Category Archives: Rejection

‘Tis So Sweet: ‘Neath the Healing Flood

ID-100463957“Oh how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood!”
-‘Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus,  Louisa M. R. Stead

“And the Lord said to tell you that THIS TIME, your MIND will NOT get in the way!!”

My friend said those words forcefully during the prayer night as she spoke about THIS MAN. How did she know?, I thought to myself. I laughed a little bit as she said it, remembering all the past hurts I had experienced with guys and how I would obsess to the point of allowing even the smallest perceived rejection to send me spiraling out of control–to reject before I could be rejected. The most recent hurts, even though they were a couple of years in the past, were still on my mind a little bit. But I was pretty much over that stuff, fully accepting of myself and ready to date. So I agreed fully–she was right, God was right. I was in a much better place, and this time, my mind was not going to get in the way.

Honestly, I can’t decide whether I am naive or ignorant. I mean well; I’m not purposely thinking of myself as better than anyone else with regards to how I handle life. I guess for some reason, I believed that when the Lord said “My mind would not get in the way,” it meant there would be no issues or struggles. But that’s not what my friend said, and even more so, that is not what He meant…because that is not how He works. He works by bringing our core issues to the forefront so that we can work them out with fear and trembling. And that does not happen often without struggles.

So the first time I began to experience even a modicum of perceived rejection from THIS MAN, I freaked out a little bit. Mind you, I used the word “perceived” because that is all it was–my perception. A friend that I had (finally) confided in reminded me astutely: “Your mind is not going to get in the way.” I took this as a word straight from the Lord and let it go. But I was not as lucky this past weekend.

I was having my 10 percent day, and in the midst of it, I was feeling again a perceived rejection (again–PERCEIVED) when my flesh pounced. Instead of walking away from the damning thoughts, I waded neck deep into them. I stayed away from church, from the people who love me when I am at my deepest place of despair. I stayed in bed all day (since I hadn’t slept the night before), and I cried the majority of the day. I plotted and planned on how to make an easy escape from the difficulties of facing myself and THIS MAN; how to reject him before I could feel that rejection. I ruminated about it the entire day, making up excuses for why I could never be close to him–my personality was too big for him, he wasn’t mature enough, we didn’t have anything in common–and verbalizing why I perceived he was choosing not to be close to me. I obsessed and spiraled out of control, remembering the hurts that had been piled upon me from past relationships.

Normally, I would’ve done something extreme during those hours–unfollowed him on social media, sent a regrettable message, made my rejected feelings known in some way. But for some reason, I didn’t take any action. Then suddenly towards the day’s end, I started repeating Isaiah 26:3 to myself:

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

It was almost immediate, the wave of relief that came over me. I felt like I had been literally plunged into His healing, cleansing flood. Peace washed over me as I settled down. My anxiety faded. My heart relaxed. My mind became focused on the immovable grace, peace, and love of Jesus.

And that was it. He was simply waiting for me to relent, to return. Waiting for me to come to the end of myself. Waiting to remind me that there’s so much more work to do in me than I even can see. And waiting to tell me that no rejection, real or perceived, from THIS MAN or any man can replace the acceptance He has given me as His precious daughter. I just need to trust Him and let His love heal and cleanse me.

I realize now that I will struggle, and that my mind may get the best of me on some days. But as long as I continue to trust Him, my mind will not get in the way. Not this time.

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Good Grief

crying doll by Theeradech Sanin

image courtesy of Theeradech Sanin / freedigitalphotos.net

My father died today. I don’t think that there’s three points that I can give you in a blog format to help you learn more about yourself through the death of my parent. So I’m just going to unjumble my thoughts and let them flow here, and I pray that God will bless you in some way as you read.

If you’ve read my testimony, you know that I didn’t have a great relationship with my dad. Celebrate Recovery helped me do a lot of grieving and releasing, but especially with my father. It was good to grieve the father I didn’t have, the father I always wanted…to let go of expectations and begin to accept the reality of who my father was. To release my feelings of rejection and revel in the acceptance of my heavenly Father. I continued to do that for the next five years, never really desiring a full-time relationship with him for many reasons. As more and more information about the man I called “Dad” has surfaced in recent weeks, I know that God has been protecting me by removing that desire from me. Instead, I have accepted him as the flawed, sinful man that he is and loved him from an appropriate distance. I am thankful that God indeed protected my heart and gave me the strength to set healthy boundaries.

