7. Something that shook your belief system to the core (a big disappointment in your life)
Whether my parents had this intention or not, I grew up in a seemingly perfect family. Mom, dad, daughter son, and of course, a dog. The only thing we were missing was a white picket fence outside our house. We went to church every Sunday. My brother and I were good students- like I almost had a meltdown when I received my first B junior year of high school good. Yes, everything was grand.
As much as it pains me to talk about, growing up in my family was tough for me at times. You see, my brother is bipolar (an illness he wouldn’t be diagnosed with until he was 20 years old). This meant a lot of things for me and my family. It meant the tempers were as strong and unpredictable as a summer storm. It meant a lot of arguments and a lot of yelling behind closed doors and sometimes in open spaces. It meant family meetings in the living room that no one really wanted to be at. It meant tears and anger, but mostly for me- it meant resentment.
I could not, no matter how hard I tried, wrap my head around why this was happening to us. To the family that did everything right. That went to church multiple times a week, served in numerous areas, and did all the things a “good Christian family” was supposed to do. It must mean that God wasn’t really who he says he is, and he doesn’t care as much as he wants us to think. In fact, it’s possible there isn’t even a God at all.
I remember one day in particular, I was so tired and frustrated, I didn’t know what else to do besides cry. I wasn’t quite old enough to drive, which means I was barely old enough to deal with emotions to begin with, but I lost it. And as all good stories go, I didn’t lose it in my room or at my friend’s house. No, I lost it at church. The one place I felt like I was supposed to have it all together. I couldn’t help myself. All of the overwhelming thoughts and emotions I had kept in for so long finally came pouring out of me, and by some miracle, Kathy was there.
SIDE NOTE: I’m going to break for a quick second to tell you a little bit about Kathy. She is joyful and kind, spunky and brave. She was never afraid to ask me the tough questions and push me out of my comfort zone, yet she was so gentle and encouraging. I left my time with her feeling like I could accomplish those big dreams that didn’t even have words yet. To this day, she is one of the people I hold dear to my heart for the role she has played in my life.
So Kathy found me crying in the bathroom (can you say low point?) and decided we needed to get together. I had never gotten together with an adult before, but I thought it was a pretty big milestone for me. Since I wasn’t old enough for margaritas (Kathy’s words, not mine), we decided to go for a walk at the park.
I’ll be honest- I don’t remember all the details of our conversation. I remember feeling like it was a safe place to pour out all my doubts, fears, anger, questions, and Kathy seemed good with that. The one detail I do remember is once I was done, she asked me one question: “If someone could prove to you today that God wasn’t real and he doesn’t exist, what would you miss the most?” “Having someone to talk to.” “That’s a good place to start,” she said.
Now I know those words don’t seem that profound, but they blew my preteen mind at the time. I had a good place to start. She was the first person to ever give me permission to doubt all the things I had been taught up to that point, and doubt I did.
I began to ask questions of God every day. I told him how angry I was at him for sitting by and watching my family struggle. Angry at all the hurt in the world that he had the power to make disappear and didn’t. I admitted I wasn’t even sure he was real or if I was just talking to myself.
Looking back, I can see God’s hand in all of this- how he watched out for me and took care of me. The lessons I learned from it could be their own blog.
But the biggest thing for me was I finally learned to be honest with him. I learned that he can handle my questions, my anger, and all the other things I thought I couldn’t bring to him. He is big enough for all of it.