I was thinking this morning, in my quiet time, about how far God has brought me. I was thinking of my image of myself and my family when I was little. I can’t lie, it wasn’t always bad and I always knew I was loved. When I was 7 my mom remarried a wonderful man and that’s when things got better, at least at home. I was reading the scripture that says, “God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.” That scripture brings me great comfort and it is my absolute joy to watch someone I know turn from darkness to light. I know without a doubt when you live in the gray and everything sacred has lost its color, light can be blinding to your eyes. I resisted the sun for years not really sure how to walk in both worlds. Until one day the shadows grew overwhelming and my life lost its luster, what was shiny and appealing became meaningless and dull and even diamonds refused to sparkle.
We were lower middle class, my mother worked three jobs after the divorce. My father split to Minneapolis for reasons he doesn’t believe in today. Basically, my mom was left to fend for herself and us. After the last anger outburst that left behind more smears of purple and blue, fear had lost it’s war within my mom and courage reared its head in surprising doses. My mother will always be my hero. My father was asked to leave, locks were changed and I stood and cried through a glass door as my father drove away. A scene I would unfortunately see several times through out my childhood. They say in books that a little girl asks herself, “Am I lovely?” The only person who can answer that question for her is her father. I am sure that this is probably true, but to save the drama of it all, I knew God loved me. I am not really sure how I just always knew Him, loved Him and knew He loved me. I will admit, I did not know a lot about His Son Jesus or His sacrifice for me but I wasn’t interested in going that deep anyway for awhile.
Grade school was hard. My parents split up around kindergarten and I look at my youngest and can’t imagine what that life would have been like for him. My mom did all she could to try and keep life normal, she was such a good mom. I would watch this warrior work her tail off all day, come home make dinner and not eat, and then head to a job at night cleaning offices. I got up in the mornings all alone to a phone call from my poor panicked mother who knew even if she tried with all her heart that things would fall through the cracks. I would watch her panic every school year trying to find me a ride, a place after school and lunch money. I went to school a lot of times dressed just like Madonna, my clothes hung off the shoulder, and I would steal them from my mom’s closet for the day.
My kindergarten year was very emotional and I felt very alone, lost and graspy. I just made that word up, but it describes exactly how you feel when you feel that you have no access to the basic necessities in life. I just wanted things touchable and untouchable and would grasp at anything. I ended up not paying much attention in kindergarten (go figure) and because of my “attention span” they called it, I was held back. I was handling the divorce, the stressed out mom, the angry brother and the absent dad, but the teasing from other students felt as though the world had tipped and I could fall off any moment. People, I know now, react to this situation in many different ways. I decided to smile, lie, steal and place brick walls wherever I could. I remember walking down the halls in kindergarten the second time and running into my old class. Two girls in particular would point and laugh and ask me, “How’s kindergarten you dummy?” I know each of their names till this day, isn’t that funny how hurts can stick around and slap you right in the face when you least expect it?
I remember walking home each day with a gang of misfits, many I still know till this day. Each of us had something going on in our lives that no one was talking about. Instead of sharing those hurts and woes, we made fun of people and laughed a lot. This type of behavior goes on into adult hood it just wears a prettier package, I call it gossip. You talk badly about someone else and laugh, so that you feel better about yourself. Not so intense when it’s put that simply is it. I watched our group of misfits, as some of our parents became really sick, as some of our brothers became drug addicts, as a few of us went to jail, and as one members brother drowned. It seems in that season of our lives, tragedy had a seat at the dinner table each night, and it was greedy and took over sized helpings.
I got lice three times as a kid and each time it was embarrassing, expensive to treat and another pest that had worked its way into our lives. Sometimes when that many doors are open everything tends to walk through. I remember heading to the salon with my mom to get a trim as I sat down in the chair I saw the lady scoot back several feet, lay down her comb and walk away. She was whispering to the manager and having already had lice two times before that, I knew what they were talking about. To make a long story short we left, and after the third time and another situation that left me feeling dirty, I wasn’t sure if some of the stains on my soul would ever lift. I did life a long time with this uncertainty.
I don’t know why I wanted to write this today, sometimes your heart just types things your mind hasn’t completely thought through and usually that is when you are most honest. I find after re-reading this that I left out so many stories and included a few I haven’t thought of in a long time.
All I know is this, I spent years trying to prove myself, years trying to fit neatly into a box my life seemed destined to bust out of. I did everything I could think of to make sure I never felt the way I felt that year of kindergarten ever again. People would not hurt me, I would hurt them and my face would beam with acceptance while my heart drowned in rejection. Even being Mexican became a source of resentment only further solidifying that I was indeed different. I remember one time sitting at a table with my boyfriend at the time and his family, his mother kept staring at me and I was one second away from asking her, “What in the heck is your problem, besides the fact that my parents don’t have money?” when she finally blurted it out, “So Gina, what are you again, Italian?” I took the long way around the question, “Well thanks for asking, I am Swedish, Norwegian, french, Spanish, and Mexican.” I smiled really big at her and continued eating, she was quiet the rest of the meal. I was mad, but once again smiled it off.
For me the quest for what I thought greatness was became more obsessive with every blow. The harder you hit me, the more I fought. I fought for acceptance, money, happiness, the last word, safety and now I know you can sum that all up to one word, “Control.” I fought for control. I know God must have had a sense of humor when he created me because I will be the first to admit I am a cross between great compassion, insight, thoughtfulness, determination, passion and straight up sass, all of this before and with Jesus.
I know what it feels like to feel last, forgotten, dealt a bad hand, cursed and tired. I just never knew I could feel the total opposite. With God I now know what it feels like to like myself, own the freedom of true forgiveness, feel totally cherished, purposeful, passionate and blessed beyond words. What a difference a day makes? No, what a difference our God makes. I look back on these stories and a hundred other sad situations in my life and feel thankful for them. I look at kids differently because of them, I look at single mom’s differently because of them, and I look at what the world has tossed aside in a person and see great potential. I don’t care how tragic the story and how screwed up the character. The ending awaits a writer willing to shift the words and help rewrite their story.
If you are a christian and your reading this take time to notice those who are hurting, ask God what He sees in them and then work with him to pull out greatness. If you aren’t a Christian then I understand that too. We Christians can make things pretty complicated and weird and I apologize for that, we really do mean well. I can say, that we only want to share with you the one thing that changed everything for us. I have seen many times that we forget to walk beside you and end up pushing you or leaving you behind.
I will have you know, that when it was my time to put down my gloves, take out the mouth guard and leave the competition, I did that for God. I stopped the ring dance for the one who never left my corner, patched up my wounds and carried the water to quench my thirst. Till this day I fight a different battle for God and once again He never leaves my corner. If you ever wanna join me, I am the one with the golden gloves, purple shorts and a red robe that reads, “Daughter of a King.”
I can promise you this, no matter where you have been or what you have done, you my friend are always welcome. Matter of fact, we already have a robe with your name on it. The robe won’t fit over your gloves, so you will have to set those down and stop fighting. Please don’t worry, Jesus will pick them up and fight for you. He is after all the undefeated Heavy weight champion of the world!