Meet Erin. Since Russ & I started going to the Stone, she's become one of my closest friends - she's one of the most genuine and God-seeking woman I know. We've shared fears and dreams, and both have an unequivocal desire to see human trafficking end in our lifetime. When I got the idea for this series, Erin was the first person I wanted to introduce. Her story isn't an easy one - but she recognizes the One who saved her for something more beautiful. Today and tomorrow she shares with you some of her greatest pain - but also how God is bringing redemption through it. How can we ever really bare each other's burdens if we only know the surface texture of those burdens? The purpose of sharing my story today is not so you will learn to bear my burden with me. I probably don’t know you. Its really more so your heart may be conditioned. So it will be soft and ready for someone in your circle. So today, I'm going to peel the surface away, if you're ready...
Right now my heart is pounding, I have butterflies in my stomach, I'm struggling with more than shallow breaths, and my head feels fuzzy as though all my thoughts are currently carbonated and bubbling inside my brain. Hi anxiety, meet the readers. Readers, meet my anxiety.
The first message I got from the world was that I did not matter. My roots grew, deformed, in this soil.
Recently, there has been research done on fathers and the impact of their inactivity and absence in children's lives. This validation has greatly contributed to my healing. Its been good for my heart to hear our pastor talk about the importance of pursuing the fatherless. God commands the church to love and care for the fatherless. He says we should take orphans into our homes and love them just as biological children and siblings.
If God said this, it must be really important. If God wants the fatherless to be loved so badly, the fatherless must need to be loved so badly. So, that means...I'm not crazy. The need for tangible parenting and love is real. My pain is real. My pain is justified.
You see, my dad was absent even before I was born. I'll never really know the whole story. The story of how my parents met or if they even loved each other. I've never heard much about the day I was born or what kind of child I was. Sometimes it feels like my childhood never existed.People who had childhoods don't really understand what that does to a person. I'm not here to point fingers or compare sob stories. I just want to say that childhood is important.
The freedom of being a child is important.
Playing is important.
Your silliness and goofiness being accepted by your mom and dad is important.
I have enough happy memories to count on one hand...maybe. Every single good memory I have is marred with some sort of scar, except perhaps one. I have a fuzzy memory of my step grandfather watching Alice in Wonderland with me as a young girl after I had just met him. I sat in his lap and fed him fudge. That's it. That's all I've got.
The rest sits under a shadow...
The man who my mom asked me to call dad when I was in fourth grade after they married is a funny, charming, hard-working man. No one ever would have suspected the thick atmosphere of our home when the doors were shut.
Yelling. Alcohol. Punishment. Days in bed.
Sometimes, my inconvenient existence even overwhelmed me.
I heard “She’s your daughter…” muffled behind shut doors and wanted to melt away into the walls for good.
I was fortunate enough to live across the street from my best friend in elementary school. After every rain, we'd head to our school playground (where it was sure to be extra muddy) riding our bikes through the gutters the whole way. We made secret forts and had a dozen different story lines going with Ken and Barbie. However, the most fun we had was with our lemonade stands.
Our first stand consisted of some cardboard boxes covered with sheets. If the wind blew too hard, we had to be sure we held onto our "stand" or it would be gone with the panhandle dust. All of that changed when Krista's dad presented our brand spankin' new, state of the art, straight from a movie, lemonade stand. It was truly incredible. Made with fence pickets, the sides folded in for easy storage in Krista's garage. It was painted red, blue, green, yellow...each picket was a different color and looked as professional as a nine year old's lemonade stand could get. I'll never forget the moment in their garage when it hit me what this lemonade stand symbolized.
I was running my finger along the pointy wood pickets in awe of how amazing it was that her dad took the time to make this for her with his own hands. In that same moment I remember realizing they were the same hands that crawled up my legs inside my sleeping bag and rearranged some very important things in my heart. The same hands that changed the texture of my skin forever, like sandpaper.
It happened several times (that I remember) over several years. I don't know why I kept staying the night with her. I really don't think I understood entirely what was happening to me. Eventually, I did stop going to their house. But, most of the time, he was my ride to school and so my shame was unavoidable. I remember climbing into his van one cold morning, thankful for my layers of clothes and heavy coat. I stared at my feet the whole ride and felt like my nakedness filled the entire van. I wanted to vomit the whole way.
Around this same time someone very close to me was also sexually abused; the kind of abuse that sends you to an emergency room. The kind where there's hard evidence. I was very close to this situation and was never questioned.
Things were never explained to me.
No one went to jail.
I vowed never to tell my parents about my abuse. I saw that it wouldn't matter.
No one would care.
This wasn’t the only reason I never told my parents. Our home was for adults. It was full of adult conversation, adult arguments, adult decisions, adult drinks, and adult rules. It really was best to stay out of the way. So that’s what I did....
Make sure to check tomorrow for part 2 of Erin's story.