God can transform the most painful experiences of our childhood into preparation to bless others. Joseph told his brothers many years after they sold him into slavery, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen 50:20).
I just finished listening to a similar story. In The Tank Man’s Son: A Memoir, Mark Bouman shares his gut-wrenching account of pain and misery, while growing up in rural Michigan. He was the son of an abusive man who owned a tank, and ran a gun range near his home where military weapons of various kinds were regularly (and illegally) fired. His memories are terrifying – and at times comical – but always highly unusual. As a young boy, he suffered shrapnel wounds while helping his dad with the shooting range. He found a huge tree root sticking through the roof of their home when their father used too much dynamite to blow up a stump. He watched his father and his friends play war games in his backyard at night. His parents’ home was unfinished, marked by holes in the floors and broken fixtures, and situated on 11 acres of garbage and various items crushed by the tank or left to rust. But above all else, Mark’s childhood was ruled by fear of his father’s totally unpredictable outbursts of anger and regular physical abuse.