I started this process back in July and am finally getting around to blogging a, brief as I can make it, backstory. I put it off because, if I’m being honest, I don’t like talking about myself all that much and I certainly don’t enjoy making myself vulnerable to people. This is especially true about doing so with people that I don’t even know. As a blogger, I know that it’s important to share more of myself than I might usually choose to so it’s on my list of challenges to overcome. I’m a work in progress…
So, where should I start?
I’m 31 years old (shout out to my 30-somethings, especially if you’re also an August baby!) and I was born in Northeast Texas to a single, 19 year old, mother. Shortly after, she married a man who would soon officially adopt me. Together, because of my father’s time in the US Army, we all moved to Fort Riley, Kansas. Within the year we were welcoming my little brother into the family. Shortly after, my mother decided that she needed to move our little family back home to Texas and that’s just what we did. I’m now about 3 years old.
Of course, I don’t have any memories of this time in my life. Considering the number of times we moved in my childhood after this point, I don’t need an imagination to understand what it was like though. You see, my father wasn’t a stable man. He was deeply flawed and it had an incredible impact on our lives. He was an alcoholic, suspected drug addict, and he blew money like it had no limited supply. We sometimes ate the same meal multiple times per day, for weeks on end, because we had no money for groceries. Pinto bean sandwiches were a thing in my house and I ate them often. It also wasn’t uncommon for my mom to go without in order to ensure that us kids had full bellies. She put on a brave face, claiming that she wasn’t hungry, but it wasn’t long before I was old enough to know better. We also went without electricity on numerous occasions and we were evicted just as often. Many times, we’d have been 100% homeless had it not been for grandparents who always took us in when his bad habits failed to provide us with a place to live.
My mother stuck by him far longer than most but eventually a line was crossed that my father was unable to come back from. When I was about 7 years old, I came forward to a family member about sexual abuse that had been occurring for several years. My father wasn’t the only aggressor that I reported at this time but his actions were the most substantial of the two persons thus had much more of an impact on my life. Both my father and the second aggressor served time in jail and my mother made extra arrangements to protect her children as best as she could in that moment of our lives. Up to this point, I had continued going to church. After this news broke in our tiny little town, I was slowly distancing myself from it. I never quite determined if it was my own paranoia or if we were literally the talk of the town but, I felt like a fish in a bowl – always on display. After awhile, I simply stopped going at all.
(added to post after some reflection) Looking back on it now, and trying to be as honest with myself as I possibly can, I’m sure that my removal from church had more to do with a shaken faith than anything else. My feelings had more to do with my internal processes and likely less to do with any perceived reaction from those on the outside looking in.
I’ve asked my brother how much of this he remembers and am thankful that his recollection isn’t as strong. None of this rings any bells for him. His memories seem to start a couple of years after this time in our lives. My recollection has been both a blessing and a curse, depending on the day, but I wouldn’t trade those events or my memories of it for anything. As the bible says,
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Eventually, my mother felt she could best protect us by leaving the state. My grandmother, great-grandmother, and various aunts, uncles, and cousins lived in Florida and she felt that she needed to be closer to HER family to get through what was happening. She needed the support system to return to being a single mother, this time with two children. So, we picked up and moved to Florida just before my 10th birthday. A fresh start was just what we needed and I’d hoped to use it as a chance to start going back to church. Unfortunately, there were no baptist churches in the area at the time. So much had changed, I think a change in churches was just too much for me to consider and I drew the line. From the age of 10 to 21, I continued to let my church life slide.
So, what happened at 21?
I met a guy who was as deeply involved in his church as he could be and, after dating for awhile, I was invited to attend service with him. I’d strayed so far, and had a desire to return to church for so long, that I accepted his invitation. He wasn’t Baptist, attending a Lutheran church instead, but I’d grown out of my desire to go to a specific church so long as I was attending one at all. It’s now been 10 years and I haven’t regretted my decision to return to church nor that I returned to one not of my original denomination. In fact, through a long look into my family tree, I’ve learned that we were deeply involved in the Lutheran church as far back as the 1600’s so I’ve just brought our family tree full circle from where we all began.
And that leads me to the last question…
Why am I starting this spiritual journey if I’ve been going to church for 10 years? Why am I blogging about it?
Though I returned to church 10 years ago, I by no means returned to it on a regular basis. I neglected that aspect of my life and devoted little time to it outside of the minimal amount of times that I was able to attend a church service. This was my truth for the first 9 years of those 10. Recently, I decided that it simply wasn’t enough.
I NEED to devote more time to the Word, I NEED to speak to God in all times and not just when things are going wrong. I NEED a better understanding. I NEED to feel connected again.
But I’m also doing this because I honestly feel that it was my calling. I feel like I am being called to embark on this journey and to share my thoughts on it as I go along. God knows that I need Him, that I need community, and that I am always down for a new creative outlet (like writing this blog). He allowed me to see that I could combine all of those things into this endeavor and that it would help me get on, and stay on, the right track. For this I am incredibly grateful!
So, what do I hope lies ahead?
I hope that I continue on this journey, first and foremost. I hope that I’m able to strengthen my relationship with God and that our relationship manifests itself in all aspects of my life moving forward. I hope that I continue to look to him in good times and in bad, for guidance to keep me on the right path. I hope that I’m better able to count my blessings and be thankful even when things aren’t at their best. Though not necessarily my original intention, I hope that this journey (and the blog) are able to inspire like-minded people to start on or to continue their own journey. And finally, I hope it allows me to form a tight-knit community of individuals who inspire, motivate, guide, and support one another as we embrace the many seasons of our lives.
side-note: if you’ve read my about me page, you know that I have an older sister and 2 younger brothers. I only mention one younger brother because he is my mother’s son and the only sibling that I grew up with. My biological father went on to have 2 other children whom I met when we were in our early 20s. I’ll go into that time of my life in a later post.