I was raised in church from the time I was 5. My Mom had gotten remarried when I was 2 and we had all decided it was time to go. I got saved when I was six, in my Daisy class in Missionettes at my Assembly of God church in Corpus Christi, Texas! My Dad was in the military, so we moved often, and when I was 9 we moved to Memphis, Tennessee. While the military tried to find us housing, we lived in these horrid apartments with cockroaches everywhere…..we were definitely in the ghetto. I had to go to a predominately black school, where I was the minority…….but this didn’t bother me, in fact, I don’t even think I ever noticed! :) I only had to go the last half of my 4th grade year there. I had problems there from day one, but I just ignored the girls that teased me. When I ignored them, they would try to fight me. My brother and I walked to and from school with some other kids from the apartment building, and we had strict instructions to always stay with the group. One day, some girls tried to fight me, pushing my stuff out of my hands and pacing around me. I shoved my stuff into my backpack and ran through the school with them on my heels screaming at me…I didn’t stop for a while, I passed the spot to meet everyone and I didn’t stop even after I got out of the school. As I ran the tears fell hot and fast and my side hurt so bad from running that it was hurting to breathe, so I stopped by the high schools track and their storage buildings to catch my breath. I slipped my backpack off and leaned forward, putting my hands on my knees and head close to my knees, when 2 male high school students grabbed me, slammed me up against the side of the storage building and they both raped me. I never told anyone, not even my parents……in fact, I just told them a month ago. I figured I could deal with it…..but I quickly learned I couldn’t, not at the age of 9. But, because I didn’t tell anyone, I was still forced to play the part of the little church girl.
So, for years I went on, going to church, memorizing all the scriptures, I was an Honor Star, top in the state in JBQ (Junior Bible Quiz), I taught Children’s Church….you name it, I did it. All this time I knew God was still there, I knew He hadn’t left me, but I didn’t trust people, definitely not men, and I certainly didn’t trust myself. Now, I also didn’t blame God, but I wasn’t going to ask for His help. So, then in 1994, 5 years later, we moved to Alaska, and that’s kinda when all hell broke loose for me. I started to hurt myself. I figured if I could just hurt myself enough maybe all this pain inside would just go away. I hit myself with anything I thought could hurt me enough that I would be in pain, but other people wouldn’t notice. Then that wasn’t enough, so I would randomly hurt myself enough that I got attention for it…….I had to be in an arm sling because I had shoulder injuries from being a swimmer anyway.
Then I discovered cutting……..now, I was a swimmer, so I had to be smart about it, so I would cut myself on my arms just a little bit and my inner thighs, but mostly on my stomach. When you are self destructive, its never enough…..so, then I started not eating. It wasn’t because I thought I was fat, but it got me attention. After having to be hooked up to an IV thanks to my parents, I started eating again. But that pain was still there……
One night, while everyone was asleep, I went downstairs and swallowed an entire bottle of pills. The intent was not to kill myself, just hurt myself……….and it worked……I’m not even sure what I swallowed, but I threw up for days. My Mom just thought I had a bug……
My Mom was a teacher and she had a meeting that was going to run late, and since my Dad was in the Coast Guard, he was often away. So, she just had me throw in a pizza for my brother and I. When I grabbed the knife, this HUGE butcher knife, to cut the pizza, I stood in front of my kitchen window and plunged it into my stomach. If you’ve never hurt yourself, then you don’t know what something like this feels like, but in just seconds, this wonderful feeling of accomplishment came over me…….then I heard this noise. I looked up and low and behold, here comes my Mom’s car down our long driveway. So I quickly washed the knife off and ran to the bathroom. It wasn’t a very deep cut at all, wouldn’t have required stitches, so I took care of it myself. You can still see the scar if you look on my stomach…..thanks to the sun you have to really look, but it’s there. My Mom never knew anything happened.
A few weeks later we discovered we had orders to Oklahoma……yee-haw! But I was not happy…..I wanted to graduate with my friends, not move. Two weeks before we left I went to a retreat and the guy was preaching and I was being the good little church girl still, so I was taking notes, only to look up and see him standing in front of me. With mic still on, he says, “I need you to stand up please. Tell me that you are beautiful.” Haha, I’m not beautiful, I knew I wasn’t, on the inside or out…….I felt so dirty, used, unloved and all kinds of things by what had happened to me when I was younger and the things I was doing to myself. So I said, “I can’t”.
Preacher: “I was preaching when I felt God tell me to speak to you……..tell me you are beautiful.”
I just began to cry. Mind you, he’s doing this in front of like 2000 students.
Preacher: “I can see the weight of the burdens you carry, but you don’t have to carry them……..you can lay them down. Now tell me you are beautiful.”
Me: “I’m not beautiful….don’t you see?! If you can see the burdens I bear, can you not see my pain, can you see what I went through? Exactly…..so don’t command me to say I’m beautiful.”
Preacher: “I want you to tell me you are beautiful, and I will stand here all night waiting to hear it.”
Me: I started crying so hard and I fell to my knees…..you could’ve heard a pin drop the room was so quiet. I said, “I can’t! I can’t do it! I’m not beautiful…..I’m ugly, horribly ugly, I am covered in sin and shame. I am dirty and useless, I’ve been used and there is nothing beautiful about me.”
He got down on the ground with me and said, “Oh, but you are, you are a beautiful creation in Christ……all you have to do is lay your burdens at His feet and let Him carry you.”
I cried for hours, I never told him I was beautiful, and I don’t even remember his name. But 2 weeks later, I moved to Oklahoma, started going to a new church, told someone I trusted I was raped when I was 9, I didn’t tell anyone, and I let Satan get ahold of me and I didn’t want that anymore. So, in Sept. of 1997, I rededicated my life to Christ. He said, “You’re a writer, so you need to burn all of your journals about this. The only memory you need is the one in your head”…..so together we burned my eleven journals. I still have some trust issues, I don’t think that will ever go away, especially with guys…….but I harbor not hate towards the people that did this. There are very few guys in my life, its always been like that. I became a youth sponsor because I want girls to know they are beautiful…….if what I went through helps even one person, than it was totally worth it.
And so, even though I don’t think I am pretty or gorgeous, I am a beautiful creation in Christ, and that’s enough for me!