Friday, March 19, 2010

My own redemption story

DISCLAIMER: This is a novel. I'm sorry, but not that sorry because I feel a thousand times better after writing it. Thanks!

I'm so sorry I've been absent for so long blog friends! Honestly, the past few weeks have been kind of...weird for me. I've been going through a lot, but it's all been internal. I've basically been taking a internal journey back to the past; not to my happy childhood or wonderful college years, but to the years that stunk the worst: high school. I don't really know what started it. Maybe it was going to Natasha's dad's funeral and thinking about my relationships with my mom and dad. Maybe it was the women's retreat which was extremely emotional. I think most of it has to do with this book called Boundaries that I've been reading.

Boundaries is an outstanding book. It's jam packed with really, really helpful information about protecting yourself and your heart from hurtful people and circumstances in a healthy way. I would strongly recommend it. Anyway, there was a chapter about how your boundaries are influenced by how you were brought up. My mom is reading the book too, so we were discussing those years. I told her that I honestly only had good memories of my childhood, and I thought they did a great job raising me. Then we started talking about the two really, really hard years of my life: 16 and 17.

I knew that those were hard years for me, and I vaguely remember my mom going through depression, but I had no idea how bad she was struggling with it until we talked a few weeks ago. So those years have been on my mind a lot lately. Most of you were friends with me back then, and if you weren't, a lot of you have heard me share my stories from those years. Lots of rebellion, unhealthy relationships with boys, pot, smoking, drinking, skipping class, getting fired from Target for shoplifting, car accidents, just really shitty stuff. I'm sorry. It was. It was just a really bad time. One year was in Kansas and the other year was in Maryland. It didn't help that both of my beloved grandmothers died in the same year. Anyway I honestly don't remember a lot about those years. I have sort of blocked them out. Whenever I think about them I just see black in my mind. I remember that I never wanted to be at home. I spent a lot of time at friends' houses or just out and about. I always attributed that to normal teenage angst and hormones, but maybe it had a lot to do with my mom's depression. I don't really know, and honestly, it doesn't really matter. I guess it just helps because all this time I had thought of myself as bad, and maybe I wasn't so bad--I was just running away from painful circumstances. Part of my sanguine personality is that I don't like to dwell on sad things, so that would explain some of my "activities" as well.

Again, I don't know why all of these feelings are coming back. It could also do with good ol' facebook. Along with friends that I am thrilled to reconnect with, I have also (mistakenly) befriended people that, along with their pictures and new, changed (some not so changed) lives, bring old hurts and bad memories to the surface. I thought that it was all done and in the past, but maybe I still haven't dealt with some of this. Obviously I haven't because here I am at 28 still thinking about it again. The Bible says to guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life, so I also think it would be wise to re-think the facebook thing.

ANYWAY

The beauty in all of this is that God redeemed my life. I am so blessed because I knew God that whole time. In between sophomore and junior year was a summer at Spring Canyon where tears fell down my face as I sang Power of Your Love (which was the COOLEST song at the time; that and Lord I Lift Your Name on High), and renewed my relationship with God. Unfortunately I forgot all about Him as I stepped back into reality, and into old habits and not so great choices.

There were so many saving graces through those two hard years. God brought people in my life who knew me and loved me both for me and in spite of me. This isn't some kind roll call, but Amanda is the first person that comes to mind. We bonded over band camp freshman year, and were not the most healthy influences for each other sophomore year. I won't go into detail embarassing her, but let's just say we got into a lot of trouble together. Some of it actually makes me smile. Through all of that, though, she was my closest confidant and very, very best friend. Moving away from her after sophomore year was gut wrenchingly (is that a word?) hard. I decided to move back to Kansas and go to K-State mostly because I wanted to be near her again. :) Even though I was behaving myself quite a bit more senior year, I still enjoyed a good party (again, I'm a sanguine. We love to have a good time!). I'll never forget a conversation I had with her over the phone the summer before our first year at K-State where I was talking to her about all the fun college parties we'd go to together, and she said "Marie, I don't think I really want to do all that stuff anymore." I (think I) replied "You know what? Me either." That's a whole other post in and of itself..........
There are other wonderful friends from Leavenworth and amazing influences that year: Joey, Bill Springston, ANGELA!!! (who told me about Spring Canyon in the first place and is thus responsible for my amazing marriage to Devin), Mr. and Mrs. Dolinger (Joel's parents) etc. etc. etc. Please don't be hurt if I left you out. This is a lot to type! But very therapeautic.....

Leigh Ayn was definitely my saving grace in Maryland junior year. Leaving Amanda was SO HARD, and I was so worried I wouldn't have another kindred spirit in this new place. I met her at youth group. She was listening to the Beastie Boys and dancing around. She was kind of quirky, not in a creepy, smelly way, but like me! Cute and weird! Shortly thereafter we started making up nicknames for each other and were basically inseparable for the next two years. We were very silly, but we were also there for each other during some really dark times.

