Ever since I was a little girl i think my idea of what love means has been a little skewed. Growing up i think I knew in the back of my mind i was loved but i was rarely shown that i was loved by anyone other than my mom. I remember trying to do things for my dad to make him want to love me like watching tv with him, fishing with him, and letting me get him and his friends beers when they would run out. I wanted so badly to be loved and tried to earn my way into it.
As i got older and was in High School i had my first real boyfriend. It was exciting and new and totally not what i had imagined the fairy tale love looked like..i compromised what i stood for in order to feel butterflies. I went to parties with him, got high with him, and skipped school for him. I was going to do anything i could in order to win his love. He eventually broke up with me because i was clingy, jealous, and probably super annoying. I lost it after that and got really depressed--thats when i started cutting myself and taking prescription drugs...all until another boy came along.
This boy was older than me and was super fun to be around. He wasn't a bad influence and i didn't have to lower any morals i had. He loved me and i really believe that and I hurt him bad. we dated for about 3 years I think and then I told him how broken I was and I let him into my world. He got to see past the nice wall i had built and learned who i really was. I was 18 year old Valerie who wasted hundreds of dollars a week on food to throw up, who skipped school to throw up, who neglected to pay bills to throw up, and who felt that if he and my family knew who i was they would not love me. I told him, He told my mom, and I ran. I ran away from Home for days which turned into weeks of not seeing them. I didn't want to let the truth out because i knew if i wasn't perfect i wouldn't be loved. my view of love was very conditional...if i do this for you, you will do this for me. I have since learned that if you are doing something for someone because they did something for you, you're doing it wrong. You should do things because you want to love well and serve well and show someone you care.
when i was 20 i was working in a strip club so that i could eat more and puke more. I made a whole lot of money every night but the thing i learned about easy money is that it doesn't last, the thousands i was making every week weren't going anywhere except down the drain..literally. I was going to a counselor at the time who told me I needed to make new friends, that i needed to get out of my comfort zone and say yes to people. One night a guy and a bunch of his friends came into the club and i was their waitress. I started talking to the guy and he seemed really nice and I gave him my number so we could maybe do something as a group. I was saying yes, just like my counselor told me to. He invited me out with them eventually and i went. I was meeting new people and doing new things, i was pleasing my therapist. like i said, i was 20 and we went to a bar and at that point i wasn't a drinker but i went along because i was doing all things new..they put giant permanent x's on my hands and I was told to go to the bathroom and wash those off so i could drink..i did what i was told--the bar workers knew what i had done and we had to leave and on we went to the next bar. This time it was easier to drink because no one carded me and he ordered for me at the bar while i went to the bathroom. i came back to the table where everyone was sitting in this dark, smoky, musty bar and drank what i had been given...liquid cocaine. I can't tell you that my drink was drugged because my tox screens that came back the next day didn't say that but i can say that i drank one and passed out multiple times and was woken up multiple times by getting hit in the face(I know what happens when a person drinks one drink and that wasn't it). Somehow i went from being in the bar to an apartment & was told to drink orange juice (I now know that the vitamin C content in orange juice intensifies certain drugs..) and was told to wake up. I passed out again after that, woke up as i was driving somewhere, saw a hobby lobby, and passed out again. when i woke up this time i was on a couch with the guy and it was horrible.. i woke up and passed out a lot during that night and the men changed but my wanting to die didn't. i was scared and knew i needed to find my clothes and get out but i couldn't. I'll stop with those details and am going to move on-I got taken to my apartment and was told that this person loved me, he told me he loved me because he got something out of me and then he drove away....he stole from my body and with that tremendous fear overtook me. i tried walking up my stairs, fell down and called my friend. He told me to go to the hospital but instead went to my mom's work. I knew she could help me because i knew she loved me.
she took me to the hospital and they did their exams, cops took my story, and i couldn't believe what came next. I spent the day being poked, prodded, violated, and examined for the police to tell me that "Because she was underage and in a bar we can't do anything about this. There are more of them who are giving us another story and that she was asking for it.." i quit caring after that. even if i did tell the truth no one was going to believe me anyway -- i didn't leave the hospital the same that day.
