I was taken to church, loved by my parents, prayed over by a precious grandmother, and tender toward the things of God, but life circumstances altered my perception of his true grace and love rather quickly, soon after.
When I was three, my mother collapsed at work with a brain aneurysm and was hospitalized for 2 months. Years later, I found out through a conversation with my aunt, the night my mother was the most critical, and was moments from dying, I came to her and my grandmother, after being sound asleep in a back bedroom to ask them “Why is my Mama laying there like she is dead?”. It was then, I declared “We have to pray!”, and we did. Looking back now, it is clear that I had a dream, and was prompted to pray. It was, also then, that a target was placed on my back by the enemy at the early age of three.
I saw my Mama once during this time, and when she returned home she wasn’t the same person who left just weeks before. My world was turned upside down, I can remember the day she came home, and I resolved to take care of her.
I found out years later through revelation of the Holy Spirit, this was a defining moment in my life when I ceased being a child, and our roles reversed. Within six months of her returning home, my dad left because, in reality, their relationship was over before Mama’s illness.
Within a year, my Mama married my stepdad, and upon his arrival, an alcoholic addiction came, too. I quickly assumed the role her protector and face wiper as tears became her language for many years to come.
I remember being scared and not knowing peace again in our home. Nights of a drunken stupor ensued, along with long car rides through the “ridges”, all in an attempt to keep the beast content and quiet. To this day, old country music makes my stomach flip because that and the sound of empty beer cans clanging at my feet were the anthems of my early years.
Within two years, my Dad married my stepmom, and she was definitely heaven-sent. She loved me from the beginning as her own, but the only unspoken rule was that I could not let my Mama see the enjoyment I had visiting my Dad’s house because she may feel less than, so I stuffed it. I did attend church with my Dad on the weekends I visited.
I would visit my grandmother, my Mama’s mom, for short periods because I found respite there, as well. She prayed over me. She, also, saw what I had to endure, and handed out extra love and attention. Okay, she spoiled me, I’ll admit.
In 8th grade, I became more than my mother could care for, and with anguish one cold and rainy fall evening, she dropped me off to live with my Dad. I still remember standing with my black garbage bag of belongings watching her headlights back out of the driveway. I never felt more alone.
Something happened deep within me that night, and I entered my teen years a shattered mess. I began seeking approval in the wrong ways, from the wrong people, only to compromise what I knew better. This heaped piles of shame, regret, soul ties, and much more.
I attended church but was disengaged because the denomination we were apart of held a very thick array of legalistic tendencies. I felt, “Why should I try, I can’t hold up to their standards?” I felt alone. I felt misunderstood. I felt numb.
At age 17, I attempted suicide while my Dad and stepmom were at church. Voices swirled around my head as the cloud of depression and hopelessness sat on my shoulders. It was by the GRACE of God, the guy I had been dating for over a year came to my house. He rarely visited due to distance but snuck away to see me, because we had been fighting. I told him what I had done, and he had me drink milk. He left, soon after.
My dad and stepmom didn’t find out about this incident until I broke down in my guidance counselor’s office a year later. As the emotional breakdown took place, my family had just recently returned to our home church, and the timing could be no better. They had a pastoral change,and for the first time, I felt loved, accepted, and began to grow and trust again.
At age 18, I fell face first onto the altar with the absolute realization that I didn’t want to live without “this Jesus” they were telling me about, and my sin is what separated. I needed and desired his presence so deeply, and he became real through their love, and I could be as real as I knew how at the time.
I met my wonderful husband in the midst of all of this, and within two years were married. I pulled up to our newfound life with a Uhaul full of baggage, beeping the horn saying, “Honey, I’m home”. I thought getting married would fix it, but it didn’t. I still had a gaping hole in my heart that I expected my husband to fill, and when he didn’t, I was D-O-N-E.
Yep, you guessed it, divorce papers were drawn. They were ready to be filed, until, one night while working,I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and say, “How can you say this marriage is over when you haven’t given me a chance?” I knew to obey, and I called for my husband to come home.
Within a few months, we were expecting our son, and what a blessing this was because when I was eight months pregnant with him, my Mama was diagnosed with terminal cancer. With a chubby baby on my hip, I, along with my two older sisters, cared for her until she passed away. No greater honor have I possessed than to walk my Mama as far as I could. It was, also, during this time that I accepted the call of God on my life.
Since then, through marriage ups and downs, nursing school, having our daughter, enduring a devastating 13-week pregnancy loss, and being motherless, I have questioned such trials and felt the bitter sting of separation, unanswered questions, as well as, prayers.
I went through seasons where it was just God and me, going layer by layer undoing the wounds of the past, through the dusty desert of solitude and loneliness. It was there I found the lover of my soul because when I was thirsty, he became my drink. I had dabbled in living a good life, but in the midst of this dry place, I found what I had been unknowingly missing all along.
I remember driving in my car one day, and I distinctly heard, “Lindsey, you are no longer that dirty-faced little girl”. I was stunned because I still saw myself as dirty, but he saw me as clean. I had to release the hurt abandonment left, the poison of unforgiveness, and the weight of shame and regret. I needed to see myself as the Most High God saw me, and accept it. ACCEPT IT!
It was, also, through the unconditional love shown by the leaders in my life, that changed the way I viewed God. I learned the love of Jesus, and this is what I turn to when the coldness of life sweeps through, and what I try to share with those around me.
My heart and calling is to speak life, and bring hope to the broken and wounded through HIS word. I desire to teach women that block by block the self-protective wall between them and the one who created and loves them, beyond measure, can be removed and abundant life is possible as surrendering takes place.
Daughter, you are no longer the dirty-faced little girl! You are prized! You are loved! You are cherished! You are HIS! Take It. Hold It. Accept It. He adores you! He can turn your walls into wings!