Redesigning Me

My journey through recovery and the transformation into the new me after abuse

Moments

  There are these small tidbits of time called moments.  At times, these small moments can be so powerful that they mark your life.  There is a before and an after but it will never be the same.  I would suppose some people would say you could read into any moment of your life but there are some moments and chance meetings that are just too bizarre to not be divinely appointed.  Those moments are what I personally call “God Winks”.

  I would like to tell you about a few moments of my life that have happened over the past few months but first, let me sum up the first 43 years of my life to this point.  It is said that home is where the heart is.  This week I will turn 44 and have never known a “home”.  I have lived through physical, verbal, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse my whole life.  I have battled with my weight, insecurity, low self-esteem, depression, alcoholism, and attempted suicide.  I was raised going to a parochial school and believed that I was a good Christian.  I married a man and pulled away from my family and my faith.  That marriage ended after about 10 years.  After a string of failed relationships, I met someone at work who went to Cedar Creek church at the main campus.  We dated and I started going to church with him.  I loved that church and couldn’t wait to go each week.  He slowly changed and then one day he became abusive.  He tried to kill me one night.  It was that night that I blamed God and turned my back on him again.  It would be years before I would step back in a church again.  In those years, I drank.  If I wasn’t at work, I was drinking till I blacked out.  I serial dated abusive men and attempted suicide.  I was in the darkest of places and couldn’t seem to get out of it.

  After about 7 years of my life being a complete mess, a friend asked me to go to church with her.  She went to the Cedar Creek Whitehouse Campus.  I made excuses for weeks and weeks.  One night, she invited me out for dinner.  We pulled into the church parking lot and she asked me to please join her.  I did and it changed my life.  Ben Snyder spoke that day and I cried almost the whole service.  I can’t even tell you why, I just did.  Each time I went to that church, I cried.  Then on October 26th, 2013, I went up after the service and asked for prayer.  I felt so broken. I moved away shortly after that service.  I knew things needed to change and that I needed to remove myself from my current situations to change them.  I learned about myself while I was gone.

  I moved back to Northwest Ohio in the summer of 2015.  I started a nonprofit that deals with domestic violence and sexual assault.  I would go to Cedar Creek from time to time but was making excuses of work or that I was afraid to run into my ex.  This is where my “moments” began.  I went to a series called “The Great Adventure”, Ben Snyder spoke on guarding your heart.  I cried yet again.  Every time I would go to church there, I would have this heaviness in my heart and be filled with enormous sadness, or so I thought.  I usually watch the services online but would attend time to time.

  I met someone who went to the main campus of Cedar Creek.  I decided to join him one Sunday.  It was the beginning of the “God Is” series.  Ben Snyder spoke about realizing who God is means I am never alone.  I have had some very dark places in my life.  I have often felt that I am not worthy of God’s love.  I have listened to Ben speak several times but this service felt like he was talking right to me.  Dr Calvin Sweeney spoke that when you realize who God is, you can face all things.  He told a personal story and talked about completely giving it to God.   His messaged runs through my head over and over.  He demonstrated by leaning on the podium that there are different ways to give it to God.  You can “lean” on him or you can truly lean on him.  When I find myself not trusting myself to give it to God, I can close my eyes and see him standing up there completely leaning on the podium.   Lastly, Tom Martin spoke about God being merciful and about moving on.  There are so many people that have hurt me through the years.  I have been led to a path of helping others.  When Tom shared his story about being led to a pastor role at Cedar Creek and his family’s reactions, it spoke to me.  I have been told that God does callings but have never really believed it.  It was in his message that my eyes were opened to what God is calling on me to do.  It was in his message that I realized that step one was forgiveness and moving on past the hurts. Through those three men, God changed me.  I felt like each one of those messages were meant directly for me.  Those were the three most life changing services I had ever listened to.  It was that series that led me to the recovery program.  I also joined a Life Group that has an amazing group of women who give me a model of the type of woman I want to become.

  So here it is, three months later.  I go to the same service each Sunday, am still attending the recovery program, and my Life Group.  You see, for the first time in 43 years, I have a sense of home.  My heart is at church and recovery.  Although the people who serve at church don’t realize it, they are in many ways, my family.  I walk into church and see the same people greeting.  They shake my hand and smile; their actions often brighten my day.  I expect to see them there and miss them when they are not.  There is a certain man who serves that I absolutely love seeing.  He gives me motivation.  His smile and attitude is contagious.  His name is Ray and last Friday at recovery, I thanked him for what he does for me each Sunday at church.  This past Sunday, I walked up and hugged him.  I can’t even tell you how much that means to me.  It is the same with recovery.  I listen to Dave each week and am inspired by him and those who share their testimonies.  The people who serve at the check in, greeting, and other places have become like family as well.  I have recently started volunteering at Recovery.  It is not just a want, it is a need.  Dave often says, “good evening family”.  Little does he know, that “family” is the first place I have ever felt like home.  That spot that I once thought was filled with sadness is now filled with hope, happiness, and the pursuit of a relationship with God.

