I had what some would consider a tumultuous childhood. My parents never married. One struggled with alcoholism and anger issues the other was incapable of empathy. Life was steeped in violence, stress, poverty and instability. From a young age, I knew this wasn’t “right.” I had seen The Cosby Show” after all. *wink*
When I was around five or six, I started going to a local church. I accepted Jesus as my personal savior soon after and was baptized. A life with Jesus who would love me and never hurt me sounded amazing! A chance at Heaven seemed like an opportunity I did not want to miss out on!
Life continued to be less than ideal, but I had hope that Jesus had my back and I could handle anything with His help!! Fast forward to the Spring when I was 12 years old. My parents had broken up years prior, my mom was now marrying a man that mixed with me like oil to water and she was pregnant too. That August, my father committed suicide, I started 7th grade at a new school just 2 weeks after that. Life was further thrown for a loop with the infant was born into the family in early October. My poor tween-age mind was having difficulty wrapping itself around this many life-altering events in such a short time. As if Middle School wasn’t hard enough on its own.
The next two years blend and blur due to the exhausting battle with depression and the unfair time-warp that trauma inflicts on the brain. One day I expressed to my mom that I was having a hard time. I was extremely sad and didn’t know what to do. She replied with, “Well, sometimes in life, we just need to get over things.” Shocked and horrified, I went to my room and felt totally alone. I knew that day that I could not rely on anyone other than myself and God.
The pain didn’t subside. I continued to be disappointed that the sun rose another day and I had to trudge on with no hope of healing or restoration on the horizon. I didn’t want to shoulder this burden another day. Wasn’t my salvation supposed to save me from the excruciating pain too? It felt like no one cared. So, why should I? Cracking a smile felt like such a chore. I was doubting that God even existed. If so, why would He allow this much agony to be heaped upon a child? WHY? Why? Why????
I couldn’t do it one more day. Laying in my bed one night, I cried out to God, in anger with my childish heart. “If you can be asked into my heart, then I can certainly kick you out! You are supposed to help me, love me, care for and protect me! All of those other kids are out leading sinful lives, but they at least appear to be happy doing it! You’re doing NOTHING for me! GET OUT!” In that... very.... instant, a cold, violent wind blew over me. I was freezing. Not only that, but I physically felt like I was falling even though I knew it was impossible because I was already flat on my back! I felt so hollow that if anyone dared to flick me just then, I would have shattered into a million pieces. I was terrified!
Just as quickly as I demanded His departure I said, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake! I’m so so so sorry. Come back! I need you! Jesus! Come back!” Before I even finished the invitation, a warmth like I had never experienced before washed over me. Instead of the sensation of falling, it felt like God had wrapped His loving arms around me and gave me the most gentle, yet safety affirming hug. For the first time in a long time. I felt held. Really, held.
While still being held, God also took the time to instill a message to my heart. He reminded me that I was comparing myself to those who were not living for Him. He pointed out that terrible feeling of dread, cold and hollow was what they were feeling when life hit them hard. He was The Rock at my “rock bottom” all they had was sinking sand. He called me to have compassion on them and to make sure that I do what I could to spare as many people as possible from living life without His presence.
Of course the story didn’t stop there. While life still came with a few hard knocks, I never once doubted or will doubt that God is my cornerstone. The life I live now would blow that 13/14 year old me’s mind!! I have been blessed beyond measure. I am married to a faithful man of integrity. We have four gorgeous kids who are my favorite kind of crazy. We live in a safe home free from violence and despair. We are not perfect, but we are LOVED!
In your darkest moments, dear ones, you are NOT alone. God will transform you from Hollow to Whole. You are held!
If you haven’t made the decision to accept the salvation that was gifted to you by God through the sacrifice of His one and only Son, may I extend the invitation to snatch up that opportunity as soon as you can. It would be my honor to help guide you into God’s loving arms with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Father, you are the one who guides us, loves us and cares for our every need and even our wants. You are not a genie in a lamp, you are not a quick fix for when we're feeling low. You are the only steady force we will experience in this life and beyond. Thank you for never giving up on us even when we give up on you. Thank you for always having open arms when we decide to turn our path back toward you. We ask you now, maybe for the first time or maybe for the 1,000th time, to be the Lord or our life. We want to follow your will for our lives because you know the best boundaries to keep us safe. We believe that your son, Jesus, died on the cross to save us from our sins of wretched self-indulgence. We accept that our flesh will continue to be tempted, but we will have victory through your grace alone. We surrender our lives as living sacrifices; denying our short-sighted will for your omniscient power. Thank you, God, for your eternal life-giving gift. May we continue to seek you diligently for the rest of our days. In Jesus' holy name, Amen.