Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
I wish I could say that this played out in my life the way the verse describes. For me, it held true but with a few bumps in the road. I arrived at college and was super excited to get the full college experience. However, I was determined to do so without following my dad’s plan. He had brought me to campus a few weeks earlier to scout out what faith based organizations I could join. He highly encouraged me to join Navigators or Campus Crusade for Christ. This, however, just made me want to buck against the system even more. I had no plans to attend any such organization, when I arrived. I had one driving force, and it was cute guys. So, it was the Lord’s hand moving, when I walked out of the cafeteria that fateful afternoon. There was a group of some of the cutest guys I had ever seen. They were handing out fliers, naturally, I took one.
Campus Crusade for Christ. I literally laughed out loud. If these guys were a representation of what could be found in the campus Spiritual Center, I was in. I went with a group to the first meeting. When I walked in, all of the guys I had seen were standing at the front. They were all staff and interns! It was too late, though. I loved my first night of Cru and never left. It would be my center for the next four years. The Lord would use this organization to make my faith, my own. He would even use it to lead me to my husband, but more on that later.
As I started my first few weeks on campus, I started gaining weight. It was abnormal for me, because being a competitive gymnast, I could eat whatever I wanted. Another side effect was that I never went through puberty. I was 18 years old and starting birth control, I was told I would likely never have children but this would help me regulate my cycles. This just wasn’t helping me to not gain weight. I called my mom in tears two months into school. I needed new clothes and new bras, and I couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving. She arrived at my door, skeptical, but lovingly. Her jaw hit the floor, when the door opened. I needed clothes two sizes bigger, I went from a negative A cup to a D in eight weeks. This took a huge toll on my self-image. I was always self-conscious because I didn’t look like the other girls I knew. I looked like a prepubescent 16 year old until this point. The transition was devastating. My years of longing to get boobs smacked me right upside the head. It wasn’t the dream I had hoped for. This coupled with me living in dorms that were far away from the other freshman (my dad had made sure I was in the music dorm for upperclassman so I wouldn’t be distracted from my studies) was a disaster. I was feeling lonely and vulnerable, save for a great friend that lived in the dorm upstairs.
At Christmas, I was failing Calculus, something that I never dreamed possible. I begged my parents to let me drop the course to save my GPA, they did. At least my grades weren’t failing but in all other aspects, college life was not looking like I dreamed. I had already decided to attend a winter conference with Cru over winter break. I hoped to make more friends and have a great time. Little did I know, I would meet a great guy.
He was not on my radar at all. I actually kind of ignored most guys, due to my insecurities over how I looked, but I couldn’t seem to get away from him. He was very persistent and part of me liked that. It felt nice to be desired. We hung out at the conference, and went on our first date when we got back to campus. We went swing dancing and then out to the famous Ye Olde College diner. It was great. I was skeptical but open. I wanted that affirmation that I was still desirable and the joy of knowing someone was interested in me. It just seemed to all fall into place. The longer we were together, the more attached I became. I wasn’t aware yet that I struggle to find my identity in Christ. I had found it in other things, mostly, other people’s opinions and approval. So, this relationship became toxic.
We ended breaking up because we were at his house and his mom was telling us how she and his dad had prayed for his future relationships and purity everyday. This hit hard for two reasons. One, we weren’t being pure. I gave into all of my desires and drive. I wouldn’t sleep with him, but that was my only boundary. The shame the two of us together felt was unbearable. Two, his dad had passed away years before. Knowing how important purity was to his dad, it crushed him. He broke up with me. My world came crashing down. He was the glue that was holding my life together. He was my friend. He was the barometer for how I felt about myself. In an instant, he was gone. All I could see was my broken life. I was shamed because we had given so much of ourselves physically and emotionally to not end up married brought deep shame. I felt extreme rejection, I assumed it was based on how I looked to some degree. Finally, I was failing two classes. My parents refused to let me drop them this time, not wanting this to become a pattern.
Everything that I used to gauge my worth was gone. I didn’t understand that God was there. He cared, he loved me. He didn’t feel ashamed of me. He was my proud Papa. If only I could have learned these lessons then. Maybe the next months of depression would have never happened. However, that is not my story.