By: D. G. Koletas
I am a failure. There are many areas in my life that I could be better at and even more that I am downright failing in. The following exposé is not to glorify or gloss over my pitfalls, but rather shed light on why I am the way I am. Let me start by saying a few things.
– If you are aware of any my shortcomings or misdeeds, I was wrong.
– Any and all of my faults and failures lie squarely on the shoulders of myself. There is no one else responsible.
– My life has been plagued with disappointments to my biological father and my Heavenly Father. My failures are my failures and my successes are their successes.
Just because we are trapped by this thing we call flesh does not mean we should be ashamed of the truths we hold from God’s Word. I am ashamed of my sins, but I am in no way ashamed of what I believe from the King James Bible. If you hate me for my sins, I am fully deserving of such condemnation. If you, however, despise me for the latter, get over yourself and fall in love with HIS commandments. I’ll summarize with a quote from my second favorite preacher, Scott DeGiorgio: “Never stop doing right because of something you’re doing wrong.”
We live in a society where everyone has a platform to share with the world their worldview. From Dr. Phil to self-reflection books, people are obsessed with telling the story of themselves and exposing all the people in their lives that are to blame. Most often, this is a result of a self-absorbed individual refusing to take responsibility for their actions and too frightened to self examine.
Here we go.
I will lay out for you in the next few minutes a case of true abuse. I think you’ll understand why my story deserves to be told. My father was a ‘wild eyed monster.’
I was born to what many would consider a less than ideal family situation that precedes my birth. When my mother was pregnant with me, my father was without a job and in and out of jail. He was known to local authorities as a regular at the county jail for his belligerent and disorderly conduct. Some of my earliest memories are that of entering a courtroom to watch my abusive father stand before a judge because of his addictions. (I Cor 16:15)
By the time I was two, my father had been arrested seven separate occasions. Even currently holding the local record of three arrests in the same calendar day; in many cases, forcing my pregnant mother with three young children to bail him out of jail. She finally ran out of money after the third arrest and my disorderly father spent that night in jail until money could be arranged. Most of the reasons you hate me can be traced to this period in my life. Living on the poor side of town in these conditions have made a lasting impact upon my life. Even still.
To make matters worse, my father continued his disorderly behavior, but was no longer detained due to a silly legal loophole called the First Amendment. So, instead of learning from these incidents, my father was emboldened. To heighten his arrogance, he refused to step down from his megachurch pastoral position. The entire church membership voted unanimously to retain him as their pastor with a final vote of 7-0. They even continued his salary of $0.00/year. But do you think that was enough for him? Nope. He decided to take a second job to supplement his already lucrative career by working 5 days a week 2-3 hours away from home. Now, before you think that I am grasping for dirt here, the worst part of my father’s actions is his motive for all of this. He actually genuinely believed that this was God’s will for his (and subsequently our) life; taking it as far as claiming to believe every Word of his black Book contained the very Words of God.
If you’re not convinced yet, to this day, my father still receives that salary from the church. It felt as though everything this man did could be blamed on that black Book he clung so dearly to. The pages were tattered and most filled with notes. I can still remember watching him as a child on our luxury living room furniture methodically licking his finger and flipping page to page. I can still see him as he raises the affixed bookmark and picks up his black and red Bic pens and places them down again on the next page. But reading this book for himself wasn’t enough, he would use his fatherly position to mold us to that Book. So every day we would gather as a family in that luxury furniture set and read from the Book he loved so dear. Every child was required to read a portion. Starting with the youngest eligible reader reading five verses aloud, and the next reading ten and so on, until the oldest child was finished. Then, keeping with his abuse, he would require my mother read as well before he finished the family reading. It was like a miniature brainwashing. You see, our father believed our brains needed washing and this was the solution – an old-fashioned style scripture reading. Upon finishing the final chapter, he would place his pens in his already overfilled shirt pocket and close this black Book. As if it were the conductor’s baton, the sound of the pages clamming shut signaled the unison chorus of the entire family: “May God add His blessings to His holy and infallible Word–The King James Version.” Regardless of ages or gender, each family member would raise their personal Bible to their lips and kiss it before pivoting to their knees for prayer time. In the same order, prayer would start with the youngest until my father would end, often times weeping as he begged God to save his lost family or his children to serve God. As he closed prayer with an often silent “amen”, he would quietly spin back to his seat and lead the family in the hymn of his choice. “In all thy ways acknowledge him and He shall direct thy paths”, was the one I most often recall. There were times of heavy heart that he would remain on his knees as we sang or would continue in silent prayer as we all watched and waited for the cue to sing the song he would choose without announcement.
While some would consider this innocent and foundational, you must first understand my father’s motives for this daily ritual. Because of what I assume are his own insecurities, I personally believe he did this to attempt to cause us to believe this way of life was God’s will and not his own. I honestly think he figured that by showing us the same things he saw in this Book, we could grow in transformation to the Book that, unbeknownst to me, was despised by the entire world. Dad was so convinced by this ideology that I almost forgive him because he sincerely believed he was being a good father. I feel at times he even weaponized his position of authority to steer us in the direction of this black Book.
