I was asked recently to speak to a group of people and the only objective was to tell my story. I rejected the idea. I love stories. I love to hear people tell their stories. There's great value in hearing from another person about the experiences of life that have impacted their life. Just not my story. The truth is, I'd rather leave the past in the past. I've left a lot of things here and it's fun to go back from time to time and read them again, to marvel out how much God has taught me, allowed me to experience in this life and wonder about what is to come, but this is very different than in real life in front of real people. There's no deleting mistyped words in public or reorganizing thoughts. There's no removing a post that shouldn't have been in real life. And I'm not my story. I'm not my experiences. They have just been events in my life. Maybe they've formed who I have become, but I'd rather think that I am who I am because "I AM" says who I am. But, I relented. I know there's value in breaking the silence over these things in my past, because they are also the things in another's past and my putting to voice the pain and hurt of the past allows them to voice the hurt and scars of their past too. And if God can heal the wounds of my past, then maybe I can speak hope into a future of healed hurts and brokenness. Bless it.
This stuff is heart wrenching and hard and I don't want to do it.
Here it is. This is the story I shared.
Remember the days of VHS- rewind and fast-forward features allowed us to see a glimpse of the story? We're going to fast forward for a minute. My parents were teenagers when I was born and in another couple years, we gained a baby brother and sister. But poverty, immaturity and inexperience took a toll and 5 years from when it started, we were a family broken by divorce. The next couple years were hard. I remember babysitters who were getting high and selling drugs on their watch. I remember, as a child, cooking for my siblings. I don't really know why, but just that it was necessary. Life was tough, so very tough.
In a couple more years, everything changed. Adoption was decided the best option for us. We were removed from our home, the communities and families that we had grown up living with and around and were placed in a new place, a new community, new school, new neighborhood. We were blessed with Sunday School, piano lessons, dream vacations, stuffed to overflowing Christmas trees. From poverty to privileged. And it was beautiful and perfect.
Then, it wasn't. For a time, after we had been tucked into bed at night, I was repeatedly violated while I lay in my bed at night. I don't need to go into the details of it all. It was traumatic. It was broken. It was not perfect and beautiful anymore. After a time, he was treated at an in-patient facility and all of it became a skeleton buried deep in the family closet never to be talked about again. That's all that need to be said.
If we fast forward some more, I met Jesus in high school. Later I met and married my sweet-heart, my strength, my comfort, my love. Later, my first child was born and that skeleton was about to come busting out of the closet. The symptoms were postpartum depression, anger, anxiety, bitterness and shame. Because he knew it would be best for me, as difficult as it would be and at the love and patient encouragement of my beloved, we tried very unsuccessfully to address the skeleton - now out of the closet. But, it was unheard of. I was called names, labelled "unforgiving", "revengeful" and "needing counseling" Sure I did and so did they.
More children were born. A reunion with my biological parents happened and that's a story I already told here. Depression, sickness and anger all continued to infest and intoxicate my life. The children that were born in the ensuing years were sick. They suffered terrible allergies and complications. We went on a journey to restore their health and it changed my life forever.
Some have started this idea to choose a word for the year. One Word. That changes everything. Resolutions and goals don't stick. But something about discerning a word from God and allowing Him to guide and direct on that theme through the year is changing things. Years before we decided to choose a word for the year, God chose a word for us.
In December 2012, I remember telling my dad that God wanted to heal in 2013- that it would be a year for healing. I imagined that this would be for my son whose allergies had gone from bad to worse- a boy who couldn't play outside and had to diligently eat only the strict diet we mapped out for him. You can see why we wanted healing and God too. Early 2013, his baby brother was diagnosed with 'failure to thrive'. So, early in this healing year of 2013 and our baby boy is pretty much the opposite. He also suffered food allergies with anaphlaxis risk. In the process of working through the failure to thrive, we discovered that God had completely healed our baby of his food allergies. From very high risk allergy to zero allergy in one year. This became a little seed of hope for healing that beautifully blossomed that year.
