I've always been this walking square peg, and everywhere I go there are nothing but round holes. The first conscious thought that I remember was "I'm different, and life is unfair." I was six.
Back in those good old days, we perfect little ladies had to wear dresses and bows in our hair to school; little boys got to wear blue jeans and tennis shoes. Little boys got to go out and play ball after school. I had to practice the piano. Little boys could get into fights after school and go home all scraped up - no consequences. I tried that once - ended up having to practice the piano all evening!
My Dad was the only person in the whole world who understood me at that time of my life. When he tucked me in after that marathon piano practice session, I told him that I didn't want to be a little girl any more. He looked at me and smiled with those clear blue eyes and said, "Well, you know, if you can kiss your elbow you'll turn into a little boy." He kissed me on the forehead, said good night and snapped off the light as he left my room.
I spent the rest of that night and all my spare time the next week trying to contort myself into a position where I could plant a kiss on my elbow. I came close a few times, but alas, I remained female.
I hope I never ever forget that story, because it's my very first experience with trying to change the outside world so I would feel better on the inside. And I did that for many, many years.
Over the years, I tried everything I dared try, but nothing seemed to fill that gaping hole inside of me. I finally ended up in a recovery program, broken, but trying my best not to let people know how much I was hurting. I stopped using alcohol, but I was still trying to run my life the way I thought was best. And I still hurt.
I considered myself to be a Christian. I mean, I believed in God and Jesus, so I must be saved, right? But God was so very, very busy with all those people who really needed his help that I figured he needed my help. A very dear friend once told me that she considered me to be an agnostic. Agnostic? Me? Nah - couldn't be. I was Baptist. But I still hurt.
I'd get these really great ideas and give God all the credit. Like that job is perfect for me! It's a "God deal" that I stumbled on it. Or this man is everything I ever wanted in a mate - it must be a "God deal"! I told the same misguided friend about one of those "God deals" once. She looked at me and said, "Let me guess, you were alone when you thought that one up." It's funny how many "God deals" you can come up with all by yourself.
I continued to chase this dream and that, run into a wall. Then I'd turn to God and ask him to fix what was broken. And I still hurt.
It wasn't until my Dad passed away fifteen years later that I realized just how far off the mark I had been all my life. I don't have the words to describe what that I felt during that period of my life. My insides were a jumble of loss, hurt, and rage. And overshadowing all of that was an incredible loneliness. I had lost the only person in the world who understood me. The one who would give me some silly story about kissing elbows and then kiss me on the forehead and say goodnight. My whole world was shattered and I didn't know where to turn.
Over the next year, I spent a lot of time reflecting, reading and going through life the best way I could. Gradually, the pain and loneliness started to go away. But a funny thing happened on my way out of that mire. Jesus replaced that pain and loneliness ... with himself. It wasn't drastic, nothing exciting like a flashing light or burning bush. He just quietly stepped into that big hole I'd always had and made the pain go away.
My goals today are very different from the goals I had a few years ago. I always end my morning prayers with a request to be filled with joy that spills over into others that I meet that day. My favorite greeting for my co-workers is "Good morning, Sunshine." They usually grumble and turn away, but not quickly enough to hide the smile on their faces. I find opportunities to minister to those around me, and am not shy about sharing my faith when the opportunity arises. If I can help one person know the happiness I've found in my Lord, then all the stuff I had to go in order to know the Lord is worth it to me.
And I don't hurt any more.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
Read more articles by Deborah Riall or search for articles on the same topic or others.
Great, honest article. I enjoyed it very much. All of us at one time or another have been aware of the 'place' deep within us that no one but GOD can fill and when we accept HIM, we don't hurt anymore. Thank you for sharing. GOD BLESS YOU.
Very endearing read! Reminded me of my own travels and bonding with my dad. (I didn't try to kiss my elbow though!) And with like results...lost Dad but found the Lord.
You have a great talent here, so keep writing. Great sensitivity + realism.