An Old Wound

I can’t put into words how I feel. I’m confused, heartbroken and so free all at the same time.

The other day in counseling we had a major breakthrough. My pivoting moment of what caused the major changes and mechanisms in my life was somehow brought to the surface.

I was 8. My grandfather was just diagnosed with leukemia, my mom was just in a terrible car accident and was in the hospital, and I had to go to the emergency room for being a ridiculous child and running into a chicken wire fence. I was scared. Life and death became real. I felt like I was going to be an orphan. I felt like I had no one.

But remembering back, all I wanted and needed was to feel love and be comforted. I didn’t need someone to write in the sky or shout it at me or even say it, I just wanted to feel and to have some sort of physical comfort. I never received it. After that, I remember looking at my siblings receiving that care but I stayed apart and went to bed after school and separated myself from the reality of my life. I was so deeply hurting and my parents had no clue, I never once told them. I swallowed the pain and went on with my life.

After that my life changed. My joy was stolen for darkness. My fear engulfed me and I became numb. I refused to feel unloved by not allowing those around to even have a chance to love me. So I became callused, soft spoken, separated and never allowed my walls to be let down.

When I was in a non-resourceful state before I met Christ I was sleeping around trying to fill the void of love and companionship. But those temporary moments just dug me further into my darkness.

Meeting Jesus saved my life. My actions prior would ended me down a path of regret, shame and disappointment. I would have never allowed myself to feel love again.

A new love was found, an everlasting love. A love I can’t destroy. This love saved my life both physically and spiritually. God’s love abounds.

This wound is old and deep but now that it’s been found it can finally be truly healed.

I don’t know if I’ll ever feel love again or if I even know how to feel it but I know God’s love and it’s all I need in the end.

Walking in Obedience

Too often times we make excuses as to why we can’t or won’t do something but prayer is something that shouldn’t be our last resort and it doesn’t belong in our “to-dos” or “if I get to it” pile. It’s simple obedience to our Father. Pastor put it perfectly this morning, “All you have at the end of the day to give to Jesus is your obedience.” That’s it.

We literally only have to be obedient…our flesh wants us to turn our back to God so we find every excuse in the book why we don’t daily commune with God. We’re too busy, is our main excuse but prayer is powerful. Prayer is putting our hope and trust back into our God.

When I get down and depressed and I look back at my habits, I always see I let God become second and let my wants and needs become first, I see my prayer life seizing to exist, I see earthly things becoming more important than heavenly things. I see my purpose go out the window… but when I am communing with God regularly I see VICTORY more so I PRAISE Him more. I see more and more opportunities to be a light in a fallen and dark world.

We will never know our true calling and purpose in this life if we don’t allow ourselves to humble ourselves before the our Father. We will constantly yearn for and long for the very thing we put aside years ago as “not important”.

God is there in middle of the joy, in the mundane, and in our deepest sorrows. He will never leave you nor forsake you, but you will never live up to your calling or your purpose if you are not communing with Him. Every day is a battle between flesh and spirit, ever day we have to make the decision to walk in obedience.

Digging Out the Hurt

So often times we go through life and we beat ourselves down putting “standards”, burdens, our past, our failure all on top of us and we bury the very person God designed us to be.

All of these things we are not suppose to even carry let alone have it bury us so down that we we lose all sight of hope. We begin to believe our shortfalls our what defines us, our failures are the only thing people see, and that life is pointless because no one sees you, hears you, understands you, or even loves you. So we turn to outside sources to fill the void, to make us feel something or even make us feel nothing. It can be anything, that gives us that feeling. We find it somewhere. It allows us not to feel invincible or hurt for a small window of time.

These are only temporary solutions that will not last. They will only bury us further and further down and it starts a cycle of needing that “high” because it feels that void. Some will lose their life fighting a battle against things they never were meant to battle let alone battle alone. This void we feel is found in God. , people often refer to it as “The God size hole in your heart” and how we fill it determine how we go through our life, day by day, step by step.

Hope, grace, and freedom can be found regardless how bad the situation or past may be.

Hope is found in God. Hope is the last thing we hold on to and the first twinkle we see in our road to healing. Hope is found everywhere. Hope can be found in a smile of a little kids face, or a cry of a baby. It can be a friend reaching out to you, or a mentor to tell you to hold on, it can be just someone finally getting you to see that hope isn’t lost, hope is just buried inside.

Grace is found when we surrender it ALL. It’s confessing every sin and every time you hear and feel the voice of God in conviction and you turn the other cheek. It allowing God into the areas of our life that we keep private in a dark closet in the basement, it’s allowing God in to everything he already knows but confessing it with our lips and on our knees in repentance.

Freedom is found after laying everything down at the foot of the cross. After putting EVERYTHING and surrendering EVERYTHING to God. It’s letting go of the control we think we have in our lives and giving the keys to God. It’s putting Gods hand back on your shoulder and allowing God to lead you. It’s the feeling of a heavy weight coming off your chest. It’s the first breathe of air after feeling trapped for so long.

