There are so many moments in life that I look back upon like steps in a staircase. Some steps have been long, stretching for miles, while others have been quick hops taken with ease. I have seen the growth that comes from the stumbling, the hurting, and especially the healing.
The moment that finally broke the seam in my taped-up world was a bitter and hurtful feud with my biological father. Sure, he had hurt me many times before, but this moment took our relationship from being bent out of shape to broken beyond repair.
My parents divorced when I was 7 and I spent the next 10 years in and out of court. I was lied to, screamed at, and belittled until my spirit was nearly stamped out. My father was notorious for having women in and out of his house and marriage was always a topic of conversation with the women walking through the revolving door of his love life. I knew in my soul that I hated this. I felt wildly uncomfortable in my father’s house. You would think this decade of pain would’ve pushed me away, but somehow, it wasn’t enough. I craved my father’s love.
The seam-breaking moment came when one of my extracurricular activities had a ticketed event. My father showed up at my mother’s door, stating that his latest bride-to-be was going to attend the event as his guest. I asked if he could wait to bring her to something else in the future instead. The stream of put-downs he unleashed was the soundtrack that had been playing in my mind for a decade–that I was stupid, not as smart as he, that I needed to obey. I remember staring blank-faced until I finally closed the door. I began to weep and could not stop. I had finally had enough.
A few weeks later, after a particularly volatile night at my father’s house, I decided I was leaving for good. I packed up all my things, left a note, and never stepped through his door again. My soul felt as though it had died, and I was just existing as a vessel of muscle and bones–no heart.
For the next two years, I went through all the motions of going to church, so I didn’t have to think about the fact that I hated God. I didn’t want to acknowledge that I felt betrayed, worthless, and without meaning. I even went to college far away from home to try to escape the emptiness.
During my second year of college, while on a church retreat with a friend, everything changed. About a week after the retreat, I began reading my Bible. This turned into reading pages and pages, chapters and chapters, until I had devoured more Scripture than I had read in my entire life.
I found myself asking the Lord tough questions, questions I had never asked before, even though they floated through my mind frequently. Speaking them out loud made them real accusations, not just hidden bitterness. And the Lord was quick to answer.
Instead of responding in anger like I thought a father would, he pulled me close. I heard thoughts loudly in my head that contradicted the pain I often dwelt upon, words like “All earthly fathers are imperfect, but I am the Perfect Father.” I was so deeply comforted by Scripture, even from prophets who were meant to deliver warnings of wrath, like Isaiah. The Lord is angry toward sin, but he loves his people more than we can comprehend. The more I read, the more I fell in love. I spent hours reading, dissecting, praying, journaling, healing.
This season set the stage for empowerment, a breakdown of what I thought defined me, and putting on a new identity in Christ. This love has led me across the world, given me a new purpose in life, and taught me how to love the creation I was made to be. I was dead, but now I am fully alive in Christ. He broke down walls I never knew I built and made himself known to me.
I have learned that he is so much closer than we know, closer than we even may want at times, and that he truly makes all things perfect in his time.
How has God changed your life? How has he changed how you see yourself?
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