The Real Me…Flaws and All
This was certainly not the holiday weekend I had in mind for myself. Things happened much much differently that anyone, especially myself, could have imagined. Okay, maybe not imagined, but it certainly has been a nightmare. It reminded me of a time only a few short months ago when I found myself, as one put it, at my lowest of lows. Because I failed to have one of my medications changed to home delivery, I have been going through withdrawal. I’ve been moody and emotional. I’ve cried so much I have no tears left. I sleep, I can’t sleep, I have headaches, and I couldn’t even get out of bed Sunday morning to go to church. It felt as is someone had punched me in the face. Then there are these brain ‘zaps’ that make me dizzy and my skin is so sensitive, I feel as if I’d jump out of my skin if someone touches me.
I have battled depression, and some anxiety, for quite a long time. Doctors have tried various medications and when they would stop working, I’d quit…not the smartest of ideas, I know. But I was brought up being taught that I didn’t need medication, I needed God. I even remember when an entire room of family and friends learned that I didn’t need a therapist or medication, as recommended by my boss because of various outbursts and breakdowns, I needed God. I had God…and I still had my breakdowns and my outbursts. It made it so much easier to leave the church and God. If that’s how people in church felt, then God must feel the same way. If they couldn’t deal with me, flaws and all, obviously. God wouldn’t either.
I treated God and church like a revolving door. I never had that consistency, the dedication and discipline I was raised to have. I knew better, boy did I know better. It didn’t matter what I did, how I behaved…there was always something that ate away at me. There was always that voice telling me what I was doing was wrong.
I have gone through various phases, phases I am certainly not proud of…the first phase at 23 was going to work everyday and then coming home and walking up the street to the bar and staying til closing. I may have had a beer or two, but not much more than that. I’d seen what alcohol had done to my dad when I was younger…and I didn’t have the tolerance. I just didn’t want to be home. Then, after getting my own place, I would go out nearly every weekend with friends; they were more friends of a friend. They were never mine; unless I was out with him and his friends, I didn’t have many friends of my own. That was my choice; I was a homebody. Eventually my tolerance for alcohol grew. I’d meet up with my friend wherever I could…a party at his house, or darts down in Newtown. I thought if he could drink and it not affect him at work the next day, so could I. I just needed aspirin, water, and Skyline chili. It eventually got to the point where I would drink so much I’d either blackout or completely pass out. I realized how ridiculous, embarrassing, and shameful it was when I was at a friend’s house playing the piano. I had no clue what I was playing and then passed out. I woke up thinking how stupid I was! I could hear Grandma White telling me, ‘If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.’ She wasn’t referring to my actually playing, it was my purpose in playing and who I was playing for! I’ve never since put myself in a position like that. I stopped drinking completely. Okay, I admit I’d had a drink or two every blue moon, just to fit in, but the low tolerance returned. What’s better is I returned to God and I don’t need it anymore.
After that, alcohol became sex. Didn’t help hearing, ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it.’ And flaunt it, I did! But I made sure I was protected, if you know what I mean. Did not want to be a statistic, especially one of those. I always made sure to take care of my body and I still do; although I don’t have those worries anymore because I don’t participate in the extra curricular. There were two times I found myself in situations that could have ended worse than they did. Only God could have protected me. I’d go back to Him and then when I got my feelings hurt or it was convenient, I’d quit…again.
I haven’t had much success where men are concerned. I believe the crap and always found myself drawn to the wrong ones…usually the unavailable ones. Why? It all goes back to feeling more comfortable alone. A married guy or a guy in a relationship just wanted a quick ‘fix’ and I never wanted someone in my business 24/7. I had my space and I liked that. I was flying high; I loved my job, I was interning at TV and radio stations. Then I made the biggest mistake of all. It was six weeks that went from, ‘It can’t be happening to me,’ to ‘I dodged that bullet,’ to doing the one thing I thought I’d never do. I felt it best, after considering all that happened in that interim; I felt I’d done too much damage to my body with procedures and medications. I made the decision by myself and was alone through the whole ordeal…my choice. For many years, the devil allowed me to believe because of that one decision, I was meant to be alone forever. But my God forgave me years ago for that and I refuse to believe he wants me to spend the rest of my life alone.
