Anonymous Said... "How has Love changed your life?"
I was just 3 years old when my adopted father took my 1/2 brother and I across the country and away from my mom. I was the only child from her first marriage. She ran away from my dad because he was physically abusing her. When they divorced, the court ordered him and his family to stay away from me until I was 18 years old.
When mom remarried, my “real” dad gave up all rights to me in order that my “new” step dad could adopt me. My younger brother was barely walking when my new father took us to Ohio and left us with his family while he went to Vietnam. I didn’t know why mom wasn’t with us. I missed her so much. My brother and I were the invisible kids in a house with 3 older kids, an Auntie Ann and an Uncle on a farm in Ohio.
I turned 4 in Ohio. I took care of my brother and tried to stay out of the way of the people whose house we lived in. At every turn I felt the inconvenience we were to them. I learned a secret game called humpa-humpa taught to me by "cousins" in the barn behind the pig pen. I learned that even though you were told that the peel was the best part of orange and that, yes, your brand new barbie's hair will grow back if you put her in the fridge over night, cousins don't know everything and years later I see that it was not just that they didn't know everything, but they were fine-tuned in how to be cruel.
I missed my mom so much. Even today that 3 year old girl is the epicenter of my emotions and every heartbreak in my life. Every hurtful action or careless word or misunderstanding takes my heart back to the pain of that little girl. And, I just want to run away to say "I don't care about anyone! No one cares about me! I will just disappear!"
I lived with Dad, his new wife and my little brother until I was 12 years old. At 12 I was suddenly old enough to decided who I wanted to live with. I chose Mom. Why would I stay with a family who didn't even want me (long story, for another post). The only person I was really related to in that house was my brother and that was only by half blood.
Mom was remarried and I had another little brother--five years younger than me. I thought that mom and I would be so close. I had a fine-tuned sense of justice and I soon determined that I was not there because mom loved and wanted me there. I was there to take care of my brother, to wash the dishes, to clean the house, to cook the meals, to wash and iron the clothes--to be the free slave-labor.
I was more alone and sadder even than when I lived with Dad. Happiness seemed like such an illusive thing--just around the corner and always out of reach. If only there were someone who really loved me, ME, for me. Was there anyone in the world who really loved me or wanted me?
The good thing about living with Mom was that once I had ALL my chores done I was pretty much left alone. We lived on a large ranch and I spent my free time journaling, hiding from my little brother in trees, on the roof of the barn, or in a haystack hidey hole. Or, I would hop on my bike and ride as far and fast as I could dreaming that there was someone who would miss me if I just disappeared or died.
When I was 14, my best friend from when I lived with Dad talked me into running away. She wanted to go to California to find her dad. We hitch-hiked to California (from Idaho). We never even looked for her dad. We slept on the streets, in homeless shelters, stranger's couches and stranger's beds. We traded sex for a place to crash, food, drugs or for just a person to pay attention to us and make us feel needed.
My friend was similar to me in that she came from a broken home and just needed to feel that someone loved and cared for her. The interesting thing about our relationship is that five years earlier she had led me to the Lord. She told me that I was a sinner and that Jesus died to save me from my sins and that if I asked Him, He would come into my heart and live there forever. I wanted that and I said the sinner's prayer with her.
That was it. I believed, but I didn't know anything about being a "Christian." As the months and years went by, I forgot about that prayer and I forgot about my Savior.
Eventually we were both arrested for shoplifting and were sent back home to our families. We were now street smart from our four months on the streets of San Jose. We knew how to panhandle, tell a convincing sob story, trade sex for just about anything, how to smoke pot, meth or anything else that was given to us; we were expert delinquents; doing whatever our hearts desired.
Going home was difficult. I no longer fit in at home, at school or with any of my former friends. Within three months I ran away again--this time by myself. I spent three months on the streets. I could write volumes from these "street" days. I have many stories of God's protection and grace. Even though I wasn't following Him--didn't even know what that meant--He was taking care of and protecting me.