A couple of things happened as I began to grieve a few weeks ago when I was alerted that my father was on his death bed. The first thing I noticed was that I couldn’t stop thinking about this one person with whom I had unfinished business. Death tends to bring out those unresolved situations in our lives, making us uneasy with leaving loose ends. Eventually I realized that what was on my mind was, “If I died today, is there anyone to whom I would need to make amends?” There was. I guess because my own father never realized the “error” of his ways and never sought to make amends with his children, I wanted to break that cycle. I could say “I’m sorry” and I could make amends. I wanted to start a new kind of cycle—one of grace and pure love modeled after Christ. And while I had been concerned because there had been no one to talk to about my situation (other than God), I eventually realized that I didn’t need to talk to someone else about it. I needed to talk to the offended party. So I sent an e-mail today. It was hard, and I cried more over that e-mail than I have cried for my deceased father. But I felt a burden lift once I pressed “send.” Life is too short for unfinished business, unforgiveness, and loose ends.

Second, I realized that I wasn’t carrying any burden towards my father. Finding out a few really terrible things about him in the last few days, I thought I would feel heavier about things. When I confessed his deplorable acts to a friend, she assured me that who my father was is not who I am. I reassured her confidently that I didn’t feel that anyway—and it was true. I felt disconnected from that because I had forgiven him. But I also felt disconnected from that because my identity is not in my earthly father anymore. I have secured my identity as a princess of the King and a crazy but amazing pushy prophet girl, and because of that, there is no burden for being my earthly father’s daughter. Whatever heinous acts my father may have committed, they do not belong to me…I have been cleansed and forgiven. I am my Father’s child.

Third, I realized the significance of sexual sin in my generational history. Numbers 14:18 says, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’” I know that my grandfather and father’s iniquities have visited the generations below them and through me, and that is important for me to accept and understand in my continual quest for purity. Indeed, though I am my Father’s child, I now have some idea as to why I have struggled so mightily in the area of sexual purity. However, what grace and love the Father lavishes on us, that I can not only call myself His child but that I can receive forgiveness and cleansing from the sins of my forefathers. I am ready to break the cycle and bring forth a generation of purity. My tears have not been wasted; they have been collected by a loving Daddy who intends to use them to cleanse future generations as they walk in their PureID™. What joy that brings me!

So I stand here not crying, but instead praising! Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow, and I thank You, Jesus, for the opportunity to experience this blessed, good grief. Amen!

Emotionally Healthy Habits: Failure

health pyramid by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on my past, particularly with my career and my relationships. I was a youth pastor for about 10 years, but not a “successful” one by any means (if you are looking at numbers, particularly). I have been a worship leader at my church, but never a “successful” one by standards that I would use to measure success. I had one long-term boyfriend, but have only dated inconsistently in the past 10 years. Even at my job with the school system, I have never quite gotten up to the level that others think I should. I often look back at my life and see that it is riddled with failure in these two areas. And of course, my two biggest concerns are whether my business will succeed and whether I’ll ever get married. I’ve experienced enough defeat in these areas to last a lifetime.

Failure comes in many forms: rejection, watching others succeed in areas where you didn’t, trying new ideas that don’t work, outright defeat. But even with its different looks, failure can be an emotionally healthy habit, if we can remember these three things about failure in our lives:

