My journey continued on in middle school where I still struggled with my self-worth. I was picked on a lot by other kids at school because I was very tall and thin. Apparently anyone who is “different” gets a label – and gets to be tortured daily in middle school. I was learning that it was not acceptable for me to be myself if I wanted to fit in, if I didn’t want to be rejected by my peers. Then I began to believe, “If I wasn’t good enough to be accepted as I am by a bunch of middle school kids then how in the world could the Most High God accept me?”
My mom took me to church off and on during middle school and she would attend with me. I was baptized in the Disciples of Christ Christian church when I was 12 -years- old. I had to take a class with the pastor before I could be baptized. I cannot recall the things I learned but I do remember that it didn’t make much sense to me and I was just supposed to accept it so I could be baptized. If I wasn’t baptized I may die and end up going to hell. Being submersed in the water by my pastor was somehow supposed to magically protect me from that. So I did it. I didn’t fully understand it but I did it anyway because I was afraid of God.
When I was 14-years-old my mother remarried. My stepfather was a very angry man. He was so full of rage and we never knew when or how it was going to come out. When it did come out it was terrifying. It was a scary time living in the house with him. He made my mom stop going to church so I didn’t go either. I felt a lot of abandonment at that time in my life. I had no real friends at school and both of my parents were newly remarried and had their own interests. I really felt like I had nobody. This was a very sad, scary, lonely period in my life. I was even more afraid now (because of my stepfather’s angry outbursts) and I was learning that people should not be trusted. I definitely did not trust or believe in myself. And I wasn’t praying to God because I was afraid of Him and did not trust Him either.
When I entered high school I had very low self-esteem. I was a doormat and a people-pleaser. I let people use me and take advantage of me because I wanted them to like me. I got really good grades, followed all of the rules, and tried to plaster a big, fake smile on my face, pretending to be happy while inside I hated myself and my life. I was not going to church. I was not talking to God. When I turned 16 my step-sister got me a part-time job “in town” and I suddenly got very busy. I was going to school during the day and working in the evenings. I did not make any time for church, prayer, or God. At that time in my life I was searching – searching for acceptance and attention. I was searching for a way out of my violent home. I was searching for someone or something outside of myself to fill me up, make me whole, make me feel worthy and important. I just wanted to feel loved. The summer before my senior year of high school my search came to a screeching halt. He walked through the door of the gas station where I was working and asked for my phone number. A year later we were engaged. My journey would take me to places I never thought I would go.