Grammy-award winning singer and songwriter Russ Taff grew up in church, but he was an adult the first time he was truly able to understand God’s love.
His dad was a pastor who preached what Russ calls a “hard Gospel.” That means there were rules about clothes, rules about hair, rules about attitude. Rules, rules, rules – so many that his father couldn’t live up to his own standards. His father relapsed with alcohol again and again for years and, ultimately, didn’t stop drinking until he died.
Russ’ mother also pressured the family to maintain impossibly high standards. Like the day she discovered that Russ had told a friend whose family attended their church that she and Russ’ dad had gotten into an argument. Her response for marring the family image of perfection she was striving to maintain was to physically attack Russ while screaming, “You don’t tell our secrets. You don’t talk to anybody about this family.”
Almost daily Russ and his brothers were told, “You will never amount to anything. You’re not worth the bullet to shoot you.”
Even years into his career as a well-known Gospel singer, Russ says he felt like there was a hole in his bucket. Despite being showered with admiration by thousands of people, he felt condemned in his heart and mind. Away from the spotlight, Russ was so tormented by his childhood abuse and family dysfunction that he spiraled into a cycle of alcohol abuse like his father had.
Recovering from the depth of the trauma and physical and verbal abuse Russ endured required more than his willpower, it required the renewing of his mind.
Russ and his wife Tori are with us on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Redeeming a Marriage and Childhood Wounds” to describe their painful journey through abuse and hidden addiction that nearly destroyed their marriage. But they also testify to the healing they found in Christ, and how they were able to embrace God and understand His love.
Join us on your local radio station, online, on iTunes, via Podcast, or on our free phone app. Their message is simple: there is help, but you have to talk to somebody. You can’t carry your burdens by yourself.
If you don’t have anyone to talk to, call us. We have caring Christian counselors on staff, and it would be their privilege to offer you a free initial consultation, to pray with you, and to connect you with resources in your local area. Call us, leave your name and number, and they’ll get back with you just as soon as possible. The number during business hours is 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).
You may also be interested in Russ and Tori’s book, I Still Believe: A Memoir of Wreckage, Recovery and Relentless Love. We’d like to send it to you today when you donate to Focus on the Family for a gift of any amount. Check our website for details.