The Reflect Series, my story...part 2, the facts...

So, now after the last post of filtering through all the questions parading around in my heart, I think I need to start from the beginning….go through the facts. Although, honestly….I’ve wrestled with if this was really even necessary.  Yet, I decided it was….mainly because I want my children to know the facts one day, and maybe it will help someone else understand why…..why people are the way they are….why you should always be kind and encouraging….because you never really know. You never know what someone is going through, has been through and what areas they may really be sensitive in.  You never know why they do what they do.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  Give them grace…mercy….and love.  always love.

So, let’s start back at the beginning…..

When I was 4 years old, my parents divorced and my mom took my brother and me to live with her parents in Philadelphia, MS….my mamaw and papaw….words can’t even express what those two people mean to me, how they influenced me, or how thankful I will forever be for them.  I wrote a little about them here. We lived with them for about a year and a half….and then my mom eventually married our pastor from the little church in the country…"all because" I asked him to take our family to Pizza Hut to get cokes. ha at least that’s what I thought for so long.  

We stayed in the same town as my grandparents for a year or so and then moved to Texas for a little while.  We eventually landed back in MS and after living in the Delta for a few years, we made our way down to the coast around my 5th grade year and settled there until after I graduated high school. Throughout the years, I would visit my dad a few times a year, with those times getting less and less as I got older.

Is it safe to say I had my fair share of being the new kid in town?  I know others, especially military kids who could identify much more, but I had it enough to feel the experience…and it wasn’t fun. What’s the deal with new kids?! Why are people so scared of them? I know the unknown can be a bit scary, but man, kids can be so mean and hurtful to “the unknown” or “different.”  I’m thankful for those times though to give me the perception and empathy to those in the same situation.

In the midst of those moves and growing up, I had my ups and downs just like everyone else..sometimes not having many friends, sometimes having a good close friend or two, sometimes having plenty of friends.  

The insecurities in my heart overall made me somewhat shy...although the report cards never failed to claim I talked too much in class.  Altogether, I had some awesome life experiences and some not-so-awesome experiences. 

I don't feel I can say anything further about my childhood without first claiming that I KNOW my parents loved me wholeheartedly.  They did their best in teaching me about Christ and loving me the best way they knew how.  God allowed what He did, and I'm content with that.  He’s been faithful to work good from it all. They sheltered me as much as they could understand to, and, honestly a lot they were probably oblivious to...  I was just stubborn, sneaky and rebellious.  I think, too this generation now of parenting has had the luxury of seeing a lot more results of all the technological advances since then and have caught on to more potential dangers in them and our society as a whole than our parents realized back then, and thus we can be more cautious….{which is exactly what I get on my soap box about later…}

Anyway, with that being said....my "double life" really started pretty young.  On one hand, I grew up in the church, had church friends, was involved in a fun youth group, knew all the bible stories and most of the common bible verses….I knew many “general biblical ideas and principles” and had somewhat of a relationship with Christ after inviting Him to come live in my heart at the age of 7.  However, it was a pretty rocky relationship due to the fact that I was being influenced not only by the church and/or good spiritual things, but also by some major worldy and sinful factors....

So, on the other hand…the struggling side….I was dealing with 
the absent father issues and lack of contentment with my stepfather {which wasn’t really personal…just that he wasn’t my “real” dad…I was basically a brat}, 
being the new girl in town who wanted to be accepted {and even years after being the new girl!},
and the exposure to sexual influence at a super early age in a few different ways {to which my parents had no clue….and some of which was against my will that I didn't have the mental strength to fight against as I was embarrassed and longed to keep the peace, and some I was just plain curious about.  Regardless of why and how it all started or happened, the shame and guilt -especially the unjustified guilt- added to my insecurity, but then, too a curiosity for a world away from God.  wow…can we say riding the fence?}

wanted to be a good christian girl, but I also wanted to fit in, have fun and be loved. 

and the simple truth is that the challenging circumstances that started off early in my life put me in a vulnerable position of being easily influenced.  Despite the good influences, it was easier for me to follow the influences and desires of the world for the most part.

 So with all those mixed desires, to put it plainly, I grew up struggling as an insecure Christian hypocrite straddling the fence between wanting to obey God and wanting to walk with the world ....which meant physical relationships with guys, drinking, partying, and trying so hard to fit in with the world around me.....which, as you can imagine, fighting between the two lives led to a pretty lost person internally. Actually, as long as I could suppress the miserable parts, I could make myself believe I was happy. However, I remember many times not being able to be alone because I would soooo be convicted. It was like God was always seeking to get my attention.

But, ooooh, the drama…the drama of boys….from 7th grade to 12th.  Let’s just say after I just read through my middle and high school journal, I threw it in the fire, but Matt talked me out of it, and I grabbed it back out…hahaha….to use it for a “teaching tool."  Mercy…..not that I personally care to read it again at all.  Reflecting back on all the emotions and choices I faced and made….I was just so sucked up into the idea that a boyfriend or best friend was going to make me happy…going to fill all the empty places….give me my worth….form my identity.  It may have been one journal for all those years, and I only wrote in it for the “big moments,” but it was still a good picture of being so lost in the idea of “love” and going from one person to another.

I was so lost in the idea of “Love.”  the wrong idea of love.