My senior year of high school was so. much. better. My friend Melissa (from middle school) moved to the area and we reconnected. I started hanging out with friends at school who were less interested in skipping class and hanging out to smoke and drink, and more interested in doing slightly more productive activites. I started working at Baby Gap and singing in madrigals. Through Melissa, I met her boyfriend Dan (the boy version of Leigh Ayn). Dan and Melissa ended up breaking up, but he and I stayed really good friends. He was such a strong influence. I am so thankful for him.

Then there's Spring Canyon. Just google it. It was my second home. I spent 6 summers there. I have amazing friendships with people that I met there (Keri, Micah, Betsy, Edi, Nat). No matter how bad things were during the school year, Spring Canyon was a clean slate. You didn't have to worry about fitting in. You were loved, except for the times you got in trouble for not helping to clean enough or for too much flirting with a certain boy named Devin Riley.

What started as a camp fling continued as a relationship. One night I was laying next to Devin (against camp rules. You know me and rules) and I shared with him about the relationships I'd had with other guys and basically just laid it all for him. Instead of saying "No thanks! I think I'll find someone better" he said "None of what you just said changes how I feel about you." I went to visit him, I mean K-State, my senior year and got to see his dorm and meet a bunch of his friends, who were in total shock that shy, introverted Devin had a girlfriend...in high school. We were all sitting in his dorm hanging out when Jeremy Krause and Mark Mittenmayer started playing guitar and Laurie Loomis (now Larson) started singing Power of Your Love.

Praise music?! In your dorm?! With your friends?! In your free time? This is amazing! I knew at that moment that I would go to K-State...no questions asked. Through Devin I met Brooke, his very hip and sophisticated friend,who was a senior willing to live in the dorms with freshmen girls to reach out to them. My very first Sunday at K-State I went to church with them, as well as a couple of girls named Marisa Spear and Heather Thomas. Brooke (along with Katie and Lindsey) decided to start a bible study in Ford Hall called coffee talk. Amanda and I lived in Moore hall. At our first "floor meeting" either Amanda or I (I can't remember) announced that we would be watching Dawson's Creek in our room every week and anyone else that wanted to, was welcome to come. A cute little blonde named Rachel Noll showed up the first time and the rest is history. A couple years later Keri decided to move to Kansas for her own Spring Canyon man, and we became roommates and best friends. I grew by leaps and bounds in my relationship with God during college years. I read the Ragamuffin Gospel and learned that God really will redeem our lives from the pit. He put so many beautiful people in my life those years. I am so truly humbled when I think about it. My wedding was such a beautiful day. All of these people that I told you about, my saving graces, were there...together. In one place! Even Jeremy, who played guitar that night in the dorms, was there playing his guitar at the ceremony.
We've seen each other through marriages, babies, exciting job ventures, but also through depression, miscarriage, divorce, infertility, death, cancer, and other really terrible tragedies. Plus the day to day, just plain hard stuff. I can't say enough how thankful I am for these friendships. It is truly how I see God's hand on me in my life.

Then there's the fam. My parents are wonderful. When I started at K-State, my dad was transferred to Italy (ARMY) and then DC, so I didn't have them around for four years. I think this time away from them really made me appreciate how much I loved them. If that didn't do the trick, having babies really makes you appreciate your parents! My mom's been in Arkansas for the last week, and it's killing me because I am used to talking to her every day. I am thankful that she open to sharing her heart with me. I love watching my dad with my girls. He is so loving and affectionate with them. It's very precious to me. I love that we talk about heart-related things now, and that our relationship is headed in a deeper direction. Same is true for me and my brother. Another family member that I've connected with by leaps and bounds is my Aunt Shel, my mom's sister. It started with her calling me when I was in the pit of dispair about being pregnant with Addison (whom I couldn't imagine life without should you learn to read anytime soon!!!! I love you my sweet girl!!!) because she understood where I was coming from when no one else did. Now we text about 13 times each day. Plus she is the only one who gets why I think it would be fun to go to Starbucks...every day.

So what's happening with me right now? I guess I am learning to "live forgiven"

Micah 7:19
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

I don't have to feel guilt or fear when those memories come creeping up, or when I see a blast from the past on facebook or when I'm at work. God has redeemed my life. I can be Devin's wife and raise my girls with confidence that I am God's precious child, whom He loves dearly. Sometimes I live in fear because my life has been so calm (as calm as it can be with a 1 and a 3 year old running around), and relatively trouble free. I worry that God has some awful test for me right around the corner that I will have to endure. I know those are lies, and ignoring the truth and believing them is a sin, but sometimes it's hard not to think those things when you see the people you love going through such awful things. You can't help but think "when's my turn?"

