True Story. Two men at the gym, both brought an urgency to my spirit because each carried his own demons that demanded attention, yet in different forms. The first man I saw, the other man I heard.
I forgot my ipod and couldn’t listen to music as usual so I was keenly aware of my surroundings. As I was on my treadmill I watched the mannerisms of a man who scanned the area and sized up all of the people in the room before slowly approaching his elliptical of choice. He strutted with false assurance, obviously portraying confidence to cover up his cowardice. His stature was small and contradicted his need to be esteemed for strength. His demand to make eye contact with women was abrupt, often obstructing their path until they awkwardly brushed by him. It was hard to have compassion for him because my own spirit recoiled at his stereotypical creeping. He looked like every typecast for a predator that I have seen in movies. It wasn’t good, so I knew well enough to stop focusing on the negative and pray for the dude. So I got off the treadmill and moved two rows in front of him so I didn’t have to see him. If I was accurate in my discernment, I was supposed to pray for him anyway instead of judge.
Being a little annoyed, I started to replay my dream from the night before. It was a short but distinct dream and a good opportunity to keep my mind from focusing on negative thoughts. I was concerned that I dreamt my teeth were falling out, because I know that means I need wisdom for a situation. Nonetheless, I talked myself through the teeth dream. “I was driving down the road in the passenger seat as my earthly father was driving the car. I felt my top molars crunch in my mouth and pulled down the mirror behind the shield to look inside my mouth. I realized there was one tooth hanging by my gum. I decided to clench my jaw together and pull the tooth out, but it snapped back into place like a boomerang, still connected to my stretched out gumline. Finally we reached our destination which seemed like it was among a shopping scene. I looked into the mirror and saw that with the back tooth being gone, my front teeth had spread apart leaving a gap filled with extra gum. I got upset for a moment and questioned why I had wasted time with braces, but then let it go and figured it was no big deal. I walked over to a bed where my father was petting a puppy and sat down next to him, completely content with my teeth being rearranged.”
As my workout continued I wondered why I had even dreamt such a dream? Afterall, I was ok with the lost tooth making room for my two front teeth, but I was perplexed by my father’s involvement. What was his significance? My bewilderment was distracted suddenly by another man’s voice, the one who I heard. He was yelling at his daughter from a distance who was one row in front of me. In front of everyone he was scolding her about her disrespect and how she “just bought herself 5 weeks of grounding.” My radar was up in alert, this man reminded me of my dad immediately. He called her over to him which is when I realized he was on the treadmill behind me. He asked her if she was doing homework, why not and what her problem was? Within a two-minute time span he had told her she was stupid, disrespectful and damned to punishment. I however, was pushing back my tears of fury. As I listened, I was brought low to my childhood days of public humiliation by my father. It was commonplace for him to berate me in front of people who were walking by, witnessing his abuse but doing nothing to stop it. A routine occurrence was him pulling the car over on the highway and telling me to get out and walk, only to swerve the car over 50 yards later while screaming at me to get back in. I never understood what I had done wrong to cause him to hate me so much, and it was this familiar scenario that triggered my grief for this little girl. She must have been no older than 12 and I could see the bitterness on her face. As she shuffled away from him toward the bench facing me, I saw the hatred and anger that was muffled and perpetuated at the same time by the one she called father.
She had sat quietly for 2 minutes and then he started in on her again. What I hated the most was that I, along with a room full of adults, were listening to this man’s harsh words attack an innocent victim for false proof of power. If I had my way I would have removed myself from my machine and taken his inventory with intelligent words to describe weakness in men such as himself, but then I would look like the ass. Instead, I started to pray in the spirit and ask for angels to surround the daughter. The father must have sensed my intercession because he started making demands for his daughter to look at him as he “promised her a discussion about her attitude when they got home.” Now, I realize that I am sensitive to language and disputes like these because of having lived through it myself, but it is because of those experiences that my senses are heightened when another suffers in the same way.
I was on the verge of tears when suddenly my dream dropped into my spirit. Teeth falling out indicated a need for wisdom. “Do I need wisdom on how to approach this situation Lord since it is between a father and daughter that hits close to home for me?” I remained in prayer and witnessed the little girl silently cry on the bench, tears of deep pain that I knew too well, especially because nobody was siding with her. It was this fierce need to affirm her that started to rush through my body like adrenaline. I watched intently and prayed. Then I heard another voice chime into the conversation. It was a man who depicted a scenario about today’s generation of children. He gave elaborate detail of his perspective on childhood disobedience and disrespect. He was stroking the ego of the father with vocabulary that indicated the daughter should be “heard and not seen and definitely disciplined because life in this day and age made it easy for kids to get away with bad behavior.” And there it was; the pain and humiliation that these two men suffered as children being revealed through their harshness toward anyone else who could go unpunished. I had to take a deep breath because the whole conversation was revealing the lie of the enemy and his intent to cultivate abusive mindsets that few acknowledge or know how to stop. It confirmed that like spirits attract each other and even though people look different, the manifestation of evil always looks the same.
For a second I thought the second guy was totally missing it and suggesting that the father execute punishment as he desired, but then I realized he was a key player in affirming how the both of them believe the same thing. Demonic pulls are strong and these two hosted evil spirits that knew they were on common playing field.
