Bill experienced the bitter taste of rejection as a child that led to anger and emptiness. A simple prayer was the turning point for him.
The bitter taste of rejection
All my life I had been embarrassed to tell people how I felt growing up in an Italian family. My mother would tell me she loved me, and hug and kiss me but I felt no love from my father and in his eyes I could do nothing right. I craved my father’s love but got only strong discipline and beatings, leaving a feeling of emptiness. Cultural preferences are for a boy as the first-born with a girl second. My father already had a son and was disappointed at me not being a girl. When I was about 8 years old, he told me in an angry rage he wished I had never been born, and I should have been a girl.
Anger and trying to leave home
My father was told by mistake that I was a girl when I was born. So when I turned out to be a boy his jubilation turned to anger. I began to feel I was not wanted and I was no good. I felt this anger from my father for the greater part of my life. In turn I became a very angry young man. I remember setting off to leave home at 13 or 14 years of age, but as I walked down the road that night, I thought of the pain I would bring to my lovely mother and I went back crying, torn between the pain of staying and the pain of leaving.
Learning how to fight
At school I did not do well, and report times were the hardest. My father would beat me for doing poorly and wasting his money on schooling. I began to hate school; the teachers, the other children and anyone who picked on me copped it. I wasn’t a good runner but I learned how to fight. Kids would call me “wog” or “spaghetti muncher”. Most of the time they would only say it once and immediately would realise it was a mistake to make fun of me and they would be scared to say it again.
Pool, pubs, and fighting
When I was 14 years old, my teacher came to me one day in the school yard, and told me I was wasting the school’s time, my time and my father’s money and that I should leave school and work with my father on the family’s farm. The thought of leaving school was like heaven, but working for my father was like hell. I left school and worked in the farm for about a year and then I got a job working in the abattoirs where I really had to learn how to fight. This was not the school yard where the teacher stepped in. I also became an excellent pool player, and spent most of my spare time in the pubs and clubs playing pool and fighting.
Anger and frustration
I had 16 jobs from the age of 14 to 26 years old. I was a young man with a real problem and heading for trouble. At 5’2″ tall I would pick fights with guys 6 foot plus. My anger and frustration would result in a violent reaction which would leave them bleeding on the ground in fear and pain. At the age of 18, I got my car license and left home determined I would never live there again, no matter how difficult it got. I moved to another town where life continued the same way with lost jobs, being in and out of trouble, drinking most nights and playing pool all the time.
Falling in love, marriage, and a family
One night a friend and I had to get out of town so we grabbed some clothes and drove 200 kilometres. We slept in the car that night and the next morning we called in at his parents’ home. There I met his 16-year old sister Joy and immediately fell in love with her and the good thing about it was she liked me also. I could not see enough of this pretty girl. I began to spend less time with my mate and more with his sister. Joy moved to Geelong where I live, looking for work. On December 30th 1979, we were married. I was 20 and she was 18. This was the happiest day of my life. We had a family of 5 children – Patrick (now 20), Michael and Gerrad (18 year old twins), Joshua who would have been 14 (he died at birth) and my possum, 13-year-old Sonia.
Bill and Joy
Love for a father
I settled into married life for a year or so, but life for me easily becomes unsettled if things aren’t right so I began to feel the same loneliness which I felt as a boy. I had an emptiness that was becoming unbearable. I was drinking frequently and money became short. Meanwhile, I had started a part-time business from home. One day my business partner was late picking me up from the usual agreed place and time, and somehow I sensed something was wrong. When he eventually turned up, he said his dad had suffered a severe stroke and they had to wait for the ambulance to take him to hospital. Then he went on to say, “I pray that Jesus would take him home, for I know I will see him again someday.” These words hit me like a knife in the heart. I felt the love in this man’s heart for his dad, whereas I could not care if I never saw my father again.
Two special people
I told him I would love to have had that sort of feeling and he said, “You can have this special love for your Father in heaven.” He invited Joy and I to go to his church with him. I agreed because I respected him so much. I knew there was something different about Doug and his wife, Pam. These two people have become very special to us. They never pushed their faith on us, and accepted us for who we were and encouraged us whenever possible.
Suspicious of churches
We did go to their church, even though I mistrusted churches. I had said to Joy, “Give me all the money. Churches only want our money!” I thought that they could possibly take the money from her, but there was no way they would get it from me. I said, “We will sit at the back and then we can get out first.” But when we walked in, the place was packed and someone led us to seats right in the middle. We were jammed in. After some singing, a man in a suit got up to speak. They said he was the pastor. I was only familiar with priests, collar back to front etc, and not a married man talking about God as if he knew him as a friend. But the stories he read from the Bible sounded so real and interesting. At school the bible was like an old history book; it didn’t mean much to me at all.
Wanting to talk
On our way out, the pastor shook my hand and began to talk to me. He quickly established that I came from a farming background and so had he. He asked if he could call one night to talk. I said okay because I wanted to talk to someone about things, but I didn’t know who
Two choices; accepting or rejecting God
When the pastor visited us, we sat there and talked for hours. I wanted to know the truth about this thing called “life”. I began to share my emptiness, which I had never been able to put into words before. He said that God made us in His image and we are like Him. But He gave us the gift of choice and that we can choose Him to be part of our lives or we can reject Him. He went on to say that this emptiness I was feeling could be gone tonight, forever. I could not believe him.
He asked if I would like to say a prayer and ask Jesus into my heart. I said, “No!” He turned to Joy and said, “Would you like to say a prayer?” She said, “Yes, I would!” Well, we had always done everything together and so I said all right, I would do it too. (I thought, if this is some sort of a joke, he could laugh at both of us when he leaves, and not just me.) We said a simple prayer. He asked if I felt anything. I said. “No”, but I actually had felt something. What I felt was a feeling of coming home, a feeling of love and peace, a place where I felt warm and welcome. Next day at work I told someone what had happened. He looked at me strangely, but I began to feel Jesus’ presence in my life. The first thing Jesus did was to clean up my filthy tongue. I know He can take the emptiness out of your life and fill it with love.
Where will you spend eternity?
Since then, Jesus has been taking some things away and He has been adding new things into my life. Even if I try really hard, I can’t remember what that empty feeling was like. The emptiness I felt for so long has left me forever. Such is the love and peace of knowing Him personally and knowing I will spend eternity in Heaven. Eternity is a long time. The Bible says that the spirit goes back to the one who created it.
“And the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to the God who gave it”
I have committed my life to Jesus and I will travel to the ends of the earth to share what Jesus has done for me. I know He can do the same for you. Why not let Him take away your emptiness today?
May God bless you,
Bill and family
Come to know your Creator (animation)
The Reason (music video)