  • Failure is inevitable. Everyone fails at something, because failure is a part of life. You don’t get every job that you apply for, you don’t date every person that you want to date, and you don’t get picked for every team you want to be on! From the beginning, we are destined to experience failure and suffering. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation.” This means that I should expect failure, honestly. He didn’t say that we might, He didn’t say only some would—He said that we all would experience tribulation, and that includes failure. God knew that I would experience a lot of career failure, and He knew that I would experience failure in my relationships. And once we accept that failure is a normal, natural experience, we can move forward.
  • Failure does not define you. Failure is not who you are, it is what happens to you. I have failed at many endeavors, but that does not make me a failure. I have received many words of encouragement from former youth, people who felt God’s Spirit in worship experiences, and friends who felt loved by me. I know that the Lord used me in many of these instances to bless others, even if the overall impact was less than I or others expected. In addition, I realize that my identity is not tied up in the things that I do—which means that failure does not determine my identity! My identity is instead wrapped up in the person of Jesus and everything that He says that I am—and Galatians 3:26 says I am a child of God—through faith, not success!
  • Failure is a great teacher. Romans 5:3-5 says, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” When we fail and suffer, we learn a great deal about endurance, character, and hope. We develop wisdom through failure that we cannot learn through success. (I guess this means I should be really wise!) In addition, God uses those failures to encourage us and others. What have I learned from my failures? That I am a great administrator; that I work better with adults; that I should not compromise what I’m looking for in a mate. As such, my failures have contributed to me knowing my passions and purpose just as much as my successes have.

Some of the greatest successes have come because of great failure, and in order to be greatly successful in God’s Kingdom, we must understand that failure is unavoidable! But once we accept that and reject the idea that failure defines us, we can learn from our failures and thus grow in our emotionally healthy habits!

What’s Missing From Sex: Commitment (Part 2)

This blog series is following my church’s series, “What’s Missing From Sex” as my pastor preaches about a topic the church has mostly avoided. This particular post goes with the second sermon in the series and can be found on my church’s website here. I urge you to listen! The sermon begins about 17:00 minutes into the video.

ID-100140529

image courtesy of ponsulak

This is the last blog for my church’s series, “What’s Missing from Sex?” and I have to admit, I’m struggling to write it. Mostly, it’s because my life has changed dramatically over the past few weeks. My uncle—the man who inadvertently introduced me to pornography—had a massive stroke and is unable to care for himself. My family and I have accepted the responsibility of coordinating his care and moving him to live with my family back east. My father—the man who rejected me continuously as a child and adult—has been given 60 days to live and is dying a sad and terrible death. Additionally, I am trying to figure out my feelings about a male friend of mine, which is both confusing and confirming all at the same time. I’m emotionally spent. And to say that I am thinking about commitment recently is an understatement: the word is being redefined in my life on an hourly basis.

I could talk about commitment and the various awesome quotes my pastor threw out about Christians, sex, and commitment, but instead, here are the two things I’m learning about commitment as I’ve struggled through the past few weeks:

Commitment plays a big part in our self-worth. What was it about me that made my father not want to be a part of my life? I don’t know if I ever asked myself this question or considered it as I was growing up. But even so, I lived as if the answer to the question was simply that I wasn’t enough. I conducted my life as a woman who had little self-worth, who asked for zero commitment from anyone before engaging them sexually, who allowed herself to be treated as an object. I was saying to others that I was independent and confident, but my actions showed that I didn’t feel worthy of a commitment from anyone—and that I expected that as well. Thankfully, I know now that this is a lie! I am worthy of that commitment—and so are you. Everyone is. I see it play out through the situation with my uncle: I see the happiness on his face upon being reassured that we are committed to caring for him. He not only feels loved but secure in having others who care for him. Though his situation isn’t ideal, his self-worth can be. It’s that kind of security and self-worth that God wanted us to know when He committed to sending Jesus to save us. He wanted to set us free and ground our identity in Him (1 John 3:1-2).

Commitment is risky. This is my current struggle. I know how difficult it is for me to open up to others. With my male friend, I have felt like he is gently pursuing me, likely somewhat cautious of rejection himself and of my penchant for being a pushy prophet girl who puts up walls and holds him at bay. I struggle with being vulnerable, knowing that rejection has played such a serious role in my past. I’ve been trying to purposely embrace the risk of commitment—to friendship and beyond, if that’s what God wants—in order to truly experience life and love as God intended. I take risks everywhere else—but in relationships, I tend to be a cautious study. We all do. But what a risk God took for us in sending Jesus! The risk is that we would all-out reject him—and in one way or another, we all have rejected Him. But He still did it. Knowing that we would reject Him, He still gave us that choice. The question is, am I willing to take that risk with others? With God? Are you?

