"I spent most of my life convinced that there was nothing about me that people could really love. Finally, about four years ago, I started to break apart. I came totally undone, and it scared me to death." - Ray Maloney, Headmaster of a private academy
For most of my life I believed that I wasn't of any importance to anyone. That puzzles people when I say this, because I've always seemed successful. But I spent most of my life convinced that there was nothing about me that people could really love. As a result, I could never really love others.
My memory of these feeling of rejection go back to when I was a young child. My mother died when I was four, and her death seemed like a rejection to me. I told myself "She's left me. She doesn't want to be with me."
I also grew up with a father who was incapable of showing genuine love. As a result, I never had much of a relationship with him. In fact the only feelings I ever had toward my father were ones of hatred and fear. To deal with all this, I had constructed a front, a mask to cover my insecurity. I wasn't really confident. I was just a good actor. I can remember many times in class, for example, when I was putting on a presentation, saying to myself, "I'm pulling it off again." I knew that I didn't look scared. I was hiding it, getting away with it one more time, not showing anyone how much I hurt.
Finally about four years ago, as happens sooner or later to everyone under that kind of strain, I started to break apart. It's possible to struggle with intense feelings of fear and anxiety for only so long. I began to realize that I couldn't pull it off any more. I couldn't go back to school pretending everything was going great when inside I knew I was falling apart.
It happened when I was in Chicago on a trip to visit schools. I came suddenly and totally unglued. My personality seemed to disintegrate. I just sat and cried. I couldn't even talk, I came totally undone, and it scared me to death. I knew it was happening but I didn't how how to handle it. When I got home, I told my wife everything. She had no idea what was inside of me, I had hidden it so well. But I told her the whole story, beginning to end, and we decided that I needed professional help.
I went into therapy immediately. I was lucky, since I knew the psychologist and trusted him. And he showed me a lot about my mother and father, my feelings of rejection, anger, and so on. I also realized during this time that my feelings about my father were tied into my feelings about God. As a result, my relationship with God was distant and fearful. I thought, "If I do anything at all with God, I'll just displease him, so I better not get involved." It was the same thing that I had decided about my relationship with my father. It seemed better to do nothing than suffer another rejection. Of course that meant there was no real relationship at all.
About that time, a young man from a prayer community in Ann Arbor stopped into school selling magazine advertising space. In the course of our conversation he spoke very freely about Jesus. I wasn't all that interested, frankly, but something about this man clicked with me. I believed he did know God. So within a month, I wrote him a letter saying I'd like to hear more, and I'd like some help in how to pray.
It was unusual for me to write a letter like that to someone I had just met, but the young man, whose name was Pete, did write back. He gave me some suggestions, which I never did follow, and then we lost contact.
It seemed a fairly minor incident, a reaching out of some kind, but nothing really significant came of it at the time. Meanwhile, my therapy continued, but I didn't experience any healing. Months went by. Even though I had begun to understand the things that had hurt me and caused my anger, I didn't seem to be getting any better. I was still angry, still hurt, still a wreck.
Then one night I came apart again. For an entire week I couldn't stop crying. I didn't know what to do, and even considered suicide. I was dissolving. It was all so totally destructive. The world seemed to be falling apart, and it was falling on me. My therapist told me that this time I would have to handle things on my own, which meant that if I was going to keep everyone from discovering what had happened, I'd have to pull myself together enough to get back to school.
I did, somehow. But I knew now that everything was temporary. I was doomed; I saw no hope. But I did go to school. And on that day, when I walked into school, Jesus met me and changed everything.
I walked into my office and Pete was there, back again. I was really surprised, because he hadn't called, written, or anything.
He said, "I'm not sure why I'm here. I was going to lunch in another area, but I suddenly felt that I should come and see you."
I told him that I really needed help, very badly, and he just said, "I love you, and Jesus loves you, too." Then he said he'd like to pray for me.
I wasn't even sure what it meant, but I sat down, right there in my office. Pete held one of my hands and put his other hand on my head. Then he prayed that the Father would deliver me from all that was hurting me. He didn't even know what was bothering me. He just prayed that the Father would deliver me. And as soon as he prayed that simple prayer, I could feel all of this hurt and anger and fear starting to drain out of me. There was no crying, nothing emotional about it. Pete also prayed in tongues. Then he praised the Father for creating me. Through the whole prayer I could physically feel anger, pain, and hatred draining out of me. In its place was a sensation warmth and peace.
The whole thing was over in five minutes. That's all it took. The depression I had lived with and struggled with for so many years was gone, and it hasn't returned. That was over three years ago.
God healed me on that day.
Since then, God has changed me in so many ways. There are still struggles in my life, some very difficult, but I know I'm growing. He's given me so many brothers and sisters, and He's given me a very constant knowledge that I am loved. I can really accept love now, and I'm able to love other people. In my relationship with my wife and kids, and with people at school, with everyone, I can express my love now, and I can accept theirs.
As a result of all this healing, I have a very certain sense of how real Jesus is. I never used to be quite that sure about it. Now I just want to say, "Hey, look everybody! He's really alive!"
I gave him my life when it was all in pieces, and He gave it back and it was healed. Not only that, but He gave me a strong gift of love to keep it healed. That's what I was missing all these years. It's what so many people are missing. But it's there for the asking. Because Jesus really is alive.
headmaster of a private academy,
Age 52 (at the time he wrote this story in 1979)
married 21 years, 3 children (one deceased)
How Wtness.org heard of this story: Bob Ovies, the long-time deacon of the now-closed St. Columban church in Birmingham, Michigan, shared with Bill Griffin, Managing Editor of Wtness.org, a book Bob had edited titled "New Lives". In this book was the story of Ray Maloney of Royal Oak, Michigan, who Bob knew personally in 1979 when this story was written. Ray Maloney is now deceased. But his story is still as fresh as any written today.