The Girl you Once Were

After all those years of running you found it and grabbed onto it as fast as you could.  It seemed ideal with having a home to live in and freshly cooked meals.  There were people that lived there that were willing to support you in your time of need so of course once they gave the go ahead you took the proverbial money and ran, through the front door into this new life awaiting you.

The Girl you Once Were

It did turn out to be new life, just one week later as you ran towards the front of that mega church in Southern Florida.  The pastor was giving his end of service alter call and using his typical joking style of Jesus knocking on the door to our hearts but we look through the peep hole, see it’s was Jesus and decide not to answer the door.  That night though there was something that burned in you, whether it was true faith or an emotion driven response you knew you needed to go forward.  So you did.

The Girl you Once Were

With your growing belly, bleached blond hair and tattoos you now had to conform to a more modest style of dressing.  Because: coveritup and yourbodymakesmensin.  Even in these modest rules you had to adhere to I remember there being a bit of rebellion and wanting to let your tattoos show so they could see how tough you were.  Tough didn’t get hurt.  Tough kept you safe.

The Girl you Once Were

You swung from living one type of life to another.  From being a drug addict to being a pregnant Christian in no less than a month.  Your story was put on display.  You were the poster child for a “true miracle of God” because God had 100% healed you of your addiction.  Every time there was an opportunity for there to be someone to speak about the inner workings of His Caring Place they chose you because of “your amazing transformation”  I know that you couldn’t see it at the time because it all felt like a beautiful whirlwind of amazing change but when I look back I can see how you were sort of a pawn for the ministry and that yes, God had done incredible things in your heart but in truth another person was born inside of you that day that started to carry those truths and bear that burden of being the perfect Christian.

The Girl you Once Were

Since you had left Jeffrey and moved into His Caring Place you lived inside this insulated bubble.  Each person that played a part in your life had SOMEthing to say, some part in molding you into the image they expected you to conform to.  There were so many hands in the pot there is no way of knowing what was God’s truth and what were lies whispered by people that just wanted you to look like them.  Each question you would ask, no matter what is was about what met with the same answer “You are a Christian now, this is what you believe.”  It didn’t matter if you were asking if you could still be a democrat or if smoking was okay.

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The Girl you Once Were

I remember you thinking and believing that now that you had given your life to Jesus that everything was going to just be okay, including your mental health struggles.  I know there were several comments made about stopping medication while you were still living in Florida.  Once we moved back to Colorado it seemed as though that somewhat safe bubble popping caused the fear is rise up like bile in your throat.  I can recall the early days of parenting Abigail and not understand the anger that arose when trying to be her everything.  Moving back in with your parents I know was so hard and brought back so many of those deepest darkest aches that caused that bile like feeling to spill over into every area of your life.

The Girl you Once Were

You were taught to memorize verses about Perfect Love Casting out Fear.  If you could just work harder and have more verses in your little flip chart the darkness would leave, your faith would grow and God would be so proud.  Yet the more verses you memorized nothing changed, there was no free feeling in your chest just an ever present heaviness which to you felt like you were had some unconfessed sin.  So you went to counseling at the church only to have the pastor say that it sounded like you were doing everything right.  Remember though you told him that sometimes you clenched your teeth so hard that it felt like they were going to break.  It felt dismissive when he turned you over to the pastors daughter in law for mentor ship and she had us go through the bible.  More work to satisfy a God you felt like you couldn’t ever do enough to get to love you enough.

The Girl you Once Were

It became about doing this and doing that to make the internal chaos go away.  Bible studies, conferences and retreats.  I remember your desperation to get well but not know how to do it. It seemed as though if you could find “the one thing” that would do it, that would fix the internal chaos, that would appease God then He would finally take what felt like Paul’s thorn.  But those things never fit that mold.  They never offered that one thing and again you walked away empty, sometimes even more empty than before you started.

I remember how defeating it felt when the “one person” you thought was going to be the one to fix you would let you down yet again.  I remember the pain and the hot, burning tears of loneliness that would hit your pillow at night because you just wanted to be loved *for once* and the loved you were working for from God didn’t seem to be enough to cover the expanse of your heart.

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(at a conference in January of 2012)

The Girl you Once Were

The Tuesday morning bible study finally felt like home.  Even though it was so different from anything you would of ever found yourself liking and “old Bethany” would have laughed at you for falling in love with a bible study where mostly women in their 40’s and 50’s went but you loved it.  I remember though feeling in the beginning like it was hard to fit in because they were so different and we still had that need to show everyone how tough we were because tough doesn’t get hurt and I know that coming out a bad break up you were not going to let yourself get hurt again.  But these women accepted you and loved you and surrounded you for three years and it was right where you needed to be for that time period.

The Girl you Once Were

I remember when we started to change and growth really did start to become apparent.  Not to just to us but to everyone around us.   I remember you having that feeling again that our life after Christ and our story had been put on a pedestal and we had to keep up the image that had built of us by others.  I know for you that meant making sure that everyone around you believed what you were saying, though inside I know you felt like a fake as the words would roll off of your lips.  It was easy to talk about how faithful God was in the midst of the unthinkable or how much He deeply loves His children when in truth we really hadn’t come up against a situation where that was put to the test.

I remember you feeling like the poster child for Tuesday morning bible study and any other time you would share your story.  Somehow knowing that our story “was so powerful” clicked from the beginning that there was this HUGE platform that we were supposed to have as a believer, like Beth Moore.  I know you thrived on that for a long time and anytime anyone would say “God is really going to use you” it would validate that platform ideal.

The Girl you Once Were

I remember when things started to change, when you started to change.  It began in therapy when our eyes were opened to the deep trauma of our past which indeed played a huge part in the way we saw God, experienced our faith and others that we related to in the church.  The people around us really struggled when we started to change and grow for ourselves because it caused that image that they had built for us to shatter.  God was no longer a one size fits all God but a God that we felt comfortable questioning because our life had fallen apart before our eyes and everything we thought we believed turned out not to be true.

The Girl you Once Were

I really admire you for how hard you tried to hold onto the old while the new was ushered in.  Especially those relationships with the women you had formed over the years.  It took great strength I know for you to be able to see that they were unhealthy and to cut the ties knowing that once you did that you would be alone.  To do that while your eyes were continually being opened and while you sick took great strength and I admire you for that.

None of that was easy nor has it continued to be.  There are people who still want to see us as we were not as we are and it pains you greatly every time we are seen in someone else’s reflection.

The Girl you are NOW

Now Bethany you know who you are, at least you are continually open every day to self discovery and open to seeing yourself differently.  Your willingness to break ties with unhealthy people though is beautiful and protective of those with live within you that are wounded and need protecting.  Your fearless attitude in knowing that asking questions, even doubting God is okay because that’s how faith grows just excites me because it’s real and true and honest.  It’s not a platform seeking idolatress faith that seeks to prove to others just how much you love God.  I am proud to see that changes that you have struggled to make because I know how painful they were and you made them anyway.  You made them while sick, while recovering from brain surgery, you made them while parenting alone and that in itself is a struggle.

Bethany the girl you are today is because of the girl you once were and she knows that.  She is part of you and I know you love her.  You are one in the same but have branched off into two separate beings.  She had to slow her growth so that yours could flourish.

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(my gypsy lovin, non matching self)

As Always,

Bethany

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