Tuesday, April 24

10 Things again

Top Ten Life Changing Moments

Well, there's the obvious loss-of-a-body-part moment I guess, though it wasn't life changing as a "moment" kind of way. It was more of a collection of small influences here and there. I lost my eye when I was 4 and had an excellent new eye a few months later. I lost a lot of school, but I don't remember much of any of that. I don't remember things being strange returning to school. I don't remember running into doorways much, though I've had several family members tell me that it was a sad sight to see. They were being completely sincere, but I have to laugh when I picture it. I mean, I know I'd be laughing at the poor one-eyed kid running into stuff every time she came around a corner. In fact, I did laugh at my own kid when he did the same thing. My oldest had a perpetual bruise on his head from running into doorposts. I laughed, but now I feel bad because it turns out he has some vision disorder called exophoria (or something else that makes me giggle) and instead of laughing, I probably should have taken that constant blue stripe down his forehead as a signal to take him to the doctor. Live and learn. We just thought he was a klutz.

Anyway, I did eventually get teased, and that's where the life changing came in. I was kind of a dorky little kid any way and being teased just made me all the more self-conscious. I thought I was walking around with an obvious deformity and I had a strange self-image. I guess I kind of thought I was a freak and assumed that everyone else did too. It's amazing what a few stupid boys can do to a girl's thoughts.

Someone I really admired and looked up to made derogatory remarks about people who were overweight and said that they didn't see how a person could love their spouse and not want to look good for their spouse by taking better care of their own bodies. It was one comment, but it stuck with me. As an adult, I realize how unfair this line of thinking is, but it's only within the last 3 years that I was able to totally throw it out of my thoughts. When my hot-as-a-pistol hubby did not retain his lean physique, I was instantly in turmoil, trying to understand why he couldn't love me enough to strive for a perfect appearance. That's right, it's all about me. ??because I'm so perfect myself??? I know. It's stupid. But when I got pregnant with #3 and swelled up like the Pillsbury doughboy, God expanded my thinking a bit. When the weight didn't instantly disappear after #3 was born, God really expanded my thinking. But for a long time, messed-up thinking like this seemed normal to me. Not just about weight, but that gives you a good picture.

My parents' divorce. I was a spoiled brat. I thought the world revolved around me. Or that it should, anyway. My sister and I fought constantly. She was mom's favorite and I was Dad's favorite. Well, that was our perception anyway. They were good parents and I honestly don't remember any favoritism, but we both assumed it was so. Maybe just because it sounded tragically romantic. When Dad sat us down to break the news (I was about 12) and ask us where we were going to live, even then, my thoughts were focused solely on myself. I picked Dad. He smiled and looked pleased as if I had chosen just as he'd expected me to. I imagined how exciting this adventure would be. I'd be able to cook and clean and we'd have so much fun together. But it didn't happen. I went with mom "temporarily" while Dad moved. Mom moved to Missouri and we lived with my grandparents. I didn't understand what was taking so long. I had to start school (it was mid-6th grade-semester when we moved) and then start a 3rd school when we moved to a nearby town...I still couldn't move to Dad's. Finally, word came that he was getting married. Oh. There went the cute little house and learning to cook and...I don't know. But this was life changing for me. This is where I finally realized that the world didn't revolve around me. I felt totally rejected. All in all, this is a pretty bland story and I have nothing to complain about in my life. Especially in comparison to others. I am thankful for that. Because as bland as my divorce experience was, it was devastating and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I wish that I had learned empathy before the ripe old age of 13. That is shameful. But it's the truth. Laying in bed at night and listening to my mom cry herself to sleep was eye opening. I finally realized that other people have feelings and they are just as important as my own. I've read that for the families of divorce, it would be easier to heal if one of the parents actually died than if they divorced. I believe it. My mom cried for a year. She really loved my dad. But that leads me to #4...

