(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.)
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