Past mistakes have brought me where I am today. My lowest point, a shutdown, had me in the Lindner Center for five days. My baby sister, Ronda, brought me a Bible and crayons and my coloring book. I know Bobbie and Mandy were praying for me, as were Jeff and Michael. I know their hearts, their lives and their witness; I didn’t need to ask…I just knew! Bri and Matthew visited me and listened to me and prayed with me before they left. Matthew even made a special visit on his way home from Columbus to makes sure I was getting better. Zakk wasn’t able to visit me, but I knew he was praying and would have been there to see me if he could.
The day following my release I was so excited knowing I’d be able to go to church, my home church. Those days in treatment left me with a paranoia I’d never had. I felt everyone was looking at me and talking about me. I knew it wasn’t true. What started as paranoia became a feeling of no one in the sanctuary but me and God. I felt His arms around me. I was no longer afraid or paranoid.
Doctors don’t know exactly why I need medication for both ADD and major depressive disorder. They don’t know if the depression brought on the ADD or if a concussion two years ago plays a part in my needing medication to help me focus and concentrate. All I know is the two work together and along with my growing rebirth in Him, I am feeling better than I have in years.
During the time in treatment, and subsequent partial hospitalization, God birthed in me something I could never have imagined. In treatment, they gave me a composition book because they would give assignments in group. I’ll be honest, I didn’t attend many groups. I didn’t like them. I would sit in the common area or in my room using my crayons to design my journal. I didn’t like the blank pages. I may not know how to draw, but God has gifted me with knowing how to make things pretty.
When I returned to work, a coworker saw my journal pages and asked if I had nice handwriting. I showed her the inside of my journal, without allowing her to read, and she asked if I’d be interested in making some inspirational/motivational signs for her apartment. She will be having surgery in the coming weeks and feel the signs would be encouraging to her. I jumped at the opportunity. I then began teaching myself calligraphy and perfecting my handwriting (print and cursive). Then I learned of a friend worried about a procedure she would be undergoing. I talked to her and asked about her likes and things important to her. Out of that came my first KarePackage™ I included scriptures important for her healing and comfort. Then I designed small journal pages she could write on during her recovery. They were all specific to what she liked, enjoyed, and lower important to her. I received the greatest blessing when I finished her package. I never anticipated the blessing I would receive when I was able to present it to her. She opened the box and would marvel at the scriptures wondering how I knew. It was truly God that guided me!
A week later I had an opportunity to make one for another coworker undergoing surgery. Again, hers was based on her likes and interests. There were scriptures of strength and healing. Seeing her smile brightened my day!
My greatest blessing, to date, was being able to play a very small part in the recent Adults with Disabilities dance. I spent hours cutting cardstock to size and my nephew, Zakk, blessed me by helping me in adding the photo mount to the cards. During the dinner I was putting the finishing touches on the cards. I had made a certain number and then learned there were more than 150 people in attendance…nowhere near the number that were made. I began preparing for more just in case and then decided to just go to the photo room and begin mounting the pictures. I wasn’t going to worry; I knew God would provide…and He did! Not only did I have enough for the photos taken prior to the dance and even during the extra photo sessions for fun, I had plenty left over! God is so good!!
I spoke to a good friend and showed her my designs. I was thinking business, she mentioned non-profit, and then ministry! I know there are so many people not just in the congregation at Cornerstone, but others who I would be honored to make a KarePackage™ for. I know this is where God is leading me. I love being able to help others; it’s why I enjoy my job so much! Making sure a patient receives a medication they so desperately need makes it all worthwhile. I receive that same feeling with the journal pages and scriptures. It’s not about me; it’s about someone receiving a gift, a keepsake, and God getting the glory. It doesn’t matter if the person receiving the memory box never knows who it came from. I got my blessing the moment I finished their package and put the lid on the box.
I’m asking for your help and your prayers. I’ve done all of this out of pocket because in the beginning I was thinking this could be a business. But this isn’t about my business, this is about God’s business! I know there are people right now in the church who would benefit from receiving a KarePackage™, going through the scriptures and finding that one that would brighten their day. I know you all know someone that would benefit from this ministry. I have photos of all the scriptures and journal pages I have designed and would love to share them with you.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. It is the first time I have poured out my heart to people, to show them who I am and how I got here. I am far from perfect, but God isn’t finished with me yet! I believe He has begun a work in me and it is time to share it with my home, Cornerstone Church of God, and beyond!
Please know I love each and every one of you! I am so blessed knowing I am home where I belong and I am excited to go about His business!