This was only the beginning of his abuse. My therapists believe this is most likely where my affluenza was formed. My father would flaunt his ‘HUGE’ salary around to show off. For instance, when we went shopping for the luxury furniture, He always went through the richest part of the town’s alleys to look for our furniture. And this is no joke. He always chose the luxury cars. And they all had to match- the RUSTED station wagon, the REALLY RUSTED Sentra, the RUSTED Astro van, and so on. On top of that, he paid school taxes on two properties and refused to send us to the government schools. Apparently, he thought they were beneath us. So, with his exuberant salary, he either paid for Christian school or had us home schooled. And we always got the nicest brands at the thrift store to wear.
He had this crazy idea that he was responsible for protecting his children from the dangers of a sinful world. You see, my father claimed to love us and promised to protect us from anyone who tried to do us harm. He would explain that his rules may seem overbearing, but they were for our protection. He warned disobedience had consequences and some even beyond his wrath or disappointment; so it was always best to obey.
The abuse continued.
As a preacher’s child, there are certain perks that accompany the title. Things like, doing whatever you want without consequences, the ability to disrespect any adult because your dad’s the pastor, be held to a lower standard than the common church members, and many others. John Koletas never got that memo. He would preach these ridiculously old-fashioned standards, then come home and enforce even stricter rules than his preaching. So he didn’t practice what he preached. He practiced more. This really put a damper on my plans in my teenage years. It was like he never wanted me to have fun. Rules like- read your Bible, don’t swear, don’t go anywhere without permission, don’t lie to me about where you’ve been, don’t go anywhere without my permission, don’t go anywhere without my permission, don’t go anywhere without my permission, and many other overbearing things.
When I was growing up, I can remember two times in eighteen years that I slept somewhere other than at my parents’ house or with family. He told us it was for our protection. It wasn’t until I started watching nightly news that I understood what he meant. And the sexist things he taught were horrendous. As boys, he taught us that we should never be alone with a woman who wasn’t our wife. He was a strict believer in I Corinthians 7:1. He said this had a two-fold purpose: 1) To keep us from the natural temptation to do things against scripture that are reserved for the bounds of marriage. 2) To eliminate someone’s ability to falsely accuse us. If my brothers or I rejected this counsel, we did so knowing the peril.
The girls were given similar advice. “If any man ever touches you, take off your shoe and beat him with it while screaming at the top of your lungs.” He was an extreme abuser, as you can see. I have audio evidence of this. He also taught the girls the importance of I Corinthians 7:1. For two similar reasons: 1) To keep them from the natural temptation to do things against scripture that are reserved for the bounds of marriage. 2) To eliminate the possibility of someone taking advantage of them when they are defenseless. What a controlling, abusive parent. If my sisters rejected this counsel, they did so knowing the peril.
He would often tell us that when we were grown, If we didn’t like his rules and chose to go a different way, he would still love us. But, as long as we lived in his house, we had to obey his rules. Between you and I, I think this was his way trying to win our hearts over. I feel bad for my father, as he believes what he says is right. It is this that made him so abusive.
He taught us that “wine is a mocker” and “strong drink is raging.” So growing up, we were prohibited from consuming alcohol. He even went as far as explaining to us the consequences of alcohol and the principle of “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink.” (Prov 20:1, Hab 2:15). He taught us that divorce was evil (Mal 2:16). He taught the boys to care for their wives (Mal 2:15). He taught the boys to provide for their families (I Tim 5:8). He taught the girls to obey their husbands (I Peter 3:1). He taught the girls to keep the home (Titus 2:5). He taught the boys to dress like men and the girls to dress like women (Deut 22:5). He taught the girls to be dressed modest at all times (I Tim 2:9). He believed in the only solution for a foolish child (Prov 22:15).
Anyone who thinks those teachings are acceptable are obviously not immersed in “Hellywood.” Come to think of it, that Book with tattered and note-ridden pages may be the real problem here. But, if I refute what my father taught me, I’d have to go against God’s Word. But, since it was that tattered Bible and that fatherly hand that led me to Christ, I think I’ll stick to what Dad believed. I feel today what I felt as a little boy standing up from the sinner’s prayer on that luxury furniture. One of my fondest memories of my childhood, were the time that Dad would play the old vinyl records of the old time music. Through the static and crackling, I can still vividly hear the words of Roy Rogers:
“I heard a circuit-riding preacher say these words one day:
Lord, I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day,
And I’d rather one walk with me than merely show the way.
The best of all the preachers are the men who live their creed,
And to see their good in action is what everybody needs.
You know, Lord, I can learn to do it if you let me see it done.
I can watch their hands in action, but their tongues too fast may run.
The sermon they deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by watching what they do.
For I may misunderstand them in the high advice they give,
But there’s no misunderstanding in how they act and how they live.”
I could go on, but I think you understand what I mean when I say, I was abused (IFB Style). Why now, you ask? Well, there’s finally an audience and I figured, why not, me too. #MeToo
-Δ. Γεωργιος Κολετας