Seeing Light in the Dark

This past week was full of surprises, blessings and humbling experiences, no doubt sent from God to inspire and awaken my sleeping soul.

Over the weekend, my partner and I, who are working on developing a non-profit, were invited to be interviewed on gun control and have a photo shoot in the park. Incredible. To top our week off, we were asked to join in on a meeting dedicated to stopping the violence that has been occurring all too frequently on the Northside area of Pittsburgh.  I realized that our goal of working with the youth, inspiring them to create change and creating a platform for them to speak out on racial issues was not so distant in my future. After almost a year of putting this project into motion things are finally falling into place and the name of the organization is finally getting the attention it deserves.

With all that being said, because I’m still trying to catch my breath, my plans for New York are being put on hold. (I know, I know…) But don’t worry, my disappointment is not what you think. In fact, the more ideas, opportunities and experiences that keep coming our way have been leading me to this.

We are told we must contend with 3 things: The World, The Flesh and The Devil.

We see and feel disappointments from others, we become disappointed with ourselves and Satan certainly celebrates in our disappointment because after all, the world is his playground, he created disappointment.

Sometimes disappointment leads us to the truth, no matter how big the let down. The problem is, we do not always choose to see the light while we’re in the dark.  I realized that I wanted to move to New York for all the wrong reasons right now. Let down after let down and false promises led me to this: God has a plan for me and I realized that with everything happening here, the light had been shining so bright but because disappointment had left me in the shadows, I had chosen not to see it because that feeling had distracted me from my faith in His plan.

So as it stands, I am embracing Pittsburgh for the moment and the Northside community where we will be diligently working on our efforts to stop the violence. Pittsburgh has already had 71 deaths in Allegheny County and the year is not over. Most of these murders are committed by youth and against youth. So here I’ll stay where the light shines brightest because with that, I believe I can accomplish anything.

Have you ever wanted something for the wrong reasons only to realize you were staring at what He wanted all along?

 

Love,

Jessica

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Growing Up Broken


Growing up, I was a daydreamer. I would lay out in the grass, sun warming my skin and just dream.

I’d dream of a family that would sit at the table every night, laughing and sharing their thoughts and excitements, while passing around bowls of homemade potatoes and bread.

I’d dream of a mom that kissed away my fears, that engulfed me with love, and that would cuddle up next to me at night, reading me stories before tucking me into bed.

That’s not the mom I had.

The mom I had wasn’t addicted to drugs or suffering from a severe mental illness. She wasn’t a junkie and there no diagnosis that would help understand her.

She simply didn’t have the capacity to love me.

I was 8 when my mother came into my room and made me watch as she took each ceramic doll I had collected over the years and smashed them all against the wall, laughing as their angelic, plastered smiles shattered and fell into small piles onto the carpet.

I was 10 when she started locking me in my bedroom with a padlock and key, every night, leaving me terrified of fires or being forgotten or trapped.

I was 13 when she told me she loved my two younger brothers more. That I was a mistake, detailing all I had taken away from her, just from the unfortunate occurrence of my birth.

I was 17 when she cancelled me off of her insurance, as I laid in the emergency room, having serious heart arrhythmia from a bad combination of diet pills and years of bulimia.

And at 18, just a few days after my high school graduation, she kicked me out; taking just a week to convert my old bedroom into a personal at home gym.

I was broken. My heart ached and I encountered the most crippling depression I could ever imagine. I welcomed death, but lacked the courage to greet it personally.

I was lost, alone, and utterly defeated.

But luckily, God wasn’t done with me yet.

There were times over my life that I got very angry with God. I didn’t want to see Him or face Him. I turned my back to Him completely.

And when I did speak to Him, or even acknowledge Him, it wasn’t friendly..

Why didn’t I deserve a family?

Why didn’t I deserve love?

Why had I even been born?

or worse…

Why am I not good enough for her?

Why am I not good enough to be spared this pain?

and of course….

Why did this happen to me?

What did I do to deserve this?

The Why’s and constant longing for my mother set the tone for my late teens and early twenties. I became a shell of a person, desperate for love however I could get it. Lie, cheat or steal, I needed that emptiness filled.

But my God is so good, he snatched me back when I wasn’t even looking.

My heart began to turn towards mission trips and volunteering. I began to slowly let God back in, although at first it was a very slow and cautious relationship. The closer I got to Him, the more I let Him use me. And the more He used me, the more I felt a sense of purpose, a worth outside of being my mother’s daughter.

That’s not to say I didn’t still struggle. I still had anger and hate in my heart. And right below that ugliness was a deep depression that could consume me at any given moment. It was a hole of self-hatred that I could not fill.

I wanted a mom.

I needed a mom.

But every time I tried to reach out to her, she’d slam that door on me, leaving me more broken than before. ‘Not being good enough’ for your own mother’s love is something I just couldn’t move beyond.

Then, God came in for the save.

Just a few months ago, I was blow drying my hair when he spoke to me clearer and louder than I had every heard before.

“You would have nothing you have right now if not for her. This life wouldn’t be yours, if not for her.”

It literally knocked the wind out of me. What??! I should THANK her? Be happy at the brokenness that was my life for so many years? I just couldn’t accept that.

The answer came quick:

Yes.

And there it hit me and healed me almost instantly.

I idolized my mother. I would do anything she wanted and I followed her like a sad puppy, begging for love and attention. I was going to be a nurse, just like her, because she was…even though I can’t stand the sight of blood.

And the few times I went to youth group with friends, she called it “a cult” and mocked me.

God had bigger plans for me.

He was going to use me. He wanted me and needed me to carry His message to others. I was going to work in the midst of disasters to bring people His hope.

And for that to happen, we BOTH were going to have to deal with some heartache.

And here I am now, living on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, 1,200miles away from the family that threw me away, doing just that.

There was nothing and no one that could heal that hurt but God.

I have no anger or resentment now. My sadness is gone. I’m no longer the fragile, little girl, praying through teary eyes that God would give me a mom that could love me.

Instead, I’m all God’s child, and there is more than enough love to fill me up.

I have learned that being a Christian doesn’t mean that we will live a life without pain, but that despite, or in some cases because of that hurt and pain, we WILL be used for the good of God.

Jenny