For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been very shy and withdrawn. It’s something I have struggled with throughout my life. I was never good at talking about my feelings or expressing myself, especially when I felt like what I had to say would upset someone else. So, I would just hold it in. My self-esteem was very low, and I had no confidence in myself. I became very introverted and often wondered “what’s wrong with me, why am I so different from everyone else?” No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t fit in. I was always putting other people’s feelings before my own, worried about how they felt and what they thought. So much that I let it affect the way I felt about myself.
When I was 12 years old my parents got divorced. I remember the day my mom came to me and told me what was going on. I understood why and knew it was probably what was best. Never did I expect my dad to turn on me the way he did. I knew he was hurt and angry and scared, but I couldn’t believe he was taking it out on me. He made me feel like it was my fault and all he cared about was the child support money that he didn’t want to pay for my sister and I. My heart was broken, and my dad was no longer my dad, he was someone else, and he didn’t care about me.
We would go over to his house on the weekends and I was always hopeful that things would get better, but they didn’t. It was always the same thing. He would yell and cuss and call me names, even out in public. There were times when he came to our apartment kicking and banging on the door yelling. I was scared of him. I remember a school trip to cedar point that I had invited him to. All the other kids were having fun with their families while he sat and made me cry, I was humiliated. That day I went home and told my mom I wish I was never born, and I meant it. She told me I didn’t have to see him anymore and I didn’t want to. Throughout the years I’ve tried reaching out to him hoping for some kind of relationship to form, for things to be like how they use to be. He gave me money on a few occasions but never seemed to care to be in my life. I longed for my dad to love me like he used to and just to say he was sorry for the way he treated me but instead, I grew up with an emptiness that could never be filled. I felt worthless...
I went through a lot of depression at a young age. My mom tried helping me as best as she could. I started seeing a psychiatrist, but it didn’t help much. I became even more introverted and didn’t know how to handle it. Pain turned into confusion then to sorrow then to anger. I tried to fill the void with men and drugs, but nothing eased the pain. There was always something more missing. I turned into a people pleaser. Too many times I got myself into a mess trying to help people who would never appreciate me. My love made it hard to say no, my understanding got me into some bad situations, and my big heart got me hurt time and time again. I became a doormat and angry at myself for letting people treat me the way they did, still wondering, “what’s wrong with me?”.
I came to the Hope Center for Women on May 15th, 2017 knowing very little about God. Coming here was not an easy decision to make considering the fact that I had to leave my family in Michigan, most of all my 4 amazing children that I love more than life itself. I knew I had to do something, and something was telling me this was it. I am now in my 6th month here and am so blessed to have had this opportunity. I’ve never felt so much love, acceptance and understanding in such an unfamiliar place. I now have such peace in having a whole new understanding of who God is and of the amazing love He has for us. Here, I have been able to develop a relationship with God which has helped me to discover my true identity, and taught me to love myself again. I am so blessed to not only know Him now but to have Him as such a big part of my life that not only is the emptiness gone, but it is overflowing with His love. It’s been years since I have spoken to my real dad, but I know that my Heavenly Father has always been with me as that still small voice and my strength on my weakest days. Because of Him I am overcoming every obstacle that was meant to destroy me from childhood. Because of Him I have learned how to forgive and to be forgiven. Because of His love I now understand that I am fearfully and wonderfully made with a purpose, on purpose.
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12: 9-18 NIV)