Last week I wrote about not letting fear controlling me, so I decided to share my story (which is not something I’m super comfortable with but it’s my story, it’s what makes me, me and I’m learning to love me.) So here we go:
I was born in a suburb of Atlanta Georgia and lived there with my mom, dad, and older sister Hope until I was 9, my dad’s mom, stepdad, dad, and stepmom all lived within an hour of us, we had friends that were more like family all around us and other than my mom being sick, life was good. I was raised in a Christian home, we grew up going to church every Sunday and Wednesday, went to a Christian ballet studio, and a christian homeschool group, I came to know the Lord when I was 3 years old. I was surrounded by people that loved me and loved the Lord everywhere I went, and I am so grateful for that because if it weren’t for them I don’t know where I would be today. My mom became very sick when she was pregnant with me, and it has continued for my entire life, because of that she is mostly bedridden and in a wheelchair. When I was 9 we moved from Georgia to Clearwater Kansas a small town with about 2000 people, we moved to help my elderly grandparents and while I’m grateful we did, The move was hard on our entire family. Not only was it a huge culture shock going from living in Atlanta to living in a very small town in KS, but it was hard not knowing anyone except our grandparents, it was hard for me going from being so involved in so many things to literally being involved in nothing. Our family dynamics quickly changed, we moved into a small duplex while looking for houses around town, it was so small that my sister moved in with my grandparents down the street, she also began going to public school which meant I was at home with my mom 24/7 because I was still homeschooled. Our family quickly became an unhealthy one, with lots of arguing and emotional abuse. I remember right after moving telling my mom “I wish I would’ve never been born” I know now that I was starting to get depressed, but at the time all I knew was everything had changed, including me. My sister and I weren’t as close, because we weren’t spending as much time together, I didn’t have any friends, and everything and everyone I grew up with had been taken away from me.
Fast forward a few years to middle school and I have a few pretty close friends and I’m pretty involved with my church, but life was still not good, I was still so sad and though nobody knew when I was 11, in about march I began cutting myself, and had even thought about suicide, thankfully though summer came and I went to a place called Youthfront Camp West, for the first time since I moved to KS I felt so loved and so at home. Many of you have heard me say “Youthfront saved my life” and that sentence is so true. I was renewed by the Holy Spirit and by people who loved on me instead of judging me. I still struggled with this pit inside of me, the sadness that overtook me and stole my energy, I still heard and believedthe lies that I wasn’t good enough, even though I was active in church, and active in the word, and even felt close to God there was this sadness in me. But every summer I felt the Holy Spirit love on me at camp, I was loved on by this community that was and still is unlike anything I’ve ever known before.
Then it came time for me to go to high school, much like most people this is the section that has the most difficulties, the most mistakes, the most tears, but also the most strength and the most growth in it. I was going to go to public school for the first time ever, I was terrified as anyone would be, but I was a little more terrified than most. You see all those years of being homeschooled, were rough, between my mom being sick and then moving and not knowing where things were, I hadn’t actually been properly educated. When I went to high school I was very behind in everything, but especially math, I had never done multiplication, I had never seen division, and I had never even heard of the alphabet being in math. I was so lost in everything, thankfully though I had some pretty amazing teachers who saw that I was behind and didn’t think “oh well that’s just one” instead they saw potential in me and took the time to catch me up. By this point I had quite a few friends, most of which were either two years younger, or two years older. I was very involved with my youth group and life was better…kind of. I was still so depressed and still was self harming, and I was so overwhelmed that I would put off doing things because there was too much to do, I now know that is a sign of anxiety. Sophomore year came and I started a guy, who I ended up dating for almost 4 years, we moved very quickly and soon fell into sin, I thought I was going to marry him so I thought it would all be ok, but 4 and a half years later, we’re not even together. Throughout the rest of high school, I was still struggling to stay caught up in school, I was struggling to put on a happy face, and I was struggling with my faith because I had let God down. At the beginning of my Junior year my Grandma got very sick and was in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities, when she was able to go home for a short period, my mom moved in with her and after school I would go and help this woman who looked like my grandma but acted like a stranger. She didn’t know who we were, and she became violent. 3 months later she went home to The Lord. Not even a month later my Grandpa became very ill as well and went to live with my uncle. I went almost a year without seeing him and it tore me apart, I had lost 2 of my grandparents within a month of each other. In about February I started having these terrible recurring nightmares of a man coming in my window and hurting me, slowly it went from him hurting me to this man raping me, and then while we were visiting Georgia one summer, it went from being a nightmare that I got to wake up from in the mornings, to a nightmare that was my life. I started remembering this rape that had really happened that I had repressed when I was 7. This family friend had taken advantage of me, and taken away my innocence. It tore me apart and almost nobody knew. My depression and anxiety had gotten so much worse, though I had always been jumpy, and scared of random things (all of which made sense after I remembered) that got worse, I now know that it’s because I have PTSD, I was not in a good place at all. In late March of my senior year my grandpa became more ill and was placed in the hospital, and then eventually a rehab facility, the day before my senior prom, he went home to be with the Lord as well. My mom and uncle began fighting about my grandparents’ will’s when my grandma passed away and it just worsened when we lost my grandpa. Losing both of my grandparents, remembering my rape, being in my senior year, and dealing with undiagnosed depression, anxiety and PTSD, about killed me.