The reward of risking honor, intimacy, understanding, and commitment in marriage is a healthy, loving sex life where God defines your worth (and He has said you are worthy!). As I wrap up this series, I want to point out something my pastor said: if God is not the God of your sexuality, then He’s not the God of anything in your life. So I urge you to let God be the God of your sexuality and your sex life—and watch the rewards and blessings pour out on you!

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: Post Recovery

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” –Hebrews 10:24-25 

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

After attending Celebrate Recovery for a year, I felt God calling me back to my former church—yes, the one I had left abruptly. I had made amends with my pastor, and he had told me, “Oakdale will always be your home.” However, I somehow believed that completing a recovery process meant that I wouldn’t face any obstacles and that I was finished with my work. So even though I returned to the church a different and better person, God was not finished His work in me. I had a lot of growing to do. In fact, I found that I was still struggling with people and with how to use my gifts. So after a brief stint back, I left again, hoping to find a place where my gifts could be used—even though my heart was not in the right place.

My search turned up dry, though, and in the midst of feeling out of community, I became involved with a man who offered me false community and intimacy. He claimed to be a Christian but was not practicing or in community with other believers. We began a relationship while he was still married. I somehow convinced myself that this was not adultery because he and his wife were separating. However, because I had stopped talking with my close Christian friends, I had no accountability. It was a brief relationship, and thankfully, God delivered me from it and opened my eyes to my sins. When the relationship ended, I repented and returned once again to the church I had left—to the community of believers who showed me the grace and love I had been searching for.

The latest years of my life have shown me a few important things:

  1. Recovery is ongoing. Even though I was free from my pornography addiction and related issues, I was still struggling with my relationships. My beliefs about relationships with men and my own worth still needed work. And I realized that my thought life was still an issue—daydreaming and control issues ran rampant. I did not leave Celebrate Recovery fully healed: I left healed of many issues, but I still need constant work to continue to grow in my walk with God.
  2. Ongoing recovery requires community. I didn’t have to stay at Celebrate Recovery, but I needed to be in community SOMEWHERE. When I stopped attending church, hanging with my Christ-like friends, and allowing myself to be held accountable, I fell into sin very easily. I went down the slippery slope so fast, I was unable to recover in time. I praise God for His grace, but I know that not having community was the biggest reason I fell into sin. Now I make community a priority in my life—so that recovery can continue!
  3. Every community is made up of sinners like me. When I left my church, it was because I didn’t believe people were communicating with God about how to use my gifts. As it turns out, I was the one not in tune with God. No matter what church you attend, no one there is perfect—including you. I had to temper my expectations about people and about God. And I had to realize that people—even and especially my Christian friends, would disappoint me and even hurt me. When I understood and accepted those things, staying in community became that much easier.

When I returned to my church this last time, I spent one year in a ministry supporting in the background. I finally submitted to God, allowing Him to develop patience in me and allowing Him to use that year to mature me in very specific spiritual and emotional areas. And when I humbled myself before Him, He lifted me up (James 4:10)—to the perfect worship leadership position for me. I currently serve there, and though it is challenging, I know that God is using this time to develop and grow me even more, so that I can face the next eight years with full confidence in Him and who I am in Him. And that is the reason I sing!

Thank you for reading my story and hearing my song! I pray that it has blessed you and encouraged you in your own walk with Christ! 

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: Celebrate Recovery

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. -Matthew 10:39

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

The loss of my guy friendship drove me straight into the place where God actually wanted me: Celebrate Recovery (CR). When I attended on that first Friday evening, I sobbed through the entire service. I knew this was the beginning of something entirely life changing. I just didn’t realize exactly how life changing it actually would be.