(As a sidenote every time I think that I think about the scene from The Sex and the City movie where Charlotte is thinking the same thing and Carrie says "Charlotte you shit your pants this year. I think you're done." That basically has nothing to do with this except that I think that is one of the best movie lines of all time. BTW is it ok to mention Sex and the City in your testimony? I hope so. )

Honestly, though, I know that is not the way to live life. Worrying about losing my kids or my husband will rob me of the all the joy I have with them. Giving up the fears when they pop in my head is something I'm working on. That and finishing this blasted Boundaries book! I always get so excited about starting a new book and then get bored halfway through. Let's face it: The Twilight Series is a lot more fun to read. :)

Thank you for reading my story. If you finished it, you deserve a prize. Honestly, I could go on and on about God's grace in my life. I could do a whole post on Devin's family, or my first couple years of marriage. Or how hard parenting is sometimes (oh wait...I post about that all the time!), or how awesome Westside Church has been in our lives. Can the people pleasing/approval seeking/not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings side of me just say one more time please don't be upset if I didn't outright mention your name. If you're my friend or family member, you've impacted my life. Period.

Love you all. Now, no more complaining about my absence!

Next up: Blog totally devoted to my love for all things television!

16 comments:

Erica said...

Beautiful Marie. I can't help but be thankful for all the people who have helped mold and shape you into the child of a King you are today. Thanks for sharing your struggle! You're beautiful!

Andrea said...

Read every word. Loved it! Glad I'm a part of your life!

Amanda said...

So, I cried when I read this. It's a beautiful testimony of God's love for you! I can honestly say it has been my privilege and honor to walk with you through this life. As I was reading this I couldn't help but feel blessed to be part of your story. I can look back through the years and see how God has used certain people and circumstances to make you into the woman you are today. I know we've said this before but God didn't give either one of us sisters, and I believe that he has given us such a special friendship in it's place. No friend has ever loved me as well as you do! Even though you and I have changed SO much since high school our friendship has only gotten deeper and richer. Praise God! I'm so thankful I gave you that "tour" of the high school during band camp. :)

Keri said...

I so admire your faith and transparency. It's been so neat to watch you grow starting that summer you were 15:) You teach me something new all the time, thank you for being such a great friend!

Leah said...

Thank you for sharing your story Marie, we are kindred spirits and I had no idea :-) I laughed when you mentioned "The Ragamuffin Gospel" cause I read that at Spring Canyon too...and it changed me greatly! How I wish I had a neat and clean past but it isn't so! Praising God for all He has done for you...you are a wonderful woman/ wife/ mother! Many blessings to you!

carmen said...

This is beautiful, Marie! I have missed you in the blog-world, but this post was worth waiting for. I thank God with you for redemption and grace!

Alisha said...

This was so sweet to read, Marie! I just want to give you a hug now! :) Thanks for sharing.

nat said...

Marie, I am always so challenged by your authenticity. I was crying while I read this (& I even knew your story!). You are amazing & I love you so much!

Snorts & Giggles said...

Marie~thank you for sharing so much of yourself, all of yourself really, to us. It has been so nice to read your blogs and the meet you that one time through Keri. I feel like I know you more! Thank you for being so open with us!

Angela said...

Marie - I just love you to pieces! What a wonderful return to your blog! I was reminded again that God is good. All the time.

Thanks!

PS - you and Devin were destined to be together!!!

Brandi said...

I absolutely loved reading every word of this. I didn't get to know you then, but I was blessed to get to know you after.

And I am thankful you had those years to learn and grow and become who you are now. The Marie I love.

I know I don't see you often enough. And I know I don't call enough. And I know I'm not a perfect friend. But I also know that I love you and I think about you and I am so glad I know you.

Thanks for sharing :)

Steve, Amanda, Kyle & Owen said...

Marie, you are such an inspiring person. I love seeing all the ways that God impacts peoples lives. It just reminds me how much closer I am to knowing him like I use to. Sometimes we have to take a look at the past to move forward, sometimes it is our way of being woken up. For me, I have had to look at what has been missing in my life. It was a huge slap in the face when I realized that I had let my faith start to slip. How? I don't know, I just know that I am finally starting to get back on track and it is amazing how God has already touched my life in such a short time. Thank you for being such an amazing person and an inspiration.

Enjoyer of the Journey said...

you know...

...i had no idea.

but i'm really super proud of you and in awe at His grace over you. :)

EdiLee said...

I loved every word. One of my absolute favorite things about you Marie is your tender genuine heart. Its challenged me time and time again to be who I am and be where I am and embrace the moments that are challenging, try to learn from them and become better, as well as celebrate the victories in life when they come. I love living life alongside you and so many other treasured friends from SC... What a beautiful faith story and thank you so much for sharing it.

michele said...

I. Just. Love. You.

Krista said...

Thanks for sharing Marie...so beautiful and such a great testimony of HIS love and faithfulness!! I love knowing you girl...thanks for being so real!!