I locked my self in my apartment for weeks and didn't come out often..when my mom would make me get out i did it with a hoodie, sunglasses, and a hat on. I traveled with a box knife and was ready to kill someone if they touched me. I was scared. i was engulfed in fear and terrified to live. I went back to cutting myself and then turned to alcohol. it worked for my dad, maybe it would work for me. I had people buy me big bottles of whiskey and drank about 1 a day. it worked and i stopped remembering what happened. alcohol also gave me a false confidence and i could now go out in public and do things normal people did. I began calling friends and asking them if they wanted to go to parties with me, they did and my world had changed. I was the life of the party, i was the one to call, i was the fun one who everyone wanted to be around, and i began to use my body to get exactly what i thought i needed--Love, even if only for a night. my self esteem revolved around whether or not i was attractive enough that someone wanted me and whether or not i felt loved by them. i was a sinful person with too many idols to keep up with every one of my adventures left me feeling more broken and empty than before. This love, all of what i was striving for left me wanting more, the void was not getting filled. That's when i found new friends and a new idol in drugs. this is when the fun stopped and life got bad real fast. On my quest to feel loved i broke up multiple marriages, stole a lot of things, got into a lot of fights, and embarrassed myself more often than not. I didn't have a home and would sleep wherever and with whoever i needed to. Fast forward a little ways and insert my overdose and going to rehab. A lot of y'all know that rehab is where i met Jesus, in a little town called Wickenburg. Arizona was good for my soul although i hated it to begin with. When i arrived i was still detoxing and furious that i was supposed to spent a month and a half in a Jesus Loving Hell hole and be told what to do. Little did I know that Jesus filled place would change my life, my wants and my actions. The people at the Ranch I stayed at loved well. They loved my like friends love and there were no conditions, they did it because they wanted to, they weren't told to and i didn't have to do anything to earn their friendship or love. I began asking questions as to what made them different than me...how come their eyes sparkled and mine were so dim and dark. I was shown the bible, taught how to use it, and what the red letters were. I started there because Jesus changed these people around me and i wanted to read the red for myself. I wanted what they had and I began my search...I started my quest to find what real love was and i haven't been let down by Him since. The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:13 that You will seek Him and find Him when you seek Him with all your heart and I found him. My self esteem was still super low and my views of love were still skewed because at this point i was reading the bible every morning because i thought that made me a better person and that God would like me the more i showed him that I was doing better. He doesn't work like that though, God Loves because he Loves because he loves...because He is love. There is nothing we can do as believers to make Him love us any more and there's nothing we can do to make Him love us any less. He just loves, because he does...because he Is.
The past 5 years with Jesus in my life have been awesome and don't read that thinking that my life has been glitter and rainbows because it hasn't. In those 5 years I relapsed on drugs, embarrassed myself one too many times with alcohol, cried lots of tears, had a few heart breaks, and got in plenty of arguments. I tore my esophagus throwing up, failed at a lot of things, and learned what i didn't like. I made choices in these 5 years that had real consequences and had real lessons to learn and I know that through these things I grew closer to God and really learned who I was and what i want.
I stopped letting Fear rule my life. I don't have to let Satan into my thoughts because the Holy Spirit is in me and because he is in my no one can be against me. Fear begins with a suggestion and I'm not taking any right now... i threw all of my suggestion cards away this year and probably won't be restocking them.
Some things I have learned along the way have been that I can't say yes to everyone..I have to sometimes say no and that's ok because by saying no, my yes will mean so much more. I learned that when i'm trying on jeans to look myself in the eyes and smile...don't look down, don't do it. I don't need to examine my body and find every flaw-Jesus isn't in my thighs he's is my eyes and I can see Him because I can see the sparkle. That sparkle means i'm healthy and Healthy has been a winner this year. I am the strongest physically, emotionally, and mentally than I have ever been in my entire life and if that comes with some larger pant sizes I'll take it because it also comes with Bigger Bra sizes..just sayin'. But seriously though, I got praised a lot on my looks in the past and would hear how skinny i was and how pretty i was but for what? I was starving myself, was mad all the time, was jealous of everyone, and still wasn't happy. I though looking perfect would bring the perfect man into my life and here's the game changer, it didn't. Real love, true love isn't about finding the right person but more about being the right person. I had what I thought I wanted but I think what I wanted was to be envied by girls...how stupid is that. The Bible says in Proverbs that Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. that's the truth. I don't want to make my sisters in Christ Stumble or the Guys for that matter--I want to be thought of for other things than my looks. When people think of me I would rather them think something like "She Loves well" or "She changed" or "She always pointed back to the truth."
I have thought about love a whole lot recently and it began with a sermon series on Hosea called the Hosea love story by IBC (Google it because i don't know how to link it) and also where i'm currently at in life and who is in my life. Each week I listen to stories from ladies who got hurt because they weren't loved the way they thought they deserved. It makes me think of who I want to be now and who I want to be when I'm married and who I want to be to my some day kids and what I want to project into the world. The Lord comes into me and Out of me whether I realize it or not and the bible says that The Mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45) and I want what i speak to bring life and to encourage and show someone else, if only just one person, that because Jesus is in me I have influence and I can change the world one action at a time.
Prayer has been so important this past year as i let go of black and white thinking as i hold myself to a standard of Grace and not perfection. God created black and white but in between those two colors theres a whole lot of grey and he made that too. when I know i can't do something or I am not brave enough to say yes i tell God that i'm so scared and I need him to hold my hand because in these times I'm a child and I need my dad. My heavenly father is always there to hold my hand and protect me. He listens to me when i complain and hears when i can't speak because i'm crying too hard. He hears you too, you just have to talk to him. Be real with your requests and be real in life...no one likes to feel like they have to be something other than themselves--fake sucks. Be you because there are people who love you just like you are and it would be a shame to be faking it and there's a person just waiting to meet someone like you.. Real Always wins.
I will leave you with this thought from Bob Goff's book love does:
"I used to think I could shape the circumstances around me, but now I know Jesus uses Circumstances to shape me."