Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Trying to End It

Leslie Basham: Marcia Arnel experienced incredible hurt as a child. She wanted it to end so badly that she was willing to commit murder.

Marcia Arnel: I went into my parents' bedroom and my dad was lying there sleeping and my mom as well. I went to raise the knife above his chest. My mother woke up and caught me doing that and kept me from committing that act of violence.

Leslie Basham: It's Tuesday, January 27. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Here's Nancy to introduce our guest.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Again today we're talking with a friend of mine, Marcia Arnel. She began yesterday by sharing with us some of her story and told us about how she had an upbringing and a home with a father who was involved in drugs and alcohol. Then she shared with us how as a little six-year-old girl she began to be sexually molested by a neighbor.

Marcia, thank you for being here and for opening your heart up to us. Today we want to pick up with some more of that story. You've shared with us that as a little girl now, six or seven years old, you're growing up in a home where you're seeing your dad be violent and angry. Tell us what that was like.

Marcia Arnel: My father also had multiple sclerosis. I as a child was told that my dad's anger was a result of his multiple sclerosis. I always just thought Daddy was really sick when he would have his fits of rage. So there was a part of me that felt sorrow, but at the same time very scared.

Most of the time, Dad would have these events at night. Some instances I remember specifically. Dad would be sitting in the chair and not wanting to get up out of his chair, because maybe his legs were hurting, to shut off a light. So he would just pull out his little pistol that he carried with him and shoot the light out on the wall.

He would throw things around the house. Many times the phone would be ringing too much, so he would just shake it out of the wall and throw it across the room. When my brother and I would do dishes, if they weren't all clean, he would yank them all out of the cabinets again and just break them all over the floor or have us wash all of them again, even if they were broken in the sink already.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did he show violence to you or your mother or your brother?

Marcia Arnel: I wouldn't say that would be an everyday occurrence. There are some specific memories I have. I don't know at the early ages of six and seven that I recall those events happening. They were later around third grade that I can really start to definitely recall specifics of my father lashing out towards Mom and my brother and me.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you ever find yourself wanting to lash out back at him?

Marcia Arnel: I think when I was young, it was more that Daddy was sick. I tended to stuff it at first that I was even feeling angry. But I would see Mom retreat sometimes to her room and leave Dad just there, getting angry. I think there was a part of me that would be mad at Mom, because she wasn't helping Dad with his disease, supposedly.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You found yourself making allowances for your dad's violence.

Marcia Arnel: Definitely.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now I've heard you share, Marcia, a bit about this time as a six or seven-year-old child that someone invited you to church in the area.

Marcia Arnel: Actually, yes. A bus ministry had come door to door, trying to get neighborhood kids to go to a local church.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You hadn't been in church prior to this time?

Marcia Arnel: I had not. My brother had when we lived in California. I remember him getting on the bus, but I was too scared to go. But when we moved to St. Louis, they did come door to door. For me, it was a way to get out of my home. Maybe the night before Dad would have had one of his fits. I would just wake up ready to go to get out of the house. So I would do anything at that point to get out of my home. Going on the church bus was definitely a time that I was excited about.

At church people would reach out to me with loving arms and acceptance I hadn't experienced. I just remember liking to be there, but not really receiving what they were saying.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So you wanted the love, but you didn't really know at that point how to receive it.

Marcia Arnel: Correct.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now there was an incident that took place when you were in the third grade. Why don't you tell us about that?

Marcia Arnel: It was Vacation Bible School time. The bus came and picked up me and my brother. We were excited. We were going to church once again. We went through Vacation Bible School--you know, the crafts and things that we did there. We headed home, thinking we were coming home to normal home atmosphere, or one that we were used to at least.

We entered the home and Dad was just sitting on his chair in the living room, and we did not know where Mom was. Usually she would greet us at the door when we got home. We asked Dad, "Dad, where is Mom?"

He just said, "She went to the grocery store."

At which point, my brother and I were like, "Okay. She went to go get food. No big deal."

Well, an hour or so went by, much longer than Mom should have been gone. We asked Dad once again, "Where is Mom?"

Dad said, "I told you, she went to the grocery store." So we let it go and just went into our rooms.

Well, I don't know how much longer, but eventually the police showed up at our house and began to escort my father out of the home to arrest him. Mom got me and my brother and took us to someone else's house.

What had happened is that my dad had taken my mom into the bathroom and held a gun to her head to end her life while we were at church. The bullet got stuck in the chamber. While he was going back to get another one of his guns, Mom jumped out of the second-story bathroom and ran down to a person's house and called the cops.

The next thing I knew, we were back at home. Dad was back at home and things were back to the way they had always been.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Even as you tell that story now, Marcia, it brings back a flood of emotion, doesn't it?

Marcia Arnel: I think that was the first time that I saw my dad as a mean man and that it wasn't just his illness that was making him angry, but that there was--I don't know--a hate for life or something. I just began to view my dad very differently at that point. Actually, I believe that was when fear was really instilled in me towards my father--to realize that he could do this to my mother, whom I thought he loved.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you find yourself resenting or hating your dad as a result?

Marcia Arnel: I remember being very scared that at any time the gun that was shooting the light out could turn to one of us. My home wasn't a home anymore. It really became a place that I walked on eggshells and lived in a very unexpected"¦what's going to be next?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you lie awake at night thinking about those kinds of things?

