It’s amazing how you can spot God everywhere when you’re on the lookout for him.
Growing up, I hated God. Or, better put, I didn’t believe in God, but if He were real, I hated Him. My childhood was a good one. I got good grades, wanted for nothing, and had many incredible friends. But my dad consistently hurt my mom, something that, even as a young child, I could not condone. I remember as a seven-year-old praying “God, I don’t think you’re real, but if you are, get that man out of my house.”
I longed for this to happen instantaneously. I wanted a hero to swoop in and save the day. I wanted to go on to live happily ever after with a vanquished foe and loads of laughter; after all, isn’t that what happens in all those Disney movies I was watching? But this is the real world and things don’t always happen the way we want them to.
For years, we continued on in this state of hurt: my dad hurting my mom and me watching her as she deteriorated. I was still joyful, I still had friends, I still got good grades, but as I saw more, I began to feel less. The truthful pain of being unwanted by my father was too much for me to bear. The injustice of my depressed mother was crippling for a child still in elementary school. And the more years went by the less I allowed myself to feel until one day I had the emotional range of a robot.
During my teen years, I would schedule breakdowns when they were convenient for me and I could easily go 12 months without shedding a single tear. I oscillated between anger and numbness all the while getting good grades, maintaining friendships, staying busy in various extracurriculars, and putting on a good face.
I met Jesus when I was 15 years old on a missions trip to the Philippines that I didn’t want to go on, with my dad, the last person on earth I wanted to be around. This was my mom’s attempt at us bonding; she was still in love with the man I loathed with my entire being. I accepted Christ as my Savior and quickly dove into the church culture. I learned the right things to say at the right time, I served in all the right areas and wore myself out all in the name of God because, after all, that’s what you did, right?
Yet, I still continued to wither away. The emotional pain I had been suppressing was replaced by physical pain which led to me living off of prescription pain meds. The pain was too much and numbness was my dearest friend. But I was productive. I served in almost every area of the church, led worship, was a leader in the children’s ministry, worked 2 part-time jobs and went to school more than full-time while maintaining an almost perfect GPA.
When I was 21 years old, I moved about four hours away to a small town to finish my senior year of college. This was when God really began to get after me. I cried more during that one year than I probably had in the previous 15 of my life. Almost every day was an opportunity for God to shed a layer of my past and replace it with how he saw me. It was a brutal and beautiful process. I didn’t want to be healed, I didn’t want to become whole, I didn’t want to feel, and I didn’t want to change. But slowly, over time, day by day, he was patiently beckoning me to him. He was there, holding out his hand, asking for the garments of abuse, pride, hate, anger, bitterness, and apathy that I had made my own with such fervor. I would give these over to him and, more often than not, want to take them back immediately; these things were my security blankets. Without my pain who would I be?
A lot has changed since then and I’m thankful for that. But I’m still constantly being asked to shed layers. God is so patient with me when I flip the switch and choose being numb over the pain of feeling. He still loves me when I am absolutely unloveable and pursues me when I run as far away from him as I can.
As I look back on my life though, I’m immensely thankful for what I’ve been given. For the vast majority of my 27 years, I hated that I was born into the family I was born into and I wished for anything and everything to be different, but I no longer feel that way. My parents are both geniuses in their own ways and glimmers of that have rubbed off on me. My mind works in a unique way that God intentionally designed that would’ve been different had I been raised by different people in a different place. I’m thankful for my battle to feel because now, when I write and tell the stories of others, I know what a privilege these emotions are. I am grateful for the road to recovery that I’m still on because it gives me compassion for others instead of the judgment and pride that come so easily to me.
I don’t know much, but I know this:
God is good.
We’re all in process together.
And every story is worthy of being shared.
How has God changed your life? How has he changed how you see yourself?
We want to hear your story (even if it's still in process) of victory in Christ!