Transparency: seeing through shame

I experienced a turning point this morning. Down in the very sacred parts of me.

I’ve shared with people who ask, that I was saved at a very young age. I grew up in church and never remember a time where I did not believe in the things recorded in the Bible.

I also, don’t remember a time where I was living a sinner and was suddenly overcome with forgiveness and shed my old self. This may not make sense to most, because that is pretty much the definition of getting saved. Giving one’s life over to Jesus.

I’ve listened to speeches from people who have survived prison and been born again. I’ve also attended conferences where women have come out of sex trafficking and are now using their newfound faith to reach people all across the planet. Because these were incredibly moving, I felt like I was somehow shorted. How could I possibly make a difference if I didn’t have a story like that? After hearing many, many testimonies of believers giving their life over to Jesus and the miracle that surrounds that…..I almost craved to hear my own story. Truth is, I didn’t believe I had a story as amazing as those.

Now, as an adult, having reached a point where I can really sift through my life and truly digest the horrors I have lived through – my eyes are being opened.

For the past few weeks, I have really been struggling. Iv’e been struggling with shame and forgiving myself for my past. I grew up a Christian, this is true. However, I went through a good chunk of time (7-8 years) where I was not following the Lord. Sure, I still believed in Him, but you would never know it by my actions. I was leading a life I was not proud of. I can’t really tell you one specific reason WHY I was doing the things I was doing, but I was. And in full force. There really wasn’t any stopping me. Most people who know me now, and didn’t know me then, may find it hard to believe when I tell them the things I have done.

I have felt this urge to be honest about my past as a part of the healing process, but I’m finding some difficulty in this. In the past, I was unashamed about my actions and would really tell anyone who sat in front of me. It really wasn’t shocking to the people I chose to surround myself with. They had all done them or knew people who had. I live in a new part of the country and have found myself surrounded by some of the most amazing people! I feel incredibly blessed to have found not only an amazing group of friends, but also a church home like none I have ever experienced before. I think just having those things, has allowed me to feel safe and supported. Stable.

With this, comes a downside. Because I am surrounded by amazing people who have standards…..I feel much more shame when talking about the things Iv’e done. Not because they are judgmental, in fact they are far from it. But, because they aren’t desensitized to it like the people from my past. They feel strong emotion when they hear things of this nature. It hurts their heart. Because they genuinely care. So with that said, I am in a constant state of confusion. Do I share what Iv’e been through and done? Do those things matter anymore? In order to know me as a person, must someone know about my past? The answer, I believe, is yes.

I think about the deep splinter our daughter got in her foot. It was probably 4-5 inches long and deep in the skin of her foot. I think about how I had to sterilize and cut the skin with a razor blade in order to get it out before I could even begin to clean the wound. She was so brave to sit through such a scary thing. In fact, I worked hard to steady my own hands. I was just as nervous.

Are emotional wounds different? How scary and painful it must be to get the bad stuff out. It literally feels like a cut to the heart in order to drain the bad stuff. It is certainly scary. The people who are a part of this journey with us may feel scared too. But once the bad is out, we can not only see the wound better but we can begin to treat it properly. It is then, that the healing can begin. It may leave a scar, but it doesn’t have to be painful anymore.

So when I tell people about how detached I became when my parents divorced my seventh grade year, or how numb I was when I had an abortion at the age of 17, or how betrayed I felt when I discovered my stepdad was masturbating to pictures of me in my room, or how I don’t remember losing my virginity, or how desperate I felt trying to escape my abusive relationship in college, or how much attention I was craving while I was having premarital sex with strangers, or how lost I felt as I binge drank myself into blackouts for years, or how I spent my four year college loan in one year, or how unsatisfied I was with my body as I went under the knife to permanently change my body through cosmetic surgery and tattoos, or how low I felt when I walked in on my daughter’s dad cheating on me for the 7th time, or how strange I felt to be a single mother who had never even been married, or how helpless I felt when I wasn’t there for my daughter as she watched her dad attempt suicide, or how I couldn’t accept that a wonderful guy would want to marry me knowing all of that…………….I don’t have to be ashamed. Jesus made sure of it. He shed his blood to forgive people like me.

This morning in church as the feelings of shame flooded every fiber of my being and the pastor and worship team followed the Holy Spirit’s lead, tears began to pour out. The church gave an open invitation to those who did not yet know Jesus to make their way to the front so they could pray together. The whole time I wept. Although I am already saved, I felt God’s forgiveness flood through my soul and wipe clean any harbored shame I have kept hidden for all of these years. And that, my friends is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced in my 28 years.

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Truth or Dare? How About Both.

Truth or Dare? How about both. I dare you to tell the truth.

For those of you (everyone, because I’ve never shared it online) who don’t know why this community of women and ministry aimed towards mothers is such a deep gutted passion of mine, you are about to find out.

You know that place of great sin, the place you filed in the very back of your memories so no one could find it including yourself? The place that we all pretend we have never been to and try daily to hide from our family and friends. The reason we dress really pretty and hold ourselves together in public. The reason we attend church weekly and join every bible study we can. The reason we do good deeds and await the approval of others. That place. That’s the place of great regret, shame and guilt from which this ministry is deep rooted.

