We all have stories to tell. Sometimes they’re happy and the outcome is more than what we ever expected or desired. Other times, not so much.
Do you believe that through our pain we can experience joy? That good things can come out of the messy, broken parts of our lives that we hold onto so close that no one could ever pry it from us…for fear of seeing our dark spots?
We shove those memories under the proverbial carpet, hoping no one trips on them. The lump under that carpet eventually gets so big that we have no other choice than to share our pain in hopes that we aren’t judged or humiliated. Opening up and being vulnerable actually leads to freedom, believe it or not. I, of course, didn’t believe it. Until I shared. Here’s my story…
I went back and forth so many times between which part of my story to tell first. It was brutal. I tend to be hard on myself (hello enneagram Type 2 personality). Instead of wasting time thinking about WHICH part to tell, I knew I had to START. After all, how can my story help anyone if I don’t write it to share with the world?
It would make sense to start at the beginning…but for my story, and for most things that have taken place in my life, backwards seems to be the way to go. I don’t usually follow the traditional path.
I was looking for love in all the wrong places. Feeling accepted and loved was such a need…a desire…almost an obsession for me that I was willing to do whatever it took to feel it. It started when I was fairly young. I was interested in boys early and I always had this idea of what a perfect relationship looked like.
I would daydream about the boy that would adore me. He would bring me flowers and we would go on fun adventures together, always holding hands of course. If we ever fought, we would make up quickly and go about our merry, little lives. I chuckle at how much of a romantic I was (and still am) at such a young age.
I grew up in a loving home. My parents took us to church every Sunday, and on Wednesdays, we would go to youth group. We prayed before every meal and before bedtime. Family devotions were a daily activity and on Fridays, we would have family nights where my siblings and I could entertain the rest of the family – kind of like a talent show night. I clearly remember my youngest brother singing about dinosaurs and rabbits.
We traveled almost every summer to different locations, up and down the east coast, and I was able to experience new places. Hence, my love of travel was born. I was never neglected or abused as a child. My dad made sure to let us know that we were his pride and joy. I don’t blame my parents for what happened to me when I was in my 20s. I was just very VERY good at hiding my true feelings and what was really going on with me.
In my first semester at college, I met “the guy”. He was from California; I was sold. Little did I know that relationship would turn toxic about halfway through our dating.
It was very subtle at first. Harsh comments were made. A jab here, a jab there. Then he quickly became controlling and accusatory. He would blame me for how he acted and it was always my fault. I was “too sensitive”.
Then one day he told me, “No one will ever love you,” and that landed in the deepest parts of my soul and took root which turned into a lie I believed all throughout my young adulthood.
It’s important for me to note this because that lie shaped my identity. It twisted the way I saw myself, and more importantly, the way God saw me. I never felt worthy enough or lovable enough. I was so desperate to be loved that I stayed even when the abuse became physical. Eventually, and thankfully, he moved back to his home state. But I was left with the scars of his words.
I struggled for years after that with my identity, apologizing for who I was and who I was created to be. There were so many things I didn’t do, and so many God nudges I didn’t listen to, because of the lie of rejection I bought into. The enemy used that lie to derail my God-given purpose!
Have you ever gotten to a point where you felt like enough was enough? I did! I was tired of living under shame and hiding parts of myself that I knew God created for His good.
I never thought I would find freedom from feeling unworthy. It affected everything from my relationships to how I parented. It was a stronghold in my life that kept me from fulfilling God’s perfect plan for my life.
I’m ecstatic to say that I found freedom! And yes, you can too! I was convinced I would never find freedom in this area. I knew that God loved me more than I could ever imagine, but there was a disconnect between what my head knew and what my heart was feeling.
I had to break through my feelings and turn to the truth; the truth that God gave up EVERYTHING for me. He loved ME so much that He paid the ultimate price on the cross.
Giving up your life for someone else is the greatest act of love that could ever be done, and He did it. And with His death on the cross, it was finished. The guilt, the shame of my past, it was all taken away from me. It was all paid for. With His death, He showed you just how much you are loved.
Here are some steps you can take today towards the freedom you desire:
Bring light into your darkness. Darkness cannot thrive or survive in the light.
John 1:5 (ESV) – “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Allow God to transform the way you think.
Romans 12:2 (ESV) – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Challenge negative self-talk.
You are a new creation in Christ. Who does He say you are?
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
You are chosen
You are deeply loved.
You are accepted.
You are blessed.
You are worthy.
You are complete.
So whenever I may find myself struggling, I look up. I know where my identity comes from and I know who calls me His own. I am a daughter of the King. And no words could ever take that from me.
Outstanding blog, Andrea! Eloquently written with a rare transparency and true humility. I am so proud of you.
A prouder father has not walked this planet. I love you