I was born to an addict, both drugs and alcohol. My childhood was sprinkled with periods of sobriety and relapses for my mother. My father and mother never married, and I didn’t even meet my father until I was 14. He entered my life for 5 years, only to choose to walk out of my life again at age 19. I was raised in a house living with my mother, half-brother, 2 uncles and my grandmother. My mother fought with everyone, usually about her lack of money and demanding my grandmothers financial help, or about her lack of care for my brother and I. Our home was usually a very volatile place. My mother would also disappear for periods of time, and I never knew if she would come back. I had terrible separation anxiety, and when she was home I was always afraid she would leave me. I was neglected by my parents, unappreciated, uncelebrated, uncherished. If it weren’t for my grandmother and her unrelenting endurance and work ethic, I surely would not have survived my childhood. Though she is no longer with us, her legacy continues to be an inspiration to me daily. My grandmother took me to her church off and on. At around 7 or 8 my mom started taking us to church too, and I remember doing what all the adults there wanted me to do, eventually asking Jesus to live in my heart – though I didn’t really know what it meant.
My childhood and the neglect created a very dark place in me. I struggled to feel like anyone cared about me at all. It was hard to accept that I was born into an empty, hollow, barren place in this world. I had problems falling asleep as a child, and would lay there crying, asking God to just pick me up and carry me to a mom and dad that loved and wanted me.
When I approached my teenage years, my dark places filled with rage. I was angry with God and couldn’t understand why he put me in such a terrible situation, when it seemed that all my friends had families who truly loved and accepted them. Then around 13, those dark places began to grow and deepen and I tried to fill them with boys and anything else (with the exception of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol), and my life began to plummet into a heavy downward spiral as a result of my choices.
As a child, I can remember feeling like I wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear when everyone would start fighting. This led me to search for an escape. About half a mile down my back country road, there was a small stream in the farmers valley that flowed under a bridge. When I felt like I had to flee, I would run as fast as I could to my bridge. I would go there because I was desperate for peace and solitude. I did this for years and years. Sometimes I would stay down there for hours on end until I’d hear people start yelling for me up the way. Eventually, they knew where to find me, and could see my blurry figure sitting on the edge of the bridge down in the valley from our driveway. Sometimes I wonder if those Amish farmers were praying for me, the neighbor girl who just sat on the bridge alone, day after day.
I would sit there and cry, feeling frustrated that my life and my family was a mess. I had always been adamantly determined to never do drugs or smoke, or be an alcoholic, or in any way be a bad person like my mother and father.
It wasn’t until I was about 15 that I realized that from the very bottom of my dark places, I was being deeply drawn to find respite in God at my bridge. He was drawing me in and deeply pursuing me, shielding and removing me from the hell that was my life. I would sit there and meet with him, not even realizing that was why I was there again. He had been cultivating in me a spirit of fervent perseverance and endurance since the day I was born.
One particular day in the summer at age 15, I remember feeling like I was increasingly getting sucked into that vacuum of dark, impoverished despair of this world. The shackle around my ankle was tightening and pulling me into the underworld of this society, and I was becoming exactly what I was so determined NOT to become. I knew who was controlling that shackle, I knew who was pulling me under the water.
With a resounding and infuriated roar, I said NO MORE.
God showed me His golden thread woven throughout my life. He showed me that it is not BECAUSE OF HIM, that I was suffering at the hands of the only ones who were charged to care for me. I was in poverty, barely having my needs met, yet somehow I usually ended up with enough. It wasn’t His fault. We are given a free will to make our own choices. You always have a choice in every matter, but you are never free from the consequences of your choices and sometimes those consequences extend for generations. I was suffering as a result of the choices my parents made, God never intentionally put me there to suffer.
That was the day I realized it was the Holy Spirit who had been giving me visions. He showed me a giant hand with a puffy cloud on it and I was standing on the cloud that was moving me through my life. God showed me that it is because of His ferocious love for me that He was carrying me through my tumultuous life. And He wanted my heart, even the dark, scarred caverns and the splintered and hemorrhaging places.
The Golden tapestry He wove through my life astounded me. Suddenly I saw my world and my life differently. I saw that from the day I was conceived, He was pursuing me. He chose me. He showed me the hollow, empty shell that my life was becoming. He showed me that with Him, I didn’t have to live like that. He wanted to change my DNA to His Royal bloodline. But it had to be my choice. Life will still be an uphill battle, and there will still be suffering, but if I can keep my eyes on Him, I can and will endure anything.
I chose Him.
And each day since, I continue to choose Him. Because apart from Him, I am nothing. The names He calls me in our secret place are My Beloved, Daughter of the King, Jewel, and Gem. He frequently reminds me that He has loved me with an everlasting Love. Only He was capable of removing and healing my dark places and filling them with His light and love.
I am freed. Released from a life of captivity. Free from the war that was waged for my soul from the moment I was conceived. Free from the life of evil that was drowning me. I am healed and whole. Seen and loved. Celebrated and chosen. God is always faithful, and God is always good. He has proven this to me through my life’s experiences and through his Word.
For that, I am eternally grateful. And I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the Heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling me.
(See Phil. 3:14) NLT
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV