The taunting leveled at you when you are most vulnerable (middle and high school) tend to help define who you are as a young adult. This is frightening considering one’s brain does not stop developing until the age of twenty-five, but most of life’s major decisions are made between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two. Broken world? I’d say so.
Middle school was hard for me. New place, new kids, new teachers, new culture. My family didn’t have any money, so I was not armed with the armor of the latest fashion or gadgets. Again, not placing blame. As an adult with better life-vision, I realize those formative years are difficult for every child, regardless of whether they are the bully or the one being bullied. Screaming for definition and direction, they are lost just trying to figure the world out and where they fit in.
Back when I was in school, most everyone claimed Christianity as a shrug the shoulders, what, are you stupid, of course I go to church on Sunday identity. Everyone claimed Jesus, and if you didn’t there was something wrong. Now, if you claimed it and lived it, that might have set you apart. But it certainly didn’t define you as an outcast.
In the absence of Jesus filling the cavernous place in my heart, I became resourceful and started looking in other places for fillers. I began looking at things that were more tangible, more immediately satisfying. During my high school years, I lived with the heaviness of conviction because of my choices. I could play church with the best of them. Like any preacher’s kid, I had learned the lingo and could talk the talk. My choices outside of the walls of the church and sometimes within were something else altogether. I knew my actions were wrong. I knew looking to someone else to fill my emptiness was wrong. I knew looking to substances that would numb the pain was wrong. I did it anyway. Sin upon sin, charade upon charade, caused the darkness to fade in degrees. Like someone who gradually loses their eyesight and doesn’t know how bad it is until they can’t focus anymore, my sensitivity to the Spirit was covered up with layer upon layer of bad choices and lies. Again, God didn’t leave me. But He gave me choices and I made them. Some consequences were immediate; others were down my timeline. Like any parent, He was grieved. He knew the pain waiting for me. He knew the tears that He would someday catch. He allowed me to fall flat on my face over and over again in a vicious cycle of anger, rebellion, falling flat on my face, conviction, and guilt.
The Galatians 5 challenge is all about pursuing one fruit during 2016. Mine is peace and through the telling of my story I hope to share a little of what this journey looks like for me. I invite you to join me.
Galatians 5:22-23 The Message
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.