You know that saying, "Been there, done that, got the t-shirt"? That's a pretty easy way to talk about my past.
Anything bad you can think about that can happen to a girl, has happened to me.
I started life as the most care free, giggly, constantly singing and adventurous little redheaded girl you'd ever meet. Within 6 or 7 years, everything started changing fast. I was dealing with a lot. Constant bullying at school, not being the 'favorite' child, and hearing constant fighting between my parents caused me to believe I wasn't wanted, or worth loving.
Those words marked me deep for most of my life.
Depression, and not wanting to live anymore hit me as young as a third grader. Since all of those things were true about me, why was living worth it?
I made a few friends and things started to feel a bit more stable until the 5th grade when my family life exploded and my mom, sister, and I moved out. Being a daddy's girl, this crushed me. Especially when the only parent I now lived with, preferred my little sister over me.
Shortly after this, my father was badly injured at work, leaving him disabled for the rest of his life, and unable to walk without the use of crutches. My hero, the one who I knew adored me, and would take me on adventures, was now not only heart broken, but physically broken and so depressed himself, he no longer wanted to live either.
We moved back in to help take care of him, which turned back into a constant fight.
Shortly after that, I was inappropriately touched by a male family member. I immediately went to my parents. One wanted to kill him and tell everyone, the other wanted to keep the family in tact so it was swept under the rug, and I continued to go to all our family birthdays and holidays. As soon as he'd arrive, I'd go hide because I had to find a place where I was sure He couldn't find me. I lived in total fear and complete shame, convinced I had caused it somehow or asked for it. Surely somehow it was my fault. Now add on unprotected to the list and the deadly trifecta was complete.
I was empty, lifeless and desperately searching for something to fill that aching void inside of me.
A little while later I was invited to a youth group. Cute boys, loud music, and this curiosity for who God was kept me coming every week. Finally, I became convinced I needed Jesus, and that He would fix it all, making sunshine and rainbows come into my life. I had no idea there's so much more to Jesus than a magic genie.
For a few years life did improve and I made incredible friends. I was always at church or with church people, started serving in high school, and learned how important community was. I learned a lot about God and His word, but didn't meet God until much later. I thought I knew him, turns out I just knew about Him.
Senior year of high school I ended up in an abusive relationship, then a broken engagement, and I began searching for someone to fill that void of feeling truly unlovable. After a couple of great dates with a guy I met at work, he raped me, and sent me into a tail spin. Again, I completely believed it had to be my fault somehow so I couldn't report him. It was really my fault so I'd just get into trouble myself, or they'd never believe me. All I knew is that now God, whom I believed in and thought loved me, couldn't have. A loving God wouldn't let this happen. He would have protected me if he loved me and wanted me, right?
So I ran hard. Trying to numb myself from the pain, the confusion, and the broken heart, I needed to make someone else hurt too. I was going to do all the things I knew God didn't want me to do. So I drank, a lot. Ending up drunk at least 4 nights a week, often more. I tried a few drugs. I worked every minute I could in radio, making a name for myself quick, becoming a promotions director over 5 radio stations while still in college before I was even 21 and legally able to get into many of the bars I hosted promotions in. Being in charge, let me get away with a lot, only fueling my habits, my ego and my coping mechanisms. Men became the next target quick. With a good amount of skin showing, a position of small town celebrity, I quickly had guys around constantly. This false sense of being wanted and loved covered and numbed the broken pieces of my heart long enough for me to make it through the day. Quickly I became the user, refusing to let a guy control me and hurt me again, I used them instead. Momentary pleasure, or a relationship that lasted only long enough for the nice guy to actually care for me, just so I could push him away completely out of fear. I had no idea how to receive love, I didn't even know what that looked like, so when things started to look like that, I cut them off and ran. God didn't love me, I couldn't love myself, how could I let someone else love me?
For years, I self medicated with work, alcohol and men. I felt lifeless. I was consumed by brokeness and sin, sin at this point that I was choosing to dance in daily. I was the fun party girl, known for her low cut shirts, and going home with hot guys. I was rarely kind. I was dead inside and trying desperately to hide it.
After a few years of working in radio where all those things came very easy, I went to part time, and started working a full time job at a preschool. Here I re-met Clint, an old friend from my old youth group. Granted I barely knew him, he was a good friends annoying little brother. He was 12 when we were 16/17 year olds who didn't want to hang out with a 12 year old boy. Clint was kind. As soon as we started working together, He started inviting me to small group with a bunch of our old friends, and to church. I knew the kind of person I was, and knew there was no way they would actually want me around if they knew. He quickly became the world best pest, and I saw him every where. At work, the gas station, grocery store, and even the car wash. Every time, he'd ask about going to small group or to church and tell me so and so wanted to see me or missed me, etc. I thought he was crazy. Finally I gave in and decided to give it a try. I just knew once they knew the kind of person I was, they wouldn't want me around. I was too bad, too far gone to be rescued. But that wasn't the case. They immediately took me in, like I was still the Cindi they knew in high school.
A few months after coming back to church and getting involved with this group, I found out I was pregnant. Even though I started going back to church, I hadn't let go of the one thing that was still giving me validation, giving me 'love'. I thought guys could fill that hole, that need to be wanted, chosen, loved. The one that got me pregnant never knew. As soon as I found out, I began to hear lie after lie from the enemy. There wasn't another option. It wasn't a choice. I had to go through with something I had always been against. I truly believed there wasn't another way, and that I would get over it quickly.
That was the biggest lie. It wrecked my life. Broke me completely. I was at the lowest point possible and it was time to make a choice here. Either this Jesus was real and He did love me, and could forgive me, or my life wasn't worth living.
I went through several drunken nights aching over the loss of my child, the worst decision I had made to become a murderer. And finally through the constant love and pursuit of that small group, I was able to hear just enough truth to know that Jesus had to be my choice.
I met a girl, Lauren, who, even though she was younger than me, taught me what being completely in love with Jesus could look like. She talked about him like he was the love of her life, her reason for living, and I was desperate to know Him like that. She taught me how to pray and read the Word. Not by showing me, but by just living it out and talking to me about it all. The way she loved people was beautful and her joy was infectious and I wanted what she had.
Now just over 9 years after the abortion, I've learned a lot. Healing is a long process, it takes work and fight and faith. It is worth it because Jesus is the prize. He heals, He restores, He makes all things new. He took a murderer, showed me the baby I gave up was a daughter, and told me how he changed my heart through her to be the heart of a mother, a heart that loves deeper than I ever could have before she was a part of me. Even if the world looks at me and says I am a murderer for the choice I made, Jesus looks at me and calls me a mother. He holds my girl in eternity with Him, where I have no doubt she is waiting for me. He gave me life in exchange for the dead heart I had filled with sin, by His sacrifice on the cross. How could I not give my life back to Him, to be used as He leads, for my good but more importantly for His glory.