I was lost and broken. I was hurt and hurtful. I was sad and angry. But more than anything, I was searching for what it meant to be loved. At the age of 23 I looked back over my life and all I saw was a trail of brokenness and wondered how I had come so far from the fun loving, full of life child I used to be.
For most people, they look back and wonder, "how did things go so wrong?" But for me, I can trace the path a destruction back to when I was 11 years old... Back to when my parents divorced. Prior to their divorce, I was a social butterfly, I was in sports, dance and AWANAs. However, all of that came to a screeching hault when my parents divorced. I was the first kid I knew who had faced this reality. I would stay up late listening to my parents fight, I would wake up in the middle of the night to slamming doors and screeching ties. I am the middle child of three, however, my older brother is on the autism spectrum so it was my job to step up and comfort our little brother on those nights when we didn't know if mom was going to be there when we woke up. When we didn't know if daddy would come home the next day. Those months when we huddled together in their bunk bed is when my childhood ended.
After my mom, my brothers and I moved out of my childhood home, my dad moved his girlfriend and her daughters in, they took over my house, my room and my life. We moved into a little 3 bedroom apartment in the not so nice part of town and this is when life began to change for the worst. It was at this time that I began to back away from everything. I dropped out of dance, my favorite activity, softball, AWANAS... Everything.
When my dad chose to walk away from our family, I lost both parents. My mom spiraled into a depression so deep that she became unrecognizable to me. My mom spent every waking hour on the Internet in chat rooms talking to men. I used to fall asleep to the sound of her nails clicking on the keyboard and wake up to the same sound. It became my responsibility to make sure my brothers were up and ready in the mornings for school. I became the adult in the house. We began seeing less and less of my dad and by the time I was 13, he had moved to California for his job and I saw him once in 2 years.
I remember around the age of 15 beginning to blame God for everything that had gone wrong in my life. I thought, "what kind of God would let innocent children suffer the way we are suffering." It was around this time that we were evicted from our first apartment because my mom had become so deeply depressed that she stopped going to work and spent her days and nights on the internet. It was also around this time that the men started coming around. My mom began bringing home random men that she had met on the Internet and go off to her room with them for hours at a time.
At the age of 15, I met the person who I thought was going to change everything. I started dating a guy who was a little bit older than me and lived a couple towns away. His house became my escape from reality. It was a place I could go and get away from the sad truths of my life. This relationship led me down a road filled with sexual immorality and even deeper self loathing. I dated this person for 7 years and created my identity in him. He was the person who would be there for me through it all. He was there through the times when I thought I couldn't take it anymore and attempted to kill myself. He was there through evictions number 2 and 3. He was there when I became homeless at the age of 17. He was also there to take my virginity at 16 because "that's what you do after you've been together for a year." He was there to cheat on me when he went off to college but then convince me that it meant nothing time and time again. He was there to introduce me to binge drinking once I followed him to college.
For 7 years I was lost in this world and clung to it so desperately because it had been the only constant in my life. My identity was founded in who I was with him and after 7 years when it finally ended, I was more lost than I had ever been in my life. At 22 years old, 1 year away from graduating college, I had no clue who I was. I had travelled so far from the carefree child that I knew prior to my parents divorce. I had no relationship with my father, a broken relationship with my mother and no place to call home. After the break up, I spiraled even deeper into the hole I had created for myself. I began binge drinking every day, partaking in drugs, and giving my body to whoever wanted it. For 6 months I lived this way. I started dating someone around December of 2010 who was very into church and to appease him, I started going with him to church services on campus every Wednesday night. In the beginning I was still so cynical and skeptical but kept going because I knew it was important to the guy I was seeing. What I hadn't realized was that little by little, my heart was healing every Wednesday night. By May, I had broken up with this guy but kept going to church on my own. Something in me had changed and I knew that it was Jesus healing my brokenness.
In June of 2012, my father reached out to me just before my college graduation. After more than 10 years of resentment toward him for leaving me, I decided to meet him for coffee. The conversation was strained and awkward but that was the beginning of healing between us. I know that had it not been for Jesus working in my heart, this relationship never would have been mended. In the 3 years since then both of my brothers have follows suit not long after me and reached out to my dad as well. We have a solid relationship and I visit him and his wife regularly.
In 2013, after moving to Yakima, I heard Jesus calling me to find a church. I attended service at Yakima Foursquare on Mother's Day for the first time and never looked back. Walking into this church felt like the home I never had growing up. It felt like family and love and peace and comfort. In the 2 years I have been here, I have found a family that loves me, I have found my identity in Christ, I have become a leader and a mentor to others and just when I thought that was as good as it could get, God blessed me with a faithful man who loves Jesus just as much as I do. And He continues to bless us daily as our family begins to grow with a little boy of our own on the way.
As I look back on my life now, at the age of 27, I can see God's hand throughout my story. Even when I had turned my back to Him, He never left my side. He was there carrying me through even the darkest of hours whispering His love to me and when I was finally ready to listen, He reclaimed me as His daughter.