We all have a story. Whether it’s one of triumph, or heartache, we all experience life differently. Despite the many similarities, our stories make us unique. While my experiences have brought me much sorrow and pain, I am humbled by the fact that God has given me the grace and the strength to overcome these challenges that were placed along my path. God is the one thing that has remained constant throughout the ups and downs.
I use to silently fight my own battles. I smiled and seemed happy to others, but I was secretly dying inside. I even had thoughts of committing suicide. I know I’m not the only one that has gone through this, which is why I want to share my life and help others escape these battles. God has truly done a new thing in me and continues to work on me and change my heart.
The purpose of this story is not to gain pity, but to shine light on the fact that you are not facing your silent battles alone. I am transparently sharing my testimony with you so you may see that nothing is too big or small for God to fix. Life may feel so impossible to bear, but I share my life with you with hopes that you will see that you are not alone and that you have the Lord fighting for you each and every step of the way.
Ever asked God, why me? Why would you allow such hatred, such cruelty to surround me? I know I have. I use to be angry with God for allowing certain things to occur at a time when I was helpless and could not defend myself. Like many of us, I experienced my first battles at a very young age. I was about six years old when it first happened, the day he first touched me is a day I will never forget. He was a family friend and his family would baby-sit me whenever my parents worked late. Too young to understand it, I though it was all a game at first.
What made me so different? Was I special? Feelings of uneasiness began to build in my stomach as I learned that it was not normal to have such a relationship. For over a year I contemplated telling my mother what was going on, but I was scared of what would result from telling her.
One afternoon while playing at my older cousin’s house God told me to release the heavy burden on my heart. That evening my mom picked me up from their house and she had to find out about the abuse her only daughter had endured for over two years. I can vividly remember the anxiety and disbelief on her face - tears of sadness and heartache streaming from her eyes. And my dad…. that was the first time I had seen him express a look of defeat. While I no longer had to carry the burden, I carried a new weight, the loss of my childhood innocence.
From that experience I could always feel something different about me. Don’t be mistaken, I have had a plethora of great childhood memories, but there was always sadness that seemed to follow my joy.
It wasn't until one sunny day that I finally understood part of my sadness. I remember one day after school my Dad told me I had siblings I was never aware of. I was shocked, excited and upset all at the same time. Though my wish of having a bigger family and a sibling around my age was now a reality, it caused a void in me to grow. I realized why I was kept a secret and rarely joined in on any activities held with my father's side of the family. The void in my heart grew a little bit bigger. I felt like a secret, like I would never be good enough for my dad.
A father’s love is like no other and is crucial to the growth of a young lady. Through her father, a girl learns trust, she learns love, and most importantly she learns self-worth. Somewhere along the line of growing from a child into a teenager, and later an adult, I realized that my self-worth and feeling of completeness was left at the tips of my father’s fingers; fingers that never seemed to hold me tight enough. This is not to say that my father is a villain; in fact, today, as an adult, our relationship is stronger than ever. I only share this story, to shed light on how a small part of your life, can alter who you are as a person. I have learned in life that parents are people too. They make mistakes and get lost just like us.
The first year of college I dealt with issues many people experience at some point in life; obesity, depression, and homesickness. Academically, I finished the year strong, but outside the confinement of my room, I lacked confidence. Food and Netflix seemed to fill the void.
I often compared myself to other girls, which only contributed to lower self-worth because I didn’t feel good enough. I felt like I didn’t belong at my school and considered returning home to finish my studies at a local college. I missed my family, my comfort zone. I met hundreds of people at school but really only connected with a handful, and only one of them was someone I could actually talk to.
After spending a summer working at home I was excited to return to school. I had a new car and three new roommates to experience my sophomore year with. This year was the first time I felt included. I finally felt like a college student.
This was also the year where I began to go out and party. I was never the girl “turnt up” at the club every weekend but when I did go out, I went hard. I could not enjoy myself without being drunk. The numb feeling that accompanied the alcohol helped me to escape how I was feeling at the time. When I was drunk, I was happy and carefree. Life was good, until I woke up the next morning to the reality of a sick stomach, and a lonely heart.
It seemed that the more I partied and drank, the lonelier I felt. It didn't help that my roommates had that “special someone” in their lives. I seemed to be the only one who had no one to talk to at night or wake up to in the morning.
My turn finally came and while it wasn't with the person I imagined, I didn't mind; I was lonely. Never in a million years have I been attracted to a woman, but then one came along that made me question the woman I was. What began as innocent harmless phone conversations turned into a passionate, volatile relationship. It was all new for me; it was fun and exhilarating. I was so tired of doing the “right thing” and was ready to be carefree and have fun, so I dove right into the relationship that would later grow the emptiness inside of my heart.
The relationship was everything I thought I needed at the time as it filled a void that was so empty. I felt loved and cared for and actually beautiful for the first time in a very long time. While the relationship was mostly a secret, I enjoyed the secrecy of it.
Have you ever wanted something so bad, that against all odds you fought for it, but it seemed no matter how hard you worked to get it, you kept hitting a wall? Well, let’s just say, my relationship with this girl was surrounded by walls; really BIG, hard walls. God allowed everything in that relationship to go wrong, he allowed infidelity, betrayal, abuse, and lies but I still would not leave. My soul craved the pain, it craved the attention and I loved every minute of it because the emptiness in my heart now had feeling; it was filled with pain, but I could feel again! My flesh had overpowered the spirit and I was addicted to the relationship.
My tortured soul tried to serve both God and the relationship and seeing as how I could not devote my heart to both, I let God go and made the relationship my idol. I was consumed by something toxic and I had to force myself to get out of bed some days. I was no longer Lauren, a girl who had it all together. I was my own worst enemy. I could not recognize this person. At this point, how could I love me?
The relationship continued into my last year of school. I could hear God calling for me but I refused to listen. I was too busy tending to the needs of my relationship. I was fearful that she would leave me and I’d be left with nothing. Seeing how stubborn I was, He let me go so I could learn the hard way.
Believe me, there were times I felt as though I had enough and only then would I cry out to God. The truth was, how could I hear what he had to say in reply to my cry when I wasn't ready to listen. I was using God’s holy presence as a temporary fix to make myself feel better and then run back to my sin, my new comfort zone. I felt like God was done with me, but the truth was, he was just getting started. He was with me every step of the way.
And although he was there, I allowed the enemy’s hold to continue to pull me away. I remember that cold January night when I decided to throw in the towel. I was so distressed about my life circumstances and I was tired of fighting. I remember lying in my bed that night crying out to God asking “Why Me God”? “Why?” “When am I ever going to feel free?”
Suicide felt like the only viable option at the time.
That night, the night suicide consumed my thoughts more than ever, my friend came to visit and something (God) told me to tell me her how I was feeling. Afraid to utter the ugly truth, I text her:
“Today I contemplated suicide.”
She turned to me and hugged me and all the tears began to stream from my eyes. Jesus showed up just in time to save my life. That night I called my dad and slowly the walls I built up came crumbling down.
That January day when I decided to release every shackle and chain imprisoning my mind, body, and soul, was the day I realized I had a problem. It’s the day I realized how broken and sick my heart really was. I was my own worse enemy.
Letting that relationship go was the first step to freedom and the start of a new life; a life dedicated to and reliant on God. I was finally free to live and see the world in a way that I had never seen it before. God gave me a peace and joy and most importantly he blessed me with a Savior, who was always there to love me and comfort me on the days that I struggled.
Picking up my cross and letting go of my past was difficult, but so worth it. Jesus taught me the true meaning of love through loving me before I even thought about reciprocating that love. The love of Jesus turned into a self-love that could not be destroyed by my sinful past. I no longer have to pretend to be the girl that has it all together and let me just say, it feels so good. The troubles in my life were there to create the beautiful gem that is manifesting in me right now.
There is a gem within and I won’t stop until I find it.
My story may paint the picture that I was always alone and had no one, that’s what the enemy wanted me to think but the devil is a liar. In addition, to my Wonderful Counselor and Healer (Jesus), there have been several people in my life who stood by me at my lowest points and continued to love and encourage me, even when I wasn’t very loveable. God has placed some truly remarkable people in my life that helped to anchor me during my trials. I truly believe that he put these people in my life to bring me closer to him; I could not close out my story without thanking them:
1. My Wonderful parent’s who have supported, protected, and loved me unconditionally with all of their strength and ability.
2. My Amazing older brother who inspires me to keep fighting and keep pressing towards my destiny.
3. My Friends + Family (old and new) who cried with me, prayed with me, laughed with me, listened to me and loved me unconditionally
4. My church family who held me accountable, and encouraged me to fervently pursue a better relationship with God
5. A few amazing therapists who exemplified true compassion and empathy and created a safe place for me to openly voice my fears and concerns.
You all have an extra special place in my heart and I am so grateful for all that you have done. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and you were all a part of my journey, from darkness to light!