  Moments…. I believe you will not realize the magnitude your actions have on other lives and that sometimes the moments we give to others change the course of someone else’s fate.

  In closing, I hope you remember this; The Power of One, don’t fall for that lie that one person cannot make a difference.  As much as I love coming to Cedar Creek for the music and message, it is often those of you that shake my hand, smile, and say good morning/evening, or that give a much-needed hug that make me feel at home.  In some ways, it is like each moment of kindness bestowed on me from each of you replaces a dark moment from my past.  So, it is to each of you that I say, God bless you and thank you for all the “moments” from the bottom of my heart.

All alone I sit and cry
Watching the world slip on by
I hate that girl in the mirror
Scared, lonely, full of fear
People look and see my mask
Keeping the façade is such a task
Smiles, laughter, and I’m just doing fine
It’s easy to keep up all the time
They say she’s pretty, passionate, and smart
Little do they know I’m falling apart
In the quiet times his voice haunts me
Abuse that leaves marks you cannot see
To ease the pain, I drank a lot
So many nights I have forgot
It was my innocence that he stole
A silent storm brewed in my soul
Farewell my friends, I surrender the fight
I attempted to end it all that night
But God showed mercy and His grace
Leading me to people of Faith
Only He knows his plans for me
But “God Winks” are what I see
It’s a different girl now in the mirror
No longer sad and full of fear
A good foundation, sponsor, and friends
It’s a way to heal and make amends
Building a relationship between God and me
To do inventory and take accountability
People who inspire, encourage, and pray
To praise together and help lead the way
I look forward to Friday nights you see
That’s where I found the path to recovery.
If you ever find yourself in a spot like mine
I hope you remember this personal rhyme
Because with open arms they will greet you
And help guide you to recovery too

      Today is a new day. It’s funny how life works out sometimes. More than that, it’s completely amazing how God works in my life. When I was at church on Sunday, the message felt like it was talking to me. It has bothered me all week. I haven’t been doing my battles in my war room like I should. I haven’t been putting my worries in God’s hands like I should. I went to the Basilica and the shrine for the Our Lady of Consolation this week. I felt that God was giving me another tap on the shoulder. I even had a little visit from my maternal grandma while I was there.  Do you think I listen, nope?  

     I have been frustrated lately.  We received the keys to our first office for Standing Courageous June 1st.  Guess what, it’s July 22 and we have done absolutely nothing with it.  I haven’t had time.  I had been praying for more time so that I can work in the office more.  I’ve been praying for people to have time to help me as well.  Here is the thing I need to come to terms with, God doesn’t our answer our prayers by giving us what we want, he gives us what we need.  Yesterday, I was supposed to go to the lake for a weekend getaway.   I wanted and needed that time away, or so I thought.  My friend messaged me and said she wouldn’t be able to go till later.  At that point, I didn’t even want to go up.  By the time we would be leaving it would be late so I just stayed home. 

      I worked on Standing Courageous stuff all afternoon.  I started going through my email and saw an invite to a recovery group through the church I had expressed interest in.  I had this feeling in my gut that I should go and I did.  God meant for me to be there, I am one hundred percent sure on that.  I listened to a testimony from someone who had a life that mirrored my own.   I met a few people who welcomed me with open arms.  As much as I wanted to go to the lake for a weekend getaway, I needed this more.  My prayers were answered, just not how I wanted them to be.  Instead of going to the lake, my friend and I are working on Standing Courageous stuff.  As for me, I hear God loud and clear for once.  I am putting my faith in him that he has closed a door to me twice so I will quit knocking. 

     I opened up my Facebook a few moments ago.  My time hop had three posts that were messages to me: 1. A pic of a man and God.  The quotes on it said “Don’t give up.  I am still working on you.  God.  2.  A pic of a single daisy in the middle of a crowd.  The quote says, “Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone.  3.  A post written by me from 7 years ago that says, “is thinking about going back to school. I think I would really like to go to Law school. I wonder if I could do it working full time? I have always wanted to be a lawyer and I would love to help DV victims.”  Well, well, well… I started my criminal justice degree and I started Standing Courageous but haven’t had the time to work on either.  God has made sure I have the time now.  I guess it’s time to go after what I have always wanted.

There are days that mark our lives. They are the days when you realize that nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this and after this. The last 24 hours has been one of those days for me.

At church this last weekend, it was said you have to put all your trust in God and let him be your strength. You have to be committed to him. I have failed at that commitment lately and today that changes.

My new cover photo sums up things, “Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?” My answer is no. I have a new plan and this time, I’m not doing it alone. Here’s to living, loving, and making my life matter.