I don’t even know where to begin so pardon my jumbled thoughts. Tonight was an answer to my prayers. Ha! Prayers nothing. Try begging and pleading with the God of the Universe to help me make sense of life. Tonight, He answered my biggest question. It will take time to tell this story so bear with me but only if you want to. I’m tempted to keep it to myself but I’m sharing with the world because there may be someone out there who needs this even more than me. I promise to be as open, honest and transparent as possible. Before tonight, that thought would’ve terrified me. But this is my story and this is my truth and God has a reason. Maybe that reason is YOU.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt pain. Not physical pain but pain in my heart for every creature and every human who is lonely, hurting, hardened… you name it. In fact, I’m drawn to brokeness. I quite literally feel the pain of others. Empathy is a great gift and it’s also a great burden. I remember being a kid and rescuing a poor moth whose wings got wet in a rainshower. I took that little tan, dusty moth inside, laid it on a towel, turned my mom’s hairdryer on low and tried to save it’s life. Every dog who needed cold water on a hot day, every robin’s egg that fell from a nest, every butterfly who lost a wing, every turtle stuck in busy traffic, every duck trying to cross the road…these are the thoughts that kept me up at night as a child. Wondering, agonizing, praying, reminding God that if He cared for the sparrows then He would take care of the sad little creatures that I saw everywhere. Roadkill was the worst! It made me so so sad.
All that to say, I’m sensitive. Sensitive in the best way possible but I know some who would say the worst way possible and up until tonight I would’ve said “sensitive” is a bad word/quality. As a child, I went to school and was a target for bullies. I wouldn’t hurt a fly. Literally. I refused to kill them. But yet I was targeted. There were several reasons for that but none I understood at the time. The girls called me fat and ugly. Yaaaawwwwn. I know, the usual. Isn’t everyone bullied at some point? I think so. No big deal, right? My dad was a pastor and apparently that was something to be jealous of. Physically I developed earlier than my fellow girlfriends and apparently that was also something to be jealous of. See, looking back I was kind of adorable. I had big brown eyes, thick blonde hair, full lips, a petite frame, heart-shaped face, etc. But back then I just felt very fat, very awkward, very hideous and very gross. I remember one day at school I had mac n’ cheese for lunch. After I warmed it up in the microwave, one of the kids tripped me on the way to my seat and when it spilled they all laughed. I never ate in front of them again. For real I didn’t. I threw my lunches away discretely and went hungry. These classmates also told me I had horse hair and when I started going through puberty they told me I had a frog face. My mom and dad noticed that I was struggling so they pulled me out of the Christian school and homeschooled me for awhile.
Fast forward a few years. I had to get braces because for some reason God didn’t give me all of my adult teeth and I was a few short. My baby teeth fell out and no replacements were coming. I was 16, covered in zits, with two front teeth (“chiclets” they called them), braces and I weighed a whopping 108 lbs because I was eating crackers at meal times. Yes. I was anorexic. Again, yaaaaawwwwwn. Another girl with an eating disorder blah, blah, blah… They still called me fat and ugly but they added other words like “slut” and “whore.” At this point I still had never even so much as kissed a boy. I had invited a friend to church who was a little older than me. He drove up in his 69 t-top red Camaro and after church I gave him a hug. This was the demise of any self-respect or confidence I had left. The bullies really hated that this toothless wonder had a handsome boy show up to church in a red sports car. So, they turned up the heat.
My parents always encouraged me to make Jesus my best friend. I found much peace and comfort in that relationship and retreated there often. I have many wonderful memories of walking thru the woods on a snowy day, smelling that crisp, cold, snowy air mixed with someone’s wood burning stove and feeling complete peace as Jesus was walking beside me. I remember thunderstorms and the calm they brought me…breathing in the smell of rain and listening to the low, rumble of thunder in the distance. I remember the sounds while walking on a dirt trail and the smell of the woods in summer as I just breathed and walked beside My Friend. I remember hiking and finding a mountain stream and just looking at the crystal clear water rushing over the rocks and knowing God made it for my enjoyment. I felt His presence when I dipped my feet in that ice-cold water, closed my eyes and listened to nature all around me. I would go to sleep at night imagining that I was laying my head on His lap and He would run His fingers thru my hair which was often damp from tears. I didn’t know back then that I was experiencing anxiety. My head would pound, my chest would hurt and I couldn’t fall alseep but as soon as I reached out to Jesus, He was right there with me and I would feel calm in my soul. I just knew He was with me always. Truly, He was and is my wonderful, quiet escape.
I remember one night pouring my heart out to my mom. I just wanted people to love me and to see me for who I really was which was a big softie, full of love for all these people. There was no bitterness, hate or meanness in my heart toward the bullies. She tried to pull me onto her lap and I screamed. I completely freaked out! My heart was pounding and I felt heat in my face. Not because she pulled me close but because I was afraid she saw what the others saw. I didn’t want my mom to touch me when I was hideous and fat. I didn’t want to sit on her lap and her think, “Wow! She’s heavy!” At the same time, I wanted to help everyone else. I wanted to be the shoulder for others to cry on. I wanted to be the warm hug. I wanted to be the reason someone else had a good day. I wanted to make everyone smile and laugh. But me? I didn’t/couldn’t accept that same love. Hard to describe. I had a protective bubble around myself but I wanted to crack everyone else’s shell.
This has been me for as long as I can remember. I’m a hugger but I don’t want to be on the recieving end of one. This goes for words of affirmation, gifts and acts of service also. I have a very difficult and uncomfortable time being on the receiving end of such things.
(to be continued)