I eventually returned home to find that Mom was going through her third divorce. We moved to Portland Oregon for a job she got there. I decided to join Job Corp rather than get a job or try to go back to school. Mom and I fought a lot so I moved into the dorms. I lied constantly, stole anything that wasn’t tied down, basically did whatever I wanted and was always in trouble. I was arrested for using someone else’s credit card and I spent a week in juvenile hall awaiting a court date and sentencing.
This juvenile hall was a plush mansion compared to where I had stayed in California or even the girl’s dorm at Job Corp. There were only about 6 other girls in there with me. I didn’t really spend anytime socializing. I was downcast and knew that I was in serious trouble this time. Mom had told me that she gave up on me and she didn’t come to see me in jail. I knew that I was looking at being locked up at the very least until my eighteenth birthday--two and a half years.
There was a bookcase there and I spent that week in my own cell/room reading. The books were bible stories written in modern english with pictures. I read that whole week. I knew that God was impressing on me that I needed to follow Him, to do right and not wrong. I prayed that He would forgive me and I vowed to live my life right.
Surprising to me and especially to my Mom, the judge let me off the hook with time served and unsupervised probation. Wow! I knew that God had saved me. I couldn’t go back to Job Corp. I’d been in too much trouble and they finally kicked me out. Mom and I fought all the time. She was in a sad place in her life and she blamed me for a lot of her problems. She was probably right--it’s tuff to hold your life and your sanity together when you have such a willful and rebellious child.
She was dating a guy from Missouri and she moved us out there for a new start. I went back to regular school and did fairly well for a while. No one knew me and I enjoyed playing the part of an innocent 16 year old. I even went to church and got baptized.
School was too boring so I dropped out and got my GED. I dated a cowboy and we moved in together and were married about a year later. We moved around a lot between Missouri and Iowa because he changed jobs a lot. I didn’t go to church any more. I worked at a bar as a cocktail waitress and would often go to after hours parties with the customers.
I was 20 years old when I was expecting my first child. Mom was going through her fourth divorce and was planning to move back to Idaho. She talked me and my husband into moving there too. Before my son was even a year old, I started hooking up with old friends, and boyfriends, getting high and cheating on my husband. Our marriage eventually broke up and I spent the next 5 years partying and working. My son was hardly ever with me. He was with his grandma or a babysitter or with his dad who had moved back to Missouri.
I fell in love with a heroine addict and I became addicted to cocaine. I thought I was having the time of my life. I couldn’t see that I was very close to hitting the bottom of the barrel. One night I almost overdosed. My heart was racing so fast and I felt like my spirit was leaving my body. I went outside to try to breath and I remember holding onto a car and trying to catch my breath. I prayed for God to please help me. I couldn’t die from an overdose and leave my son this way. An angel came up behind me and put his hand on my back. I immediately felt calmer and my heart slowed down. He told me that I would be okay, that I would live.
That was the last time I shot up. But my troubles were not over yet. My boyfriend broke up with me, my room mate moved out on me and I felt hopeless. My life was really falling apart. I didn’t want to move in with my mom, but I only had two weeks before the rent was due. I got down on my knees and prayed that God would show me what to do. I had a best friend who lived in Portland and I had another best friend in Albuquerque. The next morning I knew that I was moving to Albuquerque. Within the week, I sold everything that wouldn’t fit in my car and moved me and my son to Albuquerque.
Miraculously I got a job the first week as an administrative assistant at a large corporation. I was able to get a small apartment and my son and I had so much fun together learning a new city; making new friends. My best friend told me about this church near my place and that I should check it out. I did and I loved it. The pastor taught the Bible and applied it to real life situations. The music was like nothing I had ever heard in a church before--it was modern and meaningful! We began attending all the time--anytime there was a service, we were there. I learned what it meant to be a “Christian” for the first time in my life.
God has done so many miracles in my life, He has changed me into a person that the people from my past don’t even recognize. It’s now almost 20 years later and I’ve gone through many ups and downs in life. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. But I can truly say “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” I know that He can never be taken away. If all else is stripped from me, I still have Him.