A Note to My Younger Self

With so much news going on in the world the Gabby Petito case has captured mostly everyone’s attention in the US. We will never know why Gabby chose to stay with her boyfriend, maybe she didn’t intend to. We don’t know exactly what happened yet that caused her life to end.

As I watched the Bodycam footage of the Moab City Police Officer it brought back painful memories of my teenage years.

I was in an abusive relationship from 15 to 19 years old, and on and off after that. I know, I know, I should not even have been focused on boys at that age, and I look back at regret at those years, and am thankful God brought me through those tumultuous times, and is healing me from the trauma. But as I thought about those memories, I wondered how did it start?

In my case I was raised in a home with two loving parents. Unfortunately, they did not love each other. Not with an authentic “healthy” love. Abuse and divorce go back generations in my family.

When they split up I was 10 years-old. My brother and I felt we only had each other to lean on. Their divorce was a terrible one. My brother and I went through a parental abduction, a parent being hospitalized for months, my parents dating, remarriages, and eventually separation as the judge separated my brother and I when I was 13 and he was 10. My brother went to live with my dad, and I stayed with my mom. Needless to say, there was a lot going on in my household, and I was a latchkey kid since my mom had to go back to work full time.

I suppose I was really flattered that anyone would pay attention to me, and show interest in me. It was also fun to get away from a lonely life at home. With no mentors or older siblings around to give me advice and being really immature for my age, combined with insecurity and lack of a structured home life I went down a really rough path that the Lord did not intend for me.

It was a path of self-destruction. Promiscuity, drinking, abusive behavior, and suicide attempts were all a part of my teenage years. I know God was always with me, and He knew eventually I would turn to Him crying out to Him because my very life depended on Him. He proved He cared and cares for me, even after I ignored Him year after year.

Romans 5:8

But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

All of that to say this: If you are in an abusive relationship, leave. I know there are many reasons to stay, you would have to leave your home, what would it look like to others, how would you start over, you have no money…

This is not the path God has for you. It says in God’s word:

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Looking back on my teenage self I wish I could give some advice to the younger me:

You’re beautiful, you don’t need to be in a relationship, you are worthy of love, the non-abusive kind, don’t take being cheated on, spit on, or cussed at. Don’t rush things, focus on your education and most importantly, get to know Jesus. Because if you do that the rest will fall into place at the perfect time.

Matthew 6:33 — ESV

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

If you are going through physical abuse, or even verbal abuse I urge you to reach out to someone you can trust, someone who can help. You deserve better, and you don’t have to take another person’s toxic behavior.

Our days are not guaranteed. God loves you so much He sent His only son to die for you.

Psalm 109:26

Help me. Lord my God; save me according to your unfailing love.

When you are in a good place in your life and look back, you will be thankful to the Lord for what He brought you through. He is our refuge and strength. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself grace.

Oh, and one more thing I would tell my younger self?

You are stronger than you think.

Baggage Check

So, recently I decided to join a Jazzercise class. Ten sessions to be exact. Right before my first class started I was so nervous. I hadn’t been in a class since pre-pandemic, and certainly never a Jazzercise class.

I was certain people were going to be cliquey and unfriendly, and I would not have fun. Well, I got to class and to my surprise everyone was so welcoming. I had a lot of fun, and although I was winded and tripped over my feet once, had a blast.

It got me thinking, what other negative thoughts did I have in my head that I had convinced myself of?

Well, a lot to be exact. I had been stuck in wrong beliefs for years that prevented me from trying new things.

A wrong mindset, insecurities, negative beliefs about myself, fear, and how I thought others perceived me had trapped me. I felt so weighed down and like I failed at things before I even started.

So, at almost half a century old, I’m trying new things. I’ve taken a few drives and gone places I normally wouldn’t go, tried new foods, started riding a bike again, and have taken an art class.

Even though I did wake up slightly panicked this morning hearing “Single, single, double, double” in my dreams I’m still determined to keep going. If the lady that I met in class is 78 years-old and still jazzercising, what’s my excuse?

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Losing Your Best Friend

The other day my ex-husband and I had to talk to each other.  It was strained at best. Gone were the days where we used to laugh together. I hardly know him anymore. He has different tastes in foods, a different style of dressing.

  Later on I was reflecting on how we were married for over two decades, and had shared a life together.  I called him my best friend, or, at least in my mind and heart he was.

I wonder if God feels that way about us.  You know the feeling you have when you are newly baptized, and make the decision to give your heart and life to the Lord.  Then life comes at you and you think “Where is God now? Does he not see what I am going through? Why isn’t He here for me? Does He not see what is happening in my life?”

At least those are the thoughts that have run through my head at difficult times. When life is tough you start to slip up.  You are too tired to get up early and read the Bible, or maybe you’re too busy to pray, or go to church.  Little by little you start slipping away.  

Does God look at us and think how much he misses us? How He can’t wait for us to reach out to Him? Does He miss our voice and  our talks that we had with Him?

John 15:13-15

 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Jesus calls us His friends IF we do whatever He commands us. Because we are His friends He shares His secrets with us through the Word of God.

James 4:8

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you doubleminded.

The definition of doubleminded from The Century Dictionary means “Wavering, unstable, unsettled, undetermined.”

For so long I lived my life as a doubleminded person.  I didn’t realize whose I was, or how valued I was.  I let others dictate how I should feel about myself.  I felt like my world was gray, and other people’s world had vivid colors, something I lacked in my world. I didn’t realize that my self-worth doesn’t come from my husband, my friends, or my employer.

I had to renew my mind by reading God’s word.

Romans 12:2

And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

It has been a long road for me with of lots of mistakes, and many ups and downs.  I have learned that even though friends, family and even spouses may turn on you, the Lord never will.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Don’t let time slip away.  Your eternal best friend is waiting to hear from you.