Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Learning from Pain

I grew up in church...loved the church...had great friends and had a wonderful church family. We went to church and then came home and nothing - no real talk of God, no praying, no living out our belief - mostly yelling and fighting and well you get the point.

So yes, I grew up in church and I believe in the existence of God and everything I learned, but as I got older, I truly began to doubt that he wanted good for me and wasn't a "bad" God. It all started when my associate minister passed away - it was sudden, I was in 9th grade and had a not so good group of friends at school. It was awful, it happened at church on Sunday morning before the Easter service - I wasn't thrilled and my friend that I brought with me that day to church did not help me feel any better. She wasn't a believer or church goer, but I had talked her into coming with me because it was Easter - she agreed. She was of course sad for me, us, but posed some interesting questions - that lingered with me for years.

Moving on, many things made me question God and his goodness, his love and faithfulness. I watched my parents fight constantly, I didn't get along with my mom, one of my dear friends from church came out and I watched him suffer for that, I had a huge fight with one of my best friends that went on for a long period...I got into a relationship with a guy whom was emotionally abusive and made me hate myself more than I already did...these aren't even the tips of the iceberg.

I would say my senior of high school and on is when I really really fought with my questions about God.  However, I knew that I wanted to be a Children's Minister and was accepted to Cincinnati Christian University. Here I was questioning my faith, yet preparing to go to a christian college. I had the huge blow out with my friend C towards the end of my junior year of H.S. it was hard and took a toll on me. Then my senior came around, she and I worked on our friendship and were at a place where we talked but we definitely weren't BFF's anymore. Senior year was just hard for me, I dated a couple of lousy guys and then my family life because a huge mess. My mom told my dad she wanted a divorce the first weekend of Jan 2001. My dad came home from that counseling meeting and went upstairs and took a whole bottle of sleeping pills. Chaos ensued, my dad survived, and a couple weeks later my mom had left to go live with someone else. The day of the suicide attempt - I moved in for a bit with my children's minister/mentor M (her husband was the associate pastor that had passed a few years prior).

I made it through my final year of high school and graduated - I was so ready to be out of Warsaw, Indiana and on my own and away from the crap of my family. I went to college - 2 months in on Oct 6, 2001 - something unimaginable happened. My friend, the one I had finally reconnected with after a huge fight was involved in a head on collision - she passed away at the age of 17. I. was. livid. with God. I mean, wasn't it enough we had had this huge blow out and finally worked on our relationship and now when things were looking great - she was taken away. Not to mention the guilt I still felt over the fight...

And so began the deep search for who I believed god to be...and it got harder and things got to a bottom of epic proportions before it ever got better. I didn't go back to CCU for my sophomore year, I didn't have the money so I stayed at home, worked and took a few classes at Grace College in Winona Lake. I was still very much wanting to be a children's minister and go to church, I was trying to hold it all together from the outside, but on the inside, it was turmoil, I was an impostor. During that time at home more "junk" went on. I got into a relationship with a man who raped me, I gained a ton of weight and hated myself, became suicidal and depressed, went to a counselor that made me to believe that my parents divorce was my fault, got into another relationship and began smoking and drinking (all while still going to Grace College and still wanting to be a children's minister), I broke up with relationship 2 guy and he began stalking me, I had to get a restraining order. I thought about taking my own life several times, I began hurting myself (not cutting - I am wimp and that sense) but I did finding way to cause pain (I liked to take a pen cap and just rub as hard as I could..) I changed churches that year and finally found a niche. Here I was working with a church and helping with their kids ministry, yet, I'd come home and stay in my room and cry - a lot.

I got back to CCU and worked through a lot, I found friends and mentors to turn to and I began to slowly heal. Things were going ok, I still had my depressed/self hurting moments, but I was in college and happy-ish for once.

I finally came to a point where I felt I understood the trials and all the above heartache. I met my husband and we got married in 05 and moved to a new place, made new friends and found a church we could dive into. Then another life changing moment - the birth of our son. 11 weeks too early, both of us were very ill and I grappled with my relationship with God. I was so mad, I felt like I had been through enough in my life, why this. Couldn't something just go good for once? I mean, come on, what was the point of having a child in such a hard and scary way. I fell into a deep depression and ended up on medicine. It hasn't been until just recently that I feel like I can finally say that my depression is slowly going away.

This summer another blow - a challenging time in my marriage that rocked me to the core and made me search more for my faith in god.

All this to say, I am still not 100% of my Secret Name, I have many given names (Depressed, Suicidal, Failure, Preemie Mommy, ect ) that I live with daily. I do know this. God has used all of those hard situations for his glory - I can see that now. It's taken counseling and searching my soul, but I do see that. And even though I don't want to say this, I feel like I can say that I am ready for whatever's next.

SO at the bottom I was, and toward the top I go.

***Your Secret Name - Chapter 5, 6, 7 Read Along Week 3***

Some quotes of impact:

“Unsuccessful in securing his own Secret Name, Satan… has infiltrated earth, wooing us away from finding our Secret Name in the only legitimate place–within a relationship with the heavenly Father.” (pg 74)

"Many of us ware our masks far too frequently - and we've lost touch with our potential for who God created us be." (Pg. 60)

"We get a tiny peek at what could be - the possible - while taking a vacation from what is, the actual...Time brings clarity. Yet at the moment we must be content to simply understand where we are and how far we must travel in order to arrive at our destination." (pg. 90)


Marla Taviano said...

I don't have words to make things better or easier or to take any pain away. But I have a feeling, Denise, that God is going to use this--ALL OF THIS--in a way that is going to blow your mind. I think you, Drew, and Parker have only seen the tip of the iceberg of how he's going to use your family for his AMAZING glory. You have come so far and been through so much, and your surrender to God's plan for your life is going to point people to him in HUGE ways. It already has.

Bless you, friend. Praying lots of things for you today. I love you.

Ali said...

Your story is unbelievable, Denise. You are a survivor in so many ways. Thank you so much for sharing. Love you. Love you. Love you.

Brooke said...

life is so hard sometimes. Praise Him that He is bigger than all of that!