Category Archives: Childhood

Realizations

My name is Jenn and I am 21 years old.

I live in an apartment complex that advertises “Senior Discount” as a perk of living here.

I think they should advertise the fact that there are cockroaches that swarm the back lot every night and if they were larger we could say they were “guard animals.”

I used to stay up late and loved to go “out” and live a “glamorous” lifestyle.

Now my favorite part of the day is coming home to see my cat and taking my pants off.

I used to be really exciting, outgoing, and fun.

These days I’m pretty boring, and like to keep things low key.

Not long ago I thought I was moving to New York City to focus on myself and become a famous actress.

These days I find myself making the 30 minute drive almost daily to my hometown. I can’t seem to get away from it. Additionally, while I’m learning much about myself, I pray for a lifetime of humble service to others.

I used to have a lot of friends, and then I had no friends, and now I fall somewhere in between with a few great people I can almost always rely on.

I used to love big cities, nightlife,and crowds of people.

These days they overwhelm me and I enjoy weekend trips in the country.

I used to think I wouldn’t even get married until I was 30+ and would probably just marry a man for money.

Today is my 2.5 year dating anniversary with the love of my life and I can’t wait until we decide to make a life-long commitment to eachother.

I used to wake up hours early to shower, shave, exfoliate, apply full make up, and style my hair.

Sometimes I don’t remember when I last showered or washed my hair and consider it a “good day” when I don’t have to wear makeup!

I used to be in a really unhealthy dating relationship(s).

The boy I’m in love with does his best to love me like Jesus– with grace, forgiveness, and even gifts from the heart when I feel undeserving.

I used to love meat.

Now I’m a vegetarian.

I used to want to travel somewhere glamorous and romantic like France.

This past March I went to the Kingdom of Swaziland to serve HIV/AIDS orphans…. but I fell in love there too.

I used to think God was far off and distant.

Yesterday I saw myself dancing with Jesus in my mind’s eye.

I used to feel pretty alone even though I was surrounded by people and had lots of “friends.”

This summer I have been brought to tears by the community that surrounds me and the people who have invested in me.

I can’t wait for more realizations : )

It’s okay to want.

There is a never-ending conflict going on in my head about being content where I am and longing for something else. I’m not just talking about wanting more stuff or being ungrateful for what I’ve been given. I’m talking about a deep,  internal longing to fulfill my most human needs. (Not to say that I don’t long to have a new glamorous haircut every few weeks, or that I don’t long for countless material items)

What I do long for are really basic things that God created us to need for survival. Things like security, support, safety, protection, love, understanding, and forgiveness.

Growing up none of these were really solid in my life. I’m not saying I was neglected by any means. I always had a roof over my head, my parents didn’t physically hurt me, and for the most part I was (and am) deeply loved. But the consistency and quality of the aforementioned needs for survival varied widely. Security haunted me on an almost daily basis whether I was aware of it or not. Support was scattered between different, opposing people, and depended on whether what I needed support for was deemed worthy by my caregivers. Sometimes I didn’t feel safe and I certainly didn’t have ways to communicate healthily my feelings. I think protection was implied, but never demonstrated when opportunities arose. I know that I was, and still am, loved to the best of my parents’ abilities, but sometimes it wasn’t a fair and just love. Often it was a heavily weighted and misused love that I don’t think either of my parents knew how to express. Generational curses will do that for ya!  (Double whammy from both sides of the family)I’ve felt misunderstood a good majority of my life, which probably stems from that fact that I don’t really understand myself. And to top it all off “forgiveness” is pretty much pointless if you don’t understand the reality of forgiving someone, so there’s a lot of grudges still held in my family whether it’s verbalized or not.

Whew. That makes me sound like a mess. And rightfully so! No doubt there was a lot of messed up stuff going on in my early life, but the light at the end of the tunnel is that I’m no longer engulfed in it. I’m still tied to all of these chains, but I’ve moved into open air where I can breathe. Which gives me the opportunity to fight back for the childhood that I deserved and often feel cheated out of. While I can’t really get my childhood back, I can work really hard to break these patterns so that they aren’t passed over into the rest of my life or my future children’s lives.

What made me want to start this post today was a simple blurb from the first chapter of Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. I started this book around Christmas and it’s one of those don’t-read-ahead-until-you’ve-mastered-the-first-chapter books. So that means it’s been sitting on my shelf until I get time to master “Longing For More.” This book is on my radar constantly as it stares at me from various places around my room. I grabbed it this morning and thought I might get time to read it at work. I opened the book and immediately felt disappointed with myself for not putting more effort into mastering the first chapter, but since I’d forgotten what it was I thought it best to read it again. I have a feeling this is one of THOSE books. One that’s more of a training manual to be frequented until you know how to get the job done. I didn’t make it past the second page.

This is my life. This is what it’s like to be all the way here now rather than always longing for something else. This is my life as it is meant to be lived by God.

The circumstance of these thoughts is actually quite silly. She’s at her daughter’s 15th birthday party doling out burgers and hotdogs to 50 high school freshmen when she suddenly experiences the utmost contentment in the most simple of doings. She didn’t hear God’s booming voice bellowing wisdom into every part of her being at a Holy Spirit empowered service. She wasn’t doing something glamorous or receiving recognition for her career as a writer. She was passing out hotdogs to pubescent  tweens.

I read her lightbulb moment and I thought, “I want that.” I want everything in my life to dwindle away so that my most contented moment would be in something so mundane. I want to be in a place where I’m not constantly longing for something else because I went without for so long. I’m not sure exactly where I made the connection or how to explain it, but a common theme in my life recently is that I really want to be married. The reasons for this will be saved for another post but they include the fact that part of me thinks it would provide the things I feel I’ve missed out on. No, I do not think marriage will solve all of my problems nor am I currently trying to get married. No ring on my finger yet. I’m taking things slow.

I get really frustrated when family, friends, or my counselor give off the impression that it’s not okay to want to be married right now BECAUSE I didn’t have any of the necessities emotionally growing up and still don’t. I can’t get married until I’m a completely whole and stable person by myself. Whatever that means. I agree with it about 50%. If I was completely whole and stable by myself I’m not sure why I would WANT to get married if everything is golden. However, while I do agree I could be much more stable and sound emotionally, I whole-heartedly believe there are some of the necessities I missed out on that God wants to give to me as a gift at some point in my life. I think He would like to give these to me through a family of my own. One that is full of support, forgiveness, and love. I can’t just magically get these things from my own family at this point in my life, and until then I’m apparently not up-to-par with the rest of the “normal-raised kids.”

I’m not sure if any of the last paragraph or so made sense, but when I read what she wrote and thought “I want that” I also heard the condeming voices saying, “no you’re not allowed to want that right now.” Basically I think that’s dumb. I think it’s okay to long for a future and a marriage that gives you security, support, and endless love. Especially in my situation where I’ve never truly experienced it. I don’t think it’s okay to assume that’s where the entirety of your value in life will come from, or that it is a substitute for what God provides. I guess I long for the day where I can say those words. Where I can say that, “This is my life. This is what it’s like to be all the way here now rather than always longing for something else. This is my life as it’s meant to be lived by God.”

I’m not there yet. I’m longing to be there. I want to be there. I think marriage and a family of my own some day will play an important role in my healing process. And I think it’s okay to want.