Through an "Awakening" Series and 21 days of prayer and fasting at our church, we prayed and hoped for God to heal our child. As the year progressed and regular allergy testing showed over and over again, he was responding. He was in the process of being healed. From 2012 to now, he has suffered up to 15 food allergies and currently only suffers from 2, which are also retreating and each year we continue to see progress.
What I did not imagine was a sealing of a healing process God had begun in my life. I had assumed that this history of abandonment, neglect and abuse would be baggage that I would carry for the remainder of my days. God had another plan. To tell that story, we rewind track a bit.
In 2011, I had been so terrified to discover that I was pregnant. I didn't comprehend how I could possibly survive another postpartum depression. I did not understand how or why I could be pregnant nor what I was going to do about that. Before my baby boy was born that fall, I had begun meeting with a group of people who love Jesus, love me and each other, encourage and challenge one another. We were seeking God, praying together and growing together. After this sweet, sweet child that greatly challenged my faith was born, a single solitary moment changed my life. We had gathered that week when he was just a few weeks old when national and local news broke about pedophiles who had violated children and families over the course of many many years. A fire of justice ignited in my heart and I cried out for prevention and policies and for the children! We prayed that day and the next is just so difficult to put into adequate words. Jesus came in that moment and took over. He used the words of my mouth to speak healing and redemption and restoration for all the people who had their lives scarred by these 2 pedophiles. He used that moment to deliver me of my baggage of trauma and abandonment. He healed my wounds that day. I could write on and on about that experience which defies all words. From that moment on, I did not suffer a single moment of postpartum depression with this final baby from my womb.
Those first years of mothering were lost- they were hard on me and it is by the grace of God we got through them. Healing from these things is something I never thought to ask for and something I never imagined could be mine. My dad told me one day that God could and would deliver it and we disagreed. I'm convinced that this moment is the result of many moments of prayers he spoke on my behalf and the result of the tremendous love of God which is far more powerful and holy that can ever be described. God worked a miracle then, which was in preparation for a day in the healing year of 2013 that I also didn't see coming.
Back to 2013, Pastor shared a verse one day- Isaiah 45:3.I had this vision of myself, surrounded by the darkness in my life, all shades of dingy smoky gray. There's Jesus- a beacon of light, a treasure hidden in the dark places, with love radiating my face, with his hand out to me saying, 'come child, come to me and rest.' The truth is that I wouldn't know Jesus so preciously, so redemptively (i made up that word), so hopefully, if it weren't for these dark moments that have been my experience.
Summertime of that year, Jesus called me back to the darkness of my childhood, to a family event that could not be avoided. Since I had spoken out, pulled that skeleton out of the closet many year previously, my presence was not welcome by everyone. And it was terribly difficult to be around the people that had allowed so much difficulty in my life. However, Jesus ministered to me on the long drive and prepared my heart for the work that was to come.
As children, we had been required to forgive this person who wounded us. But that is not forgiveness. Forgiveness comes from the Father and is a gift from the Spirit. I found myself in a conversation with this person who had traumatized me and found once again, the Holy Spirit speaking through the words of my mouth. I really couldn't understand the words of my mouth, words that were not my original thoughts or expressions, and yet I was willing to speak and the words came. "I love you. I forgive you." Look, it's still difficult to be around these people, but God has restored and redeemed. We have to be willing to be present in the circles of people, in the patterns of life, go on the journeys and follow the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. When we do, it's not easy. It's so so so not easy. It's always worth it.
He's restored relationships, filled the gaps, redeemed, healed and loved and this is just the beginning.
The best is yet to come. Shout out (do people still say that?) to all the mamas of my life who have been present, prayed with, loved and encouraged me through these years and defined what a mama is and what a mama does.
Healing and hope come in when we make a place for His presence to come in and work.
I don't tell my story to be defined by my story. I tell this story to bring hope for healing and restoration for anyone reading it. God bless.