My mom taught me early on there are three things that you must always do:
treat people fairly,
and above all, trust God.
I grew up in the inner city of Kansas City. I lived on a great block with great neighbors. All of us kids played together and just had fun, making mud pies, picking dandelions, and ensuring we were home before the street lights came on.
I didn’t realize until much later that this final rule was due to gunfire: I went to sleep with gunfire and awakened with gunfire, almost daily. It was all we knew. I didn’t think anything of it until I moved and couldn’t figure out why it was hard go to sleep. Then I realized, it was quiet.
Despite our challenging surroundings, my incredible mom built a rock-solid foundation for our family. She worked hard and had a strong constitution. She taught me early on there are three things that you must always do:
treat people fairly, and above all, trust God.
Needless to say, faith was a huge part of my life. In elementary school, we had neighbors who took us to church. I’ll always remember Reverend Robinson. He was a gentle soul who loved Jesus. One day I was practicing writing my name. He asked, “Whatcha doing there, Sister Kelly?”
“Oh, I’m writing my name.” Being left-handed, I had written my K backwards. He replied, “I think the K might be backwards.” I said with confidence, “No, it’s not.”
At that moment, he explained the plan of salvation to me. Despite our own complete assurance that we’re doing the “right thing” – perfectly writing the story of our lives – we all find ourselves backwards, choosing sin, out of step with the Father.
When clarity suddenly strikes, and we are confronted with the reality of our sin and separation from God, His propitiatory death and miraculous resurrection light the way back to Him.
Juxtaposed with the strongly supportive presence of my mom was the total absence of my father. As the old saying goes, it was a hard pill to swallow knowing that my father made a conscious decision not to be a part of my life, period.
The enemy began to put shame and feelings of unworthiness in my spirit.
Why wouldn’t he want to be a part of my life?
Maybe it was because I was born with a birth defect and had to have lots of operations.
Or he just didn’t want the responsibility of being a parent.
Or something else that I may never know.
I saw other little girls with their fathers . . .
and thoughts of unworthiness went from occasional to consistent.
Then, I began to own it.
Next came the bullying.
I was picked on for being having a big head, for my complexion,
for being too nice, for what I was wearing, etc.
These were very painful times.
In the midst of these challenges, I never questioned my need for God.
I knew I needed him. I just needed to yield to Him.
I did, however, question myself, and I found answers in my brokenness. So here’s the ugly truth: my timidity turned into pride.
And . . . what do we know about pride? It comes before destruction.
I thought I’d negotiate with God. Dummy.
I said, “How about You control 80% of my life and I’ll control 20%?”
Later, in an abundantly clear dream, God said, ”How about you do 100% and I watch?” I was terrified.
I begged for the Lord’s forgiveness and pleaded with Him to take 100% and I’d follow Him, completely.
God began changing me. He has taken what some might consider misfortunes in my life and turned them into reminders of His promises. He will never leave me or forsake me. When I struggled with not having an earthly father, He reminded me,
“I am your Father and I’m all you will ever need.”
I have found unexpected joy and hope in the midst of my challenges. God has used my being born with a birth defect and needing multiple surgeries as an opportunity to let parents who had children with colostomies learn to properly clean the site. Having been bullied from kindergarten through most of high school, I have a God-given passion to help those who can’t, or are afraid, to stand up for themselves. Currently, I have the honor of leading our church’s endeavor in the prevention of human trafficking, with a focus on children.
In the midst of life’s difficulties, God has surprised me with His care.
It’s like a daisy.
I know from the depths of my heart,
on the days that I stumble,
when I pick the petals off that daisy,
it’s always, “He loves me, He loves me, He loves me, He loves me . . . .”
As I follow Christ, I’m more reflective on His goodness and His mercy as I share my faith. I have a different level of understanding of “purpose in the pain” in our lives. I’m intentional about being intentional.
Even when I don’t understand what God does, I trust who He is.