“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
— 2 Corinthians 4:18
I grew up in church and my grandparents are Assemblies of God pastors, so we always went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. One night my dad came home late, and all I remember is him being intoxicated. My mom was screaming at him because he had a hickey on his neck. I was in 5th grade I had no idea what that was!
My mom ended up forgiving him but the drinking didn’t stop. He would come home drunk all the time. We moved to New Mexico for a year because my mom thought it would be a good idea to get away from everyone and that it would make the family closer.
That didn’t happen. My dad still came home intoxicated all the time, and the fighting never stopped.
It was Labor Day weekend when my dad went out of town for a “fishing trip” with his buddies. My grandma on my mom’s side came to visit my mom, my sisters, and me. We had a great weekend, but when it was time to drop her off at the airport, we pulled up right behind my dad’s truck. There was the same lady I saw that night we followed my dad to see who he was meeting up with. This was the lady who tore my family apart. She knew he was married and had kids.
Again, my mom forgave him but the fighting increased and so did the drinking. We moved back to Texas as I was starting my first year of middle school. I was extremely nervous. I wanted to fit in so badly but I was insecure about everything God created me to be. I already had really short hair and braces and acne and on top of that, I felt like my dad didn’t love me because he kept cheating and drinking.
I developed depression when I was in 7th grade. I would get lost in my thoughts a lot and they were not good thoughts. I felt alone and ugly and like a loser. I was extremely shy and didn’t talk to anyone.
By the time I entered into my freshman year of high school, my dad started cheating on my mom again. We didn’t find out till much later but it went on for three more years without my mom finding out. I remember my mom sitting on my floor screaming that God isn’t real, and me being so angry at her.
The sad part was that we still went to church every Sunday. Instead of going to the altar and praying for healing in our family, we stayed in our seats. We smiled and acted like everything was all put together. People would actually call us ‘the beautiful family’, or they would always say, “you guys are always so happy!” We put on quite a show.
I went through high school, still feeling insecure. I tried to fill the emptiness in my heart on my own. I let guys take advantage of me and people just used me a lot. I felt like I didn’t have a voice.
I remember nights were I thought about asking for forgiveness and then changed my mind because I knew that I was just going to do that sin again.
I started going to Living Church in Mansfield, TX. That was where I was saved. I remember telling my parents I hated going but I really did enjoy it. I couldn’t stop listening during the pastor’s message. That’s really where God transformed me.
It was during church camp when I received God’s calling. He told me that I was going to teach in Africa. I was super excited because it was the first time I had ever heard from God!
All through out high school I would tell my my friends and family that I was going to teach in Africa. God completely changed my heart and the way I viewed myself.
After high school I decided to go to Southwestern Assemblies of God University and instantly was trapped in a Christian bubble. I kind of became that hypocritical Christian, which wasn’t right at all. On top of that I was leading a mission trip to Africa in the summer, so I already had a big head and thought I was the holiest person alive.
After I got back from Africa where I taught, I started working at Camp Thurman!
At first I didn’t like being around all different kind of denominations. I thought they all had their theology wrong and thought it was so weird and rude how everyone sat down during worship.
However as the summer went on God really got a hold of my heart and told me that I needed to let down my pride and pick up my cross. He taught me how to be still and listen to his voice! I don’t always have to stand and sing to the top of my lungs and wave my hands in the air to hear from God! A person can do that all day and never receive what He has to say.
I got so caught up in the way I pray and worship. Camp taught me how to just sit there and listen to God, that it’s okay if I don’t have the words to pray, and that it shouldn’t always be me talking.
There’s still a lot of fighting in my house and my dad still drinks. My parents are still together, but we definitely have given our struggles to the Lord and we have faith that he will heal my dad and mend our family back together. I definitely could not have lasted a whole summer being around them so I’m glad I have my camp friends to lift my spirit up just by seeing everyone’s smile! My faith grows every day being at Camp Thurman, and it should never stop!