I woke up suddenly this morning. Memories flooding back to me. Unwanted memories. I was 18 years old. I remembered saying goodbye to my mom and sister as I finished packing the last of my belongings in the U-Haul. I was headed to New York…with a guy…to start my new life. Finally, I would be in a place where I knew no one and, most importantly, no one knew me. No baggage. No history. A fresh start. A new life.
Or so I thought.
Flash forward six months…I was at a party with “said guy” and I felt completely alone. This new life we had together was not going well. We basically hated each other…or maybe I just hated myself…maybe both. I don’t know. I was sitting in a chair watching everyone. It was like I was invisible. I just sat there, drinking, and getting angry.
I remember distinctly getting up and walking over to a group of people that “said guy” was in and I told him very boldly and loudly to follow me outside and I turned and walked away. I remember feeling as if I was going to come undone. I walked outside to the end of the yard…stopped…then turned and raised both fists into the air…and brought them both down on his head. He threw me to the ground and I snapped. I jumped up and started running
I ran until I couldn’t run anymore all the while crying from the depths of me.
That’s where I was when I awoke this morning…standing at the end of a street holding on for dear life to a street sign. It was the only thing I had that told me where I was and it was useless. I was all alone, at night, on some street in New York…drunk. This was my new life.
I don’t know if I prayed. I probably did. I always prayed when I was scared.
When I have remembered that scene in the past…I always remember looking up and seeing the street sign above me. But this morning, when I remembered, I could see myself holding on to that street sign.
I saw me as God saw me. I felt so alone and broken as I stood there sobbing. One person in this whole big world and God was right there. He was the one who sent the couple that would take me into their home and care for me and tell me that I remind them of their daughter. Sigh. God sees me as His daughter. God watched over me that night and kept me safe because I’m His daughter and that’s what dads do.
I ended up back in Virginia after that. It would be years before I worked through the nightmare of those days but, by the grace of God, I have.
What I realized this morning is that I had not faced that hurt in my heart nor had I forgiven that young me for all the things I had done in just 18 short years. I even held unforgiveness in my heart for things that were not even my fault. I repented.
God knew me in my mother’s womb…before the foundation of the earth. It makes no matter if I was a wanted child. God wanted me. He has always had a plan for me…a plan of hope. He waited patiently while I tried to make my own way. He was close to me that day…when my heart was broken, hanging on to a street sign.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6; 31:8; Hebrews 13:5)
I have expected people to fulfill that promise and some have been brave enough to say those words to me (I forgive you). But those words belong to God and God alone. I prayed that I would allow those words to belong to God in my heart again. Today, He answered that prayer.
If I can encourage you in any way today, it would be to tell you that you are not alone. You are not a mistake. You were made for a purpose. Don’t listen to your feelings…listen to truth. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. It doesn’t matter where you have been or what you have done…God wants you and loves you. Cry out to Him. He’s right there…waiting.