I spent a year in CR, faithfully attending each Friday night worship service and breakout session. After my first night, they offered the CR bread and butter: a single sex small group “step” study. I signed up immediately—filling out the card many times to make sure I was a part of a group where “the real healing occurs.” At the beginning, attending CR was a change—but I thought I had found my life, at least for the time being. However, about two months into my step study, I was laid off from my job at the data company. I applied for unemployment for the first time in my life, believing God for the best. I helped out an elderly gentleman and searched for jobs as the days passed, but I found no full-time employment. I was volunteering in the young adult ministry at the church where CR was located, but I was struggling as I began to look at the roots of my issues. Two months after losing my job and right as my step study deepened, my young adult pastor called to tell me that he was removing me from my positions in the ministry. Hurt and desperate, I fled to Arizona to hear from God about what was next. After spending nearly 40 days there, I returned to Maryland and CR, only to have a close friend berate me via e-mail about my choices and my personality. She basically ended our friendship. I processed that loss and found a temporary job, only to wreck my car twice as I commuted there—a sign, I felt, that I should not be there. I remember that during these months, I would wake up each morning feeling as if a house was sitting on my chest. I believed God was doing something great in my life, but I just couldn’t see that through the intense loss I felt.

It was during this difficult time that God reminded me of Jesus’ words in Matthew: sometimes, you have to lose your life for Christ’s sake in order to find it. Looking back, I can see clearly that God was stripping me of everything I had ever used to identify myself. He was forcing me to find my identity in the one place it could be securely anchored: in Jesus Christ alone. I lost my identity as the hard worker and wage earner when my company downsized. I lost my identity as a servant of God when my pastor removed me from my church positions. I lost my identity in my community when my close friendship ended. I even lost my identity as a car owner when I wrecked my car. So if I was not any of these things, then who was I? And could I find my identity solely in God as a co-heir with Christ and a child of the King?

It turns out, I could—and I did. And although it was the hardest year of my life, learning to find my identity in Jesus—by suffering the loss of everything I had used to define me—was the best thing that could have happened to me. God knew that I had to lose my life to find it.

In what ways have you had to lose your life for Christ’s sake in order to find it?

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The Fourth Eight

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

My break from ministry did not last long; after about eight months, I found another job in youth ministry and moved closer to DC. I thought things were turning around…I was starting to settle down a bit. But something still was not right. I was not happy in youth ministry. Perhaps I was burnt out; perhaps youth ministry was not for me. Whatever the reason, I was searching for community and had yet to find it. I left that ministry job after a few years and moved to another church in the same county. Meanwhile, a ministry friend invited me to attend a young adult Bible study that her new pastor had started. I ended up not only attending the Bible study but leading the worship band at her church while still serving as the youth minister at another. However, like they always had, things fell apart at my youth ministry job, and I was once again searching for what to do with my life. I applied for the worship pastor position at my friend’s church (now my church) and didn’t get it; thus, I continued to struggle with what God was asking me to do. After a few weeks in Phoenix to settle my brain, I took the first job I was offered at a data company back in Maryland.

In the next year, my life exploded as I was imploding emotionally. I had a terrible fight with my pastor and left my church and worship leadership position abruptly. I decided to stop talking to my family altogether. I was really struggling to make sense of my life. I hated my job, my family, and my life. And then, I began attending a young adult ministry at a nearby church and I met him. He was an incredible man…my total opposite, perhaps, in that he was sensitive and compassionate in great contrast to my brash honesty. I was attracted to him like a moth to a flame. He was good looking and funny, and I just wanted to be around him. Our friendship was filled with pain and confusion, though, mostly because he was the first God-honoring man I had ever been attracted to and, thanks to my warped porn-and-lust-addicted mind, I had no idea how to treat him. Even though we had admitted a mutual attraction existed, I was (unbeknownst to me) completely un-dateable. I wanted so badly to have someone love me in the ways I had never been loved that I pushed and pushed…until finally, I pushed him away for good. I was broken, and for the first time in my life, I knew it. The day after our friendship ended, I attended my first Celebrate Recovery meeting.

