“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD………
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”
You have heard that verse over and over again if you were raised in church as I was. For some of us, they were just words until the promise became part of your testimony.
I have shared bits and pieces of my journey with some through the years and had another blog a few years back. Over the years of becoming who I am today, my journey took me down a few darkened crevices and more so since writing previous blogs. I finally hit a wall. God has impressed upon me now to share it deeper still…..be real, be open, raw and vulnerable. Pull all the blogs together as if writing a book (Hmmm, now that’s a thought), but for now, I much rather enjoy the post style of chapter writing. I know in any form, God will use it. I am excited to see that.
I say again, my story isn’t any worse or better than anyone else’s. I even make typo’s that I don’t catch the first 10 times of proofing….lol. But I do know God has asked me to share it and will use it.
I am sharing my story because “I” was the girl who was on the journey to become a missionary….”I” was the little girl who felt called to ministry at a young age and set out on that journey. “I” was the girl who went to a Christian College with a music scholarship…………I was also the girl who started teaching Sunday school (as it was called then) as a young teen to cradle roll age, then helped with a new bus ministry as a teen leader that taught a bible story, memory verses and songs for an hour on our way to church and back home. Then there was camp, (Voted Miss Camp Yamhill 1978). Camp counseling, camp nurse, outreach with youth, teaching women’s Bible study, lead singing in women’s chapel at Bible college, co-lead music in singles ministry, nursing home ministry, music ministry, love in action & greeting to name a few.
This is not meant to toot my horn in any way……………….it is telling you both sides of my story…….it is also showing that one can love the Lord, throw themselves to ministry with the right or wrong reason and flourish but, can still have serious issues buried beneath the outer shell that will rear their ugly head if not dealt with.
I tell my story for all the ones who have felt shame and failure for walking down that other path after being called into ministry.
I can start this story many ways. I can coin a popular introduction….”Hi my name is Alexa”…..but, next line is, to claim what I am “recovering from” or “struggling with”. I am neither struggling with, nor recovering today.
I for one am not a believer in the “recovering from” line. If Jesus has healed you and set you free, you are….”FREE indeed!! You are to “LIVE” in that freedom………..however, for years…..I wasn’t free. I lived in repeated failure and then shame and then guilt. Then to make matters worse, I was constantly reminded of that guilt and shame and failure.
So, to begin my story, I have chosen to start at the good part of the journey…….The bright star. The one dubbed “Dynomite” by a well-loved pastor of mine in my childhood days. But, that story changed at the age of 19 right after coming home from Bible College. Why, many have asked……would one so destined to change lives get off track? I hope to answer that question and do so with Grace and Mercy for all the players in my story…
For anyone who has experienced addiction of any kind, you will understand the craving…..the impulsiveness, compulsions. Without proper help, you continue to go after the next “high”. It brings you to a peak for a period of time, in a bubble, a Cinderella time………you have your own reality. You may even have had friends or family try to help and guide you but, none of it worked. Or maybe it did for a time but you were on a roller coaster. You want normal, you may even think you have it.
You are subject to manipulations and deceit on many levels from wolves in sheep’s clothing professing to love you who themselves can’t give love but, you don’t know that…….you are extremely gullible and naïve. You are more than starry eyed…… it is more than a normal God given “desire”. You end up sacrificing quite a lot to have the very thing they say they are giving you. You will sacrifice stability, a nice home and job and sadly that of your children if you have them. Intentions may be good……you are seeking a “Christian” man who appears to love the Lord and maybe called to ministry as well. Everything on the outside appears normal, but sometimes you fall prey to the deceivers and even to the non-believer because they are so nurturing to you.
Then reality sets in. More than just the honeymoon phase being over…..you learn that you walked down the aisle with an alcoholic, drug addicted, habitual liar, adulterer, physically, mentally or emotionally abusive…….a sex-aholic, a pornographer who told you a boat load of lies and probably was still married….or all of the above!!! You crash and burn AGAIN!!
