I believe one’s testimony is always changing. You’re not growing if it’s not. About ten years ago I was a very shy girl. I was asked to give a ten minute testimony in front of 40 women. I hated public speaking and usually shook. I felt that I needed to share what was going on in my life though so I accepted. I wrote several pages and practiced. It did not last ten minutes when I practiced though. More like 3-5min. The day I went to pack my testimony and leave for this women’s retreat my printer wasn’t working very well. I printed it out and it was all smeared. I couldn’t hardly read it. On the day where it was my turn to speak I went up to front and began to speak. My nerves settled and I ended up speaking for like 45 min. Everyone was shocked. They all knew me as this quiet girl. It was very humbling for me and very liberating to let out what I had held in for so long as to what God was doing in my life. I was not very conventional in my speaking either. I hate boring things. I played a song that was very dear to me and even passed around a scrapbook of that year and all my blessings.
Ten years later here I am. What I spoke of long ago almost seems insignificant and at the time was trying to overcome the most pain I had been through. The loss of a friend. Forgiveness. My life changing in an instant. Honestly though it helped shape me into who I am today. I am no longer shy. I am confident. I am my own person. I have so much passion inside. I have learned so much about myself. So much that some people never get to learn in and of themselves. Life is not merely black and white. Right or wrong. It’s quite complex. It’s grey. It’s making decisions that don’t always have a right or wrong solution. God has given us freewill. God doesn’t normally care about which direction you go as long as you are following him and following your heart.
As a child nothing crazy happened to me. I wasn’t beat. I didn’t go with the wrong crowd into sex, drugs, and rock and roll. In fact, I became a Jesus freak. For a long time I only listened to christian music. Went to church every time the door was open. Was very against cussing and drinking and sex before marriage. I was very responsible for a 14 year old yet I never fully became an adult until my late 20s. I am an adult child of an alcoholic. I am codependent. I have a martyr and victim mentality. My dad was an alcoholic for most of my life. He had spurts where he wasn’t, but for most part he was pretty consistent at it. My mom was the main breadwinner when I was young. My dad was a sporadic worker. In high school he became a roofing supervisor and managed to stay with the company 15 years. So I guess you would say he was a functional alcoholic. It was a seasonal job and he managed to work whenever he wanted and take time off whenever also. My mom worked nights for a while and my dad worked out in the garage and went to friends a lot. I was home alone a lot after school. I did well in school. I came to know God at 14 and became very involved in the church.
So I was pretty much neglected. I never realized this until I was older though. To tell my parents that I was neglected my dad would become very angry and think I am ungrateful child and my mom would burst into tears saying, “I did the best I could. I am so sorry I am a horrible mother.” Nothing good would come from that. They don’t have the perspective to understand that it’s not about them. I am just talking about me and this is why I have certain issues I’ve had. I’ve flirted with it and not gone well. So I had to deal with it alone and still deal with it today, but I have managed to cut the cord and put up boundaries between my parents and I. They no longer control me. My mother no longer lives through me. Our relationship got really bad, but it’s on the upward swing now doing much better. Healing is in progress.
Fast forward 3 or 4 years after I gave my testimony and while I was so engrossed in my christian church bubble I get devastating news that my pastor and the secretary had been having an affair for over a year. Everything I held so dear just crashed to the ground. Abandonment, disappointment flooded my soul. I left that church and never looked back. I had seen another scandal years before this in the church that went horribly. Gossip spread. Judgments made. Hurtful comments. I decided I didn’t want to be apart of that anymore, but I wanted to get back of the simplicity of Christianity and that is God came to love not judge. A lot of people in the church thought I made a mistake leaving. Now I knew the secretary a long time and I know what kind of a person she is and her and her husband went in front of the church and shared the truth and he stood by her side. What amazing love! I admire that so much and I am one of those people that if someone cheats that’s it. It should be done, but watching them is so amazing and shows true healing. Anyways, that night she spoke I watched 200 people give her a hug afterwards and say how much they love her and whatnot. That’s when I decided to leave. I gave her a hug and meant it. I knew it was all garbage from what I had witnessed before. And sure enough some time later they were no longer members of that church. They had horrible things done and said to them.
When I left I stopped going to church for some time. I detoxed myself from all the brainwashing pretty much. I loved God with all my heart, but those Christians are not what I want to be labeled as. No more lectures about why it’s bad to be at a casino or arguments why drinking is okay or not okay. Jesus came on this earth and he did not simply hang around christians all the time. He hung around with anybody and that’s who I wanted to be. So I picked myself up and decided to live in the real world. I went to school and became a CNA. I found a job where I finally felt like I fit in. I quickly made friends and eventually we became family. They were my new “church” so to speak. We’ve often referred to ourselves as the island of misfit toys. It was during this time I really started living life. I started taking care of myself and discovering who I really am. I moved out of my parents into my own apartment. It felt so good. Liberating.
Life happens. It is always moving and things can happen in an instant and disappear the same way. As did this job. Our floor closed down and we were scattered. Thus came new dreams. I have got to get out of Indiana. And I felt like my future husband was not there either. I didn’t move to go look for my husband. I moved because the only left there I had were friends. And I love them oh so much it’s just not enough to stay. I had to get away from a declining town with not a lot of jobs and opportunity for growth. A town only be sustained by the local college. From my parents who are always enabling me and catching me when I fall. Also from their narrow-mindedness and thinking they no what’s right for me instead of encouraging and being supportive of me to go find myself and be happy. I was tired of running into people from church and school who are always stuck in the past. Most of my family are estranged or passed away.
It was time for me to move on. Take care of me! I moved out here to Phoenix with whatever could fit in my car and about $4000. No job. No family. No friends. It was by no means easy, but it was what I needed to do. I got an apartment, got a job, and eventually found my future husband. While all that is good I still struggled and do struggle. I had a lot of issues Shawn and I have had to work through and are working through. I had never worked full time in my life. I had a lot of credit card debt that my mom was paying and I had to take away from her and get rid of. It was hard work. It’s like when God brings the Israelites to the promise land. It took them 40 years to get there and should of only taken them 11 days. Then we they get there God doesn’t say here you go it’s yours. He says to take it. In our life we have to work for what we want. It takes effort, but it’s so worth it. It’s right there. Ours for the taking.
Right now I have on my heart this need for all of us to rise up. Rise above whatever is holding us back. Move on. Forgive. Heal. Overcome. Take care of ourselves. Let go of fears or simply do it afraid. Be courageous. Do that which someone told you that you couldn’t do. God’s healing and miracles are everywhere. Take hold of them. Claim it. That freedom is ours for the taking.