Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Story

I don't share my story on how I came to Christ often, I'm always afraid people won't believe me (there are even other Christians who don't believe parts of it).  Whenever someone does however ask me, it gives me great joy in telling someone how Christ rescued and continues to rescue me from the pits of darkness.

Growing up, I got bullied A LOT, so severely that I got PTSD from it (no joke, a psychiatrist seriously diagnosed me with PTSD when I told him about the bullying).  Almost all of my life I was bullied.  I'd get bullied for the most stupid things too.

I grew up in a Christian home; my parents being in ministry.  I went to Sunday School at church every week.  I didn't really care about Jesus though, or at least, not like I do today.  Sure I said "the prayer" when I was little, but I didn't really know what it meant.  I just did it because my parents and church told me about it, and when you're four years old you think your parents are the coolest people, lol.

I was homeschooled from 1st grade-6th grade.  I goofed around a lot and was pretty lonely.  My friends all went to public or private school and when they'd get home from school, they had to do homework.  I wanted to go to a school, so I basically refused to do my work.  For the second half of 6th grade, I was put into public school.  It wasn't the worst experience, but it wasn't what I had thought it'd be like.  7th grade came and the bullying got REALLY bad.  Over the summer I had developed a skin condition called HS (Hidradenitis Suppurativa).  It's very painful and would make me walk weird when it'd flare up.  I got called all sorts of names: gay, fat, whale, gorilla (because of how I walked when I was in pain), and more.  I was sexually harassed in school, and one kid even threatened to kill my family and me.  At this point, I hated people, including God - no, especially God.  Kids were cruel to me.  I couldn't even walk the dog around the neighborhood sometimes because they'd start yelling "GORILLA!!" at me.  I remember one day I came home in tears after walking the dog.  My dad had a "dream team" he made for Apologetics (defending the faith).  They were having a meeting and one of the guys there said, "Do you want me to walk the dog with you?"  I said no, but he was quite intimidating (It was David Wood).

Anyway, I hated people, because they hurt me so badly.   I hated God even more though because he allowed all this to happen to me.  I wanted nothing to do with Him.  He was just screwing with my life because He wanted to be entertained.  He didn't really care about me.  I was suicidal, but had not yet made any real attempts.  I almost tried to stab myself in my chest once, but I heard a voice tell me "It's not time yet."  I didn't want to listen to that voice, my thoughts were "My life is my life, I choose whether I want to live or die."  A foolish thought for sure.  But for whatever reason, I listened to that voice.  There were times I'd just tell God to f**k off and get away from me.  I'd shake my fist at the sky and flip the bird.  I had a very strong hatred for God.  I was confused though.  There was a part of me that wanted to believe He really cared, but to me, the evidence didn't really show it.

In the second half of 7th grade, my parents pulled me out of school since the bullying got so bad.  So I was homeschooled for the second half.  Even though I hated God and people, I loved going to my youth group at church.  For some reason, I felt safe there, and people were different there.  They actually seemed to care about me, and to this day I'm thankful for them.  In the summer of going into 8th grade, I went on my first missions trip to I believe somewhere in northern Virginia (I lived in VA Beach at the time).  It was called the Jeremiah Project.  We were divided into small groups (there were other churches there at the same time).  I was the "devo girl" (devotionals girl) for my small group.  I remember reading on the first day Psalm 139.

Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
 You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

You see me when I travel

    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.

You know what I am going to say

    even before I say it, Lord.
 You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!
 I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!

If I go up to heaven, you are there;

    if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
 If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.
 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.
 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!

