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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Real Me

WARNING!!! The information in this post is sensitive in nature, graphic, and not intended for little eyes of those who would be upset by such things.

Candy and Stephanie had kinda issued a challenge to everyone to be honest about who they are. That very idea makes me feel like hiding, but it may give someone hope that Christ can save ANYONE! (A lot of the gaps in this story can be filled in by reading the post entitled A Warning in the walking by faith tag on the right)

When I was 4, we moved into a farmhouse that we rented, and I had a little brother, little sister, then a little brother. The farmhouse was very run down and the water and heat did not work regularly. We had a 5 gallon pail for a bathroom at the worst of times, and had to spend a lot of the winter with my aunt because we had not heat. My aunt was in the middle of a divorce, so the adults spent a lot of time talking while we were sent to play. Part of that play was touching each others' private areas, as my male cousin showed us. Knowing what I know now, he had to have been molested. Kids are curious, but they do not invent anal play on their own. When we got caught, they would always say it was my idea and I was labeled by my aunt (and therefore the entire family, because she of course told them all) as a liar, pervert, and bad kid. Well, when you hear it enough, it is easy to believe. I started perping on my siblings at home. My mom had to take me to the doctor because I had thought I injured my genetalia during one of these occurrences.

My mom started taking me to a psychologist friend of hers, who was such a nice lady, but I never felt like I got anything out of it. Seriously, all those years and I found it to be pointless. Meanwhile, I was chosen as the kid to pick on in school. I remember vividly the kids calling me fat, and when I look back at the class pictures, I can't believe I ever bought it. I often wish I could go back and tell that girl she was just right. Anyway, this is about the time I remember going to church regularly. My mom had been raised in the church, but had become backslidden or whatever you want to call it. We started going, though, and the preacher's son told me there was only so much room in heaven and that ministers and their kids would go first. This really bothered me, and I started trying to figure it out. I understood what sin was, that I had sinned, and that the punishment for sin was death. I asked my mom about being baptized (that was the way to become a Christian in that church) so she had me talk to the minister. He asked me if I died where I would go, and I said heaven I guess. I was teetering on the brink of accountable/unaccountable and perhaps the desire in my heart covering me until I got to the act that would seal the deal. He was kind about it, but said I wasn't ready. Then the elders started coming over to study with my dad, and one day in church he walked the isle and wanted to be baptized. I remember looking down at the floor (really through the floor clear to hell) and telling the devil "Ha, ha, you lost!"

The change my dad underwent had a very profound effect on me. I saw him do a 180, reading the Bible, praying, leading the family in devotions, and hungering for the word. I was still contemplating myself, and one Sunday I sat with a friend and wrote on one of the cards they provide for using when you go forward in case you were crying too hard to talk or didn't know what to say. I checked the box that says "I want to be baptized for the remission of sins" and wrote a little confession of the back, because I knew exactly what you were supposed to say when you confessed and repented before baptism. My friend gave it to the minister's wife after church, and suddenly we were having this major discussion with so many people form the church involved about whether I was old enough to know what I was doing (I was 10, and in that church people traditionally become Christians at the age of 14 or 15). My mom was crying and mad because I didn't talk to her first, the minister's wife questioned my answers again when she asked where I would go and I said "hell, I guess." I don't know if I was nervous or embarrassed, but it didn't go well. Anyway, the minister and a lady names Rhonda Beakman talked to me and each said they thought I was ready, so they put my dad in rubber waders, and my dad baptized me. It was about a year after his own.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the event, I was different. I hated the sexually charged music played on the school bus. I was on fire to tell kids at school about Christ, and brought many friends to church. I changed. I also started writing very spiritually based poetry. Fast forward to High School about 14 years old. I had one friend in particular (boy) who was from a very messy, broken home and was dabbling in the wrong things. A mutual friend recounted to me about how J- was drunk one night and wrecked his car. So I wrote a letter to his mother and told her how worried I was. In so doing, I brought down the sky upon myself. The mother went to the school psychologist and said there was something wrong with me. I started getting called into conferences, and she spoke to my parents about my needing professional help. So I went back to the shrink. She did not see anything so crazy in what I had done, and neither did my parents. Other kids who were looking for a reason to attack because they hated my 'piety' (I was the lone dissenter in the debate about the merits of abortion) and one girl in particular started really getting nasty with me. My parents had been acquaintances with her parents, so they had a meeting in which it was stated that I pretty much brought all this on myself by being nosy. So I dropped out of school. For a few weeks. Then my parents started paying tuition for me to go to a neighboring school (before open enrollment).

