woman on bench

For my cohorts and I, high school graduation was 18 years ago. It seems like yesterday. It also seems like several lifetimes ago.

As part of the graduation ceremony, I was honored to stand on that football field in front of my entire class and sing a sweet song by a Christian singer/songwriter, Carolyn Arends. With hundreds of friends and family looking on from the stands, my whole self was full of sparkling hope as I shared Arends’ words:

Seize the day. Seize whatever you can.
‘Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand.
Seize the day. Pray for grace from God’s hand,
And nothing will stand in your way.
Seize the day.

Just days later I packed up my little maroon Nissan Stanza and moved to Tennessee. I wanted to be a Christian singer just like Carolyn Arends. Only, I traveled a little too far east of Nashville to make it. I landed in Knoxville. I met a boy. We bonded over a book we shared in common: I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. We also shared grandiose 1990’s megachurch dreams of saving the world one Christian youth camp at a time. He would speak and I would lead worship. We just knew the aisles would fill like Billy Graham could only dream of. So, within a year we married. And within two years we were divorced. Waiting until you find your husband in order to have sex and share a calling to ministry does not make a marriage. Unexpected depression didn’t help either.

That’s right, me. Seize The Day singing, Grey, was clinically, get-to-the-doctor-or-lock-me-up-in-a-white-padded-room, depressed. Depression is real, y’all! I was a praying, believing, commanding Satan to get under my feet kind of Christian, and I was depressed?! Why couldn’t I just “pray it away”?! Why couldn’t I just read the word and know the truth? It would “set me free,” right? . . . Yeah, the shiny scripture band aids that kept me together in high school didn’t help my depression. AT. ALL. In fact, they never helped. They were just my first stage of grief, bargaining.

My grief began as a 15-year-old girl when my grandfather took his own life. Then my grandmother passed just two months later. My mother lost her mother and father in the worst way. She was destroyed. Just a few months before these devastations, my father lost his business and only income supporting our family of nine. Yes, I said NINE! At the time, five of my siblings were eight years old and under. So, mom and dad needed my help. There was no time to grieve. We had to survive. We constantly called on God to be our Jehovah Jireh, our Provider. And He absolutely was! He used his people to provide. Many times friends unexpectedly brought food. A vehicle was given to us, and my parents and I got jobs. We survived, but grief has a way of catching up to everyone.

Ultimately, my grief contributed to the end of my marriage. My parents’ grief contributed to the end of theirs and all of my brilliant and precious little brothers and my beautiful sister suffered the destruction of all that was to be safe and sure. They lost their home. There was grief upon grief.

The literal reading of scripture just did not comfort me like it had in my adolescence. I had so many more questions than a simple reading of scripture could provide for. Also, my prayers changed. I was fresh out of victorious commands for Satan to get under my feet as before, mainly because I was no longer on my feet. I was flat on my face. My prayers had become weeping, and I began to wonder if God was even real.

Fifteen years later I can say that God is real. Just as the scripture says, he heard my cries. He showed up in my pastor who did not fear my doubt. My pastor told me that God was not offended by my doubt. So, I began to ask my big questions. I began to study and question scripture. The trite use of the bible was no longer a light unto my path. It had become a stumbling block. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know not just what was being said, but who was writing these verses, to whom they were writing, and what was going on at the time they were writing. Scripture came alive to me again. It began healing my little broken 21-year-old soul. Over the next decade, I read scripture as a collection of stories rather than a formula for perfect living. These stories were of struggle and death and pain. These stories were of rebirth and liberation and hope and healing. In these stories, God was present. He was there. He was everywhere. There was nowhere that God was not.

So, today, he is with me. He is with my family. Even if we lose it all again, we will be okay. We will seize the day.

Grey, 36
Killeen, TX
#storyofchange

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