I want to share with you how human I am. How imperfect and insecure I am. But I also want to share with you how much God doesn’t see us as those things. How he looks at us with the most loving eyes and gently moves the hair from our faces so that he can see us. The real us. And FORGIVE us! And GROW us. This particular part of my story focuses on my feelings towards motherhood and why it didn’t start out positive.

It begins when I was 17. But how could it start at 17? I am almost 28 and our oldest daughter is almost 7 so that means I had her when I was 21. The answer to that kills me. Our oldest daughter wasn’t my first pregnancy. I could tell you I had a miscarriage but that wouldn’t be true. It was my choice. The ultimate debate. Is it right or wrong to allow children at the age of 17 to decide if they will bring a child into the world or end it’s life before it begins? Right or wrong, I had an abortion. And that’s where this part of my story begins.

Did I feel regret? Did I go into a deep depression? No. I pretended like it didn’t happen. I went on with my senior year of high school just like any other girl my age. Attending school dances, joining the cross country team, going bowling with my friends and stressing because I thought term papers and boy troubles were just too much. You probably want to stop reading because you think I have no morals and something must be wrong with me to feel nothing after such a major event in my life. On the other hand, maybe you understand because you’ve gone through something traumatic enough that it made you numb to the entire world. If that’s you, thank you for understanding.

The next year I joined my boyfriend at college where he began to get violent with me and emotionally torment me. I was no longer able to make decisions for myself, drive to campus by myself, make phone calls on my cell phone by myself or even go to the bathroom by myself. I wasn’t allowed to. Somehow, though, God showed me the little bit of hope I had left and I gained strength enough to leave. So here I was, living on my own, 4 hours from my mom and 12 hours from my dad in an apartment with 3 other partying college girls and no idea how to make decisions for myself after having the right taken away for so long. Within the first week of moving in with these girls, one of them told me, “Oh girl, you haven’t partied right until you’ve peed the bed!” WHAT! This girl is crazy.

Problem is, I turned into her. Drinking myself into dangerous situations, passing out all over town, spending money like it grew on trees, not working, not going to class and eating everything in sight. Well you know where that got me? Broke, fat and sick. I had taken out a school loan large enough to cover all 4 years of school at this University and spent the entire thing in 8 months. I gained over 20 pounds and many more problems than that. I think it’s pretty obvious I did not stay at that school the next year. I moved closer to my mom and attended a small community college working towards my psychology degree. How fitting! Maybe I could get extra credit if they used me as an example in the mental health class.

I started dating someone new. I got pregnant within a few months of us dating…….by choice. Guys you thought the mess was over. It is only beginning. After announcing the pregnancy to his family, they were furious! They told me I was having an abortion. I refused. They told me I would put the baby up for adoption. I refused. After all else failed, they took our house, vehicle, horse…..everything away. I was working full time, sometimes overtime at Starbucks but began to get too dizzy to work. I was also attending classes when I could. He was hosting huge parties in our house while I studied, cheating on me, working about 16 hours a week at a gas station and using any little money we had to buy beer and chew.

We decided to give it one more chance after she was born and move away to go to a college where he could attend on a rodeo scholarship and start over. We were there not even two months when I had had enough. We were living in a trailer that shouldn’t have even been available to rent. Cupboards falling off the hinges, no air conditioning, and the list goes on.  I called my dad to come get our daughter and I and we made the very long trip to live in Colorado near my dad.

2 years later I started dating a new guy. This guy was different! He loved me, he loved my parents and he loved my daughter. He treated me so well I couldn’t help but doubt that it was real. I, again, got pregnant after only a few months of dating. We weren’t married. If God hadn’t given up on me with my first daughter, surely he had now. I knew I had let down my family and anyone else important to me. How much more screwed up could I get?? Well the story gets better after we had our daughter. We got married a year and a half later and FINALLY I did things right and we made the choice to have one more kid INSIDE marriage how God intended it.

Nothing ever goes that smoothly. I had a doctor who didn’t believe me when I told her something was wrong only to find out I had a hole in my uterus large enough to deliver our son out of. Followed by spinal headaches, blood patches and lots of pain and recovery. Followed by postpartum depression, my husband getting laid off, and a cross country move to North Carolina. Those who know me, know that that brings us to today! We are now living in North Carolina and God couldn’t have had a better plan! I feel more alive than I have in my entire life, my husband is reunited with his father and happily working for him in their family business and we are living the country life we have both dreamed of. God and I have talked everyday and had some major healing sessions. Ha. It would take many to bring me out of that mess!!

Ladies, I have never experienced something that feels SO RIGHT in my spirit. The ideas for this blog and all of the future plans that go along with it just came to me so effortlessly. God planted them into me after going through some major healing through forgiveness. To those who hurt me and to myself for hurting others. My past was not the result of a bunch of people hurting me, it was the result of my reacting out of my hurt and making bad decisions. And in their defense, they were only hurting me because they had hurts of their own. It is a viscous cycle. Hurt people hurt people.

You know what God says to that? I CHOOSE YOU. I HAVE A PLAN FOR YOU. I forgive you, now let’s use your MESS and turn it into a MESSAGE!!!!