The only way I’m going to be able to sleep tonight is if I get this off my chest. Technically, it’s 2:26 a.m. Do you ever have those nights? Nights where God says, “Let’s talk.” I’ve been tossing and turning all night thinking about it. You see, not long ago a close friend said something, in front of a pretty good size crowd, that completely embarrassed me. It was a pretty cruel thing to say out loud, much less in front of others. I was even embarrassed for my husband. Then, a few nights later, my husband and I surprised our small group and showed up for the last small group meeting for the year….and the topic showed up again. If you’ve ever heard me explain how God speaks to me you can see why this is happening.
Let’s start from the beginning of what’s bothering me so much. That night, in small group, two members shared “their story.” Which translates into the story of their walk with Christ….and also without Him. Our group leader had asked them ahead of time to do this, and informed the rest of us that we too would be asked to do so in the future. I don’t have a problem with sharing my story. But because of what my friend said to me a few days prior, I can’t stop thinking about it.
You see, I have a pretty promiscuous past. Fueled by a lot of feelings of worthlessness and self-medicated with a lot of alcohol. Throw in a half a dozen incidences of date-rape and you have yourself a snowball effect of repetitive behavior. The details of how long it went on and who was involved is no longer important. Really. What is important is the journey endured by those of us who are constantly being reminded that we are still just someone that is the sum of those past mistakes. I refuse to accept that label and I’ll tell you why.
I spent years, literally years, bitter and angry at myself first, men second, and the world last. I honestly believed that I was so worthless that there was really no reason to say no. I don’t really understand why, because from the outside I appeared so confident and happy and nice. And I was those things in other areas of my life. But when it came to personal self-worth, I must have missed that day of school. Or skipped it. I mean there wasn’t anything I could do about it. It was embarrassing and shameful, and it had already happened. What was I supposed to do about it? At the time I was aware that everyone knew. I was aware that it had become a reputation….but do you know not a single person pulled me aside to ask why I was acting that way? I’m not angry about that, but for those of us lost in that horrible cycle of self-deterioration….there is a reason. There is ALWAYS a reason. Sometimes more than one reason.
Once I moved away from home for a bit I was really left to my own devices and for the first time I couldn’t hide behind the social scene I had become so accustomed to. It was just me. And my ugly past. My humiliating past. Ugh….it was horrible. I knew no matter what I did from that point forward I could never repair that part of my life. And I hated myself for it. Once again, what was I supposed to do? My anger turned from myself towards men. I hated them. All of them. Not a single one could escape my wrath.
I feel so sorry for the guy I actually dated throughout college. How did he put up with me? I would get so angry when he would try to open a door for me. If we went out to eat I would either pick him up or meet him there. There would be no picking me up, Sir. Man I was bitter. I didn’t want another man to do a single thing for me. I could take care of myself. I had trusted so many of them before and been caught time after time in situations I didn’t want to be in. And it was not going to happen anymore. So I didn’t let it. I jumped into the driver’s seat and made sure I was never caught in another situation that I couldn’t get myself out of. That mentality continued to control my life for a several years. I was driven in school, I had a steel wall up around my heart, and I had an escape plan for every scenario possible- including the limits of self-defense I was willing to use if I had to. I could finally take a deep breath and relax.
Life was pretty good for a few months and I was proud of myself. I remember one day specifically, I had trimmed and cut the yard, checked the oil in my car, put a little air in two of the tires that were low, washed three loads of laundry, put supper on the stove and was sitting on the back with my feet propped up, finally enjoying a glass of sweet iced tea. It was one of those days where you feel really accomplished. And I couldn’t help but notice for the first time, in a long time, that I was a little lonely. By this time I wasn’t dating anyone. That bitterness I spoke of finally flushed any chance of a healthy relationship down the drain. So I had been single, and loving it, for a little while. Still, the thought crossed my mind that afternoon.
I hadn’t really decided to start dating yet when I made the decision that if I ever did I would go about it the right way, this time. Honestly, I needed to find out what “the right way” was. I had way too much experience in what was considered wrong, and I was too embarrassed to ask any of my friends what “right” looked like. So I started at church. When I would go home I would visit my hometown church, which I loved. Even if it meant going by myself. I will never forget hearing our pastor say what I think was life changing for me. I can’t even remember what the whole sermon was about, but the one sentence that I can still hear his voice say was, “Ladies if you want to marry a King, you’ve got to become a Queen.” Talk about a light bulb moment. It seems so simple, but I had never heard it put that way. You don’t meet a King in a bar and Queens don’t dress like the girls I would see when I was out. That’s it!! I am my problem.
That sparked a whole journey in my life that led to self-forgiveness, forgiveness of others, and a gentler disposition towards others. I began to chip away the cement that bound me to my past a little at a time. One at a time I spent time forgiving the men that had taken advantage of me. There actually came a time when my hurt turned into remorse for those people. I actually felt sorry for them and understood for the first time that they too must have been struggling with demons. They too have their reasons. And they too could possibly still be drowning in that ocean of worthlessness that I had been for so long. So I began to pray for them. And I prayed for me. And I realized that I needed to do everything I could to become the Queen my King deserved……whoever he is.
I dove into self-help books about being single and being married and “Finding Your Million Dollar Mate.” That’s actually the name of a really good book I read. I made sure to stick with the Christian centered literature. And I learned SO much about myself. Seriously. In a matter of a year I had become this new person. I rededicated my life to the Lord and felt ready to attend a discipleship camp….which was amazing! My closest friend got to see some of this transformation and she was really happy for me. She too, was making some changes. We began to talk more about church and getting involved. Then the day came when she and her husband were baptized, and I got to witness that. Talk about a good day!
I guess that’s why I was so hurt and embarrassed when she made the comment that she did. Had she forgotten that I’m not that person anymore? I can’t deny my past. After all, it’s part of “my story.” But man if felt horrible to be thrust back into that old reputation. That’s who I was, but it’s not who I am now. I’m not angry at my friend. I’m confused, but not angry. I knew that one day I would be called on that old life and have to answer for it. And it could still happen again. I just didn’t think it would be by someone that had actually seen so much progress in me. Someone that had witnessed the change in my life. And that makes me wonder….how many other people that I spend my social time with still think that about me? Have I done all that I can on my part to change that? Or have I done exactly what I have needed to do and it’s others that just won’t change their own way of thinking? Do I also do that to other people? I mean, is there someone in my life that I still judge by the standards they held themselves to years ago, but no longer do?
I think that’s the important point. Is it you this post is speaking to? Have you changed? Or are you the one oblivious to the changes around you? It’s important that you understand, you are more than the sum of your past mistakes. And so am I.
Your Mediocre Mom