Faithful Father – Wyn’s Story
My mum and dad were married in London in 1937, with the threat of war with Germany imminent. By 1941 they had two children, a boy and a girl and my father was working at the local air force base in aircraft maintenance. One day while he was working on an aircraft, a malfunction in one of the engines resulted in him suffering massive head trauma from a moving propeller. His injuries were significant and extensive. Very little was known about how to treat and manage brain injury at that time and my father’s health continued to deteriorate. Over the next six years two more children were born, another sister and then me. My mother received very little in the way of emotional or financial support and struggled to cope, particularly as my father started to become violent.
I have no memory of my father. When I was only eight months old he was caught sexually assaulting my older sister. The police took him away and we never saw him again. I feel sad for my dad. Through no fault of his own, he suffered an injury that subsequently led to the loss of his mental health and ultimately his family. For my mother, who was already struggling with the burden of caring for a violent and mentally ill husband and four young children, this was the final straw. She had a nervous breakdown and all four children were sent away. My brother was despatched to a boarding school, my two sisters went to live with separate aunties in the country and I was sent to a baby home. Whilst in care, I became very ill with a gastrointestinal condition and wasted away to skin and bone. I spent a long time in hospital where I was restrained in the bed. My mum came to visit me sometimes but apparently I used to turn away from her, as I didn’t recognise her. I imagine that was very difficult for her.
My sisters and I returned home to be with our mother when I was three years old. Our brother remained at boarding school but came home during the holidays. I had been so isolated during my time away that I was a painfully shy and withdrawn child. My mother was very fearful of my father finding us so we moved house a number of times. She never spoke about my dad and even now, my siblings don’t like to talk about our childhood.
I met my husband Paul at a dance class in London. He was English like me but had spent his teenage years in Australia. We got married when I was 22, had our first child, a son when I was 24 and in the following year decided to move to Australia. I had high hopes that life in Australia would be a fresh start for me and that my husband’s family would provide me with the sense of security and community that I craved. Unfortunately the first few years in Australia were very difficult. We moved to Wollongong, a beachside community near a large steel mill. I did not receive the warm welcome from my in-laws that I was hoping for, and there was so much of Australia culture that I didn’t understand. It was a far cry from life in London and it took me a long time to adjust.
I had very little exposure to church or religion as a child but when my husband’s work colleague started talking to him about Christianity, I was intrigued. We decided to go to church and check it out. Being a good English girl, I decided that we should go to the Church of England service rather than the Pentecostal church that my husband’s friend attended. Unfortunately the Anglican Church was very traditional and a bit boring so eventually we started attending Lighthouse Church. It was certainly a culture shock but I was desperate for community and a place to belong, so we stayed. Over time I began to understand what it meant to be a Christian. It didn’t happen immediately but each week I grew in understanding about God and His love for me.
When I read this verse from Psalm 68 it spoke directly to my heart. All my life I had longed for a father and now I had one.
Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
Church became my family and as the years went on my husband and I and our two children became more involved in our church community. Unfortunately behind the scenes our marriage was deteriorating. Although on the outside we presented as a lovely Christian family, my husband was becoming increasingly emotionally and verbally abusive. Our home was filled with tension and conflict and I felt like I was disappearing. No matter what I did or said there would be an argument. After our children left home things became even worse. After 27 years of marriage I made the decision to move out of our family home. I was terrified of my own husband and did not want to live in fear anymore. The thought of starting a new life on my own was also frightening but my confidence in Jesus gave me the courage I needed to leave. I didn’t know what life would look like but I trusted that God would look after me and He did.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
I stayed with friends for a few months until I was able to get established in my own place. My husband was reluctant to get a divorce and for many years we continued to share in family celebrations like birthdays and Christmas but I did not feel at peace around him. At times I felt lost because my husband knew me better than anyone. Over time however, I began to see that it is God who knows me best. Through prayer and counselling I have experienced healing around the hurts and fears of my childhood and forgiven my husband. I am sad that my marriage ended but now, 18 years later, my life is amazing. God has been so faithful and generous to me. Despite having grown up in poverty and having to start life over in my mid 50’s I am blessed with my own home and the opportunity to travel to England to visit my family every two years. At 70 years of age I know firsthand that God is my ultimate Father, Protector and Provider.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT)