I don't blame you for not liking Christians. I get it, I really do. Probably more than you realize. I know I am always talking about Bible verses, Jesus, and living a Christian life, but I haven't always been like this. There was a time when I didn't even really want to step foot into a church. In the past, I have been hurt and neglected by the church, and if my faith was based on the way the people in the church have treated me, I would be an atheist.
When I was a young girl, I survived a period of sexual abuse. I didn't tell anyone when it happened, and this caused me to build up walls and push people away. I had friends, but I never let people get really close to me. I don't really have a lot of memories from my childhood. Because of the trauma, my mind split my memories and locked up a lot of them so that I could cope with life. I remember school more than I remember home life because that is how my brain decided to protect me from dealing with the hurtful memories. The abuse didn't happen at home, but for some reason, I shut out any memory that could possibly remind me of the pain that I went through.
As I grew and became a teenager, most of my friends were making plans for life. I was just trying to survive each day. They all seemed to know exactly what they wanted to do after they graduated from high school. Because of the past abuse, I just wanted to slip into a coma until a time when I thought life would be easier, and wake up with a new, perfect life. So, I was like a walking zombie, just sleepwalking through life hoping that some day it would get easier. However, it didn't. Life just continued to get harder to deal with. I was going to a Baptist church and I had a lot of Christian friends. I had a lot of fun with them and I felt close to them.
I went to college because it was the next step that I was expected to take. I had made good grades in high school and received a scholarship to Louisiana College. I had now idea what I wanted to major in or what I even wanted to do with my life. I felt like I was wandering around aimlessly. I am so thankful now that I never really got into drugs or drinking. It was just something that I never really liked. I felt that if I lost control of my cognitive functions that I was opening myself up to be abused all over again. What I was doing, however, was not living, I was just scraping by.
I seemed to have it all: a scholarship to a good college, a brand new car, a great family who supported me, "good" Christian friends. But, I was miserable. I didn't see the point to anything that I was doing. I started to dress strangely and shaved the hair off my head with a pair of clippers. I started to fail my college classes. I went back home to visit, and all of my friends from my Baptist church that I hung out didn't want anything to do with me because I looked weird. I didn't fit in with the image that the church deemed "acceptable." I was struggling, and I felt so alone. When I went back to the church after my extreme style change, I felt as though the church had turned its back on me. I needed a friend, but instead of opening its arms to me and comforting me, no one would talk to me.
I met and fell in love with the man who would become my husband. I dropped out of college to my parent's disapproval and got married. I went to beauty school, not because I really wanted to, but because I didn't know what else to do with my life. I liked the creative aspects of hairstyling, but hated beauty school itself. I didn't really want to be a hairstylist, but I stuck with it because I was afraid of failing at anything else that I wanted to do. Years went by and I felt like I could never get myself together. I felt like I was digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole and couldn't get out. I was still just getting by in life, like a zombie. I was technically alive, but not really living. Working in a salon, I made a lot of money and seemed successful. Just like before, I appeared to have it all together, but inside I felt empty. I actually tried different churches and have visited many over the years. I just never felt like I fit in. I was always an outsider, I went because I kept hoping that things would get better.
There is so much more that I could tell about, but for the sake of time, I will skip ahead. I got to a point where I couldn't cope anymore. I was attending a church that was around the corner from my house. The only reason I went was because my kids had friends there and they loved the huge indoor playground. I would try to pray and felt like my words were just bouncing off of the wall. I would try to read the Bible, but I couldn't focus. By this time, I had two kids and was working full time. I was depressed. My husband and I were not getting along and were fighting all of the time. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I didn't know how I could go on. Then, I found out I was pregnant. I felt stretched past my limit. I went on as long as I could until after my son was born. Something inside snapped and I gave up. I started showing up later and later to work and couldn't keep up with house work. I wanted to sleep all of the time and give up on life. I tried as hard as I could to keep up with things, but I couldn't. I made horrible mistakes and neglected my kids during this time. I took care of their basic needs, but I just couldn't give any more than that.
One day I was taking a shower to get ready to go to a funeral for a friend who had passed away, and out of nowhere I felt Jesus whisper to my heart to start facing my past so that I could heal from the abuse. I was afraid to face that area of my life. I had buried that part of my life so deep that I didn't even acknowledge it anymore. Soon after that, I was lying on my bed, unable to get up because I was depressed. I was crying because I felt like my life was in shambles. At that moment, I felt Jesus put his arms around me. I could physically feel His presence. He told me to give Him all of my troubles. I did. I felt like I was taking all of my hurts and troubles and wadding them up in a huge ball and throwing them away into a trash can that Jesus was holding. I had pretty much been in church in all my life, and had never experienced anything like this before. This was not religion, this was real. After this, I started seeking out other people who had real experienced like I had. I met others who didn't view Jesus as a religion, who actually had a real relationship with Him. I eventually did find whole churches that were focused on a relationship instead of the religious aspects of Christianity. I realized that too many churches are just Christian social clubs instead of places where people can truly worship Jesus with their lives.
Soon after I gave Jesus my hurts and troubles, I went on a retreat with my church that a friend invited me to. During this retreat, I was allowed to share in a safe way with someone about my past hurts and decided right then to start going to counseling. I learned healthy coping skills and began a journey of healing. It has been a long, hard road to where I am now, but ever since I let Jesus take over, I have had so much peace and joy. I have watched Him rebuild my life into His picture of what it should be, which is so much more beautiful than what I was able to create on my own.