Monday, January 2, 2012

Chapter 11

[I originally wrote my entire memoir - which you're getting piece by piece - to enter it into a Women of Faith writing contest in 2010.  It did not win but made it into the top 100.  I am adding to these chapters as I see fit, now that I have time to do so and am not rushing toward a deadline.]

11.  Learning Curve
There are so many things I want to share, so many memories I’d like to relate but this story is really intended to show that Christians who fight fear and panic disorders are not failing in their faith but can really have victory bought by Jesus’ sacrifice and shed blood.  And those who aren’t Christians can have hope that they can find relief from these things too through a personal relationship with Jesus (John 3:16 starts you out).

It was very hard for me to admit that I had a panic disorder and that it would be okay for me take medication from time to time to help alleviate some of the symptoms.  But through much prayer and with help from my family, I have come to realize that if I needed to take some calming medicine once in a while to help my brain understand that I am not in a “fight or flight” situation, it is all right.  Whenever I take any medicine, I make sure that I pray as I take it.  I pray that God will use it to heal me, that I will not become dependent on anything but Him for ultimate relief and that I will remember His faithfulness to me most of all (Psa. 100:3).

After my first tour with the music group, it became clear to me that my boyfriend and I needed to be more clear about our future plans.  My parents were not at all happy that we were dating and were not convinced we should get married.  In an attempt to honor them, we broke up for a few weeks.  But I just couldn’t let him go that easily.  I loved to be loved and I loved love.  In my late teens, I certainly thought I knew what was best for me and surely he was the perfect one.  How could he not be?

My second year in college was as emotionally tumultuous as any other nineteen-year-old might experience.  But I did well in my classes and excelled at my jobs at the fruit market and my dad’s greenhouse.  I was still active in the church on the praise and worship team and in the choir.  I went to all the guys’ basketball and softball games and was the most obnoxious cheerleader they had.  My sister and I barely spoke in those days.  Our lives just coasted on parallel roads. She was dating another boy from our church childhood days and that was fine with me.  She and I fought quite a bit if we ever happened to be at home together but I still thought she was the most talented, beautiful girl in the whole wide world.  My parents and I fought a lot too. I guess I’m pretty stubborn and thought I should be in charge.  At the risk of repeating myself once too often again I say, “sorry Mom and Dad”.

For the summer of 1995, I went back for another three month tour with the ecumenical music ministry.  I asked to be put on the Central America team again because on my first trip to Nicaragua, El Salvador and Belize I became completely enamored with Latin cultures and the Hispanic people.   We had the same director and one or two of the same teammates but almost everyone else was new.  It was awesome to learn about other denominations, personality types, talents…okay, it wasn’t always awesome.  On a 30-foot bus, you can certainly spend a lot of time getting on each other’s nerves.  But you also learn how to interact with people, how to disagree without hurting each other, how to forgive and still effectively minister together the same night.  I learned so much as we traveled once again through the southern United States and then to El Salvador and Costa Rica.  On a cool side note, I also learned how to swing dance and how to salsa dance that tour!

I still had health issues and since I didn’t know anything about the core issues at that time, I did the best I could with food choices, water availability and the resulting bathroom trips.  I wrote to my boyfriend regularly but was now beginning to wonder about our future together.  I agonized about it in my journals and I prayed about it with my teammates and my director.  But I just didn’t know what to do.  There were other fellows in the ministry that I had noticed and in general I thought that I might like to become better friends with the people outside my very exclusive circle back home in Michigan.

Eventually I felt that the Lord had told me that my boyfriend and I should move on in our lives.  In my mind and in my heart, I felt that we were clearly not meant to be together since I was traveling so much and he really kind of liked to stick around town more.  We were growing up and growing apart in so many ways.  Funny but I’m tearing up a little writing this.  He really was such a great guy and I hate to have ever caused him any hurt.  But, I came home that August 1995 and we agreed to officially break up.  No going back. No changing our minds.

Shortly afterward, I went down to a visit a friend in Ohio that I had met on tour.  He was nice and our parents got along well.  I was excited to discover what God might have planned for us.  But after spending non-ministry time together, having fun and enjoying our mutual interest in music, we both knew that was definitely not the route God had planned for us.  I became very angry at the Lord then because I honestly had thought if I gave up the love I had for the pastor’s son, surely God would reward me by bringing “the one" He had ordained for me immediately to my side.  I was wrong. And I was hurt. Hurt that the Ohio guy didn't want me, hurt that the pastor's son didn't fight to get me back. Actually, he seemed relieved and happy to get rid of me.

Unfortunately, I entered a very dark phase at that point.  Angry with the Lord for not jumping at my command, I told another young man I’d met at our church, who insisted that he was madly in love with me and always had been, that I would go on a date with him.  He had been bugging me for years, even though I had a boyfriend at the time.  Now that I was finally free, I gave in to his persistence. I honestly entertained this thought, "even though I know he's dated all the other girls in church too, he won't hurt me. I'll hurt him first before that ever happens." I became a scheming, manipulative 19-year-old that had a hardened heart toward God and His "plan" for me.


  1. I can certainly relate to not getting your way and having a major rift with God over it, except I can't blame it on my youth - I went through this in my 30's and still have a bone or two with the Big Guy, truth be told. Thanks for sharing Angel. Love you.

  2. I think I would have been that way even if it had happened when I was older. I hope and pray that you will continue to be healed and gain a fresh relationship with the Lord. I love you, girl!!