve him. He protected me and allowed certain things to happen only to make me stronger.

    Thanks.

    By Blogger Nicholas Z. Cardot, At 12:37 PM  

  • Nick, my mothers heart aches to hold that frightened little boy that you were! I am so glad that God had mercy and you have found Him!

    By Blogger Jungle Mom, At 5:19 PM  

  • Thanks Jungle Mom but don't feel sorry for me. There are a gazillion children in America being treated a lot worse than I was. I certainly wasn't soliciting pity, though it is much appreciated. I only want to elevate the grace and mercy of God in our lives!

    By Blogger Nicholas Z. Cardot, At 9:45 PM  

  • "Stepping stones" -- wow. I needed this! Thank you!

    By Blogger Jen, At 8:57 PM  

  • Reading about the experiences and trials of others really helps me to put my life into perspective.

    By Blogger Jen, At 8:58 PM  

  • Always remember that a life without 'weird' trials and hardships is just as much (if not more) or a testament of God's grace that a life with hardships. Don't ever think that your testimony or your life has been boring or that you need to explore the world of sin and heartache to be able to testify of God's grace. That's just rubbish.

    By Blogger Nicholas Z. Cardot, At 7:48 AM  

  • Jen,

    I am glad that I could be a blessing to you.

    By Blogger Nicholas Z. Cardot, At 7:49 AM  

  • Honey you have shared many of your childhood stories with me, but I never cease to be thankful that God watched over you during all those times. You are a wonderful man today because of the things you went through as a child.

    By Blogger Diane, At 7:37 AM  

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