I was struck hard last weekend as I listened to a powerful young woman share her beautiful story. I have been overwhelmed with the prompting to write MY STORY. Not because mine is anything like hers, but because everyone has a story and each one is so moving and empowering and important. To share for the purpose of exposing in hope of spreading openness and love and ultimately glorifying our savior because HE saves and changes us and walks WITH us. He loves the most broken.
5 kids and I am the second oldest. Dad is a pastor and I felt the pressure young. We were homeschooled for a year and I flunked out. Retaking 4th grade, I felt the “something is wrong with me” early. I was on the hunt for identity. Something to make me feel worth, feel enough. I gave my life to Christ at a young age and felt it with conviction. All eyes were watching. My parents, God, the congregation. I wanted to please them really bad and I did. I was beautiful and sweet and athletic and lead small groups because most of the time I felt like it. It wasn’t until High School that I felt angry and lost. I was mad that I was brought up in such a strict home with strong morals and curfews and got teased for being like 7th Heaven. I wanted to “find myself,” by myself. O boy, did I search. I figured out boys helped me feel good about myself and I listened and would do anything for their attention. I completely lost myself in wanting the love and affection and attention of boys. All high school and into college too. I wanted to feel beautiful and loved and enough all the time and they made me feel that way for a while. I defined myself by my external and didn’t know who I was without it. While this feels like a lifetime ago, its a huge part of me..those broken years. If I do this, they will love me..I will be accepted if I give them this, look THIS way.
My parents found a pregnancy test receipt in their trash can and they freaked (rightfully so). I was doing the two-faced life and absolutely fooled them and sometimes myself too. When they came to my college that night, I was faced with a choice. To keep on living the way I was, defending my torn up, lonely, deceitful, empty, superficial lifestyle or own up to it. I didn’t tell them this but deep in my heart..that night in their car..I decided. Enough is enough and I want life. I want to believe I am beautiful because I am; not because whoever the guy I was with said I was. I wanted freedom from the bondage. It took months, if not years to unlearn my sinful ways, I was in deep. I had to fight and make the next best choice every moment. I hurt myself and others along the way so grace and forgiveness, grace and forgiveness again. To accept full freedom and dance and sing without worrying what people thought about me. I was trapped and that night as my parents called me on my shit, I agreed to freedom. I said yes. It was a road and it was long and weary but it’s my story. It still is a long road, it will always be. Daily, I speak truth against the lies. You are good enough because you are MY DAUGHTER, I remind myself of what my God thinks about me. It doesn’t matter what they say or don’t say. You are beautiful because of your heart and your soul and nothing else matters. It all goes back in the box anyway. I look at my beautiful daughter and tell her how much I love her heart. How it’s what makes her so unique and wonderful. How redeeming of our Father to send me a man (who I ended up marrying) who didn’t even care to kiss me for months and months as we dated. “I want to get to know your mind,” he told me. I was so confused and refreshed by this. The night Drew told me he was in love with me was one of the greatest nights of my life; Because, yes..a man was in love with me and I loved him back. He slammed my car door after he told me twice, “I love you, Jen.” I started my car and it rained and “O, How He Loves Us” by David Crowder was blaring. I heard it loud and clear. Jen, I love you like Drew loves you. That love that you know and feel and trust because it’s real. I love you a million times more than that. Needless to say, I fell in love with a man and God (again) that night. I cried and cried and never felt more beautiful in my entire life. That song is a bit overplayed now, lol; but every time I hear it, I feel it. I feel Gods crazy, grace-filled adoration for me and I am so thankful and so full and so beautiful. What a journey we are ALL on. Thanks for letting me share a bit of my story and thanks to Carrie from the Freedom Movement who openly and passionately tells her story with her whole heart and inspired me to do the same. So, so beautiful. J