A few weeks ago Jason and I watched “Just Friends” on Netflix. There is part in the movie when the main character, Ryan Reynolds, walks into his bedroom from when he grew up and it looks exactly the same as it did when he left after he graduated high school. Jason paused the movie and asked me, “What did your room look like when you were in high school?” He wanted me to paint a picture for him. Seems like a fun question, ya? Well, for me it turned out not to be. It stirred up so much in me that I didn’t even know existed. After what seems like eternity, I looked at Jason with a blank stare. I could not think of a single thing about my bedroom. I, to this day, cannot even tell you what colors were in it or what kind of bedding that I had. I don’t even know which of the rooms in our house I ended up in when I was in high school.
The next day I sat in my “I need Jesus” chair in our room and got out my journal and put on Pandora. I realized something interesting that day…
I have blocked out most of my time living in Santa Maria.
My family moved to Santa Maria when I was 5 years old. I lived there until I was 19. Most memories growing up are painful for me. Since Jason asked me the question about my bedroom, I have made a realization that I have blocked out the majority of my time in Santa Maria because I don’t like that Elizabeth. I am embarrassed by her, I am mad at her, and I am a little bit sad for her too.
I wanted to be loved at an intense level. I wanted to be loved at the expense of betraying a friend’s secret, okay, a lot of friend’s secrets. I wanted to be loved at the expense of disrespecting my parents. I wanted to be loved at the expense of hurting others feelings through my sarcasm and mockery. I wanted to be loved at the expense of handing my heart over to any guy that would look twice at me, he didn’t even need to treat me well. All of these reasons make me so mad and embarrassed by her.
But then I get sad.
I wonder why this void to be loved was so great in little me. I may never know. But what I do know is that those 14 years play a huge role in who I am today. I had INCREDIBLE role models. I don’t know that any of you will ever stumble upon this blog, but I want to publicly thank you for your roles.
First and foremost I have to thank my mom and dad. My parents loved me enough to not care if I saw them as friends. They loved me enough to have boundaries that helped protect me from making even more serious or damaging choices. They were the dynamic duo and still are today. Such a beautiful picture of hearts persistent for Jesus and each other. I could not have hand picked more incredible parents to raise me and continue to invest in me in such incredible ways today.
Mike and Debra, you were huge in my most formative years. You always had a listening ear, a kind heart, and encouraging words. You even opened up your home to me in some of my darkest adolescent days.
Joni, I am sorry that I made you almost want to quit working with young girls! I was such a brat in my late elementary years. You were so unconditional. Ill never forget the time you told me that you wished I could see myself how you saw me, and most importantly how Jesus saw me. I love you so much and think of you often!
Bill, Oh Bill! What do I say to the man who continually showered me with encouragement and the kindest eyes?! You spoke life into me.
Guy and Kathy, I got my youth ministry degree because of you two! You loved me through my MOST obnoxious jokes, habits, and lack of a muzzle days and still let me live with you when I had no where else to go. Guy, I may have been a 4 year counseling session, but I think overall you guided me pretty well 🙂
Lynn and Ginny, your home was always open. You were never afraid to have the difficult conversations with me, always in love. To this day I feel so welcome into your house whenever needed. Your prayers, encouragement, and love have never been forgotten. I remember a very dark and difficult night at Oasis that, Ginny, you walked through with me. Love you guys!
Aaron and Marianne, you both played such different roles in my little self. Marianne you were an incredible teacher in Jr. High. Those years are some that I never want to relive. I can’t even imagine what it was like to be my teacher and youth leader! But I never felt judged or belittled by you. I loved my classes with you. You would light up my day. Aaron, you gave me the best internship a girl could ever ask for. I LOVED working for you. Although I was in college by the time the internship happened, I have some decisions from that time that I am so embarrassed about but you never stopped loving me or encouraging me. It was so hard to go back to college after that season of learning under you.
Sheryl, you were constant. You were unwavering. I was such a clown and sometimes so disrespectful but you kept investing in me. Continually pointing me to Jesus in love and patience and grace. Thank you.
Coach Fortier, you were my favorite teacher and warm up partner before volleyball games. You made my laugh and you challenged me. Even though you were my hi-light during my time 3 years at VCA, I will never believe you that wine in the Bible was really grape jello. 🙂 Thank you for being someone that welcomed me, encouraged me, and joked with me daily at a place that was so difficult for me to attend almost daily.
So, I am going on a mission. In January I am taking a trip to Santa Maria. It has been close to 5 years since I have been back. I have a few words for little Elizabeth. I will visit the home, church, and schools that I grew up in and I will find a place to bury letters of truth and love for her. I will have coffee with those that I still keep in touch with. I will stay a couple nights at little Elizabeth’s second home. When I leave Santa Maria to head home, I will leave the negative self talk, the feelings of embarrassment, and feelings of anger.
Jesus has been teaching me so much about His love for me. The freedom that comes when I embrace His love. I don’t have to strive for it. It’s there for the taking. I am enough.
I don’t know how many of you are still allowing old voices or maybe past poor choices and/or hurts to have power over you today. It is time to silence the voices. It is time to quit allowing the past define you. God was pursuing you then and He is still pursuing you today. There is freedom in accepting and walking out God’s perfect, healing, and life giving love. It is time to stop making excuses, embrace God’s love for us, and allow it to pour out of us and over those around us that are hurting and desperately searching for that same life giving love.
You are enough. Just as you are.