I have been struggling so incredibly much. And sadly my husband, mom, and a few of my closest friends have been having to deal with the brunt of that. I saw a post earlier on twitter about a 30 day Negativity Fast-Gratitude Feast. The details can be found here. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was something God is calling me to do... I have been watching myself slip away, but it wasn't until I suddenly became a sobbing mess on the phone with my husband tonight that it finally all hit me.
I am so broken.
I look back at the person I used to be and I realized how I am nothing like that anymore. I think about the days I was filled with love and with joy last year and realize how callused my heart is, and how truly awful I am becoming... I don't even recognize myself anymore.
Praise God for a truly patient and loving husband who is understanding to the n-th degree. He is so incredibly encouraging even in my moments of utter despair. He told me tonight that it's no wonder I am how I am today. Look at what I've been through the past year.
(Just stick with me. I promise it will get better!)
A church that I had been faithfully attending for over 3 1/2 years all but shoved me out the door. Friendships that I had invested my heart and soul in fiercely ended, and I was left in a whirlwind trying to figure out what the heck happened. I lost people that I had considered my truest friends, one in particular that I would have considered as close to me as a brother. Boom. In an instant, it was gone. I was left immensely bitter, unforgiving, and angry at the church. It was a hurt I had experienced before by a church in high school, only this time it truly shook my entire core. Regardless of how much I have tried to move on and put the past in the past and forgive, it just doesn't happen. I watched my Christian brothers and sisters behave in ways that are completely un-Christ like and be praised for it. It utterly disgusts me and fills me with hate towards them and towards their church. It is a wound that hasn't even started healing mainly because it keeps being ripped open. Through Facebook, posters at SIU, running into people at Walmart, living a few blocks down the road, and having a husband who was invested in that church until we were getting ready to be married it has been a billboard, constantly slamming the door in my face reminding me of how unwelcome I was.
From there, I was abandoned by my family. Not all of them, but a pretty vast chunk. I was told that my grandparents would disown me if they were alive, that I was warned not to marry a coon, and that I was no longer welcome at family functions. If you had asked me a year and a half ago of my perspective on family, it would have been this: Regardless of where you go or what you do, you never walk out on family. At the end of the day, they are all you have. I lived by my grandma's dying wish of keeping our family together. At all costs, family sticks together. ...Until you marry a black man. Then shit hits the fan. Past transgressions from years ago are strung out for everyone like a hamper full of dirty laundry. It becomes all out World War 3 of who can ruin whom the fastest. Phone calls, emails, home visits, it is every man for himself. I am constantly waiting for the dust between battles to settle to see who I can still count on.
I was at work on Black Friday when I received a text message from one of my cousins. He said, "It really sucks that you an't spend time with your family because of how bigoted some people can be." I literally sat at my desk crying, longing to just be a part of my family, to be surrounded by the love of the people who I thought were supposed to be there through everything. Mourning over days I have lost with my loved ones and wondering if it ever would be any better.
I then moved on to being forced out of my home by one of my closest college friends and, at the time, roommates. I then lost my new roommate over a ridiculous situation, and lived with a random girl I barely knew just to pay my rent. I was paying two rents at a time out of my savings.
I got married. And still struggle over the parts of the day that I missed out on. Like being at my reception, meeting my husband's family, sharing our first meal together, hearing all of the toasts to us (because I was getting our champagne and glasses), and more. My heart hurts for what I missed on what was the biggest day of my life, the day I made a commitment to the man of my absolute dreams and the love of my life. I still can't look at all of my wedding pictures without crying.
I lost two of my best friends from high school, assuming because I was such a Bridezilla over just wanting to have a wedding shower. When the truth was that my husband got incredibly sick a month after we had been married, I felt like my life was falling apart from the stress of that and school, and all I really wanted was a day that I could treasure. Our wedding day was so frazzled that I wanted just one chance to savor time with my loved ones who were celebrating that Ray and I were married instead of cursing me for it. Which is why I am stricken with a deep jealousy of my friends who have recently got married and have posted pictures and memories about their showers.
School has been a whirlwind. Two of the top people in my college have lost their positions and the teacher that I was assigned to for internship decided to move, meaning my entire placement has been tossed here, there, and yonder. I have missed an incredible amount of class due to Ray's doctor appointments, follow-up visits, and surgeries. And by helping a classmate with an example of how to do a lab, I was taken advantage of, copied off of, and charged with plagiarism, earning me a zero on an assignment that could cost my A in the course and drop me from Summa Cum Laude to Magna Cum Laude, a goal for which I have worked four and a half year thus far.
I gained a mom, dad, four brothers, a sister, and a huge extended family on my husband's side. And, a step-brother, soon-to-be sister-in-law, step-sister, brother-in-law, brother, stepmom, and dad on my side. I am incredibly blessed but am living in constant fear that I will make some mistake that will cause me to lose them like I did my own family.
And I am just exhausted. School. Work. My internship. Being married. Raising Lelan (my husband's brother). Trying to adjust to our new church in West Frankfort while treasuring relationships with those at my church in Murphysboro, a place that I so deeply love. Trying to make ends meet as we pay bills. Fighting insurance companies and accepting our losses. Trying to be a housewife. And maintain relationships with friends.
It's. Just. Too. Much.
Which is why when I saw the negativity fast I knew this was God saying to me, "Please Stephanie. Just stop. Let me heal you."
So on my first step to healing, I am writing this blog post. Amidst an incredible amount of tears, I am laying everything out there, and leaving it there. In cyberspace or wherever. I am laying it down, all of it down, and moving on. In a desperate attempt to let God heal me, take me down a path of restoration, I am striving to purge myself of negativity and feast on the gratitude of being so tremendously blessed by Him.
I want to thank you all so much who have loved in me, believed in me, encouraged me, and have stood by me during my worst-of-the-worst year. You honestly have no idea how incredibly much it means to me, and I am forever indebted to you. I love you all so much, and I pray that God will give me the opportunity to bless you in the ways you have blessed me. So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.