One lesson I learned from my fourth eight is to never underestimate where the desire for true love, acceptance, and intimacy will take you. My longing had taken me to many worldly places—pornography, partying, fantasy, and deeper into myself. However, the longing was never truly filled, and in the end, the pain of staying the same—always losing relationships and jobs—became too much for me to bear. I knew where to find true acceptance and love—I had known since I was eight years old—but I had not been willing to surrender my pride to the pain of changing for the better. I had never TRULY surrendered my issues to God because of my need for control. But in the fourth eight, everything changed. I wanted to know true love and I wanted to know how to love—and the only way I could find those things was to run straight into the arms of the Author of love, who was waiting to heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds.

Where has the longing for true love, acceptance, and intimacy taken you?

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The Third Eight

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? –Matthew 7:3

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freeditigalphotos.net

I graduated from high school one week after turning 17 and headed off to college at James Madison University. I spent my first two years at college struggling to find myself and my faith. I struggled with drinking and partying and having no relationship at all with God, at one point even telling my mother I wasn’t sure if I believed in God anymore. While I had stopped looking at pornography when I came to college, it had already taken its place in my mind, changing the way I looked at people and the expectations I had for them. I cut people out of my life if they didn’t meet my criteria for what “good people” were. I judged people, had very little grace, and carried around a great deal of shame.

When I decided to turn my life over to Jesus my junior year, I left my former partying friends and joined a campus ministry, determined to change my course. But even there, I maintained that everything with me was great. No one knew that I was still secretly struggling with my self-worth and self-image, with being transparent and honest with others, and with having true intimacy in my life. I was hiding everything about myself behind academic and musical excellence. I made great friends but felt like no one understood me or the deep shame I had about my pornography addiction and struggles with lust and fantasy. I also continued to push people away with my brash and judgmental personality, leaving a trail of hurt friends in my path as I boldly proclaimed truth without love. I could see the everyone else’s faults, but I could not see my own. Even as God called me into youth ministry once I graduated from JMU, I continued losing these battles. In addition, my relationship with my family became strained. My internal struggles eventually became external, and I was abruptly fired from a youth ministry job. I took a break from working in ministry, believing that everyone else was to blame.

There I was: with broken relationships, a struggling career, and very little to call my own. I was too broken to see it then, but looking back, I can see that the common denominator in my problems was me. Too often people will look at their lives and say that they have constantly been victimized or dealt a bad hand—and sometimes, this is true. Other times, however, we are too quick to look at outside sources as the cause for our problems while refusing to look within. Why? Because it is easier to place blame than accept it. Even the Bible acknowledges this in Matthew 7:3—I was more likely to see others’ issues than my own. And Matthew 7:5 continues, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” And to be successful in ministry and life as a prophet gift, I would need to learn this difficult but important lesson.

In response to her penchant for writing songs about her failed relationships, someone said, “Did Taylor Swift ever consider that maybe she’s the problem?” Great question! Now, can we turn that around on ourselves, in our own situations, and ask, “Have I ever considered that perhaps I am the problem?” Because it’s when we are brave enough to look in the mirror instead of the windshield that we can begin to truly tackle our own issues and begin to heal.

Where do you most often look when problems arise: the windshield or the mirror?

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The Second Eight

“For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” Luke 8:17

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

The hurt and loss from my first eight years never showed itself too much—I think my mother would say that I was a happy, well-adjusted child. I continued to excel in school and music, became incredibly involved in my church and youth group, and contributed to my community through volunteering and other fun activities. On the surface, everything seemed to be going extremely well for me, despite the deteriorating relationship with my father; despite a sister who was beginning to show signs of instability (requiring most of my mother’s attention); despite feeling like a bold, loud “ugly duckling” that no one desired. But soon, the hurt and loss I had experienced manifested itself through a dirty little secret.

It started innocently, really. My uncle had a satellite dish installed in my grandfather’s home because we lived outside the town limits and didn’t have cable television. Little did anyone know that there were some not-so-innocent pornographic channels streaming from the dish for free—not-so-innocent porn that a very innocent 10-year-old me saw and found intriguing. Before long, I was watching it as much as I possibly could. When the satellite dish stopped streaming, I switched to magazines I had found hidden in my grandfather’s house. My brain was filled with images and thoughts that I couldn’t keep inside, so in middle school and high school, I began writing my own pornographic novels, passing them around to my friends and filling their minds with the images and filth that saturated my own. I began experimenting sexually with boys, and I also developed an active fantasy life: an escape from reality—one in which I had control and felt loved and desired. When my sister was losing control or I was feeling rejected by boys or my father or I felt completely alone, I had a “safe place” to go—deep inside my head to fantasy land. On the outside, I was at the top of my class, excelling in music and academics with plenty of friends and an active church life. On the inside, I was struggling to keep it together.

