November 21, 2011
This month I am celebrating ten years of knowing my Savior. As I reflect on ten years, there is much for me to be thankful for- this is my story.
I grew up in Las Vegas. From what I can remember I had a great childhood. I spent many Saturdays riding bikes all day with my dad at the park. I played outside until it was dark with friends. We took family vacations to places like Disneyland. We camped, we fished, we were happy.
And then we moved.
And then my parents got a divorce.
And then I turned 12.
While my childhood was seemingly perfect, my early adolescence was anything but perfect. At twelve I lacked skills to cope with my emotions. I was so raw and hurt and couldn't understand that it had nothing to do with me or my brother. I started drinking at school in the bathrooms. I felt alive, doing things I knew I shouldn't. We partied a lot, too and I dabbled in drugs when they were available to me.
As high school approached, I thought I could use a fresh start. I auditioned for a performing arts high school and was accepted. Change was coming and I was excited, but on the second day of school, a girl in the bathroom offered me crystal methamphetamine, and I was helpless against her persuasions.
Unable to cope with my own emotions and feelings of rejection, I began to resonate with those that used substances to cope with their pain. We hardly showed up for school and cared more about scoring a taste than scoring a good grade on a test. When you are addicted to something, you do whatever it takes to get it. I had little money, and I quickly learned if you don't have money the easiest way to score is to date the dealer. You get free drugs that way.
I don't remember a lot of the details from my high school years and I believe the Lord protected me from remembering some things I was involved in. Every now and then I remember a memory I hadn't been able to remember before, but now I am able to move beyond them and find healing.
I moved around a lot. I ran away when I was 15 and lived with several different relatives and in and out of my mom's house.
I experimented with many different ways of coping with pain.
I barely graduated high school. Not because I wasn't smart, but because I refused to apply myself, or show up. I was 18 and nearing rock bottom, but it would still be a couple years and a lot more pain before I would get there. I started dating a local deal dealer, and we dealt together. We lived together too. At first we just dealt marijuana but then it turned to cocaine and things much worse. After a year of dating he asked me to marry him and I said yes.
And then it hit me.
I was 19 and planning a wedding. I had convinced myself I was getting "the life," but I wasn't. We lived in fear of being raided all the time. We lived a lie to my whole family, pretending we were clean. We weren't. I couldn't take it anymore. I was almost 20 and I wanted to die. I remember thinking that if this was any indication of how my life was going to turn out, I should just kill myself, and I knew something had to change. I had to change.
I broke up with my fiancee. (He was later killed by his younger brother who also dealt drugs and who had lived with us for two years. It took me many years to heal from that). I stopped doing drugs, and I was trying to get my life in order.
I barely spoke to my brother, who was four years younger than me. I heard he was going to church and he was going to be baptized. He invited me and on a whim I decided to go. The pastor who baptized my brother asked him if he wanted anyone to get in the water with them. I knew he was going to choose me, and he did. I didn't realize it then, but it wasn't just my brother choosing me, Jesus was choosing me too. I entered into the water and stood next to my brother and felt something come over me. Peace. It was the first time since I was twelve that I could remember feeling peace.
I had gotten a job working for my mom at her health food store and the pastor who baptized my brother came in regularly to study and prepare his sermons. My mom also hired the pastor's wife, who was the Children's Ministry Director at the church. They talked to me a lot about Jesus.
One day I decided to go to church. I called my brother and asked him to take me. I remember that everyone seemed really happy. Peaceful. I wanted it.
I went to church on and off for several months. I was trying to stay clean and trying to change my life and one morning I woke up, it was November 6, 2001 and I had this overwhelming feeling to get face down on the floor. I remember thinking I was really weird. I didn't know what to say, so I just laid there at first and said-
"Jesus, I am yours."
I have been so weak at times, I don't know how I could go on. I have been in what felt like the pit of death. I have seen things kids should not. I have experienced such emotional pain it physically hurts. I have hurt myself and have caused many others a great deal of pain and I believe He allowed me to go through what I needed to experience for me to get to the place of needing him, thirsting for Him, hungering for Him. I have experienced his joy, and his peace, and his love. Parts of me that I thought were forever damaged have been healed. He has put back together all of my broken pieces but made me into something new.
What more can I say, except "Jesus, I am yours."
Ten years of worship. Of following Him, where He has led. I have known Him for a decade, though He has known me my whole life. I am looking forward to many more decades with my sweet Savior.
The first verse I memorized was 1 Peter 1:24-25. I was in a coffee shop when I found it.
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
He is the Word, and He endures forever. The pain and the shame and the guilt of this world do not. The scars of my past do not. The hurts of tomorrow do not. Only He endures forever.
Today I am one blessed wife and mother and so incredibly thankful for the new life He has given me!
I am forever indebted to Him.
Jesus, I am yours.