I can’t even count them;

    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

This verse started to soften my hard, cold, heart.  Maybe, just maybe, God wasn't who I thought He was.  Maybe He did care.  I wasn't completely convinced though.  Then the last night we were there (I think it was a week long), in the worship service we sang "He Knows My Name" (not the one by Francesca Battistelli).  I didn't hear a voice auditorally, but in my heart, I felt God speak to me.  I know that's hard to understand, someone speaking to your heart?  I honestly don't really know how to explain it.  I'm a very "feelings" oriented person, which can be a double-edged sword.  I guess it's kinda like the saying to "listen to your heart."  That's the closest I can really explain it.  I felt God speak to me, and He said, "I love you, no matter what you do or say, I will always love you.  You've gone through a difficult time, but I want to help you.  Just believe."  God wasn't who I had thought He was.  He really did care, just like in Psalm 139 (which is of course, my most favorite verse now).  I spent all night that night praying, and I gave my life to Christ.  I wasn't going to live life on my own, I wanted Him to take care of my life.

When I got home from the missions trip, I was a new person.  I used to be addicted to porn, and when I decided I would follow Christ, I got rid of it.  I told my parents I had been looking at it for a few years and I was able to get past the security put on my computer.  So we got the computer out of my room and I wasn't on it for a year (except for school).

In 8th grade, I started going to a Christian school that most of my friends from youth group went to.  It was by far a MUCH better experience than the other school I went to.  I had to move to Atlanta, GA four days before Christmas though due to my dad's job.  That was a very difficult move for me, and if I hadn't come to Christ, it probably would've been even more difficult.  When we were looking at a new school for me to go to, my brother and I got rejected at the first choice.  Keep in mind, I was 14 years old (so my brother was 10 at the time) and had just moved.  We also didn't know I had Autism yet either.  Anyway, the school rejected us, calling us disrespectful because we didn't have a firm handshake, slouched in our seats, and didn't make eye contact.  We ended up going to difference schools then.

Kids at the new school I went to bullied me too (not as badly as the public school I had gone to prior).  I had been baptized in the end of 8th grade, it wasn't something I had to do, but I wanted to.  I felt like God was telling me it was time.  In 9th grade, the bullying got worse.  I felt like I had no friends because my closest friend at the time didn't get along with me anymore.  Some bad stuff happened I'm not going to get into.  I was a new Christian, yet some of the kids called me "Super Christian" as an insult.  I didn't understand it because I felt like I was just like everyone else - nothing special about me.  It was hurtful at the time, but when I think back on it now, it kinda makes me chuckle.  Super Christian?  What is that even supposed to mean?  I loved Christ so that makes me a Super Christian?  I was afraid the bullying was going to get as bad as the public school I went to prior so I left.  I was homeschooled from the end of 9th grade through 10th grade.  In 10th grade is also when I started cutting.  When 11th grade was coming up, I felt like God wanted me to go back to public school.  I was like "Hell no!  I'm not going back there again!  I hated you back then, why do you want me to go back?"  I fought with him for weeks, but then I started to realize if that was where God wanted me to go, then I needed to listen to Him.  I told my parents and they said "There's no way we're putting you back into public school!"  Eventually though, they felt like it was okay for me go back.  So I went to a public charter school for 11th-12th grade.

I wasn't really sure why God wanted me to go there, but I wanted to follow whatever He told me to do.  For the most part, it was the best school I had ever been to.  I think most of us were outcasts in some way, which helped us get along pretty well.  There were times of course where things got bad.  The first day of 11th grade, I was sexually abused by a senior.  Some people don't believe me because, well, he was gay.  I still can't make sense of it to this day, but it really did happen.  Other than that though, it was a pretty good school.  I learned some things about people there too.  Homosexuality disgusted me (I didn't know at the time that I struggled with some bisexuality).  I couldn't really understand why people would go for the same sex.  When I went to this school, I was exposed to quite a bit of them.  I felt like God told me "See?  I love them too."  If God loves them, shouldn't I as well?  Homosexuality doesn't really gross me out anymore like it used to, though I honestly can't handle watching gay sex scenes in movies (MILK - I couldn't even watch the entire movie).  Sometimes, people would ask me about my faith, and I always really enjoyed talking about Jesus whenever I could.  I'm not the type who tries to push my beliefs down a person's throat.  If they want to talk about it, they'll bring it up with me.  Sometimes some of the teachers would test me to see how I'd respond to some stuff that was against my faith.  But I remained calm and answered the best I could with love.  We also found out I had Autism at this school.

