As a seven year old girl, I thought life was perfect and just as it should be. That year my mom sat my brother and I down on our couch in Georgia to tell us that we were moving to Texas, without my dad. As a child, I felt all kids of emotions but especially confusion. I had no idea until later that my dad was an alcoholic. My mom, brother, and I were in a toxic situation, but God definitely knew what He was doing sending us to Lubbock, Texas.
Mom did her best as a single parent with little income. We learned to enjoy the smallest of life’s pleasures. My dad would try contacting us via phone, but I eventually got to a place of understanding; we would talk on the phone, but I was able to realize he was always under the influence and our conversation went no where. I got to a point around 5th grade where I told my mom I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. I am thankful the Lord created that space early on because I know it helped me in the future. I started gaining independence with all that had already happened – good and bad.
We would go to church, church camps, youth group, and learn about who God is, but there were only a few times that I know I experienced Him in fullness. Distractions, a rebellious heart, and all the pain started to catch up with me. My view started to narrow in on boys because there was a place in my heart where a man created a hole. The attention of boys was “loving” and a thrill. I didn’t know the value of who I was, the value of others, the value of relationships – or even what that looked like. I was definitely young and we don’t know the answers then, but I started telling myself these guys actually loved me. My heart had been broken by my father and I sought all I could to fill it up with that love again.
Darkness, guilt, and shame started consuming me from all angles. I didn’t know God to be close to me, to be able to truly save me. I separated my life from who He was because I didn’t understand how He could relate or love someone like me. All feelings, all emotions, all actions were stuffed inside for no one to see the loneliness and pain inside me. I would act out, I would break down the ones close to me with words. I had created so much destruction in my life searching for what would make me full and whole, but never seeing the gracious God before me waiting for me to come home.
In the midst of choosing boys, alcohol, and hurtful choices God brought my mom the kindest man. They dated a long time before getting married, but I loved him and he knew ways to love me. That lifted a small veil for me to see someone truly love another. Also, there was a youth group I was apart of for a small while in high school. We went to camp and did so much together within a year span. God called me to His heart in the midst of His creation (at a camp) – finally a place where I understood and accepted grace for the first time. I didn’t realize being in this sweet spot would still bring battle. I slipped away from church and into even larger destructive relationships and choices. It’s like I didn’t believe God to be big enough to take me out of those areas of my life. My dark hiding places.
This continued into my first semester of college. From here on out the emotional and physical abuse from guys became worse. This strong and independent woman I thought I was would cave under the attention. I had always said yes because there was a deceptive place within that created false hope that one of the guys would work out for the long run and actually love me.
The end of my first semester is when God came in full force. I was supposed to see my biological father that coming year. I told my mom I needed counseling before I faced him since I hadn’t seen or talked to him in at least 10 years. By God’s grace, I went to Family Coaching over Christmas break in Lubbock. It’s there where God’s love and grace met me, broke me, healed me, and cleansed me. I had no idea that was coming, but will forever praise Him for bringing me to solitude and stillness so that I could finally accept truth and all that I was created to be and enjoy. (My dad ended up having a stroke and not making it to the wedding where I was supposed to see him. Thanks Jesus for wanting only my heart and saving me from a painful interaction!)
Throughout the rest of my time at A&M, I was able to surround myself with people seeking Jesus and really find accountability and vulnerability. I was strong enough to break off ties with people without the same goals and perspective. The Lord graciously gave me this time to dive into truth, understand who He was, and begin healing the deepest wounds.
Towards the end of school, I met a guy. He was very friendly, open minded, and a believer. We established a great friendship then relationship. There were red flags in my heart and mind as we dated, but no abuse. We didn’t fully discuss or agree on the purpose God had for our lives, and He wasn’t the center. I felt that if everything seemed okay from the outside, that was normal and all else would get better. After graduation, the next step seemed obvious – marriage. We got married not long after dating and being engaged. How fun I thought it was to be newly weds. Things seemed “normal” but as I chased after the Lord more and more, the more I felt further away from my husband. Our conversations about God would only end in arguing. Loneliness began to creep in again. All my friend’s marriages were different. I started turning inward with all emotions I was feeling – this “hiding” place was where the enemy would take me. I walked on egg shells if things weren’t in complete routine. I started breaking again knowing there wasn’t love. My actions and words were hurtful because once again I was in a relationship where the foundation wasn’t God and His purposes and glory. My view again destroyed and broken; dreams shredded and our marriage ended in divorce.
The “freedom” the divorce created resulted in some good, but mostly messy. I sought after Jesus so hard. I struggled with so much depression, and yes more guilt and shame. In the middle of the weakness, I turned to the worst of relationship choices – friends and a guy. It was almost as though I was living two lives. One in solitude before the Lord, seeking so hard after His heart and purpose and truly learning, and the other was choices I had made in the past, but with new people. Once again, I knew the destruction and would have moments of trying to let go but they were never strong enough. I didn’t 100% believe God to take over. I felt like I was in a complete war zone – hearing God and this newness He was calling me to, but my flesh believing lies to ease the pain temporarily. The abuse led me to believe I was someone I wasn’t, and after so much fighting the Lord in all His goodness and graciousness led me home; the emotional damage from these relationships drove me back to Lubbock Texas.
It was here that I finally finally finally emptied myself before the Lord. I could hear Him so clearly speaking value and worth back into my soul. Telling me His promises and them actually sticking to my identity in Him. He called me to leave my place of hiding, to no longer accept deception in any form. In my healing became more learning, but in new ways - mending and facing my family, learning to boldly confront and not stuff feelings inside, being rational and realistic, and believing God for the impossible because that’s His heart! Eternity is real. Our place in this world is only temporary. Our primary citizenship is heaven. His heart is love and our purpose is to bring as much of eternity here to this earth now.
No longer was I seeking approval from anyone around me, never chasing after unhealthy people, and I did not want a relationship. God was teaching me what I desired in my heart that came after Him of course. He birthed in me dreams and desires I didn’t think were possible, yet has made a way. I have let go of any fear and doubt so that all God’s work can pave the way for my life. He has aligned, through His Spirit, even the smallest details of my life to express His faithfulness – the jobs I’ve had, the people I’ve met, the conversations I’ve had, and the extras I’ve placed in my free time.
I am no where close to perfect. I will never be done healing. All I can say is that my God is BIGGER than any valley we go through, any darkness that consumes us, and any circumstance we think will never end. He has shown His strength in my weakness and continues to do so! Jesus came to this earth, died the death we deserved, and was raised from the dead so that we can be ALIVE in Him and experience the complete fullness we were made to experience. The Spirit was the greatest of gifts, given to daily lead and align us with our Home. We are not defined by our past mistakes and choices, but are beautiful with the scars. God is always close enough to meet us, always gracious enough to cleanse us, and loves us enough to cut down the false identities and ideas that the world has made.
My heart sings for God alone. He is worthy, and He has made me worthy. He calls us higher. There is nothing greater than knowing God and seeking His abundance! I know more and more each day who I am in Christ and have left behind the false identities. I no longer hide in my own darkness, but allow God’s light to expose and be revealed. My perspective is no longer skewed, but renewed in all things. I’ll cling to the Holy Spirit because His protection, nearness, and council is greater than anything the world can offer.