The fall after high school I went to Oklahoma Baptist University to study early childhood education, I 100% knew that the Lord wanted me at OBU, and I still believe that. It was hard not knowing anyone at school and only one person in the whole town. My mental health quickly worsened,but thankfully I met some amazing friends and professors, who saw I wasn’t in a good place and were there for me. The guy that I began dating in high school and I were still dating and still living in sin, in early October of 2015 I had a miscarriage, I didn’t know that I was pregnant beforehand and it about destroyed me. I believe that life is started at conception and because of that I wanted to name my baby, my then boyfriend though thought that was crazy and honestly didn’t even believe I had lost a baby. I went ahead and named my sweet little unborn angel. The whole experience was a huge wake up call that I needed to repent and change my ways, but it was also the beginning of a wake up call that the relationship was not a healthy one. Everything had piled up on me and I no longer knew how to deal with it. In early January after some very bad nights of depression getting the best of me, I knew I had to get help. I started going to therapy and though I only went for a semester it helped me grow so much. My therapist told me that “an untold story never heals” and so I began being more open about my story, I am so thankful that I did that because now when I tell it, I don’t cry, and it barely hurts at all, instead I look at how good God is and how He has a plan for all of this even though I don’t know what it is.
As I mentioned before, in middle school a camp called Youthfront saved and changed my life. This past summer I got to live my dream and be a cabin leader there. Again I felt so much love from everyone, so much acceptance and a community that was stronger than anything I’ve ever know, and again the Lord used it to save my life. The experience helped me heal and and grow not only in my faith but just as a person. I was closer to the Lord than I ever had been before and my mental health was also better than anytime I could remember. I broke up with the boy I had been dating, and I learned so much. I continued the process of healing from all the different things in my life. I felt the Lord telling me that I was not supposed to go back to OBU, and after praying about it I decided to move to Manhattan KS and with the help of my sister I got a job working with special needs kids at a therapy clinic. I was terrified to move, because I didn’t know what my job would entail and I didn’t know my roommates, but I trusted the Lord and had to completely rely on him, and I’m so so glad I did. In November I went to one of my friend’s houses from camp and we quickly learned that she needed a roommate and I needed a new place to live, less than 3 weeks later we were roommates and have become so close over the past 3 and a half months. The Lord knew that we both needed each other in this season of life. I have grown more than I ever have before, I was able to forgive all the people who had hurt me and it felt great (if you want to read more about that, check out my blog from 3 weeks ago called “Forgiveness”)
When you read my story I want you to know that though there has been so much pain, there has also been so much joy and in the pain God is faithful and good. The Lord has brought people into my life, even if it was only for a season to help me get through life and love on me and remind me that The Lord is faithful. I’ve always said that if anything that I’ve been through The Lord can use me to just help one person, then it makes everything worth it.
I want you to know that whether I know you or not, whether we used to talk and now we don’t, or whether we are best friends I am here for you to talk to if you need, I will love you no matter what, I will remind you that the Lord has a plan, and I will never judge.
Remember that the Lord is good, and He has a plan. Remember that things will get better, and if you feel like you have let the Lord down, remember you were never holding Him up.
Everybody has a story, and the Lord can use your story to help others, so think about sharing it. What’s the worst that can happen?