Relationships were like my drug of choice…..the feelings I got from other people.  I wanted the “high” or elation those relationships could bring….and when they didn’t bring it anymore or when I didn’t bring it for them, we were done…..on to the next boy or next friend.  It was all about how they made me feel.  Such a self-focused, self-centered, vain and empty life.

As you can imagine, I never truly believed the lie that I was happy, so I was never content and I was always searching for love....sometimes searching for God, who I guess I just doubted way too much.  So...more times than not, I found myself searching for love in all the wrong places.  

Sometimes, these lives would play out simultaneously, yet sometimes they would be at different times lasting for months and leaving me on a roller coaster ride...going back and forth between living for God or pursuing the world around me….or struggling with both. 

Finally, the summer before my senior year in highschool while at church camp, I felt God telling me that I would be in full time ministry one day.  This little picture of the future He had for me, my saving grace basically, was enough for me to know I needed to straighten out my life and plan on going to a Christian college where I could easily be influenced for His good.  I knew I needed and wanted to live for Him...I needed to be lifted out of the world I had been in where I didn't have the strength to say no to the influences pulling me down.  I continued to struggle through my senior year until I left for Mississippi College the fall of 98.

Praise the Lord for new beginnings and fresh starts.

and that's where we shall pick up the rest of the story. :)

So, to break it down and sum it up for now….the hardships in the beginning of my life started me down a vulnerable path where I ended up letting the world influence me over God’s truth. 
I had BOTH good, loving influences from my parents and church AND many wrong influences from the world. Sometimes, although you have a lot of "the good," especially depending on the heart and its vulnerability, the bad can outweigh the good, despite the quantities. My parents simply had a lot more to battle against than they probably realized.

 I doubted God and reached for what seemed real enough to me and what I believed would fill my heart with what I thought it needed….the world itself and/or people.

So, I also like to think that what if I had not had all that good from my parents?  By God’s mercy, it was the continual love, discipline, guidance and providence of my mom and stepfather (through God’s help!) that eventually won out and brought me to a safe place of surrender before the Lord.  I can’t imagine what I would have been like without them….where I would have ended up.  I am so beyond grateful!!

For you are my hope, O Lord God;
You are my trust from my youth.
By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother's womb.
My praise shall be continually of You.
Psalm 71:5-6


Reflecting back on the components of my story growing up….my heart is burdened, to say the least….burdened for parents these days, burdened for the generations rising up, and the culture they are living in….the lies this culture fills them with….the misconceptions they get from the majority of tv and movies they fill their mind with. The #1 influencing factor I can think of that led me astray so much was that I let Hollywood (although that sounds ridiculously silly!) be my ”truth" over the truth of God’s Word.  I watched so many movies and television, it makes my heart sick thinking about it….from scary gruesome movies to romantic lighthearted comedies….from relational drama to serious action.. You name it, I probably watched it.  My parents censored a good bit, but like I said, I found my own ways….and not only was it what I watched, it was how much I watched, I’m sure. 

I believed the lies the world filled my heart and mind with.  maybe because they seemed tangible and more real.  Maybe because I didn’t battle it enough with Truth about God’s love.  Maybe because I spent my childhood wanting my father and contempt towards my step father and didn’t believe a Heavenly Father was worth following.  maybe it was because it was what the rest of the world seemed to be following. maybe it was the circumstances from my early life that made me so vulnerable.

I can hear you thinking….lighten up, Crystal!   No, I’m not saying it’s all bad and we should all burn our t.v.’s, radios, movie theaters or phones.  but seriously….we must weigh the influence of what we spend the MAJORITY of our lives putting into our minds and hearts.  

How much truth are we putting in versus stuff or just plain junk from the world??

what is everyone else putting into my child's head, too??

I got filled with fear, desire for romantic love, a drive to be entertained, wrong expectations, self-centeredness and so much more.

and not only am I concerned with all those influences, but now the world of social media.  Lord, help me.

Choosing to reflect and reading through my journals makes a huge mental wall of protection go up around my sweet innocent children.  Makes me want to shoot any guy who gets within 10 feet of them within the next 20 years.  Makes me want to guard them with my whole life.  Yet, I don’t want to over shelter them. I know that can be ironically dangerous, too.  

So, I want to be prayerful.  y’all…..so much more prayerful than I am right now.  I want to be bruised up knees prayerful….mind swimming in prayers prayerful…on spiritual guard prayerful….as if I’m fighting for my children’s souls against the devil himself prayerful…..

Oh, because yeah, I am.  I’m fighting against the devil for my children’s souls.

Thankfully, the Lord is sovereign…but He still calls me to do my part.

So, the reality of how much TRUTH and Holy Spirit they need in a deceived world is ripping at my heart.  The amount of prayer they need from me.  The amount of guidance and discernment is unbearable to think about. 

The amount of Truth and Good they need versus the amount of Lies and Bad is more than we can truly comprehend.  

and that we want their hearts to be a fertile, receptive place for God’s Love and Truth….and that it depends far more on my parenting and circumstances I provide for them, is more than I truly understand.

Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us alone in doing this. HE is our power and strength.  HE can overcome.

oh how much I am preaching to my own heart here.   


{find The Reflect Series here.}


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