Monday, September 29, 2008

Heart of the Matter, Part 1

(The following story is something I have wanted to share with SFL readers since the launch of this site. To me, it is the most important thing you could ever know about me. It will be divided into parts over the next day or so. This is part one of my story.)

I haven't always been the pillar of decorum and maturity you know me to be. Once, when I was 6, the little girl down the street told me the other moms in the neighborhood didn't like my mom. In my mind I imagined grabbing her by her perfect ponytails and feeding her a mouth full of crabgrass. But I refrained. Instead, I clocked her square in the jaw. My eyes stung with hot tears as I jumped on my Huffy Sweet Thunder, riding the winds of hurt and furry all the way home. I couldn't let my mom go down that way - not by some uppity, skinny kids in a monogrammed sweater. To this day, not that it would matter now, I have never told my mom the real reason why I clobbered Little Miss Ralph Lauren and her pigtails of perfection. But to be sure, she never said a bad word about my mom after that.

You see, I didn't need a little girl down the street to tell me one of my parents wasn't perfect. I already knew that for myself. Even at 6, the whisper-shouting between them after I went to bed kept me from sleep more nights than I cared to acknowledge. Though not technically divorced, as a kid, I didn't need legal jargon to define what was happening. Kids know that divorce isn't always a matter of paperwork, it's a matter of the heart. And my heart was broken, over and over, in so many ways, until it didn't really look like a heart at all anymore. I was the angry little girl whose chest ached from stifiling so many disappointments.

So there we were, perfect house, pretty family. The facade was enchanting. But like all fairy tales, it faded, yet the words "happily ever after" never came. You know that feeling when a room is full of people yet you're still all alone? I lived like that every day growing up. Fear and isolation were my companions. Even into my teen years I kept waiting for a knight in shining armor to rescue me from dank cave that I called my home. Maybe the screaming kept him away. No matter. He never came.

There are too many details to share, but believe me, my demons were real. (Please let me clarify that I was never physically abused. But the emotional abuse was staggering.) Though I came to know Christ at 12, I didn't see how He could do anything but keep me alive through my suffering. Know that I'm not belittling what God can do in any painful situation. I've seen some real miracles in broken families. All I'm saying is this wasn't my experience.

As I'm sure you can imagine I packed a big ol' bag of resentment and took it with me when I left my parent's home. Not only did I hold onto the pain caused by my circumstance, I had nearly every offense - and there were many - categorized, alphabetized, and locked and loaded. My hate gun was full and I was ready to land blast my parents. I relished fantasies of getting back at them. What I hadn't considered was that my gun might backfire.

I was proud of the fact that I had come through such adverse circumstances and was so fantastic in spite of it. My parents weren't Believers, but I was, and it gave me leverage. People loved hearing my testimony - how God raised me up from the ashes to save me and make me better than them. The unspoken truth was that I loved to tell people what I had come from; it shown a floodlight on the sinful, bad, bad people who were lucky enough to be my parents. I became a glutton, feasting on the praise given to me by people who literally embraced me, saying, "God will pay them back for what they did to you." I lapped it up like a starving animal. Ironically, the pain only intensified, and the hunger nearly ate me alive.

Now granted, my life up to this point (about my early 20s) was nasty. But the filth of it became my badge of honor. The more I shared my story the more rigorously I catalogued every new hurt, gesture, or sideways look my parents sent my way. So, while I was out being everybody's super Christian rock star, the more distance and judgement I placed between them and me. It took on a life of its own. Soon, I couldn't separate the sensationalism from the reality of this one fact: no matter what mess they'd made, these were my parents, they were going to hell and I was reveling in it. "Damn it. They deserve it." And somehow that perverted thinking became my gospel.

Though found by Christ, I remained more lost than ever.

(This post continues in a short Interlude followed by Heart of the Matter, Part 2.)

10 comments:

Donna said...

((Stacy)).....grace, honey, grace.....

Christy said...

Way to open up, Stacy. Many people will be able to relate and perhaps get on with their healing.

another lisa said...

oh, stacy.
thank you for sharing.
i can relate to your childhood memories, as i am a daughter, and i can be convicted by them, as i am a mom.
and i can be affected by your young adult memories of (false)superiority, as i too have compared and judged others and justified my un-christlike behavior.
it just disgusts me sometimes when i get a glimpse of my true nature. thank the lord, he is changing me, but we are capable of such ugliness.
thank you! your gifts of wit & sarcasm & honesty bless us so. can't wait to hear what else you want to share. bless you for your courage

samantha said...

wow. it's like u got my life minus the Huffy Sweet Thunder. i can really relate.. my mum left us when i was 12.. im 18 now.. but even still i resent her for it. she did a lot of things that were really messed up and i had a pretty messed up childhood as a result. i only got saved the beginning of this year and ive really been struggling with forgiveness.. sometimes i want people to ask me about the whole situation so i can use it like a badge of honor and say "hey look what ive been through look at me how sad shes so brave." and i hate that so much. i hate wanting that because there's nothing honorable about any of it. i wasnt brave. i wasnt strong. i really hate that part of me. and i know i do it to.. my family doesnt go to church and sometimes i catch myself thinkin i am better than them. but im not and i absolutely hate it when i think like that. its not me.. its only God's grace.. i havent done anything to deserve this. God is really speakin to my heart about this.....
anyway i just want to thank you for sharing. it give me a lot to think about. GOD BLESS!! :)

eireann said...

hi stacy,

thank you for opening up and sharing this. it is funny, you feel like you're all alone and no one else could ever know or understand, but then there are people who do. my childhood was like that also, the whispered fights (and not-so-whispered fights) and constant wondering if my parents would divorce. it was kind of a relief when they did but still devastating. i remember also feeling like my life was such a sham because we were perfect on the outside, and no one knew what was happening at my house.

the only difference is, i didn't come to christ until i was fifteen. and i had a green schwinn with a flowered banana seat and handlebar streamers instead of a pink huffy sweet thunder.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

I echo Donna. Your healing journey will continue through His grace. In our world, nothing is ever as it seems, yet we become so deeply entrenched in our past and our feelings that we can't become who God wants us to be. Grab a copy of "Respectable Sins" by Jerry Bridges. And accept His grace, Stacy....grace. You are well on your way to becoming that "miracle in a broken family." God's not done yet. Peace and a side hug.....

fb said...

Stacy - Thanks so much for sharing - I have struggled with forgiving someone close to me who hurt me greatly. Not many people know - but I have also used this as a badge of honor/dishonor when I deal with God. When I know I am called to forgiveness - I can always pull it out and say - "but God he hurt me to much". Funny how we use the greatest hurts in our lives to put ourselves on a pedestal. But look how far you've come. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

Kathy said...

WoW. I'm so glad I read your blog today. I can relate on a few levels. Thank you for your transparency. It is so desperately needed my friend.

Thank you again, so much for sharing. I'm looking forward to hearing more..

sundog said...

Thank you for your honesty. I believe it will help people more than you know. It is powerfully convicting to hear our own sin confessed right out of another's mouth. I wish I could be so brave.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I can't completely relate, but I can a little.

My parents are both Christians, and I love them very much. I can usually go to them when I need someone to talk to, and stuff like that... but...

When you said divorce isn't just a piece of paper, I thought "yeah." My parents argue all the time and I hate it. And they talk about getting a divorce too. I mean, not like that's significant. They've talked about it since I was old enough to understand them. (I'm 17 now) While my parents are excellent people individually, they don't set the greatest example for what a marriage should look like. And it kinda hurts.