All that plays through my mind when I think about my childhood is one word: bittersweet. To be honest, the memories are bitterer and less sweet. I was raised going to church and always prided myself on being a so-called “Christian.” Really, I was just grasping at anything to fill my time from thinking of my pain – I was never living worthy of the gospel.
With my parents divorcing when I was 4, I was forced to spend weekends with my dad. Many of the flashbacks I have to these days are blurry. I can see myself and everyone else just fine, except for him. If you’ve ever watched really bad yet really addictive reality TV, you know that occasionally they blur someone’s face out to protect their identity. That is what I see when I picture him. A fuzzy figure yelling at me, telling me I’m just like my worthless mother, throwing things my direction. I spent my childhood dodging his verbal and sometimes physical blows.
This then catapulted me into teenage years from hell. I became a robot clinging to every word and every action of a friend. It could be from one friend in particular or it may be from all the ones I was hanging around at the time. I lived for the attention and companionship I was shown by others. If I had church or homework, I would cancel it for anyone who would spend time with me.
Then, all of the sudden, I would get burnt out on that person. I would find some character flaw or personality conflict and I would start ignoring them. I wouldn’t return their texts and walked right past them in the hallways, never giving them a solid reason that I had moved on. If I could count the friends I treated this way, I would need to borrow fingers and toes. Occasionally I would carve out a few minutes a day for God, but rarely.
Later on, I didn’t need to make fast friends anymore. I met a boy. A boy I would do anything for, just jumping when he said so. I would wait for hours in my driveway just hoping he would make an appearance. This probably seems normal for most girls’ first loves, except this was a toxic boy. The kind you see in Lifetime movies – dangerous and exciting while simultaneously stringing me along. I was so damaged, I saw nothing wrong with him or myself; I thought what we had was normal. After all, it was all
I had ever known.
The night he finally decided to cut ties with me is vague, too. All I remember is being so mad that he ditched me before I could do the same to him. I wanted to be the one, like I had with past friends, to move away first. After this happened, I went through a very dark time. I spent the summer in my bed, the only light coming from my TV that I wasn’t even watching. I confided in several people during this time, but I know they were getting tired of hearing me obsess over what wasn’t anymore. I went on a weekend trip to see family and passed a billboard on the highway. It read “If you’re looking for a sign, this is it.” That was the weekend I restored my faith in God and my faith in myself. I was finally seeing through clear, pure eyes. I came to realize I was an addict – not an alcoholic or drug user, but I was addicted to the euphoric feeling I got when others “loved” me.
The next semester, I threw myself into my major, early childhood education, and focused on my renewed relationship with Christ. I would wake early and read my Bible, and I really pulled away from everyone. I learned that I was getting so caught up in others and how they could satisfy what I missed out on as a child. I wasn’t allowing God to heal me. I was finally able to leave these parts of my past where they belonged and trust HIM to heal my heart. I’m still “recovering,” and it’s a daily struggle. Sometimes, if I’m having a rough day, I find myself texting every contact in my phone, yearning for someone to pay me some attention. Then I remember that all I need is my heavenly Father to pull me through.
I now see that life in my “before billboard” days was such a grave life. I was half-dead because I wasn’t living for God. So I have chosen to live a grace-full life instead. I have pulled back from needing affirmation from so many people and am just focusing on what God needs me to do in this world. This new chapter is the real me. I have been volunteering with sexually abused children and recently received a scholarship through my college. It’s truly astounding what God will do for you when you trust in Him. He has blessed me in more ways than I can describe. Even in my darkest days when I put Him last, He was there.
I’m writing this today for all my fellow grace-full sisters and all those on the road to a grace-full life. No matter your past or present, He will show you attention, love, and lead you to your purpose if you seek him wholeheartedly. Don’t let Satan win by idolizing over people he places in your life. To all the friends I ran from and dismissed without reason, this is my sincerest apology. I hope you understand I was living a grave life. But I’m not living that life anymore.
Love to all my Simply Beloved spirit sisters,