May 6, 2012

Every Life Has a Lesson

What's the one thing you want people to learn from your life? What do you want to teach others? Better yet, what are you teaching?

When answering that question for myself, the one thing that boldly came to mind was this one statement "YOU MATTER". It's the one thing I want people to learn from my life.

I grew up in a family of six. I am the oldest of four kids. I have a brother, David who is 14 months younger and twin sisters, Amber and Amanda who are six years younger than I am. My parents were Christian school teachers. We grew up in a 900 square foot, one and half bathroom house in Pinellas Park, Florida. We spent most of our days either in school or at church. There was never a doubt in my mind that God was real, present, our redeemer and the world's creator- until-my world came crashing down at the age of 14.

My dad made a mistake, a big one, and he and my mom were separated. My dad was the ultimate father figure and when I learned he was fallible. When I learned he was human. When I learned he had a sin nature, it crushed me. It shook my faith to it's core. For the first time in my life I asked the question "Is God real?". My dad's betrayal to our family was painful, but the idea that God may not really exist, well that was earth-shattering. I moaned and wailed and wept and simply cried out to God, "Are you there?". I needed proof, I was 14 and wanted something. In a deeply painful prayer I asked God if He was there at 2:00 am to make the poster on my wall fall. I had had this huge red poster hung on my wall for years with over 2 packs of sticky tack, the thing never budged. A moment after I uttered the prayer in my heart, I heard a pop. The poster fell ! I wept tears of joy because I knew, at that moment the Creator of the Universe, was in my little room and cared about me! Lesson One- God cares about your problems. He is with you in sorrow.

My dad repented, and in a huge way. He went before the church for forgiveness and came home a year later. He and my mom will celebrate 33 years of marriage in June. As an adult, I realize now, he was human. He has a sin nature like we all do. No one is perfect. We all need grace, every moment, every hour, as much as we need oxygen. I am so proud of my dad and the man he is today.

While my family was dealing with their struggles, I was dealing with being 15. I was at a new school and I was bullied. Girls threatened to beat me up. The only person who would let me sit by them at school was the girl who always had lice and rarely showered. I would go to sit down at lunch and hear "seat's saved"- when noone was coming. I can't tell you why I was bullied. Maybe because I was the teacher's kid, maybe because everyone knew about what was happening, maybe kids are just mean. Either way, I felt unwanted. I told myself that my parents didn't pick me. I was just what came out. I had no friends. I was depressed and suicidal. I would have killed myself, but I don't like pain. I just kept thinking that no one would miss me if I was gone. My parents moved me out of that horrible school and the next year I made friends. I still struggled with the feeling of being not good enough. The summer before my 16 th birthday, I went to church camp. It was the highlight of my short life. For one week, I was the popular girl. Then, I hit high school.

Another new school and this time I had only one antagonist. A boy named Stephen who made it his life's mission to harass me. When I would walk into a room he would get the other boys to sing "here she comes, Miss America". When I would ask a question in class, he would quickly remind me why I should already know that. He tried to make me feel stupid for asking. However, I hated not understanding things so I asked the question anyway. This time I could deal with Stephen because I had a whole army of church friends thanks to summer camp. I didn't need school friends to feel important because I had great friends at church. In fact 15 years later, I am still close friends with the people I met at camp. However, as a girl, I still struggled with feeling ugly, unwanted and not good enough. One day in my Bible reading I read the verse from Psalms "I will praise you Oh Lord for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are thy works and that my soul knoweth it well." I knew God looked at all his creation and said it was good. I realized that God doesn't make mistakes. And since God made me, I was not a mistake. I was fearfully made. I can feel pretty, because of my Maker. Lesson Two- God doesn't make mistakes. You are beautiful! You are wanted! You are perfect, AS IS.

This revelation has stayed with me for the last 15 years. At 30 years old, I still remember that moment of the edge of my bed. The moment I realized I mattered to God. I had a coworker ask me once if I was always so confident. He was sure that I had been the popular girl in school. I laughed and then smiled really big and told him my story. In college, I got to tell my story again as a Resident Assistant in the dorms. I realized that women always face these questions, "Am I good enough?" "Am I pretty?" "Do I matter?" no matter how old you get. I suppose insecurity and self doubt is a struggle regardless of what year you were born. My life's lesson is this Your God is good enough. You are HIS , He loved you enough to send his only son Jesus to die on the cross to redeem all your sins. You were enough for Jesus to suffer a cruel death. You were enough for Jesus to rise from the dead to experience RELATIONSHIP with. You are ENOUGH because you my friend are RADICALLY LOVED by an amazing God. When you embrace your position with Christ and who you are as HIS, you too will break the shackles of insecurity and when you do, tell your story!

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