Dani Reynolds | Graphic Designer
I am a single mom raising four wonderful kids. I love them and am guilty of being over-protective. I think kids need love, someone to protect them, and of course, Jesus. I learned this the hard way. Here is my story.
I was raised unchurched except for a few times when the neighbors took my sister and me to their church. Unfortunately, I was abused there. So, I did not go back. As I got older, something kept pulling me back to church, but once I got there memories of my childhood flashed before my eyes. Honestly, I was scared something would happen again. So, I never went.
In my childhood, I felt empty and rejected. I was a product of an unwed high school dropout who was searching for love in all the wrong places. My bio dad did not stick around. I had always felt an emptiness in my life but did not understand why. My mom did get married when I was two. He accepted and loved me. At that time, I did not know that my dad was not my dad. Keith, the man who married my mom, is all I knew of a dad until my sister told me that my “real dad didn't love me and her dad felt sorry for me and took me in.” When I was ten, my mom and dad got a divorce and soon after my dad remarried. Even though my dad had divorced my mom, he did not divorce me. Until his “new” wife decided that I was not technically his real daughter and that they were going to pull back from doing things for me, like gifts for the holidays, like he would do for his real daughters. My mom started dating someone who was not wonderful. He was a monster. My mom was blind to see that her boyfriend was verbally abusive to her and sexually abusive to me and some of my friends. I did not realize that until years later during a therapy session when repressed memories surfaced. At the age of 12, I found my real dad and tried to have a relationship with him. I moved in with him, his wife, and their two sons for a year but never felt connected to them. I felt like an outsider. I spent most of my life feeling like a window shopper. On the outside looking in and yearning for someone to love and accept me. I spent many years of truly believing that I was dumb and unlovable.
My upbringing affected me in all ways. I also have ADHD, which that in itself has its own obstacles to get through. I have been told that I am weird, clumsy, uncoordinated, flakey, oddball, etc. So, my childhood left an empty hole in my heart. Through all of this, my grandmother (“Grams”) and aunts tried to be there for me.
I desperately wanted someone to love me. I did not realize love comes from your heart, not from being physical with someone. Eventually, I sought love, acceptance, and value in guys. I did not realize how immoral I was. It was all I knew, and it seemed natural. These relationships failed me again.
During a separation, I realized that my ex had a change going on in his life. It was something spiritual. I needed to figure it out. I went to his church. I immediately connected with the Pastor. He was ADHD and flaky (in a good way). He was energetic, and his thoughts seemed all over the place, but I followed it all perfectly. I felt connected there. I started attending that church, but my life did not really change. I was still doing things I had always done. I started attending a women’s Bible study and the more I got into the Word, the more I felt guilty about my choices in life. I felt like I was disappointing God but I did not know why. One day I saw a sign on the side of the road by my house and did not make any sense to me. It said Ephes something. Every time I drove by it, I noticed it said something more. One day I was talking about it in my Bible study and was saying that it was weird that I keep seeing this sign. I do not know what it means. Carole, Pastor Jim’s wife, said, “You mean Ephesians?” I had no idea what she was even talking about. The next time I drove by, I saw the sign and it said Ephesians 4:20 (“But that is not the way you learned Christ!”). I was like what does it mean. She said it meant I have not taught you that way. I still did not understand why I kept seeing this sign. Time had passed and one day my light bulb came on, and I understood what that sign meant. God did not teach me to be that way. God taught me that he loves me. HE LOVES ME!! No matter what I have done, no matter how flaky I am, GOD LOVES ME! He was showing me signs that I was not to live my life feeling empty and rejected that if I accept Him and know that He is God I AM LOVED! So when I made this discovery, I was so pumped to tell Carole what I had discovered. The funny part about this story is that once I realized what that sign said I drove by it again, and it never said Ephesians 4:20. It said Pheasants 4 for $20. I was reading the sign wrong. That has been my life. I have been reading the sign wrong. I was searching for love and acceptance through man, and I should have been searching for love and acceptance by GOD!
My childhood is not the one you would draw up for your daughter. It eventually brought me to Jesus. I now know I am loved; I have value. I still want to be accepted, but the emptiness in my heart is gone.
Thank you, Jesus!