My family looked pretty typical. I grew up with a younger sister and two married parents. I didn’t grow up in a churchgoing family, but we were “good” people. What wasn’t apparent to those outside of our family was the damage done by people in my life who abused alcohol and who couldn’t control their tempers. They made a lot of hurtful statements. I internalized those harsh words and believed them.
I gained 40 pounds the first three months of 8th grade. The voices around me started getting louder, reminding me of all the ways I didn’t measure up to “expectations”. Not only was I getting the “usual” messages from the media, but I was being called horrible names by those around me as well. My feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness grew and consumed me.
During my high school years I started searching, but I didn’t know what I was searching for. I felt like I should try going to church, but I didn’t know how to broach the subject with my parents. I wasn’t sure where to start. I was born and raised in California, but knew I would be attending college out of state. Through a variety of circumstances, that only God could orchestrate, I ended up at a small Christian school for every reason in the world OTHER than it being a Christian school. I made the decision to follow Christ at age 18, as a college freshman.
My life didn’t become perfect after that decision, and my early 20s were a rough time for me. There were many years where I was “too Christian” for my non-Christian friends and “not Christian enough” for my Christian friends. I was still plagued by the insecurities that had haunted me (seemingly) forever. This was compounded by the fact that it felt as if all of my friends were married and beginning their families, while I had never even had a boyfriend. I had six engaged roommates by the time I STARTED my senior year of college. I was feeling like an old maid at 22. I started dating anyone who paid attention to me, even if I knew they weren’t Christians and even if they weren’t very nice to me.
One day in 2002 God met me in my brokenness as I cried out that I COULD NOT keep living the way I had been. I was done dating guys who weren’t nice to me. I was done compromising who I was as a child of God to fit in and be liked. I was DONE. In many ways, this decision was more dramatic than my initial decision to follow Jesus at 18.
I have since married an amazing man, who absolutely LOVES Jesus, and we have two children. Even after 25 years of following Jesus I still sometimes struggle with the lies I heard growing up and the insecurities that spring from those. Thanks to Jesus, I’m able to see those words as the lies they are, but those lies remain my weakness. I’ve cried countless tears and I’ve cried out to Jesus to heal my heart. And He is faithful to do so. My scars will always bear witness to my story, but I have seen countless times how Jesus has shown up on my bad days.
Recently I traveled to Israel and Palestine with a group of ladies from all over the world. I shared my story on that trip and was broken in a way I hadn’t been in years. One of the ladies kept reminding me, “God says you are worthy.” I was absolutely raw from sharing my wounds with those I didn’t know well when we got off the bus for our next stop. Just moments after old scars were ripped open I arrived at Jacob’s Well --- the spot where Jesus met the Samaritan woman and offered her living water. Jesus met me there in my hurt and my brokenness. He surrounded me with women who spoke life over me and who prayed for me. Jesus met me in the room that now contains the well where He met the Samaritan woman.
Jesus is constantly reminding me that, though my past is not necessarily beautiful, He continues to work my story for good. My past will always be part of who I am, but I am His child who is deeply loved, and He continues to meet me in my brokenness and carry me.