Thinking back now, I believe my struggle began at the age of 16. I had earlier thought that it started more around age 19 but, in processing behavior even before then….. I see that it began much earlier. I spent those years in a war zone battling mind, will, emotions and a spiritual war…….consumed with neediness and craving for something I didn’t feel I ever had and yet crying out for God to show me what I couldn’t see. So strong was that craving that for the next 35+yrs I felt like I was in a fog. I don’t remember some specifics about those years. The life I lived was mostly survival mode due to having to get back on my feet from the last relationship, from abuse that stunned me, from abandonment in a state miles and miles from family or close friends. At the time I even questioned who my true family and friends were. I didn’t dare tell anyone what was happening……..I could just hear the responses. I never asked for help….I dared not!!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~Yes, my craving, my addiction…..was Love~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now, you may say to yourself…….”Many of us have that craving, that God given “need”, especially us women”. Yes, a woman’s greatest need is to be loved and cherished. But, when I look back at the choices I have made from impulsiveness without much thought or from a seriously troubled desperate “need”, it was not normal or shall we now say…”Healthy”. It was compulsion, addiction driven. I was not better or worse than the alcoholic, drug addicted, sex-aholic, pornographer…….habitual anything. I had many of my own repeated offenses that God does not count any worse or better than another.
In other areas of my life, I was somewhat successful. I started a few businesses, I always seemed to land on my feet after a blunder and got things stable once again. I raised three boys mostly by myself, brought myself back from a bankruptcy, put myself through several College diploma programs and got on the Dean’s list, graduating with honors. I have owned two homes and have now paid all but my school loans off. I even homeschooled my youngest all through jr. high who got straight A’s and went on to get honors himself. But in love relationships……….. I was a complete and utter failure. To top matters off, I grew up in a church that taught one marriage for life as God intended. There was only one reason for divorce. Well, even when I had scriptural grounds the BIGGER picture was my own addiction and I said “yes” time and time again to making a commitment to someone I barely knew or had a concerned intuition about, but, ignored it. I hadn’t learned to trust that still small voice yet.
There is a word tossed around…..Co-Dependency. In many circles it doesn’t exist. You can’t say that if you haven’t lived it. It is real with dysfunction.
I became a lost and lonely person and an unhealthy desperation began for love I felt I never really had. For years I complained, I searched for love in all the wrong people and it just made things worse. I had professional Christian Counseling many, many times but, the real issue was never addressed. Though I loved Jesus, and felt called to ministry and was even involved in ministry….. I was the proverbial “walking wounded”. At the time, the kind of addiction I had was not named. I however, was called boy crazy………..told I had “that look” about me. What pray tell was that????? THAT will be a post for later!!
So, at about 16, my journey began…………..The quest for love.
By the age of 40, I had already gone through multiple marriages and divorces. Many could have been and should have been annulled and one was…….my last marriage in 2010. I made the decision to marry impulsively, many I didn’t know for very long. My requirements for marriage were on the short list. I honestly did not know what commitment was and didn’t see true character. I had not a lick of discernment! Truth is…… “I” wasn’t marriage material either. My neediness kept me blinded to reality and what I should have been seeing.
This post is not to run down anyone I chose to give my life to. I chose out of unhealthy need and motive and because of it I had unhealthy attachments. Me attaching my emotions and life to a far different purpose than God intended and created me for and in people He wasn’t done with either. Perhaps with addictions and things HE needed to fix, not me being a caregiver to attach my unhealthy need to fix in order to be loved.
Even after Certifications in more than 150hrs of Biblical Lay Counseling I still couldn’t see the root of my problem………….other than how the Bible talks about our sin nature, the fleshly sins. Yes, I got that. We’re all born with a sinful nature because of Adam and Eve……and if you are called to ministry, Satan will work his very best to destroy that. I asked God and professionals for help and guidance but, I kept being asked the same questions about my childhood. While that is important to get to dysfunctional learned behaviors……they didn’t seem to be able to help clarify my issue then help me see what “healthy” looked like and acted like. In 2000 I started learning lay counseling but, it is sooooo true, you can help offer advise to someone else but, in your own life it is sometimes hard to see. If you’re emotionally attached or inappropriately attached……It is harder still.
It wasn’t until I met someone 4yrs after my annulment that once again seemed to be “it” that shocked me into reality. Here was a person who was three months shy of Pastoral training, who had once had a couple of ministry’s, married one time which always appeals to me. Sweet, gentle and kind, GREAT with people, appeared to have a depth of character and more. 11 months later and planning a life and ministry together…… I learned he was still married. Not even legally separated!! I remember that day and time like it was yesterday………. I was in the break room at work. I think I screamed. I got the news in a Dear Jane e-mail no less… Yep, truly!! It was then that I literally hit a wall and then my knees.
That was two years ago and in the depth of my despair, I sought for the ULTIMATE healing and redemption. I needed to depend ONLY on my Savior for the love I was seeking. I needed freedom from my addiction, I needed to learn what love was and was not. I needed to have discernment and wisdom and learn what my Spiritual purpose was that would define who I was and what earthly mission He had for me. It certainly wasn’t the journey “I” was trying to create.
In the next post I will share what transpired next………..