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.

Fear to Fight

Tonight, I read my first blog post on here. It was actually reflective of my anonymous blog I wrote called “Crooked Self”. Now this was a short lived blog for about 6 months during my weight loss journey back in 2011. I kept it anonymous because I feared judgement and ridicule from my family and friends. So it allowed me to freely write without worry.

What’s great about it though is that I titled one my posts “Reality Check”. This post was about living in a “fantasy world”. Back then I was so untouched with reality and those around me, I lost touch with who I was and who God made me to be. I was secluded in this world because I was afraid of this world.

Fear ate me alive. I was afraid of failing, afraid of trying out for things, afraid of not making that part, afraid of judgement, afraid of dying, afraid someone or something was going to happen if I failed. I was even afraid to sleep when I was little because I was afraid of what might happen.

Being that fearful handicaps you. It drives you away from things and drives you away from reality. In 2001, I became majorly depressed and suicidal for the first time. I wanted to end my life because of some “boy” on the internet, mind you I had been a depressed state for a few years due to other reasons, but this “boy” set me over the edge. My life according to my definition was not worthy of living.

However, I wrote about it before I did it. I used to write poetry back in the day, so I wrote a poem called “My last Poem” or “My last Song”, I don’t remember exactly. Anyway, it was a poem about suicide and a poem about how life was not worth living. I was too fearful to talk to others so I let my words do the talking.

Fear strikes you down and holds you back. Fear is the reason, most of us don’t accomplish much. I let fear dictate who I was and my dreams. I ultimately let the enemy steal me away from God’s hope. He put blinders on me and pulled me away from where I could’ve been.

But my could’ve been wasn’t where God wanted me. My could’ve been was where God had me. You see I can sit back and wonder what might have been, but that’s not my story. My story is broken, full of fear, and darkness but my story also has forgiveness, grace, hope, and redemption. I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t be still peeling back the layers of my insecurities and knocking down the walls of my fears and doubts.

God created a beautiful story in me. A story I get to share to everyone around me. A story I get use to help some of the teenagers around me and help those who are fighting what I faced. And there are people out there who have stories that will help me get through the next challenge I’m up against.

We all face a past but your past can either dictate your future by constantly reliving it or you can move on from it and let God use it to help those around you.

Fear doesn’t define my everyday life anymore. The only fear I really have in my life is a healthy fear of God. I am still learning life little by little and I’m still learning a lot about myself even at my age. I might be different. I might be a little weird, but what’s most important is that I am me. I am striving to become the woman God called me to be. I have a calling on my life to live for God and to serve Jesus.

No matter where you are in life, I pray that you let down the fears that holds you back. I pray you walk the walk God has for you. I pray that you overcome whatever past you might have. I pray that life brings you joy, peace, and happiness. I pray blessings over you. God has amazing things in store for everyone of us if we just surrender to his will, we just have to give up trying to fight our past to give ourselves a future.


 

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.

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.

Untapped Power

Prayer is an untapped source of power to so many. Many of us unknowingly put it off as just another task to do or we just need to check that religious box, “I prayed today”. But it’s so powerful and we shouldn’t neglect it. Why do we open our lips before we get on our knees? Why do we think we have it all figured out, when in reality we know only a small amount of anything?

Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” We can do NOTHING of the spirit without him, yet we think we can rule this world and this flesh without him. We think that if we don’t pray, it all will work itself out but it’s a wrong way to think.

Prayer is so powerful we shouldn’t neglect it. We need to cry out for our city, our neighborhoods, the lost, our nation. We should cry out to God about the darkness in this world because it is not okay. We should cry to God to surrender all of us because we need to be filled with all of Him. We can’t change the world by ourselves but with God anything is possible.

This world needs Jesus. This city of Baltimore is in desperate need of Jesus. We can’t expect mountains to move if we never get our knees.