Yesterday, on my way out the door of the last gas station on earth that doesn’t have pay-at-the-pump equipment, I walked past a young woman in a pretty orange-flowered dress. I’m very distractible, so the colors caught my eye—so much so that I didn’t see the face of the woman wearing the dress. My mother later informed me that if I had lifted my eyes a few inches further, I’d have beheld the face of a cousin of mine, who was accompanied by her sister and mother. I was disappointed to have missed a chance to speak to them. Despite my social anxiety, I really am a people person. I love to see and speak to absolutely everybody once I get past the initial “Oh, God, please make the ground open up and swallow me before I make a fool of myself” part of social encounters.
It occurred to me later that, if they saw me, they must certainly have recognized my face (and thought me all kinds of stuck up, but honest, I’m just that absent-minded), but my heart and mind would be utterly foreign to them…and so would my faith, my lifestyle, and this blog. Especially this blog.
I haven’t had occasion to speak to these particular relatives of mine in about 8 years, several of which were spent in a sort of spiritual convalescence where I didn’t speak to or see practically anybody besides my immediate family. Few people would understand it, probably, but I was a very weak person, and God had to put me in a very lonely place for a long time so that I could learn to hear His voice over the voices of those around me. In those years, I changed so much that I can barely comprehend it myself. I hesitate to even try to explain such a transformation. Words can’t do it justice.
If this blog didn’t have my name and picture plastered all over it, my aunt and her daughters would never in a million years guess who was writing it (in the event they found themselves reading blogs by homeschooling social media addicts, which seems unlikely).
And you, my friends, would never guess what I was like before, given the content of my blog. I haven’t given you very many clues about my past. I have hinted in previous posts that I made a lot of mistakes, but I have mostly left my personal history out of things. This is partly because I prefer to focus on ideas rather than myself when I write, and it is partly because I don’t spend very much time thinking about a past that has been gloriously defeated.
I have to admit, though, that my reticence is also in part because I am a coward. My past could easily be used against me, and I’m exposing the softest part of my very soft underbelly in writing about it. But my weakness is His strength.
If someone from my past were to read this blog, the word “hypocrite” might easily pass their lips, and not entirely unjustly, because there is barely a word here that suggests the kind of human refuse they knew me to be. Who, by reading this blog, would ever guess that this writer, who believes so strongly in the sanctity of marriage, has been divorced, and through no fault of the husband she wronged? Or that this mother of four (and, God willing, more to come) was once barren? Or that this apparently sane person more than once spent several weeks in locked-down psychiatric care, unable to form a coherent thought due to mental and spiritual illness?
I don’t like to brag, but I was as thorough an example of human fallen-ness and broken-ness as you’re ever likely to come across. When I screw up, I do it completely. I have no sense of self-preservation at all. A crude flowchart of my adult life, starting at age 16 (believe me, I could write a book, but it wouldn’t be edifying at this point) goes like this:
depression—>drugs—>confused teenage love affair—>suicide attempt—>depression—>promiscuity—>marriage—>adultery—>alcohol—>divorce—>mental illness—>drugs—>depression—>suicide attempt—>psychiatric drugs—>remarriage—>depression—>suicide attempt—>drugs—>prophecy (which I will tell you about soon!)—>depression—>drugs—>Christ—>recovery—>motherhood—>depression—>drugs—>recovery—>victory—>?
You’ll notice that even after Christ turned my life around and confirmed my faith with the gift of a son, I slipped up and had yet another bout of depression and drug use. I wish my story included a nice clean break between past and present, but redemption is as much a process as it is a crisis point of salvation. Some of us start out from a weaker place than others. God never left me through my struggles, and He brought me out the other side victorious!
There is nothing hypocritical in my keeping silence about these things. But there is such a huge disconnect between my present and past that anyone who used to know me might read my words and wonder why I’m hiding so much. Rest assured, I’m not intentionally hiding anything, nor am I ashamed anymore, though I will always regret all the harm I’ve done. I just haven’t gotten to writing about that stuff yet. It’s not as easy to write about as, say, feminism.
I knew I’d have to explain these things eventually, of course, and I’ve sat down to write it out many times. My chance almost-encounter at the gas station opened up a flood of memories for me and made the writing of this confessional post seem a little less scary. If I had seen the faces of the people who were right in front of me (something I apparently need to work on), I might have had opportunity to tell them just how much God is able to do for even the most pathetic loser.
If it were my story, it wouldn’t be worth telling, but it’s God’s story. He deserves the praise for it. I hope the next time I pass by a person who knew me back then, I won’t be so blind to the opportunity to introduce them to the God of the here-and-now.