The second eight years of my life reminds me of an important lesson: we should never overestimate the resiliency of children. We often say “kids are resilient” in hopes that the traumas they experience will just roll off them like water off a duck’s back. However, children are still humans with feelings, and even more importantly, they do not always know how to express what they are feeling. And when they do not know how to express their feelings, they will act out—and acting out looks different to each kid. For me, I acted out in secret. To everyone, including my mother, I was the “good Christian kid.” I played well by myself, could spend infinite amounts of time alone, got great grades, was incredibly responsible, and was a model child for the most part. My mom had no trouble with me because I was very good at hiding my pornography addiction, fantasy life, and sexual sins. But those were just the symptoms of a deeper issue: the hurt, rejection, and loss I had experienced in the first eight years of my life. And instead of addressing those issues, I developed other problems and addictions to cope. We notice when adults do this, but we don’t always recognize when it happens with children because we assume they will “get over it” easier. I can tell you from my own personal experience that this is not the case.

The Bible says in Luke 8:17 that all things that are in secret will eventually be brought into the light. Whether it comes to light through confession or a “symptom” like addiction, the truth is simple: we cannot outrun or overlook our hurt and pain at any age.

What hurt have you been trying to overlook or outrun?

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The First Eight

“This is my story/This is my song/Praising my Savior all the day long!” Over the next few blogs, I will be sharing my life testimony with you, including the lessons I’ve learned from my past, the excitement I am experiencing in the present, and the hope I have for my future. Blessings!

“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” –Psalm 66:16

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

On Valentine’s Day in 1977, my mother went to the doctor believing she had a stomach tumor. As it turned out, she was actually pregnant with her second child—me. She was in the midst of separating from my father, and thus, in June 1977, I was born into a single parent home to my mom and a sister who was three and half years old. My father remarried when I was six months old to a woman I knew and loved my entire life as my stepmother.

I grew up in a relatively tight-knit family with my mom and sister, living next door to my grandparents (and sometimes my uncle). My father and stepmother lived in the same town, about 15 minutes away, though I only saw him sporadically as I was growing up. My earliest memory of my father is of him coming over to take my sister out—and leaving me behind. The rejection and isolation I felt, even at that young age, was palpable. It was the first of many rejections at the hands of my earthly father. Despite this, in my primary years, I excelled at school and found my many gifts—especially music. I attended church constantly with my family, and when I was eight years old, I responded to an altar call at my church and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was in third grade. That same year, my maternal grandmother died of colon cancer. I had lived next door to her my entire life, as she spoiled me with homemade candies and a true grandmother’s love. This loss was devastating to me personally. Shortly after her death, to help care for my aging grandfather, we moved next door into his house with him.

My primary years were marked by changes and loss, and though it was difficult, I can look back and see a valuable lesson that marked the first eight years of my life: You are never too young to begin a relationship with Christ. Even though I was only eight, beginning my journey with God at such a young age helped established the strong foundation in my life that has continued to this day. I’m not saying I haven’t struggled or doubted. But looking back, I can see that God was always with me during the rejection, the loss, and the suffering I experienced from life. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Though I could not physically see God through my eight year old eyes, now I look back and see the truth of this verse lived out in my early years. I was rejected, but not alone. I experienced loss, but He helped me—even as a third grader with no deep knowledge of Him. God upheld me through this time of significant loss and change early in my life, and He still does the same for me today.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I am thankful that my mother not only believed this verse but lived it out so that I had a strong foundation on which to stand while facing the struggles that lay ahead for me in the next eight years.

If God can strengthen, help, and uphold a naïve, rejected, eight-year-old girl, what could He do for you today?