Life isn’t about the temporary. It’s about the eternal. We either live a life trying to figure out which way to go or we live a life surrendered to God, prayerfully connected, confessing when we need to confess and staying in tuned to the frequency of God.

We all are buried to some extent. It just depends on how we try to unbury ourselves that determines the future God has in store.

Swallowing the Pill

Over the past few years, I’ve written about and have talked about the struggle with depression. This one is no different.

Some of you are aware that since about August I went into a really dark place with major depression. What some of you don’t know is I was diagnosed by my psychiatrist with not only major depression but also PTSD and panic disorder. The reason why I believe people should know is that this world is not okay.

Many of us disguise our depression, our anxious thoughts with a vice. Because we are taught in early age that we are not allowed to feel down, depressed, worried, to have a mind full of fear, that it’s okay to not know how to show and receive love and that’s it’s okay to not want to be a part of the world. We are shown by examples in media that suicide has to be a result of something major we are hiding, that depression is looked down on, that PTSD is something only war vets get, that mental hospitals are for the crazy people and that being “normal” is hiding who we really are.

Vices can be anything that makes us feel numb even just for a moment. It might be alcohol, drugs, food, porn, anger, literally anything can be formed as a vice. I can say I’ve never felt the high of the drugs but I’ve felt the alcohol pour through my veins. I’ve felt the food layer in pounds and the porn become mindless. Vices make us numb and quiet our voices and stresses but never confronts the problems.

The issue many of us face is we don’t see that our problems are not ours to bare. We get up trying to fight them and become worn out and beaten. We become exhausted, never wining, always giving up. What we need to do is to surrender and stop trying to fight them. We will NEVER win, we are not suppose to. God won already. God took your burdens to the cross through Jesus.

Jesus is our hope we should be fighting for. He is the only way for us to get the strength to fight the enemy because it is only through him we have won against him. Depression, anxiety, anything that makes us turn to vices and addiction needs to be given up to surrender. We cannot control those dark places in our minds, but He can. He has numbered every one of our days, every hair on our head. He is our redeemer, our hope , our fighter, our rescuer, our Father, our love, our everything. He knows every down fall, every breathe we take he has known and will know.

We cannot hide from him any thoughts he does not already know. I wanted to end my life earlier this year because I saw no hope. Hope was no where to be found. I lost meaning. I lost me. I saw no future, no friends, no love. As hard as it may be to say, I was scared of myself and this world. I just wanted it all to be over. Today, I still struggle, I’m not perfect nor healed. I’m on medication and in counseling. But if I never got to that places where I saw no hope, I wouldn’t of surrendered inside my car outside of a Starbucks with tears running down my face. I had to reach that point of brokenness so that he kind mend those pieces.

I’ve been through this path before. I’ve been through this struggle. But this time I know God is here to mend the broken pieces that he’s never been able to touch before because I never fully surrendered everything to him.

If you believe you might need help in any sort of manner. If you’re down, sad, suicidal, addicted to drugs and alcohol, anything there is hope. Hope is alive. You are not meant to walk this path by yourself. Seek help from others. There are more people out there who care for you and love you than you will ever know.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255

Crisis Text Line: Text “Home” to 741741



A Letter to my Poppop

Dear Poppop,

You are missed. As the 21st anniversary of your death is approaching it still feels like yesterday I lost you. I walked beside you as you fought a good fight to stay alive. I remember being beside you as you lay in your hospital bed. I remember the pain in your eyes yet your love and humor never ceased to make me smile.

I still remember the smell of cigarettes and leather with a hint of double mint gum on the rides to church. I remember sitting in the garage watching you doing what you love and never backing down from a challenge. I remember you falling asleep watching wrestling or NASCAR and we would try to change it and you would wake up and yell at us.

I’ve held onto 11 years of memories but I’ve held onto 21 years of hurt. The last words from you I remember are, “Tanya, give me one more hug because I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again”. In the moment I was quiet, I took it like a champ just like you’ve would’ve wanted, I was dying inside. A week later we got a phone call, you went home.

But I lost the man who loved me unconditionally, the man who couldn’t get mad at me regardless of how many times I messed up and acted up. I lost my best friend, my grandfather, I lost a piece of me.

God gave us a time together that will go down in history but I’m still struggling with my 11 year old self trying to get passed this hurt today. I’m not who I was 21 years ago. The root of my pain and is driven by the hurt I felt the day you took that last breath. I ran away from God. I pretended he didn’t exist for many years. I filled my void with alcohol, pornography, and men beginning at the age of 13. I lost all self worth and identity. I stopped believing in who you told me I was. I blamed myself for your death, “If I only prayed more, if I was there more, if I was a better granddaughter, if I loved more”

I didn’t know who I was anymore. I never found myself until I got a glimpse of the God you believed in, I met Jesus. I got to finally feel the love you had for me. I got to witness the man you tried to be for me. I want to say that from that moment I was a completely different person. But I wasn’t. My life changed drastically, roads I was going down rerouted to where God wanted me but it took years to dig through the sin and it’s still taking time fighting the enemy and my flesh to get back to who I was before you died. There’s still shame, guilt, and more I’m still digging up I have to work through. But with Jesus I can do all things, you taught me that, I was just too blind to see.