Right after graduating high school (which I still don't know how that was even possible), I had an online boyfriend.  He was the first guy to ever make me feel beautiful.  He was my dream guy too, how lucky was that!  I should've seen signs now that I look back that he really didn't care about me.  He just wanted to see how far he could go with a girl and I guess I happened to be his first victim.  I did things I regret still, but I was so desperate to be loved, so I gave in to things.  Our relationship ended really ugly though.  This affected me so badly, I made my first suicide attempt.  I wrote a goodbye note and everything.  As I laid on my bed expecting death to come at any moment, I asked God to forgive me.  I wasn't sure where I was going to go after I died.  Some say heaven, others say hell.  It scared me to think I could be going to hell, but there wasn't really anything I could do at that point but ask God for forgiveness and hope that he'd spare me from the pits of hell.  No one found me until 8 hours later.  God protected me though.  I should've either died or my liver and kidneys should've been severely damaged.  The only physical damage I got though was a minor brain injury.  I guess God did spare me after all.  I wasn't able to go back to college or drive though because of my brain injury.

When I got out of the hospital, I met a guy who was the complete OPPOSITE of what I wanted in a guy.  But he was different.  He legit cared about me.  I ended up falling in love with him and even married him (seven years).  He was BETTER than my dream guy!  He brought me closer to God as well.

Skip ahead to two years ago, things got really bad again.  There was a guy I really looked up to, like a father.  He was a minister, what could go wrong with that right?  WRONG!  He was abusive towards me and I fell hook, line, and sink.  Like my previous abuses I went through (I've been in four abusive relationships), he made me feel like everything was my fault.  I was always the person in the wrong.  He'd hurt me (not physically) and I'd want to leave, but he'd always bring me crawling back.  It got so bad that I tried to kill myself, not once, but twice in just a few months apart.  I went to the Crisis Stabilization Unit three times.  Things got so bad we had to move.  Before we moved though, I was really struggling with my faith.  It's often I struggle with my faith, but this time was the end of it.  I left Christianity, and it devastated my husband (Nick is in ministry).  I told him if God really wanted me, He'd come for me.  When Nick talked to a friend about it, his friend said I wouldn't be like that for long.  I kid you not, THREE days later I came back to Christ.  He came to me in a dream, and I realized He really did want me and love me.  My cutting got worse that year too though.  I got to the point where I was cutting AT LEAST three times a week.  This minister's wife btw accused me of trying to make the relationship sexual, when it NEVER was!  She defended her husband and it was just a bad situation period.  We had to move to get away from everything.

Now I'm back in Atlanta, GA.  I still struggle with suicide and cutting.  My emotions tend to be stronger than "normal" people.  When my emotions get overwhelming, I tend to cut to feel numb.  My cutting is getting better now though.  I still struggle with the urges, but for the most part, I choose not to do it.  I've had close calls, but I still didn't do it.  I've met people who really do care about me.  I'm not as alone as I had been in the past.  But I've realized even if everyone left me (which a lot of people have), I still truly wouldn't be alone.  All throughout my life God has proven Himself to me over and over again.  He has shown mercy and compassion for me so much.  My love for Him continues to grow more and more each and every day.  I can't help it, after everything He's done for me, I can't help but love Him.  I have desires now that I never would've imagined I'd have (which I may talk about another time).  I want to serve Him in every way I possibly can.  I fail more often than I succeed, but He gives me grace to keep trying.

I've always struggled with God's forgiveness, but I have learned that life is like a chalkboard.  Everything we do wrong gets written on the chalkboard.  When we come to Jesus though, he doesn't clean the board, he breaks it and says "It's done!"  This means no matter what, He will forgive you, just ask Him.

Anyway, that's my VERY long story, and even then I left bits and pieces out because it would be even longer.  I hope my story gives you encouragement.  God will never leave you nor forsake you.

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