My dad was offered a job in South Carolina, and we took it. It was a blessing to have a chance to start over. The church there was very small, actually considered a mission. A boy at school who was a very good singer asked me out, and I told him no because the night he asked for was the night of the Bible study at our house. I remember that so vividly, mostly because I wonder where things went wrong. We started dating, and then he said he wanted to marry me. We even looked at engagement rings. So I gave in to the whole "If we're getting married, having sex isn't a sin. After all, in the Bible, Mary and Joseph were just as good as married when they were betrothed". I cried the whole time. Afterward, he took me home and I was sure everyone could tell just by looking at me. I hated it, and I really started to wrestle with God. I kept seeing him, though, and things got a little scary. He started to get rough and mean, taking me to his house after school to have sex even when I didn't want to, and then getting very angry when I ran in the bathroom because I thought I heard a car (UPS). I also had to hide from his dad once and I talked out loud when his mom was on the phone, giving us away. I got in big trouble for that. Once he wanted to have sex, and I said I couldn't because of my period, and he made me pull down my pants and prove it. Now, when I met him, I would not miss Bible study for a date, and here I was being humiliated. I still don't know how it happened. Then he broke up with me, and we were transferred back to Ohio.

My senior year was spent at the school I had been paying tuition to attend, only this time we lived in the district so it was free. I started dating a guy I knew for years from church camp, even doing the pen-pal dating for a while. Once again I gave myself to a guy who was putting up a front about our future. I followed him to college because of what he promised, only to find out I was being played. The great difference was that I wised up and dumped him. But I unfortunately tried to get back at him by being a 'frat' girl. As sick as the promiscuity made me feel, it was my understanding from our church that as long as you were a Christian, you were going to heaven. Sin obviously wasn't promoted, but it was just a matter of forgiveness. I moved into an apartment with my best friend, who was a guy. We lived there for a year, and then I came home. Not because I wanted to. I was broke, my roomie was moving back on campus, and I had nowhere to go. It was the grace of God that sent me home.

I started college at Hiram and when I needed a job, a guy I knew in the dorm put in a word for me at a dairy farm, because I had farm experience. When I walked into the barn the first morning and saw the farmer, I heard music in my head!!!! I loved him very quickly. He asked me to marry him, and we moved into the apartment above the milk house. I was attending a different church, and at this church living together was OK. After we were married, I became pregnant and with all that time and not being able to work, I started reading. God reached out to me through the insane amount of writing I devoured. I realized I had really missed the point when it came to salvation, and I began searching for God with abandon. I pleaded with Him to take me back. When I announced to my husband that the church we were members of was doctrinally wrong, he was upset. But I showed him little by little from the Bible, and eventually we left. We ended up at a Southern Baptists church where I heard the word preached for the first time in a long time. I do not agree with everything about this church, but it is the first where I have found a sound, bible-based doctrine.

And that's where I am. I have become a self-appointed theologian, desiring to know and understand all I can about the Bible and the way it applies to life. I still struggle with sins- I am a glutton, I get angry and hold grudges, and I have a hard time admitting when I am wrong. I believe the only way to overcome that and become the wife and mother God wants me to be (and I so desire to be) is to be filled with the Holy Spirit by continual communion with God.

So for those of you who say how amazing I am and how together I have it all, it is just a passing glimpse. If you could see inside my heart, my mind, my past, you would run away in horror. The only way I can go on is knowing that Christ has covered me. So my theme song certainly fits! If he can save this much of a mess, he can save you.


heather said...

This is the line I question:

mostly because I wonder where things went wrong.

Are you speaking of your relationship with God or your relationship with that jerk? Because I know you understand (studying to be a councelor) that his actions were not caused by you.

I had a relationship similar to that (in my not so smart years) exept that it was more viloent. :) Praise God I was delivered from it!

motherofmany said...

I wondered where things went wrong in my walk with God. I mean, I was committed enough one month not to forsake a Bible study, and literally two months later I was completely overcome. And it wasn't like a one0-time slip up, I allowed it to continue despite my revlusion because having the affection of this creep became more important to me than having the approval og God.

runningtothecross said...

Thank you Amy...I am glad we are friends. You life story has touched me more than you know. I am so thankful that God saved you from the road that you were on, and put you on the straight and narrow path.

Have a blessed day!

I may tell my story sometime, but the fatigue of this pregnancy, especially lately, has left me extremely tired.

Mercy said...

Thank God for His loving grace!

How brave of you to tell your story. It really does need to be told. So many people can benefit when we willingly testify. Yes, we are a mess, but GOD IS SOO FAITHFUL!! He is always willing to recieve us even when we've gone down the wrong road. Thankfully, you turned to Him in your time of need.

And, thank God that I DID too!!

Thanks for sharing your story.

In Christs love,

Suzie said...

You're such a strong and wonderful person. You and your family brought me to Christ when I was young.I could never thank you enough for that. There's no need to question your mistakes, God does'nt expect you to be perfect.
Love You!

sara said...

I don't know what to say but feel I have to say something. Such honesty, showing the ugliness and everything - isn't it terrifying? The admission of sins both past and present - amazing to me.

Anyway, there are similarities in our stories.