#4 The remarriage of my parents. They both married again and ended up so happy. It was interesting watching a good marriage in action. I didn't have anything to gauge their first marriage, but their 2nd marriages were examples of love and respect. My stepmom has been an awesome role model of quiet strength and a gentle but strong spirit. They got back into church and have given me great council as an adult. My stepdad has been a huge, huge life changer for me. He saved my mom. He made her smile again. He loves her...always has. He is devoted to her and adores her. (I'm bawling right now just typing this) My mom is a beautiful, wonderfully strong woman who endured years of emotional stuff. She felt inferior and unattractive and believed many untrue things. My stepdad never loses patience in telling her how untrue those thoughts are. He has been there for me and my sister every step of the way. He had never had children, but he took up the role of dad beautifully. Can you imagine the patience it takes to raise someone else's BRATTY teenage daughters??? But we were never someone else's daughters. He's dad. And now an awesome Grandpa. Both sets of parents have given me a great example of a Godly marriage and I am very thankful for that.

#5 Giving my life to Christ. I was saved about 273 times by the age of 7. I asked Jesus back into my heart every time I thought something bad. For an obsessive compulsive kid, that's a lot. I did the "official" salvation thing when I was 12. I was saved, as a child, I knew. But 12 was kind of that age of accountability and I thought it was time to make sure it was real and stop worrying about it. So I was baptized and joined the Southern Baptist church I had grown up in. I vividly remember my baptism and not just because there was a large, dead dog decomposing on the path down to the creek. I remember exactly what it felt like coming up out of the creek - clean. I knew in my head, but God knows I'm a touchy feely sort and I think He sometimes is very gracious in lending me the tingles as a confirmation every now and then. But even knowing how real it was, I still didn't know how to live it. Until I was 15 and made my first visit to a pentecostal church. The pastor gave a sermon about being a vessel that could be used by God. About letting God fill us up and overflow out of our lives. I don't remember the exact sermon, but for some reason, it seemed like the first time I'd ever heard such things. It wasn't just about asking Him to come into my heart, it was about me giving my heart and LIFE to Him. Him being my strength. Him being in me and living through me. Me, not alone and struggling to do the right thing, but Me with the Holy Spirit in me. So I went forward to the altar and did what us baptists call "rededicating". A large, pale blonde woman knelt down and started praying for me and then....she started speaking in Chinese. It was my first exposure to speaking in tongues and I nearly giggled out loud. It sounded just like Chinese.

#6 Meeting Chris. I got involved in the Youth Group. My life was great - my parents were all happy, my life belonged to God and I felt alive. I participated in a youth fundraiser called a Slave Auction. I was bought alongside Chris to wash windows for a wonderfully ornery matchmaker. Chris and I became friends instantly. I had known him from school just because he was friends with my cousin, but I hadn't spent much time with him. We got to spend a lot of time together at church. He was life changing because he was my first real best friend. Someone who would be honest with me. With whom I could be honest. He gave me so much confidence. He broke down all my anxieties. I was able to stand back and look at my ocd-like thought patterns and see how silly they were. He was fun and he taught me how to have fun.

And he had a car, so I didn't have to panic when everyone in band broke to go to lunch and I was left wandering around like an idiot.

And now it's nearly 11:00 at night and I'm exhausted. So there.


Christy said...

i am so glad you did this too!!

It was really neat learning so much about you, and it is funny how much we think alike...or used to think alike!

I was the same way as a child-dramatic, self centered, and totally convinced everything was about me, me, me!!

Your husband sounds awesome!

Jen in MS said...

Hey Jenn,
I very much enjoyed reading this! I really did! As I read, I was sitting her nodding in agreement with so much of what you said or feeling compassion for you. Thank you for sharing and I can't wait to read the rest!

Jenni said...

Ah, more Jennifer similarities in this post:o)
There's the divorce thing. I remember my dad sitting at the kitchen table with me and asking me the same thing, who did I want to live with. I was only 7 and I was very torn and confused.
There's the speaking in tongues thing--although it was different for me.
There's the husband thing--we got to know each other better through a youth group type situation and I could have written much of what you said in the last half of that paragraph about my dh.
Oh, and I got teased about my eyes, too. I used to hate my big eyes because all the boys in elementary school would call me "Bug Eyes" and laugh at how huge they are. Now I realize kids do that to just about everyone, and if it's not one thing it's another.
Thanks for sharing so much here. I enjoyed reading it:o)

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