Marcia Arnel: I would fear Dad having one of his fits of rage. Many times he would just get angry because there weren't snacks for him to eat, so he would wake up screaming and yelling. He and Mom would get into a fight as Dad would try to tell her she needed to go to the store and get him something to eat. Just hearing my mom and dad scream in the middle of the night--I remember lying in fear of that more than Dad coming to do something to me.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So did you discuss this with anyone or did you just kind of keep it inside? How were you responding to all of this?

Marcia Arnel: Actually, I do remember sharing a story a few times at elementary school with some friends. But my closest friend had a similar home life. It was really more that her mother was the abusive one. So it would just be us swapping stories. Neither one of us would really at that point experience any emotions about it. It would be more like we were just telling a story. Actually, probably even laughing more than anything about it.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I remember that at one point you decided you were going to do something about this.

Marcia Arnel: I don't remember what time of the year it was, but I remember at Christmastime Mom had a bloody lip and it was because Dad on Christmas Eve night had one of his fits or whatever and took it out on Mom. We went to our Christmas party and everyone had asked my mother what had happened. Mom just said, "Oh, I fell down the stairs." She would make up some story. It was inevitable that every holiday Mom had some kind of injury, whether it would be a black eye or a bloody lip.

I remember thinking just how much hurt and anger Dad was bringing into our home. In the middle of the night in third grade, I remember getting up and going into my kitchen and thinking, I shouldn't do this. I shouldn't do this. But I went ahead and opened up one of the drawers and got out a butcher knife, because I was going to put an end to this chaos that my mom was having to experience.

I went into my parents' bedroom. My dad was laying there sleeping, and my mom as well. I went to raise the knife above his chest. My mother woke up and caught me doing that and kept me from committing that act of violence.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What were you really thinking you were going to do with that knife?

Marcia Arnel: I had planned on taking my father's life for many reasons. Obviously, for protection.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You were in third grade?

Marcia Arnel: Third grade.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And you're thinking, I'm going to kill my father?

Marcia Arnel: Definitely. To protect my mom, and also if it was his disease that was making him this way, I felt like he just needed to get over the pain as well. So I saw it as benefiting both of my parents.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So your mother stops you from doing this. Was there anger at that moment?

Marcia Arnel: I remember Mom being very shocked and asking me what was going on and just crying and going back into my room. I don't remember more or if it came back up later. It's one of those things that I just remember the actual incident, but I can't remember all of the emotions and things that occurred directly after that. I don't even know if my father was aware that it took place.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If your mom had not awakened at that moment, as you're standing there with that knife in your hand, do you think you would have gone through with that?

Marcia Arnel: I definitely believe I would have. I had gone through the whole thought process of whether or not I should do it in the kitchen before I even went into the bedroom and had determined I was going to do it. When I got in there, I remember looking at him, thinking, Is this real? Is this really going to happen? As I raised my arm, I was determining I was going to do that no matter what. So it was only by God's grace that my mother awoke to keep me from doing that.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So this was really your way of wanting to deal with the pain, your mother's pain, your dad's pain, your pain.

Marcia Arnel: I'd say definitely it was my way of fixing things and making everything the happy home it should be.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Marcia Arnel about the devastating effects of sin. She'll continue her conversation tomorrow. Nancy will be right back with some final thoughts and some hope.

As you listened to the story today, weren't you glad that a church reached out to Marcia through their bus ministry? This story can encourage all of us to be involved in the spread of the Gospel through our local churches. We hope that you have a place of ministry and that you're supporting your church financially.

Once you've done that, if God lays it on your heart, would you consider giving to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts? There are a lot of Marcias out there--hurting women who need hope. We're committed to showing women how to find freedom through a relationship with Christ. We need your help to do it.

You can send a donation to Revive Our Hearts or call 1-800-569-5959. You can also donate on-line at

Here's Nancy with a final thought.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: From what we've heard thus far, Marcia's story sounds pretty hopeless, doesn't it? But I want to assure you that there are no hopeless situations with God. In fact, even in Marcia's life as a little girl and then as a teenager growing up in this horrendous family situation, God was present.

Marcia didn't know Him at that time. She wasn't looking to Him for guidance. She didn't have His perspective, but God was there. God was hating the violence and the abuse and the atrocities that were being committed against this young woman. God was preparing to sovereignly intervene in her life. She didn't know how He was going to rescue her, redeem her and give her a whole new life. But God was at work in her circumstances, and God is at work in your circumstances.

It's possible that your present circumstances seem pretty hopeless to you. What you don't know is what God is planning to do in and through your life circumstances. You may not be able to see how He is at work or what His purposes are for your life.

In fact, as we'll hear as Marcia's story unfolds the rest of this week, the most painful parts of this young girl's upbringing have actually become a powerful part of her life message. God is using this young woman today to minister grace to others who hurt. God wants to use your life to bring glory to Himself, regardless of your circumstances today or in your past.

If the pain in your heart has to do with a situation that related to your childhood as it did with Marcia, can I remind you of that wonderful promise in Psalm 27:10? "Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me"? Regardless of what kind of parents you may have had or what kind of hurts they may have brought into your life, get your focus off of your parents and look to the Lord. Trust that He knows and loves you and cares for you and wants to receive you as His own.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.