Discovering who you are and why you live is an inquiry we all face and examine daily. It’s a question that appears so simple on the surface, but carries a great amount of weight within.
Reasonably so, we know we are born and within years of our conception we come to a belief that we are meant for purpose and fulfillment – a desire to perform and outdo what our human flesh is capable of doing singularly.
Well…that is question that challenges each of us, and I thought it would be appropriate to tell you my why.
I call it “My Why” because I am blessed to attend and serve at a church that I fully believe in – no questions or doubts as to why I am there. What church you ask? Elevation Church of course! Elevation church is a place where telling your why is important because it connects us back to the foundational truth of why I am a believer and why I get up at 5am to attend and serve at church!
I moved to Raleigh about 5 months ago for a job! I left my former hometown church and I knew I needed a place that would nurture my faith in this big new city! So hellooo Elevation.
I serve as an ekidz theater leader with a team of 9 people – and they are the best team I could have ever asked for. But I wouldn’t be the leader I am suppose to be without telling you, and them, my why.
Me teaching below!
I grew up in church, but was disconnected. I went because my mother forced me to go – even though she was barely a believer herself – that stuff was reserved for my memaw. I mainly sat in the pew to play tic-tac-toe with my sister. By the time I was 13 momma said we didn’t have to go to back anymore – thank God. I could sleep in on sundays, and no longer had to wear panty hose and dresses (over-rated).
I certainly wasn’t the prettiest girl of the flock. I was like a round fluffy marshmallow with thin super-blonde hair, teeth larger than my mouth, and boobs of non-existence (I personally call them “made sunny-side up”).
By the time I was a freshman in highschool I had lost so many of the people that I was close to: my grandmother, my grandfather and my uncle. My dad was a drunk and my mom was depressed. At this time in my life I felt that I had to be the strong one who held everyone together.
The picture below is of me and my grandmother in her final hours. I loved her more than anything in this world and it tore me limb from limb when she left.
Dad was never home. Ever. He worked from 5am – 9pm every night at his boat business that was forever failing and mom helped picked up the slack. This caused a lot of financial strain on my mom.
My mom felt so alone and incredibly depressed, especially when memaw died, and so she seemed like an empty shell for the longest time. She wasn’t there. I became afraid because I thought one day she would attempt to kill herself. We all convinced her to get on medicine, but that too made her an empty shell.
I know things about my parents I never wanted to know because I was, and I am, the emotional support. I’m the one person people tell secrets to. Not a fun job. In fact, I hate it because it ultimately harms your view of the person that the secret is about.
I helped my family, mainly my mom, get through the years when her brother was in and out of the hospital constantly, or memaw having cancer and dying before our eyes. And dad being a drunk and sometimes never knowing if he was coming home.
I am also the oldest of 3 girls. In my head I had to fill in the places that felt empty in our family. If Kellie and Sarah needed me (my sisters) I made sure to be there for them. I wanted to be the role model that people looked up to – especially for my little sister Kellie (pictured on the left)!
I wanted to be the one person in the family that could make everyone happy and proud. I made sure to make straight A’s, keep perfect attendance, win events and bring home medals, and be the BEST employee at any job I had. If there was an opportunity to out-do myself and everyone around me – I took it, because it was another reason to make my mom proud of me.
I wanted to be perfect – and that was my downfall. I should have never allowed myself to develop that mentality. It is a sick mentality, because it’s NOT possible. You will always disappoint yourself.
Worst of all – I became emotionally depressed because of it. I had the weight of the universe sitting on my shoulders, and my knees were wobbling to hold everything up.
I couldn’t do it, but I couldn’t be weak either because I was the role model. What role model can’t handle everything – right? (lies!)
So I suffered internally and cried myself to sleep often. Life became so miserable. All I saw, even on the brightest day, were clouds and rain drifting over my head.
I put on the best mask I could muster to hide it. Everyone thought I was a happy, perfect, and successful child. On the outside that is what it seemed, but on the inside I was a black hole and I couldn’t wait to be swallowed.
I let everything build up to the point that I didn’t want to live any more. I was so done with life and what it had. If my family suffered this much then there was no way it could be any better for me.
I had already written several letters addressing my goodbye to my mom, my dad, my sisters, and other close family members. I was ready to leave.
Have you ever pictured your death so many times in your daydreams that you knew one day it would reality by your own hands? I almost committed suicide all on my own. I was so close – on the brink of losing my sanity.
But one day, I finally listened. I visited a youth group at a church in my home town. I was barely 16 years old. And it was the first time I had ever heard the story of Jesus Christ – I honestly heard it and it made sense!! I gave my life to Christ and it pulled me out of that abyss I consistently lived in.
I wasn’t miraculously cured instantly, but I had hope and I pushed through everything that I suffered internally. I fell so in love with Jesus Christ. I was obsessed with reading the Bible and understanding it. I couldn’t stop! Waking up on Sunday was like waking up to snow! I went to every single church event!
Jesus helped me through those struggles. I have more joy now than I ever have, and nothing could ever take it away. I LOVE life, I LOVE people, I LOVE to serve, and I LOVE kids.
Oh, and I should mention that my mom is not depressed anymore (she is also off of her medicine), my dad is no longer an alcoholic and my sister sarah has finished college and my little sister kellie is about to graduate high school! I love my family!! We are crazy, wacky, and ridiculous BUT we are saved and happy because of Jesus – because of prayer!
I teach kids because I want them to know the story of salvation – to experience Jesus. That there is hope and will always be hope and I pray that I can reach them so they never suffer like I do. I want them to feel my love and joy so that I can break through any pain they may have. Even if I only break through on a Sunday.
Life is full. Life is beautiful. Life is challenging, but life is found in Jesus.
I’m not trying to be corny – just honest.
My Why – I serve Jesus because he showed me more than my despair and allows me to teach those who are next in line to serve the value of his promise and that despair cannot surpass that promise.