“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”
– 2 Timothy 1:7
For as long as I can remember, fear was something that controlled who I was and what I did. I allowed fear to keep me away from pursuing my goals. It was a huge factor in relationships as I struggled to trust others and trust God. Fear had become my unwanted guest – the one that overstayed their welcome much longer than I had the energy to deal with. It was a cancer to my soul as it slowly killed off any surge of joy or hope I attempted to grasp. My heart was longing to be set free and open, and yet I was bound by fear and anxiety so much that I became prone to panic attacks.
At first, I was able to manage these, and would try to keep away from places that would “spark triggers”. Eventually, my avoidance led to agoraphobia. That means that my fears had exacerbated to the point where I could no longer leave my apartment for fear of something bad happening to me.
My dad is a pastor, so I grew up in a loving Christian home where my parents always taught of God’s love for me. When I was six, I made the decision to accept Christ. As I look back on it, I know it was a genuine decision, but it wasn’t until many years later that I came to truly know and appreciate a deep relationship with God.
I was a pretty good kid as the years went by. In high school, I was the type of kid who would rather stay home playing games or watching movies with my parents instead of going out and partying. I had a strong sense of identity in Christ and was proud of being a Christian. I was the drama and choir geek who, on the outside at least, seemed to be proud of her outgoing, crazy, loud self. However, on the inside, I felt a strong need to belong. I wanted to be the popular one, the girl who got the guy, the one who every girl wanted to be.
“You’re a bad kid. I’m sick and tired of you.” These were the words of my father as he physically beat me.
“I don’t want to be with you anymore. You mean nothing to me. You’re not worth it” These were the words I heard from my ex-wife while in divorce proceedings.
“You will never do ministry again. You’re not cut out for this. I don’t ever want to see you here ever again”. These were the last words from a pastor who dismissed me from ministry.
May 30, 2017
“Pick a card that shows the phase of life you are in right now…”
I walk around the table as everyone is eating, looking at all the pictures that are laying strewn all over. Pictures of trees, carousels, babies, beaches, cars overflowing with people, delicate spider webs, foggy roads… and a solitary girl, standing facing the camera, hand raised to block her face from the camera’s gaze. That’s the one… I realize with a jolt. That solitary girl who is there in front of the camera, but choosing to be faceless. She’s there, but not there. It’s such a sad picture–full of insecurity.
The first time I recall truly hating Valentine’s Day was when I was a sophomore in college. I had been cheated on by two different boyfriends in a year’s time, and I felt the need to vent that anger to anyone who would listen! I remember rallying with my girlfriends to decorate black t-shirts sponge painted in white, pink, and red with messages like “My Valentine is Ben & Jerry’s,” “Kiss this Cupid,” or my personal favorite on my t-shirt reading “Happy Satan Day!” I donned my black t-shirt with its anti-love message for the world to see because on the inside, my heart had been broken one time too many. Each year as this day would come around, my heart grew darker and bleaker for everything this one day stood for. I let it steal my joy year after year, and I spread that darkness to those around me all in the name of heartbreak.
Ever since I was a little girl, I would watch every Disney princess movie, every sappy chick-flick, and pretty much every “happily ever after” film and dream of my prince that would come and save the day–the one who would make my life whole. It’s ingrained in our culture that we cannot be fully whole without being married. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely see the perks to being married and look forward to having that special person to share life with someday, but I have come to realize the danger in society’s warped marital expectation as I’ve seen this mindset play out in my own life.