As I grew into a teenager and young adult, I never forgot the feeling that Jesus was my only hope and lifeline. I never felt the need to rebel or act out despite my chaotic childhood – I truly just wanted to bring people to Christ. However, my adherence to the Great Commission was not born out of an outpouring of joy, it was almost a militant love for Jesus. I was “on mission” all the time. I was blessed with opportunities to lead my group of high school friends to the Lord, and they still serve Jesus to this day, but it became very clear to me during this time period that there was a darkness and deep pain rooted inside my heart. Despite a true and genuine devotion to the way of Jesus, I constantly felt like I was living a double life because there was so much turmoil inside of my spirit as I shared about the freedom found in Jesus.
After high school, I went to a Christian college and felt that it would be an opportunity to work through this dark side of myself that I didn’t quite understand – it was a chance to put myself together and truly become the upbeat and joyful Christian I so longed to be.
I quickly realized that I did not fit in, and found myself getting along better with the non-believers than I did with the believers. While this gave me opportunities to witness to people, the enemy used it to reinforce the idea that I was an “imposter” Christian who was not as worthy as my fellow believers.
One night, one of my friends prayed over me in my dorm room, and I encountered the Holy Spirit in a miraculous way. I was slain in the Spirit and was transported in a vision. I saw myself walking on the roads of heaven with Jesus at my side, and He was speaking things to me that I don’t remember. What I do remember is Him telling me:
“You have walls around your heart and I am going to take them down. You do not need to protect yourself – I am your Protector.”
“You have been striving for your whole life. Striving to be loved, striving to be wanted, striving to be worthy. You do not have to strive any longer.”
I laid there for what could have been hours on the floor of my dorm room. When I woke up I felt that the words He had spoken to me were immediate and that I would no longer strive from that point forward. I did not realize that it would be many years before I saw this promise fulfilled as I struggled to navigate deep damage from my childhood, though this moment did mark the beginning of me coming to realize how broken I was.
Over the next few years of college I started unraveling. I became extreme in the things I did while attempting to gain control of my emotional imbalance – from running 70 plus miles a week to taking diuretics to lose weight. I started literally balding as I was losing all of my hair from physical and emotional stress. I tried to keep myself together but on the inside I was incredibly turbulent and lost. I was having a full mental collapse, and decided to stop trying to pretend to be a “good Christian girl.” I completely rebelled (in my own way) and started drinking and going out to bars. I went home for Christmas and was fully bottoming out – I was so sick from alcohol poisoning that I had to lay in bed for 3 days once getting back home.
While back in Spokane, I ran into my now husband Brandon. He could see that I was completely distraught and repeatedly encouraged me to “just move home.” Brandon represented a total breath of fresh air for me at the time, but I only had one semester left of school and was determined to go back. Once I was back at school I entered a full depressive state and realized that I couldn’t go on any longer. I had yet to realize that I had been traumatized in my childhood and was unequipped to navigate the emotional turmoil that constantly overwhelmed me. I decided to move home and finish my degree through correspondence with my professors.
I started dating Brandon and felt myself coming back to life. I still wasn’t serving the Lord with the intensity that I had in the past, but Brandon was showing me a life full of joy and fun without anger and pain. I felt that our marriage would be different and that we would have a different kind of life than what I had witnessed while growing up.
God did use our marriage and there was a lot of joy, but there was also an incredible amount of hardship. I felt like I was constantly having to push my husband past where he wanted to be spiritually and this lead me to feeling squelched. I believed I was unable to live how I truly wanted to so I began turning all my hope heavenward. I couldn’t grab hold of the truth that we could have victory here on earth and believed that I would permanently be under the boot of life.
I longed to go to heaven and be with the Lord because I believed that was the only place to truly find Jesus. This resulted in a sort of numbness to life and the desire to check out from reality. I loved my kids and my husband, but I consistently found myself using books to escape the knowledge that I wasn’t living the life I was called to because I had no idea how to get there.
In 2018 I felt conviction to stop reading books and cut out unhealthy distractions to create space to spend time with the Lord and cultivate an intimate relationship with Him. I started feeling again that there was a calling on my life, but I believed that it was motherhood and began rooting my identity in being a mom.
However, everything changed in March of 2019 when my little brother, Luke, showed up at my house talking about the miraculous works that God had done in his life. For years I had helplessly watched my brother and his family struggle and endure hardship that follows a life of sin. I never understood why I could live for the Lord but he couldn’t, until he shared his full testimony with me and learned about abuse that he had suffered that I never even knew about.
In the coming weeks, I witnessed Luke become an entirely new creation. He was radiant, kind, loving, and free – the total opposite of who he had been before. I knew that Brandon and I needed whatever miracle had touched my brother’s spirit. The Lord spoke to me that Brandon and I needed a period of separation for the Spirit to move, so I told my husband that we needed a sabbatical to pray and get lit on fire. He was not on board, and angrily packed his bag and left, but I was at peace knowing that this decision was God-ordained.
Over the course of the next week, I would spend long periods of time in worship. I would lay on the floor and God would just love on me. I knew that I was heard and completely loved. During this same time, the Lord was doing works in Brandon. After a week of separation the Lord told me it was time for Brandon to come home, and our marriage hasn’t been the same since. The Lord turned a hard and strained relationship into a force for the Kingdom, and put dreams in our hearts for our family’s role in the work He is doing.
The Lord has broken chains of fear off of me that have constrained me for my entire life, releasing me from the pain of my childhood and delivering me to a place of faith and intimate love with Him.