In my hopes to reach out to the child, I still wanted to follow Holy Spirit’s lead, so I refrained from acting out of my flesh and publicly shaming them as I felt justified to do. Then I heard the father say he was a teacher to the other man. That floored me. How could this man be in a place where children gained guidance from him, what was wrong with our world that people like him could teach? Yet that made sense too, because my dad was in education. I wondered to myself what chief and ruling spirit would be behind predatory men who needed to state their authority? In order to emasculate them I sarcastically deemed them “Tweedle dee and tweedle dumb” in my mind as I complained to Daddy about the ignorance I was witnessing. I wanted to clang their heads together. Before long, the other guy insinuated that hitting a child was incriminating a parent who, “should be allowed to deal as they saw fit, just like in the old days.”
The father laughed in a scary, arrogant tone and called out to his daughter to wait for him by the door. I jumped at the chance and met her at the threshold. She was silently sobbing now, the type of groaning that carries weight only abuse victims are able to understand. I saw her arm was covered in scabs and I placed my hand over it. I began to ask Daddy for healing of the topical, but much more importantly, the emotional and soulful pain. I looked at her and said, “I have been in your shoes and I see what you are living through. I am so sorry that you are suffering but I impart to you the healing that I have so that yours occurs much faster and deeper. Trust me, you will come out on the other side ok, but I will never stop praying for you. Daddy God has put you on my radar to seek protection and healing for you, and I will not stop until I know you are safe and ok.” The tears dripped down her cheeks and her red eyes told a story of hopelessness that rendered me speechless. I hugged her tightly and let go.
Then I watched the other man introduce himself to the father; it was the abrupt predator. I couldn’t believe it for a second but then it made perfect sense. Two different men with the same need to control others who they believed were weaker than them. It was a confirmation of the demanding spirit that both of them operated out of, that weak inferiority complex that has to overcompensate by introducing power and belittling of others. I knew it because I had lived under it for most of my life. Then I slipped into hopelessness and worry over this little girls mental state. As if that wasn’t enough I witnessed the father grab her by the arm and drag her down the hallway as he screamed, “do you not know who I am?” I physically felt myself losing breath. This was a blast from my past, a reenactment of details from my life and I questioned if the enemy was trying to derail me. My dad never seemed to have cared about who heard his yelling or witnessed his physical assaults in public. And I never understood as a child, why nobody intervened on my behalf.
I broke out of my thoughts when the front desk clerk asked me if everything was alright. I responded, “Don’t you hear that man berating his daughter?” She looked at him and then gave me the look of disgust because I was the one drawing attention to it. I said, “let me guess, he’s someone of importance in this small town?” She walked away and my own inner child collapsed. I needed to see her response and all the other people’s lack of response in order to be the voice for a child who could not defend herself. I wasn’t going to be another adult who walks away from this defenseless little girl.
Her dad saw me coming and stopped his criticism as he backed up into the men’s locker room. I walked back over and embraced the girl who was now crumpled in a heap on the floor and told her I would be around if she ever needed to find an adult who would believe her story. Then I went back into the gym and asked the trainers who the man was. When they paused, I described the incident that we all witnessed so there would be no doubt about which man was causing the scene. Low and behold, he is a well-known coach in our county schools.
I was disgusted. I cut my workout early and rushed out to my car. I slumped into the driver’s seat, covered my face and sobbed. I wanted to rescue her, I wanted to wait for them to walk out of the gym so I could take her home with me. I wanted to wipe all of her pain away and I wanted her to live a normal life. But most of all, I wanted the stifled, shunned and voiceless little girl inside of myself to have a say. I wanted to fight that father with all of my gumption and wrestle him to the ground and make him admit that he was wrong and inexcusable. I wanted everyone in that gym, including myself to stand up for an innocent child and deem that giant impotent. I wanted him to be humiliated and to suffer and to lose his reputation of importance. I wanted the scrawny little man who longed to be his sidekick to cower and run away and isolate in a room with his damning habits. I wanted them to hurt like I had hurt because of what my father had done to me. I wanted a bigger bully to come along and bully them into repentance. And I wanted the daughter to be healed and whole.
I drove. Then I saw the teeth dream flash before me again. Then my heart sunk. I pulled the car over and stared through the windshield. I understood. The dream about my father and me was a set-up for my healing. Why else would I have gone into the gym free of distraction because I forgot my music. I was supposed to hear and see all that my spirit observed for the sake of my healing and them. Daddy reminded me of how far my own father and I have come. My dream ended with he and I sitting on a bed which means intimacy. He was cuddling a puppy and I was ok with my teeth being rearranged. I was not in turmoil as the child, I was ok. I tried to yank the tooth out but it remained, bounced back because of my gum being attached, meaning I still held the wisdom.
As I sat on the side of the road Daddy said, “Pray for the men. You do know why they dominate and control for you have lived through it and come out on the other side. I showed you their hostility because I need you to pray from compassion for all of them involved.
And pray I did, for days. I kept returning the same time everyday to the gym in hopes of scooping her up and running off with her. When I realized that I was mourning my own childhood and seeking a prince on a white horse to rescue me, I smiled in awareness that My Savior already had. In my attempts to protect her from emotional and verbal abuse I understood that she could come through on the other side just as I had; reconciled to her father and able to forgive him just as I had mine. Somehow the big bad bully didn’t exercise as much power after applying the overcoming reality of Daddy Gods ability to heal. I’m certain that my intercession for that little girl was purposed for the sake of both of our healing. I can celebrate the opportunity I had to fight with my prayers instead of human strength because even Daddy God understands how a bully feels little on the inside.