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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Monsters Peretti Slayed

When I was a kid, I felt terrible about myself, says Frank Peretti.  My self-image was in the toilet because I couldn't throw or catch a football, I couldn't run very fast, and I was considered small and frail for my age.

Peretti went through repeated surgeries during his childhood.  Injured at birth, he suffered cystic hygroma, a birth defect that develops on the side of the neck.  The forceps the doctor used to draw him from his mother's abdomen slipped off his head and damaged the right side of his neck under the jaw.  

The lump on Peretti's neck as an infant didn't go away.  It ballooned to the size of a baseball by the time he was one month old, and he barely could swallow.  Cystic hygroma can obstruct breathing and cause nervous palsies, hemorrhaging, and infection.  When Peretti's mother took him to a different doctor for a second opinion, he showed signs of all the complications of the illness.

  I was barely two months old when the doctors cut my neck open, trying to clean out a swollen mass that threatened to kill me, writes Peretti in The Wounded Spirit ((Word).

Instead of his imagination running footloose with fictional narrative as usual, Peretti opens up about his childhood in The Wounded Spirit, his first-ever nonfiction book.  He freely details his early years to help others heal emotionally and spiritually. 

Even though Peretti's wounds started out as medical, he soon learned his physically disabilities meant ridicule, in spite of his parents love and support.   The disease left him with his tongue hanging out, dripping dark, bloody drool that turned to scab around his mouth and chin.  Kids at school teased and tormented him.  At times, he felt like the Frankenstein monster in the poster on his wall.  He also had the plastic model on his desk.   

I'm close to fifty years of age, writes Peretti, but I still remember the names, and I can see the faces of those individuals who made my life a living hell day after day after day, during my childhood.  I remember their words, their taunts, their blows, their spittle, and their humiliations. 

As I review my life, I think of all the decisions I shied from, all the risks I dared not take, all the questions I never asked, all the relationships I didn't pursue, simply because I didn't want to hurt again.

In spite of all the childhood heartaches, Peretti came to a place of personal acceptance.  He encourages others from this position of physical and emotional healing to prevent them from becoming targets of abuse. 

All of us, with all our wrinkles, shortcomings, bumblings, and imperfections, are God's creation, he says.  

Peretti sees the 1999 tragic deaths of students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, as the results of the wounded spirits of teen killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.  The two vented their frustrations in violent fantasy turned reality, instead of getting past their humiliations.  No Band-Aid answers come from Peretti, but his life speaks as evidence that no one has to live with a wounded spirit. 

The best-selling author (The Visitation, The Oath, Piercing the Darkness, The Present Darkness) helped his father pastor an Assembly of God church after studying film and English at UCLA.  Today, besides writing blockbuster books, Peretti, plays the banjo, is an avid pilot, and does carpentry, sculpturing, bicycling, and hiking.   

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