Thank you for loving me like your own daughter. Thank you for teaching me even though I was too blind to see. Love you Poppop. Until we meet again.

Your Granddaughter,

Tanya

The Seed

2006. My first true freshman year of college. I was at High Point University. A university I never actually applied to because we couldn’t afford to pay the application fee. But I got the letter anyway.

Anyway, it was my first time being away from family. My first time I felt true “freedom”. I went into college as political science major, my dream at the time was to be lawyer. So since I knew I would stressed out, I decided to do the thing that would ease anxiety and stress, sing. I joined a group called University Singers at my college. We would sing at events and one time we event went to NYC to sing at a church. It was an unforgettable experience. I’ve never had experienced anything like that before.

In University Singers was this amazing young woman, Stephanie. There was something different about her. She was handicapped but she didn’t let it stop her. She shared her faith with me when I didn’t want to hear it. In my mind the only thing I could think about was “I wonder what I’m doing on Friday night? Whose having a party?” I didn’t care at the time what she was saying but my soul cared because it longed to be like hers. It envied her.

That year I was almost suspended from school because I was caught drinking and completely wasted throwing up in women’s bathroom in my dorm. And It wasn’t the first time. I talked my way out of the suspension and a large fine by getting community service and a minimal fine. But even through that Stephanie never gave up on me, I would tell her what I did and she didn’t care. She loved me through it. Something different.

My glimmer of light and hope shattered suddenly. Stephanie passed away unexpectedly. I can’t say it shattered my world because I was more focused on me and my fleshly desires. But it opened my eyes. The school did a dedication to her so the University Singers got up and sang a few of her favorite songs. I Can Only Imagine was one of them. This song resinated in my soul and every time I heard it, I cried. I had no real idea of what the song was about but my soul cried for it.

I transferred schools that year because I wanted to be “comfortable” next to friends. So I transferred schools to Lynchburg College. My flesh took over full fledge and hatred for Christianity began to stir up inside of me. I would debate it until my face was blue. I had all the answers. I would mock it. I would be mean to anyone who believed in it. I was an unpleasant person.

There were times I would listen to the songs we song at her dedication because it took to a place I couldn’t let go of. These songs were her light shinning through. They were hope. But I hid them from everyone. I didn’t want to be a “softy” or a hypocrite. So I only would put it on when I was completely stressed to the max.

6 years after the seed was planted, I found Jesus. That hope they sing about was found. My soul that holding on to those words was home. I felt alive for the first time.

Life happens but it’s what you take away that’s important. People come and people go. But there are people who you might only see for a very short moments that will end up changing your life forever.

Love like Jesus. Live with your faith in your sleeve. Never give up hope. And always listen to the spirit inside of you. We are chosen, sons and daughters of a living God. This world is not our home. Our father has a place for us in heaven…. I can only imagine.

Sacrifice

The other night in growth group one of the ladies asked “How do you even begin to know what Jesus went through?”

I answered with something our Pastor said awhile ago.

“Love is rooted in sacrifice.” – Pastor Tally Wilgis

God sent his Son, Jesus to be the sacrificial lamb. He sent Jesus to die for us so we didn’t have to.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

He sent his Son because he loves us because he wants us to be with him for eternity. We get the free gift of eternal life, but Jesus lived in this world and then voluntarily hung on executioners cross and died for our sins just so all of us can have the gift of eternal life.

Think about that for a moment, Jesus died for you. He voluntarily got up on the cross. He is God in flesh, he could’ve stop it. But he didn’t. He didn’t want to die in Matthew 26:39 Jesus says “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” In another Gospel it says he was so anguished that he was sweating drops of blood. Can you now imagine what he was going through? I still couldn’t.

But I said to them for us to experience even a glimpse of what he went through. Try doing something for someone else when you don’t want to or don’t have the time to. It might be a silly sacrifice but when you had a hard day at work and all you can think about our pjs and your favorite shows and someone you know is hurting or is having a rough day, try switching your plans around to put them first above your own. You’ll get frustrated and you might even get mad because you don’t want to sacrifice the time or energy of your own time.

One of my big things I tell myself is when I don’t want to do something it probably means I should be doing it. Meaning that when I evaluate something by my mere flesh and worldly views my automatic response is I don’t want to. I don’t have time. I don’t have the energy. But when I evaluate through the lens of the spirit I immediately go through it differently. I ask is this purposeful? Does it impact a person? The Kingdom? Is it meaningful? So when I don’t want to do something a lot of times it’s my flesh fighting back because my flesh doesn’t want to put others above me.

One of my pet peeves is when people say they follow Jesus and “live it out” but there is no sacrificing for others and it’s always about them.

God is Love. Love is rooted in sacrifice. And in order for us to show the love of God we have sacrifice time, talent, treasure. We have to be willing to give something even when there is no return.